Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Harrogate - My scene Part 1

I went to a local hardcore punk gig recently in my home town, Harrogate, and it got me thinking about how metal/hardcore can manifest itself in the most unlikely of locations, so I thought I'd do some research and do a feature on the metal scene in Harrogate.

I'll set the scene for you. Harrogate is a gentile, historic spa-town that borders the North Yorkshire National Park. The population of Harrogate itself, is estimated to be around 75,000, so it's not small, and should be able to keep a metal scene alive.

So, a bit of scene history for you first of all.


Scanning though Metal-Archives, the earliest band I can find from Harrogate were a NWBOHM band called Syar. They were a five piece band, and released an album in 1984 called Death Before Dishonour, through Mausoleum Records, in Belgium. 3 of Syar's members were also in another band called Maineeaxe, who were a lot more active, releasing two full lengths, an EP and three singles. They were last signed to a label called Powerstation, which no longer exists.

You'll have probably guessed that Syar don't have a website, but you can read about them at http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Syar.


The next band I cam across, were Thrash Metal band Acid Reign. They formed in 1985 after meeting at Granby high school, as it was then, and were very active. In the six years they were together, they released a demo, an EP, two singles, two full lengths, a compilation and they even appeared alongside the mighty Testament, on a split record by Kerrang! At the time they were signed to sub-label of Music for Nations, called Under One Flag and were labelmates to well known British bands, including Venom and Onslaught!

The members of Acid Reign were also very active in other band to at the time. First guitarist Kev also joined Lawnmower Deth after he was in Acid Reign, who are still alive and well today. Second guitarist, Adam Lehan was in Lord Crucifier and went on to join Cathedral. Bassist Mac was in a thrash band called Holosade, who are still active today, and include a member of Sabbat in their ranks. Finally, Drummer and Keyboardist Mark Ramsey became a member of fellow Harrogate heavy metal band Asomvel, after Acid Reign split, and also spent time in pre-Venom band Chronos for two years, between 1993 and 1995and also spent time in Cathedral after Acid Reign.

If you want to keep in touch with Acid Reign, their Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/acid.reign.thrash.


There was a thrash metal band called Naked Goblin, who released a cassette called Unterwelt in 1988, but little is known about them. If anyone reading this does know anything, please let me know.


ASOMVEL, formed in 1993 and are still active today. They are a three piece and have released two demos, two EP's and a full length as well. ASOMVEL's original vocalist Jay-Jay Winter, sadly passed away in 2010. They currently feature ex-Tangaroa member Conan on vocals.

Lenny Robinson, ASOMVEL's guitarist, is also in Bradford based doom metal band Solstice. Asomvel are still gigging, in fact they have a gig in Burnley on the 24th of February. You find out about the gigs ASOMVEL have coming up by going to their website at http://www.asomvel.com and by going to Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ASOMVEL

I was lucky enough to speak to ASOMVEL's guitarist Lenny Robinson via e-mail, where he gave me an insight into what influence ASOMVEL to form and what it was playing gigs in their early days:-



What influenced you to form ASOMVEL?

Back when we started, Mark Wharton & Jay-Jay were huge Venom fans & I was a big Motorhead fan. They were great bands & seeing them made us want to be in a band & say it like it is, be loud, obnoxious & get up people's noses. Motorhead, Venom, Elvis & all those early rockers and everything we hear has a bearing on what we write. 

Did ASOMVEL play many shows in Harrogate and what kind of reaction did you get?


We've done a lot of gigs in Harrogate over the years. When heavy metal bands were scared to call themselves heavy metal, in case they were considered dinosaurs, we were playing to spiky-haired, baggy trousered kids who didn't get what we were about. Nobody wanted to know ASOMVEL, we were a joke to most bands on the gig circuit & just about everyone else for that matter. We never changed our style to suit the fads, 'cos we believe in what we do. As a result, we got better & when the fads changed, people started liking ASOMVEL all of a sudden & started showing up to gigs & buying our album.

The bands above, are bands that helped to shape metal in Harrogate, and while many people suggest that there isn't a scene here, there were bands and people who cared and still care, so to me that's all that matters.

There are also a few newer metal bands floating around Harrogate at the moment, that have been around for a while now.


Waking Theo have been knocking around since 2004. Playing a blend of more modern metal, they have begun to make a name for themselves, playing alongside established bands like death metallers Trigger The Bloodshed and others.

They have self-released three demo's so far and are sure to come back with a bang in 2012. Keep an eye out for new on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/wakingtheoband.


The next band I felt it worth mentioning in the first part of my feature is Drowned In Flames. Drowned In Flames have been making a name for themselves by playing shows with the likes of Cancer Bats and Young Guns, as well as getting press in UK music publications like Rock Sound Magazine and Kerrang!.

At this point in time, Drowned In Flames have released three EP's. As well as this, their drummer Dave Colston has been playing drums in newly formed Harrogate punk band, Little Drafts, who I'm going to mention in the second part of this feature.

If you're unfamiliar with DIF and want to find out more, check out their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/drowned-in-flames/.

Keep your eyes peeled for the second part of my feature, which will focus on the hardcore/punk scene that has been around in Harrogate for a while along with some of the more extreme bands, and people who champion them!.

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