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M.A.R.S Freshers Festival 2015 @ The Firehouse, Southampton (UK)

WESTERN SAND / WITCHSORROW / ALUNAH / Toxic Shock / Hole In The Sky / The Smokin' Prophets / March The Desert / Kast / Zompok / Mother Of Pearl
in Saturday, 10 October 2015 at The Firehouse
by Lotty Whittingham

Southampton Solent’s Metal And Rock Society (or MARS for short) have showcased many a band at their local hotspot The Firehouse ever since 2011 the year they formed. Last weekend showed no exception as it displayed some of the best talent in the local Hard Rock and Doom Metal community.

Friday 9th Oct

 The Friday was Hard Rock day and to say it was an extremely promising line up would be a huge understatement; the likes of already established TOXIC SHOCK, THE SMOKIN PROPHETS and headliners WESTERN SAND along with some newcomers, it was going to be quite a special night for the community.

MOTHER OF PEARL delivered a classic set of Grunge tinted tunage that warmed up the punters of The Firehouse rather nicely, from their tight sound and excellent stage manner you wouldn’t have thought they had only formed two weeks prior to their performance that day. This band is recommended for those fans of old school NIRVANA and PEARL JAM, basically anything under the Grunge umbrella. A force worth looking and listening out for.

KAST were next to hit the stage and they provided a somewhat Psychedelic vibe to the evening, their sound provided a strong reminder of MONSTER MAGNET. It was an extremely chilled aspect of the evening which was a great break away from the energetic Hard Rock that was bestowed. They also show that the next best thing can be found right on your doorstep.

 More talent from Southampton now and THE SMOKIN’ PROPHETS did a lot more than turn up the heat of this Hard Rock fuelled spectacle. They displayed this through their huge riffs, amazing vocal work and their larger than life presence; THE SMOKIN’ PROPHETS show that you don’t need big hair to create that huge impact on stage. Their cover of GUNS ‘N ROSES classic “Welcome To The Jungle” went down a treat at The Firehouse.

Portsmouth based Hard Rock outfit TOXIC SHOCK have gained a reputation for their highly energetic shows with their really tight sound. There was no exception with this performance as they delivered incredibly well with riffs and vocals big enough to fill arenas and stadiums. One thing that will be speculated here is to catch this Hard Rock group whilst they still provide a stadium like sound and vibe to small venues.

Bournemouth/Poole based WESTERN SAND have been a strong Blues Rock force since coming across them in 2011 when they provided support to HEAVEN’S BASEMENT. They provided a stunning, energy fuelled live show with material across the years and it’s refreshing to see how much they have grown and developed as a band over the past few years. Their performance that weekend was no exception, their set consisted of great vocal work, timeless riffs and pounding rhythms from the drums; the crowds seem to take to them instantly and they proved to be the worthy headliners at The Firehouse. It will be a treat to see them headline again soon.

Saturday 10th Oct

Saturday was quite literally Dooms Day at The Firehouse when it was the turn of Doom and Sludge Metal to take to the stage.

Sludge/Doom ZOMPOK were first to hit the stage that fateful evening; one thing that can definitely be stated about their sound it is not for the faint hearted.  Being described as Horror Inspired explains why their music is not for the timid and the weak; it was originally quite tricky to get into their vibes being it was so early in the evening and still nursing the hangovers from the night before. They did however provide the perfect ambience for a night of Doom.

MARCH THE DESERT provided a more Melodic and chilled break to the evening with their BLACK SABBATH-esque sound and chilled vibes; in parallel to the Hard Rock evening there was something to calm the waves before the storm that was to be bestowed. Their excellent stage presence and tight sound was left highly admired by The Firehouse.

And now for something completely different; Technical Death Metal outfit HOLE IN THE SKY were next to show The Firehouse what they were made of.  This Brighton Technical Death Metal outfit have a sterling reputation in the underground Metal community for producing brutal live shows showcasing their heart pounding music. It had been a little while since swishing the hair in a sweeping headbang along to them and it was a great release. Even with a different line up they still deliver one of the best quality sounds in metal.

Birmingham based Doom/Stoner quartet ALUNAH proved to be a sturdy choice to co-headline the Dooms day at The Firehouse; their stage presence was incredibly enchanting from the word go and their music was remarkably charming, with these two aspects within their show it’s no wonder they are slowly growing a fan base. Their sound provided The Firehouse with heart-pounding beats, riffs and solos fused incredibly with Soph Day’s captivating, relaxing vocal work; this provided an extremely psychedelic, brutal and chilled environment. The perfect ambience for the Doom Metal head.

In the Doom community WITCHSORROW are a huge presence and impact; they recently released a sterling new album titled “No Light Only Fire” which is incredibly self explanatory in the world of Doom.  Their pounding riffs, hard hitting beats and dirty sounds went down a treat with The Firehouse crowd as they swayed, head banged or just simply nodding in appreciating with a pint in their hand WITCHSORROW were on an absolute role with their live appearance.

There was effective use of the smoke machine adding to the already mysterious Doom atmosphere; it worked for each and every band including HOLE IN THE SKY who aren’t even a Doom act.

So two consecutive days providing us with the best Rock and Metal on the local scene showed us how all too important it is to support the local scene and how the next big act could be right on your doorstep. Metal Temple would like to express thanks to the MARS society and Uruz Media for putting on this spectacle of a show.

Promoter: M.A.R.S
Ticket Price: £5 Weekend / £3 Day


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Edited 09 July 2020

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