ASCENSION DAY 3 - The Patriot, Crumlin 09.06.19




Are we really on the final day already? Sunday brings with it 9 bands as we head into the final stretch. Our DTF Merch Madams are set up once again ready to sell the bands’ wares, our Front of House Manager / Artist Liaison, Fiona has her very important clipboard in hand and is ready to welcome in the final bands, and us reviewers and photographers have our schnacks and water that will power us through the day. Bring it on!


DEAD AT 27 are a heavy alternative rock quartet from Caerphilly with influences of punk, blues and rock ‘n’ roll flair. They have a sound described as ‘vicious excellent noise’ (Adam Walton, BBC Radio), and ‘loud enough to wake the dead’. The band say their debut album ‘Bring in the Lights’ gave them a chance to be timeless, “One very special moment for us was listening to our finished album for the first time in full. In that moment, it felt like we had been immortalised and left a mark on the world; to say we were here, and we played our hearts out!”.


This was never going to be a Sunday to rest, was it? Not when you’re opening up the afternoon with these Welsh rockers. What better way to celebrate frontman Nathan’s 31st birthday. DEAD AT 27 blazed through a brilliant set that felt like the release of a lot of pent up energy.


Animalistic drummer Chris was a phenom behind the kit, so much power but utilizing a lot of dynamics in his playing too; not just a tub-thumper! Nathan’s vocals were as we expected, guttural, emotional and raw. Full of heartfelt passion and it came across as an honest performance.


New track ‘Ridin’ Da Wave’, about Charles Manson, showed a different side to the band. There was a swing to it at times with a lot of groove and throbbing bass from Mitch Casey. The versatility of this band is fantastic. Throughout their set, songs built with vigorous intensity, going back to what we said about those dynamics. Their track ‘Lights’ carries you on a tidal surge of heavy riffage; total epicness courtesy of Dave Griffiths on guitar.


The set ended with the anthemic ‘Freak’, which is even more visceral live than it is on their superb record. We were taken on a thrilling rollercoaster ride of vehement, biting savagery at its finest. DEAD AT 27 surpassed our expectations and left us hungry for more.


Band Members

Nathan Gratton-Smith - Vocals / Guitar

Mitch Casey - Vocals / Bass

Chris Lerwell - Drums / Percussion

Dave Griffiths - Guitar

3-piece, London based blues rockers TRIDENT WATERS are a high energy band whose single ‘Pure Grain Audio’ was released in May of this year. The band have just released their new EP ‘Hollywood to Vegas’.


Straight off we’re treated to a heavy, funky, groovy riff and the sound created by this trio is wonderful. The tone from Andrew Knightley’s guitar is beautiful and Wilson Zaidan’s bass fills out the space between with a full bodied tone. This is all more than ably backed by Greg Zaka, the groove machine behind the kit.


‘Eva Lane’ is a soul drenched blues number that you just want to drink up, and along with ‘Be So Bad’ and ‘Desert Song’ showcases Andrew’s unique vocal talents. The performance overall is extremely slick, polished and professional. The guitar work is absolutely stunning, a standout being the solo in ‘Save Me’ which was so emotive. The only thing we can say about final track ‘Bad Man Blues’ is “wow!”


We’ve been supporters of TRIDENT WATERS for a while and have always liked their music but seeing them live is a must. The riffs and face melting solos sound so much bigger live and when married with the hypnotic drums and bass, they really are something special.


No gimmicks. Just pure talent.


Band Members

Andrew Knightley - Vocals / Guitar

Wilson Zaidan - Bass

Greg Zaka - Drums

FEAR WITHOUT REASON are an alternative rock band out of Wolverhampton that add straight up British twists to their more traditionally American sounding tunes. Their songs are influenced by real life issues, and their single ‘Four Walls’ raised money for the mental health charity, SANE. After a five year hiatus, the band came back stronger than ever in 2017 to an outstanding comeback gig in Wolverhampton.


Not only is this the band’s first gig in Wales but it is in fact the band's first gig outside of the Midlands and they were so happy to be here. Andy Goodwin’s drum sound was utterly pounding throughout and we loved that snap on ‘Pushed You Away’. Schnappy!

The smooth vocal tones of frontman Zaz were simply astounding, so full of honesty and passion, which translated easily from record to stage, adding more substance to the lyrics.


Their soon-to-be-released single ‘Towers of Gold’ is a smack in the face and just emotionally Herculean! Thanks to Andy being more like Animal throughout this one, we couldn’t sit still so had to go and have a proper mosh.


‘Four Walls’, one of their recent singles, is something really special. 50% of the profits from it went to mental health charity, SANE. The build to the chorus was immense and incredibly emotional, bringing tears to some eyes. ‘Broken’ was a track we’d been wanting to see performed live and it was awesome, exceeding all expectations.


You could imagine FEAR WITHOUT REASON doing well on US radio as they have such an American, melodic hard rock sound.


So impressed were we with their set that we all rushed in to #BuyTheMerch

Overall, this is a band full of raw, honest emotion and vulnerability and should be heard by more ears! We’re not ashamed to say that we love these guys!


Band Members

Zaz - Vocals

Ste Roberts - Guitar

Andy Goodwin - Drums

Rich Yates - Guitar

Phil Wilkinson - Bass

An immediate two brownie points go to KALUSS. One for stepping in on 2 weeks notice and the second for agreeing to play their set 1 hour earlier due to half of STATIC FIRES being held up on the motorway. This meant no stopping the music and ASCENSION could continue with zero delay.


This South Devonshire 4-piece describe their sound as a modern, grungy energy with a heavy groove. They have two EPs under their belt, ‘Take Control’ and the recently released, self-titled offering ‘Kaluss’. This young band enjoy experimenting with different scales and vocal harmonies.


Well, well, well. Talk about Heavy Meaty Pounding! The monolithic heaviness began straight away with opener ‘Jawn’ which immediately drew the crowd in. No messing about and straight into their next track, ‘Creed’; these guys are just awesome.


‘Hands Down’ starts with heavy bass that you can feel in the pit of your stomach and in what seems to be the norm for this weekend, we’ve got another ferocious hard hitter on the drums. The frenetic energy these guys have is off the charts and I’d love to see them gracing a massive stage. They’ve even got their windmilling on point!


Before ASCENSION began they told us to expect hair and WOW, we got it. There’s a photo of bassist Ryan caught mid-windmill looking a little bit like Johnny Bravo, whilst guitarist Shamus bears an uncanny resemblance to Claudio of Coheed and Cambria. The hair, the heaviness, the insane double-kicking drumming, they were a spectacle to behold.


Slower number ‘Front Row’ started softer, built up speed and then crashed back down, whilst ‘Head Trip’ seemed to be an exercise in showing us just how heavy they can get. Did you hear that explosive drumming? Wow!


The band finish with ‘Grip’ which was the perfect way to end. It was epic and we loved it. The only disappointment is that it’s not on their self-titled EP, which we subsequently went and purchased from our very own ‘DTF Merch Madams’


Where Alien Weaponry are gaining praise on the modern thrash scene, people need to be looking at KALUSS to be doing the same for grunge. Outstanding.


Band Members

Tristan Everett - Vocals

Shamus Lee Tierney - Guitar

Chris Greenwood - Drums

Ryan Doyle - Bass

Swansea hard/alt rock band, STATIC FIRES released their debut record in 2014 and the punchy four piece also boast some slower, melodic ballad style songs as showcased on their 2018 album, ‘Thirteen’.


This band had a real laid back demeanor, relaxing easily into their music as they played. The ‘chuggy’, grinding rhythm of the bass was so heavy it made the chairs we were sitting on to take notes vibrate ;) It was gloriously addictive.

Sam’s passionate vocals had a raspy abrasive tone when higher yet were so clear in the lower range. This contrast was such a delight to the ears that became more intoxicating throughout the set.


We particularly loved ‘Future Plans’, for the strength in the powerful vocals and the gunfire drumming in the break down; there was a frenzied energy as the track built into the chorus.

Their track ‘Black Velvet’, was punchy and full of melody. So hooky. Try getting the chorus of ‘Return’ out of your head once you’ve heard it too! STATIC FIRES' blend of bass-led Alt-Rock is a fantastic listen.


Band Members

Sam Randles - Vocals / Rhythm Guitar

Jack Clements - Lead Guitar

Thomas Gibbins - Bass

Jack Piper - Drums / Backing Vocals

Blackballed are a groove rock trio from Manchester with a reputation for energetic live shows. They put out a self-recorded EP in early 2103, with a debut album following in 2015. The band have gigged all over Europe, America, Brazil and Australia, as well as dates and festival appearances all over the UK.


Blackballed pulled in the crowd from outside with their riff heavy bass sound. They definitely win the award for most dapper band of the weekend with their cool hats, smart waistcoats and swish shoes. They’ve a ballsy sound delivered with a quirky sense of style, their chemistry on stage is amazing, with a bit of cheekiness thrown in for good measure.


As drummer Leon has recently departed the band, Jack was filling on drums, and he turned out to be another incredible hard-hitter, giving the kit an incessant thumping, but with a soft touch when needed.


Marshall’s vocals range from powerful and fierce to raw and quite haunting, his voice is a total soul shaker, while his soaring riffs and blues driven melodies really get the crowd moving.


Their track ‘Shoes’ was hooky as hell, what a top thumper, so heavy it made us get up off our chairs and abandon our note-taking in favour of rocking out. This is a band that absolutely come to life on stage, they are like a dog let off the lead in a park, joyously running around after a ball. With huge grins on their faces, BLACKBALLED took over The Patriot stage and showed us their skilled musicianship, flair and copious amounts of fun, all whilst dressed to kill.

Band Members

MARSHALL GILL - guitar/vocals


SOLDATO are a four-piece hard rock band from Preston. Established in 2016, they describe their sound as modern hard rock with a classic feel, dirty rock riffs and rhythmic heavy beats. The band are thriving on the back of debut EP 'Your Animal' and are having an absolute blast playing live.


When the band explode onto the stage, a huge wall of fierce sound hits you in the face and the heavy meaty pounding just about throws you around the room; this is full throttle hard rock with melody that makes you want to MOVE!  I’d been wanting to see them play ‘Black Rage’ live for ages. I just had to stop writing my notes and stand up to soak up the heaviness and the sound that these guys have; it leaves me awestruck. Craig coaxes sounds from his guitar that are alien; it should not be possible to get those from an instrument! John’s mesmerising voice just draws you in.


Listening to their track ‘Soldato’, there are so many BIG grins on the faces of the DTF team, we absolutely love it HARD ‘N’ HEAVY! Cutting through the heaviness are some beautifully delicate and haunting parts amongst what can only be described as thunder. Phil is an animal behind the kit, it rocks with every strike, his sticks a blur. He is the truly the Norse God of drummers, even bleeding over everything, such was the velocity of his drumming. Rib crunching riffs. Fuck taking notes; we need to enjoy the show!

Band Members

John Taylor - Vocals/Guitar

Phil J Bailey - Drums

Craig Benyon - Guitar

Korv Sutch -guest bass

Southend-on-Sea natives WHITE RAVEN DOWN say their sound doesn’t fit into a specific genre, but they definitely have a very strong hard rock feel with a modern twist. The band released their single ‘Take Me’ followed by the EP ‘Conspiracy’ just two months later. Their evolution as a band has resulted in solid, energetic live performances, where the band come alive, bringing the crowd with them.


Lively, loud and energetic, the guys are striking right from the outset, with thick, riff heavy guitars and solid, rumbling bass lines. Tom seems supercharged with nitro, his powerful drumming with Will’s melodic vocals overlaid sounds incredible; the multi-layering makes for an immense sound, it was pumping! Will has incredible tone, especially on ‘Can You Hear Me Now’. He was a great, engaging frontman, performing a fantastic Freddie Mercury-esque tribute.


These guys have gig etiquette to the max! They were so incredibly supportive of all the bands playing here this weekend and of the industry as a whole. Brilliant interaction and audience participation. This is an expressive, entertaining band and their set went by in a flash, a true sign of a fucking good band! They would make worthy headliners. It’s time you #jointheconspiracy

Shoutout to Stu Bailey who has to riverdance over his gigantic pedal board! #NicestGuyInRock

Band Members

William Taylor - vocalist

Stu Bailey - guitar

Luke Chappell - bass

Tomas Mrazek - drums

Northampton four piece The Big Dirty formed in 2013 and their hard-hitting sound is ripe with punchy drums, tasty riffs and melodic vocals. They bring an energetic stage show, a lot of fun and a little bit of cheekiness to their live performances. They released a mini album, ‘Sex Rock City’ in December 2018.


The Big Dirty live is truly a sight to behold. Their dynamic, fierce and aggressive brand of energetic hard rock is delivered in a sexy rock ‘n’ roll way that just begs to be seen and heard. This is going to be a really hard one to describe, but we’ll certainly do our best! Each and every song the band performed was outstanding, but Jonny’s vocal wails during ‘Sex Rock City’ were orgasmic! This brand of sex rock certainly turned this room on!


‘Safeword’ was a hooky, invigorating earworm that had everyone in the room moving. Drummer Tobi had ‘DIRTY’ written on his chest in scarlet rub-proof lipstick (your reviewer checked several times to make sure it didn’t come off) was amazing to watch, so effervescent and his drumming was primal. His bandmates said Tobi, “fucks like a wildling”, referencing the famous character from Game of Thrones, after introducing him!


C Diddy on guitar was awesome, throwing out killer riffs with wild abandon all the time. He jumped down from the stage and after playing in the crowd, jumped behind the bar and continued to play there too. Bass player JC was really animated too, his bass notes resonating throughout, but especially on ‘Pheromone’, which has a delicious bass intro.  An incredible cover of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’ was a highlight, it was just fucking incredible. At this point the review team abandoned note taking once again and went to rock out! After experiencing these guys live and hearing ‘Rhythm Of My Drum’ it’s clear that this is a band you get up and party with.

Band Members

Vocals - Jonny Rocket

Guitar - Chris Datson/C Diddy

Bass - JC

Drums - Tobi Ripley

After witnessing all 25 bands this weekend, it has become even more apparent that live music is truly where it is at. Recorded material is fine, but the live experience gives you so much more. It touches your soul in a way that recorded music can only do up to a point.


ASCENSION has been an undoubted success thus proving that there is plenty of new musical talent out there and the next generation of headliners are ready to rise up.