Way back in October 2019, we took our London-based butts on a trip all the way to Sheffield to enjoy AoniaFest III at The Corporation. The one-day festival put on and headlined by the operatic/progressive band, Aonia. We had a great time, saw great bands and pretty much decided there and then, that this would be a yearly trip for us from now on.
We planned for Aoniafest IV and then, as we all know, the world slowly ground to a halt and everything got cancelled or postponed. No-one would have blamed Aonia for just giving up and calling AoniaFest a day, but they’re made of much stronger stuff. It’s taken a while. We’ve waited a long time for this. Aonia have waited a long time for this. Yet here we are. AoniaFest IV, with some last-minute line-up changes, finally took place and what a wonderful time it was too.
Now, for clarity’s sake and to stop any accusations of bias, we did sponsor this event. In fact, that goes back to Aoniafest III in 2019. However, that’s were our involvement ends. We wish to support events like this, while keeping completely out of it. We’re not involved in the running, organisation, booking etc. We don’t want to be and we don’t ask for free tickets (we all bought our tickets). We simply want to help make events like this happen in any way we can.
So, with that out of the way, let’s talk AoniaFest IV and the bands we saw.
The Corporation hasn’t changed a bit since we were last here, walking in, it’s like going back in time. Sticky floor and all. Yet, there’s something so homely about it. It feels like a venue made for rock and metal bands; dark and grungy, with a smell you just can’t put your finger on.
A decent-sized crowd for a start time of 1430 means opening band Ashes of Ire get a strong reaction and for good reason. One of the heavier bands on this bill, their brand of metalcore is frantic and frenzied, the walls of the Corporation reverberating with the intensity. It’s 30-minutes of classy heaviness that will certainly have gained the band some new fans.
Up next, the last-minute addition (Final Coil had to drop out sadly) of Loyds Trip and holy hell, do these guys take advantage of this opportunity. Playing a loud and energetic style of rock ‘n’ roll, Loyds Trip put on a phenomenal show, playing as though they’re the headliners of a stadium-sized event. I knew nothing about this band beforehand but by time their set ended, I was a diehard fan.
It almost seemed impossible to top that but along come Walk in Coma, the Essex-based band (we weren’t the only one coming from afar for this event) to absolutely smash it too. In a similar vein, they deliver their brand of alt-metal (bit of groove, bit of ‘core, bit of trad, you name it) with an incredible amount of gusto. Mesmerisingly heavy, 30-minutes absolutely flies by in a blur of crunchy, head-banging inducing noise.
With Walk in Coma having left most of the crowd breathless, a little something different is quite welcome and that different comes in the form of folk ‘n’ rollers, Candence Noir. Far more fun than it has any right to be, they bring a set filled with energetic groove and melodically folk-injected rock music that puts a smile on many a face. They have a larger sound than you would expect, and it’s been a while since we’ve seen that much PVC on stage.
Alas, we don’t have as much to say about symphonic rockers Serpentyne unfortunately, as we didn’t see much of their set. We weren’t alone as the Corporation has emptied a bit (people must eat!) which was unfortunate for the band. Did the diminished crowd affect their performance? It’s hard to say but the little bit we did see, felt subdued.
No such issue for Luke Appleton, who brings his solo show to AoniaFest, under a power trio guise made up of Luke, Matt Jones of Dakesis and Adam Harris. Everyone was back for this and it’s one of the most fun shows of the day/night. The talent on stage means we get one of the tightest and smoothest shows of the fest, and it almost seems unfair that Aonia have to follow this. The highlight? A spectacular cover of Megadeth’s A Tout Le Monde.
Which brings us to the organiser and headliners, Aonia. Hopefully, a band that needs little introduction. An operatic/progressive metal band fronted by two powerhouse vocalists, Aonia continue to excel in their genre and have become a respected and beloved name in the UK underground scene. Hearing them on record is one thing but hearing and seeing them live is another. It’s both heart-warming and thrilling to see that they’ve not missed a step since we last saw them play live. In fact, there’s proof that they’ve improved as their stage presence is on another level here.
Pulling from their ‘still so’ listenable debut album, The Seven (four years old now, can you believe it?) but throwing in some surprises, it’s an unsurprisingly strong and gratifying set from Aonia. Tracks like Siren’s Lament, Hyde and Seek (with some costume changes too), If You Dare and their immense cover of Queen’s The Show Must Go On make this a spectacular end to the day.
Roll on AoniaFest V.
AoniaFest IV at The Corporation, Sheffield (25/06/22)
Ashes of Ire - 8/10
Loyds Trip - 8.5/10
Walk in Coma - 9/10
Cadence Noir - 8/10
Serpentyne - 6/10
Luke Appleton - 8/10
Aonia - 9/10