Frankfest began in 2011 as a small event at The Racehorse, Tiverton, Devon, featuring bands that festival founder, Frank Dennis, played in at the time; Cambion, Cry Havoc and Anal Bead. The idea continued for another 2 years, but switched venues to The Seven Stars, Tiverton in 2012, where Cambion, Codex Alimentarius and Anal Bead. In 2013, Cambion, Anal Bead and Purging the Venom made appearances.
Meanwhile, Frank’s primary band, Cambion, were working hard and becoming successful in the UK underground scene, earning a slot at Bloodstock’s New Blood Stage in 2012 through the South West’s Metal 2 The Masses, and then being invited back in 2014 to play the larger SOPHIE Stage. This was alongside touring up and down the length of the country, playing abroad at Euroblast Festival and releasing their E.P. ‘Virus’, which saw them establish their Fear Factory and Meshuggah-inspired sound.
Through all the touring and festival appearances, the members of Cambion and their manager, Rachael Harrison of Enso Music Management, had gained many friends and contacts in the underground music scene. This, combined with Frank’s desire to build a festival in the south-western end of the country, made the largely successful 2015 edition possible. This became an all-day event, featuring bands that are well-known and up-and-coming in the UK metal scene such as Beholder, Metaprism, King Creature and Kill All The Gentlemen, as well as Frank’s own bands, Codex Alimentarius and Cambion; the latter of which have recently been announced to play Bloodstock’s main stage later this year. Frank adds: “I think the addition of Evil Scarecrow this year, and Beholder in 2015, is helping to raise the profile of the festival a bit more. It would be amazing if we could grow it into a full-on outdoor camping event one day, but I don’t want to rush into that too soon. If we can create a festival dedicated to rock and metal deep in the south west of England, then I will be happy with that as events like this are a bit thin on the ground this end of the country”.
The much larger venue of the New Hall was chosen to host the events for 2015 and this coming year, which has attracted people from all areas of the south west, and even some people from as far afield as Nottingham, officially putting the small town of Tiverton on the metal map.
This year sees a significant increase in the calibre of bands that have been booked, with less reliance on local acts and also expanding the festival into a 2-day rock and metal onslaught, with a free-to-enter pre-party at The Seven Stars on the Friday night. A greater variety of genres have been considered for this years edition, with thrash metal, melodic death metal, stoner rock, hard rock, pop punk, progressive death metal and whatever you might call Evil Scarecrow. Blackened parody metal, perhaps?
When asked about how he goes about booking bands for the festival, Frank replies: ” There are so many underground and unsigned bands that often get overlooked in the rock and metal scene. I usually choose bands that I have seen live myself, or bands that I am already a fan of. However, if the right band comes along, then I will try to book them whatever the genre. I like the idea of an event that caters to lots of different types of music and doesn’t just stick to one sub-genre, which ultimately narrows down the number of people who would be interested in attending”.
Frankfest 2016 takes places on the 8th and 9th of April 2016 at The Seven Stars and The New Hall, respectively, in Tiverton. Tickets are available here
The complete line up is as follows:
FRIDAY 8TH APRIL (The Seven Stars)
SATURDAY 9TH APRIL (New Hall)
Def Con One
Reign of Fury
Mad Hatter 2.0
Here are my top 5 bands to catch at the festival, kicking off with :
5. Reign of Fury
Reign of Fury have been on the UK metal scene for 10 years, bringing their own brand of melodic thrash crossed with NWOBHM from the Midlands. Their debut album ‘World Detonation’, released in 2012, along with hosting two Headbangers Balls tours in 2013 and 2014 has seen them become solid members of the UK’s underground.
Since then, they have moved from strength to strength, rising to the top of the pack, becoming one of the most desired bands in the UK tour scene, evidenced by an appearance on the SOPHIE Stage opening up the 2015 edition of Bloodstock Festival. Their second album ‘Death Be Thy Shepard’, released in 2015, won ‘Best New Album’ at the TBFM Music Industry Awards.
Reign of Fury are far greater than your average thrash band, introducing melodic vocals from Bison alongside the dual thrashing guitars of Jon Priestley and Ross “Lenny” McLennan, creating a unique heavy, yet melodic thrash sound. Add to this the excellent rhythm section, adding versatile structures to the lengthy songs, Magic Dave on drums and Paul Bielby on bass.
If you want to see a strong, professional and experienced melodic thrash metal band, comprised of passionate and honest members doing what they love to do, then this band is for you.
Catch Reign of Fury at Frankfest on Saturday 9th April 2016 at The New Hall, Tiverton.
Hailing from Gloucestershire, Oakhaart are a progressive death metal band influenced by the likes of Opeth, Mastodon, and Meshuggah. Since becoming roster buddies to Cambion on Enso Music Management, they have embarked on several UK tours and gained fans from across the country.
Before this, however, they had already experienced some success early on when they came through on top in their region in the Metal 2 The Masses competition, earning themselves a slot at the prestigious Bloodstock Festival in 2014. To date, they have played alongside the likes of Kobra and the Lotus and Xerath, raising their profile whilst writing progresses for their upcoming debut album.
You can expect a mix of harsh and clean vocals from Sam Sheers, melodic and chugging guitars from Jason Deakins and Max Medlow, accompanied by the complex bass lines of Mike Perks all under the control of the technical drums from Ollie Medlow.
You can catch Oakhaart at Frankfest on Saturday 9th April 2016 at The New Hall, Tiverton.
The latest addition the Enso Music Management roster, Bristol’s Mordrake refer to themselves as ‘Darkened Melodious Metal’. The 4-piece’s sound is inspired by Children of Bodom, Dimmu Borgir, Eluveitie, Behemoth and Wintersun, with lashings of their own intuitive style. Dual guitars and harsh vocals from James ‘Drakkar’ Mardon and Chris ‘Mor’ Kerfoot are key to the overall style of the group with blasting drums from Jake “Sparrow” Squire and deep bass from Gordon “Gordric” Amos.
The band have released one mini-album in 2014 entitled ‘Unhallowed Chambers’ showcasing a range of songs from the blast-beat riddled ‘Faded From Existence’ to the folk metal inspired ‘Guardians Will Return’.
Recently having earned an opening slot to Exodus and Lost Society at Bristol’s The Fleece, from which the performance received glowing reviews, Mordrake are looking to gain fans (or Guardians, as the band refers to them) and step up to the next level. Having already made a name for themselves in the south west, Mordrake are not to be missed and are certain to be a highlight at Frankfest whilst being the perfect warm up during the pre-party for the main event the following day.
You can catch Mordrake at Frankfest on Friday 8th April 2016 at The Seven Stars, Tiverton.
Cryostorm have long been a favourite among the metal fans of the south west. Their extreme melodic death metal sound made it to the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock back in 2011 after winning the slot through the Metal 2 The Masses. Two years later, fans saw the release of their epic debut album, ‘Version’, which you simply have to hear for yourself to believe. The album is filled with lightning fast melodic guitar passages and solos from frontman James Baillie-Hamilton. Not only is the band technically impressive, but you will find yourself humming the catchier choruses after listening to them.
Live, they have proven to be a tour de force, simultaneously shredding their guitars and windmilling. Every time I have seen the band in the past, they have managed to create real energy in the audience, no matter how big or small, creating walls of death and having people chanting and pumping their fists, and will have the crowd raring to go early on Saturday afternoon at Frankfest this year.
The band have been recognised by metal icons such as Per Nilsson of Scar Symmetry, Jarkko Kokko of Mors Principium Est and Ola Englund of Six Feet Under and have completed various UK tours across the country. In addition to James, the line up consists of Nick Richardson on guitars, Tim Hodgson on bass and Jack Gliddon on drums.
Put simply, you need to witness the force that is Cryostorm for yourself and join thousands of others who have already discovered this absolute gem from Exeter, Devon. That is, if you can keep up!
You can catch Cryostorm at Frankfest on Saturday 9th April 2016 at The New Hall, Tiverton.
1. Evil Scarecrow
Evil Scarecrow have become a household name in the UK metal scene thanks to their absolutely brilliant and wacky live show which made its way onto the Bloodstock mainstage in 2014 where the Nottingham blackened parody metallers gathered the largest crowd for an opening band in the history of the festival.
Robots, crabs, robot-crabs, dead things, a cyclops, video game bosses, a spider god and vampyres with trousers can all be found in their discography, and most of these things have manifested in their live shows. You will need to wear your participation hat when watching this bunch as they will have you scuttling like crabs, dancing like robots, firing party poppers into the air, ballroom waltzing like a cyclops, and my personal favourite: moon moshing.
Frontman Dr. Hell dictates the fun whilst interacting both in an out of character with fellow band mates Kraven Morrdeth, Princess Luxury, Brother Pain and Monty Blitzfist. The chemistry that the band members possess is unlike any band I’ve ever seen and it is truly a delight to witness a band have so much fun whilst performing.
2014’s Galactic Hunt marked the end of a 5-year gap in new material, and it was worth the wait, featuring new fan favourite ‘Crabulon’ – a sort of sequel to their anthem ‘Robototron’. From the success of this album and the critical acclaim achieved from their phenomenal performance at Bloodstock 2014, they are destined for greatness and will soon be too well known to play smaller venues. Last time they visited Devon, they played to a packed out The Junction in Plymouth where they played a very intimate show with no boundary between the crowd and stage, encouraging drummer Monty to come out and walk on the crowd!
Personally, I have been a fan of Evil Scarecrow since 2008 when I discovered them opening Bloodstock’s mainstage that year and over the last 8 years, I have seen them an immeasurable number of times, yet their show and their antics never seem to get old, unlike a lot of other parody acts. Their presence at Frankfest is a very big deal for a small town like Tiverton, and an experience that I am very much looking forward to being a part of.
You can catch Evil Scarecrow headlining Frankfest on Saturday 9th April 2016 at The New Hall, Tiverton.