Station 18 Festival 2024 / Sunday, South Of Salem And A Show-Stopping Performance

There is no doubt that the organisers of Station 18 Festival have the ability to pull the rabbit out of the hat from time to time. This year they empty an entire burrow of the fluffy buggers by pulling in one of the hottest properties in UK Rock in South Of Salem. If you wanted evidence of the pull of the South Coast quintet, it’s the queue of punters outside the venue before doors open sporting the band’s t-shirts.

Station 18 Festival 2024

Hangar 18, Swansea – Sunday 5th May 2024

Words And Photography: Paul Hutchings

As it happens, they will have to wait over ten hours before they get to see South Of Salem, as a technical issue throws one almighty spanner into the mix at the mid-point, causing the mother of all delays.

South Of Salem - Station 18 Festival - Hangar 18, Swansea - Friday 3rd May 2024
South Of Salem – Station 18 Festival – Hangar 18, Swansea – Friday 3rd May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk
South Of Salem

It may be late when South of Salem finally hit the stage, but these boys are not easing anyone gently towards their overdue coco. Oh no, South Of Salem hit the stage with the power of a thousand engines and proceed to demonstrate why you won’t be able to see them up close and personal like this for much longer. They bring a big production, lighting, coffins, steps, everything but the pyro that has been added to their shows in the past. 

South Of Salem - Station 18 Festival - Hangar 18, Swansea - Friday 3rd May 2024
South Of Salem – Station 18 Festival – Hangar 18, Swansea – Friday 3rd May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

They stand still, silhouetted against their logo on the screen as the Funeral Intro rolls. It’s an explosion of movement from there on, though, as they power into Let Us Prey. They bring a classic ’80s sound with a contemporary twist, and whilst it would be wrong to say that they are original in many aspects, their whole delivery and imagery combined with a riff-heavy set list make them unstoppable and totally compelling to watch. 

Whether it be the commanding vocals of Joey Draper, the constant flying through the air of guitarist Kodi Kasper or the shredding lead work of Denis Sherriff, there is something mesmerising about South Of Salem.

South Of Salem - Station 18 Festival - Hangar 18, Swansea - Friday 3rd May 2024
South Of Salem – Station 18 Festival – Hangar 18, Swansea – Friday 3rd May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

They pull from their sophomore album Death Of The Party, something the crowd are intimately acquainted with. Vultures, Hellbound Heart, and Static all get the audience singing along. It’s a show that proves that you must earn your stripes, and South of Salem have done that with plenty of road work in the past few months, with a tour with Kris Barras literally just concluded. 

South Of Salem - Station 18 Festival - Hangar 18, Swansea - Friday 3rd May 2024
South Of Salem – Station 18 Festival – Hangar 18, Swansea – Friday 3rd May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

Well-structured, tight, and confident, by the time we get set closer, Left For Dead, this is a party that could run all night. As it is, we are well past curfew as Jet Black Eyes and Cold Day In Hell bring the roof down. 

It’s a magnificent ending to a phenomenal weekend. 

White Raven Down

They won me over with a stellar show at last year’s event, and White Raven Down, who make an epic journey which sees them get home at 7:15 am the following day, do it once again. They are late hitting the stage, and for an instant the pressure to get through the set is evident. 

White Raven Down - Station 18 Festival - Hangar 18, Swansea - Friday 3rd May 2024
White Raven Down – Station 18 Festival – Hangar 18, Swansea – Friday 3rd May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

Once that lifts, Stu Bailey and his fellow bandmates Luke Chappell and Tom Mrazek rip through a blistering eight-song set that is big on riffs, big on solos, and big on quality. Mind Reader sets the pace as the band dives deep into their album Don’t Shoot The Messenger. 

White Raven Down - Station 18 Festival - Hangar 18, Swansea - Friday 3rd May 2024
White Raven Down – Station 18 Festival – Hangar 18, Swansea – Friday 3rd May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

There’s an urgency about them, which is infectious. The crowd are engaged, and it’s not long before a quick singalong breaks out. Tonight is a step up for the band, and despite the journey and the pressure, as they rip into the final song Lost Your Hold, it’s evident that White Raven Down could be headliners here in the not-too-distant future. 

The Now

They are apparently the next big thing, but to be brutally honest, I had never heard of The Now before this festival. According to their website, The Now promise one of the best live shows around, and a place to escape the mundane fallacies of day-to-day life. Sadly, for me, their Alternative Rock falls flat on its face, as I just don’t get any spark coming from them. 

The Now - Station 18 Festival - Hangar 18, Swansea - Friday 3rd May 2024
The Now – Station 18 Festival – Hangar 18, Swansea – Friday 3rd May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

This is only my opinion, for many in the audience are clearly enthralled. They cut a smart appearance, suited and booted, and they are evidently extremely competent. By all accounts, their debut album, Too Hot To Handle, has received rave reviews [Ed: Including at MetalTalk!]

The Now - Station 18 Festival - Hangar 18, Swansea - Friday 3rd May 2024
The Now – Station 18 Festival – Hangar 18, Swansea – Friday 3rd May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

Devil Inside Me works well, but apart from singer/guitarist Shane Callaghan, movement is limited. There’s a swagger and confidence about them, and many in the room are swaying along. For me, their style is a little too generic, and after a few songs, it’s time to head to the media area for a rest. The Now do what they do well, but you can’t like everything. 

Skinny Knowledge

There’s something for everyone (well, maybe not the Extreme end of Metal) at Station 18, and Skinny Knowledge bring their high-energy vibe combined with their snappy dress sense to the later afternoon with an upbeat blend of post-pop-punk and grunge that gets the audience up on their feet for a boogie. 

Skinny Knowledge - Station 18 Festival - Hangar 18, Swansea - Friday 3rd May 2024
Skinny Knowledge – Station 18 Festival – Hangar 18, Swansea – Friday 3rd May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

Reminiscent of Green Day, Blink 182 and the Foo Fighters, their radio-friendly songs such as I Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll and Strike Out have a certain appeal. Plenty of dancing as they career through a ten-song set that flies by. If you want a pickup midway through the day, these boys are probably as good a bet as anyone. 

Lesbian Bed Death

Gothic punk meets hard rock with a horror theme. That’s how Lesbian Bed Death have been badged through their 20-year-plus career. With only guitarist Mr Peach, a constant member, for many, this might have been the first viewing of the band. 

Lesbian Bed Death - Station 18 Festival - Hangar 18, Swansea - Friday 3rd May 2024
Lesbian Bed Death – Station 18 Festival – Hangar 18, Swansea – Friday 3rd May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

Energy is provided by current singer JJ, who makes up for the static Mr Peach and bassist Leisl Heath. Their music is throwaway pop-themed rock, and their song titles do not really live up to their implications. I Use My Powers For Evil is lightweight but a decent enough opener to gain some attention. Horrors Of The Crown Hotel gets some movement and a glance around the room sees plenty of heads nodding. 

Lesbian Bed Death - Station 18 Festival - Hangar 18, Swansea - Friday 3rd May 2024
Lesbian Bed Death – Station 18 Festival – Hangar 18, Swansea – Friday 3rd May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

We don’t get the band’s most famous song, Goth Girls Are Easy, but Satanic Suicide Sex Cult may have won song title of the weekend. Ultimately, LBD delivers enough to enjoy but with limited excitement in comparison to other bands over the weekend. 

50 Year Storm

Introduced by compere Mike Snook as the band he has seen more than any other, 50 Year Storm’s alternative synth rock with an industrial edge changes the temperature once more. The three-piece bring an entertaining and different sound, which switches styles on multiple occasions. 

50 Year Storm - Station 18 Festival - Hangar 18, Swansea - Friday 3rd May 2024
50 Year Storm – Station 18 Festival – Hangar 18, Swansea – Friday 3rd May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

It’s a ferocious approach that keeps the interest throughout, despite singer Damon Morey being pinned behind his keyboards for most of the set. Drummer Emma Limn keeps the tempo ticking along, whilst guitarist Andy Limn adds very necessary riffs. 

50 Year Storm - Station 18 Festival - Hangar 18, Swansea - Friday 3rd May 2024
50 Year Storm – Station 18 Festival – Hangar 18, Swansea – Friday 3rd May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

Merging U2 with Gary Numan and even touches of Rammstein, 50 Year Storm bring something different. Recent single Doldrums goes down well, with other songs, including Grace and We The Brave, receiving decent responses. 

Stone Angels

Thick riffs, hard rocking, and lighting up trainers, Brighton’s Stone Angels pulled no punches. They combine the tempo of Trucker Diablo with the grit of Therapy and the Black Spiders in a way that can’t fail to get the feet tapping. It’s no-nonsense hard rock that instantly grabs the attention. 

Stone Angels - Station 18 Festival - Hangar 18, Swansea - Friday 3rd May 2024
Stone Angels – Station 18 Festival – Hangar 18, Swansea – Friday 3rd May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

Ideal when you are getting stuck into your afternoon pints, songs such as opener Lines In The Sand, the power of recent release Supercharged and Over The Edge get things moving. 

Stone Angels - Station 18 Festival - Hangar 18, Swansea - Friday 3rd May 2024
Stone Angels – Station 18 Festival – Hangar 18, Swansea – Friday 3rd May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

Festivals are made for bands like Stone Angels, and their groove, combined with a decent stage presence, makes them an enjoyable watch from start to finish. 

RIZEN

Feel-good hard rock isn’t always that easy to pull off, but RIZEN do it the right way. Unassuming, they stick to their strengths, which are big hooks and solid riffs, and in frontman Adrian Mills, they have a real focus. He’s got an element of Biff Byford in the way he sings and has a way with words that is engaging.  

RIZEN - Station 18 Festival - Hangar 18, Swansea - Friday 3rd May 2024
RIZEN – Station 18 Festival – Hangar 18, Swansea – Friday 3rd May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

Early in the afternoon isn’t the ideal slot but RIZEN take the challenge and ace it from start to finish. Unashamedly ’80s hard rock in sound, its feel-good songs like Freeway and Dreamchaser that catch the ear. 

RIZEN - Station 18 Festival - Hangar 18, Swansea - Friday 3rd May 2024
RIZEN – Station 18 Festival – Hangar 18, Swansea – Friday 3rd May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

A new song is tried, and slots neatly into the set. For me, it makes no difference as all the songs are new to me! Smiles all round at the end, with another newie MIKIA finishing things off nicely. Engaging, enjoyable, RIZEN certainly bring some fun. 

White Leather

To start the final day, we are presented with White Leather, the second band to win a slot via the battle of the bands. They are young but competent, and despite their obvious influences (see GNR and Metallica circa Black album era), they make a decent fist of things and start the day with a vibrant set that gets better as they grow in confidence. 

White Leather - Station 18 Festival - Hangar 18, Swansea - Friday 3rd May 2024
White Leather – Station 18 Festival – Hangar 18, Swansea – Friday 3rd May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

You can’t ask for more, and they make enough of an impression to keep a mental note to check them out again. 

You can read all MetalTalk’s coverage of Station 18 Festival 2024 here. The 2023 edition can be seen here.

White Leather - Station 18 Festival - Hangar 18, Swansea - Friday 3rd May 2024
White Leather – Station 18 Festival – Hangar 18, Swansea – Friday 3rd May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk
White Raven Down - Station 18 Festival - Hangar 18, Swansea - Friday 3rd May 2024
White Raven Down – Station 18 Festival – Hangar 18, Swansea – Friday 3rd May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk
The Now - Station 18 Festival - Hangar 18, Swansea - Friday 3rd May 2024
The Now – Station 18 Festival – Hangar 18, Swansea – Friday 3rd May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk
South Of Salem - Station 18 Festival - Hangar 18, Swansea - Friday 3rd May 2024
South Of Salem – Station 18 Festival – Hangar 18, Swansea – Friday 3rd May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk
Skinny Knowledge - Station 18 Festival - Hangar 18, Swansea - Friday 3rd May 2024
Skinny Knowledge – Station 18 Festival – Hangar 18, Swansea – Friday 3rd May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk
White Raven Down - Station 18 Festival - Hangar 18, Swansea - Friday 3rd May 2024
White Raven Down – Station 18 Festival – Hangar 18, Swansea – Friday 3rd May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

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