Having been held up at work, I arrived at the Corporation a little later than planned, and as I made my way up to the small room of the Corporation complex I could hear that Air Drawn Dagger had already started. I grabbed a pint and found a spot for my first encounter with the local Sheffield crew and I was impressed by their sassy alternative rock. There was a lot of energy on stage as the band interacted with a small but enthusiastic group at the front who were clearly familiar with the angst ridden pop punk. The short set culminated with vocalist Maisie Manterfield joining the crowd and cavorting face down on the sticky floor!

After a short interlude Aonia returned to the Corporation having played here (albeit in a different room) a fortnight ago with Xandria. Having really enjoyed their set on that occasion I had high hopes and was not disappointed as they took to the stage with their operatic symphonic metal. Through a wall of dry ice, the band sounded tight with Mel and Jo’s operatic vocals working in perfect unison. I had dragged my brother-in-law who was visiting from Norway to the gig, and he was absolutely blown away by the whole experience. Keeping up the international theme, Aonia gave out a shout to two girls visiting from Brazil before launching into the excellent ‘Siren’s Lament’, which ended a set which was far too short.

In between bands I chatted with a friend I knew from previous Inferno festivals who had travelled to the UK from Norway specifically for a couple of the Kobra and the Lotus shows, and I started to wonder if I might be the only person from the UK in attendance! After a brief catch up, it was the turn of London’s Brutai. Having never had the chance to catch them live before, I was looking forward to their progressive metal. Guitarist Henry broke a string early on but the band soldiered on admirably as Felix’s clean vocals and growls juxtaposed atop a thunderous rhythm section.

After the obligatory shout out to Kobra and the Lotus, the band followed with ‘Lucidity’ from the debut album ‘Born’, and it was at this point that I found my mind wandering, and began to find the clean vocals to be a little grating. I wasn’t sure whether this was an issue with the sound in the venue or whether the vocalist was struggling a little, but either way it detracted from an otherwise enjoyable set.

And so to the main event of the evening and Kobra and the Lotus. These Canadian’s have really made a name for themselves over recent years with some phenomenal live performances, and they have really raised the bar with the most recent release Prevail I (the first part of a double album), leading to high expectations amongst the moderately sized crowd. ‘Trigger Pulse’ soon allayed any fears as the band showed that the ever growing reputation was thoroughly deserved. Kobra took a moment to thank the crowd, acknowledging that many people had travel from other countries, to which a bloke stood in front of me said “Yeah, we’re from Barnsley” which made me smile.

There was plenty of crowd interaction as the classics rolled by before a bit of momentum was lost with a drum solo (although a ‘Run to the Hills’ snippet met with crowd approval). ‘Hell on Earth’ flew by before the outstanding ‘Prevail’ brought the main set to an end, although no-one was under any illusion that that would be the end of the set, and sure enough, the band soon returned.

‘Lost in the Shadows’ brought about a change in pace before the evening was brought to a close with the inevitable ’50 Shades of Evil’ which had everyone singing along.

As great as it is seeing bands in intimate venues, Kobra and the Lotus really deserve to be playing much bigger stages than this and I find myself lamenting the UK music scene when an endless stream of talentless puppets play to thousands of people night after night, while genuinely talented groups such as Kobra and the Lotus are resigned to playing tiny club venues. C’est la vie I guess…..

Review and photos Andy Pountney