Now in its 6th cycle (this year the host city is Sheffield in Northern England, for the very first time) Highway to Hell is HARD ROCK’S very own X Factor… Or ROCK FACTOR as we prefer to call it!
It’s a national (UK) recruitment campaign to find the very best hard rock, blues and AOR acts out there.
After preliminary rounds, there will be 19 finalists.
The bands listed here are will battle it out in front of the illustrious members of HRH Dark Circle (the members of HRH’s premier loyalty club) to win the coveted young blood slots at HARD ROCK HELL and the HAMMERFEST festivals. Over 90 % of bands who reach this stage end up being signed and catapulted into events world-wide.
Previous winners of the Highway to Hell competition have included The Screaming Eagles, The Amorettes & last years winners The Texas Flood.
The winners even get a record contract with sister brand Off Yer Rocka Recordings as well as the valuable slots at the HRH events.
Here we take a closer look at the Highway to Hell finalists:
1: A JOKER’S RAGE
These Northern (England) lads, fronted by the clown known as Zakk Taylor, have already issued their single “Bounce.”
It’s filled with fluid vocals, big fat ‘n’ greasy bass-lines and scurrilous harmonizing in amongst all the scuzz and scuff of metal mayhem.
2: BAD DOG
We have been listening to the squelching “Jupiter” from this North Wales outfit.
Martin John Byast’s vocals are gritty and whisky-soaked. The feel is vintage blues with a thick slice of sleaze.
This Wigan 5 piece hard rock band have recently appeared at the UK Bloodstock Festival! Their ‘The Other Side Of Paradise’ has superior drummery, Bon Jovi style guitars that run like liquid platinum.
And the kind of huge Lizzyish riffs that are as bold as they are wonderful. Very reminiscent of Rainbow. You’ll love this band.
4: BULLETPROOF ROSE
This hard-working rock band from West Cumbria have issued a self-titled track from their sizzling “Loud Hard Fast” EP.
It thumps, batters,strides and burns. It’s a dark and stylish piece of wrought-iron musicianship.
5: CONJURING FATE
This County Antrim band guarantee 100% Heavy Metal!
Songs like ‘Backwoods Witch’ have fierce riffs, smokin’ beats and exciting hollering vocals that twist at your pants.
These heavy-duty lads from Deal in Kent rock like Black Stone Cherry and they truly buzz with excitement.
7: FLORENCE BLACK
This teen rock trio from Wales have just released their blues-soaked ‘Grove Street.’
It’s filled with acidic pangs of guitar, lazy rhythms and soul-filled vocals.
8: FUTURE SHOCK UK
This London-based hard rock project features the Italian guitarist Andy Basiola.
They make high-quality foot-stompin’ rock that will remind you of Whitesnake. Their new release ‘More Than It Takes’ has defiant vocals, intricate guitar and fast-lovin’ rhythms.
9: GASOLINE OUTLAWS
Only formed last year in Belfast, Northern Ireland this band have already released a highly capable album No Rules, No Laws, No Regrets.
Their ‘Nothing On Me’ track is dark and slimy. Not unlike Alice Cooper, it snarls as the licks wrap around your limbs.
10: HELL’S ADDICTION
This band from Leicester pride themselves on providing no-shit kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll to the masses.
Their ‘Blue Lights’ jangles as much as it hurls itself at you. The vocals are impassioned and the sounds, especially the rhythms, are extraordinarily bright and dangerously addictive.
Proud to be unsigned (but for how long?) this London band reminds us of early Guns N’ Roses.
Their ‘Shut It Down’ has a killer riff and vocal fireworks. It’s a sizzle. That’s for sure.
Who doesn’t love a slice of sleaze? And these minstrels from Birmingham are master purveyors of all that’s glamtastic and downright scuzzy.
We’ve been listening to the title track from Lock ‘n’ Load. It’s filled with cosmic riffs, powdery rhythms and sneering vocals. It’s gorgeously dirty!
13: RUSTED HERO
The Blyth 4-piece rock band bring big and bruisy bass-heavy numbers like “The Unknown”.
The songs are fiery with attitude and huge in dimension.
14: SHOTGUN BOULEVARD
Hard rock from Wrexham. They’ve been away for a while — but they’re back now — with their infectious sounds that remind us of Mötley Crüe.
Their ‘Hell Of A Time’ has a sizzling and acidic riff that’s played at startling speed and untamed vocals that help to “Crank up the volume”. This is a singalong smash!
15: SILENT JACK
This Birmingham band are soon to unleash their ‘Play The Game’ album and they are asking for crowd support here: http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/silentjack
Expect rockin’ riffs, clean vocals and lots of fun… Think Hardcore Superstar to get the idea!
16: SKIN & BONE
These Sheffield hard rockers are influenced by Chickenfoot and the harder-edged hard rock bands of the 1980’s.
We have been listening to Let It Rain which was the first single from their album Revenge. This drills into your skull and turns your insides out!
17: STONE BROKEN
This band bring quality 4 piece melodic rock all the way from Walsall in the West Midlands.
Last year’s ‘Let Me Go’ has masculine vocals, pinch harmonics and grunting bass-play. The beat is stalwart and the piece is reminiscent of Nickleback.
18: THIRTEEN STARS
Wonderful Cumbrian Southern Rockers (with a country swing)… If you liked your Eagles but also enjoy something heavy to go with those clever vocals and super melodies, this is your band.
We love their ‘Only A Soldier’ it’s dusty, kicking, rugged and hairy. Like a ride with the road warriors or a night out in ol’ Dixie.
19: TWELVE GAUGE
Formed in 2012, this band are hard rocking with tight grooves, and pumping hot melody lines. They remind us of Alter Bridge.
This is Classic Rock for all those who seek quality.
We like their song ‘Lose Control’ with its aching-heart vocals and electric guitar-work. It has lumpy bass and tons-and-tons of raw power!
Words: @neilmach 2015 ©