More bands need to introduce themselves with a rallying cry: ‘The high chiefs of heavy metal! The bringers of destruction! The Saints of War!’ is a much more exciting description than the usual ‘well, we play mostly originals with a few covers…’.
Saints of War is a heavy rock four-piece hailing from Middlesbrough. Playing together since 2012 (although vocalist Michael is still the new boy, having joined in 2016), they regularly gig across the North East with their ‘unique sound’ of ‘melodic vocals combined with driving riffs, punchy bass lines, and belting drums’.
They draw on a mix of rock influences (‘Zakk Wylde, Rush, Queen, Disturbed all would be up there’) and so find that they get compared to many different bands, although Alterbridge and Shinedown tend to be some of the most commonly mentioned.
They have built a strong name for themselves for their live performances across the area – not just the standard list of rock-friendly pubs, but (according to recent Facebook videos) also the occasional biker rally.
“There’s so much positivity around the North East scene”
Excitingly, Saints of War are just one of nearly thirty bands playing the fifth annual Smithfest in Hartlepool on Saturday 21st July this year, with more names still to be announced online.
The £4.00 entry fee guarantees a glorious full-day musical pub crawl from The Clarendon (main stage) to The Hops & Cheese (acoustic stage) to the Corporation Club, where Saints of War will be headlining the Heavy Stage.
Having also headlined the festival in previous years, they’re keen to come back again for 2018: “Every year we do this it has been a blast, and this year’s going to be no different,” they said.
As well as their own set, they recommend seeing ‘all the bands on the Heavy Stage’, particularly League of Souls (“one of our favourite bands to play with – they are amazing”), Krome (“[they] were on before us last year and went down a treat…that will be a set not to be missed”) and Lee Etherington over the road on the Acoustic Stage (“Lee has been a massive supporter of us as people as well as Saints as a band, so it will be nice to see him back on stage”).
There’s a great positivity and community spirit around Smithfest, but the band feel that isn’t something unique to one festival. When reflecting on the past few years of performing locally, they say: “There’s a lot more support for artists these days; there’s so much positivity around the North East scene – everyone wants everyone to succeed’.
Saints of War are, as they say, “always” working on new music, and have promised that some of their newest songs will be introduced at their upcoming gigs: “The hope is by our Halloween show in Saltburn we will have a full album recorded and ready to launch”.
Apart from that, their main plan for the future is simply that: “we just want to be on stage doing what we do best”.
Further details for Saints of War and their upcoming appearances can be found on Facebook and on their website at www.saintsofwar.net – check out the video for their most recent single ‘Alone In The Dark’ online.
For Smithfest, all information can be found on their Facebook and Twitter (@smithfestUK) where you can find the full list of acts playing too. If you’ve been to Smithfest before then you know that it’s an event that you really can’t miss – especially if you call yourself a North East music lover.