With strong drinks and stronger music, rock bars are fiercely independent havens for UK metalheads, who have been donating thousands to keep them alive after Covid

It’s Friday night in north London’s Black Heart, a rock and metal bar tucked away on a Camden side street. The walls and ceiling are – inevitably – painted black, the beer taps are furnished with antlers, and the speakers are blasting out Metallica’s Enter Sandman. As the chorus hits, the whole bar breaks into song, and the bartender turns down the volume so all that can be heard is a room full of joyous metalheads belting out: “We’re off to never-never land!”

As pints splash and voices echo, the scene feels poignant: pandemic lockdowns left rock fans wondering when they might have moments like this again, with the Black Heart nearly closing down until it was saved by a crowdfunding campaign with prize draws that raised more than £150,000 in seven weeks.

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