Hellfest 2012 – Saturday

Before we have even had time to shake off the hangover, it’s already time to get back into the arena for round two. It’s slightly bizarre to see a band as dark and melancholic as German black/death outlet Necros Christos in broad daylight, however the attempt at sunshine is completely eclipsed by their toned down axes and slow and sinister riffs. In true Necros Christos form, there are many long and magical interludes and instrumentals which are equally as impressive as the gravely metal it separates.

Over on the Main Stage Two, the thrash has bought the sunshine out again and Death Angel are swimming in good vibes. Celebrating the 25 year anniversary of their debut to the day, the band treats their fans to ‘The Ultra Violence’ in its entirety. Every member of the band is full of energy and both the audience and artist are full of smiles as they shred through the title track and favourite ‘Thrashers’. Mark’s dreads are flung around like wild snakes as he laps up every bit of this historical moment for the band.

When you look up to bands so highly, you forget the fact that bands look up to one another and when Exodus are joined on stage by some of the Death Angel boys, it’s clear the thrash scene is still as tight knit as before. The Bay Area bruisers never fail to impress when it comes to their live shows as they blast through their catalogue, sticking to the older stuff this time round. Rob Dukes is the ultimate pit commander and when ‘Toxic Waltz’ starts, everyone loses their shit, both metaphorically and literally (you should’ve seen the lost property after). Unfortunately guitarist Gary Holt is unable to attend, however fans are more than pleased about the stand in, former guitarist Rick Hunolt.

Despite being in the death metal underground for so long, America’s Necrophagia certainly haven’t decayed. Last year’s release of ‘Deathtrip 69’ was a great success and the set is as gory as their name would suggest with frontman Killjoy, the only original member, bringing out plastic limbs and then thrusting a fake decapitated head. Despite the bizarre pantomime, the acoustics are raw and edgy and with Necrophagia rarely touring Europe, this is definitely a treat.

Back over on the Temple Niklas Kvarforth’s previous stage antics have clearly spread as the crowd starts to inflate, however compared to other gigs, he’s on his best behaviour. Instead of any cutting, the depressive black metallers Shining sound as melancholic as ever despite the contrasting weather. Blending a set of new and old sadness, the Swedes manage to cause shoegazing aplenty without their fans losing concentration.

Unlike bands over on the Temple and Valley stages, Napalm Death are able to showcase almost three times more tracks thanks to their short but stinging grind/death. Their debut ‘Scum’ was thrown onto us 25 years ago, yet the English veterans haven’t stopped with this year’s release ‘Utilitarian’ being equally as gnarly. ‘Utilitarian’ is largely exhibited throughout the set but despite their experience, Napalm Death, along with other grind acts this weekend; suffer thanks to the Altar’s sound.

Closing the Altar on the first night is old school death legends Entombed, the perfect end to the death-fuelled day. The Swedes are fortunately untouched by any technical difficulties unlike other bands today as they chug through belters from classic ‘Left Hand Path’ and then slow things down for the death’n’roll vibes of ‘Wolverine Blues’.  The whole experience is as raw and rotten as a death fan would hope, without losing any talent along the way.

An even bigger bonus is that before you can get your breath back, you simply turn around and Behemoth are setting up over on the Temple. As expected there is plenty of bustle from fans desperate to catch a glimpse of the band after the illness frontman Nergal suffered caused them to take a break. Luckily, the frontman is back to his old self and holds no self-pity as he doesn’t bring up the leukaemia once, instead leading his Polish troops into a storming performance. They are as tight and empowering as they were previously, with favourites like ‘Ov Fire and the Void’ and ‘Demigod’ really embracing the blackened death energy. With additional pyro and black confetti, the band confirms their stardom status in the metal scene, and a well-deserved one at that.

Published on Soundshock.com Click here to view images

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