Party. San Open Air 2013 Review

Despite clashing with Brutal Assault and Bloodstock, Party.San is far from lacking when it comes to a devastating line up and the German airfield is crammed with punters in agreement.

The likes of Bombs of Hades kick off the proceedings with their crusty death metal from Sweden to an acceptable sized crowd and whilst Farsot’s sound is less ferocious, their harrowing post-black metal fills the stage. As the evening continues, the sunset creates the perfect setting for some French aural beauty a-la Alcest.  Their live show is intimate and hypnotising and a far cry from what’s next.

The crowd is probably at its most eager now as black thrashers Destroyer 666 take to the stage. Thankfully the wind settles and every rapid riff can be heard from favourites like ‘Raped’ and the epic ‘I Am The War God’. A tribute to the late Jeff Hanneman is raised in the form of Slayer’s ‘Black Magic’ along with several horns. The definition of black metal is confirmed as the moon glows and Carpathian Forest explode into the limelight. For many, this is the headline set of the day and Nattefrost and co prove they would have deserved it.

Friday sees an earlier start and a grind coupling of Gutalax and Magrudergrind seems like an obvious alarm clock. Others have saved energy for an onslaught from Coffins and it’s a good job they did, as they’re absolutely crushing live, doing each of their albums considerable justice. Vocalist Ryo communicates with sheer brutal vocals and whiskey swigging that complement their doom-riddled death metal.

Here to dampen the mood in the best possible way is Shining. The Swedes lower the tone from the off with their DSBM proving an ultimate contrast from the energy of earlier. The music is faultless and at times you wish the insanity of Kvarfoth the clown will stop so that the sounds created can be truly embraced.

The second stage sees the tent rammed in anticipation for a German occult ritual from Alchemyst, who leak mystery and atmosphere from the start of the set. Their black/death metal is drenched in reverb and the smoke and red lighting creates an incredibly dark aura with several tracks from ‘Nekromanteion’.

Tonight’s headliners Hypocrisy need no introduction. The Swe-death legends’ recent ‘End Of Disclosure’ album was weak, a couple of tracks slot in at the start without losing any oomph and older, tracks such as ‘Left To Rot’ bring out a balance of brutality.

With the last night finishing with three huge bands we need, Hooded Menace to continue the doom death presence of the weekend, with a sound thick enough to sink into and experience a death as slow as their songs.

After 25 years on the scene, Teutonic tormentors Desaster proved they still had it on record with last year’s ‘The Art of Destruction’and fortunately, they’ve still got it live, with a blackened thrash onslaught as bestial as their predecessors would predict.

After an unexpected silence, it is finally announced that Impaled Nazarene have had some car problems and vocalist Slutti666 runs onto the stage, band in toe. Admittedly, the sound is a little off to start but considering the consequences it’s soon forgotten with an onslaught of blackened thrash.

We try to ignore the fact Korpiklaani are on later than thrash titans Destruction but it’s hard when you see what they can do live. With several years under their bullet belts and a discography longer than most of the crowd’s hair, the band create a sound hard to believe is from a trio.

Carcass take their time but when they arrive, its full steam ahead with favourites including ‘Corporal Jigsaw Quandary’, ‘Heartwork’ and ‘Genital Grinder’. We even get a showcase of what to expect from latest offering ‘Surgical Steel’, which slots in with ease and could’ve easily closed the festival.

Luckily for us it doesn’t end there and Party.San manages to find a band that could top the likes of Carcass – Venom. Frequently coined as the founders of this whole scene, the band take the label with pride and prove it with the majority of the set showcasing the ‘Welcome To Hell’ and ‘Black Metal’ albums. He may be half a century in age but Cronos is unstoppable, his shrill cries still as memorable as they were at the beginning and the band sums up perfectly what Party.San is all about.

Review by Lily Randall

published on soundshock.com

Hellfest 2013

Review by Lily Randall and Siobhan Hogarty

Friday

For the last couple of years now, Hellfest has proven itself to be one of the best set ups you could find for a festival, with each of the six stages catering for every need. The weather was as indecisive as we were when our favourite bands clashed but the atmosphere was far from dampened as the array of rusty aesthetics around the arena glistened, rain or shine.

With bands starting at 10.30 in the morning, the heavy Thursday night feels like a silly idea but it isn’t long til Dr Living Dead! knocks the hangover out of you. The Swedish crossover is a perfect hair of the dog in music form, with ridiculous thrash worship fuelled with onstage energy. Tracks from their latest ‘Radioactive Intervention’ are packed with horror B movie themes and by the end of their snappy set, you’re back on the beer with a grin on your face. LR

When Sheffield’s second favourite sons of the weekend Black Spiders storm on to Mainstage 1 and the sun breaks through the clouds, the assembled mass don’t seem to have woken up yet.  They are soon banging their heads though, with new material like ‘Teenage Knife Gang’ and ‘Creatures’ being debuted.  The tracks have the perfect amount of grit and stomp, which is a pleasant addition to the Black Spiders arsenal, slotting in perfectly alongside ‘KISS Tried To Kill Me’ and ‘Stay Down’. Never has the Mainstage crowd chanted for ‘Balls!’ so early in the morning.  Beautiful sights for the first day of a festival. SH

Polish band Hate have been through a hell of a lot in the past year, so it’s an honour for them to step onto the Altar so last minute. Their blackened death may have been compared to Behemoth, but today’s presence certainly stands alone with every blastbeat sounding crisp and this year’s release ‘Solarflesh’ sounding particularly beefy. Although brutal, there is something somewhat beautiful about this afternoon’s set, as we see ex-bassist Mortifer (who passed away earlier this year) replaced by his own wife Varaska. Not only does she blend into the band with ease musically but also physically, as she takes on the stance and corpsepaint of her late husband.  LR

Over on the Temple tent, Hooded Menace are slowing down the tempo with crushing consequences. The Finnish four-piece may only have three full lengths under their belts but with several splits with doom death legends including Asphyx, the equally room-riddled band have picked up all the best habits. The stage is oozing with mystery as the band stay hooded in darkness and the guitars sound as terrifying as boys would hope for as the lyrics prove to be a horror fanboy’s idea of poetic perfection.  LR

Old school Gothenburg boys Hardcore Superstar roll on to Mainstage 1 with a bounce in their step.  They offer us thrash-tinged hard rock with a healthy amount of sleaze and they have the stage presence to boot after a fair few years in this game.  With ‘Last Call For Alcohol’ getting the crowd in fine voice, we see front man Jocke Berg pace the stage to get a bit more energy from them.  ‘Above The Law’ gives the band the reaction they have been craved and they give it back just as good, exuding power and energy.  A solid, successful effort from all involved. SH

Despite seeming slightly out of place on the doom central Valley stage, Black Breath still pull in quite a crowd and perhaps the impossibility of pigeon-holing this band is why they could not decide on a location. The band is as electrifying as they are on record, with last year’s ‘Sentenced to Life’ showcased heavily in all its glory. Their mix of thrash, death and hardcore causes for explosive scenes from the start with ’Feast Of The Damned’ chugging along in crusty style and although the music turns from breakdown to speedy riffage, the set is smooth with angst. LR

The aforementioned Asphyx rule the Temple proving exactly why doom and death may seem juxtaposed but work wonders when blended together into a bitter smoothie of sadism. The veterans are as pummelling when they tone it down as they are when the slightly quicker tracks kick in, with latest anthem ‘Deathhammer’ causing a serious frenzy. The Dutch destroyers manage to exhibit their rawness without being lost within the mix and in their own words; they certainly still kill “the brutal way”. LR

Terror on the new Warzone stage – last year we saw our hardcore bands slamming down in a tent but 2013 sees this baby go outdoors, with considerable effect.  Tracks such as ‘One With The Underdogs’ and ‘Keep Your Mouth Shut’ fire the crowd into one solid mass of flailing legs, arms & shirts as the pit rages.  The breakdowns reign supreme as Scott Vogel and his merry bunch of musicians dance and bounce their way around the stage.  Terror have slayed it with this high-energy anthem filled set.  Their energy is contagious, leaving a grin on each face in the crowd and that is how it should always be.  SH

It’s no surprise that Kreator go down a storm over on the second Mainstage. With an impeccable live record and three decades of experience in their favour, we expect nothing less than a pure thrash attack from the Teutonic titans. As expected Mille and co raise the ‘Flag of Hate’, blast through ‘Phantom Antichrist’ and ‘Hordes Of Chaos’ and other classics with a mental circle pit to accessorize with. Off all the thrash bands on today, these guys show them how it’s done. LR

Hazy tent filled with thick pungent smoke and a slow continuous head nod en masse?  Check.  That’ll be Sleep crushing The Valley stage then.  ‘Holy Mountain’ is a slice of thundering beauty, with ‘Dragonaut’ flowing through flawlessly in response.  Bongs are held aloft as those gathered lap up the bass driven spectacle.  Sleep put on an intense show and this was a very special experience indeed.  SH

Def Leppard are legends, plain & simple.  We see them onstage tonight, with Viv Campbell proudly standing amongst his band mates, sporting what he described as an “aerodynamic” hairstyle after his monumental news recently regarding his current battling with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  One thing tonight is evident for all to see, Def Leppard know how to put on an incredible rock show and they enjoy doing it.  Time has not altered Joe Elliott’s voice, belting it out in classic form with ‘Let’s Get Rocked’ and ‘Foolin’.  This scribe is dancing for the full Hysteria portion of the set, as the 1987 powerhouse of rock is alive and kicking in year of 2013.  Mainstage 1 has been hit by ‘Hysteria’, but the crowd just don’t seem to be all too interested, which is a shame.  A fantastic show as always, proving that the legends can still pull it off live.  SH

It is a tough act to follow a polished and pristine set like that of Def Leppard, but Tobias Sammet has all of the swagger and charm necessary to do just that.  Avantasia are the last band of the day to grace Mainstage 2, in their expectedly unique fashion.  Tobias commands the stage, with a plethora of musicians guesting to entice the crowd as epics such as ‘Twisted Mind’ and ‘The Seven Angels’ captivate.  Who doesn’t love a slab of over the top falsetto filled operatic metal?  Exactly, pretty perfect choice to close Mainstage on the first night.  If only ‘Chalice Of Agony’ had made an appearance, which would have truly made their set first class.  SH

 

 

Saturday

With vocal chords strained and heads pounding its off the the stereotypical breakfast bar for a chocolate crossaint and strong black coffee. There’s nu-metal nostalgia aplenty today, scattered in amongst extremities of all forms. With Immortal and KISS clashing tonight, black and white face paint clutters the campsite as you distinguish your sloppy Genes to the scruffy Abbaths. As Sleep proved last night, there isn’t much going on regarding weed restrictions, so we predict another foggy day over in the Valley. Round two, ding ding!

Dead Congregation have created quite a name for themselves when it comes to live rituals and the Greeks confirm why over on the Temple tent this afternoon. The Incantation-loving death metallers have a gritty approach that finds them attracting fans more likely to be found at the Altar line up, due to a slight inkling of black metal tendencies. The tent is small enough to keep DC’s underground stance, yet their music is bellowing enough to seep out of the openings, terrifying many who pass their set en route for a burger. LR

P.O.D start our nu-metal antics for the day over on Mainstage 2 as Sonny Sandoval bounces along with ‘Set It Off’ and ‘Youth Of The Nation’.  Whilst their set is energetic & entertaining enough for the duration, the song that most of the crowd are undoubtedly here to hear finally slams down, in the shape of ‘Alive’.  The audience instantly springs to life and finds a second wind, with the sing along soaring for all to hear.  Everyone loves a bit of the old school moshing; this set has just proved it. SH

Coal Chamber bring the ‘Big Truck’ to Mainstage 2 and park it firmly to continue the nu-metal moshing anthems.  They flash their attitude from the moment they walk on, with drumsticks, microphone stands and bottles of water being fired around the stage at band members and crew.  A nostalgia trip full of classics like ‘Loco’ fire the crowd up nicely and the band receive a warmer welcome than expected, is there a promising future for Coal Chamber action afterall? SH

The Dutch have never had any particular legacy regarding death metal but if they did it would be Sinister who take the crown. Since the late eighties, the band has spewed out album after album of simple yet effective DM so it was only a matter of time until the band released a compilation. Their set is evidence as to why it was named ‘Years of Massacre’, with every song sounding as pounding and raw as the next, without the drums flooding the sound. From start to finish the crowd are headbanging furiously and it’s hard not to join in. LR

Kata ton Daimona Eaytoy’ could be one of the most hypnotic albums released this year and it would appear many are keen to hear it over on the Altar. Rotting Christ’s mystical, blackened metal loses none of its atmosphere live with every harrowing chant and haunting guitar creating an epic haze of smoke. The Tolis brothers and their live additions may not move around the stage much but then again neither do you, as you’re whisked up in every sing-along chant despite not actually knowing any Greek. LR

They’ve got ‘Legs’ and they are not afraid to use them.  ZZ Top may be older than most of the bands here but they still put on a hell of a show, including breaking out some groovy dance steps.  They treat all of us gathered at Mainstage 1 to an extensive catalogue of songs old, new and not even their own.  Classics like ‘LA Grange’, ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ & ‘Tush’ weld perfectly with newer material, such as the very suitable ‘Chartreuse’.  To make the occasion even more special than usual, we see the suave Texans storm through a slinky cover of Hendrix’s ‘Foxy Lady’.  This set is just laden with style and swagger, whilst the trio look completely at ease and loving every moment of this show.  SH

Unlike last year, the Warzone stage isn’t covered and is tucked away within the woody area of the arena. If you’re lucky, you witness NOFX playing to a rammed area, with people peering through wire fencing just to catch a glimpse. As expected, the band is desperate to hold onto the youthful looks to accompany their youthful anthems of silliness (and some political seriousness) which sound as great as they always have done at festivals. The punk angst is still there and there is something joyful about seeing some forty odd guys with blue hair moaning such immature lyrics. Who likes growing up anyway? LR

KISS are now on the road to becoming a festival staple, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love every minute spent watching them.  With new additions to their flamboyant stage show (platforms which elevate Thayer & Simmons out above the crowd, no less!), KISS show why they are rock legends.  Sadly, it seems to fall a bit flat on a large portion of the crowd who seemingly don’t want to party.  Hearing a classic tune like ‘Love Gun’ get little to no crowd response is fairly heart-breaking, but perhaps their own volume is not enough to elevate fans.  KISS soldier on unaffected by the lack of crowd participation, laying down hits like ‘War Machine’ and ‘Lick It Up’, alongside ‘Hell Or Hellelujah’ from their newest record ‘Monster’.  Mainstage 1 has been rocked and left dazed, covered in glitter confetti and making quite the spectacle.  SH

The Valley tent is absolutely rammed as Cult of Luna immerse themselves in bright lights and fog, ready to mesmerise. The sound is so intense it’s a surprise the tent stays erect, as atmospheric sludge and post-hardcore swirls and plunges into the depths of everyone’s minds. This year’s ‘Vertikal’ is exhibited quite prominently as the early hours of the morning creep in and normally this would be a disappointment but the new material sounds a tenfold more crushing than on record. The Swedes mysterious presence is all that’s required as the music doing the business and it’s likely that after classics such as ‘Owlwood’, most won’t have eardrums left to see the final acts of the night. LR

More nu-metal classics are being blasted this weekend with Korn closing Mainstage 2 in the wee hours of the morning.  The crowd absolutely explode as the band fire straight into ‘Blind’, bodies slam around and arms fly high in the air.  Newer tracks like ‘Narcissistic Cannibal’ fit well with their slick lighting set up, mixing perfectly into a set littered with hits such as ‘Did My Time’ & ‘Here To Stay’.  Something seems different about Korn live and not necessarily in a bad way as Head is back stomping with the troops.  Their set is polished and tight, almost too tight, as if it is missing some of the raw emotion of the tours gone by.  It’s an enjoyable set to bounce around to all the same.  SH

Its 1am and many of us are struggling to stay upright. Despite the travesty that was ‘Illud Divinum Insanus’ it would appear many try to remain upbeat about the chance to see death metal legends Morbid Angel live, as the Temple swells. Thankfully the band opens with legendary ‘Immortal Rites’ and the set continues to please with ‘Rapture’, ‘Maze of Torment’ and other nineties’ favourites. Ideally, David Vincent and co are used to a larger setting and although seeing bands of this status playing a tent should be life changing, it seems Morbid Angel struggle to create an intimate setting. Just as you think you’ve been spared, the infamous ‘Existo Vulgoré kicks in and a unanimous roll of the eyes is felt in the air. Luckily, the un-deathly torture of this and ‘Nevermore’ is short lived and everyone sticks around for the obvious encore of ‘Chapel of Ghouls’, bringing the second night to a brilliant, yet shattering conclusion. LR

Sunday

Irritatingly enough, Hellfest  decided to put Europe on the Friday, ruining any chances of ‘Final Countdown’ puns. The end however is indeed nigh and suddenly everyone goes into panic mode over returning to reality tomorrow. Due to some line-up changes and set moves the evening turns into quite a magical spectacle, as we soon find out whilst rushing around to gorge on as much musical mayhem as possible.

When Nachtmystium pulled out from playing the Altar, many were saddened but it opened up a slot for French underdogs Svart Crown to show their worth. Their blackened death live onslaught has clearly improved since their last appearance in 2011, as the tent is far fuller despite another early start for the boys. Not only that but this year’s record ‘Profane’ shows a progression of brutality and unlike many bands the several layers of monstrous sound are complimented by a live show. The band windmill in unison with grins on their faces throughout and despite saying it two years ago, we hope the band finally get the recognition they deserve this year. LR

Danko Jones enjoy a bit of action and they want everyone gathered at Mainstage 1 to know that.  They bound through an energetic, face-paced set as ‘Had Enough’ starts the proceedings off in style.  Their sound is slick, with just a touch of beautifully raw vocals as front man Danko Jones shows his skill in fine form.  ‘First Date’ is an absolutely storming tune, dripping with sleaze, leaving the crowd screaming for more.  As ‘Just A Beautiful Day’ roars out, with the sun scorching, everyone has fallen in love with the Canadian rock ‘n’ roll trio.  SH

Ihsahn makes a very welcome return to The Temple stage.  There is a buzz in the air as ‘On The Shores’ absolutely soars; the crowd are feeding off the energy inside the tent.  The beautiful experimental cacophony we have grown accustomed to during Ihsahn set’s falls upon us once again with ‘The Paranoid’, a frantic whirlwind of sound.  Each track sounds mammoth, filling every inch of the tent perfectly as the bass lines rattle your very bones.  Reaching back through his catalogue of epics, Ihsahn flattens all with the crushing ‘Frozen Lakes On Mars’, that signature guitar tone rings through the air with precision.  The soaring chorus’ of the collective body of work sends shivers down the spine, as it does every time this scribe is lucky enough to see these musicians at work.  It all gets a little gloomier as ‘The Grave’ opens & we delve into the murky riff laden territory.  The only improvement that could be suggested would be a live saxophonist, to really expand the overall effect of this unique sound.  As the last few calls ring out, it has been another astonishing set… like we expect any less.  SH

The Temple has taken quite the battering this weekend with stellar death metal and grind and it doesn’t end now, as Krisiun take to the stage to continue the attack. Throughout the set there are the expected blistering blastbeats and horrible growls but there is nothing particularly special about their performance. ‘Blood of Lions’ and ‘Vicious Wrath’ slaughter with ease but compared to some of the surprises that have appeared in the last three days, it’s nothing memorable.  LR

The Main Stage 2 is absolutely rammed before the band comes on to the stage but the backdrop explains the hype in big letters: GOJIRA. Back on home turf, the international favourites come out to a proud roar before rupturing into ‘Explosia’ and as always the French four piece swirl and chug their way through the blistering heat. Although the playing is flawless, with the likes of ‘Flying Whales’ ‘Backbone’ and ‘Remembrance’ glistening in groove, the breeze seems to take away from the usual monolithic sound usually experienced and Joe Duplantier’s snarls are slightly lost by the time it reaches the crowd. ‘Where Dragons Dwell’ concludes the set and although some favourite trackes are removed, there’s no denying how powerful Gojira are as a live entity. LR

Very sadly, Clutch had to pull out of Hellfest for personal reasons.  But never fear, because Down are still here! The Valley is hit by a superset to baffle and amaze those lucky to grab a spot.  The great man himself Phil Anselmo begins the set by saying ‘It may be a one time, it may be an only time, but it is a unique time’ and that it definitely is.  A fully loaded bong is smoked onstage before they launch into ‘Rehab’ & ‘Swan Song’, which absolutely slay.  We are then treated to a series of Eyehategod, Crowbar & Corrosion of Conformity covers.  We see Phil on guitar and Jason Newstead popping onstage to play ‘Clean My Wounds’.  It’s like the coolest jamming session ever witnessed and those there are fully aware of how lucky they are.

When the beautiful Danish men in Volbeat arrive, they are ready to destroy with their personal blend of metal and rockabilly with rock ‘n’ roll.  It kicks off with a bang as they slam straight into ‘Hallelujah Goat’, sounding absolutely flawless.  Poulson and co are on top form, a precision gelled through their extensive schedule no doubt.  Hellfest are treated to a range of tracks old and new, before Barney from Napalm Death makes a very welcome appearance to rock the shit out of ‘Evelyn’.  This wonder is followed by a medley of ‘Breaking The Law’ & ‘Raining Blood’, which is just glorious.  It feels like the party could continue when Volbeat finish up their magnificent set with ‘Pool Of Booze, Booza, Booza’. Sadly, all good things must come to an end.  A more than worthy headliner, let’s do this again soon Volbeat. SH

Ghost have been moved to Mainstage 2, to face their congregation in the dark of the night, after Danzig moved to fill their tent slot earlier in the evening.  It was a magnificent decision, as we see Ghost make their triumphant return to Hellfest in a manner only they can.  Grandeur and grace is on constant display from Papa Emeritus II, as he floats across the stage carrying out his musical service.  The beautiful harmony-filled ‘Stand By Him’ flows perfectly through the night air, as Papa’s voice simply rattles to the bone.  After a strange double desk failure & a resulting power cut on stage, the crowd are conducted through the remaining hymns by the slightest movement of the leather-clad hands of that enigmatic front man.  As the haunting refrain of the beautiful ‘Monstrance Clock’ rings out & the cloaked figures exit, there is a buzz in the air, as we are left questioning why Ghost weren’t on the Mainstage in the first place after that outstanding set. SH

 

Review by Lily Randall and Siobhan Hogarty

Published on soundshock.com

Damnation Festival review

Despite their British brothers only just finishing over on the Eyesore stage and the layout of the Union being such a maze, the room is already buzzing by the time Winterfylleth take to the stage. With this year’s release ‘The Threnody of Triumph’ reaching the top of many metal fans’ charts, the band has plenty of positive energy to unleash in such a negative manner. Their black metal continues to flourish with atmosphere and guitar layers epic enough to become an ethereal alternative to the national anthem. LR

Extreme Noise Terror are next on the Terrorizer stage and despite sharing Winterfylleth’s nationality, this is all the bands share when it comes to sound. The crust titans showcase their earlier punk style along with their more modern grindcore twist and despite the loss of late frontman Phil Vane, the band do him proud, as Dean Jones fills his shoes and stomps them all over the stage, inducing the first major pit and crowdsurfing session of the day. LR

Vreid bring back the darkness to the Terrorizer stage with their melody tinged black metal and fly the flag for Norway in style. Despite three band members being previously associated with Windir, Vried have a much grittier attack, which is displayed even more so live with tracks like ‘Raped By Light’ and ‘Pitch Black’ getting heads banging. Their slightly more black’n’roll approach makes for a catchy set and we’re sure many new fans have been created tonight. LR

Norway continues dominate the Tez stage as Aura Noir unleash the black thrash attack we were expecting. 2012’s ‘Out To Die’ sounds as killer as it did when the album was launched and accompanied with a show a few months back in London and the leather clad lads cause the largest pit of the day. Classics like ‘Hades Rise’ receive a respectable shout-a-long as the speedy riffs tire us out further. LR

Belphegor bring their usual sadomasochistic themes to a frosty Leeds with a raw performance. Speeding through the likes of ‘Necrodaemon Terrorsathan’ and ‘Bondage Goat Zombie’ the blackened death metallers stripped down set seems to go down like a lead balloon for many punters with a lack of participation from the crowd. Then again, they have probably been drinking for hours. LR

Despite sharing a set time with the might Electric Wizard, the Terrorizer stage is still heaving as Pig Destroyer set out to have a sonic battle with the doom legends. This year’s instalment from the grind titans has been highly received and seems to have created quite a stir. Luckily, the recent video for ‘The Diplomat’ has not been an influence on any of the performance, but that is mainly down to the fact the music is already aggressive enough and gore aplenty. Admittedly the sound isn’t great, as the guitars get lost in the mix and overall the volume isn’t loud enough to melt faces like the record achieves. After a few technical errors, the band are back on track but there is still a little bit of regret after hearing about what went on upstairs with the ‘Wizard. LR

 

Some Bloodstock reviews

Here are some of my reviews from Bloodstock, which will be slotted in with a full feature for Soundshock.com.

When Watain enter the stage in broad daylight, Erik is defiant the Swedes will “bring the sun down” and with an aptly timed set and an utterly grim show, he sticks to his word. As expected, black metal’s latest kings bring an array of arsenal to the stage whilst they blaze through a classic set; tunes such as ‘Waters of Ain’ and ‘Reaping Death’ sounding particularly grim to summon the night sky. Despite previous black metal acts having difficulty with the main stage sound, Watain create a flawless darkness (pun intended) and the front row is covered in blood like they hoped for. LR

The pyrotechnics continue to conquer the main stage with Behemoth finally returning to their throne after having to pull out back in 2010. The band look as thrilled as one would imagine and Nergal looks stronger than ever, as he thunders through the hammering riffs of tracks like ‘Slaves Shall Serve’ and ‘Demigod’. The rest of the Poles make the stage look small in comparison, with each blastbeat being fuelled with precision and aggression. When the vocalist roars “It’s great to be alive” everyone can officially say they were a part of something historic here tonight and the worthy headliners are most definitely back where they belong. LR

Being the first band on the main stage is always going to be a tough feat but imagine the challenge with the addition of a frontman on crutches. Benediction manage to crush any doubts of being up to said challenge by whipping up a circle pit as soon as they begin. Despite the early morning hangovers the crowd are strong and lively and its apparent Dave Hunt, who is on crutches with a leg injury, is overwhelmed by such a response. The Brummie veterans only have a short set but manage to tire us out with a varied collection of thrash/death belters, many spanning back as far as classic album ‘Transcend the Rubicon’ and with Dave’s added humour (mostly at himself), everyone is pumped up for the day ahead. LR

The opening bands have managed to kick everyone out of their slumber and now the crowd are ready to neck the whiskey back with some seriously Southern grooves. With a discography as long as some of their riffs, Crowbar are going to be able to play this set with their eyes shut and thus the sludge oozes tightly. Each breakdown is received with a serious banging of heads including last year’s beast ‘Sever The Wicked Hand’ however movement over on the stage is severely lacking. LR

The denims and drunkards suddenly appear from their boozy pits for a more energetic pit as Chuck Billy and his legendary lot grace the stage with huge grins on their faces. Testament are one of the main thrash acts of the weekend and with that in mind, it doesn’t take long for the chaos to commence. The band certainly haven’t lost their touch with the recently released ‘Dark Roots Of The Earth’ already being sung back to them and slotting with ease into the standard setlist, however its blatant many are waiting for ‘Into The Pit’ to erupt. Chuck Billy shows true frontmanship as he stomps around the stage air guitaring to every shred on his mike stand and as soon as the show comes to a close, the thrashers are keen for their return to our shores in November. LR

With Deicide pulling out, Evile are pushed up from the Sophie stage to a decent afternoon slot on the RJD stage, however the pressure certainly doesn’t get to them, especially seeing as this is their fourth Bloodstock. Once the thrash ensues, the crowd is bulging with madness and bodies flailing and one can imagine the festival organisers breathing a sigh of relief as the Sophie stage avoids total devastation. For many the Northerner’s latest instalment, ‘Five Serpents’ Teeth’ was mediocre, however it translates to the live atmosphere with ease and ballad ‘In Memoriam’ opens  when the skies do, causing everyone to feel like they’re a part of an insanely emotional music video. LR

Its always great when you see that a New Blood band of previous years has evolved and returned on the Sophie stage. Flayed Disciple won their regional heats back in 2010 and this year their debut ‘Deathhammer’ was released, proving their worth with death/thrash fury. This afternoon sees the country boys continue to prove themselves live with an energetic set and some of the audience already knowing the latest songs. This sound is dodgy at points but once you find a top spot in the tent, the head banging is subconscious as the grooves take over.

For many death metal fans at the festival, the news of Deicide dropping out was disappointing, albeit predictable, however Sunday’s afternoon is still full of brutality from US titans Nile. It would appear they have beckoned down the Egyptian rain god as the skies begin to open, however this doesn’t dampen any spirits as they showcase new riffing rituals from their latest. As is slightly the case on open stages such as Bloodstock, the dangerously deep Karl Sanders’ vocals are slightly muffled, however his shredding is far from ignored with ‘Lashed to the Slave Stick’ sounding as terrifying as ever. LR

It’s time for Dave Hunt to hobble into the spotlight for the second time this weekend, however this time he’s leaving the thrash from some truly grim blackened grind, if you wish to label as band such as Anaal Nathrakh. The tent is rammed and despite a slightly sloppy start, the necro-butchers of metal have got everyone into a frenzy with their grinding speed and shrill evil. With a preview off the new album being sneaked as well, the fans who have come over to the Sophie Lancaster tent have no regret missing Dimmu Borgir and with the addition of Dave trying to start a fight with a pit member its fair to say this band will continue serving the British scene proud. LR

Bloodstock Preview 2012

Bloodstock Festival

Catton Park, UK

10.8-12.8.2012

PREVIEW

Despite some amazing festivals already taking place this summer, Bloodstock like to tease you impatient whippersnappers by holding their three day extreme extravaganza towards the end of the season. Their ten year anniversary line up last year seemed impossible to top, however the organisers have come back with some huge names from all corners of the extreme metalsphere! The festival’s motto “by the fans for the fans” is in full force as bands from around the globe are welcomed to perform across three stages, including a New Blood stage rimmed with unsigned talent. With only one month to go, we’re starting to get a little over excited and with tickets close to sell out, here’s what’s on offer.

Friday 10th August 2012

Behemoth (Ronnie James Dio stage, Fri 10th): With a stage named after a legend taken away from our community through illness, it seems even more relevant to have Behemoth headlining the first night, with it being their first UK appearance since front man Nergal was struck by leukaemia. They had to cancel their 2010 Bloodstock performance but the blackened death deities are back stronger than ever with a set that’s bound to be full of fire and pure extremity from the Poles. Other festivals this summer have confirmed we are in for a real treat.

Watain (Ronnie James Dio stage, Fri 10th): More grim tunes will come on the opening day from ever-growing Swedish soldiers of black metal. Not only is their sound pristinely dark but frontman Erik and his militia are aesthetically enchanting with candles, fire and blood (if you’re at the front, prepare to smell by the end) making for a stage show Satan himself would be proud of.

Sepultura (Ronnie James Dio stage, Fri 10th): If you want a titan of a thrash name printed on your festival flyer, then who better than Sepultura? The Brazilians may have gone through some line-up changes over there extensive years but that doesn’t stop them from producing truly brutal tracks which sound equally as crushing live. Whether you’re an old era fan enjoying the speedy tunes like ‘Arise’, or the more chuggy tracks off latest onslaught ‘Kairos’, you can be certain it’s gonna be LOUD! And we bet you can’t go through ‘Roots Bloody Roots’ without headbanging.

Alcest (Sophie Lancaster stage, Fri 10th): Releasing their third and probably most beautiful album to date, vocalist Neige will now be closing the Sophie stage with Alcest’s wonderful lullabies. We hope there isn’t a major clash with Behemoth but either way before to catch their melodic ambience full of melancholia to calm you after the crazy day you’ve had.

Pythia (Sophie Lancaster stage, Fri 10th): Get your corsets at the ready for Friday as power metallers Pythia grace the Sophie stage. Following in the steps of bands like Within Temptation and supporting Arch Enemy, vocalist Emily is probably glad to start something to contend with Nightwish after losing the competition to be the replacement for Tarja.

Saturday 11th August 2012

Machine Head (Ronnie James Dio stage, Sat 11th): After lots of speculation as to who the final headliner would be, American mainstreamers Machine Head were announced. Despite splitting the Bloodstock camps, there is no denying that the foursome are as heavy as you can get when it comes to a live performance and with club floor-fillers like ‘Davidian’ bound to be played, you’re likely  to at least have a sing-a-long and get nostalgic. We wonder what five tracks will get chosen from debut ‘Burn My Eyes’…

Mayhem (Ronnie James Dio stage, Sat 11th): Black metal celebrities Mayhem may be playing in broad daylight but it is highly unlikely they’ll allow that to brighten their moods with theatrical stage set ups and a historical background that’s bound to intrigue everyone.

Benediction (Ronnie James Dio stage, Sat 11th): The boys from Birmingham went down a treat at Bloodstock in 2010, so this opening set is bound to be equally as brutal to break you out of that hangover. Their death metal infused with thrash has been boiling under the ground for many years now, but with a following of legends such as Death and Massacre, you know they’re worth waking up for.

Orange Goblin (Sophie Lancaster stage, Sat 11th): If you are still whinging about the Machine Head announcement, how about going and watching Orange Goblin instead? Their stoner doom has hit the headlines in the community with this year’s release ‘Eulogy of the Damned’ receiving plenty of praise and the Londoners have always been consistent with making their live shows as chunky and heavy as possible.

Dripback (Sophie Lancaster stage, Sat 11th): Despite being a bit of a marmite band last year, hardcore super group Dripback have been invited back for a consecutive year on the Sophie stage. With members from bands like Ted Maul and Labrat, one thing the band can guarantee is some in-your-face brutality straight from Landaaan.

Sunday 12th August 2012

Alice Cooper (Ronnie James Dio stage, Sun 12th): King of shock rock Alice Cooper may seem to have been on the road for, well, ever but it doesn’t stop him from putting on a belter of a show. He’ll be sure to squeeze in to his leather trousers while singing classics everyone knows, with an equally iconic Halloween style stage set up.

Dimmu Borgir (Ronnie James Dio stage, Sun 12th): Expect even more crazy outfits from Shagrath and co as they play into the evening’s darkness. The poster boys of black metal have an extensive discography and are likely to fill the main stage with energy and aggression. Corpsepaint at the ready!

Nile (Ronnie James Dio stage, Sun 12th): Death metal fans are in for a treat as veterans Nile return to our shores. The US Egypt-obsessed blasters are fresh with a new album under their belts, so expect it to be fast, furious and Pharoah-fuelled!

Evile (Ronnie James Dio stage, Sun 12th): Due to Deicide being as unreliable as ever, the new wave of thrash metal has been pushed up the bill. Northerners Evile have set Derby on fire before and with an influx of new fans this is bound to get the pits opening up, with the Drake borthers shredding like never before!

Anaal Nathrakh (Sophie Lancaster stage, sun 12th): If you’re just not feeling up to glamming out with Alice, the more extreme side can still be found to conclude your Bloodstock, thanks to Anaal Nathrakh. More English talent that manage to embrace the black metal beasts within without needing to be in a frostbitten kingdom elsewhere in Europe. Their unique sound which blends grind and death into the mix is sure to sound killer live, so get in the tent and finish your weekend on a high.

Published on Soundshock.com

Hellfest 2012 – Sunday

It’s the last day. We’ve run out of beer tokens and we can’t remember what happened last night. So it’s time to use up the rest of the festival’s insanity before we have to return to reality. International favourites such as Trivium, Dimmu Borgir and Children of Bodom are all on today and each get the giant applause you’d expect. Death metal wise bands like Brutal Truth and Dying Fetus are on the Altar being as gnarly as ever, however once again sound technicalities seem to have gotten in the way as the punch is taken away.

Are you still awake? Just about? Well good because there is still a hell of a lot more bands to close the festival in style. Despite being slightly hit and miss at times, Ozzy Osbourne manages to perform to a great standard during his headline set with his “friends”; Geezer Butler, Slash and Zakk Wylde. Despite the rain the crowd are as vocal as the legend as he performs both Black Sabbath favourites and a selection from his solo career. For many, this is definitely a worthy replacement of the Sabbath themselves.

The Warzone tent is slightly isolated on the Hellfest plains but that doesn’t mean they don’t make enough racket to make sure you don’t forget about them. With punk and hardcore legends such as Discharge and Refused on the bill, mohawks from all over Europe are going mental. If drone isn’t your cup of tea, Biohazard are closing up the festival over here with some seriously brutal hardcore that proves they are still as tight as ever and very unable to stay enclosed on their stage as they leap into the arms of a very willing crowd.

Just when you thought you had witnessed the most bizarre sights and sounds this weekend, both on the stages and the campsite and are ready to head back to the tent for a final piss up, the Valley tent is rammed. The hooded duo that create Sunn O))) are barely visible under a thick cloud of green fog (sure to be created by smoke machines and a few joints) but there music is hard to ignore. The drone pioneers have the whole floor vibrating as expected of their down tuned guitars and as you look around the tent, people are literally possessed by the aural atmosphere. Some stand completely still, eyes closed, while others appear to do bizarre body movements like a spellbound dance. This only adds to the surreal experience and when you leave for some fresh air and a good night’s sleep, your ears will ring and this will haunt you for a long time, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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.

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