Hellfest 2012, Day 1, 15/6/12 Jun 27, 2012 23:19:49 GMT
Post by markwj on Jun 27, 2012 23:19:49 GMT
Again, it’s the moment’s reflection on the closing Sunday of the festival that sums up the chaos of the proceding. On the last leg and our last legs with NY hardcore legends Madball at the punkish Warzone Tent, they exhorted us to expend our last energies in the pit acknowledging what a GRUELLING time these festivals were. And we had to admit it, why put ourselves through this uncivilised punishment? Have we sinned so badly? Ha, yes of course, with our hedonistic debauchery to the tune of countless (well, a ludicrous 50+ for me) unholy racket bands. The piper (and the bassist) must be paid!
Our discomfort zone was shifted somewhat with the whole site being reorganised as compared to our previous 4 visits, only in terms of a few hundred metres in location but giving them the chance to set up a whole new “battleground” for the arena. But as we were there ready from Thursday lunchtime, warmed up at the Capper Arms and on airport ales, we quickly worked out the campsite was even closer to the supermarket, the Metal Corner entertainments were as good as ever (especially locals Loco Muerte with their Suicidal-esque hardcore), and we all peaked too soon with all the reunions and the bubbling anticipation – I even forgot to stay for the strippers, that bad!
With 2 extra stages to make 6 altogether the sheer quantity of quality bands to be seen meant I was driven to get in for the 10.30am start every day. On the Friday this didn’t work so well as there was the usual mad mosh at the entry and natives Celeste had started up at the Doom orientated stage of The Valley alongside the entrance. Got in for the latter half of their set and enough to savour their crushing Cult of Luna style post-metal with relentless strobes tripping my eyes out no end. Then over to The Warzone for compatriots Strong As Ten, thrashy blasts of hardcore like Municipal Waste, throwing in covers of “Sailin’ On” and “Hang the Pope” among their own excellent up-tempo mayhem. They were obviously loving the opportunity and their fun was infectious. Back to The Valley for Doomriders, new to me before being announced but their split with Disfear was a positive indication of their groovy distorted heaviness, excellent stuff. To be fair there would always be crossovers between the nominal tent “themes” and these could have as easily played in The Warzone with a punkish drive to them too. Back over there next for northern scum Extinction of Mankind who we’d shared the flight with from Manchester. Crust punk again proving a great success here, the sound at this tent was the probably the best of all and they started so heavy it was almost in Bolt Thrower territory. Vocal hooks from Ste stuck in the head for a long time after, and as with Doom previously they were selling their merch direct on the grass outside the show after, couldn’t be more down to earth. The new layout included some wooded areas that provided either shade or shelter from the variable weather conditions. Also retaining and expanding the fantastic visual elements of sculpture and artwork throughout the site, such a bonus incidental pleasure that adds to the all round joy. A taste of Thou from the back of The Valley still enabled enjoyment of their gargantuan lumbering doom, at a similar seismic pace to d.USK at Roadburn (they had pulled out of this one unfortunately). Polar opposites at Warzone for the intense hyper punk energy provided by Vitamin X. So much exuberant energy in their performance illicits the same from the crowd, and the frontman is repeatedly in among us along with inflatable walrus and crocodile. At least take a breather from this onslaught chilling out at in the woods at the back of the tent before another ripping set from Victims. Not long since we’d seen these with Black Breath in Manchester but their crusty melodic punk with the lovely Swe-death distortion gets the place raging. A slightly bigger break now to head back to the camp site and refill out 1 ½ litre jugs that no one seems bothered about us shipping back into the arena full of discount drinks, a proper recipe for disaster!
The first visit to the new stage of The Temple with its dark/black metal theme, sharing a colossal combined tent with the death metal orientated The Altar. The draw here was the hypnotic intensity of Darkspace, Swiss ambient black metallers. As would be a recurring sound problem theme of this huge space it initially seemed a little quiet but soon enough the waves and layers of relentless almost industrial harshness were soon washing over, insane drum machine backing and three way screamathon. Swapped facing direction for the slightly less serious but just as enjoyable Brujeria. Jeff Carcass, Shane Napalm, Adrian At the Gates jamming with a couple of Mexican gangster types? What’s not to like? The stripped down death/hardcore is completely infectious party metal, everyone wants to be a hombre and sing along in Spanglish, the sombreros are in full effect, as is the machete on stage! A return to the Warzone to at least have a listen in on punk old school of GBH who I had never seen before and was pleasantly surprised as they had a bit more Brummie bite than the less striking stuff I had heard on record. There’s bite and there’s biting your face off and back at The Altar there’s a return and farewell to Swedish grind legends Nasum. I hadn’t seen them before their singer died in the Indian Ocean tsunami and back with Rotten Sound’s singer taking his place for this last round of shows there was some cynical view on cash-in but right from the little theatric of the gas mask wedding scene at the start the songs undoubtedly are blisteringly delivered and a joy. The pummelling continues over at the Warzone with Integrity who must be the heaviest hardcore of the weekend, practically sludge in their breakdown with the raw vocals and an almost southern blues undercurrent.
An appropriate, seamless blend for Lynyrd Skynyrd on the main stage then? Hmmm. As you may have noticed I’ve gone best part of 12 hours without venturing to near these “main” attractions. For all my claims of eclectic tastes between back to back soporific doom and explosive hardcore the festival itself has definitely gone beyond my envelope of tastes with its inclusion and celebration of the accessible in the more traditional metal and classic rock that fills the two main stages. However there’s plenty who do like it, but in the latter parts of the day there is more time to sample just what all the fuss is about, and while we check a song or so for the experience we soon head off for another breather, “Freebird” sending us on our way. And still going on our return. This time for the Dropkick Murphys and their polished Oirish punk rock, entertaining enough in a latter day Pogues way and fitting in with our jovial drunkenness. The nominal headliner for the day next was Megadeth, who I hadn’t seen since about 1991. My expectations weren’t particularly high given the knowledge that Dave Mustaine is no longer the snotty teenage punk thrasher of old, rather than the born-again guitar god but I’d hoped a few of the classic tunes would have once again given me that flashback thrill. No luck, a pretty soulless going through the motions performance of stuff I didn’t know and was still completely indifferent to. Megadeth UK do a better job. Leaving after a handful of songs to a band I was almost attempted to bail on due to a clash and having seen them a lot before, all became right in the (under)world once more. Obituary always, always deliver the goods, and even when down to the single guitarist for this show at The Altar they levelled the place with their epitome of death metal riffmania. After being “chopped in half” and “turned inside out” I still had time to get over to The Warzone for From Ashes Rise. A rare and welcome opportunity to see the American crust band, and they hit my d(beat)-spot effortlessly, raw and dissonant at times and furiously charging at others. Awaiting a change over here there’s time to wander and hear closer “Peace Sells…” vaguely redeem a little credibility, Amon Amarth looking quite impressive from a distance with their darkly thunderous Viking metal, King Diamond shrieking over there somewhere, gas flare shows at the exit gates to impress those leaving after the main event, and the usual random meetings and camaraderie by the fire pits. For those of us with staying power there is still the killer finale of Tragedy at The Warzone. More US crust, this melodic evolution of His Hero Is Gone were introduced to me by Mr Peel a long time back. Again it’s a superb mix of huge, filthy, fast tones with adrenaline pumping tunes, there’s new stuff and old and for all the bleakness the whole thing re-energises after a long day, smiles all round.