After going through the problems encountered during the festival, let’s talk about the bands that played there during these three days of madness.
To start the festival, the reunited chaotic hardcore band offered a frantic performance. Like a pack of wolves unleashed on an unsuspecting crowd, the quintet threw at them their best material, mostly from their only EP. Even if the band does not have a lot of material, they have plenty of energy and distortion to fill an half an hour slot and send everyone away with a strong impression. I’m now even more impatient to see them open for All Pig Must Die in August at the Underworld.
The trio plays constantly in London in front of ten to twenty people so it’s a pleasure to see them entertain more than a hundred curious pair of eyes. The beginning of their set lacked intensity but they quickly found their footing to offer a strong show consisting of the entirety of their latest album, Life is a struggle, give up. An excellent mix of Discordance Axis and technical metal, as always.
Young and in the Way
Now signed to Deathwish, the blackened crust of YAITW can finally shine and their performance must have convinced quite a lot of people. Starting with the two opening tracks of their latest album, When life comes to death, then switching to some slower, but still intense, songs, their short set was well built and memorable. Sadly, the now quintet (with a bass player sporting a DMS shirt) played only material from their new album but it was still a nice introduction to band who had never played in Europe before.
Even with the nu metal riffs of their new album, Harm’s Way continues to pummel everyone in sight with their barbaric beatdown. Quite simply, this band should be renamed Testosterone, the Band. The dumb violence of their riffs generates a wall of stupid for every wannabe tough guy in the room. The result was a very intense set where the mosh pit quickly extended to both side of the main stage. Even if their new songs look too much toward Roots era Sepultura, the material on Isolation and Blinded still sounds prehistoric as hell. It’s really no wonder why they switched their place with Young and in the Way. Harm’s Way is destined to be the leading light for simple minded hardcore.
If on record the band offers ragers after ragers, on stage they lack the same melodic intensity. The fault lies mostly on the singer who has difficulties reproducing his lines even if he screams them all. His share should be divided more equally with the bass player to truly offer the same diversity that on record. Their mix of crust and hardcore powered by the Swedish death metal crunch of the guitar is otherwise effective but not as memorable that on La fin absolue du monde or All hail the void.
Despite being away of the public away for a few years between Darker handcraft and Blissfucker, Trap Them seems to have gained in popularity considering the massive crowd that gathered for their set. However, it seems that singer Ryan McKenney decided he was going to play for the few rows and stayed in-front of the stage for most of the show instead of on-stage. Furthermore, he still lacks the energy to scream all his lines, which is very regrettable as his voice remains one of the main attraction in the band. On-stage, the three musicians pull their own but do so with not much energy. Despite all of that, the public seems to lap it up and the band exits with the acclamation.
Despite being now signed to Relapse, nothing has changed for Magrudergrind and they still play some of the most energetic and powerful grindcore you could find. The material on their self-titled debut still sounds as vital and hungry as when they toured in 2010 but the band promises another one late this year, or early next year. It’s still a long time coming but we are treated to two new songs and those sounds really promising. Magrudergrind has a lot to offer and even if they don’t produce much material, there is still Disciples of Christ and Coke Bust (the drummer’s other bands) to listen to.
You would think that after all these years of failing to get any popular recognition, Will Haven would be tired and bored but they seem to be hungrier than ever. Returned screamer Grady Avenell headbangs furiously while the musicians around him jump and bash their instruments to create the enormous sludge they are known for. After opening with When the wall closes in they power-through a set-list made of most of the classics (Fresno, I’ve seen my fate, Carpe diem, Stick up kid). A perfect set from start to finish that not even the antics of Jeff Irwin can stop. Their set seems way too short and they exit like they entered, as kings.
Nails are loved in the United Kingdom and the band love us back so it’s no surprise to see them deliver a rousing set. Just off a tour with Terror, vocalist Todd Jones has taken a few lesson from Scott Vogel and delivers some fantastic one liners like « If you don’t slam, you’re not my friend » or introducing every other song by « This song is about people who talk shit » before asking the crowd what the song they were going to play was about. Answer: « People who talk shit ». After delivering two fantastic sets in London in 2013 and 2014 the band proved they are now better than ever and are ready to take over the world.
It seems that every person who watched Nails wanted to see Pig Destroyer so it’s no surprise that it was quickly impossible to get in the smaller room. Nevertheless, nobody seems to suffer during the impressive set that the ever growing band delivered. Despite starting as a trio and popularizing this format, Pig Destroyer are now five and even if the man at the samples and keyboard doesn’t do much (apart from drinking beer and punching buttons during transitions) the bands sounds fuller and stronger. Their set list picks from every major albums, from Prowler in the yard (Piss angel, Starbelly) to Terryfier (the self-titled song) or Book burner (The diplomat). Scott Hull is the master of the riffs, Adam Jarvis pummels hit kit with precision and J.R. Hayes doesn’t let his beer belly get in the way of screaming his demented vocals. A masterful proof of how to deliver a fantastic set of grindcore and remain unique.
Even if I’m not a huge fan of their sludge, I had to witness Bongzilla just for the fact that they remain one of the cult Relapse band from the label’s beginning. I was not the only one to think so as the drummer was wearing a shirt from the label’s festival, Contaminated 3.0, where i first discovered them on DVD. The band does not seem to have aged since thanks to their steady diet of beer, cigarette and weed and offers a heavy and dirty wall of sludge powered by some excellent move from the drummer. The vocals were a little bit too loud for my taste but if it wasn’t for the presence of Converge on the other stage I would have stayed more than thirty minutes.
Even if i have seen them nine times already, Converge remain a band i can’t miss on stage. Their well deserved cult status makes them the Slayer of my, and several other’s, generation. The band is in All we love we leave behind when I come in and continues to play several tracks from their latest. After more than twenty years of existence, they have accumulated an impressive back catalog but can still play songs from their latest with the confidence that they will be welcomed as the classics they are. The set is concluded by fantastic performances of Concubine and Jane Doe before the band comes back for more older songs in the form of The broken vow (sung with a smile by Jacob Bannon who has definitely put the baggage of the album behind him) and of Last light where you could find everybody from a teenager to her dad. A testimony to the everlasting power of Converge’s music and a perfect conclusion for this first day.