LIVE: Hit The Deck Festival @ Bristol (25/04/2015)

Date: April 25th, 2015
Venue: Various Venues, Bristol
Website: www.hitthedeckfestival.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/hitthedeckfestival
Twitter: www.twitter.com/hitthedeckfest

Bristol has a great music scene, and it plays host to many great live spectacles across the year. This weekend, it’s the turn of rock & metal in the form of Hit The Deck Festival, an extravaganza held across four venues from noon ’til midnight. Downsizing from the seven stages of 2014, HTD has a somewhat underwhelming line-up this year, but the backdrop of a fantastic city promises to hold its own against any other.


O2 ACADEMY 1:

CALABRESE
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch and review this act.

IDIOM
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OATHBREAKER
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch and review this act.

ALLUSONDRUGS
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch and review this act.

HUNDREDTH
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch and review this act.

HACKTIVIST – 7/10
Always a wildcard on any bill, the rap/djent concoction that Hacktivist preach is rarely dull. Now on the verge of finally releasing new material, the bizarre sounds on display merge well as ever to provide a healthy mosh pit to older songs like ‘Hacktivist’ and ‘Blades’. New songs ‘Deceive & Defy’ and ‘Rage’ sound tight live and are performed with considerable talent, led by the talented Timfy James (clean vocals, guitar). Hacktivist may be taking it slowly, but they’re certainly getting there.

MONUMENTS – 5/10
Without a doubt one of the best bands in the djent scene are London’s Monuments, but today they don’t have nearly the impact that they have on record. It’s a short and very by-the-books appearance, and it almost seems like watching the band on a video screen at times. Monuments are a band that are usually terrific live, but save for the early bouncing of ‘I, The Creator’ and the get-up-and-mosh of ‘Regenerate’, there’s not too much else to shout about.

CANCER BATS – 8/10
Someone seriously needs to investigate Cancer Bats – with the amount of riffs they have, there’s no way that they’ve paid their tax on all of them. Well and truly launching their songs at the packed O2 Academy, Cancer Bats hurl song after song out. ‘Satellites’ and ‘Lucifer’s Rocking Chair’ have more pinches than an angry creche, and new songs from ‘Searching For Zero’ are meaty enough to make a vegetarian turn inside out. It says a lot that Cancer Bats manage to more than hold their own on recorded material when sandwiched with the superb Beastie Boys ‘Sabotage’ cover.

WHILE SHE SLEEPS
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch and review this act.

SKINDRED – 8/10
It’s about fucking time that Skindred got elevated to headline status. Now in their seventeenth year in existence, Skindred haven’t given up, so it’s great to see them finally getting rewarded. Everyone who’s still alive at Hit The Deck is packed into the O2 Academy to see a band that they’ve probably seen before, but sure aren’t bored of. Skindred actually only play about ten original songs in their hour on stage in a set that’s littered with off the wall covers, including ‘Thrift Shop’, ‘Duality’, and ‘Sad But True’. There’s also material that spans the band’s entire career, including hits from 2002’s ‘Babylon’ with ‘Selector’ and ‘Nobody’. Frontman Benji Webbe‘s inimitable rapture is in full force as ever, once again commanding the crowd to remove an item of clothing and swing it around as the now infamous “Newport Helicopter” on ‘Warning’. Skindred are still going strong in 2015, and there’s really no reason to expect them to let up any time soon.


O2 ACADEMY 2:

MONARKS
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch and review this act.

YOU BLEW IT!
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BAD SIGN
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TELLISON
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A GREAT BIG PILE OF LEAVES
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch and review this act.

JOHN COFFEY – 8/10
Seemingly confirming the notion that anything Dutch at this festival is superb, Utrecht’s John Coffey prove a great warm-up to Cancer Bats‘ later set. Despite the small stage, all members manage to make the walls bulge with their music to the point that they may fall down at any second. Sounding a lot like Every Time I Die or Maylene & The Sons Of Disaster, John Coffey are now on album number three, entitled ‘The Great News’, and appear to be making strides on the continent. They know what they want to do, and they do it well. Let’s hope they return to these shores very soon.

BLACK PEAKS – 8/10
Well, here’s a band that may have slipped under your radar: Brighton’s Black Peaks are being championed by BBC Radio 1 at the moment, and it’s not hard to see why. There’s ferocious hardcore tearing the faces off everyone in the cramped O2 Academy 2 area mashed between melodic post-rock sections that could soothe even the most bitchy of mother-in-laws. It’s an act that’s reminiscent of Mastodon, and by the looks of the imagery on display, the band are looking to follow their peers.

THE XCERTS
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch and review this act.

THE EARLY NOVEMBER
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THE FLEECE:

WHEN WE WERE WOLVES
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch and review this act.

DEAD!
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ASHES – 7/10
Fresh off the release of debut EP, ‘We Are The Darkness That Turns Into Light’, melodic metallers Ashes have certainly bolted out of the traps as far as bands go. It’s a modest crowd that greets their early appearance, but they don’t let that perturb them, rifling through some really quite good songs in ‘Live Like We Mean It’ and ‘Alive’. There’s definitely an air of Bullet For My Valentine about it all, and even if the onlookers don’t want to know, Ashes have definitely made a more than promising start to their career.

ZOAX
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch and review this act.

BRAWLERS
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DEAD HARTS – 7/10
The grizzled character of Matthew Baxendale always gives Dead Harts the vibe that they’re performing at gunpoint. Again, The Fleece seems sleepier than a student on exam day, but that doesn’t stop the boys from Sheffield attempting to destroy the very ground that they stand on. ‘Pit Talk’ opens and sets the tone, leading to songs from new record ‘Cult For The Haggard Youth’. Maybe given a broader audience, Dead Harts would have made more of an impact, but you certainly can’t fault their approach.

OCEANS ATE ALASKA
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch and review this act.

CITY OF SHIPS
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JUNIUS
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ROLO TOMASSI
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch and review this act.

DEVIL SOLD HIS SOUL – 5/10
Someone has dealt Devil Sold His Soul a really shit hand with The Fleece graveyard slot. While the party proper is at O2 Academy, there are less than 50 people to witness one of the best bands in modern UK music. Usually a band that floors you with emotion, there’s little impact from a smokeless and disappointing set. Despite trying their hardest with songs like ‘VIII’ and ‘Devastator’, there’s the inexplicable absence of fan-favourites ‘End Of Days’ and the supposed big new hit, ‘Time’. However, the set closes with older material in ‘Darkness Prevails’ and the ever excellent ‘Hope’.


THEKLA:

SYREN CITY – 7/10
As the location for the wristband exchange, Thekla is where the real party begins at Hit The Deck. A nice touch this year is for the local bands to be charged with opening the festival proper, and given that task this time is Syren City. It’s an impressively large crowd that at first seems reluctant to participate in the Bristol 5-piece’s shenanigans, but it proves difficult for them to not enjoy the hard rock stylings after the first beaten instruments of the day sound out. Cuts from latest EP ‘Escape’ wander down a route paved by Glamour Of The Kill, including the catchy ‘Our Disease’. A very tight and polished performance.

TUSKENS – 8/10
Currently setting themselves sat high atop the diving board of Bristol’s talent pool are pop-punkers, Tuskens. It’s obvious what to expect when it comes to this genre, and the lads don’t let us down when it comes to leg flailing leaps into the sky to the tune of finger pointing central. With two EPs to their name, Tuskens have already solidified a strong structure with which they can continue to climb. Older tunes like ‘Hindsight’ and ‘Four Years’ draw the biggest roars, and newer songs from last year’s ‘Almost Over’ also pack a formidable punch. Mark Tuskens with the “ones to watch” tag.

JPNSGRLS
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch and review this act.

TIM VANTOL – 10/10
What an absolute treat for anyone who was hanging at Thekla around 2:30pm. Tim Vantol may not have come with the pedigree of some of the other artists, but he without a doubt tops them all when it comes to having fun. His gruff voice accompanies a country/rock hybrid that is equal parts thigh slappin’ as it is fist pumpin’. The Netherlands native effortlessly churns out great song after great song, like ‘If We Go Down, We Will Go Together’. There’s a hearty singalong to a song that surely is unknown by many of the fans in attendance today, and that just goes to show how instantly likeable this four-piece is.

THE THOMAS NICHOLAS BAND 8/10
An impromptu blast of ‘Wonderwall’ mixed with ‘Back In Black’ some ten minutes before stage start tells you a lot of what to expect from the next thirty minutes. Sunglasses are worn despite the near-pitch black conditions on board, and it’s clear that Thomas Nicholas of American Pie fame really doesn’t care if you think he’s cool or not. The now thirty-something is well used to chants of “Kevin!” by now. The music is inoffensive hard rock and the banter inbetween songs is enjoyable.

AS IT IS – 9/10
How on earth As It Is have become so popular is anyone’s guess. Now signed to Fearless Records and even with only one full album to their name, they manage to pack the Thekla so full of people it risks sinking to the ocean floor. There’s just something about the Brighton five that hints at a world-beater tag. The band play pop punk a la Busted & McFly, but still manage to bring the charm of Neck Deep. Their music isn’t particularly revolutionary but it’s performed with such passion. Debut ‘Never Happy, Ever After’ is now upon the world. Did Hit the Deck witness the early performance of the new Green Day today?

DECADE
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch and review this act.

THE SWELLERS
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MC LARS
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FRANK IERO AND THE CELLABRATION
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch and review this act.


Written by MG Savage (@MGSavagewriter)

Founder & Editor for DEAD PRESS! | Atheist and antitheist. | Judge of the quick & the dead since 1989.

Founder & Editor for DEAD PRESS! | Atheist and antitheist. | Judge of the quick & the dead since 1989.