After a successful debut last year, Manchester one-dayer Deadbolt Festival has returned once again for 2015, this time around bulking up their line-up, which for 2015 sees a headline spot from British metalcore darlings Heart Of A Coward. With the rest of the bill being filled with a further 25 bands on the up and up lately, there’s no place better in Manchester to get your fill of the stars-to-be of alternative music in the coming years.
LOST ATLANTA – 7/10
It’s really, really early, and Lost Atlanta are literally the second band to be playing a single note at this year’s Deadbolt Festival. Though the room remains rather empty throughout their set, despite people slowly filtering in as the minutes go by, Lost Atlanta remain undeterred. They’re still mere infants in the game, but with good lead riffs from Sam Lomax and the energy of a young Funeral For A Friend, these guys are pinned as ones to watch.
MILESTONES – 6/10
Coming onto the stage sounding (and, to an extent, looking) like a young You Me At Six from their ‘Take Off Your Colours’ days, pop-punk is now the agenda for the main stage. ‘More To Me’ is a definite set stand-out, and the more melodic approach with ‘Equal Measures’ switches things up a little bit. It’s just a shame that frontman Matthew Clarke’s vocals are regularly overpowered by the rest of the instrumentation in the mix.
CALLS LANDING – 8/10
Returning for a second year following last year’s appearance, Leeds outfit Calls Landing are back, only this time around they’ve got a full-length under their belts to showcase. Cuts from said album, ‘Heirlooms’, sound just as great live as they do on the record, most notably ‘Belgium’, and Joe Armitage’s voice is belting on top form today. Imagine New Found Glory with a little more grit with their melodies, then you might get close to Calls Landing. And, with a set at Reading & Leeds Festival in a couple of weeks time, the stars look bright for these Yorkshire boys.
SWORN TO OATH – 8/10
With only a short stay at Deadbolt Festival today before firing off elsewhere, Stoke boys Sworn To Oath plough through their set with a stomping southern rock swagger akin to that of Maylene & The Sons Of Disaster and He Is Legend. It’s also one of the final shows with soon to be parting ways axe-man Dave Leese. Though the head banging on the floor may be minimal, there’s more than enough coming from the trio onstage alongside some chunky riffs. Sworn to Oath leave us Sworn to Mosh.
IN ARCHIVES – 9/10
Not ones to visit these areas up t’ north often, Peterborough based upstarts In Archives come on to the main stage to a room that’s becoming more and more plentiful, and cuts from their new EP ‘The Worst Part Of Life’ are as crushing as they are thrilling. Frontman Zak Pinchin’s vocals rip through the rest of the band, and the likes of ‘Misery’ and ‘I’ve Been Thinking Of Leaving’ secure In Archives as one of the day’s highlights.
CASEY – 10/10
Before their set begin, taken from the stage and stood in the middle of the room stands a lone microphone stand, and by the time the rest of the band take to the stage and frontman Tom Weaver grabs his tool of catharsis, the audience are captivated ’til his very last breath. Emotionally charged melodic rock akin to Being As An Ocean, Pianos Become The Teeth, and La Dispute is the product of delivery for Casey, and with songs like ‘Teeth’ and ‘Hell’ under their belts and Weaver being entranced by his demons while being surrounding by a jaw-dropped crowd, there’s only a few bands at such a young age in their career you feel something special is going to happen for. Casey are one of them.
LEOPARDS – 7/10
Flying the flag for the ladies of rock at today’s festival, being the only band on the line-up with a female vocalist, local pop-rockers Leopards are sandwiched two bands who deliver a much more visceral calibre of music than them whilst soon-to-be tour mates Omaha play just downstairs. Singer Jenna Clare’s vocals start off a little muffled in the mix to begin with, but by the time we reach ‘April’ the dust seems to have settled. Not one for keeping still, Leopards, much like their namesake, like to jump about a bit, and it’s nice to see a band showing just how much fun they have doing what they do.
SHVPES – 8/10
It’s official, the days of Cytota, the name that SHVPES formerly used to go by, are dead and gone. Along with their name went their vocalist Joby Fitzgerald, and in came new frontman Griffin Dickinson, a more refined and stable post-hardcore sound, and a live set that keeps on bumping up and up in quality. Dickinson is regularly up against the barrier, delivering a switch between cleans and screams like the best of them in the game. Don’t be shocked when you see these boys blowing up all over the place come the release of an album.
SHIELDS – 8/10
London metalcore boys Shields seem to be at the cusp at getting some notable momentum off the heels of this year’s ‘Guilt’ EP, and bringing with them the biggest crowd of the day so far it seems to back up the hype they’re seemingly getting. Vocalist Joe Thomas’ high shrieks are formidable, and the likes of ‘Jordan’ and ‘But This Feels Worse’ sound so much meatier and ribcage rattling live than they do one record. Ones to watch, for sure.
CARCER CITY – 8/10
We’ve been waiting a little while now for a follow-up to 2012’s ‘The Road Journals’, and now it looks like the release of a new record from scouse metal champions Carcer City is coming closer and closer to becoming a reality. Despite running on material that is at least 3 years old and further, they don’t fail to keep everything as exciting as it was when it first aired live, with axe-man Lewy Hughes appearing to be almost taken over by the music. New cut in the form of ‘Sovereign’ sees them set to be stepping up their game come the release of the new album, and frontman Patrick Pinion’s screams and have never sounded so animalistic.
CROOKS – 5/10
The pumped up aggression of the evening takes a momentary back seat come the time for Crooks’ set, and sadly so does all of the built up momentum. Frontman Josh Rogers certainly has a unique set of pipes on him, and their somewhat alternative styling towards the punk template isn’t one that is put on their regularly. The major downfall here is that, for the most part, Crooks just seem to come across like they’re going through the motions. It’s hard to say exactly why this may be, but a lack of conviction definitely hinders a set that could’ve been so much more.
MARTYR DEFILED – 9/10
Hell rises from the underworld and occupies the attic of Manchester’s Sound Control for Martyr Defiled’s set, one of the emerging forces in the heaviest territories that British music dwells in today. Leading full force like a pissed off band of demons with their respective crafts, ‘Demons In The Mist’ is like Hades’ jam, and ‘Under The Influence’ and its bounce could cause another pothole to open up in the middle of the city. Vocalist Matt Jones could also fool you into thinking he provided the unedited roars for the Indominus Rex. One of the brightest hopes the UK metal scene currently has to offer.
HEART OF A COWARD – 8/10
Closing off this year’s festivities with their Thor’s hammer might and prowess, British metalcore favourites Heart Of A Coward are here to show everyone before them just how it’s done. Indeed, songs like ‘Nightmare’ and ‘Psychohant’ should be put out there on all of the ‘Where to start with metalcore’ playlists that get whipped up. Frontman Jamie Graham is a behemoth of a vocalist, and could easily stand toe-to-toe with some of the pioneers of the genre. A sneaky peek into a new album track or two gives us the safe reassurance that come the dropping of album number three ‘Deliverence’ later on this year should leave no worry on our minds. Heart Of A Coward are here to take the rest of the year and, quite possibly, 2016 by the horns and drive it into submission.
BEST YEARS – 5/10
Setting a pop-punk tone to begin with for this year’s Deadbolt Festival are hotly tipped local boys, Best Years. With a new EP incoming, setting a bit of buzz at any appearance like this is imperative and, though their Neck Deep-esque style is all the rage nowadays, with frontman Joel Plews even being a bit of a Ben Barlow look-a-like, the sound is all muddy and muffled, and even a cover of Good Charlotte’s ‘The Anthem’ isn’t enough to save the set.
LOATHE – 8/10
The tone is dropped down several octaves and any hope and joy instilled into the room by Best Years is instantly wiped clear, smashed in the face a few times, and fucked whilst lay bloody. Yep, Loathe are really blummin’ angry about something, although it’s hard to work out what exactly. Maybe it’s that they can’t find any colour to wear that suits them better than white and/or black, or maybe it’s the fact that their efforts to be somewhat theatrical with the masks and what not are completely overshadowed by their pure lament, but regardless, they do heavy music right.
BEARING LOSS – 7/10
Taking to the stage with matching khaki shorts all around and a beat that pushes you to two-step, it’s a shame that the empty floor space generated for the start of Bearing Loss’ set doesn’t really get any movement from the almost lifeless crowd before them. Maybe it’s a little early, but the likes of ‘Strive & Believe’ gets a few two-steppers and shape throwers showing us what they’ve got. With a bit more of a lively reception, Bearing Loss will have you bearing punches.
THE SUN NEVER SET – 6/10
They may look like the spawn that would be known as none other than Asking Alexandra Jr. (circa 2009), and yeah they’ve got a few breakdowns just like their look-a-likes, but The Sun Never Set offer something far less straight-forward and generically digestible than that. Infact, this is sadly their biggest pitfall. The Sun Never Set try to reach for these grand platforms with their style, to project the heaviest of ambience similar to that of Devil Sold His Soul. The issue here is that it’s a challenge to master and execute, and ultimately on this occasion is an over ambitious goal that TSNS lose their grip on very quickly into each song.
SIX TIME CHAMPION – 5/10
Sadly, it seems like the basement’s pop-punk acts are the ones that fail to breathe into the room the life and eagerness that they project and so desperately want us to experience along with them. Brighton’s Six Time Champion are no exception to this rule unfortunately, and it’s a real shame. There’s nothing particularly bad to note here, but then again there’s nothing here to grab you further than the occasional nod along to the standard pop-punk template that is getting more and more saturated as the days go by.
BORDERS – 8/10
Lincoln newcomers Borders are steadily creeping in from the underground, delivering a djent-ish metal core sound that gets bodies jumping as much as it does heads banging. Their setup seems small, but their sound is everything but and, despite a minor speed bump with sound midway through, Borders proceed forward as a somewhat unexpected high point for this year’s Deadbolt Festival.
LANDMARKS – 7/10
Newbies to the game, Landmarks sadly suffer a somewhat sparse crowd this afternoon, but the fans they do reel in are far from subdued and more than willing to get in there to sing along with their pop-rock hooks. There’s nothing new to experience here, but there’s definitely fun, and with songs like ’40mg’ in their arsenal and with a right push, Landmarks could well be tripling their crowd within the next 12 months.
OMAHA – 6/10
Delivering pop-rock with a bit of a harder edge ala Young Guns, Leicester’s Omaha have steadily been making waves over the past few months. Songs like ‘There’s No Room For Doubt’ and other cuts from their ‘Chapters’ EP are easily catered with the potential to fill rooms twice this size. However, the biggest gripe easily falls within the band’s choice to have a vocal backing track, mainly due to it being totally unnecessary. Vocalist Jack Voss has a great voice behind him, and it’d make far more sense for him to belt out the big harmonies and one his bandmates go for the more subtle vocal inputs. A lot of bands do it, yes, but this is far too obvious, and should be switched the other way around.
CABIN BOY JUMPED SHIP – 2/10
Ever wanted to jump back all the way to 2008, relive the electro/metalcore mash up monstrosity of Attack Attack!’s ‘Someday Came Suddenly’ album, wear jeans so skinny that you lose circulation in your legs, live your life on MySpace whore trains and boast about how many k’s of friends you had? Cabin Boy Jumped Ship are basically the amalgamation of all of the MySpace eras most polarising and hated bands. Now, imagine they all threw-up their long gone best before qualities into one pile, it stank and rotted over the past few years, then was shovelled into one band who have jumped onstage so that you can relive the days of crabcore in 2015. Energetic? Yes. Dated? Yes. Annoying? Yes.
LOCK & KEY – 8/10
Midway through Lock & Key’s set, frontman Rich Lardner explains that last year’s Deadbolt Festival set was their first, and it’s an honour to be invited back 12 months later. Indeed, the basement stage at this the one-dayer is essentially the birthplace of one of the UK’s fastest rising hardcore bands, and the deliverance of tracks like ‘The Legacy’ will certainly cement them as one of the champions of the UKHC scene once they drop a full-length or two.
CREATE TO INSPIRE – 7/10
Melodic hardcore boys Create To Inspire are one of those bands still kind of bubbling in the underground, ready to burst and explode aside their more established peers. Frontman Sean Midson definitely has some major potential in him, and some of his screams sound somewhat similar to that of Rou Reynolds of Enter Shikari. Together, the Essex boys dominate the stage and, with word of a new EP on its way shortly, the only way is up for Create To Inspire.
HIGH HOPES – 6/10
Reading melodic metalcore troupe High Hopes seem to be yet another band who’ve been subject to a somewhat sparse crowd and, despite the band’s undoubtedly clear efforts to try and get more people involved in their hard-hitting activities, it falls in vain. It’s a shame, because you can tell they’re trying, but for some reason it just seems hard to get as into what’s going on right now as the band are. Slab after slab of metalcore delivered is far from bad, but it’s also far from engaging too.
NAPOLEON – 7/10
Wrapping things up downstairs are British melodic hardcore favourites Napoleon, who’ve been on the circuit long enough to know how to handle their basement closing spot this evening. They keep reaching the cuff of breaking through but never quite making it, but they hold a dedicated fanbase regardless. Vocalist Wes Thompson commands the crowd with his lyrics for the most part through the likes of ‘Of Jams, Smokes & Promises’ and ‘Stargazer’, despite some mid-set microphone issues, and we even see a cheeky appearance from Sean Midson of Create To Inspire to keep exhilaration levels to their highest potential.
Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)