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Holding the status as one of the UK’s greatest hardcore and metal festivals, Ghostfest has returned for yet another year of intese music that brutalises the ears and, in some cases, the body too. We headed down to the 2013 edition of Ghostfest to get involved with the pits, blood and all of the heavy music the festival has to offer year in and year out.
HEART IN HAND – 7/10
Opening up the entire Ghostfest weekend, Heart In Hand certainly have one of the more difficult tasks at hand at kicking things off and setting the bar high. As a festival opener, they certainly set the mood right and get people moving nice and early. Title track from latest record ‘Almost There’ and set closer ‘Only Memories’ get the biggest reactions, and see some of the weekend’s first crowd surfers and pits.
MONUMENTS – 8/10
The first in a couple of changes to the original plans with stage times, Monuments are brought forward to an earlier set, instead of Betraying The Martyrs. Along with this, the unveiling of new frontman and ex-Periphery member Chris Barretto means some high anticipation for their set, but from what the band deliver there’s little need for nerve. Barretto fits into the djent outfit’s regime perfectly. Ultimately, the band’s future is very positive.
HEIGHTS – 6/10
Rising British hardcore boys Heights may not always deliver a flawless and perfect set in terms of sound each time they take to the stage, but one thing that is for sure is they’re exciting to watch. With frontman Alex Monty throwing himself into the crowd or smacking the microphone repeatedly on his head, it’s like he’s a Lee Spielman in the making. However, despite imperfections being all fine, you’d just wish they’d tweak a few things here and there so they at least hold some consistency.
BETRAYING THE MARTYRS – 9/10
Being shoved two spots up on the original set plans, maybe Betraying The Martyrs pulled a far bigger crowd than they should’ve done if things went ahead as intended, and this definitely works their favour. With a huge swagger and a dominating presence similar to that of the now late Mitch Lucker of Suicide Silence, frontman Aaron Matts definitely holds the vocals and dominating nature to tear the place down. This, coupled with keyboardist Victor Guillet throwing his instrument around, and every other member running around like mad men, Betraying The Martyrs instantly set themselves as a Ghostfest 2013 highlight.
VEIL OF MAYA – 5/10
The mastery of their instruments is undeniable and respect must be given to Veil Of Maya for stripping their stage down to the bare minimal, at least as far as a metal show is concerned. However, it is this minimalism that sadly results in Veil Of Maya‘s set to slowly turn stale and boring. Sure, if you’re already a cemented fan then there’s nothing to fault here, but at a festival where there’s a huge opportunity to reel in a few new followers, it appears the chance was sorely missed.
BRUTALITY WILL PREVAIL – 6/10
For a little while now, Brutality Will Prevail have been branded with a great deal of hype within the UK hardcore community, and look set to reach the same heights as Your Demise if they keep at their current trajectory and speed of ascension. Sadly, at least with the display on hand today, Brutality Will Prevail still have quite a fair distance of the path to tread. Frontman and freshest recruit Louis Gauthier is stepping into previous vocalist Ajay Jones‘ shoes nicely, but it’s unclear whether it’s him or a problem with the sound that makes his vocals sound incredibly quiet for the most part of their set and, as such, dampen the impact of their set dramatically.
BURY YOUR DEAD – 7/10
With the super rare occurrence where members of Bury Your Dead have been temporarily replaced for the set with Carl Schwartz (of First Blood) on bass and Navid Naghdi (of For The Fallen Dreams) on drums, those witnessing Bury Your Dead‘s set are experiencing something that very few people will ever see. They fire out song after song of great, fun metalcore to a crowd that bounce and mosh along from start to finish. Definitely not perfection, but given the circumstances, Bury Your Dead get the job done.
TERROR – 7/10
Known across the hardcore scene as some of the founding fathers of the genre today, Terror make a worthy addition to the history of Ghostfest headliners. From the first note right to the very last sound produced from the Californian quintet, members of the crowd are either bouncing and/or moshing and/or surfing their way into the arms of security staff past the barrier. Mid-set there’s some controversy between the security staff and the punters on the floor, but the fun had through songs like ‘Live By The Code’ and ‘Spit My Rage’ are undeniably enjoyable.
BLACK TONGUE – 5/10
Hull’s downright dirty and heavy style certainly fits in with the Ghostfest crowd. However, it’s a shame that after a short while everything becomes very samey and anything you’ve seen in the first few minutes you’ll just see again for the remainder of the set. Without a doubt, the lows that can be reached by frontman Alex Teyen are impressive, but it’s just a shame that as a whole Black Tongue‘s sound is very limited.
NAPOLEON – 7/10
Melodic hardcore boys Napoleon surely have gone leaps and bounds over the past few months, and with the rather worthy sized crowd before them considering the time of their set, it’s a testament to their hard work paying off. It’s true that there’s still a few things to be tweaked here and there, but with an energetic set that sees the pit flying their limbs where and when possible, it seems their upcoming tour supporting The Devil Wears Prada is just a sign of things to come.
ASTROID BOYS – 4/10
The amount of hype surrounding genre splicers Astroid Boys as of late is hard to avoid, so of course the room is absolutely packed for their mid-afternoon set. Stylistically, aside from the fact that they mix rap with hardcore (something the guys like to call extreme rap), there’s very little to the Cardiff outfit. The trade-off vocal work between Benji and Traxx is bog standard and, honestly, Astroid Boys are not a band to get excited about.
MALEVOLENCE – 8/10
With only a few songs under their belt, it’s absolutely insane to think how much of a following has been built for Malevolence, despite still being within their infancy stages. However, judging on their stage presence and output of tunes alone, you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking otherwise. The shredding Sheffielders almost literally tear the place apart and the crowd do the same. Literally, one guy walked out with his face, neck and chest drenched in blood from his nose. He was Malevolenced, for sure.
DEMORALISER – 7/10
Metalcore boys Demoraliser are certainly making some decent waves in their scene, and with a live set to boot it’s totally justified. Frontman James Dexter has grown into a rather formidable frontman, especially considering his age. His bandmates follow suit and all together deliver track after track of formidable metalcore. One of the UK’s future hopes for the genre, no doubt.
POLAR. – 8/10
The crowd for the beginning of POLAR.‘s set is rather sparse, which is strange, as despite the clear irritation this causes frontman Adam Woodford at the beginning of the band’s set, the room slowly starts to fill out as the band’s set progresses and they deliver one of the strongest performances seen on the Hype Clothing stage today. With a set composed from tracks off their recent ‘Inspire. Create. Destroy.’ EP along with staple favourites like ‘Tonight Matthew, I Am The Batman’, the Southern outfit are a Ghostfest highlight.
HARM’S WAY – 3/10
Chicago’s Harm’s Way are certainly one band that a lot of the Ghostfest crowd are eager to see, if the amount of people wearing merch with their names on it is to go off at least. The amount of people standing before the stage before they play a single note is testament to it too, and though instrumentally their brand of hardcore is sludgey and hard, in terms of vocals and stage presence, everything is one-dimensional. There’s nothing wrong with excessively heavy vocal work, but when each word sounds like a dog vomiting and there’s little movement on stage alongside this, it equates to a set that gets really dull really fast.
VANNA – 9/10
Arguably taking the crowd for one of the best live bands of the weekend, or at least the Saturday line-up, post-hardcore troupe Vanna close off the Hype Clothing stage for the day in perfect style. Opening with the raucous ‘The Few And The Far Between’ and then kicking right into ‘The Lost Art Of Staying Alive’, Vanna already set the bar pretty high to compete with. Though their set includes frontman Davey Muise hanging from the room’s ceiling, friends of the band clambering the stage to scream along to lyrics and just general insanity, it’s the more unity driven ‘Safe To Say’ that sticks out as the set highlight. Through this, Muise grabs the microphone and stand, brings it the centre of the floor, draws the whole crowd in to surround him who all scream the lyrics alongside him. Hauntingly brilliant.
Unfortunately, we were unable to review any bands who performed on this stage. Sorry.
Written by Zach Redrup
Founder & Editor for DEAD PRESS! | Atheist and antitheist. | Judge of the quick & the dead since 1989.