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Back again for its ninth consecutive year, the UK’s number one place of worship for all things super hardcore or brutish metal Ghostfest is back with two stages of zero clashes, getting rid of the third stage they introduced for last year’s event. Still, the two date plan remains, each with secret headliners announced just a couple of weeks before its kick off, and with 40 bands in total, it looks like the weekend of welcomed punishment will be as strong as ever.
ACRANIA – 7/10
Welcoming us to Ghostfest‘s main stage for 2014 with our first dose of super angry music are fresh faced death metallers, Acrania. It’s pretty difficult to work out exactly what has made vocalist Luke Griffin so angry with what he’s shouting about, but the highs and lows he’s able to reach alongside the crunching riff work of Jack Simmons marks a great start to the festival.
BLACK TONGUE – 8/10
Pushing down the tempo but towering up on the grooves and excessive amounts of bass are Hull’s Black Tongue, and songs like ‘H.C.H.C.’ and ‘Falsifier’ get the pits moving nice and early. Alex Teyen‘s growls and roars are as sludgey as the music powering them through his lungs, and a cut or two of fresh material seems like the self-tagged “doomcore” outfit are just getting started.
DEMORALISER – 8/10
Stepping in as a last minute replacement following Switzerland’s Breakdown Of Sanity forcing to pullout, Grimsby’s future metalcore heroes Demoraliser are a surprise addition to the fesitval line-up, but still manage to reel in a pretty sizable crowd in spite of this. James Dexter‘s vocals have really improved over the past couple of years, and a few looks into new some new songs may see the five-piece truly come into their own once a follow-up to ‘A Living Nightmare’ drops.
ASTROID BOYS – 8/10
Sticking out as a sore thumb at this festival, at least compared to literally every other band on the line-up, Welsh lads Astroid Boys are back again for their third year, being bunked up a stage each time, and this year finally gracing the main stage. Still without co-vocalist Benji until November, main man on the mic Traxx gets a helping hand from producer Dellux in his absence. ‘Taylor Swift’ and ‘Giggs’ gets the crowd dancing as much as they’re moshing, and the bulk of live drums from Big H and guitars from Charlie Wilson (of TRC) really gives some extra bulk to their set.
DESOLATED – 6/10
Not long back in the UK after exporting their beatdown manifesto out to places like Malaysia and Indonesia, Desolated return back to Ghostfest and, even before single note is played or a single lyric is uttered, the band’s crazed pitting maniacs and already swinging their limbs as fast as they can in any which direction they’ll go. The Southampton quartet certainly have some dedicated fans behind them, just the amount of Desolated merch you’ll see across the weekend affirms this, but the truth is, despite how menacing they may sound, frontman Paul Williams‘ vocals sound a little sluggish when he attempts anything other than low growls. Still, the following will only get bigger.
ANNOTATIONS OF AN AUTOPSY – 7/10
Making themselves a part of this year’s Ghostfest line-up to play one of their two reunion shows of 2014 before returning back to the depths of life outside of a band, Annotations Of An Autopsy are without a shadow of a doubt as blood curdlingly heavy as the entire cast of dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park franchise. Steve Regan‘s ability to flip between high screams, ultra low growls and inhuman squeals is something to be commended and applauded. Though they may not be back for good and might not be everyone’s cup of tea, a tip of the hat should go to them for their worthy cause: Mosh Against Cancer.
HUNDREDTH – 8/10
A firm favourite in metalcore circles, Hundredth don’t fail their adoring fans, bringing forth a set as full of energy with their high-octane songs from across all of their releases. Newer cuts like ‘Shelter’ and ‘Resist’ are an easy win on the fans, and the opportunity to get some free merch for anyone who can get on stage and steal a setlist sees a surge of crowdsurfers literally jumping at the chance.
BETRAYING THE MARTYRS – 5/10
In terms of stage aesthetics, Betraying The Martyrs are a good few steps ahead of anyone on this year’s bill. Equipped with stage scrims, their own custom lighting and hefty stage boxes, the Parisian metalcore troupe are as invested in their aesthetics as they are their music. Vocalist Aaron Matts towers above everyone in the room stood atop his box, dictating more and more action from the crowd. Sadly, what really lets BTM a lot is mainly down to sound issues. The mix is all muddy and lost, and when it finds itself again its only a short-lived moment. A minor break due to more sound issues only hinders BTM further, and it’s a shame to think how differently this could’ve all gone.
BLEED FROM WITHIN – 9/10
Scottish boys Bleed From Within have really soared leaps and bounds since they put out last year’s ‘Uprising’, and with sets like tonight’s they’ve morphed into their ascended stature with ease. Frontman Scott Kennedy‘s screams and roars can rival any of his peers, and songs like ‘Colony’ and ‘Last Of Our Kind’ embody everything to be classed as metalcore anthems. Come album number four next year, we could very well see Bleed From Within one spot higher on the bill than they are today.
SUICIDE SILENCE – 9/10
With only a few appearances over in the UK since their revival, deathcore kings Suicide Silence are back to headline Ghostfest once more with Eddie Hermida at the helm. Though he may have already proved he’s a comfortable replacement for the late Mitch Lucker on the hallowed grounds of Download Festival earlier this month, this Ghostfest crowd is very much more a Suicide Silence catered crowd.
Indeed, what we’re delivered is a new age of Suicide Silence that are as punishing as they have ever been. Back catalogue favourites in the form of ‘Bludgeoned To Death’ and ‘No Time To Bleed’ are intensely crushing, bringing pit after pit to the Ghostfest floor. What must be noted is Eddie is neither trying to emulate Lucker or fill his shoes, but progress the band forward as the late frontman would’ve wanted. His screams are more shrill, his demeanour and presence less towering but still intimidating and commanding. Chants of “Eddie! Eddie!” affirm the fans acceptance, and truly calls in with welcome arms the future of Suicide Silence.
ROAD TO GHOSTFEST WINNER – ?/10
Unfortunately, due to issues beyond our control, we were unable to catch this set.
SENTENCED – 6/10
It doesn’t take long before Sentenced‘s set introduces a wave of pitters running across the room from side-to-side, literally bouncing off of the walls, swinging their fists and, in one person’s case, jumping into the sidelines of people not wanting to be involved and punching them. That aside, along with the odd weird siren sound that you’d normally find on a club track, Sentenced‘s bruising death metal, well, literally bruises.
FATHOMS – 4/10
The hate on Ghostfest‘s second stage this year continues forth with Brighton outfit Fathoms, and right within the first few seconds frontman Max Campbell loses his footing and takes a little tumble to his ass. Ironically, this small trip depicts much of how the rest of their set goes. Campbell‘s rather monotonous vocals fall flat against the rest of their clunky hardcore, and what we’re left with is a boring experience.
COLD HARD TRUTH – 8/10
British hardcore troupe Cold Hard Truth take to the stage and immediately begin delivering the best set the second stage has seen so far this weekend. Down a vocalist from their usual line-up, this really doesn’t hinder a set filled with hardcore grooves, keeping the hardcore dancing and pit merriment coming in a bounty.
NO SECOND CHANCE – 5/10
Heading up all the way from London, No Second Chance sadly cripple the momentum set by the stage’s predecessors in their attempts to keep the violence and octane high. Suffering from a similar fate to that a Fathoms, what lets down No Second Chance down the most the lethargic and sluggish vocal work from vocalist, Stu. Everything just sounds a littler too one-dimensional, despite the clear crushing intentions.
CONTINENTS – 9/10
Things pick right back up again, however, thanks to the efforts of Continents. The Welsh heavy hitters are a blistering addition to this year’s Ghostfest line-up. Switching things from hardcore over to metalcore on the second stage, frontman Phil Cross‘ screams are on absolute top form and what hits your ears with the likes of ‘Idle Hands’ is nothing short of pleasurable mayhem. A definite highlight for this year’s festival weekend.
AZRIEL – 7/10
It seems like Scottish stompers Azriel have been around forever yet, despite their greatest efforts that without a doubt should see them at least subheadlining festivals like this, their progression through the ranks is a slow one. Still, their fans flock towards their set, and are treated to older numbers like ‘Iscariot’. Frontman Rob Helm is suffering from a leg injury that sadly keeps his movements to a minimum, though Azriel still come out of it with a winning set.
INGESTED – 7/10
Slam crew Ingested aren’t first timers here at Ghostfest, and they definitely sound like they carry out their band practice sessions in the depths of Hell. Frontman Jay Evans doesn’t for one moment sound like anything other than the creation of a demon, and with the speed and precision on display, Lyn Jeffs just has to have sold his soul to the Devil. Taking cuts from across their back catalogue, this Mancunian lot will surely be welcomed back to Ghostfest time and time again.
PALM READER – 8/10
At a first glance, it’s understandable to wonder why a festival like Ghostfest would have Woking’s Palm Reader so high up on the bill alongside so many regular returners to the bill. The quintet, however, shatter any doubts in seconds with a set of some of the fastest and adrenaline fuelled post-hardcore you’re going to find across the UK. Josh McKeown‘s screams are relentlessly fierce whilst his bandmates jump around him, and a few slabs from their forthcoming sophomore leaves us wanting more. Will album two catapult them to stardom? Maybe their palms will tell us.
NASTY – 7/10
Belgian hardcore favourites deliver a set that can be described exactly as their nakesake: Nasty. The room is absolutely packed to greet the hate fulled four-piece, which is no surprise considering the amount of Nasty merch scattered across the backs of many of today’s attendees. Even with English not being their first language, frontman Matthi certainly holds his own in making sure the crowd get involved with the carnage of pitters before them. People are going absolutely insane for their hardcore antics, and it’d be silly to think that most of the crowd here would be dissatisfied with Nasty‘s closing of the second stage.
Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)