Ghostfest is Leeds’ annual celebration of the very best and most exciting bands that the hardcore and metal scene has to offer today. Now in its seventh year, the festival has come from humble beginnings to one of the most anticipated events on the UK festival circuit. Bunking up to an extra third stage for this year’s festivities, and therefore a shed load of bands, we headed there to catch on some music intensity.
INGESTED – 7/10
First on the bill to open proceedings on the Impericon stage are Manchester’s Ingested. Their volatile and punishing form of death metal does a fine job of blasting away any hangovers plaguing the fans from pre-party the night before. With their chugging groove ridden riffs and terrifying vocals, they set the tempo for the weekend and make sure everyone’s awake. It’s easy to understand why they’ve been branded as one of metal’s most exciting emerging acts.
HEART OF A COWARD – 10/10
One of the absolute highlights from Saturday are Milton Keynes based Heart Of A Coward. The self-confessed groove metallers give the crowd a set to get seriously low to. The guys have gone from strength to strength and during their time on stage, they proved whole-heartedly why they deserve such a following. Jamie Graham has the show of his life by not only performing flawlessly with razor sharp vocals not missing a beat, but also proved what an excellent frontman he is by getting the crowd involved. Walls of death, circle pits and the biggest simultaneous head bang you’ve ever seen were crammed into the disappointingly short thirty minute set.
SILENT SCREAMS – 6/10
Coventry metallers Silent Screams enjoy a solid set, but James Ryan‘s vocals seem to suffer towards the end of their set, making for a slightly disappointing finish. The award for the happiest guitarist of the day goes to Tom Craig however, who looks like he was having the time of his life, smiling from start to finish. Fan favourites from debut album ‘When It Rains’, including ‘Till There’s Nothing Left’ and ‘Pacific Highway’ send fans in the front berserk and crowd surfers over the barriers at a horrifying rate.
HEIGHTS – 9/10
Probably one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend, Heights take to the stage awash with rumours surrounding the recent line-up change. However, the guys stormed the stage keen to dispel any smack talk and show everyone that no one member is more important than the rest, and they did just that. After an understandably wobbly start from lead singer Alex Monty, he quickly finds his footing to deliver a powerful and convincing set. As fans of the band will understand, when tracks such as ‘An Eye For An Eye’ and ‘Dead Ends’ drop, the crowd becpme dangerously excited and proceed to lay waste to themselves and the surrounding environment. Heights also win the award for the most frequent and dangerous stage dives. Well done.
THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER – 10/10
Heavy metal heroes The Black Dhalia Murder are granted the honour to close the main stage for Saturday, and my oh my, what a show it was. Vocalist Trevor Strnad leaps around the stage like some depraved conductor of his own metal orchestra, backed up by the lightning fast fingers of guitarists Brian Eschbach and Ryan Knight. The performance that followed shows any unbelievers exactly why these five guys from Michigan were picked to headline.
Not once does Trevor‘s high pitch screams or gravelly bellows miss a note and considering some bands struggled with half an hour, he really puts them to shame and steps the game up. With his mix of mosh dancing and getting the crowd to wave their hands from side-to-side during some of the most depraved tracks I’ve ever heard, it’s not the sort of set you would typically expect from a band so prestigious in metal scene. The Black Dhalia Murder are a band who like to have fun, and genuinely don’t mind showing it.
HEAVY HANDS – 7/10
Scottish hardcore lads Heavy Hands open the Monster Energy Drink stage with their energetic and bouncing hardcore noise. “Fuck shit up” are the first words to come from vocalist Ali Walkers‘ mouth, and they did just that. Constant jumping around from the band meant that on more than one occasion Ali almost wipes out his fellow bandmates mid set. If you’ve never heard Heavy Hands before, they share the same sort of sound as Terror and Madball. ‘Step It Up’ sees the first scramble for a gang chant of the weekend, with fans leaping and crashing over each other to get a piece of the action.
BROTHERHOOD OF THE LAKE – 7/10
Brotherhood Of The Lake are one of the most terrifying and depressing bands of the weekend. Citing their inspirations as simply “hate, misery and anger”, their bleak vision of hardcore is one that has to be heard to be believed. Bone splintering riffs fused with melodic and upsettingly raw vocals create a maelstrom of groovy and damaging tunes. Robert Clark looms over the crowd, roaring with every bit of malice within him whilst the rest of the band play with sunken heads behind him. Not the most energetic of bands, but impressive none the less.
CONTINENTS – 6/10
Continents open the Time Will Tell Stage with their frantic and almost mathcore take on hardcore music. Throat rupturing vocals from Phil Cross command over scything and jagged riffs. Probably a poor choice to put them on the smallest of stages and rooms, as the immense energy the band radiated coursed its way through the crowd, sending limbs and pints spilling in all directions from the pit that erupted in the middle of the room. Brilliant stuff.
CARCER CITY – 8/10
Scouse metal favourites Carcer City emerge to a room packed to bursting point late on, and for good reason. The band’s interesting spin on the current hardcore noise has seen them explode in popularity over the last couple of years. However, luck wasn’t fully on the boys’ side tonight. A tricky start for with poor sound quality and equipment failures plagued their set from get go. Although, excellent showmanship from lead singer Patrick Pinion keeps the crowd foaming at the mouth until they can finally unleash their excellent noise upon them. Thanks to frequent dance commands from Pinion, the gig looks like the most savage synchronised dance troop you’ve ever seen. ‘Dissaronno Lips’ and ‘Mistakes I Have To Live With’ are clear set highlights.
Written by Steven Potter