Bringing their first step into the festival circuit and bringing one of the first events of its kind to Manchester earlier this year at 3-dayer SummerJam, local Mancunian promoters Mutiny Events decided to follow this on with a closing 1-day festival, aptly titled WinterJam. Much like its counterpart set much earlier in the year, WinterJam was packed to the brim with many of the hardcore and underground metal scene’s most promising. Hopefully, all of the moshing, hardcore dancing and adrenaline will warm things up in the cold climate.
Opening proceedings are Sheffield’s Malevolence (**) who get the two steppers out on the floor nice and early. Their metal tinged hardcore is gritty and aggressive and, though not anything original and somewhat like a hardcore paint-by-numbers, they get bodies moving which is the main thing this early on in the day.
A more melodic take on a similar aspect is Napoleon‘s (***) preferred method of offence. Frontman Joshua Baker seems to have a few demons in him that he keeps within him so he can unleash them onstage, and he always seems like he’s about to jump into the depths of the crowd but never quite does it. However, this Exeter outfit are definitely ones to look out for.
A bit of the local talent takes to the stage in the form of Empires Fade (***) along with their freshly recruited vocalist, Jack Delany of The Eyes Of A Traitor. Heavy from the opening few seconds of ‘Virtue’, this band clearly have a heap of power behind them, but today things seem a tad bit off. There’s not the same amount of passion behind them, especially with the reputation Jack has built in his other outfit. Maybe, just an off day for the Northern lot.
Speaking of new vocalists, Silent Screams (***) are in the same boat with that one too. Despite only two months fronting the band, Joel Heywood seems to have fit in with his new bandmates with comfort and ease. The band seem to hold a new lease of life too and, if their live show today is anything to go by, it looks like their upcoming full-length may be the push needed to push them into the spotlight.
Being the only international band on the WinterJam line-up, Canadians Liferuiner (****) pack quite a punch and show the British acts here today just how it’s done. By now, the amount of bodies throwing themselves about in the pits is getting almost unruly, with people clambering onto frontman Jonny O’Callaghan to scream and pent their anger into the microphone alongside him.
Constantly on the over the past few months, Grimsby’s Demoraliser (****) are certainly worth the hype and easily one of the most anticipated bands on the festival line-up. Sam Jarvis and Nathan Smith‘s riffing are heavier than Jo Brand at a buffet, and James Dexter has become an increasingly more dominating and impressive frontman as of late. Future hopefuls for the scene.
Due to travelling complications, Martyr Defiled‘s original set had been moved one slot later, so instead Heart Of A Coward (****) get to show their worth a little earlier than expected. Following from their appearance at SummerJam earlier this year, it’s great to see the growth in the band. Sticksman Noddy is insane behind a kit and frontman Jamie Graham‘s vocals seem to have become far more menacing and powerful. Definitely a band with potential for 2013.
Having finally been able to make following the aforementioned travelling issues, Martyr Defiled (*****) are a band who are most definitely worth the wait. Things in the crowd step up a notch too, with everyone wanting to get into the thick of things for the likes of ‘Vultures’ and ‘An Act Of Sedition’. The sludge and just pure darkness in their music almost gives Cradle Of Filth a run for their money, with frontman Matt Jones pulling of scream and roars that would even make the Kraken shit itself. Easily one of the UK’s best underground metal acts.
The amount of people in the room in time for headliners Heights (****) seems to have died down a little, but the intensity, sweat and effort put in by those that remain more than make up for it. Opening up with ‘Eye For An Eye’, the amount of people throwing themselve on and off stage, both members of the band and the crowd, is unfathomable. Alex Monty has now truly morphed from his previous bassist position into a full fledged frontman and, a band with very few words, the set is packed with the likes of ‘The Lost And Alone’, ‘Forget’ and other staple classics of the Heights arsenal.
Never ones to shy away and put less than 100% into their show, Heights well and truly close off WinterJam the way that it deserves to be.
Written by Zach Redrup
Founder & Editor for DEAD PRESS! | Atheist and antitheist. | Judge of the quick & the dead since 1989.