UK Deathfest 2009 - Leeds, England, 3rd May 2009
|Event:||UK Deathfest 2009|
|Written by:||Baz Anderson|
UK Deathfest 2009 - Leeds, England, 3rd May 2009 by Baz Anderson (86)
Damnation Festival presents the UK Deathfest, also homed at the University of Leeds. A few differences from the past set-up however. The UK Deathfest did not sell out and so didn't have nearly as many people as the Damnation Festival, and so what was the second stage last November found itself as main stage for the death metal assault. The second stage used at the UK Deathfest was a tiny platform at the end of a bar/pub area. Neither stage had photo pits making the job for the photographers extra hard, but also allowing for complete chaos on the main stage as security had little presence or power to stop audience members being thrown up onto the stage.
It is a good venue, plenty of bars and plenty of good places to stand and watch the bands. Once entered the venue however, you were not allowed to leave. Or if you did, you would not be allowed back in. Extremely annoying, especially for people who brought their own food and/or didn't want to purchase the typical festival food that was on sale inside. Seats were also in high demand and could have done with more places to sit.
The main stage had a great sound, even though one of the large speakers started crackling during the headliner, the stage set-up and area were top class. The second stage was much louder if you stood at the front next to the band on stage, and was extremely dimly lit also. The sound wasn't so great but it did its job.
These chaps were the first band on the main stage and opened the first UK Deathfest. Right off the bat it was clear to hear these were talented guys, especially the drummer, and had taken the time to write some funny but also crushing material as they opened the festival with an onslaught of blastbeats with a funny side, communicating with audience members they knew. This was before two in the afternoon, not many people had even touched a drink but still a mosh pit broke out towards the end of the set. Great band to kick start the festival, it was going to be a wild day.
First on the second stage were this deathcore outfit screaming and shouting their way through a half hour set to a less than enthusiastic audience. The only memorable thing about this set was the screams from the frontman, and that their guitar player looked seriously like someone from Enslaved or Emperor, I can't put my finger on who.
So we had our fun now, it was time to get brutal. Ingested are one of the most brutal death metal bands you could want to hear. Insane vocals, crazy blastbeating, any characteristic you can pin on a stereotypical ultra brutal death metal band, Ingested had it. Great set, the sound in the live environment might not sound so chunky and bassy as the recordings, but what is missed there is made up from watching a bunch of people bash themselves about and do funny dances in the moshpit. Clearly a crowd favourite as chants of "Ingested!..." became more and more frequent.
Dragged Into Sunlight
Over on the second stage and these guys were performing one of the most bizarre sets. Some bands keep their anonymity by wearing masks, these guys took it to the next level and had the stage constantly being sprayed with smoke, the lights virtually all off, and just to make extra sure we couldn't see them, they played with their backs to the audience. For the people who thought it worth watching, these guys, I assume guys, put on quite an interesting set of black metal with slight death and maybe even gothic influences. Not everyone appreciated the lack of communication however, even though the music was good.
These guys played Damnation last November, and were back to destroy once more. These Welsh guys know what they are doing on stage, as they seem to never stop touring. Once again they brought their extremely fast death and grindcore hybrid out for a drive and decided to destroy a few people on the way. Up to this point by far the most complete and accomplished sound of any band, the hours show as the three-piece play very tight and as a result do not disappoint.
It was time for things to get a little brutal once again, this time on the small stage. These guys play fantastic music, really as brutal as things can get, and also a little more diverse than brutal counterparts Ingested from earlier. The stage did the band no justice however, as the sound was not great and did not allow anyone to hear much of what was going on underneath a massive cloud of bass and audio fuzz. Utterly brilliant music, for the first time on the second stage a mosh pit broke out too, but at the end of the day these guys would have sounded much better and been better off in general on the main stage.
Time for the south to visit the north as these London death metallers with attitude visit Leeds. For those who don't know by now The Rotted evolved from the brutal death metal band Gorerotted into the punkish death metal assault of a band they are now. Once again the band put on a show comprised entirely of material from the new album, and although this alone somewhat takes away diversity and different elements they would have otherwise incorporated, they performed like never before with such speed and spite. In between songs Ben announced Gorerotted was no more and that they would no longer be performing Gorerotted songs, to which the audience let out a chorus of boos. They are certainly fighting a battle, we will have to see what the future holds.
So blastbeats and the whole death metal thing had been done and done again so far. Black Sun provided an alternative on the small stage with their ultra heavy and loud noise, sludge metal. Such an enthusiastic performance deserves attention, but although a break from the death metal was perhaps required, these guys were far too niche to satisfy anyone.
Also back from Damnation last November were long running death metallers Benediction. Vocalist Dave Hunt made a point of asking if a Kerrang! journalist was in the building, and when no one came forward he said it would be because he was at the bar having already reviewed the band as boring without even seeing them. This isn't Kerrang!, far from, but having stood through half a day of death metal bands Benediction did not provide anything musically different or original. Compared to other death metal bands these guys were not as fast and also lacked the edge. However this Benediction show did provide us with one of the most entertaining sets of the festival, as the audience were encouraged to get onto the stage and go crazy. This turned into a security nightmare but an onlookers entertainment as person by person people were thrown onto the stage and either jumped back into to crowd, or were pushed back there by Dave. Musically lacking, but great fun with the audience nevertheless.
People with a weak heart may want to hear this and get over it at the start, Jason has cut his hair off and looks more than ever like some businessman. First thing he does when he gets on the stage is complain about the towel saying they would have stuff like that in the stone age. Still, Akercocke gathered the biggest audience of the festival so far, and deservedly so as we were about to witness magic. It didn't matter that we had already heard a bunch of other death metal bands, these guys are just what was needed as the band put on a show of varying styles and interesting, slightly progressive music that made for a fantastic show. Visiting all the band's albums apart from the first provided a varied set, material from the second album especially treated us with the complete onslaught of drumming. When listening to these live the drumming never stands out a whole lot, but live they grab you by the neck and give you a few swift slaps to the face. The complete package, extremely diverse and highly entertaining. Best set of the festival.
One of the few bands that had to travel a long way to be here, Origin took the stage and did their thing. The audience started to get tired at this point, but this didn't stop the band trying to get the crowd going. They are becoming quite a popular band in the country and had a few chants, but for the most of it the sheer monotony of the style of Origin's death metal didn't provoke a whole lot of movement. The drummer is an absolute machine, these guys should be seen live if not just to experience one of the fastest drummers around, but apart from the draw of the drums Origin need to take the time to write something a little more diverse to arouse the audience into activity rather than even more growling and drumming like the last song, and the one before that, and the one before that. You get the picture.
So this is one of the places that grindcore came from. The band took the stage and seemed thrilled to be there, but the audience didn't seem all too bothered to see them. Perhaps not many people knew them, but the band grinded out their short songs nevertheless and received generous cheer and applause after each. This is old music, granted, and it is nice to appreciate the origins of your favourite styles of music, but played in the year 2009 this material was not anything magnificent to behold unfortunately. Each song sounded the same with a riff and the snare being bashed over it all, but still the audience made sure the band knew they were behind them. Warmly received, but nothing musically great.
Headliners Vader finally took the stage to a shattered audience and proceeded to pummel them even further into the ground. Vader is a complete juggernaut of a band. That is the only way to describe them. They are a great band, but given the circumstances everyone was so tired and even after Peter tried to get the crowd going many times, only faint cries could be heard. It was plainly obvious he was not amused, travelled all the way from Poland to play in front of a half asleep audience. The band played on however and only towards the end of the set started to pull out the band's most well known songs, which brought the audience out of their deep sleeps. Truth be told, after a full day of blastbeating and death metal, Vader's style of full on death metal didn't seem so full on any more and suffered because of that. A full death metal festival closed by another death metal band does get a little tedious, even if you love the bones off the genre and eat blastbeats for breakfast. Still, as always Vader put on a good show even if it wasn't too much of a loud audience, and made sure we were all crushed firmly in the ground.
As mentioned a day full of death metal did get a little same-y, but perhaps the main reason why people were so tired at the end of it may have been because seating was lacking especially in the main arena. People were tired and hungry, and also on the ground it was one of the most hostile environments you could expect yourself to be in at any metal show, especially with the lack of a barrier or security. Still, this is what we signed up for and a full day face blast is what we got. A highly entertaining day of some of the best death metal bands in the country. Roll on 2010 you death metal freaks.
Thanks to Graeme J. for the accreditation.
Written, and photos by Barry Anderson
||Written on 10.05.2009 by Member of Staff since 2006.|
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