Being only half on duty this is more a snapshot than detailed band by band review but hopefully it will give you a flavour of the fun we all had. The festival itself deserves a review too though as it really was an impressive first effort.
It’s fair to say that from its initial headliner announcement of Neurosis, Temples was turning heads before the first punter was even through its inaugural door. Everything was looking shiny with a nicely played out release of headliners and bands. Fine there was a little pre-festival blip involving tickets causing a little kerfuffle for some at a really busy time for the organisers, but that seemed to be sorted eventually so it was going to be fun finding out how it went.
If you’ve never been there, Bristol is a beautiful historic city and a great place to host this kind of event: Lots to see, eat and drink when not inside the old industrial building that Motion is and with a bank holiday afterwards I’d rented apartments with friends about 20 mins from Motion and made a holiday of it (cheaper than a hotel, better quality and you never miss breakfast!)
The venue itself is an easy walk from Temple Meads railway station but it is also unfortunately really the only thing of interest within 10-15 min walk which did mean once you were there, you were there for the day.
Access was quick and no fuss and the security stewards genuinely relaxed and friendly (and stayed so all weekend) which was nice. Beer was cans only and a bit pricey, but did most people fine, and the two food concessions reasonable (the organisers were let down by one very late no show from the vegetarian/vegan caterers but they let you take food in from day two because of that). Inside besides the normal merch tables there was a terrific mural being done by a Bristol studio going under the name LongFox (http://longfox.bigcartel.com/about) and a lot of poster/artwork on sale too (apologies, didn’t get their names but there were some brilliant posters including the official Temples one for the day) which with the actual Temple’s artwork (by HARK’s Jimbob Isaac http://longfox.bigcartel.com/about) was really good to see being integrated into a Festival. Love to see more of this kind of thing in the future.
Inside from the beer and smoking garden, the two stage rooms are right next to each other with surprisingly little sound leakage between the two. It meant that it was actually possible to see most of every band over the three days if you had more energy than me, especially as all in all there was precious little overrunning as a grand job was done of marshalling the sets. In a more practical sense though, once you got near to the headliners timing that meant you would be a long way back so I decided to pick and choose sets being a short arse. There was a little issue with ‘traffic flow’ into the main room the first day which led to a few complaints that people had been unable to get in to see Electric Wizard; the organisers though reacted well and tried one idea which didn’t work out so reverted to the initial system with an announcement from the main stage telling us that the problem was latecomers were standing near the entrance instead of working their way in or to the back and asked us to make sure we came all the way in to prevent exclusion. With a little help from the pretty darned patient stewards, from my balcony perch this seemed to work as the back filled up better once people knew what the issue was. Again, nice reactive but thoughtful communications from the organisers I thought. This attitude also helped with the crowdsurfing; it wasn’t banned per se, but you would get pulled out at the front and have to return via the entrance: You weren’t ejected as a little social media rumour claimed, a rumour that was put down quickly by a post from Temples when they saw it starting.
For us older, shorter and less energetic types, I should also say the view from the balcony was brilliant too.
So yeah, nice relaxed atmosphere, a really friendly crowd and security who helped. Cracking.
So… What we were there for. The bands. Here’s my spots. Think of it as a random sample as the whole festival and many treasures I missed (Doom, Dragged Into Sunlight and Anaal Nathrakh causing a good buzz afterwards, for example.)
Day 1 Friday 2nd May
Spiderkitten were given the honour of opening proceedings from the main stage so I gave them a whirl. It was feedback drenched stoner sludge but after a while it all just blurred for me. Nothing reached out and grabbed me as a newcomer to their sound but they were tight and had some energetic headbanging going on They got a reasonable reception but I headed for the first merch recce instead.
Flayed Disciple on the second stage were introduced to me as a Glaswegian Cannibal Corpse (insert choice of ‘impenetrable accent meets incomprehensible vocals’ joke here…) and were a fine bit of fetid, thrashy brutal death metal. They had a bit of a loss of guitar, sound wise but battled through and turned in a nice, tight set of skull crushes and animated vocalist grunts and growls. Really good engaging stuff, and first bit of merch purchased (their singer almost beat me to the table too! Energetic lad). Shame the lyrics seem to be the usual stuff though.
<Code> were my next band of choice in the cosy second stage. Not knowing them too well I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but what I got was some superbly played, aggressively delivered and progressive black metal with plenty of grit and melody in their tempo charged songs. The frontman Wacian was terrific, pressing his voice into each utterance with real conviction and the sharp riffs really got the blood and the crowd going. Excellent display from a band I have clearly underrated and the first electrically charged set of the day.
Up on the mighty main stage were Satan’s Satyrs. They have been getting a lot of buzz recently and their new album was praised on this very site, plus they share a bassist with Electric Wizard. In the flesh though I was disappointed: They seemed to get kind of swallowed up by the stage to me. Despite that they played spot on; they have a neat little musical unit going on there, well connected with each other and certainly played with energy. They did go down well but I found them a little too much like the other 70 s occult rock going around – a little obvious, a little dull and not different enough. All stoned blues riffs and maybe a little more drive than some but not my thing. But I was in a minority there, so worth checking out certainly.
Wodensthrone made their appearance on the second stage and whilst I haven’t seen them for a couple of years since their Damnation set they were on really sharp form. I gathered that the guys were pretty psyched to be on the same festival bill as Neurosis but it didn’t distract them as they hurled themselves straight into a stormy set of their Emperor gone English, intricate pagan music. The sound was pretty good from where I was, the keyboards full and the harsh melodies in their black metal excellent. As ever they are an intense band; aggressive, even intimidating and they tore through a fine set. Hope they made some new friends as they deserved it with that set.
Winterfylleth off stage are an unassuming, friendly bunch but on stage it’s an entirely different matter. Serious and harsh they got the crowd going with raised fists all over and delivered a short but excellent set. Nick Wallwork and Simon Lucas form a formidable backbone with Mark Wood and frontman Chris Naughton cutting through with the clear and excellent guitars. “I think we got the best of the deal in here,” Chris said looking round the packed room and I have to agree. It was a genuinely emotional and rousing, if short set that showcased just how classy this band really are and how far they have come. A little folk mixes in their sound, yes, but it was full on at Temples and I know for a fact that they did make at least one new fan because he was stood next to me. Get out and see them doing their full set people, they will convert you.
I did pop my head in to Jucifer on the main stage. The thing about this weird and bowel shaking, earth cracking loud two piece is I think you either get them or you don’t. To the people who enjoyed them they were brilliant, but I found myself standing there in fascination and respect rather than enjoyment. I mean Amber Valentine is a mesmerising guitarist, hair and arms wind-milling as those unbelievably deep riffs, drones and loops are dragged out kicking and screaming. But for me that was where it ended so I left the drone jam session and went to see how the mural was doing, grab some water and generally mill about.
From said milling about, it was immediately apparent that Blood Ceremony were one of the most anticipated bands at Temples outside of the headliners. I’m pretty fond of their last album The Eldritch Dark but it was a little surprising to me how many were really looking forward to them. It also has to be said that they justified the excitement, too. Their ‘Focus meets Sabbath’ sound is not only just a little different amidst the slew of 70s bands but visually they are excellent too. Alia O’Brien is obviously the visual centre, with her keyboards taking centre stage and the flute taking the spotlight when she isn’t singing often, but Sean Kennedy (guitars) and Lucas Gadke (bass) are fine wingmen and work really hard throughout the set. It is fun, melodic psyched out 70s stuff with some serious heavy riffs and despite an issue with the vocals being a little low in the mix they were rather special with ‘Gemini’ being particularly good. They were enthusiastically received by the packed crowd and deservedly so.
Brutal Truth. What can be said about them, really? Utter legends of grindcore and playing their last ever gig on UK soil. Messers Lilker, Sharp, Hoak and O’Hare were full of anger and energy and blasted their way through an hour of top quality grind. The pit was there, the crowd surfing there, the obvious mutual affection between band and audience there too. With a setlist including ‘Evolution Through Revolution’, ‘Collateral Damage’, ‘Denial Of Existence’ and ‘Choice Of A New Generation’ and a full on sound from the stage it was a crash course for the uninitiated but a celebration for the rest. Kevin Sharp was just impossible to take your eyes off, stalking around the stage like a deranged hobo cowboy and delivering everything as though his life depended on it. Truly excellent. If that is the last we see of them, then no one was sold short here. Superb.
Aaand finally. Electric Wizard. Great gouts of dry ice and their name stark on the static backdrop, Mark Greening on the drum-stool (with the biggest cymbals I’ve ever seen), Clayton Burgess from Satan’s Satyrs on the bass and Jus Oborn and Liz Buckingham overseeing the hypnotic riffs it was the Wizard as we wanted them. Dragged and drugged low end fuzz hammered hard and focussed they gave us a cracking, compelling performance. I think they opened with new song ‘Incense’ but then went on to take us on a groove riddled ride through ‘Dopethrone’, ‘Witchcult Today’, ‘Black Mass’, the stoned out ‘Satanic Rites of Drugula’ and closed with the classic dirge of ‘Funeralopolis’. Heavy as a planet falling and with such great control coming from those two guitars but never sacrificing the touch and feel of the song. Once more Liz Buckingham’s riffing in particular is just breathtaking in its effect as Jus throttled out his solos. They came, they played, they left with minimal verbal communication but immense musical connection. Really, just spot on.
Ears punished and limbs still shaking from the impact we all shuffled out into the Bristol air, very happy, very content with the first day at Temples.
Review By Gizmo