As the festival season draws to a close for many this quadruple American assault spanning four genres was nothing short of aural Armageddon as every band was apocalyptic in the delivery of their music that began with the blasphemic annihilation of Goatwhore. Opening with “Baring Teeth For Revolt” the band had a sizeable crowd in the underground vault of the Club Academy venue and the crowd completely immersed themselves in the bands blackened thrash savagery as “Chaos Arcane” quickly followed with no pause. Vocalist Ben stalked around the stage like a predator looking for prey and at times looked deranged with his eyes fixated on the audience venomously spitting out the lyrics as the musicians flailed at their instruments amidst their bodies dripping with sweat. After “Alchemy Of The Black Sun Cult” was aired there was a pause for breath as Ben thanked the crowd for turning out en masse on Tuesday evening before “Mankind Will Have No Mercy” detonated from the band. At times the sound was ridiculously loud and occasionally it bordered on distortion but nobody cared, least of all the people in the pit as the immense “Apocalyptic Havoc” exploded onto to the audience and set the bar extremely high for the rest of the bill.
Wow, with the bar being set so high by Goatwhore, crossover thrashers Toxic Holocaust (the only band I’d not seen before on this bill incidentally) had the unenviable task of following the Louisiana lunatics. With no warning the trio strode on stage and blasted into “War Is Hell” as a tsunami of energy enveloped the crowd from the musicians especially from Joel Grind, whose razoring riffs galvanised the seething pit into tumbling action. Shouting “Manchester you are fucking awesome” they launched into “Wild Dogs” as a hardcore stance was detected due to the ferocity and aggression of their music. Toxic Holocaust were not about finesse, they’re about causing maximum sonic damage as Joel announced that this is for the headbangers and blasted into “In The Name Of Science” with its hyper speed and I marvelled at the stamina of their drummer. Toxic Holocaust were punishing, as the frenzied “Nuke The Cross” initially mauled the audience before dropping in a mid-tempo break before closing their nihilistic set with “Bitch” with its old school metal like riff that owed plenty to acts like Venom, Tank and Warfare. If you didn’t know who Toxic Holocaust were before their set you definitely did after as their sonic slaughter was a barrage of primal thrash terror.
Phew, after the obliterating set by Toxic Holocaust some liquid refreshment was in order before deathcore thugs Carnifex were due on. I had seen the band about two weeks previous at the Stonehenge Festival in Holland where they were one of heaviest and most intense bands of the fest, and I was expecting the same here. As their start time approached red light bathed the stage and the band took position as the intro played and they bulldozed into “Drowned Me In Blood” which the vocalist Scott Lewis bellowed unceremoniously at the gathered mass in front of him. The pit had already started during the intro as the bands backing effects were well balanced within the mix and the song’s gnarly riffing poured a thickened barrage amidst a drumming cannonade onto the crowd. I profess to not liking a clicky drum sound and here it was in full force unfortunately but didn’t detract from the outright thuggery of their music which continued with “Slow Death” as a synchro headbang ensued from the band due to the massive breakdown riff. Some chat from Scott telling us that we need to make this building shake as he got the crowd to jump for “Hatred And Slaughter” as every command he made the audience obeyed. A relentless onslaught teemed from the musicians with each taking their focus with lead breaks flooding in on “Black Candles Burning”. A brief pause to catch breath before the despairing blackened wrath of “Dark Heart Ceremony” was aired complete with its sound of gun cocking. Whether the crowd liked deathcore or not the undeniable power and dynamism that discharged from the band was cataclysmic as was the unflinching stamina of the pit as the band ended with the mammoth “Lie To My Face” prior to which the singer thanked the crowd and said it was an old song. The track was battering with a huge breakdown as the crowd sang the title like they did at the festival in unison and I am sure that some indifferent fans at the start of their set were converted to Carnifex fans and laid clear that deathcore is a musical force to be reckoned with.
With bludgeoning metal acts already witnessed it was down to the masters, Dying Fetus, to show them how it is done. The powerhouse trio of John Gallagher (guitar,vocals), Sean Beasley (bass, vocals) and Trey Williams (drums) set about a sonic demolition of the gathered throng that had tessellated themselves into a seething mass at the front of the stage when the intro piece “Tomorrow” by Andrea McArdle started up and was dutifully sang by everybody; a very surreal moment indeed, especially when the band followed it by playing the title track to their album “Wrong One To Fuck With”. Acting like dynamite the song propelled the seething mass into a convulsive pit of bodies writhing and bouncing off each other whilst the trio on stage assailed the rest of us with a masterclass in death metal. The sound mix was immense every single drum strike was like a hammer blow as my favourite tune “Grotesque Impalement” speared the crowd with its groove infested riff fest though I think a great many of the crowd didn’t know it that well and were caught out when the song paused for its climactic riff break at the end. “From Womb To Waste” followed as the crowd was chanting ‘dead wrestler’ I believe prior to it in tribute to the three wrestlers that all died on the same day (29th July) a couple of weeks previously though I may be mistaken but I digress. The clinical precision is unquestionable and the unfaltering deadly brutality is matched to their unequalled catchiness too as the fretboard gymnastics of “Fixated On Devastation” had the crowd in slamming ecstasy as the first crowd surfer materialised. By the end of the track it was raining crowd surfers and more security reinforcements were being brought in it appeared in preparation for “Subjected To A Beating”, good job too, as the crowd sort of hummed the riff to it before it blasted from trio.
With the set in full flow one thing that really did grate on my nerves and seems to have popped up at gigs recently is people shouting ‘woo’ between songs constantly, it’s irritating or maybe I’m just getting old. Still with pauses kept to an absolute minimum the band went into “Seething With Disdain” a track that was a highlight for me with brilliant tempo shifts that had allowed the crowd to exercise those already well-oiled neck muscles to breaking point as the monstrous riffs carpet bombed the crowd. Another personal favourite followed, “Praise The Lord (Opium Of The Masses)” and continued the strafing assault of riffs and Trey’s unflinching ability to batter the audience was perfect and left only the sonic butchery doublet of “Your Treachery Will Die With You” and “Kill Your Mother, Rape Your Dog” both of which had shirts devoted to them you could buy on the night. The former was announced by John as “fuck shit up” as if the place needed that as the ceaseless energy of the crowd gorged on the copious blast beats and deluging riffs of the guitarists. John playfully asked us to guess the last song which they did of course and the last 60 seconds of the set was utter bedlam. As the band exited we were left with the dulcet tones of Kool And The Gang’s “Celebration” which the crowd sang and danced to, again surreal indeed.
WORDS: MARTIN HARRIS
PHOTOS: PHIL POUNTNEY