Live at Ghostfest 2011 on Saturday, 25th June 2011
Featuring more breakdowns than the M1 and more stretchers than you could shake several sticks at, Ghostfest has once again descended upon the city of Leeds to lay waste to the University for the weekend; featuring a massive 32 bands spread over 2 days, there is, simply put, no better festival out there for fans of hardcore and metalcore.
Having sold out well in advance, the excitement can be felt in the air as Broken Teeth take to the stage in order to open up the weekend to a packed second stage. Their fast-paced, heavy hitting hardcore whips the crowd into a frenzy, and sets the bar high for other bands even at this early stage in the festival. With a small but dedicated following down at the front and visible signs of interest further back, it's clear that Broken Teeth have made plenty of new friends here today, and this sort of show should see them progressing up the bill in no time.
If Demoraliser had any nerves about opening up the main stage today then they sure as hell didn't show them. Having beaten off stiff competition in the 'Road to Ghostfest' for the opportunity to be here today, you might forgive them for feeling the pressure a bit. However, this is not the case, and the band's storming set of pit-friendly metalcore bursts out of the gate at 100 miles per hour. The band's energy levels don't drop during their half-hour onstage, and the audience match them in this stake, none more so than on 'Blood Meridian', which incites a mass sing-a-long, the kind of which eludes bands far further up the bill than themselves. This, coupled with the promise of free CDs at their merch stand, should ensure that the band secure themselves plenty of new fans, and the near future should be bright for the band if they continue to play shows like this.
Next up on the main stage are Nottingham's Martyr Defiled, who are plagued with sound-related issues throughout the duration of their set. A broken microphone threatens to derail the band during the first couple of songs, but the pace is picked up once the issue has been resolved. A slightly muddy sound robs the band of some edge, but not even this can stop them from unleashing a quality set of technical deathcore. Rounding off with a superb rendition of 'Flawless' is a smart move, and the audience's cries of 'Finish Him' highlights just how many fans the band have brought with them to Ghostfest. Their set is great, and well received by the crowd, but it's a bit of a shame that the band don't get the chance to hit top speed today due to the technical glitches, even if songs such as 'An Act Of Sedition' easily outweigh the difficulties they faced this afternoon.
Breaking Point manage to stir up some serious movement on the second stage. With their hardcore racket blasting the crowd's eardrums, they succeed in turning their audience into a mass of flailing limbs, and open up an impressively big circle pit given the confines of the room. The band pull no punches this afternoon, and through sheer ferocity and energy alone would find their popularity soaring; the fact that their songs match this in terms of quality is just the icing on the cake. Intense doesn't even come close.
Back over on the main stage, Ingested fail to really ignite any form of excitement. Their technical ability is impressive, but the elements of their music don't really gel today, and there's a slight feeling that they're not quite right for the festival, being more death metal than deathcore, which leads to a muted response from the largely disinterested punters. Still, 'Skinned And Fucked' still stands out as a fine parting shot, and the band needn't worry just yet; in front of the right crowd, at the right place, they would surely be a far more enjoyable act than this performance would have us know.
A slightly muddy sound would wreak havoc for most bands, but it only adds to the heaviness of Annotations Of An Autopsy's low-end bludgeon. Bursting out of the gates with new song 'Stage Breaker' allows those in the pit to get stuck in, turning it into a human whirlwind of flailing limbs, and things only get better from here on in, culminating in a mass sing-a-long to 'Welcome To Sludge City'. The band are on fine form today, and tear through their set with real aggression and zeal. Proof that whatever they sound like on record, they're always going to destroy live.
Thanks in part to a shout-out at the end of Annotations' set, the 2nd stage is once again packed for Heart Of A Coward. However, the band prove that they don't need help from anyone to convert the masses here by dropping one of the sets of the weekend. Their technical metalcore destroys everything that has come before it, laying waste to the stunned masses who continue to be reeled in until there's not enough room to swing a tadpole on the floor. The ability of the band is a factor which helps them stand above many of their peers, but they don't let this get in the way of producing an energetic set which will rival any other act today in terms of intensity. Absolutely stunning stuff.
All good things must come to an end, and sadly this stands true even in the case of the mighty Viatrophy. Their last ever show is performed to a large crowd, and it's a real shame that more people don't get involved, because the in years to come, it will become apparent how much the British scene will miss this band. It's to the band's credit that they don't allow this show to be a tear stained, melancholy goodbye, but instead play their set in a ferocious and determined style right to the very end. The fans down the front certainly know a good thing when they hear it, and the band bulldozer over the competition with their brutally heavy tunes. It's a sad send off, and they deserve more crowd interaction from a final show, but the band's showmanship and live performance makes up for the apathetic crowd. So long Viatrophy, you will be sorely missed.
Next up are Bury Tomorrow, who bring their own, glossier touch to metalcore, and it's met with a rapturous reaction from their faithful. The crowd go wild for numbers such as 'You And I' and 'Anything With Teeth', not pausing for breath as the band launch into their pit-friendly anthems. The band play with a professional air, but avoid seeming distant by always keeping the crowd on their feet; this is a band who seem experienced beyond their age, and it's no wonder that they have the crowd eating out of the palms of their collective hands - it'll be a crime if they stay small for much longer.
Your Demise are so hot tonight, it's a wonder that the stage doesn't burst into flames. Relentless in their approach, the band keep the energy levels up right until they walk offstage through their passionate delivery and rousing anthems. When 'MMXI' gives way to 'Miles Away', the audience go several shades of mental, screaming every word back at frontman Ed Mcrae and making his job as a vocalist almost redundant, even at this early stage. Cutting most of their set from last year's 'The Kids We Used To Be...' might upset some of the older fans, but you'd struggle to pick holes in songs such as 'Teenage Lust' or 'Shine On' regardless of how long you've liked the band, and the inclusion of 'Nothing Left But Regret' is a nice touch to make sure that even the most partisan of fans go home happy. Finishing with a one-two punch of 'The Kids We Used To Be' and 'Burnt Tongues' is as good a way as any to round off your gig, and Your Demise can rest safe in the knowledge that their position as one of Britain's best loved hardcore bands is under no threat for the foreseeable future, and long may it continue.
So, how do you justify your position as a headliner on a day like this? Well, Bury Your Dead do so by simply crushing anything in their path with their gargantuan metalcore tracks and ferocious delivery. Original vocalist Mat Bruso is welcomed as a hero, with the crowd chanting his name at any opportunity they get in between being mauled by vicious songs such as '33 RPM', and it's easy to see why; his brutal vocal delivery packs more punches than a Rocky montage and sound like they could level a mountain given the chance. Sometimes, you just need a band to give you a musical kicking, masochistic though it may sound, and in terms of all out, teeth-bared heaviness, you'd struggle to find a more suitable headliner for the first day of Ghostfest than Bury Your Dead. The threat of missing the last train home robs me of seeing their final 3 songs, but by this point the band have already proved themselves worthy headliners by laying waste to the joint in no uncertain terms. A highly suitable, and enjoyable end to the first day of Ghostfest 2011.