Live at Ghostfest 2012 on Saturday, 30th June 2012
Now in its 7th year of existence, Ghostfest is back to terrorise Leeds once more, swamping the city with tie-dye, snapbacks and more Desolated merch than a man can count. 42 bands, 3 stages, 2 days; the stage is set for complete carnage, and Ghostfest 2012 once again does not disappoint.
Ingested's 2011 performance was slightly lacklustre and, truth be told, quickly forgotten; in contrast, 2012 sees the band play a quality set to a packed main stage crowd who are eager to catch a glimpse of the first band of the weekend. The Manchester bruisers are on bullish form and take no prisoners with their deathcore barrage, opening up a sprawling pit which keeps the energy levels up until the moment they walk offstage. Although perhaps a little repetitive in places, their performance is as appealing as it is intense; as a typically brutal rendition of 'Skinned and Fucked' tears out across the venue it becomes apparent that the band have set the bar high not just for themselves, but for everyone who has to follow them.
It's a similar story over on the Monster Energy stage, where Heavy Hands batter their sizable audience with their relentless hardcore racket. A pounding 'Step It Up' is a crushing reminder of how dangerous the Central Scotland unit can be, with the rest of their set never far behind in terms of sheer intensity. Their uncompromisingly heavy assault stirs up a wild pit, and there's never a shortage of bodies willing to add their voices to the mix; always a force to be reckoned with live, Heavy Hands' impressive set kick-starts proceedings in fine style, and provides punters with a real gem of a performance despite their early stage time.
Following on from a jaw-dropping show at last year's Ghostfest, Heart Of A Coward have made the transition from the second stage to the main one, and justify this in no uncertain terms with a half-hour set of blistering technical metalcore. Cutting the entirety of their set from their recent debut album 'Hope and Hindrance' is something of a double-edged sword; although the new tracks are undoubtedly the best the band have written, the crowd's unfamiliarity with them means that they are not as vocal as the band's performance should warrant. Still, you'd be hard-pressed to find fault with the sing-along which greets 'Break These Chains', and there's barely a voice in the room not bellowing along to 'Shade'. Rounding things off with a newly revamped 'Around A Girl (In 80 Days)' underlines the band's credentials in an uncompromising style, and without a doubt consolidates their reputation as a fearsome live band to all those present.
Aberdeen heroes Grader's performance is nothing short of brilliant, and will doubtless prove to be one of Saturday's highlights for many. Their take on hardcore is far more emotional and raw than many of their contemporaries; not that this inspires any less devotion from the Ghostfest crowd this afternoon. The band perform with endless energy and are an impressive spectacle to behold in themselves - that they inspire similar antics from their fans is just the icing on the cake in terms of their set. With interest clearly sparked amongst those further back in the room, it shouldn't be long before they themselves are the ones piling on each other down the front; with local dates booked in over the summer, Grader may be about to see their local profile rise sharply, especially if they continue to play shows of this calibre.
Heights' main stage set is by no means dreadful, but it's certainly a mere shadow of the performances that pushed the band to the forefront of the UK's underground music scene over the course of the last 12 months. Fan-favourites such as the excellent 'Dead Ends' hit home with a fraction of the impact that they held prior to vocalist Thomas Debaere's unceremonious and seemingly unsavoury departure, and, try as he might, it seems that former bassist and new frontman Alex Monty can't quite fill the massive shoes of his predecessor. An incendiary rendition of 'The Lost and Alone' is a superb parting shot, but by now it's a case of being too little, too late for the Hertfordshire crew. The audible shouts of Thom's name in between songs is a telling sign of their current position, and without substantial change it would appear that Heights will remain in a state of limbo for the foreseeable future.
Significantly better are Plymouth wrecking crew Brotherhood of the Lake, whose misanthropic, bleak assault completely conquers the Monster stage and all those watching. Cuts from the brilliant 'Desperation Is The English Way Vol. 1', their most recent effort, go down an absolute storm with those assembled, and for good reason too - surely one of the most raw, visceral albums to be unleashed all year, the record translates into a similarly fearsome proposition live, and it's to the band's credit that not an ounce of this bludgeon is lost in their performance. The room slowly but surely fills up as their set progresses, showing that quality needs no gimmicks to make its presence known - instead, Brotherhood of the Lake find success through hard graft and unmissable quality, and it is these factors more than any others which have made the Devon mob one of the best UK bands to break out of their local scene in years.
Broken Teeth have long been a reliable source for a good old-fashioned kicking, and it's safe to say that they don't disappoint today. Having moved several slots up from last year's destructive opening slot, the band justify their newfound position in no uncertain terms with a set of destructive, thrashy hardcore, with 'Soul Destroyer' proving to be a particularly crushing highlight. The festival's mosh-related injury count has probably doubled by the time the Manchester mob walk offstage; a telling sign that there aren't many bands capable of matching Broken Teeth in terms of causing barely-contained, but hugely enjoyable carnage, and from the amount of hats and shirts adorning the punters, it's clear that many others think likewise.
One of the big draws of the weekend for many fans, Comeback Kid's return to UK soil has been highly anticipated for a number of weeks prior to the event, and as they burst into life with a stellar 'Talk is Cheap' it becomes apparent why. The band are absolutely flawless tonight - an untouchable rendition of 'G.M. Vincent and I' has the audience feeding out of the palm of their hand, whilst classic cuts such as 'Lorelei' and 'Broadcasting' need no introduction as they instigate total chaos amongst the faithful. The sing-along which greets 'Wake the Dead' is one the shining moments of the weekend and illustrates the fact that Comeback Kid are quite simply miles ahead of the chasing pack. 10 years into their career, the band have arguably never looked stronger - miss them at your own peril, because Comeback Kid are on fire at the moment.
'We are Carcer City, and we play Scouse metal!' is a reasonable summation of Carcer City's nature; what vocalist Patrick Pinion has carelessly - albeit modestly - omitted is that fact that they're actually bloody good, too. This becomes apparent as he leads his band through a smashing set of metalcore bangers which see the Time Will Tell stage packed full of punters eager to catch the band in the flesh. 'The Life We Have Chosen ' is stellar blast of the aforementioned 'Scouse metal', and Patrick's tongue-in-cheek stage banter ('Who here likes pornography? You sick, sick bastards!') rounds off the package nicely. Hugely entertaining and talented to boot, Carcer City are sounding better than ever before, and with the promise of a new, free album due out in the near future, it's unlikely that they'll be disappearing off our radars anytime soon, and thank goodness for that.
It's up to Brutality Will Prevail to draw things to a close over on the second stage, a feat they accomplish with their trademark violent live presence and brilliantly doomy hardcore vibe. Opening salvo 'Trapped Doors Moving Walls' sees the floor erupt as fans go several shades of ballistic, setting the tone for the rest of the set in an intense fashion. 'Cursed' has never sounded better, leaving ears ringing as it crashes down around the faithful, and similarly epic are the brace of new songs that the Ghostfest crowd are treated to, both of which should see the hype surrounding the new Brutality record increase drastically - not that expectations were ever anything but high. 'Heavy Eyes' is a fine parting shot which leaves the audience for dead in its wake, giving those assembled one last chance to mosh before the curtain falls on the Saturday of Ghostfest. The omnipresent buzz surrounding Brutality Will Prevail is always impressive, but even more so is the way in which they justify it - tonight is evidence that they not only deserve it, but have earned every bit of success that goes their way.