By Sass_Metal, Photos by Luke Bateman, Luke Bateman Photo
Saturday morning was a slow one in our hostel, especially as most of the crew in our room had been out all night, drinking with the bands from the night before (which I’m still dark on hehe, but with jet lag, I was already walking around sleeping with my eyes open, on the Friday night). We all quietly introduced ourselves and slowly got moving. I was very keen for food, as the kebab the night before I couldn’t finish, and needed some real food! One of the girls in our room had new Batman shoes, which we all admired greatly, and after she excitedly exclaimed they were on sale, we made plans to acquire some ourselves, as three of us had new boots, which were murdering our feet. I know I wouldn’t have lasted the remainder of the festival, without buying those new shoes, and I’m glad I did, as they saved me so many times on my adventures – especially in Ireland with Belphegor/Enthroned and Nervochaos, as I had left London for two nights and didn’t get back until 6 days later. Then when I got back to New Zealand and went to Satanfest, where I attempted to wear docs for 3 days (normally would have been fine but 4 weeks not wearing them meant I had to wear them in again). That morning in Brighton, was probably my most fun adventure wandering around in a haze of semi exhaustion, with people I’d met less than 12 hours earlier and we couldn’t stop laughing. Especially buying the Batman shoes, when we had about 5 staff members in the shop in hysterics.
Back to the festival – I was looking forward to Saturday the most, as for me that was when the band that had got me to the UK was playing – the mighty Fleshgod Apocalypse! There was also a lot of the crew bands playing and Materia from Poland,No Raza from South America and Lagerstein from Australia, who I had talked to previous to the show, and made sure I wanted to check them out. Saturday night I knew would prove to be a bit harder to keep up with the bands, as the stages overlapped, and if I wanted to see ALL the bands, I would only be able to watch each band for 15 minutes before the next stage started. Despite this tight running ship, I managed to see 10 of the bands playing this night (don’t ask me how!)
2pm Saturday: I was there along with a lot more people than had been there at kick off time, the day before at 6pm. First up on the main stage, was ‘Kill all the Gentlemen’ who were classic Thrash Death metal at its best, and I was ready to go and headbanging straight away. I loved how the band had three vocalists, so they were able to layer an incredibly rich vocal performance over the loud, heavy music.
Then it was upstairs for Hole in the Sky. They featured amazing deep guttural growls, awesome snare sound, off beat drums and soaring, singing guitar solos, all combined to make for supreme brutal death metal how it should be. I also appreciated the clean talking between songs, when addressing the crowd, as the night before, all the Black Metal bands spoke in ‘cookie monster’ speak, and it was often hard to understand what they were saying with all their varying accents. They were also ribbing one of their friends and calling him out – I love when bands do this, and interact with the crowd drawing them in, with banter and offensive words. My notes end with: I’m going to mosh while I can.
When I was heading down stairs to catch the next band, I was hailed with ‘hey kiwi’ which has really become my call, at all of the shows I’ve attended all over the UK, during this time overseas. This time I was hailed by some of the punters (whose name I’ve now forgotten sadly) and we had a really awesome discussion about New Zealand bands, and I heard names I’ve been missing ‘Diocletian, Vassafor and Ulcerate’ being the main ones, everyone this side of the world seem to know well (and were names that were repeated at shows I attended in London, Belfast and Dublin). This discussion made me miss the next band on the main stage, but I hauled arse and got upstairs in time for ‘This Place Hell,’ from Dublin and it really was like being in Hell. It felt like there was 40 heaters turned up on high, but despite this they had the crowd eating out of their hands. This is pure, dark death metal at its best. Driving guitars, epic kick drums, groovy sexy bass lines and those VOCALS! Going between guttural heavy growls, to clean singing effortlessly. So Fucking sick is what my notes say! This is a band that is going to go places, having one of the best crowd responses I had seen from a band up till then, minus Rotting Christ of course.
It was during ‘This Place Hell,’ I realised I had left my wallet at the Hostel, and knew that if I didn’t run back and get it sooner than later, there would be a chance I would miss out on some of the bigger bands. Off I ran back to the hostel, where I bumped into the singer of Abhorrent Decimation (who was also a crew member and I’d been told numerous times over the night before, that they were a band I HAD to see!) who told me they were on in 20 minutes so RUN I did… including up the three flights of stairs to our hostel room. I made it back just in time to catch one song from Synaptik, who were playing upstairs and Abhorrent Decimation who were playing downstairs. I’m glad I snuck into see Synaptik before going to the main stage, as Synaptik were another band I had wanted to check out, from talking to their manager online before the festival. Synaptik stood out to me, as they were the only band I saw during the festival that had clean singing, but their MUSIC was what made them probably the most technical band I saw on the Saturday night – loved the drums (again), but then I was found by one of the crew, dragged down stairs, cider placed in hand and pushed into the most pit. I couldn’t even stand back for a song to get the feel of the band, like I normally do to observe the crowd and energy in the room. I couldn’t even tell you how many musicians were on stage, unless I looked them up on line, but I can say that I spent their entire set in the mosh pit, with my new Mammothfest family and there was so much laughter, hugs, and fist bumps of admiration ha-ha. It’s close but that mosh pit was one of the most fun ones I was in for the duration of my UK adventures. Afterwards, I had to have a breather and sit down after my 15 min run, and then full on mosh pit, it was time to scull some water and find a place to sit down.
During this break, I got to talk to Jim from Hedra, who didn’t play at the festival, but had made sure I checked out Synaptik beforehand, and I was also introduced to the Synaptik, guys who gave me a Hedra hoodie, Synaptik top and two CDs. The hoodie has kept me warm (the band logo is GLOW IN THE DARK which gave me a fright the first time I wore it) and it was nice to have a clean top to wear home to London after the festival. We had such a good conversation and I’m so pleased I got to talk and meet these humble, friendly guys (marriage proposal and all!) – I’ve been enjoying Synaptik’s latest release too ‘Justify and Reason’ check it out on their Facebook page.
The next two bands I saw were Materia upstairs and Lawnmower Deth downstairs. I was so torn then, as Lawnmower Deth was one of the personal must watch bands for me, but after having seen Materia in London before the show, I knew I had to make it to watch at least some of their set. I started with Materia upstairs and I wasn’t disappointed. So fucking heavy, and as energetic as I remembered them being in London earlier in the week. Heavy thrash metal, and like in London, I couldn’t stand back and just watch them, as I found their energy infectious and full on! I had to literally drag myself away for Lawnmower Deth. When I got downstairs Lawnmower Deth were in full swing and the crowd was jumping and singing along and chanting ‘OI’ while fist pumping the air. They were the most excellent mix of thrash, punk, fast, OFFENSIVE and all over the stage! They worked that room so well, there wasn’t one person standing still, (aside from me) as I was pretty much glued to the spot, staring in amazement at what I was observing.
Ascaris was next upstairs and I’m glad I went up! They are a 3 piece, but like a lot of 3-piece bands, their sound is so much fuller than what you would think a 3 piece could make. I liked how visually they stood out as they were all in 3 piece suits with ties and waistcoats too. They were one of the most technically amazing bands I saw, both the string players did vocals, so they added more depth to their vocal sound. Pure, raw, in your face metal. Driving guitars, amazing drums and the two strings were also head banging and wind milling in unity, which made the crowd get straight into and not stop the entire set.
After Ascaris, I got talking to the crew on the band/media door, as well as some of the other media people, about who were our favourite bands so far. As time went on during this night too, every crew member or punter I had met over the two days, kept asking me how excited I was for Fleshgod Apocalypse, and it was here I ended up having one of the most in-depth conversations about my favourite band, so I missed the band downstairs.
No Raza where the last band on the 2nd stage, before the mighty Fleshgod Apocalypse and were one of the bands I had been in contact with before I saw them, as they have played 7000 tonnes of metal and a lot of other bigger festivals. Hailing from Colombia they were, visually the most memorable, after Fleshgod Apocalypse, by their costumes they wore on stage. They were a mix of Viking, all in leathers and old style armour, with steampunk elements. This visual representation carries on from their music videos too, so I love their continued themes, as it makes for easy visual recognition, as well as the audial. With 3 string players and one of the more punishing drum sets of the weekend, they were a visual and audial feast! I was happy to see there was a lot more people upstairs than there had been during the day, so they were obviously a band well loved. Musically, they explore both extremes of the musical spectrum with slow, haunting guitars mixed perfectly with blast beats and extreme vocals. If you are like me and weren’t familiar with No Raza until now, do yourselves a favour and look them up! I couldn’t stand back, I had to have a mosh for them, as their power was so intoxicating. I managed to see the whole No Raza set, as I was told that Fleshgod wouldn’t be starting straight after them, which I was very happy about, as I was able to have a quick breather and chat with some of the other media representatives, comparing notes on the bands and our experiences.
FINALLY, it was time for the band that had started my whole adventure to the UK and Mammothfest – the mighty Fleshgod Apocalypse. I pushed my way to the front straight away, while I know I should have stood back and taken notes, however there was no way I was going to miss experiencing any of one of my favourite artists, on the other side of the world. I got a spot with new friends – Nikky, Adam and Cheryl and I also spotted my roommates and other crew hiding amongst the crowd (I say hiding because really none of us should have been in the pit, but how could we help ourselves?) It was a similar set list to that which they played in New Zealand, and built up with the same atmospheric, classical introduction from King, which I was ecstatic about, because I knew then they would be playing The Violation, seeing that live 3 times in a year is a treat in itself. While they were taking their places on stage as, the atmospheric introduction was playing, I was starting to think my jet lag was messing with my brain, as Tommaso their old vocalist was blonde and this man had dark hair, and the drummer had a shaved head. All was explained half way through there set, that Tommaso had left the band and Francesco Paoli had resumed his original duties as front man, with a new drummer David Folchitto behind the throne. I was very pleased to hear their explanation, and relieved that I wasn’t seeing things or going crazy, as I was actually seriously worried about the state of my head, and how I was going to survive another entire night of metal the night after.
The stand out moments for me with Fleshgod, is always their wall of death, which of course I jumped right in the middle of! It was SO MUCH FUN! There had been a bit of a mosh pit leading up to that, but with The Violation everyone FINALLY lost their shit and went for it. In my notes I mention here that I felt Wellington, New Zealand was the stand out show for me with Fleshgod, but that was until the end of their show, when I was invited to participate in a radio interview with Francesco Pauli and Chris Pullen. Despite some earlier technical and sound issues with the bass not coming through the mix, or being heard on stage, I thought Fleshgod’s performance, even being only their second one with the new line up and placements, was visually so powerful, and I get the sense that Francesco would be at home wherever he chose to play on stage. I got to talk to the entire band after their set, and welcome David and congratulated him on his performance.
At the VIP after party I had to go and support Australians Lagerstein, who are very much their own subgenre – ‘pirate metal.’ Actually after I left Brighton, and continued on my travels around the UK, this is a band name that I heard a lot, and met a lot of promoters who had worked with them. If you haven’t seen Lagerstein you are missing out! From ‘shoeies’, to inviting the crowd to sit down in a circle with them while they told a story. Aside from their ‘pirate gimmick,’ they are incredibly talented musicians, full of humour and insane technical abilities, energy, showmanship and amazing music. Much like all Australian musicians I’ve had the pleasure of meeting – I found them to be down to earth and incredibly welcoming.