By Sass_Metal, Photos by Luke Batman, Luke Bateman Photo
The Sunday show kicked off at midday, I finally managed to get a good night sleep, after jet lag and 10 bands the day before, so I wasn’t in a massive rush to get moving, neither were the people in my room. With my new friends Vix and Michael, we went in search of food and caffination, before slowly wandering down to the show about 3pm. While we were looking for food, I also encountered my first British phenomenon, that of a person on a push bike, with a boom box riding full tilt through crowds of people, not caring about who they hit – thanks Micheal for saving me from almost being hit! In fact, this happened three times to me over my weeks of travels around the UK – crazy cyclists!
Back to the festival on the Sunday, the main room was mostly Doom Metal which I normally LOVE, but wasn’t feeling it at all this day, due to my fatigue, so I took my cues from the crew (who knew a lot of the bands playing upstairs) and went up there to pick my energy up. I’m so grateful to Steve Pengarry and Makkay Hall for helping me get through that hump on Sunday and advising me which bands I needed to see.
Negative Measures upstairs, was the first band I saw on the Sunday, and boom! straight away I was hit with their fast, high speed energy and live show, which instantly picked me up. Especially as the vocalist was making space of the room, by not even being on stage. I also liked how the guitarist and bassist took turns with backing vocals, so they were able to move around and share the stage space without the vocalist being up there with them. Their song Justify was one of my favourite ones by them, with ambient guitars building up to angry snare and vocals. With an almost funky bass line running through the song, with ambient guitars running the whole way though, broken up with hard, angry thrash. This is one of the most technical songs they played, and they had something for everyone with elements of punk and thrash metal, but with varying, technical time signatures. Probably one of the youngest bands I’ve seen so far at this festival, but they have been together for ten years. I loved their stage presence, and judging from the movement around me, so does the crowd. They don’t have to work the crowd to get them moving, despite our fatigue and I’ve seen older, more established bands this weekend, have to push the crowd to get a similar response. This is a band to watch for sure! I can’t wait for their new EP to come out!
Instead of seeing the band that was playing downstairs I had a breather and connected with more festival attendees, until I was grabbed by Steve the festival director and told to get upstairs for Operation Kino. So I followed him up, and again the setup has changed, this time with only the drummer on stage and the vocalist, bassist and guitarist on the floor in front of the stage. I had to stand next to the sound desk on the platform there, just to be able to see their whole set, as the vocalist, guitarist and bassist were all on the floor and with the crowd standing back, to avoid a stray guitar neck in the face or flying leg. The band members used every available space to jump off, writher around on the floor, while still maintain the beat of the song and those SOLOS! Instead of using the backing mics set up on the middle of the floor, in front of the stage, the guitarist and bassist (who were both backing vocalists as well) chose to instead run up to random members of the crowd and scream in their faces. It was then I realised I probably wouldn’t be venturing downstairs much at all if all the bands upstairs were going to be this filled with energy!
I decided to give it a go and I’m glad I did as Telepathy were the first band downstairs up to this point, I felt I connected with. They were heavy Doom, like the previous bands, and while the bass and guitar provided the droning, ambient sound the previous bands had provided us with, what made Telepathy different for me was the DRUMS! They were hard, fast, driving! That snare sound was one of the best I’ve heard the whole festival. Visually, the guitarist and bassist are synchronising their head banging and movement so visually, they also have something to look at. For me the drums saved this performance though, as I had been too fatigued to feel the music of the previous bands, which to me almost were like a ‘wall of noise,’ so the drums definitely saved my attention span. While I only saw one song from Telepathy, it was a 14 min journey, drawing you in with ambient guitars building up slowly to the incredible drums. I hope to see Telepathy again when I’m not so fatigued, so I can REALLY feel their music.
I didn’t’ want to pull myself away from Telepathy, but I’m glad I did and went upstairs for Enslavement, as they were another band I had been told I needed to check out. They were one of the local Brighton bands, and when I walked in and saw all my friends I had made over the weekend I knew I had made the right decision. There was no one standing around in that room, thinking of the crowd downstairs, it was like I had walked into an alternate reality, with downstairs being filled with zombies and upstairs with life. There was also the biggest crowd I had seen all day upstairs, so this was definitely a local crowd favourite. My notes are a bit confused about the style of music, as I was obviously struggling with my words, but ‘absofuckinglutely’ insane is one word that makes pure sense to me now! It will make sense to you too, with one of their songs being about eating faecal matter (EAT SHIT as the crowd yelled out to them!) The drummer is one of the fastest drummers I’ve seen for the weekend, and during one of the guitar solos, I’m sure the guitarist kept getting faster and faster, which made the drummer speed up too – if that was at all possible! I had to jump up the front for their last song, and I remember looking around and making eye contact with all the people I had met that weekend, as we were all as exhausted as each other, and we all shared exhausted grins, but there was something about Enslavement’s music that drew you in and MADE YOU MOVE, even if every muscle and bone in your body was hurting. We even had a mini half arsed mosh pit, where two of the guys pretending to push me, but as I was so tired I actually just fell over… ha-ha, but of course they picked me up and hugged me in apology.
It was after Enslavement, I ended up having a picnic and chat on the beach with a local musician Garry, who I had connected with on Facebook, and knew I had to meet and talk to, so I missed the next few bands. It was magic, to sit on the beach and ground taking in fresh air, away from the crowd and music. I wish I had of done this earlier (although I did manage to escape for a while on the Friday night, Saturday was just full on bands!)
After our mini picnic, I went back inside and saw Vodun, which also turned out to be one of my favourite artists of the weekend. They are a brain melting, insane, crazy train of a 3 piece. You really need to experience a Vodun set live, as they are in a league all their own, and are the perfect band to go before Amenra on the main stage. At first, I thought they were more punk music, with the vocalist showcasing one of the most amazing soul voices I’ve heard, but that was just the start. Their music takes you out of your body to another world. While only being a three piece, they cleverly layer their music and create an ambience that I haven’t felt before, and it almost wasn’t of this world. If you closed your eyes, the emotions and full physical feelings that were evoked, transport you away from that room to your dreams. It was a mix of psychedelic guitars, but the drums – maintaining the same steady drum beat for that long would have been very hard work and involved a lot of concentration. Mixed with the vocalist using a hand-held drum (I couldn’t see the shape or size of it from where I was to pinpoint the exact make) but it was so hard to believe it was only a 3 piece, with only really one guitar and a drummer and vocalist. Their set built up to a crescendo and ended with one of the fastest, most insane crazy drum breakdown solos I’ve seen live (better than Black Sabbath drummers one during ‘The End’ tour)
Core of Io were the last band to play at all upstairs, as not like the other nights, tonight’s after party was taking place in the main room after Amenra. They are a 4 piece that needs to be seen, to be believed. Each song is unique, and no two songs sound the same. From old school thrash and heavy metal to psychedelic rock. They have a new 3 track EP out, which they then played from start to finish with themes about ‘being stuck in life’ and ‘finding your reasons to live,’ all were 3 powerful tracks, that instantly absorbed my attention and drew me in. Core of Io’s set was an emotional journey for me, and I felt it reverberating through me even afterwards, when Amenra were playing. Amazing!
Then it was time for the last band of the festival the almighty Amenra. Amenra is a band that so many people told me they were so jealous I was going to see. I met a lot of people on the Sunday that had only brought tickets for the Sunday night show, just to see Amenra. I have to admit, I hadn’t listened to a lot of their music before seeing them, so I wasn’t too sure what to expect, other than I knew they would be ambient, doomy goodness – given what the other bands where like in the main room this day. As I had seen the entire Core of Io set, it was a struggle to see Amenra, as it was PACKED! It took me a good 5 minutes to even get close enough to see anything, other than the backs of people’s heads. But I worked my way down the side of the room, near the merchandise area, and was then spotted by one of my mosh pit buddies and dragged up to the front. Instantly my sense of inner journey from Vodun and Core of Io’s sets resumed, and I felt like I was immersed in an ocean of heaviness. It was a totally physical and emotive experience, and I found myself standing, staring transfixed for their entire set. I couldn’t take notes, all I could do was stand there (I wonder if I had my mouth hanging open?) or occasionally when I came out of my haze, move slowly. I do recall seeing so many of my new family up the front with me during that set. It was incredible.
I arrived at Mammothfest a complete stranger, other than being Facebook friends with half a dozen of the crew members. 3 nights later I left with at least 50 new family members from all over the world. I knew that Mammothfest would be an adventure and that I would meet some incredible people, but nothing prepared me for just how incredible an experience it would be. I didn’t even get 5 minutes alone the whole 3 days and nights I was in Brighton, and I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. I loved how each night had a different ‘theme’ or genre to it – Friday: Black Metal, Saturday: Death/Extreme and Sunday: ambient, doomy, yumminess. I loved it so much I HAD to attend a show the weekend, after at the next town along called Worthing, just to catch up with my festival family, and to see some of the crews’ bands (King Leviathan were AMAZING and I LOVE their CD, the vocalist Adam gave me during Mammothfest!) even after spending Tuesday – Friday, between the festival and the Worthing show, traveling between Scotland and Ireland with Belphegor, Enthroned and Nervochaos – you can read about that adventure HERE.
To all the music fans and travellers reading this, do yourselves a favour and put Mammothfest on your list of festivals to attend in the United Kingdom. Thanks Steve and crew for welcoming me so warmly, I love you my Mammothfest family and I miss you more than words can say!