Friday, November 24, 2017
GIK Acoustics - Europe
GIK Acoustics - Europe
The Moshville Times

Review: Wildfire Festival 2017, Sunday (Moshville Times Stage)

If the bands playing the Saturday set for the Moshville Times stage at Wildfire set up the audience, then those playing the Sunday knocked them all back down. Featuring music from the heavier side of the rock and metal scene, the Sunday line-up brought in dozens of rock fans of all ages, with even some  jostling to get to the front to personally rock out with the bands.

Monkey Puzzle (c) Gary Cooper

The day started out as it aimed to continue, with the mightily mental Monkey Puzzle taking to the stage, despite their moans and groans about hangovers. The band’s unique nu-metal style was not only a throwback to the ’90s heyday of the genre, but a surefire way to wake up any audience members who might still have been sleepy. Their bouncy, quick, and gruff style of play, often revolving around drinking and partying, can only be described as fun and wholeheartedly enjoyable.

Following the nu-metallers were Rare Breed, who only seemed to amplify the energy which Monkey Puzzle had laid out before them. The young quintet’s rough and heavy style dominated the audience, with their harsh breakdowns having an underlying groove to them, thanks to bassist Connor MacLeod. [Just to add that vocalist Gravy Armour had been struggling with his voice during rehearsals and was worried he’d have to hold back. You’d not have known from what he was belting out on the day! – Mosh]

Rare Breed (c) Amy Harris-Abbott

Returning to the stage for their second performance of the weekend were rock powerhouse Empyre, who graciously filled a spot at the last minute as Burning The Dream had to drop out due to a broken drummer who wasn’t allowed to leave his sickbed. The alternative rockers provided a much needed breather, following on from the two weighty bands which preceded them. Empyre played an excellent set, shouting out to the crowd and getting them to dust off the cobwebs by bopping their heads along to the blues-infused rock. Their final song, “Homegrown”, acted as the perfect way to end a show show, with the track demonstrating the versatility of Empyre, starting out with a calm, gentle intro, with singer Henrik Steenholdt’s haunting voice carrying easily over the crowd, captivating them. This eerie ambience did not last for long though, as the song slowly grew both in intensity and volume until the entire band played as one, with a tightness that few acts are able to pull off live.

Fueled Hate (c) Amy Harris-Abbott

This tightness was then followed by Fueled Hate, a band which were introduced as being “here to scare your granny!” The breather given by Empyre was surely over by the time that these monstrously heavy, punk-ish mad-men hit the stage. The band erupted almost immediately into play, delivering a devastating wall of sound which drew in dozens of festival goers. Fueled Hate’s mix of devastatingly deep bass, high intensity drums, with distortion-laden guitars and a fast, angry style of vocals saw them bring about one of the biggest crowds of the day, with members shouting out to the audience to get involved. Speaking to bassist Lukas afterwards, he agrees that this incredible, wonderful madness is the band’s only weakness – it’s hard to get across on a recording how amazing it is live. Buy their albums to support them, then see them on stage to get the full benefit!

Agent (c) Amy Harris-Abbott

With such a lively and popular set, next band Agent had a hard time following up. Contrasting the chaos that had dominated the stage before them, Agent’s set began with a slow, almost-ambient style before the entire band erupted into life, following a hard rock style, almost sounding Muse-esque. The band’s combination of clean vocals and harmonies stretching across the entire lineup was particularly noticeable on “Made of Gold”. “When Gods Collide” showcased the diversity which Agent are capable of, starting with a deep, crunchy sounding riff and maintaining a heavier element throughout. To finish the set, audience members were treated to an as-yet unreleased track from the band; “Maker of Bones”. This showstopper brought their set to a fitting end, with vocalist James Donaldson singing out to the crowd, his voice easily carrying over the rest of the band.

Turbyne (c) Amy Harris-Abbott

Heralding in the final two heavier acts were Turbyne, a Dumfries-based progressive metal quintet who utterly dominated the stage, and the festival goers who were lucky enough to see them. The group were the final act to be named to play the Moshville Times stage at Wildfire, but that hadn’t stopped them from bringing along their own fan club [and a stand-in bassist who did a brilliant job on such short notice – Mosh], as before Turbyne had even started playing, there was a group of Turbyne-ites standing at the front of the stage, cheering them on, clad in Turbyne merchandise. These fans were right to cheer them on, as the group blew the crowd away as soon as they started playing (myself included)!

After a NWOBHM-style guitar solo, the whole band lunged into action, bringing with them a barrage of chunky guitar riffs, screamed vocals and furious drums, not forgetting the occasional smattering of synth dropped in for good measure. What sets Turbyne apart from the norm is the fact that the band has two singers; Keith Fleming and Gary Gillespie who cover screamed and clean vocals, occasionally partaking in a duet which saw the two combine to produce an incredible sound, a combination of modern heavy metal and classic prog-ish style. A personal moment which stole the show for me was Turbyne’s outstanding cover of “Holy Diver” by the one and only Dio. These homegrown metalheads drew in more and more fans with this cover and had various members of the crowd thrusting their horns in the air.

The Dead XIII (c) Amy Harris-Abbott

Bringing the Moshville Times stage to a close was the unyielding force of metal that is The Dead XIII; a quintet clad in corpse paint, covering every visible part of their skin, wearing more black than an army of funeral directors, and who were frightening enough to give this reporter a genuine scare when they marched up unannounced behind me! The Manchester-based heavy metal entourage brought with them an immense amount of theatrics, with the entire band dressed exactly as your mum expects people within heavy metal to dress.

Ironically for a band with “dead” in their title, the group put on an incredibly lively set, with singer Kurt Blackshard dancing across stage, beckoning audience members closer, bringing fans into the intimate environment carefully created through the Moshville Times stage. Playing an intricate mix of black metal and contemporary heavy metal, The Dead XIII stole the show, bringing in the biggest audience of the entire weekend, and were entirely responsible for getting festival goers off their arses, and into the Moshville Times tent.

Despite their gloomy horror appearance, the band didn’t lack a sense of humour. Where many similar acts play off the dark, miserable reputation of their music (and, frankly, come across as arrogant dicks as a result), The Dead XIII haven’t lost the ability to be cheeky and have a laugh. The one-armed frontman rattled off the best heckle-response of the weekend: “Dead Thirteen? There’s only five of you!” / “Four and three-quarters, actually, but close.”

You could not ask for a better band to round off a spectacular weekend of rock and metal.

Of course, we didn’t stop there. While the gloomy five-some packed up their kit, our own Pit Troll played some classic metal tunes such as… erm.. “Gangnam Style” and “The Macarena” resulting in several of the Moshville Times Crew (and a few audience members) busting some moves on the stage. Our charity raffle draw was made (two posters, a Kasabian signed drum head and two Metallica tickets), and we raised over £300 for Nordiff Robbins from it.

Same time next year, folks? We’re sure as shinola up for it!

All photos by Amy Harris-Abbott (except Monkey Puzzle by Gary Cooper)

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