A fairly short trip to the festival grounds today, partly due to continued inclement (shit) weather, and partly as I was simply bloody knackered after a walk/run to Tolmin Gorge earlier.
I arrived just in time to see Membrance make a complete mess of the New Forces stage. Pretty much a local act, hailing from nearby Venice, they were like a death metal low-budget Evil Scarecrow. So, yes, I know that means their budget was into negative figures, but bear with me. They were heavy, they were noisy and they were utterly silly, with a cast of “helpers” who made a huge difference to the performance.
Musically the three-piece weren’t bad, but the same could be said of a lot of bands. However, chuck in a nutcase throwing his guts into the crowd, two guys in gas masks squirting “vodka” everywhere, and a priest running off with a rather attractive young lady in skimpy clothing and you had an actual show. Membrance had really upped their game for this performance and the result was complete crowd chaos.
Next up were Malemort. If the name didn’t give it away, when they asked who in the audience was from France, the roar was a bit louder than when they asked who was from England. Which seemed to be just me. Playing music which sits around “classic metal”, but occasionally delves into heavier territory they were an excellent bit of entertainment for half an hour.
Their final track in particular had the crowd going absolutely mental… and it was more like a modern take on good old rock n’ roll than a mainstream metal one. With a great image – lead singer Xavier was channelling Shinedown’s Brent Smith, and the band dressed similarly – they looked, acted, and performed the part of a band who should be doing bigger things. Indeed, they were main stage at Hellfest this year (very early on) and I can believe they’ll have killed it there as well.
The roar when they finished was simply staggering for a band playing a small, self-submitted acts stage while people are still arriving at a festival. They arrived with a fair number of fans. Rest assured they left with a lot more.
I didn’t see much of Hexa Mera for reasons I’ll get to in a moment, but they sounded good and had the crowd in a violent (and generally friendly) mood. Belting out some melodic death of Belgian flavour, they were pretty much non-stop from the beginning of the set to the end and the crowd loved it.
However, there was a young lad at the barrier filming the set on his Go Pro knock-off (no insult intended as regards the camera, other than the badge it looked exactly the same as mine). He was, at a guess, 10-12 years of age and his mouth was at the exact same height as the top of the metal barricade. In other words, the perfect height for losing teeth were something strange to happen. Like for him to be hit violently and unexpectedly from behind. Of course, that never happens at a metal gig.
So myself and another person in the crowd basically looked after him by placing ourselves as a barrier behind him. Look, I’m all for kids at a metal show. I’m all for them getting to the front. But if it’s your kid, you bloody look after them and know where they are. It’s a) being a responsible parent, and b) not being a dick. If his folks are reading this – you’re very welcome. He’s a top lad and I hope to see him around more over the week. Also, be more responsible.
Sorry about that.
The final act were slightly delayed getting on stage, partly due to the number of props being spread around. After the banners, smoke pot, pillars and torches were added I was wondering if there would be room for the band. Other than the drummer they soundchecked off-stage all for a bigger impact when they walked on… and it was worth it.
Clad in fantastic costumes, perfectly suited to the blackest of metal with which they regaled us, Bleeding Gods rampaged through a half-hour set and ensured the more active members of the crowd went back to their tents battered, bruised and bloody. Visually brilliant and musically destructive, they put on a fantastic performance.
If I may say, Gea Mulder must be the most stunningly attractive woman ever to strap on a 5-string bass and slap on some corpse paint #MyNewMetalCrush – she also knows how to perform on stage, as do the rest of her colleagues. Do they issue restraining orders in the Netherlands? I may find out…
On the way back to the hostel I discovered that you can’t take food or drink from one “zone” of the festival to another – this includes food you’ve bought in the festival. This struck me as rather strange, but I’m sure I’ll figure out why I was barred from passing through a gate while eating pizza (when there was more pizza for sale in the second stage zone I was trying to enter) later in the week. Sadly this meant a slightly longer walk home, and resulted in me – very reluctantly – stopping for a beer in someone’s garden. What a shame.
Festival t-shirt purchased. I’ll be looking for a Municipal Waste one as well. You know the one…
Photos by Iain Purdie