Review by Ashlinn Nash
Photography by Frank Ralph
Under a blisteringly hot sun comes a day of metal bites that are set to be pleasing for any sub-genre fan as the spirits are high for tonight. With an arena filled with everything from Slayer to sleep t-shirts the main divisions of fans have been made clear, with a band that are playing a legendary album in its entirety and a band who’ve not played for a long time on these shores.
Starting today with A storm of light [3.5/5] a four piece band, who start as a visually heavy band with backdrops from memorabilia pasts with a fresh graphic take to them , doesn’t quite float the boat of many early fans. However the combination of slow sludge gets the first few head bangers of the day limbered up, with the aid of the visual and sonic combination throughout the set enticing an audience involvement. Opening with “Silver with the swift” whose harmonies fade in and out like a breezy angel adds a more progressive tone to the show mostly heard within mid-set song “Wretched Valley”.
The show ranging from the mood of dystopian propaganda in the background, right up to very slow drone music sets the pace for the rest of the day by ending with “Black Wolves”.
With Yob [4/5] pick up the pace with a contrasting show enticing use of the minds theatre rather than visuals cascading behind. Opening with “Prepare the ground” with the room now being taken over by the trio divulges into a space dialect doom experience, the band open on a more welcoming crowd, treating us to a range of frequency Sound scapes of reverb and feedback, creating depths within minimalist context. The band seems very comfy to play music for themselves with the voyeurs below by facing into themselves, yet still creating a commanding presence. Whilst the set slowly progressed into the set the audience reacted well to the song choice of “Burning the Altar” and the finale “Adrift in the ocean”.
The Melvins [3.5/5] are the first band onto the main stage, armed with two drummers and of course the infamous buzz leading the troops. The set being let by the two simultaneous percussionists that provide entertainment between songs to make is all one musical journey with an hour long set they keep it sharp and precise, being the first band to play more than 5 songs as well as engaging the crowd into the first most pit of the day. Opening with “Hung Bunny”, with church robes and crossover between hardcore punk and sludge makes for an enjoyable, yet hard to listen to in places, set, overall an enjoyable live experience from the odd balls of fusion rock.
Wolves in the Throne Room [4.5/5] bring the ethereally pleasing back to the other room with the black and blue neon banner imagery of natures greatest animals and smoke fills the room, as a cascade of feedback for “Thuja magus imperium” fills the air, casting a new calmer demur to the music listeners. With the sonic crunch of guitars met with the on-off howls of troubled vocals, meets the intensity of being collaborated. The intrinsic fog harbours the mood towards inner reflection as the set grows into a deeper sultry novel with the classic “I will lay my bones among the rocks and roots” creating the perfect ambient black metal soundtrack. A rare treasure of a set as the final feedback drenched song “prayer of transformation” allows a rare glimpse of the musicians as the mist clears to see more than just the small blue LED’s on the guitar.
Sleep [4/5] take the mood to a calmer more grove out than high concentration which Wolves required, the crowd now back in the main room for a sludge, doom synthesis of genre band. Opening with the infamous “Dopesmoker part 1” the noise drenched trio which sets the pace for a slow euphoric crunchy paced freedom in feedback experience, which beckons a united bobbing of heads. “Dragonaut” creates a frenzy of ample appreciation from the crowd chanting back the lyrics, as the pace goes to swaying as the second number from “Holy Mountain” kick starts. It’s becoming clearer throughout the set that this band have been missed as the crowd in full swing of enjoyment at the sheer noise that three people can create. As the second to last “From beyond” makes for a set winner, until the final part of set comes into play “Dopesmoker part 2” which leaves everyone drenched in feedback atmosphere. Sleeps demure causes a time tunnel-esque musical journey with the combining of the best of doom influences (black Sabbath being a staple influence) to create a sublime sonic experience.
Slayer [4.5/5] as the roar as the banner goes down for the final band erupts with adrenaline and anticipating for pure octane experience, opening with the more recent “World painted blood” along with classic “dead skin mask” setting the pace of a mini-best of recent songs before bursting out the highly anticipated “Reign in blood” portion. Ripping the place apart with the opening cords of “Angel of death” which the crowd eagerly screamed back to the big four bay thrashers. With the treating of songs not played since 2009 which diehard fans go crazy for. After a slight hick-up and restart for “Reborn”, the crowd still in a hyped frenzy as Gary Holt (Exodus guitarist filling in for Jeff) and Kerry King riff through the juggernaut tracks with the propulsion of Dave Lombardo with the chaotically beautiful bass and vocals styling’s of Mr Araya.
The Encore for tonight plays out the classic’s “south of heaven”, “snuff” and seasons in the abyss number “War ensemble” as the crowd are beaten and bruised but loving every moment, it’s safe to say the giants of thrash are still reigning!