By on 19 August 2010



As a new day dawns the sun is trying to come out. The mud in the arena looks like the aftermath of a German scat movie and we wade in deciding to be a little more selective on our viewing today. This means avoidance of Corpsegrinder’s neck and Frank Mullen’s hand and having caught and laughed at a red faced Varg in London they were firmly on the miss list.  First up however were Under That Spell, crap name but would they be magic? Considering the band have ex members of Helrunar in their ranks we had fairly high expectations and gladly are not disappointed. At first there is a bit of a fleeting Satyricon vibe going down here, complete with vocalist Abyss rocking away on a chain- link designed microphone stand. Nuances begin to shine through and there is plenty of depth gleaming from within songs like ‘I Am The Prophet.’ Numbers have slow grandiose parts to them as well as the expected face smashing brutality and although audience numbers are sparse, those of us that do catch them are both mesmerised and slapped awake in equal measures. Debut album ‘Apotheosis’ goes down on the shopping list. 

Swedes Tribulation are strictly of unknown origin but immediately get interest with an intro tape of Riz Ortolani’s haunting ‘Adulteress’ Punishment’ from his ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ score. From there we are thrown into formidable black thrash which takes no prisoners. Let them die slowly? Not a chance here and the band bounce around the stage with two vocalists taking turns at different songs. It is only now that a bit of research illuminates that one of the group who looked rather familiar is no other than DD Sars of Repugnant and Enforcer fame. The odd death grunt spurs on the suffering which is battered out with primitive, unrelenting barbarity. ‘Dread City Of Death’ enforces the horror film theme and this is another gem of a discovery highlighting the fact that the early bands on the bill are often the ones worth seeking out.  

Last year we had Swallow The Sun, this year’s mellowest offering are Ghost Brigade who bring about a welcome change of pace. Their ‘Isolation Songs’ sparkle and leave us rooted to the spot as guitar shards glisten in the sparkling sun. Unfortunately this allows the mud to set around boots like concrete and there are horrible sucking sounds as we extricate feet from their tombs. It could go either way as some parts of the songs are so quiet and subtle in their meandering a crowd could give way to catcalls but all is respectful and when the guitars fly back in with crushing weight behind them they suitably flatten us. Bordering on post-rock, indie and shoegaze territories at times, Ghost Brigade are another very welcome addition to any festival circuit.

By comparison it’s great to see a band strutting around like they own the stage and they do. Desaster are playing to a home crowd and come out all guns blazing. Having never seen this lot it was the perfect place to catch them too, grasping by the spiked gauntlet this is a brash and ballsy display, oozing confidence. The Teutonic terrors wank off axes, stick tongues out and pose lined up together and it is impossible to watch this without a big shit eating grin on the mush. With ‘Infernal Voices’ causing chaos we look around and notice the likes of Martin Van D and Chris Reifert are enjoying the show just behind us, so what bigger seal of approval is needed? Medieval Darkness is touched upon with jaunty folk laden intros before pulverising might and classics such as ‘Tyrants Of The Netherworld,’ rampaging feasts of pure unadulterated metal. Great stuff!

More Swedes who have yet to visit UK shores next and Manegarm are another band I was keen to catch. They are interesting viewing too with the crazed and manic electric violin player and occasional flutist Janne Liljeqvist stealing the show like a mad professor running amok on the stage. This is beer drinking heathen stomping music and great stuff for any party. I recognise a few numbers from the extensive back catalogue although most are announced in their native tongue so go over the head. That does not curb the enjoyment to this battle bravado and the word ‘Victory’ seems the only one you need to fixate on here as the air is fully charged with it. They do like songs about the wolf though and one of these had a burst of Russian peasant sounding violin standing out before it charged back in, swaggering and bristling in its triumph.

After some algebraic gymnastics from Necrophagist which were best taken in with a lie down it is back for Aura Noir and some full on thrashing, metallic carnage. They ‘Unleash The Demon’ with chainsaw riffing courtesy of the ever dependable Blasphemer and some nice hefty death grunts from Apollyon. There is a thick chugging bass sound rattling through the now much busier arena and everyone is getting down to this attacking barrage. The solos come thick and fast and yet again the sound mix does the band proud (it has to be virtually impossible to review a festival and not once complain about the sound). It’s back to the ‘Black Thrash Attack’ of ‘Conqueror’ and everything is delivered in a rapid fire blur as we are sped through some formidable album tracks. There is a surprise in store towards the end and it’s a welcome one as Aggressor hobbles on stage on crutches for the first time in five years to growl out ‘Sons Of Hades;’ it’s great to see Carl-Michael Eide back albeit briefly, a survivor if ever there was one.

Having caught every band for the first time so far today it was time to finish off with one seen on average twice a year for the last twenty or so, Napalm Death. This was slightly different as it was the first show that I have not caught piles of bodies going over the barrier but that would have been impossible here. With the possible exception of Origin, nothing hit as fast and hard all weekend as Barney charges around the stage like a lunatic and Shane settles in to chug out the low end. After a rousing ‘Suffer The Children’ Barney informs there is little time but they are fitting in as much as possible including some political speeches about peace and freedom. Biggest cheer comes for the obvious ‘Nazi Punks’ at this very anti-fascist orientated festival and we wouldn’t have it any other way. ‘When All Is Said And Done’ has that classic ND sing along chorus, ‘Scum’ does not but you can try and Mitch Harris’ squawking is spot on. Just before they wrap it up Barney comes out with the quote of the festival. “Sorry about all this mud, we would do something about it if we could but we can’t so there you go.” Now why cant politicians speak like this? Barney you are a true gent!

So as per usual a fantastically organised festival apart from what cannot be controlled. One observation for next year is the possibility of any of the fairer sex gracing the stage, they can do brutal too! So far 2011 confirmations are Nachtmystium and Negura Bunget so already Inia Dinia is likely to part redress that balance.

Pete Woods

About Miranda Yardley

I'm Miranda. Bite me.

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