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Beermageddon Festival – Saturday 25th August 2012

Review by Matt Bradley and photos by Rob Stanley

The second day of Beermageddon got off to a hellaciously heavy start at the hands of Glaswegian metallers Diementia. Delivering a satisfying half hour of noise, obviously inspired by New Wave of American Heavy Metal bands such as Lamb of God and Chimaira, the four piece chugged their way through numerous songs that whilst intense, didn’t offer too much in terms of dynamics or variety.

Conversely, Sanguine were up next and proved why they are the best thing to come out of Exeter since, well… ever. Tarin Karrey’s powerful vocals switched between screams and beautifully-sung melodies with ease, whilst the rest of the band played their eclectic mix of music which ranged from impactful gothic style metal to the funky feel of ‘Bangkok Nights’ with everything in between, including ‘Waiting’, which is impossible not to stamp your feet to. This gifted quartet absolutely nailed their set.

Speaking of nails, the next act provided music to get crucified to. Brutal yet haunting, Twilight’s Embrace from Nottingham played only five tracks in their forty minute set but each was a dark masterpiece. Allan Sharp’s pounding drums provided the backbone which Al Venn (bass), Ben Sizer and Dan Snowdon (both guitars) fleshed out with crushing riffs interlaced with eerie quiet sections. Although Andy Walmsley seemed a little less extroverted than most front men, it fit the personality of the band perfectly, and his genuine heartfelt appreciation of the audience really struck a nerve. His performance was flawless; unleashing guttural roars that could wake the dead and then belting out beautiful singing in such a manner that would make even Opeth’s Mikael Akerfelt jealous.

It seemed logical to follow up such a sombre set with faster music that would really get the crowd motivated as the juxtaposition would highlight the differences between both bands and make their positive aspects stand out. However, The Furious Horde’s symphonic black metal, whilst solid and somewhat intriguing, never really invoked the emotion desired. ‘The Devil’s Coachman’ was a standout track, yet the vocalist known as Ruptured Souls addressing the crowd with the name of a different festival at one point dampened the mood and begged the question ‘would they rather be somewhere else?’

Frontmen are supposed to be the center of attention and Christ, did Warlord’s Mark White demand attention! The absolute monster in the middle of the stage kicked seven bells out of his bass whilst roaring unmercifully into the microphone. Huge and intimidating as he was, White showed his caring side when he tossed full bottle after full bottle of water into the sweaty crowd and letting them all know that they come first. The nice gesture was swiftly forgotten as the four piece band thundered through the rest of their old school death metal set including ‘Descent Into Violence’, and ‘Suffer In Silence’, inducing mosh pits that engulfed literally half of the venue.

The brutality continued with Bloodshot Dawn. Their melodic death metal was received well by those in attendance, the screams from Josh McMorran and sweep picked guitar solos providing a violent yet complex and fascinating mixture. ‘Vision’ stuck out with its relentless and breakneck pace which got the entire crowd pumping their fists in union. Drummer Doug Anderson and lead guitarist Benjamin Ellis both backed up McMorran’s vocals, and when the set got too much for the PA system and the power gave out, they showed their joking side by dancing hilariously before kicking back in with ‘Sickening Dogma’ and ending their set triumphantly.

There are good live bands and there are great live bands… and then there’s Fallen Fate. By far the best set of the day, the foursome from the north east of England absolutely annihilated Beermageddon with their rapid modern metal. Thrash can be repetitive at the best of times (most bands of this genre get boring after three songs) but FF proved that there’s still life in that horse yet. Not only did they execute the songs perfectly but Lee Skinner (guitar/vocals), Piers Donno-Fuller (guitar), John Wright (drums) and Peter Hodgson (bass) have a presence unmatched by most bands at their level, it was like they were born to perform on stage. Two songs in and ‘Origin Of Sin’ received a great response from the crowd and a pit ignited instantly, topped later by the closing track ‘The Virus Has Spread’ (from the 2010 album of the same name). More aggressive than a lion at feeding time, catchy riffs that stick in your head, the marketability of Skinner’s handsome chops and ferocious live shows such as this – these guys are going to go far.

Following that ridiculously impressive set was never going to be easy but aristocratic metallers Imperial Vengeance grabbed the proverbial bull by the horns and gave it their all, mesmerising crowds with their mind-blowingly intellectual music. Dressed in neo-Victorian attire and calmly walking onstage to their intro music, it truly was atmospheric and as the ultra progressive quartet (with a stand-in bassist) began their performance it all came together beautifully. C. Edward Alexander (guitar/vocals) looked as sinister as Church of Satan founder Anton La Vey when bellowing into the mic and shredding the fret board to pieces. Behind him James Last almost defied the laws of time and space with his unbelievably complex stick stills. With more time changes than a broken clock, more perplexing solos than a simple ear can withstand and synthesized backing tracks that ranged from macabre circus-esque piano to bizarre futuristic noises, Imperial Vengeance really challenged the audience and their ability to comprehend highbrow metal. Unfortunately for the Colchester crew, their music just didn’t seem to click with most of the attendees. The understandably static performance wasn’t enthralling enough in comparison to the previous bands’ and, though the music was top quality, the set just didn’t quite live up to expectations.

And you can see more of Rob’s photos below:

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