Review by Matt Bradley and photos by Rob Stanley
Once again the venue was full to capacity for the openers and Wretched Soul blasted away any hangovers with a furious half hour of thrashy death metal. Vocalist Chris Simmons split his shorts in the first song but that didn’t phase him whatsoever as he bellowed out lyrics to tracks such as ‘Veronica’ which received a deafening response from the crowd. The Kent lads played brutal music, with riffs that stick with you like a knife through the temple, tightly and with passion.
When it comes to dedication, few rank above the chaps in Karhu. Guitarist and screamer Osku Kinnunen flew all the way over from Finland to play this set and, boy, was it worth it for the impact they left. The Finnish youngster’s six-stringed talents shone through as the gig rolled on, his guttural growls over the polyrhythmic progressive metal tearing ear drums to pieces before fellow guitarist Joseph Parry healed them again with powerful clean vocals reminiscent of Devin Townsend himself. The international quartet obviously don’t take themselves too seriously (inciting a four-person circle pit and a six-man wall of death, for example) but the sheer quality of their performance spoke for itself.
Allerjen hit the stage next and whilst their thirty minutes in the spotlight was by no means boring, it just wasn’t as impactful as the previous showcases of the day. The four piece from Manchester valiantly ploughed through a host of well-crafted songs with good structures and the odd quiet section now and then that gave it much needed dynamics, but they just never hit that sweet spot that live bands should.
Rezinwolf, from Harwich in Essex, strode on next and powered through their high speed metal attack. Guitarists Dan Murphy and Brad Wosko blasted out tremendous riffs that could easily be on a Megadeth album whilst Kirk Stevens (bass) and Sam Wheeler rounded out the rhythm section. Standout tracks included ‘Life Among The Dead’ and ‘Hail To Armageddon’ which contained by far the most impressive solo of the weekend with its impressive technicality and incredible hooks. The final song was not an original but a cover of Pantera’s ‘Fucking Hostile’ which the crowd sang along to with such force that you’d be mistaken for thinking the Texan legends were playing it themselves.
If Kreator and Motorhead had a child, it would be called Seregon. The trio thrashed out their European-style speed metal with indignation and panache and endeared the crowd between the lightning speed songs with humorous banter from vocalist James Moore (also handling bass duties due to Ben Allen not attending) and the occasional quip from six-stringer Alex Hagues. Although the between song talking seemed slightly long at times, it wasn’t overbearing, and great tracks such as ‘The Movement’ and pit-inciter ‘Fuck Shit Up’ made up for it. The set was closed with a cover of ‘Whiplash’ by Metallica that honestly would’ve been better not played, but overall it was a good half hour.
The tempo slowed down but only slightly as Illflower began their set. Up-tempo metal with a very distinct punk influence resulting in an almost old school NYHC vibe, but somehow didn’t quite have the edge that it needed. As a metal band with heavy doses of hardcore attitude, the key to a great live show is crowd interaction and because the room was only half full at this point for some unknown reason, the audience seemed a little sparse so the boxed-in, claustrophobic and chaotic feel that live shows of this genre need to shine just wasn’t there. Dave Morgan (vocals) didn’t seem to care one bit as he still screamed his heart out and as the possessor of possibly the creepiest and intense eyes in music, he had quite the stage presence which complimented the sound the rest of the five Scunthorpians were making. Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, tonight was not Illflower’s night.
Beermageddon went back in time with the next act. Four letters, four members and forty minutes of New Wave Of British Heavy Metal goodness with a hint of 1980s thrash – a recipe for a solid pure metal show, and Fury delivered in spades. With Brian Blessed-lookalike Julian Jenkins’ powerful vocals mixed with his guitar work alongside Joel Peters and Martin Trail’s six-stringed and four-stringed skills, the set went along at a predictable yet agreeable pace for the genre in question, kept in time by talented sticksman Alasdair Davis. The riffs flowed like lava and led into catchy chorus sections, all performed with the kind of tightness normally only heard on a record. Whilst nothing really jumped out to stick in the mind, it was a truly enjoyable set.
The tension in the Black Horse was so thick, it could’ve been cut with a really, really blunt knife. Everybody on the floor was nearly drowning in their own drool as they salivated in anticipation for the headlining act and after what felt like hours of setting up, compere DJ Beerman finally introduced them to the loudest cheer of the weekend: Def-Con-One had arrived. Jumping headfirst into their neckache-inducing mix of all things that are right in metal today with tracks such as ‘Caving In’ and ‘Blood’, DC1 really showed why they were the correct choice to close the debut Beermageddon festival. Guitarist Johnny Hunter and bassist Steve Miller both wore bulletproof vests which amplified the aggression conveyed through the groove-laden riffs and front man Davey Meikle’s screams.
Meikle’s unconventional choice of refreshment during the set garnered a few laughs when he described Fanta as ‘the drink of metal’, but the serious messages took precedence and were received loud and clear by the audience who responded in a near religious fashion when ‘Give Me Strength’ was introduced and a few words were spoken about the metal scene in the United Kingdom being on the rise. At the back of the stage, Antton Lant positively demolished his drum kit with precise and powerful hits that could raise the dead from their graves. Although formerly of the originators of black metal, Venom, Lant was a founding member of DC1 and it showed as he pounded every drum skin with determination and grit and almost shattered every cymbal on impact, such was the power of his playing. As the festival drew to a close, the Newcastle quartet didn’t slow or calm down one bit but instead whacked the intensity up a few notches and practically flattened the venue in the process as they bulldozed through their final song, the utterly anthemic ‘Warface’. With crowd sing-alongs and more crunch in the guitar than a honeycombed chocolate bar hooked up to a Marshall stack, the explosive nature of the song was the ideal release for anybody with energy left in the tank and, quite frankly, the perfect way to end Beermageddon 2012.
And you can see Rob’s photos from Sunday here: