Held in the centre of Leicester the annual Uprising event is everything a good festival should be. Run by fans for fans the bill features a host of established artists while also giving some of the best young domestic talent the opportunity to play the Academy. Two alternating stages mean a full day of metal so a pair of fleet feet are required to flit between them. Saturday’s gig at the Academy is bookended by two club dates which also feature stellar line-ups.
Getting the day of to a raucous start are local band Seven Hells. With a sound guaranteed to blast away any cobwebs it’s the soundtrack to a world set aflame. From the moment they hit the stage they place their foot firmly on the pedal and don’t let up for thirty minutes. Original tunes like ‘Reactor’ are played with an almost industrial precision while the frantic ‘Fallout’ caps an impressive set.
The excellently titled Foul Body Autopsy open up the second stage. Just one guy with a guitar accompanied by a backing track it’s nevertheless an entertaining set. A nice amalgamation of extreme styles are bundled together as thrash guitars, death metal vocals and black metal atmospherics are delivered with a hardcore punch. With something of a zombie fascination choice horror film samples pepper the set and give proceedings a cinematic quality.
Evidencing what a broad spectrum of metal that Uprising offers are Resin. Augmented by a string section their unique brand of music brings to mind a more doom orientated Skyclad. They operate as a nine piece band who alternate between the brutally heavy and something more ethereal. Employing a lot of light and shade quieter passages juxtapose the louder and in turn make them more crushing while the celestial vocals seem to appear from the spirit world.
The Darkhorse hail from Wellingborough and are a trio who are armed with a big sound. With a hard hitting drummer, a behemoth bass player and a riff heavy guitarist everything about the band screams “mammoth”. Delivering their songs like something akin to an artillery barrage they’re an extremely likeable bunch with the rocking ‘Never’ being a definite highlight.
Following a triumphant main stage appearance at this years Bloodstock and having just released their critically acclaimed third album (Worldwide Negative) Krysthla arrive full of confidence and by second track ‘Negative’ they’re firmly in the groove. Confidently commandeering the stage the band deliver a full on foot-on-the-monitor, fist-in-the-air metal fest. ‘Depths’ initiates a circle pit while latest single, Zero Sum Game’, ups the ante before they close their set with the whiplash inducing ‘Luminosity’. Future headliners?
Alunah arrive with a doom laden sound that’s topped with euphonious female vocals. Siân Greenaway’s voice is soulful with a Southern twang that adds another dimension to the groups sound. Sabbath style riffs swing like a pendulum while the rhythm section combines to create an earth shaking sound. ‘Amber & Gold’ is a set highlight and the new tracks debuted bode well for their new album which is due this October.
The perpetual loonies of British thrash Acid Reign recently returned after a lengthy hiatus and it’s great to see that time hasn’t eroded their energy or humour. Hitting the stage like a tornado and opening with ‘Life in Forms’ hyperactive vocalist H bounces off the monitors and covers every inch of the stage. The old school thrashers are in seventh heaven (and some in tears) as ‘Humanoia’ follows. Acid Reign’s reformation is a continuation rather than an exercise in nostalgia as the band perform a set that both honours the past and looks to the future with comeback single ‘Plan of the Damned’ sitting easily alongside their back catalogue. ‘Blind Aggression’ finds H stage diving from the speaker cabinets as ‘All I See’ and ‘Goddess’ raise the level of insanity before a crowd pleasing ‘Motherly Love’ caps an enjoyable set.
OHHMS are a band who’ve take the doom template and are exploring how far they can push the boundaries. The band are in no rush as they build huge sonic soundscapes and listening to the group you feel overwhelmed with a feeling of something so huge it’s barely comprehensible. Vocalist Paul pulsates with electric shocks as the sound undulates but the band are not all pure bludgeon as they’re wise enough to insert more rather unsettling quieter passages as they regroup for another sonic assault.
Grindcore legends Memoriam make a big entrance and hit the ground running. Without being disparaging to either band you can draw a clear lineage to Bolt Thrower, both sonically and visually, with Memoriam capturing that warlike brutality in their sound. Tonight’s set is dedicated to a fallen comrade (Martin “Kiddie” Kearns) and the fourth anniversary of their the loss seems to have spurred the group as they come out all guns blazing. And with songs like ‘Shell Shock’ and ‘Undefeated’ in their arsenal they really can’t go wrong and each salvo is delivered with the force of cannon fire. Karl Willetts vocals have aged like a fine whiskey and add an air of authority to proceedings. Despite their musical proficiency the band have retained their hardcore punk roots and that aggression shines through in each songs delivery.
New Wave Of British Heavy Metal stalwarts Vardis are often criminally overlooked in the annuls of speed metal history (their debut album was called 100 M.P.H. for good reason). The missing link between punk and metal Vardis’ high octane rock won them many admirers but, like many pioneers, it didn’t translate into mass appeal. However the band aren’t prepared to rest on past glories as the title track from their 2016 album Red Eye proves. With a strong bluesy feel this is music made for dancing rather than moshing and by the time the band hit ‘Dirty Money’ all those present are grooving. ‘Move Along’ follows along with a beefy rendition of ‘The Loser’ and with songs of this calibre you have to question why Vardis never entered metals premier division. Still led by the irrepressible Steve Zodiac the classics keep coming in the shape of a furious ‘Ready to Rock’. Closing with the evergreen ‘If I Were King’ ensures the band exit as they entered: in a blaze of sonic fury.
Garnered with a heroes welcome that’s befitting a band who’ve lived by their own rules Napalm Death are truly worthy headliners although, with their humility, I’m sure they’d be happy anywhere on the bill. Opening with the ferocious ‘Unchallenged Hate’ a pit immediately erupts (you’d think there was something wrong if it didn’t) as ‘Instinct of Survival’ and ‘Continuing War on Stupidity’ quickly follow and when ‘Smash a Single Digit’ is unleashed the pit turns into a medieval battlefield. Tonight’s set is tailor made for the fan and takes in all stages of the bands career from the death metal leaning ‘Suffer the Children’ to the Killing Joke flavoured ‘Self Betrayal’ while the grindcore fanatics are treated to ‘Scum’, ‘Life?’, ‘Control’, ‘Deceiver’, ‘The Kill’ and ‘You Suffer’ which are all delivered in five blistering minutes. Drummer Danny Herrera continually unleashes furious blastbeats which underpin Shane Embury’s bass runs. As usual Barney is a blur of spasmodic dancing while John Cooke (of grind band Vicious Bastard) is continuing to do a fine job deputising for Mitch Harris. ‘Silence is Deafening’ and ‘How the Years Condemn’ take us up to the obligatory cover of Dead Kennedy’s ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off’, a track which Napalm Death have made their own. ‘Siege of Power’ brings the set to a conclusion and evidences why Napalm Death remain top of the game.
Reviewed by Peter Dennis.
Napalm Death Set List:
Instinct of Survival
Continuing War on Stupidity
When All is Said and Done
Smash a Single Digit
Suffer the Children
Breed to Breathe#Self Betrayal
Silence is Deafening
How the Years Condemn
Nazi Punks Fuck Off
Siege of Power.