There’s a series of European music festivals for which we, music lovers, start saving money for the following year’s edition the moment we get home from the previous one. We don’t need to know the bill, we don’t need to know any dates or ticket prices. We just know we have to get there, somehow, next year. Those events became such pillars of content in the scene not only for their incredible selection of artists and collaborators but also for things like location, ambient, side activities and overall vibe. That’s why festivals like Roadburn Festival in Tilburg become what they are today, our Mecca.
Two years may sound like a short period to establish if a festival has what it takes to be elevated to such honourable status butTemples Festival is surely in the right direction; having bands likeNeurosis and Clutch headlining its first edition (with more than 40 other amazing bands) is always a sign of great things to come and this year’s edition was no different. And as most festivals flooded with bands, clashes were inevitable and since we, unfortunately, are not omnipresent Gods, choices had to be made: from choosing between bands to choosing to leave a certain concert earlier so we could get a decent spot on Stage 2 or just catch a bit of what’s happening on Stage 3. If something “escaped” our radar, we apologize.
Having played Burning Light Fest a few months back, Oblivionized was still a pleasant memory of what a good sonic beating must feel like and an obvious choice to open Stage 2. Although a bit more controlled (no equipment to feel sorry about), it’s impossible not to feel compelled by their energetic jazz-sprinkled crust/grind, and the public seemed to fully understand the crushing purposes of “Life Is A Struggle, Give Up”. ES
Try fuckin’ doing Aberdeen // Bristol by train without catching a single spark of Wi-Fi, iPod hanging on low battery, just hearing some Glaswegian gibberish about how awful Rangers remaining at Championship next season is. Yeah, deal with it, Shame FC. Hah! These cocky bastards can get on your nerves pretty much on a daily basis and I’m not even Scottish, so when I finally hit Bristol I’m childishly clenching my fists and in a need of a Buckfast. There ain’t. That or I’m just a lousy alcohol searcher. Had to stick with beer and, to get some relief, drink some meth with Meth Drinker. One fiend’s cravings absolutely fulfilled by just being brainwashed with narco riffs, antisocial feedback and an overall tone of sweet self-loathing. For the record: I love it. I tell you what, with Eyehategod andNoothgrush hitting their grey years, to watch some bitter gentlemen from New Zealand wearing the non-mighty sludgy stripes is very much appreciated. Talk about globalization, eh. Not to mention that their merch was cheap as a happy evening at Aberdeen’s Harbour, so I actually saved some quids to buyBongzilla apparel. Even before Meth Drinker drenched that third room in putrid blisters of hate, Sea Bastard showed, at the very same stage, why our beloved cavaliers Primitive Man will soon release a split EP with the well-groomed British. It was slooooow. Look: sloooooooooooooooooow. Do you get the idea? OxyContin slow. GMC
Following Today Is The Day’s cancellation (snif), a few alterations were imminent and some social network outsiders were caught by surprise when Young And In The Way rushed onto the Main Stage instead of Harm’s Way. But whoever was misled by the misinformation sure stayed to witness one of the best gigs of the entire weekend. On a set still mainly focused on their last release, 2014’s “When Life Comes To Death”, vocalist Kable Lyall‘s stage presence is one to make anyone uncomfortable. Bigger than his physical self, slashing and punching imaginary throats, screaming his lungs off and only the devil knows what else his devious mind imagined.
For the ones looking for something as hardcore as it can get,Harm’s Way came to save the day. Muscular hardcore (pun intended) at its best, the Chicago quartet ended up with the hard and unfortunate task of preparing the stage for Trap Them. And never the word urged into was so properly used to describe a performance as this: singer Ryan McKenney surged into the audience the moment he set foot on stage, catching everyone by surprise and leaving the security guards completely unresponsive. And there he stood, screaming, literally, in our faces, holding our hands in search of balance, sweating over our ears. As if their music wasn’t already a swirl of intense violence, their stage demeanour actively triggers ire in any resisting soul. And instead of turning the gig into a presentation of their last effort “Blissfucker”, the band chose to give equal attention to their last three albums and gifting us with “Day Two: They Followed the Scent Of Jihad All The Way To Thieves Paradise”.
From Sacramento to Bristol (and the world) came Will Haven ready to present us with their new EP “Open The Mind To Discomfort” and career standouts as “Stick Up Kid” or “Dolph Lundgren”. And as the Swedish all-around-awesome figure, they had to break us, serving their metal-infused hardcore cold but without losing their sense of humour.
Filling up Today Is The Day‘s time slot we had the Swedish crustpunk ambassadors Martyrdöd. Supposed to play the Main Stage earlier, it ended up as a logical and actually suitable move to place them on a smaller stage. As any substance that’s forced to fit into a smaller container, the energy had to escape somehow and that could only be resolved in the pit. Moshing, screaming, fisting the air, the audience gave everything they could to make them feel welcome. And speaking of welcome… Nails just don’t care what you think. What you feel. What you say. And you know why? Because «people talk shit». And they made dramatically clear they hate «people who talk shit” by dedicating almost every hateful song to them. And to people who left their gig. And to Converge – this time in a good, humbling way. It sure was hatred ad infinitum with “Scum Will Rise”, “I Will Not Follow” and “Tyrant” as bastions of what was, in our opinion, the best performance from the first day. ES
Can’t wrap my head around the fact that many people flipped through the third stage without catching on those dope fiend acts. Oh, well, I do, Deathwish Fest, that w-h-y. I do myself love someTrap Them and Converge, but having seen them a hundred times already, I was definitely glad to submerge my unevolved simian brain mass in Slabdragger’s weaponry. And, boy oh boy, they do have some uncheerful arsenal to assault you. With THC levels hitting dopethroning standards, my kitten-high smile was already noticeable from miles away. Holler to these cranky brits for serving me the perfect follow-up to Magrudergrind’s second stage nuke. Absolute nuke. Fukushima-style, mate, I could even see some Cold War’s soviet nuclear reactors melting in Tajikistan while mosh pitting my soft arse sack of bones to their short-fused anthems. The yanks presented a couple of new tracks, which will soon be out on theirRelapse’s debut, and the vocalist swagged out to the maximum his Triac shirt. I would steal it if I still was the same low-life wanker I was eight years ago. Oh, wait, I still am. GMC
And there we rushed into the second stage, running as fast as we could, to catch our American grindcore lords Pig Destroyer, afraid of what could happen to our souls if we missed their first of two gigs. It was everything we wished for and more: Scott Hull‘s deadpan, J.R. Hayes‘ angst and the almost clashing happiness/good-humour of Blake Harrison. We had “Book Burner” (a whole lot) as it’s their last full-length and “Prowler In The Yard” but what we all craved for was some fucking “Terrifyer” – and we got it. The venue almost burned to the ground when tracks like “Scarlet Hourglass” hit the audience, with people literally climbing the columns in the middle of the room and falling to their doom, elbowing their way back into the pit, into the maze of bodies reaching violently for the stage. ES
I was already mumbling indiscernible shit to a couple of unknown passing-by faces while Weedeater were warming-up their glorified amps. Just stupidly being a pain in the arse by loudly asking if Nine Inch Nails were already playing in the main stage. I GOTTA SEETRENT REZNOR. Eheh, I’m no fun when high. Precisely the opposite of Dixie, man. A funny old chap who gladly drinks anything but water and avoids wearing non-ripped t-shirts. Three smelly goofy looking fucks who are king of their own ground by just doing what they know best: translating dirty south into some of the grooviest metal around. You can’t mess with Dixie by the way, what a lovely fucking character he is. I wish I could master my crossed eye drunkenness as good as he does night in night out, loudly trashing that Sunn amp with “Goliathan” and “God Luck And Good Speed” both sounding immense. The latter watered my eyes… What an anthem. Let’s just replace “God Save The Queen” with it, shall we?
And, yeah, I didn’t see Converge for the 102nd time as I stayed for my very first Bongzilla gig. Let that sink, brother. I don’t expect your acceptance just in case. I’m hitting my thirties as we speak, I arrived in this island by myself with 22 looking for a wage and all I fucking had as companionship were my sludge//doom discography. From Grief to Iron Monkey. But Bongzilla… Bongzilla are my doped rock barristers, my late-afternoon misery soloists who happened to have the very same love as I did when younger: weed. We spent many hours together, me trying to understand John Barth’s novels while they were just being drugged out bastards sounding crispier and by all means much more remorselessly honest than similar acts. Stoned ballads like their version of “Champagne & Reefer” made my everyday actually livable and tolerable. So, to see those years gaining shape on stage for sixty minutes was my absolute and by all means personal highlight. It felt so good to be intoxicated, churning on hydrocodone and beer while punished by mountainous guitar leads and beasty grooves. Timeless. Ageless. GMC
To end this hell of a day nothing as a hell of a band: the almighty hardcore kings Converge. With countless “Jane Doe” merchandise observed throughout the day, we knew this was the band everyone was waiting for. And they proved it. Girls crying in the front row, guys smashing their heads into the grills, chaos everywhere. On stage, Jacob was proving why he’s considered one of the best frontmen in extreme music, Kurt Ballou being the genius he is andNate shredding that bass. It all started with Kurt presenting us with the magical minute-long solo intro for “Plagues” as the band slowly entered the stage. Then it was the usual “No Heroes”, “You Fail Me”, “Axe To Fall”, “All We Love We Leave Behind”… and of course, the cult-worth “Jane Doe”. Reserved for last, as any gourmet meal, we had “Concubine”, “The Broken Vow” and “Bitter And Then Some”, finishing with the everything but sweet “Last Light”.