Ghostfest 2011 – Day One Review

When a dozen or more people tell you, “I don’t know any of the bands, I’ve just come for the atmosphere”, that’s when you know that the festival your at is doing something right. Especially, when you take into consideration that many of these individuals have travelled from all over the country, some even as far as sunny Scotland, just for the ‘atmosphere’. The festival these tattoo-sporting beauties are talking about is Ghostfest, a two-day hard-core and metal, music extravaganza, hosted by Leeds University. Last year’s event saw the Gallows rip up the main stage and damage a few listeners’ ears for good, as well as sharing the venue with a bucket load of talented acts and face-melting sets. The memory of 2010 was always going to be a hard one to follow, but with its reputation growing steadily stronger and the sold-out status of its tickets, Ghostfest 2011 needn’t of worried for too long.

First on the day’s menu is the Monster Stage where we are greeted with Annotations Of An Autopsy (AOAA). Looking like a pack of Vikings with instruments, this hard-hitting, UK five-piece’s death metal roar is just about in full swing when AltSounds arrive and it provides the perfect wake-up call for our so far, untainted ears. Sounding much heavier than a band so far down on this bill should, Annotations Of An Autopsy have gathered a very large crowd on the Monster stage and its no surprise, as their blistering set of bludgeoning metal is fantastically played and equally, well received.

Next it’s over to the Honour Over Glory stage where Heart Of A Coward are ready to bring their brand of metal-core to Ghostfest. With a new singer in Jamie Graham (ex-Sylosis) and a cluster of melodic harmonies intertwining with blaring grooves, Heart Of A Coward’s set is a very pleasing to the ear. The front members of the audience seemingly agree with this sentiment, as they bounce along with Graham’s every word. The rest of the room doesn’t appear quite as animated but the many smiles and whispers of approval suggest Heart Of A Coward may won over a few friends here in Yorkshire.

A pacey walk later and AltSounds are back to where it began, albeit with a different act to peruse. Forming in 2005, Viatrophy have gathered more than a few followers in their wake since their inception and it was too them that they announced just last year the sad news of their split. However, having reunited in early 2011, this Reading five-piece are here and ready to treat Leeds to a special one-off show before they retreat into the abyss and leave the music world behind for good. After being greeted by a throng of adoring fans, who have obviously not forgotten their beloved band, Viatrophy smash into their catalogue of technically brilliant death metal or ‘death-core’ as some might suggest. Live, their instrumental brilliance is very apparent and from the front to the back, Viatrophy execute their set brilliantly to a singing, springing and obviously happy, crowd in front. When vocalist Adam Mayes announces, “This will be our last show in England” however, the faces below drop for the first time and a horde of boos are thrown at the stage. Still, they quickly recover as the music starts again and for the rest of the bands time in England, not a single ‘boo’ is issued in their direction.

After a lovely stick of lung disease and plastic cup of liver failure, its time to head back to the Monster stage where Bury Tomorrow are due to play. Whilst they do have a sound that could be called ‘tame’ compared to many of the other acts on this year’s GHOSTFEST bill, Bury Tomorrow have become increasingly popular in many metal-core circles. However, having seen this 5-piece before at this year’s Slam Dunk festival, personally this AltSounds reviewer does feel that their sound is just not distinctive enough to decipher between the hundreds of other bands stepping in the same, slightly softer, metal-core direction. Some people may disagree and here at Ghostfest there are visible signs to suggest that Bury Tomorrow do have a many fans in their wake and whilst their material may not be to everyone’s taste, there is no question that Winter-Bates’s band of merry men can play their instruments and their songs are executed in a very professional albeit slightly muted way.

As the end of day one looms even nearer, its time to for just two more bands to attempt to grab our attention. The first and penultimate band of the day comes in the form of Brighton hard-core punk rockers, Your Demise. Just like the band before them, they aren’t the heaviest of outfits to grace the Monster Stage, but they are defiantly one of the most eager and most energetic, a fact epitomised in lead singer Ed McRae, who bounds around for the duration of their set, like a new puppy on speed. Musically, the boys are talented bunch and their particular specimen of hard-core punk come metal-core, is an enticing and thoroughly enjoyable one to witness. The reception inside Leeds University indicates that AltSounds is not the only one enjoying this animated five-piece and as the thunderous applause around the venue signals the end of Your Demise’s time with us, it’s a wonder the roof doesn’t crush us all.

It’s a day that nobody seems to want to end but unfortunately all good things must come to a close. Taking us into the final round of this pretty awesome day is Bury Your Dead, a brutally, heavy hitting monster of a band from across the pond. Out of all the acts today, it’s these boys who defiantly have the most hardcore about them, yet they still manage to stick some groove-laden riffs and actual singing in amongst their punishing beats and snarls. These different aspects of music manage fuse together in perfect harmony, creating a brilliantly formed array of music, which both live and at home, is fantastic to listen too.

Here at Ghostfest, Bury Your Dead are in top form and the best indicator of just how massively brilliant this band are today, is displayed down below, in the packed out mosh-pit, where for the first time since this year’s festival began, people are actually moshing. Gone are the days of unhinged arm waving and back are the days of punishing smashes and colliding bodies. Failed attempts at human pyramids are made and instead people are used as human spring-boards for budding crowd surfers and at least one wall of death is put into practice. It’s all very ruthless and when original vocalist Mat Bruso leaps into the front of the crowd early on, it’s surprising that he comes back up in one piece.

To end Ghostfest’s first day at all, is a shame, but to end on such an excellently crushing performance does make the pain of the day finishing a little bit better. Bury Your Dead, may have been the best band of the day, but with one day to go will they be the best band of the weekend? Only time will tell…

Original article first appeared on Altsounds website on 05/08/11