Ghostfest 2011: Day Two Review

With the first day of Ghostfest 2011 over and another ear-splitting number of hours ready for the off, AltSounds gingerly made the same walk to Leeds University as the day before, albeit with a slightly heavier head and pounding skull. One heir of the dog later, however and were ready to witness yet another stream of hard-hitting bands, tear up the Monster and Honour Over Glory stages.

After such a high standard being set by the bands from the day before, Ghostfest’s second round of artists, needed to be special to beat their predecessors efforts and with more exciting acts set for day number two’s of the festival, AltSounds headed for another day of heavy music and even heavier drinking.

Our first perusal of the day comes in the form ofAgainst The Flood, a metalcore act from our capital city. With a rather poor showing in front of them and only a few mouths moving, the five Londoners on stage seem to be fighting a losing battle. Lead vocalist Matt Church’s attempts throughout the gig to rouse the diminished crowd in front, fall mostly on deaf ears and their technically adequate but not very original style of metal-core is greeted with a few claps but not many cheers.

In hopes of finding something a little more exciting, we wander off to the Honour Over Glory stage to find an actual throng of human life. All eyes are pointed to the stage, where Basement are kicking off their set. Compared to 99% of the acts here this weekend, Basement’s sound is not a soundtrack to violence or pain, but instead their music is quite harmonious but with grizzly vocals, which give their songs a certain edge. It’s a welcome change and the people who have gathered to witness this new shift to more melodious regions; all seem pleased that they have. A bit of crowd surfing there, some people bouncing here and sure enough the men on stage seem visibly pleased with the warm reception they have been afforded, which is thoroughly deserved.

Nextup on the HOG stage is  Heart In Hand, who like the act before them have a more dulcet twist in their tale, except these Southern boys combine this with hard-core screams and slaughtering breakdowns. Having never heard of them before today, AltSounds is more than impressed with the live explorations of their material and looking around, the crowd in this fairly small room are impressed too. At the front, dedicated fans are can be seen each throwing their fists and bodies into the air, crashing into each other like human dodgems and when lead vocalist Charlie Holmes climbs onto the fixtures and launches himself into fans below, they pounce on him like a lion attacking their prey.

Over to the Monster Stage, where festival favourites TRC are gearing up for their second appearance in two years and as expected, they have gathered the biggest crowd of the day so far, all of which are ready to hear their unique blend of hard-core rhythms and UK hip-hop musings. Their welcome onslaught of fast tongue action entwined with heavy beats and screeching vocals, is honestly not for everyone but for the people gathered in this room today, it would appear it is most certainly for them. As soon as the gig begins, out cracks the circle pit and a sea of mismatched figures and extendable limbs begin their onslaught of each other.

Back on the stage, it’s clear that this band is a well-oiled machine when it comes to live performances and today’s gig is no different. Tightly played and vocally excellent, it’s the confident and sometimes cocky manner of vocalist Chris Robson that keeps the crowd entertained between songs, often making them laugh and cheer in equal measure. When music is being made however, it’s the likes of “Go Hard Or Go Home” and “H.A.T.E.R.S” that get the biggest reactions of the day, although for the full 30 minute set, TRC have the crowd eating out of the palm of their very sweaty but very gifted hands.

With a hard act to follow and a crowd pumped to the rafters, our next act After The Burial, have a job on their hands. Thankfully, these American metallers are more than capable of whipping up a storm or two and from the word go they unleash their barrage of sound upon the excitable audience, with venomous charm and lethal precision. Technically, After The Burial are one of the best bands of the festival with their speedy riffs, bludgeoning drums and punishing vocals, which all combine to create music that sounds more like metal and less like pose. It’s brutal yet enchanting stuff and throughout the gig the faces below bellow the words back to the men above and bang their heads in unified appreciation for another brilliant set, from another great Ghostfest addition.

Bleed From Within are the next act to grace the Monster Stage and once again AltSounds are confronted by a musically brilliant outfit. Monstrous riffs ensue almost immediately and their melodic death metal is much grander than you would expect, from what at first appears to be a bunch of skinny, longhaired lads and their instruments. However, to say the music is so epic, the singing or screaming emitting from their chief vocalist does seem a little out of place here in a live setting, even though it does seem to suit them, when listening to their records. Even so, this is a not a sentiment that has either registered or seems to bother the inhabitants of the Monster Stage, as they once again act like chanting, barbaric savages for the entirety of Bleed From Within’s thunderous performance.

With two acts gracing the ten-o-clock spot tonight, AltSounds has opted for six of one and half a dozen of the other. Firstly we decide that a trip to the Honour Over Glory stage is needed, a move that turns out to be quite shrewd on our part, as it soon transpires that headliners, Deez Nuts, are only playing a half hour set anyway. With a name like Deez Nuts, its safe to say that some people may not take this fun-loving Australians seriously, by-passing their rap come hard-core sound for more stern pastures. In doing this however, these people are missing out on one of the most infectiously fun live bands currently on the hard-core circuit.

Leaping on stage to Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” and crashing into a rousing version of “Like There’s No Tomorrow”, Deez Nuts presence instantly signals carnage. Relentless crowd-surfing, people jumping from the rooms fixtures and members of the crowd trying to clamber to the figures on stage, are all fixtures throughout the gig, much to the stewards annoyance and the bands amusement. Chanting, bouncing and an air of general merriment also surrounds the Honour Over Glory stage, as Deez Nuts whip their followers into a chaotic frenzy. A surprisingly gifted outfit, Deez Nuts are also a charismatic force that you can’t help but be drawn too liking. One critiscm of this short-lived event however has to made but it is only that it unfortunately had to end, as everyone in the room, AltSounds included, seems only too happy to listen to our international friends, play their music to our ears, all night long.

With some disappointment still hovering slightly over us that Deez Nuts won’t be joining us again tonight, we make our way to the Monster stage to see Ghostfest’s final act of the year, Suicide Silence, bring the festival to a regrettable end. After being showered with praise from the many of the British presses most read music magazines following the release of their debut effort, “The Cleansing”, Mitch Lucker and co have, in the past few years, become heavy-hitters in the death/metal-core world, gaining a ever-growing list of followers and admirers, many of which seem to be here tonight in Leeds.

After looking down and witnessing a rather large gaggle of moshing individuals, seeming to be having the time of their lives, its safe to say that Suicide Silence’s very poignant death-core is going down an absolute treat, but for this AltSounds reviewer, listening to Lucker’s extreme screaming and the bands repetitive sound, is more than just a little annoying. With a very hefty number of people gathered here at Monster stage, revelling in their favourite bands performance, its obvious that this opinion is not a popular one and the decision to make these Californian genre heavyweights, a Ghostfest 2011 headliner, is.

As the inevitable encore approaches, the faces around all seemed pleased with what they have witnessed thus far and as Suicide Silence come back on stage, their set of drooling fans get ready for one last bash at injuring their fellow comrades and taking on the impossible task of actually singing along. Finally, the end note comes to a booming end and Suicide Silence go off to all round applause and glowing smiles…at least for the most part.So another year gone and yet another successful Ghostfest passes by, making many wish that Back To The Future was in fact real and that Doc’s time machine was on its ways to their homes, ready to transport them to Ghostfest 2012. For now however we must say Bon Voyage to Ghostfest. Yet again, its been a pleasure.

Original article first appeared on Altsounds website on 24/08/11