Mammothfest 2016 – Day 1
The Haunt, Brighton
Friday 30th September
Here we are in our second year of attending Mammothfest, Brighton’s only metal festival, held in several venues across the weekend. Unlike last year which had a small kick-off show featuring four bands, Mammothfest had two venues running simultaneously this year. The black metal stage up at the Green Door Store and the tech metal stage down at The Haunt.
Out of the two, Tech is more my thing and the acts on the bill were far more of a drawing factor. We were all hit with some bad news from the start, though. Heart of a Coward sadly had to pull out due to vans breaking down, meaning a performance at Mammothfest and at Euroblast in Germany the following day was just not possible. This is not the headache the organisers would have wanted but they cracked on because there was still a show to put on.
Nottingham metallers, The Five Hundred kicked things off at The Haunt, performing at Mammothfest for the second year running. The quartet opened with ‘Winters’, delivering vicious sounding riffs and monstrous double pedal beats that hit your chest hard. At the same time, vocalist John Eley unleashed a mixture of high pitched screams and deep growls.
As expected the crowd was a bit timid to start off with, not much action, just a collection of people towards the front happy to bang their heads. Calls from Eley for everyone to create carnage took a couple of songs to come to fruition, and even then it was just for a short time, to begin with.
Adrenaline started to flow and during the last song, the frontman suggested that the first person to come on stage with a bloody nose could have a free t-shirt. Instantly that ignited some real chaos towards the front as metalheads ran into each other to create a brutal atmosphere. It’s just a shame there wasn’t more of this reaction throughout the set. In comparison to the previous year, The Five Hundred kicked ass in a tremendous way and they were a brilliant first act to see over the weekend.
Krysthla followed by providing a dark and eerie atmosphere; white lights flashed on stage, in time with their opening deep and heavy riffs as creepy melodies seeped over them. Before ‘Minority of One’ kicked in, frontman Adi Mayes asked everyone in the crowd to stick their middle fingers in the air and to shout “Fuck You” loudly. The pace of the music onstage intensely picked up and the energy in the room increased; a few punters at the front were windmilling their hair to the onslaught of riffs thrown at them.
Throughout the set, we were treated to a mixture of brutal chugging riffs and technical fretwork to melt our brains. At certain points, you didn’t know whether you wanted to kick somebodies ass or just stand back and take in the awesome musicianship. It was enough to make the vast majority of crowd members bang their heads and dance around.
Luckily for Krysthla, during the more erratic stages, a few pits opened, with chaotic scenes towards the front to matched the chaotic sounds that erupted from the stage.It was another great set which received a brilliant response from the crowd, lots of cheers and devil horns in the air.
Despite the disappointment that Heart of a Coward couldn’t be at the show, there was a noticeable mass of excitement still in the room for Dutch tech metallers Textures to end the night on a high note. The band dragged out their entrance, tension building atmospherics flooded the venue before the musicians of Textures took to the stage to perform a progressive but heavy instrumental piece.
Soon frontman Daniël de Jongh joined his bandmates on stage to provide his monstrous voice. Having released ‘Phenotype’, their first album in five years back in February, it was no surprise that the set would feature material from that release early on. Textures unveiled ‘New Horizons’ as one of the singles from that album, which went down phenomenally as fans gang shouted the words “Something, some way, somehow”; it was the first time all evening that fans reacted this strongly.
In the middle of the set, most of the band left the stage, leaving keyboardist Uri Dijk to wow us with a melodic solo; it was a nice break from the barrage of huge riffs and machine gun-like beats. Shortly after, the band had everyone in the room clapping along to awesome shreds once the rest of the members returned to the stage. Interaction like this was one of the highlights of the set; watching everyone get involved, cheering and shouting along was almost as awesome as the technical wizardry on show.
The occasional pits opened early for the faster segments, though the chaos fluctuated throughout the strongly progressive set. A song such as ‘Awake’ had it’s heavier moments, but fans were happy just to take a step back and enjoy the epic atmosphere on show – though ‘Lament of the Icarus’ had the ferocity that was too awesome to not lose your shit to. The song dynamics were well mixed to make sure the crowd didn’t burn out too early.
There may have been a hiccup of one less band to watch, but it felt like the night was a success, and it was highly enjoyable. Heart of a Coward not turning up didn’t kill the positive atmosphere. Everywhere you looked, people were enjoying themselves and were engrossed by the bands that could play. I also heard that the Black Metal stage up at the Green Door Store was a huge success and that it was rammed for the majority of the evening. I don’t think the organisers behind Mammothfest could have asked for a better start.