Mammothfest 2017 – Saturday
Date: 7th October 2017
Venue: The Arch, Brighton
With each successive year Mammothfest pushes its boundaries and evolves beyond all expectations, this year has been its biggest yet. With some of the most revered names in metal on offer, Saturday’s extreme metal date was a salivating prospect. Not only were we treated to the monumentally theatrical Fleshgod Apocalypse, we were also treated to the similarly spectacular Akercoke and their boundary pushing brand of extremity. Dragged into Sunlight provide a devastatingly crushing set and Abhorrent Decimation provide an excellent display of death metal proficiency under less than ideal circumstances.
With the warmth and sense of community that exudes from every part of this great festival, it’s not hard to see why it’s one of the fastest growing metal events in the country.
Fresh from supporting the grindcore institution that is Napalm Death, Kill All The Gentleman treat the thin crowd to some melodically modern, Machine Head inspired metal. With the group poking fun at the reserved nature of opening bands audiences, they ask the crowd to fold their arms in an ‘indifference pit’. Clearly a well oiled group, Kill All The Gentleman are seemingly ones to watch.
Bleed Again and Death Remains waved the flag for hardcore at this extreme metal themed show with some decent crowd participation as Bleed Again’s bassist runs into the audience, bringing the show to the fence sitters. With some decent riffs and great hooks, both bands put forth a satisfying spectacle in their own rite; particularly Bleed Again whose post hardcore tinged chorus’s captivate the growing crowd with tracks like ‘Icarus’ shaking off the early afternoon hangovers.
With traffic disruptions limiting their set to just three or four songs, Abhorrent Decimation continued to show why they deserve their many critical plaudits. The powerful bellows of frontman Ashley Scott dominate the room, as he commands the crowd to ‘Kneel Before The Fields Of Gold’, whipping the audience into a frenzy as the bludgeoning unit start the day’s first real mosh pit. With a big turnout to see one of UK death metals brightest starlets, Abhorrent Decimation do more than enough to showcase their proficient brand of extremity.
Founder and figurehead of Mammothfest’s former band, Meta–Stasis provided a strong performance of grinding 90’s tinged metal in the vein of the rawest periods of Slipknot and Mudvayne. A crushing set that was comfortably fronted by vocalist Solomon.J.Lucifer.Christ with a performance worthy of his Cannibal Corpse shirt. Favourably received by the horde packed inside the increasingly claustrophobic club, like their predecessors they are no strangers to this event and look right at home with this great performance.
By the time Lawnmower Deth take to the stage the crowd are well and truly in party mode. Their legendary brand of pub grindcore has made them cult heroes amongst the heavy metal faithful that are packed into the sweltering club. With great song titles like ‘Did You Spill My Pint’ and ‘Egg Sandwich’ it’s hard not to be swept up by their idiotic lunacy. They also boast some strong metal credentials with their thrashing number ‘Urban Surfer 125’ providing the substance to the parodying nature of their music. Ending with their classic ‘Kids In America’ cover, the nonsensical veterans almost stole the day as a whole with their hilarious set.
The much revered Akercoke play a bewilderingly eclectic show that has fans stroking chins rather than throwing elbows. Playing songs from their comeback album ‘Renaissance in Extremis’ the bands niche sound captivates the crowd with the insanely complex musical interplay on show. Their set seemed to end just as they get going however, a band as intricate as this need more time to truly get their bizarre splicing of differing sonic elements across to their audience. ‘First to Leave the Funeral’ provided a feast of progressive displaced riffage, with its bedazzling solo’s and theatrical vocals, it’s hard not to be impressed. A band that in all honesty would suit a home crowd far more, Akercoke started our trio of legendary metal titans capably.
More of a sensory experience than a rock show, Dragged into Sunlight transfixed the room into a hellish dimension. The burning candles, goat remains and overpowering smoke embodied the ritualistic atmosphere of their earth shattering music. The nonchalant way in which they deliver this art is striking, turned away from the crowd the band are igneous in every facet of their live show. It’s hard to decipher just what is going on at points during the chaotic maelstrom of hideous noise, this is pure hatred. It’s a show that will drain you with its constant deafening volume cutting any thought patterns one might have. Not for the faint of heart, perhaps not even for many veteran extreme metal fans, this is as brutal as it gets.
Dressed as though Bach, Pachelbel and Amadeus had just clawed out from the earth and had started to really dig Marilyn Manson, Fleshgod Apocalypse put forth a show of epic proportions. From the word go everyone was on board, like Dragged Into Sunlight before them, Fleshgod came to obliterate the fired up crowd. With newly crowned frontman and former drummer ‘Francesco Paoli’ taking the reigns, the Italians can do no wrong as they play choice cuts from the career defining ‘King’ record. With riffs that could match Gojira at points for pure hypnotic assault, tracks like ‘Healing Through War‘ and ‘The Violation‘ tore a hole through the floor of the tightly packed club as the legions of bangers willingly throw themselves at one an other at the command of the mischievous returning Paoli. From start to finish they are phenomenal and befitting of the headliner status.
The depth of quality throughout this line up is a promising sign for this grass roots festivals future. With trailblazing leader Steve Dickinson’s promise to use the money made from this years festival to make next years even bigger, one can only imagine the strength of 2018’s line up. Nestled away from any real competition from the summers mega festivals, Mammothfest provides a boutique metal experience that any self respecting metal head cannot afford to miss out on.
words my Michael Deas
Other Highlights of Mammothfest
As Michael covered the whole of the main festival on Saturday, Makky was also around for the weekend but doing full coverage for another magazine (traitor!). Here are some of his highlights of the weekend though.
I’ll start with my favourite set of Mammothfest, Confronted. It was energetic, ‘in your face’ and all out frantic; frontman Ryan Hull was like a rabid animal running around the room. He dragged floor toms around in the crowd, went outside the venue to play to the public and shouted “MAMMOTHFEST, BITCHES” at passers by. Musically it was full frontal crossover hardcore, all out aggression and the behaviour from the band matched it. If you want a chaotic set, then Confronted are the lads to check out; full on entertaining to watch.
The most impressive band of Mammothfest musically was Core of iO. They were incredibly intricate, flaunting fantastic fretwork and mindblowing drum patterns. The progressive rock band showed an array of twisted time-signatures, interesting winding rhythms and some powerful singing. We were treated to new material, in which the Brighton/Worthing lads performed tracks from their yet to be released EP, ‘Part 2: Europa’. It was a fantastic set to see, I will always be blown away by the technical prowess of this band.
If The Arch was great for one thing, it was to highlight the growth of Mammothfest. The venue was jam packed and the above image from Rotting Christ‘s set just proves that. It was fantastic to see the room so full with over 400 people in the venue. Those numbers don’t seem that high when you compare to a lot of festivals, but remember this is a dramatic size improvement on the venues used for Mammothfest last year, which included the likes of Prince Albert and Green Door store, both incredibly intimate.
The funnest part of a festival that was dominated by evil music was Saturday’s VIP party, which saw sets from Aussies, Lagerstein and Portsmouth party metallers Seething Akira. Overall it was just a joyful atmosphere to be in, Lagerstein with their joyful folk metal and happy antics (so much drinking involved), then with the high energy, intense EDM-infused metal from Seething Akira that had people rocking out until 1:30am. While it was late and not many people stuck around, those that did had a great time.
My overall verdict was that Mammothfest was a great weekend, on par with last year for sure in terms of enjoyability. In size, it’s amazing to see a festival that only three years ago was just a two day event with the likes of Martyr Defiled and Savage Messiah headlining the Green Door Store is now making some real waves in UK metal. We are eager to see what acts will be selected for next year.
Words by Makky Hall