Badgerfest 2021: Day 2
The Bread Shed, Manchester
Friday 15th October 2021
Review By Rob Sutton
Photography by Sheri Bicheno
Day 2 was here and it was time to head back to the Bread Shed, filled up with Maccies, to try and relieve the fuzzy head from the night before! Day 2, was the first day proper, where things really kicked off – 14 bands over 2 stages, and I decided that today would definitely require stamina!
Aside from a Maccies, a great way to get rid of a hangover is Telford based Metalcore heavyweights, Recall the Remains. These guys kicked the day off in perfect fashion with some old school metalcore. They use a fantastic blend of brutality and melody, not only in the guitars, but also vocally. The clean vocals provided by the guitarist are beautiful and look effortless as he sings and riffs simultaneously, backed by the familiar growls and screams from the lead vocalist. These guys have the genre covered to a tee, adding breakdowns which aren’t just chugs, and are refreshing from the majority of metalcore out these days. They had energy in abundance and a fantastic chemistry between the members on stage, this all led to them being marked as one of the bands of the festival and setting the benchmark for everyone else exceptionally high!
Over to the second stage, and I will point out that it isn’t the biggest of stages and has a massive pillar in the middle, so probably isn’t the easiest stage to perform on. Opening this stage were Manchester based Metal/Rock band, Ashen Reach. These guys I have heard of before, but never actually had the chance to watch them. They don’t disappoint, as again they’re full of energy, and cleared up what was left of the hangover. Ashen Reach also utilise multiple vocalists, but using a singing style, as opposed to growls (although there were a couple of cheeky screams here and there). The harmonies were impressive and make your hairs stand on end, there was a lot of the rock influenced ‘oos’ which I think were perhaps a little overused within the set, but don’t let that take away from their phenomenal performance. Not only are they musically very engaging, but they really pump the crowd up and get them all singing along. A great way to open the second stage but I was left confused as to why the vocalist disappeared off stage for a whole section of a song?
From the upbeat of the second stage, to the eerie and horror themed antics of The Injester. These guys certainly brought something different to the festival, all wearing masks, covered in blood and with some creepy sounding keys in the background. Sadly this didn’t work for me, there was a lot less punch compared to the previous 2 bands, and it felt a little bit cobbled together and all over the place. This maybe the style they are going for, but it didn’t do anything for me, although it was an interesting watch.
Callus is another band that I have heard a lot about but never actually seen. They brought their Stoner Metal to the second stage, with some absolutely belting riffs which got not only mine, but many heads in the crowd nodding. It’s much slower pace than the previous bands, but this is a welcomed change to the day. They performed a tight solid set, and I would certainly recommend to anyone who enjoys this genre.
Today seemed to be a lot slower pace than Friday’s brutality. And to this end, back on the main stage were Netherhall. They brought a much calmer performance to the day, and while the crowd look to struggle to fully engage with their take on Progressive Metal, I personally enjoyed it. I loved the weird beats and the tone these guys have, not to mention the almost Tesseract style voice that overlays. While metal is mainly headbanging and mosh pits, I found myself closing my eyes and losing myself completely in the music. There was minimal crowd interaction here which is possibly why they didn’t seem to get much engagement back, I think the set is just about the music and it is simply gorgeous to listen to!
Sadly, with only 5 minutes between bands, there was always going to be the odd band I missed. From what I very briefly heard from Everest Queen, they sounded solid, but I can’t say much more, as I missed a lot of their set.
A few weeks ago, I travelled up to Wolverhampton to watch Black Tongue, and supporting them was our next band, Ashen Crown. At that gig they didn’t quite fit the theme of the night, so didn’t end up with the reaction they deserved. No such problems for them this afternoon, as they drew the biggest crowd of the whole weekend, honestly you could barely move or even get in! This is what Ashen Crown is about, fast music, lots of pits, and heads banging! This set was crushing and even with some sound issues at the beginning, they pressed on with absolute precision and professionalism. They may have played the Sophie stage at Bloodstock this year, but after such domination of a stage, they are well on track to be headlining festivals like this, and easily becoming top of their genre! This was simply incredible and by far the best I’ve seen them play!
Throughout the last few months, we have gotten used to band members having to miss gigs, but what has been fantastic to see is they way bands have adapted to the unusual circumstances. Ascaris were a drummer down, and using, as they described, the most expensive drummer – a laptop. I will say their drummer was beautifully in time! In fairness the remaining 2 were also both extremely tight. They bring a brutal mix of Black and Death Metal, without using the cheesy corpse paint or hail Satan phrase. These guys play fast, and their hands are blurs on the fret boards. It was a solid performance. If you like your Blackened Death Metal fast, relentless and incredibly polite, Ascaris have you covered!
Back for some more Stoner Metal next. As I’ve said, it isn’t my genre of choice, but King Goat brought another brilliant performance, all while allowing the smell of incense to fill the room. It was slow, great riffs, all performed fantastically. Again, I would recommend checking them out if this is your style.
Next, and from across the border, was Godeater! I first heard about these guys when I saw them announced for Bloodstock. They were heavy then, and they were even heavier here! These Glaswegians have so much energy I’m not sure how they got through the set. Not one of them stopped moving for the full half hour, apart from the drummer because well… drummer! There is so much weight to their take on Deathcore, and they were by far the heaviest band of the day so far, and the pits show that! They were in full swing and mighty at that.
Their tasteful use of samples adds just a little bit more to their overall sound and made them sound huge! It’s always a risk as a vocalist to go into a pit, more so if the mic is wired, but here he did (someone give this guy a wireless mic, as I’m pretty sure a few people tripped up). What impressed me about this was even though he was in the pit, he continued to deliver flawless vocals and this is all while being bashed from pillar to post! The only thing that let them down was the slightly flat cleans, but they did again add another layer, and along with the samples, really stand these guys out in the Deathcore scene. Honestly, these guys are a band to watch in the future, they’re brutally heavy, full of energy and perform to an exceptionally high standard. Godeater are the full package!
Continuing the theme of heavy were Blood Oath, and with their blood-soaked attire, I was expecting a strong Black Metal influence here. But I was wrong. What we were met with was a concoction of many extreme genres, predominantly Death Metal, and yes there was plenty to headbang to here. I don’t think there was a single head still in the crowd for these guys, as they drew one of the bigger crowds for the second stage. We were also blessed with some new material and boy does it sound HUGE. I really am excited to go and watch this when it’s released. Blood Oath are insanely tight, have some soaring riffs and solos, with some machine gun-esque drums, all with vocal styles from a catalogue of genres, did I hear a bree? These guys were fantastic, and for me my favourite of the second stage, and my find of the day!
For many years my friends have been banging on about Red Method and how I really need to see them, well, now I have! All dressed in red, rather appropriately, they bring a mix of Nu-Metal and Djent, with a sound resembling that of old school Slipknot, albeit on ironing boards (8 string guitars). They performed with sheer aggression and passion; they are in your face heavy! I loved the addition of the keys and samples all played live, and not on backing tracks, though I was amazed the keyboard remained in one piece after seeing what AVD (keys) did to them when he was in The Defiled. One thing I love about watching heavy bands do breakdowns is all the members headbanging in sync, Red Method pulled this off fantastically and got the whole room bowing! While the cleans aren’t the best in the world, they were clear enough to get half the crowd singing along, and this was the first time I’d properly seen this crowd sing. Red Method sound so heavy that no amount of gym time would be able to pick them up, they have a new fan, and I can’t wait to see them again.
More Sludgy music from the second stage was next, with King Witch. This Stoner band is fronted by a lady, and her voice is beautiful, almost like a Siren soaring over the down tuned heaviness provided by the guitars and bass. Again, it’s not my genre of choice, and does mean I can’t say too much on them, but they felt a bit different and they were enjoyable.
So, onto our headliners and they come with a serious reputation behind them. They have opened the main stage at Bloodstock a few years ago where a very, very hungover Rob attempted to stand and watch them but instead fell into a heap on the floor. Luckily, no such issues today though I am kicking myself for not watching them fully at Bloodstock… Krysthla destroyed it here! They are filled with incredible riffs that had me windmilling away, and pretending I had the faintest idea how to play guitar. Added to that were some incredibly consistent growls, and some nice cleans in the mix, too! They remind me of Divine Heresy, a band I used to absolutely love! There were blast beats, rapid guitars; just everything about this set was on point and tight. I’m not normally a person who ends up raving about a headliner but in this case they are by far one of the best headliners I have seen at a festival. I was left in awe, is there anything these guys don’t have? Massive pits? Check. Crowd surfing? Check. Taking Rob’s money as he heads to the merch table? Check. What a band, what a show and what a way to end day 2!
I learnt a few things today, I can smoke a cigarette in less than 5 minutes, the quality of the bands at this festival is insane, and that I either needed to have taken someone who knows about Stoner bands, or learn more about the genre myself! Nevertheless day 2 was insane!
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rob Sutton and Ever Metal. All photographic images the property of Sheri Bicheno. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.