Badgerfest 2021: Day 3
The Bread Shed, Manchester
Sunday 17th October 2021
Review By Rob Sutton
Photography by Sheri Bicheno
Day 3 was upon us and, again, I was filled up on Maccies and ready for another day of metal! Somehow, I had no hangover, but I was sure this will change come Monday morning. Sunday’s line up had many bands I was looking forward to so let’s get on with it.
First up, and with a big reputation building behind them, was Manchester based thrash metal trio, Tortured Demon. The first thing I will say is, yes, they are very young. Now that’s out of the way let’s get onto their performance! Things started with an intro which for me was way too similar to that of Trivium’s Ascendency. I noticed this at Bloodstock, too, and I feel they could come up with something a bit different as it did make me cringe a little. Aside from that they hit the stage full of confidence and energy which was quickly picked up by the large crowd that stood before them. Already we had pits and it was only 12:15! While they do a lot of crowd interaction between songs and keep the hype going, for me there is a little bit too much swearing. Now you may call me a prude, and I know every band swears on stage and it does show passion. But it seems like every second word was the f-word… Having said this though these guys really feel like the future of thrash. Its ballsy, heavy, and has plenty to bang your head to. They have a bright future ahead of them!
The heavy, in-your-face theme continued over on the second stage next, as Edinburgh based bruisers Iron Altar hit it, guns blazing. They picked up where Tortured Demon left off, and gave the crowd a good old pummelling again! These guys are the very definition of heavy! So many thumping beats to bang your head to or even start a pit, yes pits were still a thing, even this early on. As previously mentioned, the second stage is not the biggest, and Iron Altar’s vocalist came up with an ingenious solution to create more space… don’t be on the stage! This worked as it gave a much more intimate feel to their show, and him fully interacting with the crowd while performing was really a pleasure to watch. These guys were definitely another one of my finds of the weekend!
The Manchester Metalcore scene is booming these days, and each of the bands within it brings their own take on the genre. Clashmute have gone down the Parkway Drive style, and while this isn’t my favourite style of Metalcore, Clashmute came out with yet more energy to add to an already hyperactive early afternoon. I have seen these guys a few times, but they never really hit the spot for me, however today, they did! They are tight and bouncy; all of this led to yet more pits, and a crowd well and truly on their feet. Their whole sound just felt so much more together than I have previously heard and I loved every moment of it. Sometimes the pauses within the songs are a little too long but they were normally followed by a fantastic breakdown. Clashmute have a good name and following behind them and this was the performance I felt like I needed to see to get on board.
Many years ago, I entered Metal 2 The Masses in Liverpool, and played with some unbelievably good bands. So much so, that I have been following one of them since that day, and even got them on a festival in my hometown. I’m talking about Scare Tactics (or Scary Tic-Tacs as people were calling them). While it seems since that first show they have mellowed out over time, they’re music is so much better now. We heard fantastic dual guitar solos, stunning vocal harmonies, and a humble front man keeping us all entertained. What was fantastic to see was the number of people singing along to these guys, and not only that, but joining in with their chants, too. They felt like the audience’s band of the weekend, fully engaging and everyone participating, I mean who doesn’t want to sing along to ‘Drunk Fuck’? If you want to see musicians show off their brilliant skills, have a sing along, and get a massive smile on your face, Scare Tactics are the band for you.
Today had already been relentless, in terms of top quality bands, and taking to the main stage next was Tech/Death heavyweights, Beyond Grace. These guys are a band I have never heard or seen before, so this was a complete unknown, but boy was I in for a treat! We were blessed with some beautifully crafted Tech/Death which reminded me of the likes of Virvum and Beyond Creation. Beyond Grace are stunningly tight, and it’s just mesmerising to watch their talent on stage, especially the bass player. It was simply incredible to watch the riffs and styles he was doing. So often the bassist is the forgotten member of a band, but this guy stood out. I’ll be honest, I loved this. While they didn’t have the biggest crowd, reaction, or pits, I walked away with a smile on my face over to their merch table, and to me that’s all that matters.
So after Beyond Grace I got collared by Moshville Times to do an interview, thanks to Anthony Timmis. This meant I missed all of Vice. Luckily Anthony did see them and was kind enough to send me his thoughts on them:
For years I had known Vice as a 4 piece, and this was the first time I seen them as a 3 piece, which they have stuck to going forwards. They started off their set with the ‘Wrath’, the first track off their debut album “First Chapter”. This involved plenty of heading banging and hair swirling from guitarist and lead vocalist, Tom Atkinson, and Bassist and backing vocals, Aiden Lord. Even drummer, Conner Summers, gave it some hair swirling like the little mad drummer boy he is. Being a 3 piece really has made no difference to their sound. The vocals where spot on and brutal during the new, and old songs, especially from the Bassist. I Really enjoyed this set and I have really missed this band. Hopefully, I’ll get the chance to see them again soon.
There was one more band before the interval, and after a frankly incredible afternoon so far, we were treated to what is possibly going to be one of the big bands to come out of the UK in the next few years; Norfolk based Symphonic Metallers, Ghost of Atlantis. I was lucky enough to catch them at Bloodstock after they were bumped up to the second stage, and really enjoyed them. This time we had the full line up and their sound is massive! The addition of synth in the music was a welcome change to what has been on before, and with the addition of some almost Black Metal style vocals, mixed with some incredible nearly operatic clean singing, it all created a cold atmosphere, which was not a bad thing. While many members were in Devilment before this, and felt like their fame was down to Dani Filth being in the band, Ghost of Atlantis have their own sound, and it’s a unique one at that. I can’t think of any band that sounds like these. There is a hole in the market, and these guys fill it perfectly.
After a well-earned rest, it was time for some Proggy/Alt Metal weirdness from Zebedy. Zebedy are another band I have been gigging with and watching for many years, so I knew what to expect here. We were met with some Dream Theatre style riffs, with Biffy Clyro style voices, which may sound like an odd combination, but it actually works. Zebedy utilise the fact that all 4 members can sing, and thus leave us with some fantastic 4-way vocal harmonies, almost like a mini choir in places. Again, like the first half of the day, Zebedy were packed full of energy and humour. They know how to get the crowd involved, and it paid off. Everyone was singing/shouting along and that, for me, is what Zebedy are about. Fun! One thing though, please get some new cymbals, they look very second hand.
If Zebedy were the ‘ease back into the day’ band, then Harbinger were the sledgehammer! More Techy Metal on the mainstage, and it was tighter than a knot on a yacht. Vocally they are very impressive, utilising a number of growls, screams and even a personal favourite of mine, rap screaming. It’s basically quick screaming but it sounded brutally effective with these guys. We were also treated to another one of my favourite things to watched, yet more synchronised headbanging! I am pretty sure Harbinger read the book on ‘what Rob likes in a live show’ and then did it. Harbinger are heavy, tight and look all out professional, this was a fantastic performance!
Another band I knew next to nothing about before the festival was Dygora, but I was told they were very heavy. This was true! They were insanely heavy, and pulled influences from many extreme genres, such as Death Metal, Deathcore, and even a bit of Slam. They played with absolute ferocity, and bludgeoned the crowd into submission, with some properly brutal breakdowns, and an insane vocal range. The whole set was an assault, and was absolutely fantastic to watch, my neck, by this point was in pieces!
3 bands to go and I wasn’t sure how much more my neck could take after the day so far. My neck needed a rest, and I though I may get it with the next band, Borders… but nope, they brought my neck yet more pain! Borders stood out from this line up, not only with their bright yellow merch, but the fact they drag influences from outside of Metal, in the shape of Rap. It works brilliantly alongside their Techy Metalcore sound, and adds a layer that I’ve only really seen from Hacktivist. I will be honest I prefer Borders. To me it seems unique, while Hacktivist offer dual rapping, Borders offer singing, screaming, growling, and rapping. It’s quite a variety. This performance screamed ‘top tier’ UK bands, as they performed with passion, adrenaline, and enthusiasm. With the crowd bouncing, pitting, and headbanging, Borders had them in the palm of their hands. This truly was one of the best performances of the weekend.
Closing out the second stage was Scottish Prog Metallers, Ramage Inc. They are another band I have seen on numerous occasions, and they never disappoint. Vocally, the lead singer’s voice is exquisite, and today was no exception, I would compare his voice to that of Devin Townsend, it is seriously that good. With them being progressive some of the songs are lengthy, and it can feel like the riffs go on for a little bit too long, but that’s the genre, and these guys play it beautifully. Ramage Inc. felt like the perfect closure for the second stage. Their melodies bring tears to your eyes and make you wish that they would keep playing, much like we wished the festival was continuing on.
The last band of the weekend need no introduction. It was of course Raging Speedhorn, and it appeared they had come on stage with one mission, to drain what remained of everyone’s energy before normality resumed. Raging Speedhorn have grown such a huge following, which was clear to see by the number of people watching them. That and the number of people throwing themselves at each other for the entire set. Again, both vocalists, and the whole band, had the crowd completely in their hands; what they asked, they got. This set also had the most crowdsurfers of any band at Badgerfest, and that in itself shows how good this performance was. Raging Speedhorn annihilated The Bread Shed, and closed of what had been a truly fantastic weekend.
There isn’t much more to say about the festival as a whole. The line up was incredible, and will take some serious beating next year. The bar was suitably stocked, security were on point, there were only a few points where someone was making a fool out of themselves (always expected at a festival), and everything ran smoothly. John Badger and the team behind him have shown just how good a small festival can be, and dare I say it, I enjoyed this weekend more than I did Bloodstock. I will wander home and tell the stories of this insane weekend, and will definitely be returning next year.
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.