Badgerfest 2021: Day 3 – The Bread Shed, Manchester – Sunday 17th October 2021

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!

https://www.facebook.com/t0rtureddem0n

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!

https://www.facebook.com/IronAltarBand

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.

Clashmute live at Badgerfest 2021

https://www.facebook.com/clashmute

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.

https://www.facebook.com/scaretacticsuk

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.

Beyond Grace live at Badgerfest 2021

https://www.facebook.com/wearebeyondgrace

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.

Vice live at Badgerfest 2021

https://www.facebook.com/Vicemetaluk

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.

Ghosts Of Atlantis live at Badgerfest 2021

https://www.facebook.com/GhostsOfAtlantisofficial

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.

https://www.facebook.com/zebedymusic

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!   

Harbinger live at Badgerfest 2021

https://www.facebook.com/harbingerriffs

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!

https://www.facebook.com/DygoraBand

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.

https://www.facebook.com/BordersBandUK

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.

https://www.facebook.com/RamageInc

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.

https://www.facebook.com/ragingspeedhorn

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.

Badgerfest Links:

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.

Ghosts of Atlantis – 3/6/2/4

3/6/2/4 Album Cover Art

Ghosts of Atlantis – 3/6/2/4
Black Lion Records
Release Date: 26/03/2021
Running Time: 40:12
Review by Dark Juan
10/10

Good afternoon, my battle brothers and my sisters in slaughter. It is I, Dark Juan, Generalissimo and High Priest of all things metal. It is unaccountably sunny and clement in my mountain fastness of Dark Juan Terrace and as the shining horrible hot thing in the sky shines its baleful eye directly upon my pale and interesting countenance, my spirits lift from the morbid gloom of this most trying of winters and look forward into the joys of spring and possibly going out and meeting some people again instead of furtively scurrying through back doors and hoping the nosey old bitch at no. 42 didn’t spot you. That last sentence was not autobiographical. Oh no. Dark Juan would never countenance breaking any laws or orders. That would be a Very Bad Thing indeed. Never have I EVER even so much as fractured a law. Apart from the time my friend Gary Newgrosh was up a lamp post trying to steal a road sign and two gentlemen in suits with warrant cards asked whether I knew the lad with the road sign under his jacket and my drunken teenage response was “Piss off, I don’t talk to strange men.” And my speeding ticket last month. And all the stuff I have done in churches that I shouldn’t have. Some of them even consented…

None of which has anything to do with the fact that I am listening to Suffolk based gothic/symphonic/progressive blackened metallers Ghosts Of Atlantis’ debut offering, enigmatically entitled “3.6.2.4”. My immediate gut reaction about this record is that Cradle Of Filth have much to answer for as this style of quasi-black metal with added megagoth is now being touted as the Witch County sound (because Suffolk has had more than its fair share of witches and wise women, you see. The lucky bastards. Up North we just hung ours on Pendle Hill or in Alderley Edge.) I’m well aware that the sound of Cradle Of Filth and their ilk (Devilment, The Blood Divine and the like) are something of an acquired taste (I acquired mine in 1994 with ‘The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh’) and therefore a lot of metalheads will discount this as a load of gothic bollocks, which will be to their detriment as there is a lot more to Ghosts Of Atlantis than ever more high-pitched demented screaming and gothic nightmare. GOA happily welds in progressive riffs and time signatures and there is more than an element of power and symphonic metal with the clean vocals and the lyrical content and this lifts them easily above comparisons with the Filth and young Daniel Davey.

Ghosts of Atlantis are men on a mission to make sure that we remain acquainted with Ancient Greece and the lost city of Atlantis (or if you’re Welsh, Cantre’r Gwaelod, apparently just off the coast of Borth and Ynyslas, fact fans!) and base their songs around these concepts. Vocals run the whole gamut from absolute gut churning guttural roar to Filth-esque hellshriek to ZP Theart’s clean howl and some gorgeous harmonies. The high concept and that desire to switch from death screams and violence to progressive storytellers is most evident on ‘Gardens Of Athena’ which is an absolute tour de force as to why most experts about music consider metal a very difficult and complex style of music to play, almost classical in nature, as it moves from absolute murderous power and speed to soft acoustic and keyboard led passages, to Meshuggah style fractured time signatures, to power metal storytelling and back again. The fucking musicians on this record basically are living reminders to the fact I quit playing music because I frankly am not good enough. These people are mutants. Drummers should not be able to play such speedy and complicated rhythms and then change the fuckers mid song. It’s not fair. The guitarists should not have any fingertips left and the lead vocalist clearly has given up any thought of using his larynx in later life because he’s busily turning it to chunky salsa on this record. Commitment is not quite the word when it comes to Mr. Primmer’s vocal style. More, “I hate this piece of comically shaped gristle in my throat region and I am going to reduce it to its component atoms by means of abusing it so hard there should be a court case pending.” I dread to think how he whispers sweet nothings to his significant other. Probably from the next town over.

This record seriously has everything a metal fan (and not a few goffs) could desire. There’s utter powerviolence and speed, complexity in songwriting and riffage (the work of Colin Parks and Dex Jezierski on the guitars is superb – often choppy and sharp, frequently rapid and machine gun like but also classical, fluid and drop dead gorgeous, normally several times in the same song), the keyboard work is swoopingly gothic and sinuous (not unlike Cradle Of Filth in the more goff passages, but also gorgeously Eastern sounding in parts) and the drummer (Rob Garner) clearly has been issued with extra limbs by whoever is in charge of Quartermaster stores for that sort of thing. There’s no other explanation for what the hell he achieves behind his kit. Al Todd on the bass is also excellent but he is sometimes swamped by the sheer grandiosity of the music. The production is also pretty spot on too, although I find the guitar sound a little too highly engineered for my taste and I’d like to hear more bass, but it is a clear and legible sound that Ghosts Of Atlantis enjoy and the tiny niggles I have with the sound do not detract from my considerable enjoyment of what can only be described as a magnum opus, which is staggering in scope and jaw dropping in execution. Where I was blown away by The Machinist for their record’s sheer power and sonic violence, I am blown away by this record because it is a record that is greater than its influences might suggest it would be. Mixing Meshuggah, Cradle Of Filth, Hecate Enthroned, Dragonforce and Luca Turilli could have ended up a huge and disjointed mess, instead we have something that should become classic. The elements employed slot together seamlessly and every song drips uniqueness and splendour.

In conclusion, it’s fucking brilliant. Ghosts Of Atlantis are going to be huge if they carry on like this. My only concern is that the musical influences are that diverse, that the more gothic might avoid them because they are too metal and the metal kids might avoid them because they are too goth, or too progressive. Alternatively, I could just be spouting a load of ultrashite and Ghosts Of Atlantis will follow in the path of their Suffolk witchy, gothic cousins Cradle Of Filth and achieve global domination in short order.

I hope they do. For a debut album, this is absolutely fucking incredible.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System awards Ghosts Of Atlantis a stonking 10/10 for an almost perfect record that has everything. Well done, gentlemen. Well done indeed.

*Polite applause*

‘Halls Of Lemuria’ (Official Lyric Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Third Pillar
02. Halls Of Lemuria
03. False Prophet
04. The Curse Of Man
05. When Tridents Fail
06. Poseidon’s Bow
07. Gardens Of Athena
08. The Lost Compass

LINE-UP:
Colin Parks – Guitars, Backing Vocals (Clean)
Phil Primmer – Vocals
Dex Jezierski – Guitars
Al Todd – Bass
Rob Garner – Drums

LINKS:

Ghosts Of Atlantis Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of ‘Dark Juan’ and Ever Metal. 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.