Already featuring a massive lineup of bands, Download 2017 has added 20 more names to the roster with Devin Townsend Project, Code Orange, Max & Iggor Cavalera playing their ‘Return To Roots’ show, Sick Puppies, rapper Machine Gun Kelly, Sikth, Suicide Silence, Ty Bryant And the Shakedown, Krokodil and many more announced. Continue reading
Download Fest, with its roots in the Monsters of Rock festivals that ran from 1980 until people decided rock was dead in 1996 (and Kiss and Ozzy’s shambolic co-headliner of that year pretty much proved that point) is the Grand-Daddy of Euro festivals. It’s a behemoth that dominates the rock landscape in the UK (note “rock”. This is a rock festival, with some metal, not a metal fest. Bloodstock, Temples, Damnation are metal fests). It suffered in the 90’s from bands putting on their own outdoor all-dayers (and nicking all the support bands, too), and from being a predominantly rock festival that suddenly seemed to lose all its headliners. However, since it’s rebirth and rebranding in 2003 it has seen off European juggernaut festival Sonisphere to stand as the UK fest of choice.
Having redesigned its layout a few times, and no longer held inside the iconic Donington Park racetrack but just to the south of it, Download seems to have settled into a format that, while works, is a little familiar and perhaps would benefit from a little spicing up next year. Enter the arena, and with the main stage resplendent in front of you, to your left the second stage, and in the far right corner lies the third stage, a huge blue marquee tent. With boobs on top. Tucked to the side of the “Maverick” third stage is the relatively quiet and chilled press and guest area.
History has seen the main stage opening slot at Castle Donington act as a kingmaker opportunity; Trivium for one owe their success to a scintillating opening set in 2005. It’s fair to say All That Remains will not be joining the list of legendary openers, particularly by including that dreadful wailing ballad halfway through a twenty-five minute set.
A pleasant stroll in the sun over to Krokodil in the tent results in seeing a band doing it right; great energy, big riffs and bludgeoning hooks winning over and gaining them plaudits, before hot-footing it via the bar (where the cashless system was working perfectly in pretty much eradicating queues) back over to the main stage for At The Gates, Lacuna Coil and Clutch, ATG and Clutch in particular delivering. If you’d have said twenty years that the main stage at a mainstream fest would be hosting those bands, going down to a slavering reaction, you’d have been laughed out-of-town. Instead, ATG and Clutch showed how diverse things are these days, and how influential they’ve both been on others over the years.
You’d have thought a choice of Corrosion of Conformity versus Five Finger Death Punch would have only had one winner (and spare a thought for Sylosis who were on #three at the same time), and you’d have been right. Five Finger Death Punch mauled, maimed, murdered and munched down on COC with a blinding headliner-worthy show full of big riffs, sing-a-longs and making a statement. Unfortunately, I was over at the second stage watching a rather tame COC limp through a set it didn’t seem they could really be bothered with themselves. Shame, cos they’ve got some great songs.
Judas Priest did exactly what you’d want of a main support, anthems to the left of me, anthems to the right and left you wanting more, with newer tracks ‘Valhalla’ standing toe to toe with ‘Hell Bent for Leather’, ‘Painkiller’ and a particularly joyous ‘Living After Midnight’.
A bite to eat, a quick dash round the corner to see the lacklustre continue over on stage two with Black Stone Cherry phoning it in, before heading back in time for Slipknot, whose 2009 show has gone down in Donington folklore alongside Iron Maiden in 1988 as one of the UK’s all-time best metal festival headline experiences.
I wasn’t there in 2009, but if it was better than 2015, then it must have been some set.
Opening with ‘Sarcastrophe’, what followed was an outpouring of whole-other-level excellence, as hit after bloody hit flew from the stage in an unbridled making of a fucking statement. That statement? There is no one better than Slipknot in metal right now. No one.
As all the hits followed, interspersed with a very cleverly chosen set including more reflective moments of darkness, such as ‘Killpop’ and ‘Vermillion’, their catalogue stood tall. And don’t even get me started on how fresh and violent ‘Eyeless’ was. As fellow GC scribe Mat Davies uttered “Shit the actual bed…”
With ‘Spit It Out’ seeing 80,000 people crouch in the mud, as the torrents of rain began to pour (rain that wouldn’t let up for 20 hours), before leaping to their feet to start one enormous mosh pit, Slipknot confirmed what we’re known for a while.
As I ran back to the tent, through the torrential downpour that marked the end of day one, as I dived into a tent, shedding sodden clothes (sorry for the image) and cursing the Peak Download of it chucking it down on the Friday night (after a sunny and hot day) I couldn’t help reflect that despite all that, I’d witnessed something above and beyond what most bands are capable of.
Surely, the list of standard bearers and true greats in metal now reads. Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Slipknot.
The Heretic Anthem
The Devil in I
Wait and Bleed
Before I Forget
Spit It Out
People = Shit
Finland’s #1 metal festival of summertime, Tuska 2015, has announced a slew of new acts to join the bill. Among the additions are Stormwarrior, Architects, Alfa Hanne, Dr. Living Dead!, Mokoma, Alfa Hanne, At The Hollow, Tryer, The Cold War, Adamantra and many more to come. The show takes place June 26th to June 28th in Suvilahti, Helsinki.
Single day tickets and passes are on sale now from the festival website, with VIP packages to be announced soon. The full bill will be announced later this spring with the line-up for each day so far
Friday June 26th
Sabaton, Lamb Of God, Architects, Exodus, Krokodil, Blues Pills, Ghost Brigade, Alfa Hanne, Enforcer, Foreseen, Death Toll 80k, Ape
Saturday, June 27th
In Flames, Amorphis, Loudness, Ne Obliviscaris, Bloodbath, The Sword, Einherjer, Bombus, Atomic Rotta, Morbid Evils, Tryer, Red Moon Architect, Adamantra, Dark Side Of The Mime
Sunday June 28th
Alice Cooper, Opeth, Stratovarius, Stormwarrior, The Sirens, Warmen, Dr. Living Dead !, At The Hollow, The Cold War
It’s hard to believe we’ve already reached the end of another year packed tighter than Joey de Maio’s loincloth with incredible genre-pushing, eardrum-violating, neckache-inducing metal.
So we can begin to tell the story of a year which saw us give more top marks than any other year so far (and more 2’s and 3’s out of 10, too!), a year that left us inundated with so many great releases, we sought the opinions of our esteemed and respected writing team and we offer forth their albums of the year.
The countdown to the Official Ghost Cult Magazine Album of the Year for 2014 has commenced. Please consume and enjoy the results of our 2014 Writers’ Poll. We hope it will introduce you to some of the incredible works of art you may have missed that we have had the immense pleasure of listening to and writing about this year.
In our first installment we bring you albums 50 through to 41.
50. HARK – Crystalline (Season of Mist)
Genre-bending aggression with doses of Doom, Prog, Psychedelia and Hardcore. Heavy as a very heavy thing.
49. THE HAUNTED – Exit Wounds (Century Media)
“The album is filled with urgency and manages to be relentlessly heavy without compromising on those insanely catchy riffs. The Haunted have come back stronger than ever… easily the band’s best effort a decade” DAN SWINHOE 9/10 Full review here
48. THE WOUNDED KINGS – Consolamentum (Candlelight)
“Favouring lengthy yet subtly evolving guitar workouts that never lapse into repetitive dirge territory,The Wounded Kings go about working their dark, smoky magic with grim elegance… Simply put, The Wounded Kings are the quintessential English doom band “ JAMES CONWAY 8.5/10 Full review here
47. SCHAMMASCH – Contradiction (Prosthetic)
“The quality of this album is obvious right from the beginning. Schammasch have created a record both challenging and endlessly refreshing, a truly remarkable sonic journey from beginning to end.” CAITLIN SMITH 9/10 Full review here
46. AUTOPSY – Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves (Peaceville)
“Tourniquets… continues in gnarly, raw and near sludgy death metal vein, but maintains their run of high quality and in fact tops anything that has come from their return.” CHRIS TIPPELL 8/10 Full review here
45. KROKODIL – Nachash (Spinefarm)
“With a heavy dose of Mastodon in its veins, Krokodil are a groove juggernaut that pummels all in its path with its three guitarists of fury” DAN O’BRIEN 9/10 Full review here
44. INTER ARMA – The Cavern (Relapse)
“The sheer gravity and fulminating power of much of the music here is oppressive yet it carries the weight easily, this blend of raw animal force, aching melody and immeasurable creativity marks out this fantastic band” PAUL QUINN 10/10 Full review here
43. DEVIL YOU KNOW – The Beauty of Destruction (Nuclear Blast)
“(with) all the promise of a powerhouse, and it delivers on all fronts. The songs are well-crafted, nicely developed and excellently executed.” LYNN JORDAN 9.5/10 APRIL ALBUM OF THE MONTH Full review here
42.BLUES PILLS – Blues Pills (Nuclear Blast)
“…a record that understands and curates its heritage and lineage but is fresh, contemporary and massively memorable. This is the record that you’ll be recommending to your friends for months to come” MAT DAVIES 9/10 Full review here
41. ARTIFICIAL BRAIN – Labyrinth Constellation (Profound Lore)
“Technical death metal with sci-fi themes, brilliant, utterly amazing, breath-taking and challenging from the first to the last second.” TIAGO MOREIRA 9.5/10 Full review here
Compiled by Steve Tovey
For the past few months UK based riff lords Krokodil have been making all sort of headlines, most involving people referring to them as “Slipknot’s new bassist’s other band”, which is completely unjustified and harsh as it is hardly judging the band on its own merits. With all the coverage, the eyes of the metal world are on Krokodil as they prepare to unleash their debut album Nachash (Spinefarm) so it’s a very good thing that the album is rather bloody brilliant.
The band, which contains members from a menagerie of great British bands such as Cry For Silence, Sikth, Gallows and of course the mighty A, as well as now Iowa’s own metal behemoth Slipknot, Krokodil sound like a well oiled riff making machine and from the sounds of Nachash the machine has been working overtime on this release. With a heavy dose of Mastodon in its veins, Krokodil are a groove juggernaut that pummels all in its path with its three guitarists of fury, a decision that usually over complicates the material but in this case triples up the guitar tracks, like Helmet making it sound as heavy as a ten ton rhino that’s thinking of gaining a few pounds.
With a formula that blends groove based riffage with a later day Cancer Bats bounce and groove is a fantastic mix which keeps up the pace till the bitter end, this on top of the high quality production of the album which makes it sound colossal. If the album does have a mild weakness it is that the vocals are a tiny bit one dimensional, the hardcore barks work well with the up tempo nature of the albums and work perfectly on the second track ‘Skin of The Earth’, but can come across as one note when the album gets into its final few tracks.
Overall, Nachash is a quality release from a band who deserve a lot more credit for their musical output and certainly do not deserve to be known simply as that other band with someone from Slipknot in, they’re not a DJ Starscream or Dirty Little Rabbits. As for this being the bands’ debut album, hopefully there will be even better to come from the band in the future, but for now Nachash is a cracking start to their career. Its high tempo, riffy and most importantly contains quality throughout.
Following hot on the heels of the two big guns of the heavy metal festival season (Download and Sonisphere), the increasingly impressive Bloodstock, held in the lovely grounds of Catton Hall in Derbyshire, England looks set to have a glorious weekend, if its stellar line up of legends and contemporary metal is anything to go by.
Bloodstock has grown a fearsome reputation as the most metal of the metal festivals and this year’s line-up is no exception, covering all the bases you expect and some bases that you didn’t think needed covering but have been all the same. Anyway, everyone at Ghost Cult is getting hugely excited for what should be a very memorable few days.
Friday is packed to the gunnels with some choice options so it will definitely be a case of running between stages if you want to try and fit it all in: Krokodil, Rotting Christ and Winterfylleth are names worth marking on your clashfinder spreadsheet. There’s likely to be a lot of love and a lot of circle pits for Hatebreed; there won’t be many faces not adorning corpse paint for Dimmu Borgir but if you wanted to lay a bet, then the suffocating heaviness of Triptykon or the dirty, southern charms of Down are likely to slug it out for band of the day.
Saturday is likely to be none more black. There has been a near year-long salivating at the prospect of the return of black metal legends Emperor, who headline the Saturday night main stage with Ihsahn and co promising a blackened gallop through their classic opus In the Nightside Eclipse as well as plenty of other surprises. Unmissable, really. It’s not all about them though: Carcass are currently in rude health, Shining are likely to shake the hangover from you with ease but the prospect of seeing Crowbar pummel riff after glorious riff is likely to be worth the entrance fee alone. Elsewhere we will be checking out The King is Blind, The Mercy House and, hell yeah, HellYeah.
Thrash metal legends Megadeth get to close the festival on the Sunday but there is more than ample support from everyone’s favourite Vikings Amon Amarth, festival stalwarts Saxon and Graveyard are always worth 30 mins of your time. If you need more inspiration then you could do worse than checking out Northern Ireland’s Stormzone or the industrial influenced Avatar. Honestly, there’s piles more: it’s gonna to be a classic. See you in the circle pit or, given my advancing years, the seats near the bar.
WORDS BY MAT DAVIES