MAM­MOTH­FEST

Rot­ting Christ and Amenra bring de­liv­er­ance to Brighton

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Albums - DOM LAW­SON/JONATHAN SELZER

FRI­DAY

You can’t beat a trip to the sea­side. For fans of un­der­ground metal, Mam­moth­fest has turned into one of the best ex­cuses for a bag of chips and a pad­dle, and 2017’s line-up is the best and bold­est yet. Time to set the deckchairs ablaze…

THE IN­FER­NAL SEA [7] are more ab­sorb­ing with ev­ery show. Tonight they wield eerie charisma as songs like Way Of The Wolf ter­rorise the hordes with clang­ing dis­so­nance while laser-pre­cise de­liv­ery adds mus­cle to masked malev­o­lence. Erupt­ing with the vi­cious Kaos, TSJUDER [7] are the ar­che­typal black metal hate bri­gade. This strain of Norse ex­trem­ity doesn’t con­cern it­self with dy­nam­ics; this is about corpse­painted fury and the sonic scorch­ing of eye­brows. In their own evil way, they’re punk as fuck, too. De­spite the stage set-up mak­ing it look like front­man Sakis To­lis is kneel­ing for most of the gig, his band­mates tow­er­ing over him, ROT­TING CHRIST

[8] could hardly be more im­pe­ri­ous. Last year’s Rit­u­als al­bum gained the Greeks a new army of fans and tonight they’re re­ceived like re­turn­ing heroes, as grandiose anti-hymns like Elthe Kyrie suck the light from the room.

SATUR­DAY

De­liv­er­ing an ab­bre­vi­ated set be­cause “the traf­fic was a ball­bag”, AB­HOR­RENT DECIMATION [8] are buzzing with ur­gency and sound grandly brutish. New al­bum The Par­doner is turn­ing this band into a big deal and a snarling, ul­tra-pre­cise Con­spire is just one jaw-snap­ping high­light tonight. It’s a mys­tery why META-STA­SIS [8] aren’t vastly more suc­cess­ful. As ever, tonight’s set is a de­mented ex­plo­sion of left­field death metal, mus­cu­lar grooves and Slip­knot stomp­ing, with big tunes and no fuck­ing about. The per­fect blend of chaos and con­trol, they de­servedly go down a storm.

Wear­ing the ex­pres­sions of men who can’t be­lieve they’re still get­ting away with this,

LAWN­MOWER DETH [7] are daft, sham­bolic and ridicu­lously en­ter­tain­ing. For­get elit­ist scowls, we’re too busy bounc­ing, grin­ning like twats and bel­low­ing along to Kids In Amer­ica. Ex­hil­a­rated by their own re­birth and trans­for­ma­tion, AK­ER­COCKE [9] still have the magic that first made them so im­por­tant, but their new ma­te­rial’s more per­sonal vibe has made them even more pow­er­ful. Lon­don’s lords of blast­ing dark­ness are mag­nif­i­cent.

For all the cer­e­mony that starts off DRAGGED

INTO SUN­LIGHT’S [8] set – the dry-ice ter­raform­ing and the light­ing of a huge eightarm can­de­labra that largely serves to ob­scure the mere mor­tals re­spon­si­ble – tonight feels like be­ing dropped into a Hadean storm with no map to ori­en­tate your­self by. The dense, heav­ing riffs and pur­ga­tory-wrenched vo­cals are caught up in a con­stant state of tur­bu­lence, and if it all feels a bit too much, that’s pretty much the point, res­onat­ing with some­thing raw and pri­mal rat­tling the win­dows of ra­tio­nal thought. Fea­tur­ing a largely re­freshed line-up but still look­ing like they’ve emerged from the rub­ble of an 18th-cen­tury opera house, FLESH­GOD

APOCA­LYPSE [8] also go for a max­i­mal­ist, if slightly more ac­com­mo­dat­ing ap­proach. Re­lat­ing tales and start­ing walls of death be­tween songs, Francesco Paoli makes for an en­gag­ing ring­mas­ter as their stag­ger­ingly im­pres­sive, opera-bol­stered death metal ramps up in­ten­sity, con­duct­ing the crowd into a state of out­right delir­ium.

Amenra have be­come a trans­for­ma­tive realm

SUN­DAY

Mam­moth­fest’s fi­nal day has a more post-metal, art-riff vibe, but HAAST’S EAGLED [5] don’t prove to be its most en­gag­ing am­bas­sadors. Per­haps it’s down to a PA de­ter­mined to re­duce their rhythm sec­tion to an af­ter­thought, but the three-piece’s fairly stan­dard groove’n’holler ap­proach sounds in­dis­tinct and in­dif­fer­ent this af­ter­noon. WREN

[8] prove a far more im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence. Their fevered mo­men­tum sounds like a quest for some ra­dioac­tive holy grail as lu­mi­nous, Guapo-like riffs cre­ate a tension-ratch­et­ing corona that threaten to blind your third eye. GRAVE LINES [7] are an­other band who sound as though they’re mak­ing their way to­wards a per­sonal precipice, with such a level of ur­gency poured into the riffs that you sense they could go off the rails at any mo­ment. Front­man Jake veers from a gothic, bluesy croon to Neu­ro­sis-es­que howl as songs groove and riff in real time like they’re be­ing lived out on­stage.

TELEPATHY [6] aren’t lack­ing in emo­tional in­vest­ment, at­mos­phere or metic­u­lously crafted songs striv­ing for some trans­for­ma­tive mo­ment of truth. It’s just that their path has al­ready been mapped out for them, the band bor­row­ing lib­er­ally from a range of post-rock/metal sources, and it’s hard to lose your­self in their jour­ney when you’ve given up hope of some gen­uine sense of rev­e­la­tion. Seen from out­side the venue, the setting sun is framed by the burned ru­ins of Brighton pier. An apt time, then, for a set by 40 Watt Sun and ex-Warn­ing front­man PA­TRICK

WALKER [8], one that whit­tles his songs even fur­ther down to their serenely dev­as­tated essence. Backed by a vi­o­lin­ist weav­ing sym­pa­thet­i­cally around his acous­tic ca­dences and a re­mark­able voice that sounds like he’s in­haled an aro­matic to­bacco that scorches the heart in­stead of the lungs, the songs are raw, emo­tional au­top­sies car­ried out with stu­dious, un­flinch­ing hon­esty and ev­ery­one is trans­ported to a pri­vate, scenic hin­ter­land. It’s hard to tell if

OHHMS [6] are gen­uinely throw­ing their all into their sludge-pow­ered odysseys, or if there’s an el­e­ment of show­boat­ing in­volved. Bas­sist Chainy Chainy waves his in­stru­ment over his head as if it’s a light­ning rod, front­man Paul Waller has a bug-eyed fit, but there’s lit­tle in their lumbering grooves and gouged-out riffs to war­rant such aban­don, and the au­di­ence are far from los­ing their shit. VÔDÛN [6] tech­ni­color riot gets the crowd go­ing again. A band whose ram­pag­ing spirit res­onates from a lat­eral if po­tent an­gle, their mix of afrobeat, wall-bulging, soul war­rior vo­cals cour­tesy of front­woman Oya and garage rock riffs offer an oc­ca­sion­ally ex­hil­a­rat­ing shock to the sys­tem. But as good as the in­di­vid­ual parts are, Vôdûn don’t rise above the sum, as if there’s a well­spring of funk and tribal clat­ter wait­ing to be fully un­leashed. Chrome Hoof once used sim­i­lar el­e­ments to cre­ate a fully fledged world of their own, but Vôdûn aren’t there quite yet.

AMENRA [9] have slipped the bonds of be­ing a mere band to be­come a trans­for­ma­tive realm. The venue’s in­ti­macy is no bar­rier to the vast­ness of their sound, the stark im­agery pro­jected onto the back of the stage of­fer­ing an­other layer of im­mer­sion. Tonight it’s a devotional rite that draws you out of your­self, as if the band are spir­i­tual mid­wives el­bow-deep in psy­chic vis­cera. Their clang­ing, at­mo­spheric in­ter­ludes and surg­ing, cathar­tic shock­waves, borne on Colin H Van Eeck­hout’s churned howl, beat in time to an ele­men­tal pulse that res­onates through a crowd in the throes of aban­don. It wouldn’t be a sur­prise to stum­ble out to find the sea had boiled away.

Vôdûn’s Oya is a woman pos­sessed,

and in fierce pos­ses­sion

Ak­er­cocke: this time it’s per­sonal

shiv­ers It’s all smoke and

watch­ing Amenra A sea of horns at

the coastal fest Flesh­god Apoca­lypse

bring the drama Rot­ting Christ:

Greek gods

Tsjuder: you love them

when they’re an­gry

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