Live Review: GhostFest – Bristol 2015

Announcing that there will be no GhostFest next year, tensions have been running high over the future of the festival. Seemingly the saviour of UK Hardcore, this Leeds-based festival ventured outside of the North to the city of Bristol in celebration of its tenth anniversary.

 With deer causing chaos on the M1, the day was already behind schedule with bands early on being held up. Not a great start, but the masses waiting at the gate, hungry to embrace some of the world’s finest metal, was more than enough proof to show that this day was going to be a success.

 First to take to the main stage were Cardiff’s very own Astroid Boys. After a late start, and with punters still making there way into the venue, the crowd was fairly small for the Welsh rap crew. Providing a set with the slickest of vocals and dirtiest of bass lines, this was a great way to open up the day’s proceedings.

 Malevolence had possibly one of the best early turn outs I had seen in a long time. A set that had brutality from both the band and from the pit, ‘Serpents Chokehold’ definitely got the crowd going and getting the moshing well underway. British brutality at its finest, and a band that seem able to tear up any stage. It was a treat to have Matthi, Nasty vocalist, appearing on guest duties. A great set, but one that was tempered by the fans inability to keep the moshing to inside the pit.

Blood Youth, are Lincoln’s recent success story. The past 6 months has seen them touring with the likes of Architects. They were highly anticipated, and did not disappoint… stunning melodies, and stage presence from a band that have had a relatively short life. For a band with only 6 songs, it was certainly a crowd-pleasing set. Having not played the South West for a while, it was clear to see that the band had been missed, with the crowd numbers swelling as the set flowed.

 Whilst Continents took to the Warehouse Stage, we were over at the main stage, embracing the tech kings that are, Born Of Osiris. The biggest main stage crowd we had seen to date, and rightly so. They tore through a blinding set of face melting shreds. This was a set for the guitarists in the room, and they did not disappoint. ‘Machine’ being the fan favourite track from this set, and one that saw heads bobbing in their masses. A flawless performance from vocalist Ronnie Canizaro, although a technical fault did see him muted, until it was later discovered the mic had become unplugged!

 Heart Of A Coward are one of the UK’s most exciting metal prospects. A band at the best they have ever been, and with the album on the brink of release, you could sense the excitement. The crowd definitely got back into the moshing mood after a tech masterclass. Front man, Jamie Graham providing a punishing assault on the eardrums, and refereeing the mosh. Playing the best of their old material, and even a few unheard album tracks, this was a cracking set, and one that had the crowd exhilarated throughout. Ending on ‘Around A Girl (In 80 Days)’, the crowd left satisfied and exhausted, and headed off to catch the last part of Oceano’s set.

 Despised Icon, another band on today’s lineup that needed no introduction. They gave one of the most brutal performances that I have ever witnessed. Dual front men Alex Erian and Steve Marois, controlled the arena in the most brutal of manners, parting the crowds, and venturing out to meet them. Erian made his way into the crowd, before being harnessed by security. Frustration, a rush of security and Erian soon made his way back to the stage. Angered by being held back at the barriers, Erian spent the next song aiming all of his vocal angst at the security below. However, nothing could have put a dampener on that set. It was a pure masterclass, and was easily the best set to hit Ghostfest today.

 Over on the Warehouse Stage, we caught up with Counting Days. Born out of the ashes of TRC, Heights, and Last Witness, Counting Days are another band on the rise. With an album only a month from release, the band relished in the opportunity to showcase their hard-hitting material, both new and old. Not the biggest crowd of the day, but one that they definitely performed for. They are definitely a band to watch. Maybe more suited in those smaller, more intimate venues, but a great band to catch, whatever the situation. After speaking to them earlier in the day, it is clear that the new material is going to be something special, and we cannot wait to hear what they have produced. A great set, and one that will hopefully have them encouraged to return to the South West in the near future.

 Emmure have caused a stir with Ghostfest this year. After having travel issues, they were unable to attend the Leeds date the night before, a huge disappointment for fans up north, but on the day, it was announced that Emmure had landed safely in Bristol and would be playing. There was the odd ‘who cares’ comment, but nevertheless, Emmure were a class act, and one that suited Ghostfest as a penultimate act. With Frankie Palmeri having had vocal issues this past year, there were fears about how well his voice would hold up. Fear not, he’s back on top form. Absolutely tearing up the stage, and back to his former crowd-crushing self. Emmure tore through a huge set that had the crowd in full swing from start to finish. After what was a touch-and-go 24 hours, it was great to see the band enjoying the set and embracing the crowds reaction.

 With most of the acts this weekend looking up to Hatebreed as a band, they were the most suitable headliner to have at this, the 10th anniversary. They took it upon themselves to show why they have been a band to look up to for so many years. The set represented their whole back catalogue, featuring the very, very best of Hatebreed. With a hardcore assault dating back 20 years, it was great to see that the younger fans did not all part after Emmure. The room was pretty much crammed with fans of all ages in union for what was to be a very special closing act. A lot of the more melodic hardcore fans were across watching Stray From The Path, but Hatebreed soon drowned them out. Creating the biggest pits of the day, it was clear that Hatebreed still had a firm grasp on the scene, and could control the masses in fine form. As a closing act for Ghostfest, I don’t think it could have been better. If this was to be the last Ghostfest (we hope not), then we feel it will have gone out in fitting style, with one of the greats sending it off.

 Ghostfest, the saviour of UK Hardcore, and achieving that once more. Showcasing the UK’s finest talent, and bringing those underground bands into the light. We had a great time, and hope that this is not the end. If it is, then we are glad to have witnessed the fantastic 10th. Visit Ghostfest on Facebook

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 Review and photography: Siôn Roe

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