GIG REVIEW – Candlefest – August 23rd 2013

Candlelight Records’ first festival night was opened by London thrash band Hybris – a happy-looking 5-piece who could’ve come straight out of the 80s with their studs and leather. Sounding a bit like a mix of WASP, Venom and Tygers of Pan Tang, the band played a set of floor-vibrating thrash which some audience members were clearly enjoying, others not so much. It was early so the night was likely to get better.

Unfortunately the guitars were much more prominent than bass, drums and vocals making the set sound slightly over-chugged and hard to figure what was playing when. However, being the first of three supports can be a challenging task especially when you’re opening for Anaal Nathrakh. If they’d played higher on the list the show may have been more exciting, but sadly they weren’t, leaving space for the next band to play a boring and messy show.

If I’m going to be honest and blunt in this review, I have to say Voices was a boring and messy band/performance. One song instantly led into another (the only sign that a new song was starting was from the recorded voice intros,) there was very little crowd interaction from the singer, the lead guitarist looked like he was trying too hard and I ended up daydreaming as I stared at the cables on the stage; not a good thing when you’re watching a band play live.

            Filled with tremolo picking and non-stop double bass, there was little change or structure to the songs and everything was a scream. If songs weren’t filled with tremolo picking then it was a constant chug throughout. This is the band that should have played first.

When I saw Palehorse’s setup of 2 bass guitars, drums at the front and a table covered with mixers and programming switches I was interested, but not sure what to expect. In all my time of going to live gigs, I’ve not experienced anything close to what Palehorse delivered tonight.

By flicking a few switches and twisting some knobs the band managed to turn the Underworld into something resembling the sounds of a mental institution with long screams and those creepy sounds you might expect to hear in such a place. To top it all off the vocalist was wearing an Armed Response Unit t-shirt and the bassist donned a “Kill Everyone” shirt. Both, I thought, were very fitting for a band which may have been led out of the venue in a secure, unmarked van with chains around their wrists and ankles.

Definitely not to everyone’s tastes, this band was pure noise and definitely tonight’s highlight. They will be playing the Underworld again on the 7th of September so if you like noise metal and the sounds of mental institutions, check them out.

Anaal Nathrakh was tonight’s headliner and judging from the crowd’s excitement, the most anticipated also. Even before the band hit the stage the pit spaces were starting to open and upon the first note, the floor was a jungle of long hair, flailing arms and testosterone scented air. Not forgetting stage divers – an activity which, due to barriers and stage guards, is quite hard to partake in these days.

The band played an hour of fast riffage and hard drumming mixed with frequent crowd interactions including introducing a song by telling the audience that it’s the song of a stagediver’s worst dream: jumping and realising that the crowd isn’t going to catch you – luckily this didn’t happen to anybody, though a few jumpers did look close to being dropped. Vocals were also loud and fierce while also fun and lively as was displayed by the audience.

The first night at Candlefest was a fun one with some good bands I’d consider seeing live again. Hopefully they’ll be playing more gigs very soon.

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