Mammothfest Presents #1

author MAK date 05/04/17

In 2015, Feed the Rhino was scheduled to headline one of the stages at Mammothfest but sadly, due to illness, the band had to pull out of performing at the last minute. The Kent-outfit promised to make it up to the Brighton-based fans that missed out by coming back when the time was right. Eighteen months later, to celebrate Feed the Rhino returning to the seaside town, Mammothfest organised an all-day event featuring some of the best emerging heavy artists and alternative metal bands. What started out as a one-off event has culminated in the Mammothfest booking to at least two more themed all-dayer events to follow over the next month. So here is a review of the first “Mammothfest Presents” event of 2017.

All photos courtesy of Luke Bateman

Tension Head

Weymouth-based alt-rock band Tension Head kicked the event off as last minute replacements for Pussy Liquor. It was handy for them to open the show, as they were playing in Worthing later in the day. As it was a 2pm start time and Tension Head were the first band on the bill, it was expected that there wasn’t going to be a big crowd early on. Those who did turn up early, however, were treated to a nice mixture of melodic hooks and hard-hitting riffs, producing something close to that common, early ‘00s alt-rock sound you heard on practically every compilation. It was enough to trigger some headbangs and each song was responded to with a great cheer and decent level of applause. A decent opening set for the event. [6]

Edge Of Salvation

Another band that was scheduled for another show in the evening was the Surrey-born death metal outfit, Edge of Salvation, who were to head to Bournemouth after their set. Edge of Salvation delivered a much more brutal sound, adding in a deathcore influence and resembling the savage approach of The Acacia Strain. The quintet unleashed a barrage of shreds and deep, chuggy breakdowns, fronted by ferocious shouting vocals. A slightly bigger crowd had turned up to see the monstrous show that Edge of Salvation was putting on and the headbangs continued in full force. [6½]

Hawka

Local boys, Hawka, continued the ferocity with their brand of groove metal, reminiscent of the likes of Lamb of God. Surprisingly, the quartet opened with their usual set-closer, “Chernobyl”, which delivers the band’s trademark brutal riffage and throat tearing vocals. Frontman Rich liked to leave the stage and energetically move around the room; this gave him an excuse to get close to people’s faces as he continued to scream. Being local lads, they packed out the room just that little bit more, creating more of an atmosphere. By this time, the drinks had been flowing more, too, so the rowdiness was starting to kick in. Everyone was getting a tiny bit more warmed up — that much was clear with the reaction to each song as they ended. [7]

Kickfist

Another Brighton-band in the form of nu-metal five-piece Kickfist then followed up with high-energy aggression. The band produced some immensely down-tuned riffs that were balanced out by some KoRn-esque melodies. The heavy-meets-melodic vibe flowed, but it was the hard-hitting chugs that grabbed your attention. The band donned a scruffy look: painted black, smudgy eyes on each musician, and the vocalist wearing a mask. The frontman, Zack Zander, also unleashed his inner Clown from Slipknot, as he took a baseball bat to giant metal keg, and at one point swung so hard that he snapped the bat. One surprise also came when the band performed a metal cover of Prodigy’s “Firestarter”. It was an interesting little twist. Kickfist provided something different to the day, a gimmick that is as visually impressive as the music. [7½]

As Flames Rise

Melodic metalcore act As Flames Rise was another Weymouth-born act and were friends of the opening band, Tension Head. This group has something you don’t see too often in modern metal, and that’s two vocalists. They had a look and attitude that reminded me of Despised Icon, in terms of how both men patrolled the stage and switched between their opposing styles of harsh vocals. One performing deeper growls, the other producing higher pitch screams in comparison made for a working combination. Musically, As Flames Rise sounded closer to Parkway Drive circa 2005, with their bouncy riffs. The frontmen managed to command this fairly packed out crowd well, and for the first time all day we had fist pumps and chants in reaction to the songs. We even had our first moshpit of the day and a good portion of the crowd jumping up and down. This set was very fun and you could tell the band enjoyed themselves, too, as they had massive grins on their faces. [8]

Core Of iO

Local favourites, Core of iO, then hit the stage with their mind-blowing tech-metal. As usual, the four-piece unloaded a combination of fiddly little riffs and awkward time signatures that make you question your own musical talent — the drum patterns alone could make your brain go berserk. All of this was backed by the singing guitarist Bob Tett’s impressive clean singing voice. It’s a nice mixture. Plenty of friends were in the crowd and Tett was happy to have a joke and a chat with the audience between songs. This show wasn’t quite met with the rowdy behaviour that As Flame Rise met, but then again, the music doesn’t entirely trigger that type of reaction. Most people were happy to just stand and take in the outrageously good musicianship on show. [7½]

The Five Hundred

Nottingham-based tech-metal outfit, The Five Hundred, followed up with a more brutal approach on what we’d just witnessed: less of the over the top musical talent and more full-on heavy metal riffage in an attempt to incite more pits. This was the band’s first show in about six months, and with that came a couple of technical snags. But that didn’t harm the set too much, as the five-piece delivered waves of crunchy, neck-breaking hooks. Frontman John Eley liked to egg the crowd on a bit, calling the early small pits “pathetic”. It worked though, getting some more people involved. During the set, we were treated to some new material in the form of “The Rush”, which is taken from the band’s next EP, as well as a fair few songs from their last effort, “Winters”. A decent comeback show and a great way to warm up for their tour with Carnifex at the end of the month. [7½]

Seething Akira

Portsmouth’s rave-rockers, Seething Akira, are known to bring the party to every line-up they are a part of. Their brand of synth-fuelled electro-rock always gets a crowd moving, dancing around and moshing. This show was no different; in fact, it was a step toward the more chaotic type of set, as the room was filled to the absolute brim for the first time all day and the energy was relentless from the get-go. Frontmen Kit Conrad & Charlie Bowes took turns in who would be on the floor with the crowd in what was a glorious, frantic mess. A fan favourite such as “Retaliate” and the new track “Backlash” had the crowd singing along, at one point even inspiring Bowes to end up crowd-surfing in one of the most iconic moments of the day. This was by far one of the most fun and energetic sets of the event and it really raised the bar for other bands to follow. [9]

Bleed Again

Worthing-based metal act, Bleed Again, took that as a challenge, though without regular bassist Jon Liffen there to perform, there was noticeably something missing. Luckily, Seething Akira’s Richard Speaight joined in on bass for this set. As frontman James Dawson was without his backing vocalist to provide cleans, he relied on crowd interaction to keep this a highly energetic set. The rest of the band delivered their usual metalcore-meets-NWOAHM style heaviness: plenty of riffs and monstrous shout-alongs, with the odd, intricate guitar solo. It took a few songs to really get the crowd going, but this was the right formula to keep the pits flowing, especially during the new tracks “Slavery” and “Decimate”. By the time “Icarus” came on, the crowd was bouncing up and down and the energy had reached full momentum. The pits were vicious and the fans sang along to the popular classic. A great set ahead of their upcoming tour with Death Remains. [8]

Magna Carta

Sounding just like Seething Akira, Magna Carta has risen from the ashes of the former band Collisions to deliver similar party-metal madness. The music has plenty of keyboard synths, a drum machine backing track and a full-frontal attitude from vocalist James Hayball to hype everyone up. Once again, this was a chaotic mess of moshpits and dancing. One interesting highlight was that Mammothfest owner Steve Dickson filled in on bass for the set; another was that, for the second time today, there was a Prodigy cover featured, this time the classic “Smack My Bitch Up”. This, of course, received a phenomenal reaction from a full crowd — it was rammed to the point that people were standing on the benches at the side. There wasn’t a lot of talking points, just full-on carnage and a highly enjoyable performance to witness and rock out to. [8]

Feed The Rhino

As headliners, it was expected that Feed the Rhino would come on stage to a very warm welcome — and the crowd erupted the minute the first chord was struck. No effort was needed to rile up the audience but vocalist Lee Tobin still made a point about ajoining the chaotic moshpit in front of him. He even got his t-shirt ripped within the first couple of songs. The frontman then moved through the crowd to stand on one of the raised walls, too, surrounded by fans singing and shouting back at him. The energy didn’t stop once; pits flowed, there was a wall of death, and it was just high-octane fun for everyone. Musically, our ears were dominated by hardcore-style grooves and impactful, erratic screaming by Tobin, whose voice constantly sounds like he's tearing at his throat. It was a monstrous sound and so loud it hit you like a wave. Towards the end of the set — I’m pretty sure it was during “New Wave” — Tobin commanded the crowd to crouch down, ready for a mass jump-up for more crazy scenes. I’ve seen a lot of wild sets at this venue, but none that have been as relentless as this one was. [9]

This was a fantastic event that showcased the great quality of music in the toilet scene level of heavy music in the United Kingdom at the moment. It also shows the fantastic heavy metal community in Brighton that Mammothfest is striving build even further. This was a very “matey” kind of atmosphere all day; the bands all knew each other and the bands and fans were mostly friends with each other. Rounded up, it was a brilliant DIY event and I expect the next couple of “Mammothfest Presents” shows to be of the same standard.

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