The second of three articles on the awesome Mammothfest in Brighton – Day One review published on 21 October and an interview with festival founder Steve Dickson still to come.
The Metal Observer was, due to unavoidable events outside the world of metal, down to a single reviewer for Day 2 of Mammothfest. And due to the utter chaos caused by Southern Rail’s engineering work, I knew in advance that I would not get to see Fleshgod Apocalypse. Three and a half hours to travel less than 60 miles is slow even by Southern’s standards, and it was a real dampener on the night as it’s a band I’d love to have seen.
In spite of the appalling rail service, I arrived in time to catch the second half of Meta-Stasis‘s set, which went a long way to lift the mood. They played Brutal Death Metal with lots of groove. The vocals were guttural, like Suffocation or Cannibal Corpse. The riffing at times recalled Sepultura’s Arise, although with even more speed and aggression and some of the soloing brought Slayer to mind. Surprisingly, on a couple of the tracks the band got quite funky – like the strange lovechild of Cannibal Corpse and Stuck Mojo. Slightly bizarre, but resoundingly successful and those tracks stood out, not just in their set, but the evening as a whole.
It was like Lawnmower Deth had never been away, apart from the fact that they looked much older than the other bands on the bill. They played just like they did back in the day, short, sharp bursts of thrashing fun. They were completely insane as well, as you may expect from a band who called one of their albums, Ooh Crikey It’s… Lawnmower Deth. Vocalist Pete Lee (aka Qualcast Mutilator) looked like he was really enjoying himself and his banter with the audience was genuinely funny. He encouraged the audience to dance rather than mosh and got us singing pop songs when there were breaks in the set. The breaks were caused by the drummer (Chris Flint, appropriately also named Explodin’ Dr Jaggers Flymo) being unwell, leading to the immortal line from Mr Lee, “How many gigs do you come to where the drummer throws up?”.
The band seem to use their ‘normal’ names now, but I’ve included the alter egos as they appeal to my very childish sense of humour. Can there be a better name for a bassist than Chris Parkes’ former stage name, Mightymow Destructimow?
Highlight of the set is probably the cover of Kim Wilde’s “Kids In America”. It’s “Kids In America” on speed and like the everything they do, it’s thoroughly enjoyable. Their music is OK, but Lawnmower Death are, above all, massively entertaining. Lee may very well be the best frontman ever, and if not certainly the funniest. I can honestly recommend checking out a live performance of the band to any metal fans. Indeed, any metal bands looking for touring buddies would be well advised to book the Lawnmower chaps as they will certainly get your audience warmed up.
I have to confess that Akercocke is a band I haven’t listened to for some time. In fact, 2003’s Chronozon was the last time I listened to them and while it was a good album, it wasn’t quite my cup of tea at the time. A quick listen to a few tracks from new album Renaissance In Extremis in preparation for tonight’s gig really made me quickly regret overlooking the band for so long – it’s a work of demented genius.
Vocalist Jason Mendonça got proceedings underway by asking the audience, “”Are you ready for some weirdness?” The answer was emphatically positive.
There’s light and shade and then there’s Akercocke. Their sound is eclectic and they go seamlessly from the gorgeously melodic to the paint-strippingly heavy. And back again. Mendonça is another charismatic frontman and has a great, natural rapport with audience. He may not be as funny as Pete Lee but then no one is! In keeping with the sound of the band, he switches between harsh and clean vocals, from fierce croaking vicious to full on crooning at times. The music maintains a high level of quality throughout, with some epic-sounding tracks and some more immediate ones. They even dedicate a song to Lawnmower Deth, which is a classy touch. The most disappointing thing about the Akercocke set is the length of it; a few more tracks would have been welcome.
During the break between bands, I take in a quick blast of the brilliantly-named Warcrab on the Rickstock stage. Their sound is described in various reviews as Sludge / Death Metal, but it sounds like pure Death Metal to me, perhaps the Sludge is lost in the live environment, or the doomier songs came earlier in the set. They aren’t too dissimilar from , perhaps with a dash of Bolt Thrower’s juggernaut rumble and some Slayer-like soloing. It’s strange to see so many blokes on such a small stage, as there are four guitarists as well as the vocalist and drummer, but they carry it off and the couple of tracks I hear are excellent. Definitely an album I need to check out.
The last band of my weekend is Dragged Into Sunlight. A never-ending loud, eerie sound effect intro with lights dimmed builds the tension. In reality, it’s about five minutes, but that’s a long time to be waiting for a band to start. When they do start, it’s bludgeoning Brutal Death Metal from the start and it’s pretty boring. Almost no melody, it’s an exercise in ‘look how fast and heavy we can play’ and there’s little difference between the songs. They play facing away from the audience, heads covered, presumably to add some mystery, but it’s little more than a gimmick when the music is this mundane. It makes me wish even more that I could stay for Fleshgod Apocalypse to end the night on a high, but can reflect on some great entertainment courtesy of the great bands from earlier in the evening.
All photographs accompanying this article have kindly been provided by Simon Balaam. Simon specialises in photographs of live events and can be contacted through his website, www.simontakes.photos.