As touring packages go, this year’s Bonecrusher Fest looked as lip-smackingly packed with extreme metal goodness as you could ask for. Angelus Apatrida, Burning The Masses (stepping in at the last minute to cover Annotations Of An Autopsy’s absence), Fleshgod Apocalypse, Carnifex, Keep Of Kalessin and Dying Fetus sounded a bit too good to miss. Here’s what we found out from this orgy of brutality.
Six things we learned from Bonecrusher Fest at Islington Academy:
- Angelus Apatrida and Carnifex seem to understand better than most that crowds want to enjoy themselves at gigs. The music may be crushing and gnarly, but there’s a charismatic enthusiasm both bands transmit in their different ways that rings similar bells. Playing the songs well is not the be-all and end-all of live shows, and both bands do far more than this, entertaining their wildly different sized crowds. Angelus Apatrida have the thankless task of opening a show with 5pm doors (can we have less of these in future, please?) to a sparse but keen mob while Carnifex are third on the bill and have a visible fanbase in the audience.
- There was only one merch stall we were going to tonight, and it was the one occupied by the Italians. Fleshgod Apocalypse are a band you take out on tour at your peril. On practically any night but this, they would have totally stolen the show. Emerging with filthy faces and wearing artfully grubby tuxedos is impressive, but the utter barbarity they immediately launch into is spine-shattering. The guitar work is violent and atmospheric, and the performance suitably frightening, but what you notice most is the seemingly impossible drumming. The word “brutal” seems totally inadequate in description. The cover of ‘Blinded By Fear‘ in the middle of the set is something no one here is likely to forget in a hurry.
Yes, THAT ‘Blinded By Fear’
- We’re frequently told at Thrash Hits that we love KoK. And with good reason. The last time we saw Keep Of Kalessin was supporting Amon Amarth at the Forum, a show where everyone but Obituary was neutered by the Curse Of The Forum Acoustics. So we weren’t prepared for the utter brilliance they displayed here. Opening with the implacable ‘Kolossus‘, the band immediately sound as tight as nudist Eskimo’s nad-sack in winter and vast enough to obscure the sun. Thebon’s conviction as a frontman is engaging, and the mind-boggling speed at which Obsidian C. and Wizziac can windmill could shame even a Slayer crowd. That they can be as excellent as this without playing epic riff anthem ‘Crown Of The Kings‘ – or anything else from the stellar Armada, for that matter – is doubly impressive.
- We’re stupid. It’s official. For a brief period, we feared for Dying Fetus– following Carnifex would have been tough, but with Keep Of Kalessin and Fleshgod Apocalypse being as outrageously good as they were tonight, there was a nasty worry that DF wouldn’t match up. It’s a worry that lasts maybe three seconds into their set. We couldn’t have been more completely wrong. Dying Fetus have been doing this for twenty years, and part of that longevity is because they’re fucking astonishing live. Tonight belongs to them. We should never have doubted them, and we’re very, very sorry.
Watch Dying Fetus playing ‘Killing On Adrenaline’ here:
- There cannot be many death metal bands in the world today who can match Dying Fetus in the flesh. The sheer visceral fury combined with those flashes of technicality that aren’t just impressive but disgracefully fun as well is a recipe so vital – and so horrifically pugilistic – that it’s hard to resist. At least that’s our excuse for the awful neck pain and hunched posture that mark us all of the following day. Dying Fetus are so good they have the power to break you. How many other bands can say that?
- Dying Fetus deserve a more legendary status within death metal than the one they already occupy. It’s easy to take them for granted, and to forget just how many destructively superb songs they have in their catalogue. The set tonight does not let up for so much as a riff- it all makes you want to flail around in aggression and generally break shit, whether it’s the classic material currently being reissued or the most recent Descend Into Depravity songs. And it’s all played with the kind of confident assurance that makes the unbelievably difficult look easy. Brilliant songs, brilliant musicianship and brilliant performance, brilliant fucking band, brilliant gig.