It’s that time of the year again. No we don’t mean turning the heating back on – we are talking about Candlefest, the annual showcases organised by those awesome chaps over at Candlelight Records. This year’s lineup boasts no more than eight bands (well nine actually if you live near Manchester) for the recession smashing price of £15 and quite frankly, you’d be barking mad to miss it.
Six things we learnt at Candlefest 2011:
1) There are a few die-hards that have come early to catch ‘War Torn’ black metallers Eastern Front, who reunited with original singer Metzger earlier this year. Whilst the band have shown some potential, this early afternoon set proves to be disappointing with more style (corpse paint, banners, strobe lighting) than substance – coming across more like a bad Dimmu Borgir tribute act. It’s hard to take a frontman with floppy spiked armguards seriously, and whilst we would never want him to fall over and impale himself – it may have been worthwhile investing in something a bit more robust / menacing.
2) On the flipside, Xerath have just come back from touring in China and sound even more spinecrushing than usual. Rich Thomson knows exactly how to command a crowd with an almost Anselmo-level of authority over the onslaught of riffs coming from guitarist Owain Williams and bassist Chris Clark. If you crossed the symphonic greatness of Strapping Young Lad with the puritan groove of Pantera, this is what you would get.
3) There’s quite a bit of excitement coming out of The Rotted camp at the moment – and given the sheer greatness of their recently released second album Ad Nauseam, who can blame them? This band are renowned for the intensity of their live shows and once again, they do not disappoint. It makes no sense why someone would launch a missile towards singer Ben McCrow at the end of such a compelling performance, but he handles it well by inviting whoever it was to visit him at the merch stand. We’d bet our life savings they didn’t introduce themselves.
4) It’s been a while since we’ve seen Winterfylleth and tonight they remind of us of how utterly brilliant that debut record is. Chris Naughton looks like he could be the happiest frontman in black metal but the cold, dark riffs that come out of his amp are anything but cheery.
5) Altar Of Plagues are capable of genuine greatness. Their show is nothing short of astounding – even Anaal Nathrakh’s Dave Hunt thinks so, describing them as “a revelation” during his band’s set. The Irish gents look totally unassuming until they begin, raging in near-total darkness like their lives depend on it. It’s hypnotic, with no banter between songs to break the spell and the crowd are left stumbling around in complete awe of what they’ve seen. A late contender for Gig Of The Year.
6) The least popular people in the Underworld right now are US immigration. Anaal Nathrakh are noticeably missing 50% of their full-time members with Mick Kenney stuck in the States having been told he can’t leave then and be allowed back in. Apparently they considered cancelling in Mick’s absence, but instead deliver that trademark Nathrakh firestorm, and are as fucking brilliant as you would expect.