When it comes to heavy metal related events the beautiful, idyllic setting of Edinburgh generally tends to get overlooked in favour of Glasgow but this year sees the dawning of a new festival in the form of Heavy Scotland touting some of the biggest names on the metal circuit as well as providing opportunities for some of the young and upcoming bands to feel the rush of playing on the big stage. Without further ado here is Distorted Sound‘s review of Heavy Scotland Festival!
SATURDAY 1st APRIL 2017
The Welsh 3 piece wasted little time riling the crowd up into a frenzy with their lethal combination of witty on stage banter courtesy of frontman/bassist Charlie Rogers, ludicrously heavy riffing and delightfully descriptive song titles such as Rapid Gutteral Disfigurement and everyone’s favourite hit Raped By Ebola. They took full advantage of the crowds abundance of energy throughout their early time slot with their impressive display of technicality and were a perfect example of the diamonds in the rough that can be discovered within the plethora of unsigned bands on the scene.
DYSCARNATE have been lurking in the shadows, keeping a low profile for a while now which was quite a surprise considering the impressive response received from their most recent album And So It Came To Pass but they are most certainly back firing on all cylinders, now equipped with a new bassist in the form of Al Llewellyn they absolutely piledrived through a barrage of new material proving to everyone they are back to their ferocious best. They possess so much power in their live performances and considering they are only a 3 piece it’s actually quite frightening. Matt Unsworth unleashed a drum clinic on the crowd in attendance with his rapid fire fills and in conjunction with the hard hitting vocals of frontman/guitarist Tom Whitty they had the crowd in the palm of their hand. Tom was also celebrating his 30th birthday so he received a rousing round of celebratory chants as the crowd showed their appreciation having the opportunity to witness their return to form.
After the monumental reaction they received from the recent release of their long awaited album Woe To The Vanquished the energy in the Corn Exchange had reached fever pitch with anticipation. The relief and pure exhilaration etched all over frontman John Kevill‘s face was palpable as they ploughed through the opening few tracks of their new album inciting a deluge of circle pits. Remain Violent has already become as anthemic as the likes of Killing In The Name Of with its chest pounding riffs and cries of rebellion. Whatever Warbringer threw at the crowd they still insatiably craved for more as they rounded off the set with a couple of classics in the form of Combat Shock and Prey For Death leaving everyone in attendance in a state of awe and appreciation of getting to witness the bands triumphant return to the stage.
After witnessing the brutality that just ensued the same thought was on everyone’s lips, ‘how is anyone going to follow that?’ but HAVOK continued the thrash onslaught with their flamboyant riffing, bellowing chants of defiance and energetic stage presence playing an array of new tracks such as the intense, heavy hitting Intention To Deceive as well as some of the dependable set staples like Prepare For Attack. They did not quite achieve the dizzying heights of WARBRINGER‘s performance but the crazy combination of intricate riffs from lead guitarist Reece Scruggs, the piercingly barbaric screams from frontman David Sanchez and the mind boggling bass licks from Nick Schendzielos showed in abundance why they are up their with the most talked about names in the thrash metal game.
The bar has already been set so high thus far that you couldn’t help but wonder if the lineup could maintain this unrelenting level of musicianship but with a band as technically proficient as FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE it was never in any doubt that they were going to encapsulate the crowd in their unstoppable whirlwind of operatic death metal. They were truly a marvel to behold as they unleashed such a savage and merciless explosion of raw instrumental mastery. The inclusion and mystique of the masked soprano added another level to the woven tapestry of extreme chaos which left the crowd in a state of shock as they made a massive statement that they are not a band to be underestimated.
Despite their copious years dominating the realm of all things death metal GRAVE never really managed to match the unbridled intensity of the bands that came before them. Without doubt the Swedish visionaries showed exactly why they have been amongst the top of the pack approaching a staggering 30 years as a band delving into their back catalogue with timeless choice cuts such as Into The Grave and Deformed but their drastic change of pace was a bit too abrupt for the crowd to acclimatise to as they began to grow a bit weary from the onslaught they had endured throughout the day.
BEHEMOTH have gained a monstrous reputation for their live performances and their headline performance showed exactly why. The visceral emotions conveyed in The Satanist feel like they were destined to be experienced in a live setting and in its entirety, fortunately the lack of pyro did not detract away from the attraction. Frontman Adam ‘Nergal’ Darski was at his imperious spine chilling best as his mere presence in the room incited the sensation that you were about to witness something truly special. From the opening riffs of Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel the polish powerhouse had the seemingly revitalised crowd in the palm of their hand as the middle of the room parted and soon descended into a sea of flailing bodies. As they progressed with their symphony of unsettling mayhem their attire also became more demonic and disturbing adding an extra element to their performance which was brilliantly concluded with the crowd favourites Conquer All and Chant For Eschaton 2000 to put the stamp on what proved to be a phenomenal array of metal.
SUNDAY 2nd APRIL 2017
Day two has arrived and the crowd now have a very high expectation following the aural battering they received the day previous but the young Edinburgh based quartet DISPOSABLE had no intentions of giving the crowd any form of respite as they burst onto the stage with their furious, unrelenting combination of gritty vocals unleashed by the whirlwind of dreadlocks otherwise known as frontman William Robertson, blistering riffs from guitar duo Andrew Anderson and Jack Batcharj and hammer blow like drumming on show from the unassuming surprise package Liam Tucker. Rifling through tracks from their full length album At The Foot Of The World they warmed the crowd up nicely for what was due to unfold later that day and they certainly left their mark as guitarist Andrew smashed his guitar in a moment of reckless abandon before departing.
Considering the majority of the lineup for Heavy Scotland is predominantly thrash and death metal outfits it was a welcome change of pace to see Finland’s own SHIRAZ LANE hit the stage with their high energy, no frills, hard rock approach. The current iteration of the band has only been a solidified unit since 2015 but they gelled brilliantly with a wide range of punchy choruses and perfectly executed falsetto courtesy of frontman Hannes Kett which got the crowd involved and reignited the party mood.
With some of the biggest names in thrash also on the bill EVIL INVADERS needed to make a big impact and they delivered in spades. Showcasing songs from their recent efforts In For The Kill and Pulses Of Pleasure the Belgian battering ram encouraged the crowd into forming circle pits so boisterous it almost resembled a stampede. From their almost seizure enducing lightshow to the whirlwind like frenzy of riffs courtesy of frontman/guitarist Johannes Van Audenhove and fellow shredder Max Maxheim they certainly left a lasting impression.
The crowd were revelling in anticipation of getting the opportunity to witness the larger than life former frontman of IRON MAIDEN and BLAZE BAYLEY did not disappoint, treating all in attendance to some songs from his brand new album Endure and Survive alongside choice cuts from his IRON MAIDEN and WOLFSBANE back catalogue which stimulated the crowd into various chants and sing alongs involving the younger generation just as much as his fans of many years ago.
A totally different contrast to the previous band saw INGESTED take to the stage, pummelling the crowd into submission with their relentless, down-tuned assault and the soul intention of beating the crowd into a lifeless shell. Featuring various tracks from their recent album The Architect Of Extinction the Manchester outfit showed why they are regarded as one of the up and coming bands to watch out for on the deathcore circuit.
DESTRUCTION are the last but certainly not least of the thrash bands on show at Heavy Scotland and literally within minutes the crowd exploded in awe of the raw power they have vigorously crafted over the last 35 years which left little doubt in anyones minds why they are regarded as one of the prestigious ‘Big Three’ of German thrash metal. Guitarist Michael Sifringer and bassist/frontman Marcel Schirmer who are both original members showed age is just a number with no signs of fatigue and with a wealth of material at their disposal they gave the crowd a varied trip through their back catalogue including Curse The Gods and Life Without Sense dating all the way back to their 1986 album Eternal Devastation.
With their most recent release being back in 2013 you would be correct to hold a little scepticism whether FINNTROLL still have the motivation they once possessed earlier in their careers but they proved why they are a perfect addition to any festival lineup and any doubt was quickly dispelled as by now the crowd were suitably merry and in the party spirit. When most people think about folk metal bands they automatically make the assumption of high spirited music accompanied by harpsichords other such quirky accompaniments but FINNTROLL display a distinct level of aggression amongst their fast tempo, high energy outbursts. It becomes very apparent that the Edinburgh crowd aren’t exactly fluent in Swedish but they really don’t care as they get involved in the proceedings and continue to jig and frolic around the Corn Exchange to songs like Trollhammaren and the more recent Häxbrygd.
In the eyes of many ARCH ENEMY were pretty much written off with the shock departure of long time vocalist Angela Gossow but with new blood in the form of Alissa White-Gluz and former NEVEMORE shredder extraordinare Jeff Loomis they have a re-energised sense of purpose and proved they are not over by a long shot. In support of their most recent release As The Stages Burn which is a live album recorded at Wacken Open Air they gave the crowd everything they wanted and then some. Ranging from newer tracks like War Eternal to the old staples such as Dead Eyes See No Future and We Will Rise they powered through their set like a raging inferno with some mouth watering guitar work courtesy of Michael Amott and Jeff Loomis you could not resist getting involved with the fist pumping anthems which were a fantastic end to a brilliantly organised festival.
Check out our photo gallery of Heavy Scotland from Evangeline Parkinson Photography here: