WORDS: James Weaver PHOTOS: Katie Needham
Ghostfest has long been revered as one of the UK’s leading festivals in the alternative world. With each year’s lineup catering for those who have a taste for hardcore and deathcore, the festival has endured 10 years of success in the UK’s alternative sub-culture. With 2015’s edition of the festival, it comes as a double edge sword. Whilst it is fantastic to see a festival celebrating ten years it came as a blow to many that prior to the festival on September 5th, the organisers announced that this year’s festival may well and truly be the last. All politics aside, here is Distorted Sound‘s full coverage of Ghostfest 2015. Warning, it gets heavy.
Sheffield metallers MALEVOLENCE aren’t your standard hardcore band. With influences rooted in sludge, hardcore and groove metal, MALEVOLENCE have the rare trait to appeal to anyone in the alternative scene and their performance at Ghostfest packed an almighty punch. Opening with Delusions of Fear, the Sheffield mob quickly set the tone for the proceedings; fast, hard hitting riffs with plenty of groove. With the setlist comprised entirely of the band’s debut, Reign of Suffering, there was little room for new material, yet this benefited the band allowing the fans to connect with songs they have grown much accustomed to. Make no mistake, MALEVOLENCE set the bar high for the rest day with a tight-knit performance showcasing the utmost professionalism.
Belgium’s NASTY have built up a solid reputation in the hardcore underground throughout their ten year career. With the band releasing their latest record, Shokka, earlier this year it made sense that the majority of the setlist was comprised of material from the band’s latest record. Riffs packed an almighty punch and the rhythm was steady and consistent. Unfortunately for NASTY, repetition reared it’s ugly head and the performance became stale rather quickly. There was no doubting the band’s enthusiasm to incite carnage but unfortunately their performance was rather forgettable.
The UK hardcore scene has been flourishing in recent years and Lincoln’s BLOOD YOUTH are the latest export to emerge boasting big riffs and loud hard-hitting vocals. Their performance at Ghostfest demonstrated true potential, with riffs hard, heavy and packing enough groove to give the band their own identity in a over-populated scene. Frontman Kaya Tarsus did a wonderful job of keeping the crowd pumped throughout the band’s 30 minute slot whilst Sam Hallet‘s skills behind the drums was nothing but impressive. From that performance alone, BLOOD YOUTH have made a lasting impression and are set to cement themselves in the UK’s hardcore scene.
RISE OF THE NORTHSTAR are perhaps one of the more bizarre bands in modern hardcore. With anime influences clear from the band’s lyrics and album artwork, RISE OF THE NORTHSTAR‘s musical style is best summarised as a combination of rap, metal and hardcore. With a rare performance at Ghostfest, the packed crowd lapped up every riff, every breakdown and every guitar solo throughout RISE OF THE NORTHSTAR‘s set. Opening with the anthem What The Fuck followed by fan favourite Welcame (Furyo State of Mind) incited chaos from the crowd and this trend continued for much of their performance. Musically the band were on fine form with Evangelion-B and Air One (ridiculous stage names right?) providing enough groove and rhythm to keep the pit moving. Vithia‘s vocal performance was oozing in charisma and despite sporting a crutch, moved around the stage, holding the audience in the palm of his hand. With such a hard-hitting performance, one could assume that it won’t be long before RISE OF THE NORTHSTAR return to our shores in the very near future.
BORN OF OSIRIS are perhaps the most intricate and technical out of Ghostfest‘s lineup. The American deathcore act have been mesmerising fans with slick riffs, chaotic breakdowns and a powerful dual vocal performance for years now. Yet their performance at Ghostfest was nothing but flat. With a setlist lacking material from the band’s most successful record, The Discovery, there was no stand out moment for BORN OF OSIRIS. Whilst the riff work in Divergency and the powerful cleans in Exhilarate turned a few heads, unfortunately for BORN OF OSIRIS, they delivered a performance that is largely forgettable. Granted, the band had a 45 minute window to make a mark but with a lacklustre setlist and largely forgettable musical display, BORN OF OSIRIS were faded away into the back of the audience’s minds.
The UK alternative scene seems to be spurting out bands that boast quality. MARTYR DEFILED have quickly become a fan favourite in the UK underground and quite rightly so. Their performance at Ghostfest was chaotic and laced in anger, exactly what was to be expected. With the band performing on the smallest stage at the festival, it only enhanced the band’s brutal performance, riffs were absolutely massive, drumming was consistently chaotic and Matthew Jones‘ vocal deliveries were menacing to say the least. With the setlist mostly comprising of material from the band’s latest studio record, the phenomenal No Hope. No Morality, MARTYR DEFILED unleashed absolute havoc from the first slick riff to the last blastbeat. Demons In The Mist unleashed the breakdowns, 616 burst the pit into life and Lvcifer demonstrated the band’s absolute professionalism. MARTYR DEFILED‘s performance at Ghostfest only enhanced their already stellar reputation in the UK underground and will continue to be a fan favourite for years to come.
With their return at last year’s Impericon Festival, DESPISED ICON have continued the reunion in style with a truly menacing performance at Ghostfest. DESPISED ICON‘s biggest trait is the fact the band utilised two vocalist which ultimately provides stronger vocal deliveries. The efforts from both Alex Erian and Steve Marois was nothing but impressive, with the pig squeals in opening Furtive Monologue being a particular highlight, their dual efforts created an atmosphere of true carnage. With the band delivering a set that covered all the band’s strongest material, from Bulletproof Scales to MVP and Day of Mourning, DESPISED ICON ticked all the boxes over their well respected back catalogue and the fans lapped up every moment. Riffs were slick, breakdowns were absolutely massive and Alex Pelletier‘s rapid drumming was absolutely remarkable. It just showcases that DESPISED ICON are still relevant in deathcore today and maybe the band should have second thoughts about returning to hiatus.
With EMMURE cancelling their performance at the Leeds date earlier in the day, rising UK hardcore act BROKEN TEETH stepped up their game to perform on the main stage before headliners HATEBREED. A bold challenge indeed. Whilst BROKEN TEETH are cherished in the underground of UK hardcore, speculation was certainly in the air before the band took to the stage. With the band’s philosophy firmly rooted in DIY hardcore, BROKEN TEETH made the challenge look almost too easy. From the thrash driven Soul Destroyer to doom driven On The Edge, BROKEN TEETH delivered a set that will firmly cement itself in the memory of those in attendance. Frontman Dale Graham oozed charisma as he galloped around the stage, taking every opportunity to get in the face of the swelling crowd. With their performance packing an almighty punch backed with huge riffs and charismatic stage presence, BROKEN TEETH have shot themselves up the big leagues of UK hardcore.
HATEBREED have enjoyed success as one of hardcore’s leading bands for numerous years now. With consistently hard-hitting records, numerous appearances at Europe’s leading metal festivals, their performance at Ghostfest only enhanced their already stellar reputation. With the band’s setlist covering all aspects of the band’s extensive back catalogue, HATEBREED more than provided enough to deliver a setlist of true spectacle. Live For This, In Ashes They Shall Reap, Destroy Everything and I Will Be Heard all made an appearance and each song was met with thunderous appreciation from the vast crowd. Musically, the band were on fine form with the charismatic Jamey Jasta charging around the stage and delivering an impressive vocal performance that matches his efforts in the studio. The combination of Frank Novinec and Wayne Lozinak‘s guitar efforts provided enough groove, Matt Byrne‘s drumming kept the tempo at an all time high and Chris Beattie‘s bass tones were absolutely thunderous. HATEBREED‘s reputation is already at an all time high and whilst their performance at Ghostfest didn’t break any new ground, it only reinforced the fact that HATEBREED are one of the leading bands in hardcore.
Check out our exclusive photo gallery of the day’s action at Ghostfest below: