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FESTIVAL REVIEW: Binfest 2017 @ The Crowndale, London

If you checked out the preview for this raging all-dayer, you’ll have noticed that Distorted Sound were pretty fucking stoked over the prospect of the inaugural Binfest. After the killer lineup announcements, insane levels of hype and additional hype about the initial hype, we are utterly thrilled to escape the arctic wastes of Camden, roll up at The Crowndale and secure a decent spot. With all limbs defrosted and a cheeky pint to warm our cockles – we’re ready and braced for sonic devastation.

Chiasmata live @ Binfest 2017. Photo Credit: Sophie Maughan
Chiasmata live @ Binfest 2017. Photo Credit: Sophie Maughan

One of the main issues with events of the all-day persuasion is early doors – which inevitably results in a depleted audience for the opening act. Word from the promoters is that tech-metallers VISIONIST have been sadly forced to pull out, so it’s up to CHIASMATA to take the lead. And this four-piece don’t just step up to the challenge – they legitimately stamp all over it. Brooding atmospherics and uplifting melodies alongside vocalist Zoe Gale’s ethereal tones immediately lifts this handful of punters; whisking them away from this sterile and draughty pub to embark on a journey of prog-induced richness. Sporadic bursts of frenetic drumming underpinned by well-executed, bouncy riffs ensure that the set never meanders into stale territory, whilst frequent interaction with the engaged crowd is appreciated and reciprocated. Evocative 10-minute THE CONTORTIONIST-meets-GOJIRA opus Euphoria is the perfect choice to round off the thirty-minute trip, and Gale’s quavering thanks are genuinely endearing. A band whose star is undoubtedly on the rise – and they’ve got the potential to be a supernova.

Rating: 7/10

Azazel live @ Binfest 2017. Photo Credit: Sophie Maughan
Azazel live @ Binfest 2017. Photo Credit: Sophie Maughan

“We’ve come all the way from Nottingham so move the fuck in Binfest!” bark AZAZEL and suffice to say their request is followed to the letter. Rabid scenes ensue as an exceedingly enthusiastic dude is spotted unashamedly chucking himself around by the bar, prompting frontman JJ Spencer to leave the stage and furiously stalk the floor. Tracks like G.S.B, Purge and Voices are duly unleashed like baying dogs guarding the gates of hell, and mercilessly batter every pair of lugholes in the vicinity. Anyone who isn’t wearing earplugs may as well bid their hearing a fond farewell right now. The East Midlands crew quickly define themselves as purveyors of throat-ripping shrieks and doom-laden belligerence, and on the strength of this performance, UK deathcore has struck gold in finding another upcoming act to welcome into its filth-encrusted fold.

Rating: 8/10

Pioneers live @ Binfest 2017. Photo Credit: Sophie Maughan
Pioneers live @ Binfest 2017. Photo Credit: Sophie Maughan

PIONEERS only played their debut show just over a year ago, but as the five-piece drop that bass and open shit up, their penchant for and effortless ability to meld introspection with storming post-hardcore fury is undeniable. That said, there are several stylistic shifts at work with the melancholic and glitchy, electronica-spliced call-to-arms Patience in Time and last single Bad Blood – both of which are reminiscent of ARCHITECTS with those impassioned Sam Carter style “BLEGH!” shouts, anthemic choruses and rumbling breakdowns. With an arsenal of songs more akin to earworms, these are all fully capable of lodging themselves deep within your cranium and remaining there for days on end. The invite to “bang your fucking heads” doesn’t go unnoticed – both guitarists are spinning wildly amongst the assembled throng on several occasions – but beyond the tortured vitriol these guys aren’t afraid to wear their hearts on their collective sleeves. It’s a fearless display of emotion and unencumbered euphoria.

Rating: 7/10

Parting Gift live @ Binfest 2017. Photo Credit: Sophie Maughan
Parting Gift live @ Binfest 2017. Photo Credit: Sophie Maughan

PARTING GIFT emerged from the shadows of the darkest Manchester this past February and have been entrancing all and sundry ever since – especially if you’ve been fortunate enough to witness them in a live capacity. Pulsating rhythms and heady vocals combine to create ambient eargasms during a captivating set brimming with passion and unmistakable potential. After hearing hair-raiser Asleep brought to life in all its lush soundscape-esque glory, this is one band that Distorted Sound certainly won’t be sleeping on in the future. And we must urge you to follow suit and do the same.

Rating: 7/10

High Rise live @ Binfest 2017. Photo Credit: Sophie Maughan
High Rise live @ Binfest 2017. Photo Credit: Sophie Maughan

The award for the most ridiculously energetic frontman of the day at Binfest so far surely goes to HIGH RISE’s Jovic Staddon, who wastes zero time in demonstrating his gratitude for the Binfest masses – he shakes hands, doles out consecutive high-fives and even cheekily ruffles the hair of a few ladies stood nearby. The Kingston five-piece’s blend of melodic hardcore and emotive ambience is fist-pumping material of the highest order, not to mention relatable with lyrics (“I work a 9-5, I am so sick of this life, it isn’t over yet”) worthy of many a rowdy singalong. Acerbic cries collide with pummelling riffs and delirium-inducing grooves on songs like Vultures, and the guys even manage to persuade the room to hit the floor SLIPKNOT Spit It Out style towards the set’s conclusion – which unfortunately comes far too early for our liking.

Rating: 8/10

Lotus Eater live @ Binfest 2017. Photo Credit: Sophie Maughan
Lotus Eater live @ Binfest 2017. Photo Credit: Sophie Maughan

The subsequent backline changeover calls for an hour-long diversion from the mayhem, but peddlers of groove-laden darkness LOTUS EATER are just the ticket to relight the fire under our proverbial arses. It’s time for London to turn up as Jamie Mclees and his “giving it the beans” brethren rage through visceral cuts lifted from debut EP Gloom, and the venue is subject to the kind of venomous potency usually associated with the scene’s big-hitters, rather than a collective still very much in its infancy. Juggernaut riffs, static screeching and enamel-peeling screams juxtaposed by cohesive melodies all combine to ensure a core sound that is as harrowing as it is beautiful. Having fully experienced LOTUS EATER‘s immersive brand of doom-does-gloom first hand, Distorted Sound can honestly say that despondency has never sounded so dynamic.

Rating: 8/10

The Five Hundred live @ Binfest 2017. Photo Credit: Sophie Maughan
The Five Hundred live @ Binfest 2017. Photo Credit: Sophie Maughan

You could be swaddled in a straitjacket, strapped down to a chair, and still be quivering in aural ecstasy watching THE FIVE HUNDRED unleash the beast within tonight. Having not seen the Nottingham/Gibraltarian five-man slinging machine since UK-Tech Metal Fest 2016, the difference twelve months can make is utterly staggering. Necks (both on stage and off) are gleefully snapped during a nuclear strength rendition of Ghost In The Flames – complete with a double spin kick over mic cables and bass tone so unequivocally heavy it makes your entire body shake and skull rattle around your head to the point of disintegration. The mid-tempo chug and barbed hooks permeating brand new track Reclusive prove themselves to be contagious, but it’s the unbridled ferocity, emotional intensity and crushing grooves of behemoth Winters that ultimately tear out our black heart. Covering every square inch of space in front of the stage, vocalist John Eley deals in lyrical misanthropy. His transitions veer seamlessly between the clean and the caustic, whilst the maniacal, down-tuned eight-string action accompanying him makes one want to flip tables and melt faces. Imagine an army charging towards you with so much intense haste that your legs buckle, and you’re on the right track. Concluding remarks: Enough musical foreplay and bring on that debut album – we’re ready.

Rating: 8/10

Bohemian Grove live @ Binfest 2017. Photo Credit: Sophie Maughan
Bohemian Grove live @ Binfest 2017. Photo Credit: Sophie Maughan

The sound of the British underground has found a worthy figurehead in the form of deathcore collective BOHEMIAN GROVE, who dive headfirst into a performance seething with an insatiable hunger. Eye-popping belligerence is served as Spencer Costello practically turns himself inside out due to the blunt-force trauma of those gutturals, with material from Hollow sounding monstrous. It’s impossible not to be possessed by the low-end brutality of latest release Refuse To Be A Martyr with its delectable mix of dizzying breakdowns and smatterings of eerie electronica. There’s zero respite either as BOHEMIAN GROVE continue to reach for the jugular – bludgeoning riffs, oppressive instrumental passages, and accelerating grooves send this swelling room into welcome states of wide-eyed elation. The brief set is tight, at turns melodic and earth-shatteringly bleak – a masterclass in how to channel aggression with visceral emotion.

Rating: 8/10

Confessions of a Traitor live @ Binfest 2017. Photo Credit: Sophie Maughan
Confessions of a Traitor live @ Binfest 2017. Photo Credit: Sophie Maughan

Random crowd shouts of “he makes a mean steak!” have everyone breaking out into massive shit-eating grins, but CONFESSIONS OF A TRAITOR didn’t just come to play Binfest – they came to fucking slay it. Stephen MacConville’s propensity for climbing up on anything within reach becomes apparent as he mounts both the speaker and the bar, and even shoves the mic in a punter’s direction to their bemused delight. Heads bang and bodies are jumping as scathing bellows of “Look me in the eyes and tell me I was wrong!” rip through the dense air – and by this stage its difficult to judge who is relishing the moment more. Displaying technical precision and flair through tight, mallet-to-the-skull riffs alongside boundless energy, the band’s progression since the release of previous EP Seasons is obvious. The melodic hardcore influences remain intact and showcase the versatility of MacConville’s vocal range, but the inclusion of more technical elements temper the relentless ferocity and act like the calm before the inevitable (and brutal) storm.

Rating: 8/10

Harbinger live @ Binfest 2017. Photo Credit: Sophie Maughan
Harbinger live @ Binfest 2017. Photo Credit: Sophie Maughan

There’s one very simple reason for why these purveyors of fine tech-metal filth have been able to remain on many a radar for so long – fearless experimentation. And it’s allowed this so-called new breed to decimate their opposition. Binfest headliners HARBINGER burn with the fire of a thousand suns tonight as the quintet roll out an arsenal of riff-drenched maelstrom including tracks from current release Human Dust. Raw and visceral, the sheer cacophony emanating from these London natives is a malevolent joy to behold, but there’s also stacks of melody to offset the chaos. The barbarous all-consuming roar of The Darkness Of June doffs its cap to black metal, and features the kind of reverberating riffs plucked straight from the depths of hell itself. Ben Sutherland and Charlie Griffiths reaffirm the magic of their paring; impressing revellers with some seriously intricate guitar interplay and there’s also an impromptu cameo from BOUND IN FEAR’s Ben Mason who joins Tom Gardener on vocal duties – whilst swinging what we believe to be a binbag full of band merch. Unfortunately, the hellish combo of a piss poor PA and the bright spark who decided to start a club-night before the band have even wrapped things up (the mind actually boggles), forces them to cut 2.5 songs from the set. It’s a disappointing end to an incredible day at the inaugural Binfest, but full kudos to the HARBINGER guys for exhibiting the kind of professionalism and good grace lacking from the venue.

Rating: 9/10

Distorted Sound salutes you Binfest – and we’re looking forward to seeing you next year for round two!

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Sophie Maughan

Friendly Northerner let loose in Birmingham. Known to get a bit wild after one too many tequilas. Heavy metal is my only religion. Sun worshipper. Also enjoying life as a music journo for Metal Hammer, Terrorizer, Prog and PureGrainAudio.