Temples Festival 2014 – Day One | Diary & Photoset

Brutal Truth

Above: Brutal Truth. Photos (c) Elliot Winter / Introspect Music

A magnificent first day…

We arrive at Motion at a perfectly reasonable hour, and are accorded the honour of being given the very first press wristbands. As we’re working, we resist the temptation to get beered up immediately, and instead explore the venue. The venue layout seems effective. We like the aesthetics, merch stands, and the number of bars. The canal side relaxation area is also very comfortable. With kickoff looming, we wander over to the main stage. Allow me to introduce you to my own take-no-prisoners festival act rating system:

✮ Poor  |  ✮✮ Average  |  ✮✮✮ Decent  |  ✮✮✮✮ Very Good  |  ✮✮✮✮✮ Magnificent

Opening bands at festivals are usually a mixed bag. Very often, they’re the winner of some sort of competition, and play reasonably well whilst ultimately feeling out of place. This doesn’t apply to Spider Kitten (✮✮✮). Wearing shades indoors, their stoner metal sets the tone for the weekend, keeping it low and slow. The vocals underwhelm a touch at times, but improve when the drummer provides harmonies. A good start by the chaps from Cardiff.

Next up is Flayed Disciple (✮✮✮), who bring their old school death/thrash to the second stage. Blastbeats and beatdowns are abundant, complete with obligatory wailing solos. As ever, the band are very tight and technically proficient, though we feel like we’ve heard it all many times before.

Witchsorrow (✮✮) now take to the main stage, bringing the tone firmly back to doom. Their sound is a little empty, and they seem to be trying to cover this up with lots of guitar effects and solos. Their fleeting upbeat moments improve matters, however.

As we go back inside, Satan’s Satyrs (✮✮) are starting on the main stage. What exactly are we watching? They feel like classic rock, trad doom and cock rock all melded into one, and they definitely need some spandex. The band are amusing in their own way, but ultimately complete twaddle. We’re not sure why.

Wodensthrone (✮✮✮✮) don’t immediately grab us from the word go, but once their enormous and atmospheric sound kicks in, they become the most impressive band so far. All of the transitions are seamless, from soulful passages though to wall of sound middle eights, and huge crushing finishes. Their pagan black metal sound reminds us of Old Corpse Road, but with less of the silly nonsense. Very impressive, and definitely a band to take home.

Moss (✮✮) immediately follow on the main stage, playing their brand of trad doom that’s so slow it borders on drone. One of the first things we notice is the strange, rattling distortion. We try to work out the reason for it, then realise that Moss have no bassist. This isn’t a negative thing by default, though seems somewhat jarring as a way of compensating for the lack of low-end. Their music isn’t massively relevant in 2014, but it goes down well with the crowd as a whole.

We’re getting into the business end of the day now, as Winterfylleth (✮✮✮✮) come onstage. They look so normal, though this is of course meaningless as their black metal madness immediately lays waste to the legion of fans amassed to watch them. The music includes huge soundscapes, whilst remaining furious at all times. Even the screamed vocals have harmonies, and we leave wishing their set could have been ten minutes longer.

Jucifer (✮✮✮) were one of the bands we were most looking forward to before the event, though they don’t quite live up to their superb studio material in a live setting. For a two-piece, their sound is surprisingly big and they have excellent stage presence, though we can’t shake the feeling that the sludge duo from Georgia, USA are over-compensating a bit.

We wait twenty minutes for a bag of chips. This isn’t the fault of the festival organisers as their third food vendor (for vegetarian and vegan options) pulled out at the last minute, though it does make things difficult. We then manage to catch some of Desecration (✮✮✮), who offer up a slice of “brutal Welsh death metal”. Sure, they don’t offer anything particularly innovative or different, but their musicianship is excellent (seriously, that drummer), and they’re a great laugh, offering continual banter to their Severn-side neighbours. To quote their wonderful t-shirts – “I f**kin’ loves it.”

After all that silly fun, the proggy doom of Blood Ceremony (✮✮), complete with faux Hammond organ and abundant flute solos, all seems a bit twee. They’re perfectly good musicians, but we can’t help but feel that they’re just trying too hard.

We leg it over to the second stage to get a good spot for Anaal Nathrakh (✮✮✮✮), and we’re glad to have done so, as the room quickly becomes rammed. The band rip our eardrums to bits with their super-tight, blackened death antics. The kick speed is unfathomable, and the crowd are going nuts. Should they have had a higher billing? Probably.

A backdrop bearing the words “The Final Round” is up for the last ever UK show by Brutal Truth (✮✮✮✮✮), who storm about the stage, putting bands half their age to shame. The New York grindcore veterans formed 24 years ago, and whilst they look their age, they’re as energetic and relevant as ever tonight. We wander up to the balcony to get a better vantage point, and the moshpit is going absolutely insane. Farewell, chaps. You gave it everything, and we’ll be eternally grateful.

We’re not entirely sure that anyone can follow the insanity we’ve just witnessed, and we’re proven to be correct as Gehenna () offer up a monotonous slice of all blasting, all corpse painting, all preaching black metal that frankly hasn’t been relevant for fifteen years. The second room is sweltering, so we go outside to cool off for a bit before heading back to the main stage for…

Electric Wizard (✮✮✮✮). Our mighty headliners, who tune so low their strings are practically hanging off, take to the stage to almighty acclaim from the sell-out crowd, and launch into an utterly crushing set of monolithic doom that shakes us to the core. We struggle to hear the vocals at times, and reports filter through that people are unable to get into the room, but it’s still excellent to see these pioneers of the genre well and truly living up to their headline slot.

Having enjoyed a magnificent first day, we decide that we need to reflect on the most enjoyable moments so far… In the pub. Other than a raging hangover, what will Saturday bring?

Check back with us over the next week for Saturday and Sunday’s reviews, and for now watch Brutal Truth’s ‘Sugar Daddy’ here: