Trease: Admittedly, I’m not a massive Hatebreed fan, but I was genuinely surprised by the sheer enthusiasm of the band and their fans. I was actually enjoying the first couple of songs with the chunky riffs and breakdowns accentuated brilliantly by an intense lighting and fire show. Fans’ hands were hammering the air and I was in the thick of it. A minor hiccup occurred when one of the fire dispensers caught alight and I swear I could see lead singer, James Jasta sweating a little more than he probably should’ve been.
Although it was a visually stunning performance, as far as the music is concerned the breakdowns were the only highlight for me, plus I try to steer clear from bands that remind me of Limp Bizkit. I’m sure the fans would be happy, but I lost interest a quarter of the way through and the vocals were enough to make me retreat back to the beer tent to watch the show from there. This proved a much better idea as I was approached by Vadim and Sam from Dragonforce who proved to be pretty interesting guys! (Even if I was a little disheartened that Vadim had changed from the fluoro green pants he’d been wearing on stage.)
However, it must be said that Hatebreed managed to pull off the biggest circle pit my eyes have ever seen. During ‘Black Flag’, the singer commanded an entire pit to run away from the stage (which is what I’d already done!) and start circling the sound engineer’s tent, perched about fifty metres back. THIS made me get up out of my seat and climb the hill for a better view. What a spectacle it was, seeing about 500 Hatebreed fans frantically running around in a massive circle, and for about half the song the pit had completely emptied out. I felt like I was watching a scene from ’28 Days Later’ or ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’, and after 4 days of metal these guys certainly looked the zombie part. Alas, it was probably the most exercise any of them have ever had and it started to lose steam after about a minute.
Trease: Five days into the festival and I was starting to feel the pinch. That annoying pain in my liver, my neck and head feeling like it had been stuck in a washing machine (with my hair becoming one massive dreadlock to prove it) and the ever present ‘bitch inducer’: fatigue. Tiredness soon becomes stress, then panic as we realise the free coffee machine in the press tent has died. I’m not one to advocate illicit drug use, but at this stage I really needed something to either pick me up or calm me the fuck down. As it turns out, New Orleans’ legendary Down, couldn’t have come at a better time.
I succumbed to the slow, sludgy tracks from albums NOLA, A BUSTLE IN YOUR HEDGEROW and OVER THE UNDER. The down-tuned and heavily distorted brilliance of the guitars epitomised the south and took us all out for a whisky in a dingy Louisiana bar.
As Phil Anselmo prowls across the stage, now a veteran after his years fronting Pantera, I notice plumes of smoke radiating from the crowd as people start to light up all over the place. Clearly this is the band to get stoned to. The last time I saw Down was in a crowded sports stadium a few years ago on their supporting tour with Heaven and Hell. Exciting and fun, but a little too confined and stagnant. In the open air setting however, Jimmy Bower’s drumming is explosive and whether it was the music itself or the second hand smoke coursing its way through my body: there was a definite ‘Alive’ feeling in the air. Everything is cool man, let’s have another beer!!
HannTu: I gave Down a miss in the hope of catching Warbringer on the smaller stage, but although there was still about 30 minutes of their set left according to the official schedule, they were on their last song by the time I got there. I’m ashamed to say that they were the only band I caught on the second stage this year…
There was a party going on in earnest at the Metal Beach that night, with Sam Totman, Vadim Pruzhanov and Dani Evans from Alestorm. Sam was piss-drunk as usual and insisted on showing everyone his knob. And on that note…