Saturday, July 07, 2007

Pressure Rising...

Yeah I know, I know, been way too long, but I hadn’t realised how goddamn demanding holidays are, anyway, I’m back now and slowly getting back to normal, so posting will be getting back on track this week.

Now I’ve longed to do this for aeons, in fact, I wanted to do a Japan report last year when I visited that country but, I was unable to do so, due in large part to the severing of my tongue and the lack of will to do anything remotely creative. Still, I’m going again this year, so maybe a report this year will come to fruition, who knows, anything’s possible.

Regardless of Japan, without further a do, I bring you, PRESSURE FEST 2007, the low down.

NB – no cameras were allowed inside, so no pix, sorry guys.

Day 1

So I’d taken the train from friend Kat who lives in Bonn (the former capital I was surprised to learn, where the hell was I during Geography and History lessons???) to Essen, checked into my hotel and kipped for an hour, then decided to get moving as I didn’t want to miss Bun Dem Out.

Upon arriving a familiar scene greeted me, this being the ominous concrete structure of the Gysenberg Hall and the milling around of various hardcore kids from all over the globe (more so this year then when I came in 2005). So I got to it, diving into the queue I sort to get my wristband for the following 3 days and did so rather swiftly.

From there I joined the queue to gain entry to the venue and in there I found many, many kids from London (some I knew that were coming and others (to my great surprise) that I didn’t).

Anyway, we get in, and the first band of the day is BUN DEM OUT (7.5), this band have been tearing shit up in London for a while now, but have grown immensely since putting out their MCD on Rucktion earlier this year. Their violent mix of beatdown and scything slayer riffs (ala prime Arkangel and 50 Caliber) get the floor moving, represented in large part by the London Headz. They end their set by covering “All Will Suffer,” by Shattered Realm and are joined on stage by none other then Joe Hardcore to send the crowd into a barmy frenzy.

Quality start.

ANIMOSITY (8) follow, burgeoning with confidence they blaze onto the stage with one of my favourite tunes ‘The Black Page,’ they then proceed to slam a visceral set and include a grinding new tune set to feature on their upcoming new record ‘Animal.’ I’d seen RISE & FALL (7.5) earlier this year with the Hope Conspiracy and they impressed me but they were far more powerful on the big stage here and churned out a cosmic half hour which in turn rendered their ripping metallic hardcore brew all the more enticing. One of the first big attractions for me this weekend was LENGTH OF TIME (8.5), the last time was enjoyable (Goodlife 2003) but more of an imitation of the real thing (I think only Kirby was the original member at Goodlife) but this, this was the real deal, the original line up. They kick off with a triplet of tunes from their awesome EP ‘Shame To This Weakness Modern World,’ including the immortal ‘Thought Of The Enslaved,’ and the broody title track. They follow that up with a triplet from ‘Approach To The New World,’ closing with the apocalyptic ‘Do What Must Be Done.’

Awesome Shit.

JOB FOR A COWBOY (7), the world’s most loathed myspace darlings find themselves being thoroughly adored by the German crowd. There were a lot of JFAC t-shirts and hoodies (yes hoodies, it was fuckin cold that weekend) on display, thus there was a feeling of anticipation for their performance. Now I mentioned in my review of their album for Digital Metal that when I saw them play with Unearth earlier this year, the newer material paled in comparison to that of ‘Doom.’ Again it was the same scenario here but with one difference, the new material is beginning to sound more natural live, more powerful but still, when the band drop their hits from the EP they are a wholly different proposition.

Still as I said in that review, the band’s got potential, they now need to channel it justly too move forward.

Performance of the day has to go to KNUCKLEDUST (9), goddamn; it’s so crazy seeing these local boys tearing it up on such a massive stage, but crazier is the reaction stimulated in the crowd. They go fuckin ape shit, APE SHIT, I included (how could I not). From ’25 Years Dead,’ all the way to ‘Against All Odds,’ the band don’t miss a beat, despite bassist Nicky not being present (filled in by Pieman from Hellbent Diehard) and they band stating that they are ‘playing like shit,’ nonsense, they licked it.

I was pretty monged after that and I also stumbled into my good Swedish friend Love just before AS I LAY DYING, so I didn’t really watch the band. Furthermore, he secured a yummy carton of chocolate Soya milk. Unable to resist we took it to the back of venue and savoured it during their set and ended up missing almost all of it, or at least a significant proportion that negates me from reviewing it fairly.

CONVERGE (8.5), are so good, even headlining a big fest, even if I do feel they suit a tighter, smaller environment. Still, they play a great set, drawing largely from their last 3 albums but pull out the older classics (I loved it when they played ‘Forsaken,’ and ‘Locust Reign,’) to keep older headz like myself grinning.

So a pretty hot start to Pressure, good mix of bands, good dancing and awesome treats (Soya milk and vegan cookies), day 2 with its line up, could only be better…

Day 2

Due to major beef getting inside (god knows why), I miss NASTY, which bummed me out cuz I was really looking forward to dancing to them and the chances of them coming to the UK anytime soon are pretty unlikely ;( So I prepared myself for the inevitable bore fest that is BRING ME THE HORIZON (-1000) but fortunately for me (and a great deal of others), the band didn’t play, rumours started flying around that they felt they should be higher up the bill and chose to deliberately ‘miss,’ their slot in order to demand a higher one. Well if this is true then they are a bunch of pretentious prima donnas and of course, wankers, in fact, they shouldn’t have even been at Pressure Fest, so they should have been grateful to have even got a spot.

Still, it meant that the other bands got to play a bit longer (I think anyway) so BLACK FRIDAY 29 (7.5), impressed with their stout but endearing hardcore. They are certainly growing in stature as this performance was far stronger then 2 years ago. Furthermore, new material is set to be released soon, so watch out for that. SIX FT DITCH (8) are notorious for their violent shows, so the proposition of them playing a fest with a massive floor and plenty of kids willing to bust out every move imaginable is a recipe for pure, but fun mayhem or complete carnage that leaves many broken, bruised and very, very pissed off. Well it was a mixture of the two, there was much carnage to be had and most people didn’t seem to care about getting hurt but what can you do? Get on with it is what I say.

One of the main attractions of Pressure Fest this year was the amount of ‘special,’ guests they had roped in too play exclusively, CASEY JONES (8.5), being one of them. Shit, I hadn’t realized how addictive these boys are as their set made me rue not giving their records more attention so that I could have been up their screaming along too, next time. German powerhouse SETTLE THE SCORE (8), have really come along since their first MCD, and to think that they were struggling away playing any show possible not that long ago…Their set is direct and to the point and gets not only plenty of crazy dance moves going but a tremendous circle pit that threatens to engulf everyone in and around it (as if it was some crazy whirlpool).

Yet another ‘special,’ guest was THE WARRIORS (7.5), I had been looking forward to see what material this band would plum for as I equally like both records but knowingly accept that ‘Beyond The Noise,’ isn’t as well suited live in comparison to ‘War Is Hell.’ I think the band obviously know this as they played it safe, culling the majority of the set from ‘War Is Hell,’ and throwing in a new tune from their forthcoming album on Victory.
Sadly there was no Rage Against The Machine cover.

Although I like PARKWAY DRIVE (7), on record, last time I saw them, I was bored to tears, not so here, they smash it for half an hour, nuff said. Stupidly I missed HAVE HEART (8.5), when they toured the UK earlier this year, and was kicking myself for quite a few weeks, thus I was delighted to have the opportunity to sample them here and based on their performance I will not miss their upcoming Euro tour. From start to finish it was a cathartic, engaging and above all, emotional set that was so captivating that it was impossible not to turn my head away. Every beat was amplified tenfold, every riff more so, and Pat Flynn stalked and stomped on the stage like a complete lunatic.

This set me up for what should have been the undoubted highlight of the day and not only that, but of the festival. Unfortunately ALL OUT WAR (6) failed to ignite my enthusiasm and the majority of the crowd. In fact, I still can’t believe how underwhelming their set was, things started with a bang via ‘Soaked In Torment,’ and had me thinking ‘this is going to be fucking CHAOS,’ but after that, the atmosphere, the band, got flatter and flatter, even classics like ‘Claim Your Innocence,’ and ‘Truth In The Age Of Lies,’ got a very lukewarm response.

That ruined my day, and after their set I just wanted to get out of there so I didn’t watch UNEARTH or SICK OF IT ALL.

Day 3

Even a hearty breakfast couldn’t banish the thoughts of last evening’s performance by AOW, and had me thinking, either my expectations were too high, or my judgement was correct and AOW played below par. Either way, today was a clean slate and I wasn’t going to let one disappointment affect the rest of my weekend.

Sunday being Sunday I rose slightly late so I can’t tell you what RESISTANCE were like, bad metal is what I’ve been told. Far from bad though, in fact far closer to absolutely awesome were IN BLOOD WE TRUST (8.5), talk about waking the crowd up on a Sunday, shit, it could have been anytime, anywhere, I cannot wait for this band to release some new stuff. The next hour and a bit was dedicated to DOWN TO NOTHING (8) and INTERNAL AFFAIRS (7.5), both utterly furious and both blazingly fast. However, neither managed to conjure the mayhem or match the fury of SWORN ENEMY (8.5), plying through both full lengths the enemy came, saw and quite rightly tore Pressure a new ass. A definite highlight for me was mounting my mate’s back and charging through the crowd during ‘Sworn Enemy.’

After that bruising set I decided to chill for MISERY SPEAKS, so the next band was DO OR DIE (7.5), now this set was much better then two years ago, where they aired more from ‘Tradition,’ (which was awful), but here they focused on their first two records. A wise choice by the band, because that material is so much stronger and powerful, so it’s a no-brainer that it goes over better live. I had strayed outset again, thus missing a tad of SHATTERED REALM’S (9) opening but made it back just in time to get the kicks out for ‘All Will Suffer.’ No matter how many times I see this band, it is always, always high quality. ‘From The Dead On Blocks,’ has grown on me a lot and it was good to see that tunes like ‘Final Day,’ were getting as much response as ‘This World Is Mine.’ The band are set to return to Europe later this year, but according to Joe Hardcore (who I learned was edge), he may not be joining them as he is facing imprisonment based on murder charges. My best wishes are with Joe and I hope he doesn’t get locked down.

My expectations were exceedingly low for EVERGREEN TERRACE (8), but maybe that’s why they surprised me. They were excellent, and far, far better then their London performance on the Hell On Earth tour a few years ago. I hadn’t listened to them for ages, so their tunes had become a little hazy, I recognized the odd one here and there but for the majority I was listening to these tunes with fresh ears. Either way, the band ruled, end of story.

For some reason, I always watch WALLS OF JERICHO (8.5), don’t know why, as this is a band I listen to regularly and know their tunes very well. Never mind, the rest of Germany made up for my lack of participation, going 7 shades of ape shit throughout their performance, pulling on material from all of their records, and closing with the rousing ‘Revival Never Goes Out Of Style.’

So the festival comes to a close, and brings us the almighty EARTH CRISIS (8.5), for some people this was the only reason to come, for others, well shit, clearly they had departed after Walls Of Jericho because by the time eXc hit the stage, the venue was noticeably emptier. A bit of an insult if you ask me, considering how influential and damn right important eXc have been to the history of hardcore. Fuck it. It was more space for me to dance.

Now the set was interesting. No tunes from ‘Breed The Killers,’ were aired (ridiculous if you ask me) and yet one from ‘Slither,’ was (‘Killing Brain Cells,’ which sounded miles better then when I last heard it). In the end, they played it safe, playing all of ‘Firestorm,’ (sans ‘Forged In The Flames,’) and all of ‘All Out War,’ (sans ‘Ecocide,’ another glaring omission). The departure of people actually turned out to be a blessing as it allowed me to get really close to the stage, so close in fact I was able to scream some of the words to ‘No Allegiance.’

The rest of the set was made up of 4 tunes from ‘Destroy The Machines,’ including the crushing (as well as one of my all time favourite songs) ‘Wrath Of Sanity,’ and 2 from ‘Gomorrah Season Ends.’ The closed the set with the immortal title track from that album before launching into ‘Firestorm,’ and that was it, done and dusted for another year.


Anonymous said...

Oh heck mate, there's been lots of good times obviously. I made a promise to myself that i'll be there next year no matter what bands they have... damned. Trust you had a good time there?

That sounds pretty bad if Joe HxC can't come to europe with SR, hope he'll get to come or else who'll be singing for em?!

Still not coming to Deadfest i assume?

Anonymous said...

Hey Ben

You shouldnt care about All Out War. You still have seen a shitload of great bands.

I think the show i envy you the most is Length of Time! Seen them 3 times but i think now when they returned they might be even more powerful.

xbenx said...

Markus. Well let's hope is able to beat the US Justice system because its possible that he could go down for 3 years ;(

Ehhhhh, you know, Deadfest aint looking so hot this year, and also I have no holiday left ;(

Adam, LOT you'll be glad to know, where fuckin awesome, what's better is that they are going to be writing new material, when it sees the light of day, who knows...????