Hellfire Festival Day 2 – Islington Academy – 22/02/09
Words – Sexy Dave / Images – Trudi Knight
No doubt nursing a sizeable collective hangover, there’s a decent sized and noisy crowd here just after 2pm to catch the first band of the day – Imicus. Good solid metal, melodic yet still angry enough not just to be a bunch of emo wankers. I can think of a lot of worse ways to start the day.
Over on the main stage, we have a surprise addition to the bill, a London band familiar to many, King Lizard. Having been drafted in at the eleventh hour, this lot are certainly not what most people here were expecting of today’s main stage, but for us certainly bringing a very welcome glam injection to proceedings. Overcoming initial microphone issues, King Lizard play the show as if it were an arena headlining slot, obviously revelling in having a bigger stage to work with, and winning initially cautious, but later convinced, support from the swelling crowd.
Bringing us back to the advertised lineup are The Hollow Earth Theory. Brutal and riff-driven they may be, but they’re still a lot of fun, alive with melodic moments, and dare I say it, decent choruses. These lads are obviously loving being here today, and playing a big stage to a fairly new audience, but are perhaps a little put off by a quiet crowd. Nevertheless, I think they’ll have made a few new fans from today.
Outcryfire are an oddball bunch – playing thrash-driven metal with obvious influences from Pantera et al, the chief joy today is watching them fool about the stage. Lead singer/growler/screamer Matt pulls, intentionally or otherwise, some of the most hilarious faces, whilst spending much of his time stomping about the stage in a bizarre crab-like movement. He later announces that he is off the booze for ten weeks for charity, which could explain a lot. Visual amusements aside, lead guitarist Mikey pulls some stunning solos out of the bag today – when not being terrorized by other band members.
Coming on to an awesomely dark intro track, Anterior raise a sizeable cheer from their faithful in the audience. Starting off, they play fairly average shouty metal, bone-crushingly brutal, but nothing out of the average from what we’ve had all weekend. Then, when most in the room had already made up their minds, it all goes very tuneful, with stunning dual harmonics really coming to the fore in the guitar sound. They certainly know how to keep people on their toes this lot!
A lot has been written about Exit Ten in the last year or so, and tonight they arguably justify that interest – coming on to the biggest crowd of the day so far, they proceed to whip up an audience frenzy. Exit Ten play what can only be described as progressive metal, not falling easily under any of the categories the press throw around today, whilst still keeping the traditionalists happy with heavy guitars, deep basslines, breakdowns and all the natural ingredients for high quality modern metal. These young lads are certainly on the up, so keep an eye out.
Billing themselves this tour as ‘Kory Clarke and The Warrior Soul Tribute Band this tour, Warrior Soul are more prophetic than they imagined. Today not even Kory Clarke is in the band, having been detained and later deported by Heathrow immigration, leaving no original band member in the lineup whatsoever. Undaunted by this, the band put on, in their own words, ‘the best Warrior Soul karaoke you will ever see’, fronted by bass player Janne Jarvis. Throwing out half an hour of the bands greatest hits, today’s problems give an added element of fuck-you indomitable punk attitude to both band and crowd, ending on a show-stopping, and topical, rendition of Fuck The Pigs.
As one of the biggest names on the bill this weekend, Sabbat had no problem drawing a huge crowd. After a few songs of classic 80’s thrash, it is obvious that Martin Walkyier et al still have it, musically at least. Unfortunately, as has often been a problem for Sabbat, as things got more mythical and conceptual, people started to drift away – put simply, there’s been plenty of good thrash this weekend, without all the weird stuff. A good core stayed until the final song though, For Those Who Died, dedicated to all those who died for ‘their pagan beliefs’.
And so we come to the last band of the festival, ladies and gentlemen, for those left standing, Breed 77. Always a band with a dedicated following, Breed 77 illicit a great response, still managing to inject a little life into the exhausted crowd. People have surely heard plenty like them over the course of the weekend, but somehow they add a little something extra that sets them apart. Their inspired version of The Cranberries track, Zombies, is an undeniable highlight of the weekend, which gets everyone singing with fists in the air.
And so ends Hellfire festival 2009. Despite clashing with the Judas Priest / Testament / Megadeath show at Wembley, and despite ticket sales not being what the organisers would’ve hoped for, I think we can certainly call the inaugural Hellfire a success. Bring on Hellfire 2!