LIVE: Mammothfest 2016 Opening Night – The Haunt, Brighton 30/09/2016

Back for its fourth year, Brighton’s festival of all things metal started off with an unfortunate announcement… the curse of the broken band-van had struck again, this time for Heart of a Coward, who were very apologetic, but unable to make alternative travel arrangements. To help make amends any disappointed fans were able to leave their names on a list to receive a ticket discount for a future Brighton show by the band. Respect should go to Mammothfest director Steve Dickson for making the announcement personally. Despite the obviously bad news, his warm welcome and enthusiastic energy roused the crowd in preparation for the first band to hit the stage… The Five Hundred.


The brutal sounding tech metallers opened the show firing on all cylinders, with the title track from their acclaimed EP Winters. The show was typically tight thanks to some on point drumming with plenty of movement from the players out front, particularly from front-man John Eley, who pushed the energy levels throughout. The EP was given a full airing, Come Closer and The Cannibal Hordes sounded huge through this PA and Shutter To The Light closed the show with even more intensity. The songs not on the EP (Ghost, The Rush?) showed there’s plenty more good stuff to come from these guys. What a way to open the festival!


During the changeover there was an opportunity to meet the headlining band Textures, which was a nice touch appreciated by many. It didn’t take long for Krysthla to take to the stage though and continue where The Five Hundred left off, impressing immediately with a heavyweight syncopated double bass drum guitar groove called The Human Cipher. Krysthla were a new band to me that would appeal to fans of inventive technical metal with a death vibe throughout. Vocalist Adi Maye’s mid-range roar was the constant to an ever changing feast of riffs and beats. Minority of One’s up-tempo blast to the senses and Caged Earth’s down-tuned filthy drag of a groove caused all sorts of mayhem in the pit. Praise Thee in Flesh was a headbanger’s dream and the extreme double bass drum speed Metal assault of H+ increased the pit action again. They closed their set with Luminosity, probably their most commercially accessible track, and left the stage with a reputation seriously enhanced.


Once again the stage was cleared quickly and set ready for the headlining band Textures. They brought their own lighting to enhance the already good venue set-up, with strobe blasts and sweeping searchlight effects immediately adding impact to opening track One Eye For A Thousand while the band effortlessly went about stamping their authority on the evening. Daniel De Jongh was clearly enjoying singing the new songs, New Horizons and Shaping a Single Grain of Sand, from the latest album Phenotype. The set took a turn from new to old with an excellent Swandive, and continued bouncing back and forth through their five album back catalogue. Standout tracks included an uplifting Timeless with its haunting melodies filling the venue and a seriously heavy Laments of an Icarus to close. The band said goodbye by taking a bow to wild applause and, despite the earlier bad news, the first instalment of Mammothfest 2017 was hailed a success. Those with weekend tickets were keen for what the next day at the significantly bigger Concorde 2 venue would bring.