LIVE: Mammothfest 2016 Saturday – Concorde 2, Brighton 01/10/2016

After the excellent evening of technical metal at The Haunt the day before, Mammothfest moved to the biggest venue of the weekend and a day of metal that covered a broader spectrum of genre styles. The day started just after lunch with an eager early crowd and the first of a bunch of bands this weekend to embrace the metal tradition of a dark themed band image and theatrics.


Mortishead, all dirty faced and dressed smartly in black with their ‘M’ logo emblazoned onto armbands on their sleeves, wasted no time in battering the assembled crowd with their extreme industrial sound. The bass player threw himself around the stage (and off it on occasion) in manic style, with the masked keyboard player joining in whenever space in the music allowed. Between his gutteral barks and screams vocalist Luke The Bastard adjusted his tie, let his hair down and appraised the madness around him, always in charge but never fully in control. Mortishead are still early on their path, but have the chops and show to climb the ranks quickly.


Over the last couple of years Hell Puppets have left a trail of destruction and controversy wherever they have played, and picked up some dedicated fans and a few haters along the way. It means that whether a fan or otherwise, Hell Puppets do attract a crowd, and Mammothfest was no exception. The band’s new singer, who was dragged onto the stage in a sack, carried her (his) newborn baby (complete with umbilical cord) around by the leg while spitting the lyrics with punkish venom. Their charismatic blood drenched zombie bride of a guitarist made the most of every inch of the stage, always playing on the edge of personal injury. He engaged the crowd with insanity in his eyes for every riff. With the rest of the band looking equally nuts but holding it all solidly together this was horror punk metal at its best, with some cracking good tunes to boot. When the shark (we know who you are!) crashed the stage and ran riot (during Drugged Up Shark), it was impossible not to break a smile. It all made for a completely over the top, thoroughly disturbing but totally unforgettable set. And also rather fun… if you were not too po-faced to get in the spirit of it.


King Leviathan had the unenviable task of playing next, and many other bands would not have been able to match the intensity, but these guys knew how to make an impression too. As the stage was bathed in blood red light, and the smoke rose to the intro music, the room quietened in anticipation. With their faces marked with the distinctive black cross they hit hard with a razor sharp new track Coffin Swallower. Front-man Adam Sedgwick connected with this crowd straight away, his likeable cheeky confidence raising a few laughs when he quietened a fun heckle with a quick witted medieval “quiet wench!” retort. Another new song, Agony, was well received, but it was the songs from last year’s debut EP that understandably got the biggest cheers, Skin and Bone and Madness Made Divine were two great old school thrashy workouts with stunning musicianship throughout. Their closing song The Shrine saw the crowd join in with the monk-choir chanting, while thanks were given for attending the black mass. The band ended the set with a deafening wall of guitars and a roar of “WORSHIP THE OLD GODS”! Compelling stuff.


After the entertaining theatrical elements projected by the first three bands, Divine Chaos took to the stage looking somewhat normal in comparison. They are a band who plainly don’t do gimmicks so they just hammered out a blistering set of clinically precise thrash, one foot on each monitor banging their heads relentlessly, and let the music do its job. The crowd were too busy moshing to be watching the stage anyway.


Sworn Amongst continued in much the same vain, a gimmick free show, but with their much bigger catalogue of music were able to deliver a set of greater depth. The band were locked into their distinctive groove from the off. The guitar solo in Nowhere To Run was quite simply incredible, and Through the Eyes of the Decimated took the grooves to new levels.


If there was an award for the best vocalist of the day it should go to Chris Hawkins from One Machine who were next to play. Quite simply, his vocals are unbelievable. Thanks to an excellent PA and sound crew at the Concorde 2 his tone ripped through the mix and everyone watching. How he hit those high notes is anyone’s guess, but to say it was impressive would be a massive understatement. Just wow, and a superb front-man too, being always on the move. Let’s not forget the rest of the band though, who also played a blinder of a show. As a more traditional melodic metal band it isn’t always easy to catch the attention of a crowd who has heard this sound a million times before, but One Machine have the songs to overcome this. The pit was thronging throughout, and even the Hell Puppets’ newborn baby was seen crowd surfing!


In comparison, Osiah’s sound takes the heavy to unfathomable new depths. Gut busting growls and throat shredding pig squeals fought for space with guitars that sounded like utter filth and bass drums that battered the senses. Challenging and inventive, one second a slow oppressive drag, the next a blast beat frenzy with abrupt disjointed riffs that stopped and started seemingly at random, but were always locked in with the drums. It all left the large assembled crowd thoroughly bruised and loving every second.


Main support for the day came in the form of Ingested, another seriously heavy band but with a more direct songwriting style that made it a little easier for people to throw themselves around to. Some seriously heavy pitting ensued, a constant throng of action through the whole set. The band had a stand-in vocalist for this gig who did an admirable job, so much so that those who didn’t already know the band would not have been any the wiser.


A very busy venue greeted tonight’s headliners Venom Inc. with a hero’s welcome. These legends of early extreme metal were clearly pleased to be here, and encouraged the crowd to further frenzy before kicking off the set with the iconic Welcome To Hell. The three piece of Mantas, Abaddon and The Demolition Man sounded fresh, bringing new energy into these old songs. The enthusiastic crowd were more than happy to soak it up and send it back tenfold. The scenes must have brought a huge amount of pride to the organisers, the biggest day in Mammothfest’s history thus far being such a resounding success. To end it all the team (25 volunteers) made their way onto the stage to join Venom Inc. for group photos to make sure this moment would never be forgotten. Well played Mammothfest, well played.