Punktastic is a committed and dedicated group of passionate music fans that enjoy talking about punk, rock, metal, and hardcore. Punktastic is our labour of love. They try to help you discover music you wouldn’t find anywhere else.
Modern metal has so many different faces. Some bands choose to wear their hearts on their sleeves and use the power of the music to force their struggles outward. Others use that same power to illuminate their storytelling, painting a detailed picture onto a dark canvas. One thing that flows through almost all metal is passion and rage, and that rage is more often than not rooted in anger. Thy Art Is Murder are a band that have always been fuelled by that kind of anger, and their new record ‘Human Target’ directs it all at the state of the modern world.
There are so many topics that get touched on throughout this record. Addiction, religion, mental health, sexual violence, organ donation, political chaos – the list goes on. Thy Art Is Murder have an awful lot to get off their chests, and they exert every ounce of their signature brand of disgust over their darkest and most relentless backdrop to date.
The record is essentially blackened deathcore, blending the eerie cinematic drones of the former with the earth-scorching punishment of the latter. The merging of these genres isn’t exactly new territory for Thy Art Is Murder, but it’s never sounded quite so menacing. A similar breed of beast, but an entirely new type of venom.
The opening title track does an excellent job of thrusting you straight into the mayhem, using rapid pace and dissonant chords to create a frantic sense of unease. The precision of new drummer Jesse Beahler is immediately noticeable, cementing together every decibel of power to provide an even greater punch. ‘New Gods’ demonstrates the same power, with guitarists Sean Delander and Andy Marsh laying down some dominating riffs as front man CJ McMahon envelops his tortured vocals within the chaos.
There’s sonic carnage everywhere you look here, not allowing any relief or breathing room at any point. ‘Eternal Suffering’ is full of dark and dreary tones that explode into a ritualistic monstrosity, chugging and droning through a little over five minutes of pure evil. ‘Atonement’ leads you to believe it’s going to be a little easier on the ear but quickly turns into a raging demon, storming through hellish breakdowns and sinister atmospherics. Even one of the singles ‘Make America Hate Again’ is relentless, blending memorable vocal hooks with enough heaviness to crush anything in it’s path.
This is everything that you’d expect from a Thy Art Is Murder record, but there’s something subtly different about it. That subtlety? Class. Aural destruction and absolute terror is the norm for this band, but it’s even more terrifying when it sounds this solid. ‘Eye For An Eye’ is the closest thing they’ve ever done to a ballad, and it’s beautiful in the most horrifying way imaginable. The way the song flows from section to section displays a group of musicians working together in perfect harmony, progressing through each harrowing section with a newfound fluidity. Album closer ‘Chemical Christ’ is a fine example of that, too. It acts as a round up of sorts, referencing elements that have played a part throughout the record and sewing them all together to create a deathcore Frankenstein. Every chug connects like a wrecking ball, continuously swinging until all that remains is rubble.
This is the most hard hitting and punishing record of their career. Thy Art Is Murder have never sounded more pissed off, and it’s infectious. The sheer brutality of the music and the seething rage in the vocals translates perfectly. You’ll find yourself at the end of the record hating exactly the same things they do, surrounded by the remainder of your possessions that you managed to avoid smashing to pieces. They’ve always been a powerful band, but ‘Human Target’ launches that terror to a whole other level. Welcome to a new kind of heaviness.
One of the UK’s most promising new acts, Sea Girls have releases their new song ‘Closer’, released among a stellar run of festival dates that are seeing the 4-piece capture huge audiences across Europe.
The track has been played live this summer to a great reception, sure to be another hit for the fast growing band.
Speaking of the track, guitarist Rory Young says; “The song came together in a backwards fashion in a hotel after our debut European gig in Barcelona. It was originally written as an electronic track about being far away. Replacing the synths with guitars back in London gave the track an absolute new lease of life”
There’s still over a month to go until we chuck on our wellies and get back to the fields for one of the last of the UK’s biggest summer festivals, but Reading 2019 has already completely sold out.
It’s one of the most impressive lineups the festival has seen in a while (as far as the Punktastic team are concerned), and with headliners twenty one pilots and Foo Fighters, so it’s no surprise these tickets have flown out the door.
If you’ve missed out and are weeping on the floor, cursing yourself for sleeping on what is one of our favourite weekends of the year, you can still snap up tickets for Leeds Festival here.
It seems there are new festivals cropping up every year, catering to a huge variety of tastes, interests, and clientele. It’s never been easier to see multiple bands over the course of a day, as well as giving newer bands more exposure, and one of the festivals that has been championing new music is Truck Festival. For over two decades, Truck Fest has been using its platform to give emerging talent opportunity, while also pulling in plenty of big names.
While priding themselves as the ‘Anti-Major Festival’ festival, they’ve been shortlisted for awards multiple times. It might not be as well known as say, Download or ArcTanGent, but one thing is for certain – it’s a festival to embrace new and old. It’s a festival for music fans, pure and simple.
With that in mind, here are some of our top recommendations for the weekend.
Market Stage 6.30pm
Feel good alt rock at it’s finest. Indoor Pets have been a staple of the touring scene in the last few years, helping to nurture upcoming talent despite being relatively young themselves. Releasing their debut album ‘Be Content’ last year, they’ve honed their sound – offering a laid back sound that encourages singalong interactions from the crowds. Hits like ‘Hi’ and ‘Teriyaki’ prove their ability to meld pop sensibilities with a creamier rock sound.
Indoor Pets - Hi - YouTube
Market Stage 7.45pm
Taking the headline slot on the Market Stage for Thursday, Slaves are fresh from tearing up Glastonbury. Known for their energetic live shows that smack you in the teeth, as well as a back catalogue full of bluesy riffs, expect the duo to rip this stage up too. Because that’s the nice thing about Slaves – you know what you’ll get. And what you’ll get is catchy, anthemic tunes, and a performance that’ll stick in the bonce for weeks.
Slaves - Cheer Up London (Official Video) - YouTube
Market Stage 3.30pm
We hear you – Idles playing a mid-afternoon slot after a UK headline tour that sold out in hours? Ludicrous. Just be glad you’ll see them, because many couldn’t get a ticket to their tour. While a thirty minute set is frankly not long enough, it’s bound to be full of thrashing melodies, political messages and energy, and if their Glastonbury set is anything to go by, there’ll be plenty of crowd interaction, huge pits, and scream-alongs. Get yourself near the front. Oh, and take yourself a paint colour chart and wait for Joe Talbot’s face to go a lovely shade of magenta through his impassioned hollering.
IDLES - NEVER FIGHT A MAN WITH A PERM - YouTube
Nothing But Thieves
Truck Stage 8.15pm
Nothing But Thieves only have two albums to their name so far, but are already well on their way to achieving legendary status. Innovative and exciting, they’re also one of the most incredible live bands on the circuit right now – try not to be blown away by Conor Mason’s soaring, crystal clear vocals, and you’ll definitely fail. You’d be wise not to miss this set, just in case they do finally take that break from touring they’ve been talking about – and this will surely be one of the highlights of the weekend.
Nothing But Thieves - Amsterdam (Official Video) - YouTube
Truck Stage 9.45pm
Headliners Wolf Alice have been on a steady trajectory since the release of their 2013 EP ‘Blush’ – though saying ‘steady trajectory’ doesn’t give them the justice the deserve. In that time, they’ve released two critically acclaimed EPs, supported countless big-named bands, had their tracks featured in various films a TV shows, have been nominated for multiple awards – even winning the Mercury Award for their 2017 album ‘Visions Of A Life’. It’s only right they’re headlining the Truck Stage. Difficult to nail down in a particular genre, they’ll bounce between lo-fi grunge pop to staggeringly emotive, dreamy alt folk. They might not have the catchiest choruses or be the most sing-a-long band but they know how to write a song that’ll move you. And they’ll definitely move you.
Wolf Alice - Moaning Lisa Smile - YouTube
The Nest 1.15pm
Hot Milk have been absolutely bloody everywhere this year, and you know what? We’re not even a little bit mad about it. In fact, we want more – and luckily, Truck Fest and The Nest stage are here to deliver. The Manchester quartet’s sparky, addictive emopop is full of energy and the perfect mid-weekend pick-me-up; this singalong (and dancealong) session with one of the best young bands in the scene is a must see.
Hot Milk - Take Your Jacket [Official Video] - YouTube
Press To Meco
The Nest 3.15pm
Masters of harmony Press to MECO released their sophomore album ‘Here’s To The Fatigue’ last year, following it up a few months ago with the ‘Acoustic’ EP. Now they’re bringing their unique sound to Truck Fest, blending irresistible hooks and technicality with uplifting pop rock that’s guaranteed to get feet tapping and heads bobbing. The Nest stage is packed with gems on Saturday, and Press To MECO are one of the brightest of the lot.
Press to MECO - Familiar Ground (Official Music Video) - YouTube
The Nest 4.15pm
If distorted, growling guitars and super poppy melodies packaged up in a big punky, grungy ribbon are your bag – and trust us, these things go together like Australians and Vegemite – this set from Milk Teeth is for you. It’s been a while now since the release of only full length ‘Vile Child’ in 2016, with only a few EPs in the meantime, but that hasn’t dulled their live performance. In fact, with guitarist/vocalist Em Foster (Nervus) having now joined full time, the band have been revitalised; expect some new material to make an appearance in this set, and get excited for the future of Milk Teeth.
Milk Teeth - Owning Your Okayness (Official Music Video) - YouTube
The Nest 6.15pm
There are a few bands on the bill due to explode in the next 12 months, and Puppy are one of those bands. Big favourites within the Punktastic team, their chunky riffs and pounding heaviness set the tone for their live shows. But don’t let that take away from their good humour. With their fanship growing every day, be sure to get there relatively early. The chances are, it’ll be a set to remember.
Puppy - World Stands Still - YouTube
Truck Stage 6.45pm
Have Don Broco actually sat down on a sofa for longer than thirty seconds in the past year? Nobody really knows, but it seems unlikely. Having toured both the USA and UK about fifty times each since the release of acclaimed third album ‘Technology’ last February, they’re one of the most sought-after bands for any and all festival line-ups – and no wonder. Nobody starts a party like Don Broco, and you’ll never have more fun screaming the word “FUCK” than as part of the deliriously magical ‘Everybody’. Get your dancing shoes on and get down to the Truck stage.
Don Broco - Everybody (Explicit) - YouTube
The Nest 8.45pm
It’s safe to say the last eighteen months have been quite the ride for Mallory Knox and their fans. After the departure of vocalist Mikey Chapman in February last year, backing vocalist and bassist Sam Douglas instantly took the helm to guide us into a new era for the Cambridge group. Their new singles have still carried the distinctive Mallory Knox sound, with just a dash more aggression that should translate well to the stage. Come down to see them top a stacked Nest Stage bill, and be part of this new beginning for a beloved band.
Mallory Knox - Livewire (Official Music Video) - YouTube
Gaffa Tape Sandy
The Nest 3.45pm
By the time Truck Festival comes around, Gaffa Tape Sandy will have released their long awaited second EP. With cleverly written social observations such as ‘Headlights’ and ‘Meathead’, as well as crowd pleasers like ‘Beehive’, they’re sure to get everyone dancing. The Bury St. Edmunds trio have been getting airtime all over radios and playlists, as well as hitting our very own monthly playlist at least twice. It’s their second Truck Fest in as many years and they’re quickly picking up traction, so be sure to catch them here to jump on that proverbial bandwagon.
If there was a band you would expect to rock up to your house asking if they could play a gig in your living room, it would be Martha. County Durham’s finest DIY indie-folk punks wrap devastatingly frank lyrics around uplifting melodies and will bring a rapturous, celebratory live show to The Nest on Sunday evening. Their latest album ‘Love Keeps Kicking’ is already one of our favourite records of 2019, delivering a smirking take on how a gut-wrenching break-up can actually be a good thing. Gather round The Nest and prepare your lungs for a whole lot of sing-a-longs.
Martha - Love Keeps Kicking OFFICIAL VIDEO - YouTube
You Me At Six
Truck Stage 7.45pm
If there’s a festival You Me At Six aren’t playing this year, we don’t know about it – the four piece are definitely keeping themselves busy this summer. More than ten years have elapsed since debut ‘Take Off Your Colours’, and the five piece are now an integral part of British rock with upbeat, joyous, electric live performances. It doesn’t matter how many festivals they’re playing this year – You Me At Six are worth seeing at every single one of them.
You Me At Six - Underdog (Official Video) - YouTube
There may be plenty of alternative music festivals all across the globe these days, but Download Festival will forever hold a special place in the hearts of metalheads everywhere – and its reputation as one of the biggest and best events for rock and metal has been well earned over the years.
The final day of any festival is always most notable for crowds that can generally be described as ‘half-dead’, and Download is no exception – it’s definitely easy, by this point, to tell who’s only come in for the day as they bound around with fresh faces and unusually clean shoes. Today’s line-up is one of the most varied of the weekend, as metalcore sits alongside pop-punk, rock ‘n’ roll rubs shoulders with death metal, and thrash takes the crown with one of the festival’s most important performances.
Images: Penny Bennett, Words: Gem Rogers [GR], Dave Stewart [DS]
When it’s the final day of a festival like Download, it really takes something to keep bleary eyes open and weary brains alert – luckily, Michican’s I Prevail are just the band to do it. It takes a song or two for things to get moving, and there’s a few awkward lulls early on as the band disappear wordlessly to the back of the stage between tracks, but their light and melodic metalcore has just the right amount of aggression to open up plenty of pits in front of the main stage and keep the energy on maximum. There can be no doubting their dedication, either, as vocalist Brian Burkheiser sprints around the stage despite a broken foot; this is a band determined to give everything they’ve got. Dominated by tracks from sophomore album ‘Trauma’, incendiary numbers like ‘Gasoline’ and ‘Deadweight’ show just what a strong band they have become – the main stage is where I Prevail belong, and this won’t be the last time we see them on it. [GR]
One of the first bands to tackle the Zippo Encore stage was the UK’s very own Dinosaur Pile-Up. Currently surfing the waves that their critically acclaimed new record ‘Celebrity Mansions’ has made for them, they came crashing into Download Festival to deliver their ballsy grunge-laced tunes to the early risers. Riffs flew in from every conceivable angle, from the gigantic closing chords of ‘Traynor’, to the infectious hooks of ‘Back Foot’. It started to rain heavily towards the end of their set, but everyone stood their ground and embraced it as front man Matt Bigland yelled “fuck the rain” to the sky. A perfect set from one of the country’s most exciting trios. [DS]
Leeds four piece Allusinlove – formerly known by the slightly less wholesome name Allusondrugs – are next up in a sparsely populated Avalanche tent. Their indie-infused rock and roll isn’t especially inspired, but it does come with a huge helping of groove and piercingly clear guitar, alongside outstanding vocals from front man Jason Moules. Though the gathered crowd are mostly fairly mellow, they show they aren’t averse to a bit of dancing at the band’s bidding – on the whole though, despite good delivery, it’s an unexciting half hour that struggles to be memorable in a busy weekend.
Back in the 1970‘s, The Clash fought the law, and the law won. Over on the main stage at Download 2019, Underoath fought the weather, and Underoath won. The weather was dire as the post hardcore legends took to the stage, but their signature brand of raw emotive power forced a gap in the clouds to let the sun beam down on the grounds. They utilised every single inch of the stage, darting around as they performed a nice blend of both older material and cuts from their newest record ‘Erase Me’ – the latter of which fell a bit flat on the crowd. Classic anthems ‘Writing On The Walls’ and ‘It’s Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door’ went down a treat though, as did the surprise inclusion of one of their heaviest songs ‘Breathing In A New Mentality’. A solid performance from one of the genres most adored bands. [DS]
Heart Of A Coward
There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding Heart Of A Coward recently. Ever since the introduction of new vocalist Kaan Tasan and the release of new record ‘The Disconnect’, the metal community has been pining to see them live to see exactly what he can do and, ultimately, whether the band are still a force to be reckoned with. Not even halfway through the first song of their set, it became very clear that Heart Of A Coward are just as devastating as ever, if not more so. Every single song connected like a wrecking ball to a crumbling building, leaving nothing but dust clouds and astounded faces behind. Classic songs like ‘Shade’ and ‘Hollow’ completely filled the Avalanche tent with their fierce tones, and new material like ‘Drown In Ruin’ and ‘Collapse’ saw them confidently prove that they’re not a band to be forgotten about. A triumphant return to the big leagues for one of British metals finest. [DS]
Black Peaks are one of the most unique and exciting bands to have emerged in recent years, and the number of people that were tightly packed into the Avalanche stage to witness their performance was testament to their popularity. Full of big hitters from their last two records, they stunned and amazed onlookers with ballsy performances of tracks like ‘Can’t Sleep’, ‘Say You Will’, and the riff-heavy rager ‘Glass Built Castles’, the latter of which caused the crowd to stir themselves into a frenzy. A lot of the intricacies of their music seemed to get a little lost in the tent, but it didn’t matter to anybody that was watching. Black Peaks really know how to put on a show – whatever may have been missing aurally, they more than made up for with an adrenaline-fuelled storm of a performance. [DS]
It is an irrefutable truth that pop punk is made for sunshine, and sunshine is made for pop punk. It’s no wonder, then, that our glowing sky orb friend has come out to play for a set from reigning kings of the genre State Champs, and the Zippo Encore stage becomes one hell of a glorious place to be this afternoon. It’s not just their back catalogue of sensationally catchy, high quality songs that make this set beautifully enjoyable from start to finish; State Champs are also outstanding performers, never putting a foot wrong and infusing the area with enough energy to power a small county. Some bold attempts at circle pits on a muddy slope ensue, along with huge singalongs to the likes of ‘Secrets’ and ‘Dead And Gone’ – State Champs are nothing short of masterful throughout. Long live pop punk. [GR]
Japanese quintet Crystal Lake released their album ‘Helix’ earlier this year to rave reviews, and their live show has a reputation for being complete chaos – as a result, it was no surprise to see that the Dogtooth tent was overflowing with people for their set. Without warning the band launched into ‘Agony’, putting on an unenthusiastic performance that still managed to turn the tent into a giant whirlpool, but as it turned out, they were still only soundchecking. That’s right, folks – they had circle pits and crowd surfers before they’d even started their set. When they did start though, the carnage that ensued was utterly relentless. The band transformed from quiet and reserved, becoming enigmatic bundles of energy, exerting electricity with every step. Bodies flew over the barrier from all directions as they smashed through gigantic songs like the groovy nu-metal smash ‘Hail To The Fire’, the gigantic ‘Apollo’ and the raw and unpredictable ‘Aeon’. Technically brilliant, musically intense, and physically impressive, Crystal Lake are completely unstoppable. [DS]
Prog fans have been spoilt for choice over this weekend, with numerous progressive and instrumental acts spread across all three days of the festival. Sunday was no different, seeing British trio Toska claim the Dogtooth stage as their own. Another unfortunately short set due to the sheer length and complexity of the bands songs made it feel like the performance was already over before it’d gotten into full swing, but the crowd lapped up every note nonetheless. Front man and lead guitarist Rabea Massaad was genuinely taken aback and stunned by the number of people in the tent as they gracefully danced through their technically impressive set, accompanied by deafening cheers and applause from fans both in and out of the tent. Stunning prog wizardry performed with absolute passion and precision. [DS]
It might be the ongoing sun going to everyone’s heads that causes the crowd at the Zippo Encore stage to drop everything in favour of colossal moshpits and a general descent into chaos – but, more likely, it’s a sign that Beartooth have taken to the stage. “I’ll be banging my head ‘til my brain rots” couldn’t be more appropriate lyrics as the five piece go full force with opener ‘Bad Listener’, blending utterly delicious melodies with passion, fire, and plenty of thrashing guitar.With enough bite to appease even those down the front waiting for Slayer, nobody could leave this set feeling unsatisfied, and the feel-good vibes are undeniable. Beartooth are, without a doubt, on their way to a headline slot on the main stage, and it won’t be long before they’re there. [GR]
Lamb Of God
Virginian metal outfit Lamb Of God are a band who’ve truly earned their slot at the top end of the main stage, and the gigantic crowd they’ve amassed seem to agree. Their instantly recognisable groove metal sounds fill the air as they thunder through tracks from across an impressive and expansive career so far; opener ‘Omerta’ destroys everything in its path with crushingly furious riffs, and the scene is set for an hour that metalhead dreams are made of. Front man Randy Blythe is as intense and captivating as vocalists come, his snarling vocals utterly faultless as he stalks the stage like a predator; and though the band are missing drummer Chris Adler as he recovers from injuries sustained in an accident, replacement Art Cruz is more than capable of filling the gigantic shoes Adler left with effortless style. The pit is little more than a writhing mass of bodies as circles form and merge constantly to the thunderous sounds of songs like ‘Walk With Me In Hell’ and set closer ‘Redneck’, and if anyone had any energy left on this Sunday afternoon, it’s surely spent by the end of this set. Lamb Of God are an imposing force, and though they sit among some of the biggest names in metal on today’s line-up, they easily hold their own and dominate the stage – the future of heavy metal is in safe hands with the likes of them to carry it. [GR]
This weekend has been graced by some true legends of the metal and rock world, but few were able to bring out the party quite like Anthrax. Most bands that have been going for as long as they have tend to show signs of their age in their performances, but not these thrash metal monsters – they were so energetic that they put the majority of younger bands on the bill to shame. The band are incredible entertainers, starting their set at full throttle and not letting up until the very last note had faded away. Cramming their set full of all their biggest and best hits caused smiles and good vibes to spread throughout the crowd, with songs like ‘Madhouse’, ‘I Am The Law’, and the mosh-tastic ‘Indians’ providing punch after punch. They didn’t miss a note, they didn’t stop moving, and they didn’t let a single person in the audience leave without a smile on their face. To top it all off, the sun got even sunnier during their set – it wouldn’t be surprising if their positive, feel good attitude made its way skyward. Thrash metal kings proving exactly why they’re still deserving of the crown. [DS]
To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Whitechapel brought the heaviest set of the weekend to the Dogtooth stage. Moodily stepping out onto a eerily lit stage, Phil Bozeman and crew wasted no time opening the gates of hell, tearing straight into the disgustingly powerful ‘Brimstone’ as the crowd turned the tent into a warzone. The short set spent most of its time flaunting the band’s new material, showcasing cuts like the brutal ‘Forgiveness Is Weakness’ and the haunting black metal-tinged ‘When A Demon Defiles A Witch’ – but they also reached deep into their back catalogue as a respectful nod to their long term fans. The biggest throwback they played was 2008‘s ‘Father Of Lies’, which caused one of the most aggressive pits the tent saw all weekend. The entire performance was pure evil, almost like Whitechapel had signed a deal with Devil himself to create sounds so dark and unnerving. Absolute carnage from beginning to end. [DS]
Back over on the Zippo Encore stage, prog metal lovers flocked around the stage to witness Dream Theater melt some minds with their undeniable talent. Every single member of the band is a true virtuoso at their instrument, particularly guitarist John Petrucci and bassist John Myung who are both hugely respected throughout the music world. Aurally they were flawless, each member of the band performing a note perfect set with absolute precision and ease. Songs like the 9 minute epic ‘In The Presence Of Enemies Pt 1’ and the stunning ‘Dance Of Eternity’ were completely faultless, causing many jaws in the audience to drop, eyes gazing forwards in both amazement and disbelief. It was incredible to listen to – just very boring to watch. The only member of the band that actually did some moving was vocalist James LaBrie, and that was mostly walking on and off stage to avoid him standing around during the lengthy solos. They were musically incredible, but visually underwhelming. (DS)
If Fever 333 aren’t a familiar name yet, it’s definitely fair at this point to ask where you’ve been for the last year. Their secret set here in 2018 was one of the hottest topics of the weekend (and beyond), so their promotion to sub-headliners on the Avalanche Stage seems only right – word has definitely spread far and wide, and the tent is rammed long before the set begins. The Fever’s fiery brand of empowering rock music hits hard, and their message of social justice spills over into every crevice of their performance as enigmatic front man Jason Aalon Butler speaks out to the underrepresented, and to those who can make a difference. Unfortunately, the sound in the Avalanche Tent is once again frustratingly poor; Butler’s vocals are frequently far too low in the mix, and the backing track overpowers just about everything else. It takes nothing away from their overall performance and message, but it’s difficult to enjoy the set as much as we should be able to – fortunately, they’re going nowhere anytime soon, and we’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy them when they inevitably ascend to bigger stages in future. [GR]
Following a band with a growing reputation for one of the best live performances on the scene would be a difficult feat for some – but when you’re Enter Shikari, and you’ve spent more than ten years building your own fearsome reputation for destroying every venue in sight, there’s very little to worry about. From the second Shikari take to the stage, it’s a toss-up as to who’s loudest out of the band on stage, and the thousands of people spilling from the Avalanche tent for the stage’s final set of the weekend. Dazzling light shows, confetti aplenty, and a good helping of pyro come together to support their unique, genre-defying music; the infusion of drum and bass, techno, and just about anything else they fancy with rock absolutely shouldn’t work, but in their enthusiastic and talented hands it results in nothing short of the best party you’ll ever attend. The passion on stage is reflected in the non-stop movement in the crowd – including a pair of fans managing the impressive feat of climbing one of the tent supports, threatening to bring the show to an abrupt halt (boo, health and safety) – and it’s easy to see how this band inspire such a joyous reaction with their flawless performance and strong beliefs in a better world. It may not be the end of our weekend just yet, but if it was, this hour with Enter Shikari would be a perfect way to finish it. [GR]
It’s difficult to know what to say when faced with the final UK set from a band who, over a nearly forty year career, came to be the defining face of an entire subculture. Say “I like metal” to anyone outside our world, and the first question you’ll probably get back is “oh, so like, Slayer?” This is a band who paved the way for hundreds of bands to follow, and not just for thrash. Sticking two fingers up to the establishment, Slayer ploughed forward with their satanic hymns and brought generations of metalheads along for the ride – and now, on this final night at Donington, we must say goodbye.
It’s not too surprising that the Zippo Encore stage has never seen a crowd the like of this one, reaching back to every corner and food van that surrounds it. Though those at the back of this mass of people may be quietly absorbing every moment of the set, the pit at the front is living up to every bit of the mad reputation Slayer shows have earned as they plough through decades-worth of utterly unforgiving thrash, packing no less than twenty tracks into their 90 minutes. It goes without saying that they are nothing short of flawless from the very first notes of ‘Repentless’, followed by the likes of ‘Evil Has No Boundaries’, ‘South of Heaven’, and ‘Chemical Warfare’. It’s frustrating that, towards of the end of the set, the sounds of an overly loud Tool on the main stage make their way over to the back corner of the field; for those on the right hand side, it becomes instantly difficult to focus and feels like an injustice for a set as momentous as this.
When the time comes and the final notes of ‘Angel Of Death’ ring out across the field, it’s an end that feels almost too abrupt. In reality, it’s an ending that nobody could ever have been ready for. It speaks to the impact of this band that a significant percentage of this audience weren’t even born when their first album was released, yet Slayer’s music has been woven into their lives and taken root in their hearts. Few words are spoken, but as the band look out on the crowd and take their time to soak in these final moments, the heartfelt love and respect is clear and mutual. There will never be another Slayer, and their presence is something we will never cease to be grateful for.
It’s not every day you get to see Tool play a show. It’s actually rare you see them do anything these days, forever surrounded by mystery as they let rumours and hearsay do their marketing for them. That marketing seems to have done an incredible job here, with thousands of metallers flocked around the main stage to witness what was sure to be an enchanting performance. They were the first and only band of the weekend to not use the big screens surrounding the stage to broadcast live footage of the performance – instead opting to use mind-bending visuals. In that moment, this transcended into something more than mere performance – it was art. Every song essentially became part of an elaborate set of short films, with each video shifting and changing to fit the vibe of the music behind it. If you stood really far away from the stage there was no real way to tell it was really them – it could have been anybody dressed up as Tool. But no one has pipes like Maynard James Keenan, and no one else could’ve played this set with such swagger and grace.
The set was flawless, spending time in all of the best moments of their back catalogue. Songs like ‘The Pot’ and ‘Parabola’ caused mass singalongs to erupt throughout the field, metalheads reaching out to embrace one another as they projected their voices towards the stage. Fan favourite ‘Schism’ went down a storm, provoking an even mixture of pit breakouts and stunned jawdrops to occur. They even played a cut from 1992, ‘Part Of Me’, with Maynard introducing it to the crowd by saying “If you’re under 27, when we wrote this song you weren’t even sperm yet.” Closing their performance with the haunting and punchy ‘Vicarious’ and the stunning ‘Stinkfist’ was a masterstroke, leaving everyone in the audience confident that they’d just witnessed something special. It was a completely different vibe to Slipknot the night before, but not in a bad way. Everyone watching Slipknot expected chaos and they got it – everyone watching Tool was there to admire a legendary band excel at their craft, and that’s exactly what happened. There is no band quite like Tool. [DS]
As if we haven’t seen him enough over the last couple weeks (not a bad thing), Frank Turner has now announced a nine date UK headline tour in support of his upcoming eighth album ‘No Man’s Land’. A record dedicated to the fascinating stories of women overlooked throughout history, it features an all-female cast of musicians and is produced by the critically acclaimed Catherine Marks.
Featuring stories about a princess, a serial killer, an activist, and a witch, it combines two of Turner’s great loves – music and history. There will also be an accompanying podcast for each song, going into greater detail about these wonderful women.
The tour itself will see Turner mix up his usual setlist; performing a solo set to give the new album attention, followed by an unplugged performance with his band, The Sleeping Souls.
The Tales From No Man’s Land podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Acast and all other podcast platforms, and ‘No Man’s Land’ is available to pre-order here.
Full tour dates are listed below, with tickets available here.
22 DUMFERMLINE Alhambra Theatre
24 CARDIFF St David’s Hall
25 SOUTHAMPTON O2 Guildhall
26 MANCHESTER Opera House
27 NEWCASTLE O2 City Hall
29 BEXHILL De La Warr Pavilion
30 LONDON Alexandra Palace Theatre
01 BIRMINGHAM Symphony Hall
03 LONDON Alexandra Palace Theatre
Drug Church front man Patrick Kindlon smiles approvingly after the final note of ‘Banco Popular’ – the first song of the set – before taking a jab at himself for not being as energetic between songs as other front men might be, and wishing he was on Tom Cruise’s level. We laugh, like we would when a buddy tells a joke, because that’s the tone of tonight’s show – an experience shared among friends.
The irony of Kindlon’s statement, however, lies in the surge of energy he exhumes every time the band ferociously launches into a song. Like Sue Storm’s invisible force field, Kindlon presents his gusto in a similar outward force of command that radiates from within him before rippling through the entire venue – the latter being perfectly suited to tonight’s proceedings.
Boston Music Room’s narrow room lends itself well to the spirit of underground punk that this band, along with support act Night Letters, encapsulate so well. It’s intimate and sweaty and bodies are packed in tightly enough to double as a safety net for a steady stream of stage divers, but also expands as soon as the need for a circle pit arises. Which, between you and me, is often, as the band tear through the setlist.
Seven out of eleven songs are from last year’s ‘Cheer’, their breakthrough third album which proved to be a favourite on many 2018 Albums of the Year lists. ‘Avoidarama’, ‘Grubby’, and ‘Strong References’ get a killer reaction, but it’s the album’s lead single and final song of the night ‘Weed Pin’ that truly puts the climactic cherry on top. The phenomenal sound renders the recognisable first riff of the song crisp and intoxicating, causing bodies to thrash along one final time.
The setlist, also including older songs like ‘Bagged’ and ‘Drunk Tank’, is short, but so are espressos, flights from London to Amsterdam and, incidentally, Tom Cruise, and we fudging love all of those things. There’s also no encore tonight, because with Drug Church, there’s no pretence. You get what you see and what you see is a group of guys playing hard and fast, without fuss and bullshit, but with the intention of making sure everyone is having as great a time in the crowd as they’re having on stage.