MMC Weekender – Day 2
“The sense of family and community, the amount of heart and integrity each band played with, capped by the MMC’s painstaking organisation, made for a night the rest of the year will struggle to top.
…but there was day two to come yet.”
Read our review of day one here - http://manchester.rocks/?p=4535
Blunt force trauma in a metalhead’s clothes, Gorehead ram their short, sharp and visceral songs down the throats of the early comers, brave enough to fight the fire of their hangovers with yet more fire. Lewis Candlin leads the four piece through Diarrhoea Of A Mad Man - a song begging to become a cult classic - glazing it with some suitably incendiary soloing.
Over on the second stage the cavernous bass of Void begins to fill the venue and, having drawn the crowd closer to the stage a few songs in, there set flies by in a whirl of stomping riffs, whirling keyboards and Sabbath-tinted vocals. Bridging the gap between doom / stoner rock – N.D.B sounding resolutely like Down at points – and prog – set closer Down Into The Void toying beautifully with lulling moments of calm and crushing crescendos – they have a lot going for them. And that’s before Charlie Powell stole the show with his keytar solo – and trying to fix the bugger beforehand while simultaneously never missing a note. Top dollar.
Anthony Firmin (AF): Back to the mainstage and Aftermath Eternal are in full stride. We will forgive them that they come from Bury as they deliver a fine set of metal tinged with punk, rap and funk. Most of those who were watching were pretty impressed, particularly by the luminous green strings on the bassist’s black instrument and the singers ability to drink Buckfast and sing at the same time!
The atmosphere continues to ramp up as the afternoon rolls slowly on. Chatter prickles the air as the warming sense of compassion and community that has marked this weekender is now properly re-ignited and stoked to last.
It’s all in perfect timing for Leeds noisesmiths Redeye Revival as they kick out the jams of their mid-afternoon set. Now here’s a band that never disappoints; punkier than Country Life butter they go out swinging like a party just on the right side of off-the-chain. They pull in a huge crowd and smash through their set with aplomb. People mill around on the benches that flank one side of the venue, feet tapping to their thunderous clamour, beers held aloft and everybody’s memories of feeling like a sack of crap this morning are wiped away.
Another one of the weekender’s admirable-as-fuck facets is one which, by definition, lies in its name. This is a collective and for many musos – be they in a band or not – there are shedloads of new bands for people to discover. For Pist guitarist John Nicholson, on a weekend where, thank Christ, I didn’t see his bare, pale arse, Betraeus’ performance on the main stage has deemed them “arena worthy.” This is pure, masterful and artful aggression, dissonance a texture with which they smear a brooding darkness over proceedings, with dashes of Sylosis and more piercing through their sound. Benjamin Edwards fingers are a blur as he races across the fretboard of his five string bass while lead guitarist Eddie Johnson unleashes some serious chops throughout. For many this is the performance of the weekend, although, from a cynical perspective a little more energy in their actual performance would increase the visual impetus of their live show, for, musically, they can slay dragons and use their carcasses to obliterate planets.
My turn then. Having been to so many shows similar to this – but none quite on the same gigantean scale as this – I knew this was a huge set for my band, Prognosis, to introduce ourselves to such an important pillar of the Manchester Metal Community. So what did people think?
"It did good things to my vagina." - Vickie Harley "5/7 would watch again." - Dan Mikietyn "It was like being trapped in a groovy car wash... Naked." - Alan Anastasia Gradkowska "Phil, you're a fucking animal." - Lewis Candlin "Prognosis killed it. So proud of my home boys." - Arya Bobaie
With a post-set pint necked and a second cradled in my hand, it was time to witness the prog metal titans in Collibus and, as ever, they were scintillating. Gemma Fox’s vocals are executed with such power and ferocity it is hard to comprehend at times while their chugging riffwork prides itself as the musical equivalent of a knife thrower; it’s sharp, dangerous and headed straight for you.
That being said however, the sheer volume of their metallic attack did hinder the intricacies which dwell and lurk so menacingly within their music. At points it was just too loud for any clarity and, while knowing the songs helped me pick them out easier, it wasn’t as good as it could be.
Those issues aside however, they debuted a new song penned by Gemma Fox. Entitled The Last Time, it was the glittering jewel that crowned their set. From the off a slicing riff reminiscent of ABIII era Alter Bridge invades the room, but it is the meticulously mapped out chord progressions and emotive lyrics, in a very vocally orientated song, that are the stand-out elements of their latest progressive storm.
Funnily enough my memory wades from here on out. Empowered by the success/failure of my own set – either or, an excuse is an excuse, right? – I got pretty steaming drunk. When you’re a journalist and a musician it comes with the territory – a curse and a blessing of the trades.
AF: One of my favourite bands of the weekend was Avenge Thee + Naime who set off from Canterbury, Kent at 8am to get to the festival - now that is dedication. Although technically they were on Stage 2 the band set up and played amongst the audience giving everyone a closeness to the band. As of their music, well, it was an interesting mix. The singer (possibly the nicest guy you could meet) had more of a rap than a singing voice but was very clear which was distinctly different to the band who were anarchic and chaotic in the delivery of their experimental punk/metal/rock whatever you want to call it music. A lot of the songs were short and to the point which meant they packed a lot in.
The band were setting off back to Kent a couple of hours after they finished, making it almost a 24 hours day. Bunch of nutters - we loved them.
The one thing that stood out from Evisorax's set was the size of the guitarist. He was a giant and his guitar looked tiny in his gigantic hands. Not to take anything away from their music as they delivered their brand of grindcore to an appreciative audience.
AF: With an intriguing name like Forged In The Furnace Of The Sun you have to be pretty sure that your music is going to be residing in hells basement! Fortunately the band describe themselves quite accurately as hard core with a touch of grind and crust and big dose of FUCK YOU! And that was a fairly accurate articulation as the band took no prisoners during their set, a steely determination across all their faces.
So what can I tell you of Nomad’s set? There was a giant, plush pink pony that rode atop and got ridden by the majority of the crowd. Drian Nash was, ever the consistent showman, outstanding both in terms of his vocal performance and the way he engaged with the audience, sheer joy fizzing between everyone present. I can also say that half my band were so impressed with them they bought shirts. I’d call that another job well done.
I’m afraid my memory only gets blurrier for those delightful mental cases in Ten Foot Wizard. The check-list in my brain reads: Umbrella, broken arm, tits, “fuck me I love their riffs,”, “I want a Theremin”, tits, I need another beer…
Suffice to say from the footage I’ve since seen, it looked mega. One of the biggest and probably the drunkest audience of the weekend, a band more fun than if Legoland had an open bar, they once more underlined just why they are so hugely admired.
I have the vaguest memory of being stood watching Foetal Juice, a Cheshire cat grin spread across my big daft face thinking “this is complete and utter, majestic chaos,” but I’m sceptical. Is densely inebriated Phil capable of using the word majestic? Regardless, ask your friends, see the pictures, it was chaos and it ended what has to be one of the single greatest weekends of my life spectacularly.
Over the past few years the Manchester metal scene has blossomed. It’s never been short of quality and diverse bands, but now it has more and more support from where it matters. Pist have a record deal, Boss Keloid are poised for a massive year and in a few short weeks Voodoo Blood have exploded – and that’s just three examples. It was a weekend of coming together and celebrating what we have as a scene here, with every band taking the opportunity to step up to the plate and, in the friendliest, most debaucherous competition I have ever witnessed, carved themselves a well-deserved place in this madly thriving scene.
Words: Phil Weller/Anthony Firmin | Photos: Anthony Firmin