Badgerfest 2018: Live Review
Words and photos: Anthony Firmin
After a year long period of hibernation following the momentous occasion that was Badgerfest 2017, we are once more plunged into the depths of riffs and rum, metal and beer which can mean only one thing - Badgerfest 2018 is upon us with a presentation of some of the best metal bands around both locally and nationally.
A train strike means I miss Daybreaker so Blackpool based Hedra are the first band I get to watch as this band are banging a groove with their metal riffs; what I hear, especially Warlord, impresses me so will make an effort to catch them again, this is (I think) the debut gig for their new drummer Shaun Cohn who did a fine job.
It is great to see so many people at the venue early doors too, presumably as sober as I am and the swift switch of stages means I remain beerless but Promethium are ready to start on the bigger ‘Mushroom’ stage; they are a band we caught at the Alma a few months back and although that was a good show, this is a much better performance. Tribute To The Fallen and P.O.W. are the standouts of their set.
God Shaped Devil hit the ‘Snake’ stage next with singer Bex Fuzery (also I think) making his debut here at Badgerfest; he also made a new friend after playing with the snake mascot! Their set is brutal and uncompromising, a little too much for my tastes, but they go down a treat.
Considering it is only the 2nd gig by Frozen In Shadows, they broke the ice about a month ago, they are certainly making an impact on the local scene. You could (and can) describe them as a veritable local super-group with their melodic death metal, singer Russ Custards gurning and emotive vocals came through well considering the intensity of the performance. I finally got a beer, it was needed. Back to the snake stage and Skeletal Damage are playing a fast and furious set, made all the more interesting by Thrashatouille’ James Von Gerber dep’ing on bass.
I am taken by surprise by Fractions, they are more math-rock than both I am expecting and how they describe themselves. Indulging myself in their progressive metal is a thoroughly enjoyable 30 minutes. Still not sure what the owls are or what they seem.
Reprisal are a full on thrash assault of the senses and the Badger Dance that follows is all about snakes, mushrooms and badger, badger, badger, badger, badger, badger, badger, badger… lots of fun and hilarity and a useful respite for all.
Back to the business of metal and things are moving up a gear. Up next are John Badger’s main band, Impavidus, on the mushroom stage and they are on fearsome form. Like an acetylene torch, Michelle Adamson’s vocals are cutting through the metal and help deliver a performance like no other with the band managing to secure an encore. Lies is the absolute highlight of their set and I can’t wait to see them again.
Back to the snake stage and technical issues aside Torqued are delivering some highly enjoyable groove metal that is being lapped up, Hollow Core is truly outstanding as is all their set. Their debut EP, Resurgence, is well worth picking up. I am now getting worn down and I need a burger break so I will let Dave Roberts give his thoughts on the next band… “This is my first time seeing This Is Turin and they are amazing. They have an unrelenting brutality and savage as fuck... I hope to see them again soon.” Thanks Dave.
The highly energetic death metal of After The Abduction is not my bag, baby, but there are plenty here who are loving them. What I really need is something different to pique my interest and Isarnos are exactly what I (and probably a few others) need. With a hurdy gurdy, flute, fiddle and what looks like an oversized mandolin on the stage this is not your regular metal band and with seven people on the stage playing a folky proggy metal, it sounds like Jethro Tull on metal steroids! We get an Irish jig with guttural vocals from a London based band playing in Manchester and the crowd respond accordingly with mental abandon. I swear they dip into Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive at one point during their set.
With their debut album launched about a month ago it is a return to the city for Prognosis and judging by the number of t-shirts in the audience their performance is highly anticipated, and they do not disappoint. From their opening with new song Fragments through to their encore with Encore, which munges into Drones, this is a band that is getting to the top of their game and deservedly so.
Loud, fast and relentless is the best way to describe Divine Chaos, their dogged determination to get us moshing to their 80’s style thrash metal certainly took me back to those days when I moshed in loud shorts and high tops (yes I did), sadly the crowd had thinned somewhat which is a shame because these guys were very good. And two thumbs up to singer Benny F for wearing his “Love Music Hate Racism” t-shirt with pride!
A cracking end to a day of metal and with Badgerfest ’19 already announced and in the diary, we are already getting excited at the propect of another badger dance!
Many thanks to the stage managers, sound and lighting folk, bar staff, MC’s and merchandisers for making it all run smoothly and for organising it all a special thanks go to John Badger Badger badger badger badg…