Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Live Review : FOAD FEST, Sound Control, Manchester, UK, 1st/2nd March 2014

FOAD FEST – Manchester Sound Control – Day One: 1st March 2014

Review :

The inaugural FOAD Fest in Manchester has been widely covered in the national extreme media. With smaller festivals becoming common fare, the market is increasingly competitive market. The challenge to put a bill together that is appealing and good value for money is one that many organisers must toil with. The organisers of FOAD hit both of these nails firmly on the head when their bill was gradually announced, and ticket prices were announced (£40).
Over the course of two days at Manchester’s Sound Control venue, there would be a vast collection of bands ranging in genre from death metal, black metal, sludge metal, doom metal, stoner metal and all sub genre stops in the metal periodic table. Whilst the bill was vast and eclectic, the set times had been organised well so that you could probably take in most bands in some capacity if you were on the ball and liked hopping between three floors!
The first band I saw were The Atrocity Exhibit. They are a three piece grind band from Northampton that showed a tendency for groove and doom in their repertoire. The Atrocity Exhibit have recently released a 7” split with Liverpudlian noise crew, Iron Witch. The band was met with a good crowd response, especially as it was very early on in the day. On the second stage in the basement, Wort brought a completely doomy set to everyone’s ears. The tempo was extremely slow and their trudging and crushing riffs satisfied the again good crowd.

Following Wort was London’s ‘blackened doom’ mob, Bast. I use the genre tag loosely as Bast flit between many different styles without actually settling into one particular genre. The band showed that they can hit the black metal box with some furious drumming, and the doom metal box with the slower, bass heavy tempos. The unique thing about Bast is that they also throw in a psych/prog element that has echoes of Pink Floyd. Bast seem to want to try new things and not be pigeonholed. When you can pull it off like they do, they really are a band to watch. Their release, Spectres is truly stunning and will be one of the best of 2014; of that I have no doubt.

On the main stage, in the loft of Sound Control, Enos exhibited their psychedelic stoner grooves. For the first time in the day, guitar solos were par for the course. Another first for the day is that more clean vocals were used! That being said, the vocals were still packed with a hard edge. Unfortunately for Enos, their lead singer/guitarist’s amp packed in half way through the set. The band deserves commendation for carrying on and still putting on a great show.
Next up on the main stage were Welsh death metal trio Desecration. As far as death metal goes, they did exactly as it says on the tin. Gore obsessed, and perverse lyrics merged with breakneck riffs and furious drumming saw the cult band go down a storm with the Manchester crowd. Their enthusiasm from the stage saw the crowd response getting more vociferous; absolutely nothing to do with the crowd getting slightly more liquored!
One the second stage, Oxford’s Mother Corona put on a particularly stunning set of groove laden metal in the vein of Black Sabbath. Again, another trio, Mother Corona had their exuberant drummer on main vocals. The band really looked like they were enjoying themselves, like Desecration before them. Their enthusiasm and vigour saw their guitarist cut his hand open on his guitar strings at the end whilst he was playing the closing strains of their final track. Mother Corona were definitely one of the absolute highlights of day one.

As the day moved into the final stretch, Sweden’s Entrails were nothing short of spectacular. The obvious nods to their forefathers Entombed aside, the band were spritely and passionate. Their set took in different parts of their discography including their latest opus; Raging Death, and their latest 7” split with Graveyard. The legendary Extreme Noise Terror were given the job of following Entrails, and they did it with aplomb. Confrontational and crushing, the crust/grind pioneers treated the crowd to their
inimitable vociferousness. The dual vocals, and short, shrift tracks were bludgeoning.
One of the biggest coups/successes for the FOAD Fest organisers was getting the mighty Orange Goblin to headline their debut day! Personally, I run out of superlatives for Orange Goblin. Their set was the perfect end to the day. Many people were suitably inebriated, and with beer cans and bottles aloft, Orange Goblin put on a show that was quite simply, one big party. Opening with Scorpionica, the band went from strength to strength with the doom laden The Fog, the hard rock of The Filthy and the Few, and the always amazing Time Travelling Blues. Other highlights included Blue Snow, dedicated to Winterfylleth front man Chris Naughton, and the crowd friendly Some You Win, Some You Lose. The band closed out their dazzling set with Quincy The Pigboy and Red Tide Rising with Ben Ward venturing/towering over the ecstatic crowd on the security rail.

Day Two
Day Two of FOAD Fest kicked off with Molly Bloom on the main stage, followed by  Burial's, early Enslaved influenced set that was warmly reviewed by the early, gathered audience. On the second stage, the five piece Pig Witch, offered a more straight up rock affair with psychedelic undertones that were emblazoned with heavy nods to Hawkwind and Deep Purple in the use of keys in the band.
Satanic Dystopia took to the main stage to a larger crowd and immediately set out their stall with their self genred 'black thrashing metal.' The band carried more image than most with the guitarist looking a little like Alex Turner, and the hulking front man complete with shades and scarf over his face. Towards the end of the set, the fearless singer launched himself over the security rail into the increasingly raucous pit below the stage.
Local lads Foetal Juice were up next and slayed the crowd with some pure death metal that delighted the crowd. Due to the bands locality this was like a home match for them. Some great interaction with the crowd ensued and the band rattled through a stunning set of songs that had the crowd lapping up every growl and riff.

Diesel King followed Foetal Juice with some crushing sludge metal that was a change of pace from Foetal Juice. After the death metal savagery, the savagery was of a different sort with punishing riffs and bona fide neck wrecking songs. The pace was again slow for Serpent Venom whose doom laden set was played out in front of a smaller audience. The audience that was there though were treated to a magnificently tight set.  
Up next on the main stage were Mancunian black metal heroes, Winterfylleth. Serpent Venom’s set seemed to over run slightly so Winterfylleth lost a few minutes, however there set was still a sublime example of black metal mastery. Particular highlights of the bands set were their recently released cover of The Gates (originally by Hate Forest) from their 12” split with Drudkh and a towering version of Defending The Realm to top the bands set. Throughout the set, the band played tracks from all their three albums and showed why they’re one of the leading lights of the UK black metal scene. With slots at Bloodstock and Temples Festival confirmed, and a fourth record in the pipeline, the Winterfylleth will only go from strength to strength.  The band left the stage to rapturous applause leaving headliners, legendary death metallers Necrophagia, with some act to follow. Over on the second stage, Latitudes brought things to a close in the basement with their long and sprawling post rock sound.

Overall, FOAD Fest was a huge success. The plethora of merchandise to browse, the company, the bands, the beer, the venue, the organisation and the awesome community was a pleasure to be involved with. I sincerely hope the FOAD returns in 2015. It was a crushing weekend of extremely heavy bands all grafting their behinds off for the music that we love and to ensure that the crowd had a stunning weekend. No one put a foot wrong. Well done Manchester!

Words by : Dominic Walsh

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