Ghostfest (June 30th – July 1st, 2012)

This was my first year attending Ghostfest, the premier indoor metal and hardcore festival in the UK which has been running since 2005. The event saw University of Leeds Students’ Union packed to the rafters with predominately British talent for what proved to be a memorable weekend of music. Heart of a Coward kicked things off on the main stage to a large crowd considering their early afternoon time slot, and needless to say, they tore things up. Their bouncy djent-infused metalcore was the perfect warm up for the day with frontman Jamie Graham, formerly of Sylosis, delivering some beastly vocals. They were followed by Heights, a unique hardcore band who have recently replaced their much-loved vocalist with former bassist taking over mic duties. I must admit I was skeptical about this move but was won over by the new frontman’s passion and energy on stage. They played an excellent set to a receptive audience with ‘Eye for an Eye’ being a personal highlight. Up next were Glasgow act Bleed From Within, who again, played a flawless set. Probably the most metal act of the weekend with the longest hair, they showcased some very tasty guitar work with songs from across their back catalogue. The vocalist wasn’t the first to take a high dive off the balcony, nor was he the last. Closing out the night, I was faced with a tough choice between Heart in Hand and The Black Dahlia Murder. I opted for Heart in Hand and was not disappointed. They played the jam packed, sweltering metal room and produced one of the sweetest guitar tones all weekend, despite some issues with the sound setup. ‘Only Memories’ and ‘Tunnels’ were superb. The set was short enough that I caught the last half hour of The Black Dahlia Murder’s set and as is always the case, they were on point. The second day of the festival started off slow with the majority of the crowd nursing hangovers from the previous night’s antics. It wasn’t until All Shall Perish took to the main stage that things really came to life, a little later in the day. From the sounds of things, they’d had a mission to get to the show on time, and having had very little sleep they drew on the feverish crowd for their energy. The tracks taken from ‘The Price of Existence’ sounded best with some mesmerising sweeping and unique vocals from Hernan “Hagrid” Hermida. The only major disappointment of the weekend for me took place in the hardcore room with the indefinite hiatus status The Eyes of a Traitor playing a one-off show. I’d been unimpressed the last time I saw them so I was a little surprised that they’d actually got worse. The music sounded out of time and out of tune and at times you’d struggle to tell what song they were on. The vocalist wasn’t bad but did little to endear himself with his painfully arrogant attitude. Thankfully things improved afterwards with Bury Tomorrow destroying the main stage. The band produced an incredibly tight set with a beautiful guitar tone and some of the best clean vocals I’ve heard live. ‘An Honourable Reign’ and ‘You & I’ sounded absolutely fantastic and I look forward to seeing them again on their next tour. Closing out the festival were Emmure and they were a fitting choice as the crowd mustered up their final reserves of energy to bounce along to their crushing breakdown-orientated metal. Their sound set up was by far the heaviest and crispest heard over the weekend and their playing was also exceptionally tight. A special mention should go to their drummer in this regard. I wasn’t expecting it but they ended up being my favourite act of the festival. This was a phenomenal weekend of music which was organised very smoothly. Apart from a few fights, it was a well tempered affair with a good mix of people. If they can produce another good lineup next year I’ll definitely be returning and recommend that others do too.

Sadly I couldn’t mention all the bands I wanted to but special shoutouts go to Red Seas Fire, Continents, Brotherhood of the Lake, Carcer City, Empires Fade & Departures.

By George ~ Me Gusta Reviews