Today it’s the turn of Hellfest 2013′s punk/hardcore focused Warzone Stage, to fall under Sergei’s scrutiny.
Hellfest 2013, Friday 21st June
First band on the Warzone stage of the weekend are Vera Cruz. These boys are a Paris based Hardcore act, not that you would know from their music, which is very American sounding. What I’ve heard isn’t wholly original but it is alright, and to be fair, they’re only on the first album. I’ll certainly be keeping an “ear” out for the their future work
Next is Berri Txarrak. Hailing from the Basque region, these lads are a very different breed from the US sounding Vera Cruz. Everything is in their native tongue (French-Basque) for a start and they’re nowhere near as heavy. I’m not really that carried away with this mob. It’s not that they’re terrible, it’s just not my thing, maybe it’s yours. They’re on their 7thalbum so they must be somebody’s!!
Then it’s the turn of Boston hardcore act Baneto take to the stage. There’s nowt really wrong with them but there’s nothing really special either. From there things step up a gear
as Negative Approach follow. If you like your hardcore more Black Flag than Biohazard then you need to check these folks out. I can’t say I’m as enthusiastic about Australian mob Deez Nutz. Musically they’re pretty sound but the vocals and lyrics aren’t much cop and as a result they start to grate pretty quickly.
There’s more hardcore on offer with Terror. If I’m honest I’m not massively into the particular style of hardcore that bands like Terror play, it’s not that I don’t like it, it just gets a bit too much over an extended period and songs and bands start to blur into each a little. Having said that, I do have a little more time for Terror than others of their ilk and of the bands on the Warzone stage mentioned so far they are second only to Negative Approach.
Anti-Flag are next up. If you don’t know them click the link and decide for yourself. Personally I’d rather climb feet first into a wood chipper and endure all that follows than listen to them!!
Last band to play before the headline act are Agnostic Front. These New Yorkers’ have been knocking around and releasing albums for quite a while and I’m sure most folks will have heard their ‘Gotta Go’ track at some point.
As the years have gone on, they’ve included even more metallic elements to their sound, something that hasn’t gone down well with everybody.
Top of the Bill are fellow New Yorkers’ from Queens Sick of it All. Be sure not to miss this Set as they are not scheduled to play the UK in 2013.
Hellfest 2013, Saturday 22nd June
First band of Saturday are Justin(e)…urm…they’re French….I’ve heard better…there’s not much more I can really say. Moving swiftly on, there’s Retox. According to the Hellfest site this four piece hail from California, and while I haven’t heard enough to fully form an opinion I’m certainly intrigued. They don’t mess about, I’ve not heard a song that goes much over 2 minutes, and in most cases their songs finish around the minute mark. So for those who are also intrigued, 10 minutes should give you more than a rough idea!!
It’s too soon to tell what I think about the next Warzone band, Bury Your Dead. According to Hellfest they’re moshcore….so we’re just adding core to anything these days are we? Maybe I wasn’t thatridiculous when I said it won’t be long before we get Bardcore…it could bring the Jacobean ruff back… New York’s The Casualties take to the stage next complete with ‘whoa’ chorus sing-a-longs. I’ve always thought this band would benefit from a skuzzier sound to their instruments to match Jorge Hererra’s vocals, but then who am I to argue, they’ve been doing it for 20 years or so after all…
Then you’ve got Unearth. I haven’t really heard much from these metalcore Americans since 2006’s ‘III: In the Eyes of Fire’ so I couldn’t really say anything about their output of late, but their previous work was cool, particularly ‘The Oncoming Storm’. On that basis you could probably do worse than pop down to the Warzone and have a listen.
Next up are UK Punks Gallows. Now these lads have been through quite a few changes of late. First and most noticeable was the departure of vocalist Frank Carter, who’s shoes have been filled by ex Alexisonfire singer Wade MacNeil. More recently Frank’s guitarist brother Steph has also flown the coop, which has seen the Band deciding to continue as a four piece. On album they’re just as strong (if maybe missing some of the charm of Frank’s voice) but I’ve yet to see (or hear) if they are still as ferocious live, even so I’d still recommend going to check them out.
Converge, the boys from Salem really are unstoppable. 2009’s ‘Axe to Fall’ album was one of the albums of the year for quite a lot of people (it was in the no. 1 spot for me), and became probably their best album to date (that’s an impressive feat when you consider how monumental 2001’s ‘Jane Doe’ was). Their latest ‘All We Love We Leave Behind’ is akin to being sandblasted point blank in the face…who doesn’t want that? I’ve never been disappointed with them in a live setting, so this are another band I’d recommend not to miss.
The penultimate band of the day is So Cal punks NOFX. Now I haven’t heard anything from these bods in 12/13 years but I’m guessing (unfairly or not) that they haven’t really changed that much, and if that mean’s they’re still releasing albums as good as ‘Punk in Drublic’ then make sure you check them out. Like Friday’s headliners, Bad Religion have been on the scene long enough and have a big enough name that you shouldn’t really need an introduction and if you do then my inane jabber isn’t gonna do them justice so just be there!!
Hellfest 2013, Sunday 23rd June
Sunday starts much like every other day on the Warzone with a ‘local’ act, in fact there are three today. First up are The Decline! Based on a trawl through youtube they’re something a bit different from a lot of the other Warzone acts with (sort of) acoustic elements running through a lot of their songs. Think a less folky Frank Turner at times perhaps. They could be a good way to start a Sunday morning off if you’re not feeling your best. Industrial act Treponem Pal follow. They seem to be something of a French Killing Joke (which might sound better than the reality). The French Connection is completed by Le Bal Des Enrages, who according to the Hellfest site are an ‘all-star band consisting of the musicians from the crème de la crème of the French underground’ who play covers ‘in their own and delirious way’. Now from what I’ve seen on youtube that just seems to be having a fire dancer on stage, as musically it seems to just be straight covers. If you’re at a loss for something to watch it might be interesting, but really with so much going on elsewhere around that time (Nachtmystium and Prong spring to mind) I think you could do better.
Oi, oi, oi what ‘ave we ‘ere? It’s the Cockney Rejects …see what I did there…I’ll get my coat…anyway…these West Ham supporters have never had an easy ride what with generally being overlooked by the music press and media who took a particular dislike to songs featuring violence and hooliganism. Away from all that their music about working class rebellion is a nice counter point to the ‘art school’ punk bands and became very important within the Oi! scene.
UK rap rockers Senser are next. It’s kinda weird, I’d not heard anything of these in years (probably since the mid nineties) and then at a New Years party I heard ‘Age of Panic’ and now they’re at Hellfest…clearly I’ve missed something. After that French ‘cyber punks’ Punish Yourself take over the Warzone. I’d never heard of these guys until about 10 minutes ago, so I don’t know what to make of them. There’s hints of Skinny Puppy (particularly on the track Primitive), bit of Ministry and some other bits and bats, check the vid and see for yourself.
Next up are reformed German digital hardcore crew Atari Teenage Riot. First time around I wasn’t remotely interested but in the years between their split and reformation I’ve warmed to them a little, and from what I’ve heard of their recent output I think this could be an interesting performance, it’ll certainly shake things up a little.
After that something completely different (well not completelydifferent, it’s not an Oompah band playing ‘Public Enemy’ covers). It’s the blokes from Bolton, England, Buzzcocks. As far as I’m concerned, their first two EP’s (‘Spiral Scratch’ amp; ‘I am the Amazing Buzzcocks’) and first album (‘Another Music in a Different Kitchen’) are essential purchases for anyone and they’re one of those bands that you should at least see once.
Final band on the Warzone stage of the weekend are the Toy Dolls. It may be doing them a disservice referring to them as a comedy band but these blokes from Sunderland appear to play their punk for laughs….only thing is I’m not laughing. Call me po-faced but I just don’t get the appeal of this bunch. Granted I haven’t listened to everything they’ve done so maybe I’m missing something but I’ve been exposed to a fair bit of their stuff over the years and I’ve yet to find anything I can connect with on any level.