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Friday, 29 April 2016

A View From The Back Of The Room: Eradication Festival

Eradication Festival Day 1 Friday, Fuel Rock Club 

Eradication Festival has become a bit of a staple event in the Cardiff metal calendar, it tends to attract high caliber bands that are from the more extreme side of the metalsphere, this year their line up was the biggest ever with the Friday thrash dominated line up having the most well known bands. Headlined by Shrapnel and featuring Reign Of Fury, Divine Chaos and Incinery, it was perfect introduction to some of the most exciting bands on the thrash/death scene, all in one place. 

The festival itself started around 1pm on the Friday but due to work constraints myself and my heavy loving buddy Lee managed to turn up just after Oakhaart (7) had kicked off, the bands progressive/techincal style metal was a breath of fresh air for those expecting thrash all day as the songs were proggy and had a clinical precision about them, their vocalist too had the best vocal of the entire night effortlessly moving from pained scream to an aggressive growl through to a powerful Warrell Dane-croon (he also sports a fine skullett) the Gloucester band's set was over before they could really get going (something that would repeat itself numerous times) but they were a strong opening. 

Next up after a long set up were Birmingham thrashers Eradikator (6) who play thrash with a more modern edge blending Metallica with bands such as Machine Head and even Evile, as good as this sounds, they were let down massively by the sound of their set, every time frontman/bassist Pat Cox stepped up to the mic there was almighty feedback which at times actually hurt, this dampened my enjoyment of their set and meant that a few of the punters pulled back and retreated to the bar, this is a shame for Eradikator who I was looking froward to and when there was no feedback they sounded good, despite the guitars dropping out a few time making everything a bit bass heavy but I guess I'll just have to wait to see them again to really see how well they do. 

Another changeover that was almost as long as the sets themselves and it was time for Nottingham's Incinery (7) now they managed to shake up the room a little bit, many of those who had gathered early were decked out in Incinery patches showing that they had a lot of support in the room, this was obvious to see when the band kicked off, they provided a relentless battery of thrash with all of the band destroying their instruments and their frontman echoing Phil Anselmo in his early days snarling and commanding the stage spitting some violent growls which proved them to be a heavier angrier prospect than the previous band. Still the sound problems had not gone away and once again there was feedback that was distracting but the band were received well by the partisan crowd and finished strong. Myself and Lee then took a bit from the battery and popped to get some food, thankful that the venue was no more than five minutes from the still bustling St Mary's street which has many fine eateries, although a Greggs was more attractive than anything else, eating on the run we came back into the venue just before the next band kicked off. 

The next band in question was Wretched Soul (8) from Canterbury who's t-shirt bore the title "A Curse Upon Your Christ" which really is all you need to know, the band play incredibly technical death metal, with songs about the hypocrisy of religion delivered in a devastatingly heavy style, for a four piece the band rattle your brain with a cannon-like bottom end from drummer Andy Clifford and bassist Luke Mayall, while guitarist Steve Clifford shreds like a beast allowing the towering Viking-like frontman Chris Simmons to unleash his unbelievably wide vocal range going from the depths of hell to the thunder gods up high with his booming pipes. Wretched Soul got the ovation they truly deserved although a few down the front came out looking a bit dazed, possibly from the concussion that took place on stage. 

There seemed to be a longer gap between the switch over of bands but finally everything was sorted and it was time for the first of the last three bands to hit the stage, with most of the crowd just recovering from the brutal assault of Wretched Soul it was time for more explosive death-infected thrash with Divine Chaos (7) the band took tot he stage with a lot of power and a distinctly modern edge and a hostility that befitted their politician baiting lyrics and thrash metal fury, the band were technical and melodic with more harsh vocals that were surprisingly audible considering the sound problems earlier in the night, Divine Chaos do pissed off very well and rumbled through their set at a terrifying pace before finishing to a appreciative crowd. 

As the room filled with more punters you could feel the excitement grow and rightly so as the next band surely are headliners in their own right, due to the amount of t-shirts and patches visible at the front it was not just me that was looking forward to Reign Of Fury (8) the five piece from Cheltenham dove straight into their Anthrax-meets-Maiden style of classic thrash metal that brings in some traditional metal and progressive metal motifs to it. The band seemed to be having a blast shuffling and posturing around the small stage that saw bassist Paul Bielby and guitarist Jon Preistly trying to out do the other with their posturing and gurning, all while Magic Dave obliterated his kit (twice), the recent addition of guitarist Ross Lenny McLennan stood a stoic figure as he soloed for his life all while Bison Steed sang with the most melodic delivery of the night but it was the bands more traditional sound that made them stand out form the rest of the bands on the night, they were clearly having a blast on stage and even invited a lot of assembled rabble onto the stage to sing as a gang shout 'choir' for Born To Die (Dying To Live) before kicking them all back off and ending the set with the 8 minute epic World Detonation from their debut album of the same name. With the reception Reign Of Fury got they had definitively laid down a gauntlet for the headliners to take up. 

As the room cleared for the final time, there was possibly the longest set up of the entire evening before the headliners took to the stage but finally they did and we were off with the last band of the night Norwich's Shrapnel (7) now I last saw the band at Hammerfest a few years ago now and while they are entertaining I hoped that they would have expanded their sound a little since then but no apparently the band are quite content with sounding exactly like Slayer, I mean it's uncanny they stick to the Slayer sound for most of their songs except for when they sound like Kreator and Exodus, now I know thrash is not the most progressive genre, very rarely does a band come along doing something different, but Shrapnel unfortunately fall into those bands that border on pastiche, I think maybe if the roles had been reversed and Reign of Fury had come after Shrapnel then I could have been more forgiving of them, but as it stands myself and Lee left before Shrapnel concluded their set (myself having been up for nearly 20 hours by this point). 

Eradication is one hell of a festival and so I've heard day 2 and 3 were equally as good (I couldn't attend due to outside factors, namely work) showcasing the best local and underground death and black metal, however personally I think the Friday line up had more recognisable bands and therefore should have taken place a day later as many of the afternoon bands attracted smaller crowds due to work constraints. Still with an Open Air festival planned for the summer this local D.I.Y festival is going from strength to strength and as a supporter of the local scene this can only be a good thing.

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