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Friday, 27 July 2018

A View From The Back Of The Room: Hefferfest 2018 (Live Review By Paul H)

Hefferfest - The Old England, Bath Buildings, Bristol

I can’t hide the amount of admiration we have here for black metal buddies Agrona. Not only do they have one of the albums of the year in Realm Of The Fallen, but every show is played like it’s a stadium headline set. The band were on the last night of a gruelling trio of gigs which saw they traverse the UK, Birmingham to Leeds to Bristol in 48 hours and despite another punishing hot day it was essential to get across the bridge for another fine evening promoted by the excellent Eradication Agency.

A late addition to the bill saw Bloodstock bound Cranial Separation (8) open the evening. As chaotically loose as ever, Ray, Chris and Sam, who was incredibly playing three sets during the night, never fail to make you smile. Their brand of death metal is getting better on every viewing and despite a sparse audience (the curse of Sunday night shows in the summer), Cranial whipped through their set with brutality and much humour. With the promise of much more sexiness and sex toys at BOA, the band’s ‘love song’ closed things off. Fucked By A Jackhammer is their anthem, one that Corpsegrinder and co would be proud of. Barely a Yeah Man either. Must be saving them for the Jaeger Stage.

When you have technical issues, sometimes it’s best to just get on with the show. Unfortunately, South Wales shoegaze black metallers Levitas (6) were somewhat fixated by theirs and it showed. Liam Wolf was massively distracted throughout the set, to the detriment of the performance. Having seen the band in Fuel recently I know what they can do, but tonight they struggled a little. Sam was now on set number two, with things a little more complex in timing but he was managing well. It wasn't all bad with their four tracks powerful and full of emotion. Helen Kinsella and Rhys Williams’ down tuned riffage adding atmosphere to their music but it really wasn’t their night as the sound gremlins did their worst.

I’d not seem Bristol trio Blasfeme (7) before but holy hell, they pulverized. Struggling with limited bass sound and way behind schedule, Blasfeme delivered a high octane filled set of blistering black metal which matched the external temperature outside. A curtailed set was bloody enough and the sight of Matt Fothergill wielding a fender telecaster like the reaper carries his scythe was incredible; not often seen in the sea of black metal. With some crushing tracks, Blasfeme are certainly worth checking out if they are in your area.

Despite their road trip and the heat, it was nothing short of the full set from headliners Agrona (8). Clad in their corpse paint and battle armour, I was particularly glad I’ve never had a desire to play music. I was sweating in my shorts as it was. Regardless of the pathetic crowd (size, not the quality of the 20 souls assembled) Agrona was full of their usual power and face melting riffs, howling roars and screams and with Sam still battering the crap out of his kit. There is no such thing as a poor Agrona gig. Selected tracks from their debut release were enthusiastically received with Alyn’s vocals on Storms End leaving you wonder why he didn’t do it on the album. With the set times way behind, the band sensibly cut their show to around 40 minutes but put everything into it. From opener The Treacherous Dead to the finale of Summoning The Void, this was another fine set in trying circumstances and for a fiver an evening that deserved a far larger crowd.

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