My first ever Beermageddon…
Driving on to the campsite and pitching up right next to the car has got to be the classiest start to a festival ever. No shoulder strain from hauling crates of booze across endless fields to find your campsite! When I strolled across the road to the canal-side pub for a pint and a pub lunch; I thought I may have entered festival nirvana. Needless to say it is with this first pint that the glamour of Beermageddon ended and the debauched merriment began. I am now officially a Beermageddon survivor, but frankly, it could have gone either way.
DJ extraordinaire Jim Beerman has been running Beermageddon since 2012; a monument to underground metal. Such a wide range of genres are represented, however, I didn’t detect a hint of snobbishness from anyone in the crowd about whether something was to their taste or not. It helps that each band is oozing with quality and professionalism. It’s a complete travesty that they aren’t more widely recognised by the metal media.
Kicking off the festival was Dartford thrashers PROLAPSE AD, with a few sound issues that were to become a running issue for many of the sets over the first two days. They soldiered on through a solid set and delivered a particularly well received track about blasphemy, “Thrashing in the Church”.
Manchester’s THE DEAD XIII were up next. I’ve got to be honest, I wasn’t sure when I saw a New Grave band on the line-up, but they won me round with their energetic punk-infused horror show.
Leicestershire’s GARGANJUA are definitely up there as one of the performances of the weekend. I’d had so much beer by this point, I was probably easily hypnotised, but the haunting vocals and their heavy melodic doom riffs did it for me. The set was so crushing – you could have scraped every member of the crowd off the floor with a spatula.
What can I say about Friday’s headliners, GEHTIKA?! The show they put on was truly spectacular. You expect a madcap show from Coventry’s death gentlemen, but this felt like something really special. A show designed for a stage much larger than this; complete with glitter cannons, all manner of props and guest appearances from Hærken. Fortunately, all this on-stage madness is underpinned by quality death metal.
So Friday ended with a bang, I sat up sipping wine from my Viking drinking horn until the early hours of the morning, cackling and generally feeling content with life… until the hangover the next day. Vowing to take things a little more easy on the Saturday I made my way over to the stage.
WITCH TRIPPER were not what I was expecting. The stoner rock ‘n’ roller 3 piece, freshly back from a triumphant show at this year’s Bloodstock, seemed more rock ‘n’ roll and less stoner to my ear. They were upbeat enough to wake me up after what had been very little sleep.[mixcloud https://www.mixcloud.com/MidlandsMetalheads/witch-tripper-interview-direct-from-beermageddon-2016/ width=100% height=60 hide_cover=1 mini=1 light=1]
Derby’s CRUEL HUMANITY were up next with their totally unique brand of blackened metal. A mindboggling mix of black, death and doom that just works so well. The band has been around since 1997 and it’s completely ridiculous that I’ve only just discovered them. A highlight of the set for me included a song about the band’s “fondness” for modern religion, “Cross Or Crescent Moon”. Special mention has to go to the little girl in the front row, banging her head throughout CRUEL HUMANITY… future of metal!
Preston’s SOLITARY gets heads (freshly recovered from hangovers) banging with their fast and heavy thrash. With Richard Sherrington delivering his strong gruff vocals to some cracking tracks; including “Keep Your Enemies Closer” from the 2008 album “Requiem”.[mixcloud https://www.mixcloud.com/MidlandsMetalheads/solitary-interview-with-uk-thrash-legends-solitary-at-beermageddon-2016/ width=100% height=60 hide_cover=1 mini=1 light=1]
Groovey deathcore, OUTRIGHT RESISTANCE, proved to be a bit of a revelation. The band is clearly still buzzing from their successful appearance at Bloodstock. They delivered boundless energy and ferocity; with vocalist Paige charging out into the pit whenever the mood took her.[mixcloud https://www.mixcloud.com/MidlandsMetalheads/outright-resistance-a-brief-word-from-beermageddon-2016/ width=100% height=60 hide_cover=1 mini=1 light=1]
Releasing the demonic hoard, DEMONS OF OLD METAL hit the stage masked and, being used to the fires of hell, ready to melt in the heat of Beermageddon’s stage. They deliver their classic metal with tracks such as “Dead Or Alive” from “The Demonic Chronicles Trilogy II”.
Blending classic soaring black metal and Old English folk tales was always going to be a winning formula for my tastes. Blackened folksters OLD CORPSE ROAD were one of the bands I was most looking forward to. Their new album “Of Campfires And Evening Mists” has got to be one of my albums of the year. Their onstage personas are a little different from your standard black metal band, with their waistcoats and checked shirts, but for me that makes them all the more endearing.
KAMBRIUM bring to the stage epic death metal all the way from Deutschland. They certainly deliver death metal but the rising grandness of their sound gives them a touch of power metal. “Abyssal Streams” from their latest album “The Elders Realm” was a particular highlight for me.
Finally on to our headliners for the night, Geordie lads DEF CON ONE, bring their full throttle balls-to-the-wall metal to the Beermageddon stage. Opening what was an explosive set with “10 Bullets” from the 2012 “Warface”.
I ended Saturday tucked up in bed early, much to my campsite neighbours’ relief. Sunday morning I woke well rested, but with a lot of alcohol to use up; surely a bad omen for the day ahead. I made my way towards the stage… beer in hand.
SPYDER BYTE wake us all up with their straight up sleaze; with tracks such as “Hans All On Gretel”. The inescapable cover of ABBA’s “Waterloo” was particularly appreciated by the hardworking Marshalls; who I spied at the front door, bobbing up and down.[mixcloud https://www.mixcloud.com/MidlandsMetalheads/spyder-byte-interview-at-beermageddon-2016/ width=100% height=60 hide_cover=1 mini=1 light=1]
Bristol’s MORDRAKE brought dark melodic metal and hot sauce to the Beermageddon party. Taking their name from the “freak” Edward Mordrake, who is said to have had a second demonic face that would whisper terrible things to him. A highlight of their set was “Claim For The Dark” from their 2014 “Unhallowed Chambers”.
The weekend’s award for scariest face goes to BURDEN OF THE NOOSE’s vocalist, Andy Barraclough, who sneers his way through a fearsome set. Birmingham’s sludge grind group certainly take no prisoners this weekend. With intense tracks including the “Art Of Being Weird” from “The Forgotten Plague”.
Birmingham’s thrashers ERADIKATOR kick of their set with “Astral Body” from their 2015 album “Edge Of Humanity”. Never failing to get heads banging, even the po-faced locals on the other side of the bar couldn’t help but enjoy their cover of Van Halen’s “Panama”.
Anyone familiar with some of my previous reviews will know that I rate black metal poets SHADOWFLAG very highly. Today they don’t let me down; delivering what is one of the best performances I’ve seen from them. The songs flow effortlessly together – no mean feat when combining black metal with snarled spoken word poetry. What’s more, they look like they’re having the time of their lives on stage – a blur of smoke, hoods and beards. All my usual favourites were present in the set; “Villmark”, “And Hell Walked Laughing”, as well as a taste of next year’s new album with the track “The Beasts That Perish” and a haunting cover of Darkthrone’s “Valkyrie”.[mixcloud https://www.mixcloud.com/MidlandsMetalheads/shadowflag-interview-from-beermageddon-2016/ width=100% height=60 hide_cover=1 mini=1 light=1]
Progressive Tech metallers CAMBION are up next. This hardworking bands career is currently on a massive trajectory with rave reviews of their Bloodstock mainstage performance. The stage and crowd is a sea of banging heads and hair as they roll out their crushing beats and tasty riffs to tracks such as “Death March” from 2011’s “Last Rites”.
Birmingham’s HÆRKEN feels like a headliner tonight. The Medieval metal minstrels are always a guarantee of a good night, at least in my experience, but this is a particularly blinding performance. With a set list covering tracks from their awesome 2014 album “Of Warriors And Kings” – which you can buy in exchange for gold pieces.
Crossover thrash heavyweights ANIHILATED’s well received headline slot begins. Their classic 1986 album “The Path Of Destruction” is getting an imminent re-release/ re-recording so tonight the crowd are treated to four songs never played at a UK festival from said album. A storm of righteous anger and defiance, this was a great way to close out the weekend.[mixcloud https://www.mixcloud.com/MidlandsMetalheads/anihilated-interview-with-the-thrash-legends-at-beermageddon-2016/ width=100% height=60 hide_cover=1 mini=1 light=1]
Sunday night proved to be a messy one. I left the festival in the morning with the hangover to end all hangovers and feelings of deep regret. More importantly than that though – I’ve taken away very fond memories, new friendships and fair few new favourite bands. Really, what more can you ask from one little festival?
Review by Rebecca Collins
Photos by Paul Thrupp – full gallery coming soon
Interviews by Hugh Williams