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LIVE REPORT: Temples Festival
Harry Sword , May 28th, 2014 22:44

Harry Sword fires up a Bristol cone and heads to the city's inaugural Temples Festival for a right royal flattening from Electric Wizard, Satan's Satyrs, Anaal Nathrakh, Brutal Truth and more

The inaugural Temples Festival marshals troops in impressive numbers today, boasting a birch-thwacking sound system, gritty quasi-industrial space round the back of Bristol Temple Meads station and - most importantly - a line up combining underground legends such as Electric Wizard and Brutal Truth alongside hungry young cavedwellers like Satan's Satyrs and Witchsorrow. Motion, a large skatepark/club long favored by the city's drum & bass community, is perhaps not the most obvious choice for a metal festival, but it makes perfect sense in practice: big open air courtyard, tall main hall, an only-marginally-smaller second room, leveled garden overlooking the canal – it all provides ample opportunity for dazed wondering, having had yer lugs hoofed...  

Witchsorrow are up first in the main room. A powerful and unrepentantly classicist doom trio – a real 'none more black' affair - they focus on low and (very) slow grooves that evoke memories of vintage Saint Vitus and Hellhammer. And although the mid afternoon slot may not be the best time to hear such glorious atrocities, the molasses-thick body of tracks like 'God Curse Us' and 'The Agony' cut through as vocalist/guitarist Nick 'Necroskull' Ruskell howls "scream for me Bristol!" at an already busy room. The material is also injected with occasional whiplash thrash passages, with fantastically named drummer Wilbrahammer battering his modest kit to oblivion, a blur of flailing limbs. Bracing stuff indeed.

Next come Satan's Satyrs, a band that really do sound how Tipper Gore's foaming PMRC supporters may have feared heavy metal sounded in their most fevered midnight imaginings. Yes, they're that good. Having quickly cemented a deserved reputation as proponents of a particularly frenetic style - one that marries the aggression and speed of punk rock with the lyrical themes and bowel-quaking low frequencies of doom metal – today the well-drilled (and very young) Virginia power trio lay down corking freak music of the highest grade; sour mash, acid fried dementicon. Opening with the bruising instrumental 'Thumpers Theme' and working through much of new album Die Screaming the Satyrs are on fine form, adding a hefty dose of seedy boogie to their already-foaming keg of lurid green grog.

Room two is also buzzing with activity throughout the day, playing host to more extreme luminaries such as Wodensthrone, Anaal Nathrakh and Winterfylleth. Anaal Nathrakh, surely one of the most fearsome UK acts of the past decade, while not a regular touring band, have nonetheless grown into a fearsomely tight live proposition. Vocalist Dave Hunt stalks the stage with menacing assurance and interacts with the crowd in an easygoing manner between songs. 'Of Fire, And Fucking Pigs' sounds particularly caustic this afternoon.

A wonder down to the smoking area provides welcome respite before Blood Ceremony. With swathes of dry ice, flute solos, tree-felling riffs, bewitching vocals and powerful keyboard work from Alia O' Brien, Blood Ceremony are intense this evening, enthralling from the offing, with 'Let It Come Down' and 'The Eldritch Dark' coming on like the glade-trotting, cloven-hoofed child of Jethro Tull, Blue Oyster Cult and Cathedral. They finish with a corking 'Oliver Haddo'.

If Blood Ceremony belong to the misty morning, then New York grind-masters Brutal Truth have a home in the basement of urban belligerence - indeed just about the only thing more belligerent would be if Jimmy Pursey, the Cockney Rejects and Buster Bloodvessel got together to record an album entitled Smashin' Up Yer Gaff, but we digress - and they are on bruising form tonight for what is reportedly their last ever UK show. A busy main room sees this writer watching from the balcony, near-blinded by a constant strobe flashing in time with the blastbeats.

Electric Wizard, meanwhile, have always carried with them a healthy dose of chaos; that line between disintegration and powerful apoplexy breached like some red-eyed Caligula calling for wine as his bucking horse threatens to derail the chariot. This is a strength, of course; Electric Wizard do not operate like most bands, and the live show is an often tense affair that leads you thrillingly into the vortex. After a fitful start that see a couple of rhythmic glitches, they soon find their monolithic groove in a sea of dry ice. 'Return Trip'; 'Dopethrone'; 'Witchcult Today'; 'Black Masses' – the gang's all here. The sub heavy system lends a suitable physicality tonight - a vast rumbling wall of heavy duty power grooves, tumbling into one another with nay a nod to the crowd – utterly glorious, utterly fearsome, the Wiz offering a paean to oblivion before disappearing into the black Bristol night.