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The weekend’s not near, it’s here : Download Festival 2012

Initially started as a blog to document my personal escapades and experiences, Absurd History has now diversified into a professional web-zine that is teaming up with the best of record labels, artists, bands and organizers from across the globe. But, even today, all of this fails to silence the excited boy inside me (I turned 25 this year, and I’m loving it) who had hankered about attending some of the most massive music festivals out there, someday.

What was once just a passing thought that had vanished into thin air, is going to be a part of three day’s of my life, starting today. Decades down the line this post here would remind me that I was there at the tenth anniversary of one of the most acclaimed, celebrated, full-mouthed and crammed congregation of music lovers – The Download Festival.

2012’s edition would have more than 70,000 people participating in it, a total of five different stages, more than 140 bands spanning over a period of three days and don’t even get me started on the jillions of other attractions planned for the attendees. A virgin when it comes to camping, I wouldn’t ask for a better place to put up my first tent than Donington Park. So yea, here’s to a weekend full of muck, booze, sweat, torrential rains and heavy fucking metal. Don’t get your pets along, they’ll get crushed. Alright, I’m getting late now. See you all next week, when it would be you, me and the post-Download blues.

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Melvins live at I’ll Be Your Mirror, London 2012 : A review in pictures

Melvins definitely know how to have fun while performing. While they rocked and rolled the audiences, I was standing right below them with goosebumps. Melvins wrote the principal set of laws for the genres of sludge/drone sometime around 1984, and have been captivating the metal lovers ever since. They have been quoted as an influence by more bands than the amount of precision with which they were jamming on their songs this particular evening at the second edition of I’ll Be Your Mirror, 2012.

They have four vocalists, one lead guitarist, one bass player and two drummers and are still a four-piece act. With their next album Freak Puke ready for release, this gig served as a much needed sneak peak into the next record. Shall I praise the co-ordination between the drummers Dale Crover and Coady Willis, or should I highlight the genuine admiration the band garnered from the audiences? All of our playful bantering, hip gyrations and unoriginal reflexes aside the least I can say is everyone present loved every minute they spent with one of the most unusual bands I have come across, a band that has composed music spanning across multiple genres – the one and only Melvins.

Melvins’s set-list for the night 

Hung Bunny
Roman Bird Dog
The Water Glass
Evil New War God
Manky
A History of Bad Men
Youth of America (Wipers cover)
A Growing Disgust
The War on Wisdom
The Bit

Pictures from Melvins’s performance. Click on the pictures to to enlarge them.

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Wolves in the Throne Room live at I’ll Be Your Mirror, London 2012

Sleep live at I’ll Be Your Mirror, London 2012

Slayer live at I’ll Be Your Mirror, London 2012


Wolves in the Throne Room live at I’ll Be Your Mirror, London 2012 : A review in pictures

Without an iota of glow on-stage right from Wolves in the Throne Room‘s entry, through their performance and even after they left the band left everyone clueless as to which member was standing where. But being a fan of the band’s music, especially the last record Celestial Lineage, it really was a big deal for me to watch the Weaver brothers live, and the speakers did a great job of helping me recognize the band’s music. WITTR is on the borderline of black and melodic metal, and are one of the few talented American black metal bands who became visible through their intricately detailed sorrow-ridden albums that are loaded with honesty. And, at the second edition of I’ll Be Your Mirror, London the band presented themselves in the same manner I wanted them to. They did not give a shit about posers trying to understand black metal, nor did they bother posing for the cameras. The West Hall of Alexandra Palace, where the band performed, was filled with a chunks of attractive and mysterious dark melody. They sent me straight to my grave and back, and it was an insult to the band when some ridiculous couples were spotted making use of the much needed darkness inside the venue to fucking make out. Death to posers, I say!

WITTR’s set-list for the night

Thuja Magus Imperium
Dea Artio
I Will Lay Down My Bones Among the Rocks and Roots
Prayer of Transformation

To enlarge the pictures below click on them and then continue from there.

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Slayer live at I’ll Be Your Mirror, London 2012

Melvins live at I’ll Be Your Mirror, London 2012

Sleep live at I’ll Be Your Mirror, London 2012


Sleep live at I’ll Be Your Mirror, London 2012 : A review in pictures

As I had expected from them, United States-based stoner doom legends Sleep took the audiences at Alexandra Palace to another space with their solid compositions, and they chose to perform songs that made the ones watching them for the first time (including me) want to watch them over and over again. Having inhaled a lot of Sleep‘s original material, some where in the middle just before they started off Sonic Titan vocalist Al Cisneros cracked up everyone, although he was damn serious about it, by saying, “If you have a hashish pipe, please light it at this time“. Neither did I have a pipe, nor do I smoke hashish, but none of these stopped me from getting high courtesy of Sleep‘s foggy music that completely engulfed my mind. From my keen observation I can confidently say that one of the main reasons for the success of I’ll Be Your Mirror, 2012 was Sleep‘s presence on the line-up. Amen.

Sleep’s setlist for the night

Dopesmoker (Part I)
Holy Mountain
Dragonaut
Sonic Titan
From Beyond
Dopesmoker (Part II)

Click on the pictures below to enlarge them. Cheers!

Melvins live at I’ll Be Your Mirror, London 2012

Slayer live at I’ll Be Your Mirror, London 2012

Wolves in the Throne Room live at I’ll Be Your Mirror, London 2012

Bolt Thrower live at BoltFest, London 2012


Slayer live at I’ll Be Your Mirror, London 2012 : A review in pictures

That thrash metal would not have completely evolved without the six-lettered Slayer‘s contribution to the genre is as true as the fact that they have the most violent and crazy fans out of the big four of thrash or any other thrash band for that matter. I know, today it does not matter who or what big four is as the quality of releases have so clearly deteriorated, just that now it is impossible for bands to touch such dizzying heights of success. But to understand the kind of respect a band as massive as Slayer commands, to get a first hand experience of having a fully functional production team handling all things for the performing band, one has to be present in person and watch everything disentangle up close and personal.

Since it was the first time I was watching Slayer I did not have any emotions. I was numb, and I still am even after I’m done watching them. There were a few others around me who were recalling their experiences at past Slayer gigs. As to what song had some chick taking off her tee, and what song made Slayer put a break on their performance because some fan had severely injured himself. And here I was, just a few steps away from the stage. With all these talks happening in the background, those umpteen Slayer DVDs playing in my head and their tracks thumping my heart harder than usual, I was almost ready for Slayer‘s first UK appearance in 2012 at I’ll Be Your Mirror presented by All Tomorrow’s Parties. Boy was I nervous or what! Nervous because I would be in an enclosed venue with Slayer firing rounds at me or because their set-list for the night contained stuff dreams are made of.

Alexandra Palace is a massive indoor venue in London, and they were right when they named it a ‘palace’. Wait till I bring you pictures of what the venue looks like from the outside. You can almost see the whole of London from this place, if you have the eyes for it.

Once stoners Sleep stepped down, a huge Slayer backdrop came on. Chicks and dicks, vying to find a suitable spot to catch a better glimpse of Slayer made for an interesting pass time. With my earplugs in tow, I was ready to be assaulted. Entering the stage from every direction the four members opened the floodgates to restlessness. Even before Slayer broke into a song, the crowd was uncontrollable. Like it was all planned, only this time the plan worked well.

To write about Slayer‘s performance would not just be dumb, but it’d be a fucking mistake which is the very reason I clicked while they performed. Because these are times when pictures speak louder than words. It’s already known that Gary Holt is replacing Jeff Hanneman for of Slayer‘s gigs, as the latter has been hospitalized because a spider bit him. As per the latest Jeff is recovering fast. Apart from the music what I carried back home from this gig was Tom Araya‘s cold stare, Kerry King‘s arms, Gary Holt‘s personality and Dave Lombardo‘s energy. Slayer packaged and presented everything in a way that made even the weak feel strong.

Set-list for the night

World Painted Blood
Psychopathy Red
Die by the Sword
Chemical Warfare
Hate Worldwide
Dead Skin Mask

Reign in Blood – the album
Angel of Death
Piece by Piece
Necrophobic
Altar of Sacrifice
Jesus Saves
Criminally Insane
Reborn
Epidemic
Postmortem
Raining Blood

Encore:
South of Heaven
Snuff
War Ensemble

With bodies flying around like a swarm of locusts heading towards you everytime you look in some direction, standing still and clicking these pictures was one of the toughest things I ever did. Luckily I did not require the assistance of paramedics stationed at the venue since I suffered only a few minor bruises, but before Slayer went on stage I had made it a point to remember the exit routes. I wanted to come out alive, so I could narrate this experience. And now my very short wish-list has one less point on it.

Live the Slayer experience through this gallery. Click on them, and keep moving.

Wolves in the Throne Room live at I’ll Be Your Mirror, London 2012

Sleep live at I’ll Be Your Mirror, London 2012

Melvins live at I’ll Be Your Mirror, London 2012


Duck Off


Bolt Thrower live at Boltfest, London 2012 : A review in pictures

Interested death metal heads already know what Boltfest was all about. The event happened on 7th of April, 2012. Boltfest was, simply put, a charity event organized by Bolt Thrower. Keeping the entry fee at a mere seven pounds and ninety nine pence and in return breaking every tried and tested formula of bringing together a line-up of top notch bands. There was Vallenfyre providing their shoulders to cry on, Benediction to get scared of, Discharge to let yourself go, Autopsy to shake your head in disbelief and Bolt Thrower to weep in agreement. All collections were sent to the Teenage Charity Trust.

Being the last band of the day, Bolt Thrower opened to a packed audience. The scene during Bolt Thrower‘s set looked straight out of their song Entrenched from the band’s last full-length album Those Once Loyal, which contained the following words – In a world of compromise….Some don’t. Bodies were flying from one end of the venue to another, foreheads were perspiring with no time to stop and wipe the salty sweat, heads were banging without caring about whether they hit something hard in the process and horns were raised higher and higher. Sloshed metal heads, from different countries, lived their dream of getting to watch Bolt Thrower at such a gala occasion.

I lost count of the number of times vocalist Karl Willetts said that Bolt Thrower has now completed twenty six of playing ‘perfect’ death metal. We all agree with you, Karl. How did I feel being a part of Boltfest? I felt like I was in a battleground, braving ahead after having joined hands with everyone around me, stomping all those outside who try to curb the basic birthright of humanity, which is freedom. Guess what, we won!

Bolt Thrower‘s set-list at BoltFest, 2012 –

Intro (Battle for Britain Theme)
In Battle There Is No Law
All That Remains
World Eater
Rebirth of Humanity
Warmaster
The IVth Crusade
Ritual
War
Remembrance
…For Victory
No Guts, No Glory
Powder Burns
Inside The Wire
At First Light
The Killchain
When Cannons Fade

Pictures from Bolt Thrower’s set. Click on them to enlarge

And, a slideshow

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Vallenfyre live at Boltfest, 2012

Benediction live at Boltfest, 2012

Autopsy live at Boltfest, 2012

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Autopsy live at Boltfest, London 2012 : A review in pictures

It was the reign of old school death on this particular evening at Boltfest when Sir Chris Reifert came in with his team of surgeons for a postmortem examination of every head that was to bang along to the music of Autopsy. Seeing is believing. Just to rephrase this a bit, seeing and hearing is believing.

At the count of four given by Sir Reifert on his well-tuned cymbals, Autopsy broke into a frenzy and the music was seen spreading like wildfire across the venue. Sounding exactly like how they do on record, it was amazing to watch Sir Reifert give vocals and smash the drums at the same time. Truly a sight to behold, and this also resulted in the size of mosh-pit growing bigger and bigger with every passing song. Some were seen hitting the next person blindly as they couldn’t believe they were watching Autopsy live. I did not hit anyone though. When a legendary figure in the death metal scene is seen growling with so much passion that his nerves begin to become visible then you just close your eyes and thank your stars for the sight. One cannot review a gig by bands of the likes of Autopsy, one can only share the experience. The band was outright crushing, with all members delivering their absolute best. And I pretty much know that I won’t get to see them again. Alright, have a look at this…

The tracks played by Autopsy at Boltest, London 2012 –

Intro
Hand of Darkness
Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay
In the Grip of Winter
Severed Survival
Gasping for Air
Slaughterday
Dead
Mauled to Death
Voices
Charred Remains
Ridden With Disease

I believe Chris Reifert should be knighted. Fuck that shit, I’m still going to address him as ‘Sir’.

This is how it looked when Autopsy struck HMV Forum with their mighty death metal sledgehammer. Click on each to enlarge the photos

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ALSO READ –

Benediction live at Boltfest, 2012

Vallenfyre live at Boltfest, 2012

The DesertFest day 1 at The Purple Turtle, London

The DesertFest day 2 at The Black Heart, London

The DesertFest day 3 at The Underworld


Benediction live at Boltfest, London 2012 : A review in pictures

The second slot at this year’s metal mania Boltfest went to death metal stalwarts Benediction, who haven’t released a new album for quite a while now. On 7th April, 2012, Benediction erupted like a dormant volcano wanting to tear your ass with its intensity, smoldering every part of you along its way. The performance by them need not be written about, as I have only good things to say about them. They got it all right. Be it uniting metalheads from different parts of the globe who had come to see them, or maintaining a level of musicianship that is hard to attain in the first place. Vocalist Dave Hunt was seen repeating how cancer fucks up one’s life, and we all should support the cause anywhere in every way possible. The entire venue nodded in unison, as this concert was not just about coming, chilling and watching some badass death metal bands but also about joining hands in favor of the Teenage Cancer Trust. Benediction, and the other bands on the line-up did their bit by organizing a gig, lending their names to it and providing all the possible strength to fight the ongoing battle with the demon that is cancer.

Benediction played the following tracks at Boltfest

Intro
Unfound Mortality
Nothing on the Inside
Nervebomb
Nightfear
They Must Die Screaming
Jumping at Shadows
Subconscious Terror
The Dreams You Dread
Suffering Feeds Me

Horns up to Benediction for being themselves. It turned out to be a wonderful meet-and-greet evening for lovers of one of the most extreme genres out there.

A few pictures from Benediction’s set. Click on each to enlarge

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Review of Vallenfyre’s performance at Boltfest 2012


Vallenfyre live at Boltfest, London 2012 : A review in pictures

Making the metal-heads go bonkers like a dynamite is up their arse, Boltfest‘s line-up was the most excellent in a longtime and I don’t think it is going to be easy to beat such a lethal line-up. Dedicated entirely to the cause that was driving this entire festival, Boltfest was organized so that us metal-heads can go there, pay a menial amount – the proceeds of which were being sent to the Teenage Cancer Trust – and then witness five of the most definitive death metal artists out there. Bolt Thrower had announced that the show was sold out within a matter of minutes and all this happened, quiet silently, when I was back in India. Buzz started doing the rounds when Bolt Thrower started adding support bands to the line-up one-by-one. The final line-up, take a look –

Vallenfyre
Benediction
Discharge
Autopsy
Bolt Thrower

Once here in UK, the moment this gigantic piece of news reached my ears I instantly knew that I had to be there, even if I had to sell my own self. That wasn’t really required as I got in touch with the management, and they were kind enough to offer me a guest entry to the gig. Boltfest was clashing with day 2 of The DesertFest, but I was left with no choice. You already read the names up there. I fucking had to go!

Band number one was Vallenfyre. Formed by members of My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, At The Gates and Brujeria (actually the list is never-ending), Vallenfyre is relatively newer only in terms of its formation because the experience in the band’s musical ingredients makes it one of the most sought after bands today. I back up my words by a mere mention of The Fragile King. The debut blew my nuts away. 6 p.m. and the band was on-stage. When discipline and death metal go together you get a pinch, exactly what I needed to make myself believe that the gig has begun. This was Vallenfyre‘s second show ever, after their live debut in Finland which happened on February 2nd, 2012.

Gregor and co. began churning out tracks from The Fragile King, and the sound was echoing from all corners of the indoor venue – HMV Forum, Kentish Town, London – hitting each death head inside like a stone drenched in doom metal. Vallenfyre surpassed my expectations by not only sounding super tight, but they also had an eerie feeling surrounding them which went well with the groovy death metal. Almost no bright lights during their performance, they demolished the stage and left. There was very little interaction between the band and the audience, but I remember Gregor talking about the cause this festival was supporting.

In fact the doom quality of Vallenfyre‘s music becomes more evident during their live show. From the entire Vallenfyre set it was the last few moments of the song Desecration which really stuck with me. Those minutes were grand and the lights were completely off. I couldn’t have asked for more.

Vallenfyre‘s set-list for the night –

All Will Suffer
The Divine Have Fled
Ravenous Whore
Cathedrals of Dread
The Grim Irony
Humanity Wept
Seeds
As the World Collapses
Desecration

Vallenfyre’s performance in pictures. Click to enlarge –

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