Candlefest 2014 by Jarod Lawley

Candlefest 2014 – Day 1
Review by Jarod Lawley
Videos shot by Jo Blackened

Saturday 4th October 2014
Bands featured: Ethereal, Cold In Berlin, Coltsblood, Eastern Front, Ancient Ascendant, Towers Of Flesh, Voices, Abbadon Incarnate, Shores Of Null, The Wounded Kings, Winterfylleth

On a grim day in North London, it’s time for the annual display of live bands on the Candlelight roster and a red circle on the UK’s extreme metal calendar; Candlefest- day one.  Headlined by UK black metal leaders Winterfylleth tonight, the dozen or so bands on the bill are all different, all extreme (in one way or another), and all prepared to slay The Underworld.

Due to a no show from HYBRIS (scheduled for 1.15 PM), heads are turned to Liverpool’s ETHEREAL (4/5) to open the show. With a modern black metal sound and rousing energy, they prove to be a great opener, managing to draw in one of the biggest crowds of the day.

Vocalist Naut’s strong performance is domineering and captivating, but some could say a little overshadowing of the other members, and whilst having no new releases since a 2011 EP does the band no favours, they play on with prowess through new material from their forthcoming album, including the striking “Psalm of the Deceiver”.

Questionably dressed and certain oddballs of the bill, COLD IN BERLIN (4/5) have few in the crowd to work with, but their post-gothic, post-punk sound proves to be emotional and just short of excellence.
Although their performance is a drop in professionalism compared to the day’s stage sharers, it is a passionate and exhilarating clash of noise and human expression which although leaves some confused, also leaves some with a smiling faces.

Numbing, monotonous and boringly raucous however, COLTSBLOOD (2/5) fail again to deliver an enjoyable performance in London town. With half an hour of flowing noise, the trio’s approach is poorly suited to the more social atmosphere of the all day festival, and although all songs are played confidently and competently- it’s visually that the band lets themselves down. Their stage presence is shoddy, their image amateurish and their delivery just completely lack lustre, save for drummer Jay’s enthusiasm.

Fortunately pulling the energy inside the venue right back up over the top however, South East England’s black metal house band EASTERN FRONT (4.5/5) delivers a professional performance. Despite a poor sound mix and more stripped down stage show by their standards, their infectious energy, brutal delivery and chilling anthems to the fallen prove triumphant yet again- as do new tracks from their sophmore record, “Descent Into Genocide” such as the blistering “Ghouls of Leningrad” and the chilling “Retribution Sky”.

ANCIENT ASCENDANT (4/5) sees the venue begin to fill further up, as their black groove approach proves popular and enjoyable to the Camden crowd. Fresh off the back of their very recent UK tour with Darkest Era, and with a charge of heavy metal, thrash, black and death influences all thrown in, the Reading four-piece take confident control of a cramped stage and blast through a tight performance, providing a lethal afternoon attack of slick riffing and throat shredding vocals.

Tracks off their March 2014 album, “Echoes and Cinder” are received with an appreciative display of windmill headbanging and raised fists- as a whirlwind of melody, growls and metallic guitar work crashes back and forth between the walls of The Underworld.

Somewhat questionably high up on the bill, TOWERS OF FLESH (2.5/5) feel unfortunately sub-standard after previous energetic performances, with their own blurrily fast brand blackened death metal. “Antithetical Conjurations” is the name of their new record, but the band’s signature discordance and drowning chaos really fails to communicate in the rushed mood they appear to perform in.

Vocalist Jack Welch seems more interested in barking at the stage floor than projecting his supposed hate to the crowd, and musically, the band fail to carry their own weight, with monotonous and dull guitar work throughout all 35 minutes of their performance. A slight downer when compared to the excellence previously displayed.

Highly anticipated and “ready to fuck” as frontman Peter Benjamin puts it, Dead London devils VOICES (3.5/5) deliver a short showcase of their urban anxiety. Despite playing almost entirely new material of their upcoming sophomore record, the setlist isn’t a worthy preview of what a great album they have in store, but it is fortunately delivered with the honesty and urgency that all in the crowd hoped for.

Despite an embarrassing stage presence from the replacement bassist, the ex-Akercocke off-stem plough on hard through “House of Black Light” and “Endless”, but sadly fall short of the brilliance they normally show off at their exhibitions. An enjoyable performance nonetheless.

Appearing noisy and unapologetic, Dublin’s grindcore veterans ABBADON INCARNATE (3/5) fail to stir up a notable level of excitement amongst the by now fairly intoxicated crowd. Despite the handful of enthusiastic headbangers on the front row who seem to have no complaints about the monotony of the performance, it is unquestionable that the band suffers from performing just as a three piece tonight- one man down from their usual line-up.

Despite this adversary, the 90’s originated act attempt to stomp on with an array of head-fucking blast beats, and mean vocals. It is just a shame that at this point into the evening their brutality feels clustered and unorganised in a fashion that does not reflect well on their studio releases.

Introducing a more modern vibe however, SHORES OF NULL (3.5/5) prove to be entertaining and engaging. These Italians may not have the most enthusiastic of crowd responses, but certainly play their brand of blackened and doom influenced melodic metal to a fair level of technical competency.

With a melancholic and modern yet classic vibe, the sounds of sole of album “Quiescence” feel steady whilst mildly thought provoking, and although not being a stand-out band or even particularly memorable act, they do manage to portray themselves as reputable ambassadors for Rome’s metal scene as they play out their new video track “Ruins Alive.”

Sludged to fuck and sounding like they all belong in a secret cult somewhere in England’s mysterious Countryside, THE WOUNDED KINGS (3/5) present their horrific brand of doom. Unfortunately no magical conjuring can disguise the fact that the vocalist is almost entirely inaudible for at least half the performance. By no fault of their own, this kills the momentum of the performance before it has really begun- providing the audience with what comes off as 20 minutes of petty much instrumental doom riffs.

However, as the sound problems are solved and the thickness of the Les-Paul guitar work is given at full impact- the band manages to prove themselves to be a formidable act- although the five-piece’s stage show is lacking any element of theatricality, which would have no doubt raised their performance a couple of notches in terms of enjoy ability.

Stripped down and dressed in simple black t-shirts- British black metal titan’s WINTERFYLLETH (4.5/5) decide to let to do the music do the talking as always. Having just released a new record, “The Divination Of Antiquity”  the Northern troupe seem to be at a peak in both quality and respect- with the band’s music continuing to evolve and grow four studio albums into their career.

Despite only a moderately sized crowd, the four piece have no problem injecting the Underworld with energy and atmosphere until it feels near full to capacity, as their roots of dark and beautiful noise weave through the air. The sounds of England’s past filter through light and dark shades, and despite a high energy setlist, the crescendos and contrasts that make Winterfylleth so special do not go a miss.

With great chemistry and feel on stage, their 45 minute set feels somewhat magical, as the Mancunians work their way through tracks such as “A Careworn Heart” and “The Swart Raven”. Closing with “Fields of Reckoning” from 2010’s “The Mercian Sphere”, Winterfylleth leave many shouting for more- it is the general consencous that Candlefest’s day one has ended too soon, but it certainly ended on an absolute peak of Anglican triumph.

Setlist:

1. Mam Tor (The Shivering Mountain)  2. The Swart Raven  3. The Wayfarer Part 1: The Solitary One Waits For Grace  4. A Careworn Heart  5. The Divination of Antiquity  6. Fields of Reckoning

A long day and a great day, Candlefest proves to be yet again a wonderful celebration of the talent that this UK label has to offer.

All there is left to say is bring on next year please!

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