Sunday 28th April
I arrived a little bit late in the day, expecting to miss Envoys and DSDNT, with the sharper changeover times to make sure of that. Shyeah, right! It was a while before the Leeds hardcore crew were ready to go, allowing me plenty time for that flyer to go up and to grab a beer too. Still, when they did get going, the crowd received a pretty good set. There still seems to be a fair few people asleep, and they missed performance of real intensity, with the band’s vocalist allowed to stalk the floor and bellow his lungs out at any given moment while the others duelled out the soundtrack to their downbeat mood.
Even that doesn’t prepare us though for The Day Man Lost, making a comeback with a new lineup. They pull off a set that’s all kinds of amazing, seamlessly shifting from one song to the next with little time to draw breath before the next grind barrage hits. The pit perimeter seems to widen with every song with more and more people wanting to enter the frenzy. This is quite possibly the best set of the weekend, hoovering even the most vaguely interested party into undiluted glee with the constant stab-stab-stab of subjugating sonic violence.
Horsebastard aren’t bad either, albeit experiencing a slightly subdued atmosphere as for some reason all TDML fans disappeared. It’s a rollicking mix of grindy hardcore punk and political awareness, with Chris Reese of Corrupt Moral Altar doing vocal duties here too. Their bassist is fleet of finger and doesn’t relent for the entirety of the set. But having been a guitarist short for the entire set, they do well not submerge in a sea of low-end grooves, making the best of a potentially sticky situation and winding up impressing the pants off many.
Corrupt Moral Altar trucker caps had been sighted frequently since the beginning of ‘Kin Hell Fest, suggesting there was definite buzz about the underground ‘supergroup’, and if there was anything tantamount to hype then CxMxA didn’t let anybody down. It’s a blistering set and blood is even shed in the pit as the chaos gets a little too rowdy.
Wode appeared to suffer from technical glitches early on but still manage to plough out a few of their impressive blackened tunes. But the spark to ignite this particular set is somewhat missing. I get that not every musician wants to be an entertainer but with the vibe given off at this festival it would have been nice for the band to appear to enjoy themselves a little more. As it is, the appreciation shown by the crowd doesn’t seem entirely reciprocal, and the overall feeling is a little flat.
The Sufferinfuck set could have suffered similarly from the opposite perspective, with the earlier hordes of grind rangers not showing up as frequently for the West Lothian powerviolence mob, but any doubts are cast aside from the opening blasts from the back of the room. This is one of most furious sets of the weekend, anf their singer screams himself hoarse, even roaring at one point to the switches on the wall. There’s just enough time at the end for everyone to catch their breath before they close on the cerebral ‘Nature Will Out’, allowing for one brief moment of foreboding malice before they throw the kitchen sink at it again. Bloody terrific.
If the first chunk of the day was largely fast, it’s mid-section was about to hit a sudden bump in the road, and the Scouse whiskey machine Iron Witch were on hand to slow things down. Always a class act as usual, they manage to sneak in a new song or two and still retain a familiar feel about their set, with the new material from ‘Hangover Suicide‘ fitting like a glove. Today’s set felt like they were doom trippin’ more than the last time I saw them, which was back when ‘Single Malt‘ was the flavour, but that’s no bad thing when the riffs flow as they so often do, and
Things slow down even further for the arrival of Bong. A divisive act, in terms of people who can’t stand drone no less stand through 40 minutes of it, and of course those who can, whether we’re into it or slightly curious. Those that stay are greeted with a masterful display of pure focus and attrition, building and maintaining the volume throughout, with only a morsel of chanted vocals and a spacey upward movement in tempo as the set progresses on which to hang any hat on the coathook of melody.
The room become tightly packed for the return of Leeds’ own A Forest of Stars, who use their soundtrack to ensure everything is precise to the most minute detail. The local crowd seem more than happy to let them get on with it and they don’t disappoint, providing a thorough, professional and wholly unique experience. The septet and their ensemble of instruments fill the seemingly tiny stage yet the crowd equally squeezes down to the front to glimpse to see their unique blend of progressive black metal, holding everyone’s attention like the mass conductors they are.
After that display of utmost composure and sincere appreciation, some depravity had to be in order, and London goregrind louts Gout were on hand to deliver it. Decked in their now trademark Hawaiian clothing and entering to the ‘Trololol’ song, the lights turn a blood red over the stage and when it all kicks in everything goes nuts. An explosion in the pit felt like it was forever waiting, until Gout came along and in one fell swoop opened up a sea of flailing, circling humanity. Eddie Spengler revels in his frontman role, unleashing ridiculous song titles – ‘Interspecies Zoophiliac Sex Safari’ being a nugget of pure gold in its utterance – and plumbing the deepest gutter of the vocal bucket whilst having a good old jape around the stage, as his bandmates blast and groove everything to pieces. It’s over in 30 minutes but the good times experienced here will long live on when looking back over this weekend.
Not to be outdone, Bury death metallers Foetal Juice don’t waste too much time in delivering their own gleeful battering, hitting the jackpot with every song, vocalist Sam Read revelling in the role of growler and conjuror, keeping the crowd enthralled throughout and spending the whole gig with a maniacal expression across his face. 18 months ago they were a proud part of the original KHF. Sub-headlining this time around, how much longer before they’re headlining things like this in their own right?
Unfortunately, my carriage awaits as stamina gets the better of us and we decide to call it a night at a reasonable time. So apologies to Man Must Die and indeed Envoys from earlier, though I’m assured both were excellent.
Finally, I must close out this review with a massive thank you to Paul Priest and to all the KHF staff who made our time there very accommodating whilst running an excellent operation on a large scale throughout. I implore everyone to head over to the ‘Kin Hell Fest page over on Facebook and to continue to support this festival in any way, shape or form. We’d love to see this fest return in 2014 – it was a blast from start to finish, and its grand to see UK hardcore and metal, in all its forms, is very much alive and well in the catacombs of the underground.