Beermageddon. Stoke Prior. 23-25.8.2013

This was always going to be a challenge to do a review. I have 2 basic items I think about at a festival. 1. Any sleep is a bonus and 2. A pint that starts with a 2 is a miracle. We were asked to partake of the beer here (as cheap as anywhere local) and have respect re the noise level late at night. Tetley’s was £3.10 and Carling £3.40, so part 2 of the above never happened, and part 1. ? What do you think?!

Friday. First thing I noticed were children in front of PA speakers with no ear protection. Not good.                         First lot came on. Drummer who looked like a woman, bassist dressed like a monk. Bearded, kilted singer with a blue face, guitarist looked almost out of place.  Singer’s dad must have been a grizzly bear, judging by his growling. Thought their name was AAARRGGHHH!, but it was Haerken. Amusing, like a metal Robin Hood panto. Drinking of ale, much thee and thouing, and a silly fight with blown up plastic weapons.                               Next up were a couple from Jaldaboath. Like a Richard 111 version of Wham. Backing music, singer who messed about and sang, the other one who just messed about.   Templar get-up with spectacles didn’t quite work, but silly version of ‘Black Beauty’ provided maximum extraction of urine. Get them on at Cropredy!                            Incassum. Interesting flyer, female singer, extreme hairswinging from 60%…the other 40% didn’t have any hair. Distorted, girl sounded like Linda ‘Exorcist’  Blair . Not for me, but better than 4 shoe-gazing teenagers playing for their parents and school friends.                         Donna the poledancer is next. Las Vegas comes to B60.                              Flayed Disciple. 2 baseball caps, 1 short grey hair, 2 hairies. Instrumental opener that definitely wasn’t Atom Heart Mother 2.  I think the next number had some words. Do these ‘vocalists’ have industrial strength Strepsils on prescription?!   Like being at a Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy gig, I was hoping to actually write down a song title after 2 and a half hours. Caught ‘Ejaculate…’ but that was it. Strange to hear Dire Straits, Journey and Deep Purple during the interval.                              Last up are Fallen Fate from Darlo (Darlington, where a pint of bitter can definitely be found for less than £3.10).  Singer made one of those ‘I am the main man’ belated entrances. Still couldn’t make out much lyrically, but managed to pick out song titles ‘Until the final hour’, ‘Rituals’, ‘Last rites’. More smoke machine, singer from Onslaught joined for encore. (I thought Onslaught was one of these new-fangled Commodore 64 computer games).  They were probably the best of the night.

Saturday. No Sleep Till Bromsgrove?  Her Ladyship reckoned it started to die down 3.30-ish.  We were camped near the 6 Portaloos, it was interesting to see the reactions of the customers in the morning. Trap 1 was definitely a non-runner, and Trap 4 withdrawn under starters orders!   PA music had dodgy MOR Irish-sounding, before…                                           Kremated.  Smoke machine going hell for leather again, much growling and bashbashbashbash drumming. Then another one, then another. Slow Metallica-ish intro, but not for long!  All very serious, couldn’t pick out any banter other than ‘fackin’. Bit of fun at the end, ‘Playaway’, result of sale of charity cds. ‘Thrash ain’t Dead’ singalong, they seemed very popular.                        Bull Riff Stampede.  Started out quite slowly but soon entered the Thrashathon Stakes.’Horns in the air’ was the request, sadly I had left my trombone at home. Went for some food while they were discussing new management and cd . Missed most of Gravil. A touch closer to Heavy Metal than anyone previous, but not very close.  Last number started out with the usual ‘Unforgiven’ type intro but changed into ‘Unforgiveable’.  Still, the 20 or so watching seemed happy.                                    Old Corpse Road. Backs to the audience, Vincent Price-ish spoken intro, then 3-part Growlfest. These are grown men who should know better, the bass player is extremely grown!   Lots of medieval-type stuff, a song about a witch from somewhere, I realised that I shouldn’t really be here. Plenty of people knew the songs though, even the monastic ‘aaahing’ that sounded like The Herd did in the 60s.  At least everything wasn’t at 100mph.                                          Sacrilegious Throne.  Delayed entrance from the ‘singer’, he was obviously putting the black pudding round his eyes.  It looked like Dave Vanian from the Damned , with Prince Harry on bass.  Why do they have to growl when they talk too?  I suddenly had this vision of one of these ‘singers’ going into his local chip shop, ordering fish, chips and f**kin mushy peas, motherf**kerrrr, taking them home and bursting into tears when his mummy bollocked him for forgetting the salt and vinegar.  I realised I was danger of turning into parent mode, thinking ‘they all sound the same’, but it really occurred to me that I would have struggled to put a song to a group if I was presented with one from each. Award for worst guitar solo so far…sorry, make that solos.                                Skreamer. The name hinted that it wasn’t going to be a Carpenters tribute act.  Straight into Beermageddon cliche mode, swinging of hair, growling, smoke machine.  And why is it that these people seem to be continually accusing me and Her Ladyship of having sex with our father’s wife?!  (Think about it!)  One strange, but positive, aspect of a ‘metal’ audience is how polite everyone is. Even more so than Cropredy. Mind you the only ‘f’ words you are likely to hear there are ‘Fairport’, ‘Fotheringay’ and (f**kin) Folkies.  ‘Opium’ featured a female guest vocalist, and gave the singer time to remove his shirt, thus demonstrating that his mum had bought him a NoNo hair removal kit for his birthday. (Come on, you need to watch daytime tv!). ‘Photograph’ sounded like a 1992 Nirvana/Metallica number. Game of British Bulldog again, (I didn’t realise moshing still went on). ‘Stop your bitching’ got the audience singing, Her Ladyship thought they were ok.                                      Eternal Fear were the first outfit that sounded more like classic heavy metal than a pack of rabid dogs. Not from the UK, they were closer to Black Sabbath than Black Sputum, although the singer wasn’t the strongest I’ve heard. Fans of eg Dio  wouldn’t be disappointed. ‘Child of darkness’ and ‘Away’ made them the best so far, for us, but having Tim Henman on drums got them a point knocked off.                                 Last are Beholder, and I suspected ‘Normal Service will be Resumed’. Not wrong. At least he spoke relatively normally between the growling. Ok, the ‘effing’ is par for the course but I can do without the ‘c’ word, especially with kids there. I wonder how many people there thought ‘Foul-mouthed f**kwit’ ? Looking at him , I reckon he must have eaten the the last person to call him that…and the one before!  ‘We’ll see you guys a-f**kin-gain!’   Mate, you’ve got more chance of seeing Harold F**kin Shipman than you have of seeing us.            Bonus points for Beholder and Skreamer highlighting the bigotry-fuelled death of Sophie Lancaster though.

So, an interesting experience, but we decided to uproot stumps and come home after Saturday night. Maybe I was expecting more ‘classic’ heavy metal, as opposed to an attack of speedthrashdeathmetalgrungebollocks. ‘Plus’ marks for everybody playing original stuff, and musicianship decent too, but way over my head.

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