Yorkshire Riffer Live Review (Eiger Studios, Leeds. 26/4/14)

‘Kin Hell Fest is the brainchild of Paul from No Fucks Given, which is on next weekend, and caters mostly to fans of crust, grind, thrash, death and all other extreme types of metal with the likes of Napalm Death, Undersmile, Massacre, Jesus Cröst and more playing across the whole weekend. Yorkshire Riffer is a sort of little brother to this main event, acting as a warm-up gig (just like the Salvation gigs are to Damnation festival). Despite this being the smaller gig, that doesn’t mean the line-up was anything less than great with the likes of doomsters Eagle Twin, Palehorse and beer-loving grinders The Afternoon Gentlemen ripping the audience apart for the night. 

Straight up though, there’s going to be a few issues with this review in terms of being complete: one is time constraints (I arrived late and had to leave early for the last train) and the other is that my phone died at one point so I couldn’t take a photo of any bands. Both are faults of my own. So unfortunately, I didn’t see a good portion of the the first few bands hitting the stage or Foetal Juice – Eagle Twin and Foetal Juice swapped their line-up orders around as several people had to leave at 11pm (including myself) to get a train home. So I’m sorry if this is a disappointing read for anyone.

The first band I saw for the afternoon was Black Skies Burn – a name you’d easily mistake as a name for a deathcore/metalcore band, but in fact, the band plays a muddied mix of goregrind and slamming death metal. Plenty of visceral screams and growls tracking along bass-heavy riffs that broke into breakdowns fairly often. It all sounds good in general, but I tend to have a bit of a limit of patience with the style, and sort of grew a little bored towards the end (although I was still in shock with their set opener, the vocalist announcing it as “this is a song about Chris Benoit”). Generally a good set, but I guess I wasn’t feeling it as much as some other people in the audience did.

Next up was a band that REALLY got my attention and didn’t really fit in with the general ‘extreme metal’ vibe of the day. Cattle is a four-piece band that consists of two drummers (cramped onstage), a towering bassist and a vocalist – not your average sort of band with that aspect alone.

Cattle
The guys retched a style of noise rock that managed to be melodic, technical and abrasive at the same time. The drummers often played off of each other by filling spaces or just jamming against the other, the bassist sometimes grooving catchy riffs and sometimes just thrashing the strings, while the vocalist topped it off with yells and screams, often put through echo effects, and delivered with a scorning intensity I imagine Michael Gira would be proud of. Basically, they sounded like an oddball mix of Lightning Bolt, Palehorse, earlier Humanfly and Melvins. Absolutely great stuff.

Then Ninkharsag went on a little while later and I was pretty bored for the whole set, unlike the rest of the crowd, especially a few people at the front headbanging and clawing their hands in the air. Admittedly, and it’s pretty well known, that I have an awkward relationship with black metal – which Ninkharsag plays – and it doesn’t take long for me to get bored by the style (the only exception being Funeral Mist). Granted all four members were pretty incredible in their musicianship and were really tight, but I just felt very lukewarm through the performance.

Next up was the mighty BongCauldron, who I’ve seen before and really enjoyed, yet were possibly even better this time around. The local sludge favourites blasted through their few recorded songs (Pissed Up, Tree Wizard and Gauze Rite were played if I remember right) while the crowd just smiled, headbanged and chugged their beers in what felt the most ‘brotherly’ atmosphere during the night.

BongCauldron

Basically, they were just fucking awesome. There’s not much more you can say – if you’ve not seen them live before, then make sure you do when you have the opportunity.

The Afternoon Gentlemen soon came on and provided a similar atmosphere as BongCauldron, but this time soundtracking it all with an extreme style of grind that mixes elements of Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Spazz and Anal Cunt. Just pure crushing grind. Rich Speakman’s vocals are just as crazy live as they are on record too, and what usually happens with grind acts that they can’t renact the same standard live, Rich makes it look (and sound) easy. The Gents were absolutely phenomenal sounding live and were even better than I was expecting, definitely one of my highlights.

Scordatura followed up with a techy brand of brutal death metal and while they didn’t seem to have as much movement in the crowd as BongCauldron, they still played a pretty good set – any fan of Aeon, Hate Eternal and Suffocation would dig this Glaswegian lot. Even though their beckons for people to crowd surf were denied, they put on a good set of furious and punishing riffs and grooves.

The next band was the one I was personally looking forward to the most (just a little bit more than Eagle Twin) and they did not disappoint at all, possibly the best set and had the biggest reaction to any of the ones I saw. Palehorse came on, cramped up on the stage with their dual-bassists, drummer and two vocalists, with one of them taking care of keys and electronics. They opened up with what seemed like a shortened version of Skin Flick, which was nice considering the mournful and rising electronics eventually collapsing to the sudden explosion of riffs, drums and vocals tearing at each others’ throats.

I lost track of what they played after that because I just got swept up in it all, feeling ecstatic and crazed at the same time, either losing control during the aggressive parts or swaying along to the melancholic passages – even crowd surfing at one point. The dual attack of vocals worked so well too; both looking like wild animals sizing each other up before a fight. At one point, one of the two came down off the stage and into the crowd, and somehow coaxed a good number of people to just sit on the floor with him during a soft part – almost as if they were all praying. It was something I had never seen before.

Basically, if what I said hasn’t said it plain enough: I now consider myself an even bigger fan of Palehorse now. Easily one of the better bands I’ve seen live, period, and had a whole lot of fun during their intense set. They championed the night.

Here, Foetal Juice were meant to play, but as mentioned earlier, they swapped their set location with Eagle Twin as bands had been running late over the past two or so hours. The doom duo only started to play around 10.35pm, and so I managed to see them until 11pm, when I had to leave. This meant I only saw one or two songs (I honestly couldn’t tell if they just slipped from one song straight into another), but I was happy to have at least seen some of their set than none at all. From what I saw, they were what you’d expect: loud volumes, suffocating intensity and yet somehow catchy with Gentry’s unorthodox playing. I wish I’d seen it all but there was nothing to be done, and quite a few others had to leave too, just very unfortunate.

Despite that, this debut Yorkshire Riffer fest was great and hopefully it’ll return next year, I’d be more than happy to go again (and hopefully British rails will have a better train service, especially considering it was a Saturday night). Kudos to you Paul.


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