Words: Chris “Frenchie” French
Pics: Stuart Bendiks (Scapegoat.tv)

Dreadfest is a DIY festival taking place at DIY venue (and probably the coldest place in England) Temple Of Boom in Leeds, UK. 38 European bands from all of the most extreme ends of the music spectrum are showcased in this spectacular sold out event. The Friday pre-show is just a prelude of the carnage to come, with  Deus Vermin creating a dense and suffocating atmosphere with their colossal take on black metal. French noise duo F.A.S.P. beat a table full of pedals so hard it is in danger of collapsing. Their screams and visceral blasts of harsh noise insight total chaos. The superbly named Nottingham based grind duo  FilthxCollins end the first night with a raging fury of very short, very fast, stop/start blasting mayhem. Their precision and chemistry together is electrifying.

Saturday kicks off with a storming set from Scottish grindcore quartet Gendo Ikari, blistering and raging with their harsh, noisy tech-grind. Their Neon Genesis Evangelion inspired songs recall legends Discordance Axis. In the smaller Meat Locker stage, Binge Drinker just want to party. Their thrashcore riffs hit hard, but the vibe is light and breezy with songs about the perils of social media and what else? Binge drinking! Sloth Hammer pulverise the main stage with a sadistic drone doom improv jam adding in strange power electronics. Mastiff conjure the first circle pit of the day with their animalistic hybrid of sludge and grind. Five The Hierophant stand out as one of the most unique acts of the weekend with spacey, ethereal saxophone lead doom dirges. They evoke a surreal and entrancing atmosphere, teleporting the crowd to Twin Peaks! Sharing band members and similar blueprints, Chinsniffer and Horsebastard absolutely tear up the packed out festival, sending the now drunken crowd into furious bouts of the mosh. Their shared drummer known as “Trip” proves to be the tightest drummer of the weekend with machine-like precision. The prospect of seeing “metal cellist” Mr Marcaille is very exciting, but the acoustics of the tiny Meat Locker stage sadly just don’t do the timbres of his cello any justice tonight. French grind legends Blockheads show everyone how it’s done with sheer class; their noise, energy and finesse is relentless. Saturday headliners Yacopsae (pictured left) leave bodies flying in the pit with a momentous and intense blur of chaotic powerviolence. Guitarist and vocalist Stoffel performs with a huge smile on his face and the crowd demand an encore from them at the end, of which they oblige, lasting merely two minutes!

It’s surprisingly sunny on Sunday as hungover revellers crawl back to Dreadfest for the final round of brutality. Gay Panic Defence shine early in the day, all wearing dresses. Their slack, fuzzed up hardcore punk attack sends out feelgood vibes, reigniting the energy of the crowd. London-based atmospheric post-metallers Surya think outside of the box, screening cut up film clips onto the Meat Locker stage behind them, making for the most visually interesting band. Their largely instrumental approach to sludge provides a thought-provoking atmosphere. Being a DIY space, the equipment has noticeably started to crack under the weight of so many bands playing. Spazzed out powerviolence band Ona Snop succumb to a broken drumkit in the Meat Locker, but still manage to plough through the entirety of their new album, Geezer. The broken drumkit leaves a knock-on effect to Pijn, whose drummer Nick Watmough determinedly powers through a cymbal stand that won’t stay still. Stripped back to their original trio, the ambitious Manchester post-metal band suitably take us back to their hardcore roots, cooking up a storm until sadly the technical difficulties become just too much to deal with. Back on the main stage, Calligram vocalist Matteo Rizzardo doesn’t let being on crutches stand in his way from delivering a pained and intense delivery. Their dissonant, blackened hardcore goes down a treat, with a sound and fury reminiscent of Celeste. Uncoffined stand out as one of the most unique acts on the bill – being the only death doom band at the festival works well in their favour as they belt out a deranged and supremely heavy set, with drummer Kat Gillham also performing lead vocal duties and nailing it. With the Meat Locker stage feeling a bit more sturdy, Bismuth triumph Dreadfest with what is truly the greatest performance of the weekend. The duo turn the tiny room into an abyss, lining the whole back wall with huge, foreboding amps of doom. Their funeral-paced riffs destroy eardrums with maximum volume; Tanya Byrne’s blackened shrieks and crushing bass guitar riffs are simultaneously devastating, yet strangely euphoric. Sunday headliners Coilguns (pictured left) leave everyone speechless and truly know how to close a festival in style. “This is how we play punk rock in Switzerland,” vocalist Louis Jucker yells before launching himself violently into crowd-goers. Coilguns’ stage presence is beyond words, breathing so much excitement, energy and danger into the room, making for a truly unforgettable finale.

Dreadfest is a magical weekend that shows just how diverse extreme music can be. With so many fantastic characters and down to earth people, this is a festival not just attended by dedicated music lovers, but run by them too. The event sold out in only its second incarnation, accomplishing the kind of community spirit and positive DIY attitude where everyone involved pulled together to make a truly successful and unforgettable weekend. Roll on next year!


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