Hellllllllllllo Heavy Scotland! Here we have a brand spanking shiny new festival happening. Since this is the event’s maiden voyage, Cackblabbath are super-stoked to be in attendance. Not only that, but it’s practically on our doorstep as the Edinburgh Corn Exchange would be playing host to the event.
In the months leading up to the big day the social media buzz was pretty much relentless in rallying the troops, and if the event lived up to the pre-gig expectation then it was going to be something a bit special. Well hype is one thing but now it was time to find our if the whole venture was worth it.
Driving up to the venue, we knew we were in the right place. Among all the sporty types and denizens of the various hostelries in the area the black clad metalheads stood out like a sore thumb. This is slap-bang in the middle of a town, there are families doing their Asda shopping and restaurants catering to more civilised folk.
Then there’s us lot \m/ A group of young football lads summed it up perfectly, “It’s like a season of sons of anarchy here. What is going on?”
We got our gear organised and made way to collect our passes. Straight away we were struck by how well organised everything looked. Loads of posters and signage not to mention the stewarding crew clearly dotted about the place. Everyone was most helpful and everyone was cheery and in good spirits… well we are in Scotland after all. Passes collected we made way in to the venue itself. WOW! Impressive. Smashing wee courtyard with a whole pig roasting on a spit, and a well stocked and rather extensive bar. There’s even tables set up with free water/free earplugs etc. I mean what more could you want. I particularly liked the “Crowd surfers will be ejected from the venue” warning signs displayed on several posters. Will this actually play out. Being in Edinburgh, I doubt there will be any of this metal nonsense….yeah right!
BRING IT ON.
On entering the arena, we were surprised by how big it was. Perfect, a massive space for pits, dancing and plenty of head banging. In spite of the pre-gig nay-sayers there even a decent crowd in attendance, this is going to be good.
First up, we have Glasgow lads, Centrilia. For an opening act they had a bit of a thankless task as the doors had just opened and people were still wandering in. A few coaxes of “cmon” and “lets see some movement” wasn’t so much ignored as just brushed off. As the set went on the band did manage to elicit a bit more of a response from the crowd but it was still a bit of a subdued start, but then it’s only early and a load of folk will still making way to the venue.
One place with a crowd straight off was the merch stall, which is packed out with punters trying to get their hands on the stunning “Heavy Scotland” event t-shirts.
Today is going to be a good day and it feels like the start of something special. Their is always an air of trepidation with the new festivals but Heavy Scotland had gone the extra mile wherever they could. They even flew in a presenter from Belgium, Femke Fatale, a tattoo and alternative model who introduces the bands.
After the gentle intro things get heavy and Next up, from the valleys is Sodomized cadaver. Nothing gentle on the ears about these lads. This is death metal about death…. lots of death but it’s not all about death though as we are warned, “Time for the feminists to put on their hard hards. This songs is about rape. Lots of rape”. We loves it. What a great performance. The thing we loved most though was probably the contrast between their guttural vocals and the actual talking voice!
Sodomized Cadaver kicked Heavy Scotland up a gear and we had a blast, our second encounter with the band in a week. In between bands there is a half hour wait, which is easily filled up by wandering about aimlessly pondering life, hitting the merch stalls, or in good o’ CB style, find a bar.
Next up are heavyweight bruisers Dyscarnate who deliver us some more of that death metal that certain members of Team CB love so much. They look a bit intimidating and in front of a crowd that could more be described as attentive rather than rabid they lay down some impressive heavy riffage and ear bleeding vocals.
So far so good. OK, so the clash with another big event at the other end of the M8 may have given Scotland’s metal fraternity an agonising decision to make but I don’t think anyone who chose Edinburgh over Glasgow for their Saturday afternoon brutality had any complaints.
Warbringer on the bill. Wowzer. Wasnt expecting that. Thrash metallers from across the pond. “You have the right to remain violent”, apparently although their instruction to “Fuck this place up” got the first pit of the day opened up. The place is definitely filling up but it’s still not what you’d call rammed and the atmosphere hasn’t really hit that critical mass where things really take off..
But they will!!
It still feels like it’s still a bitty early in proceedings and the Edinburgh crowd seem a little disconnected from the goings on. Still shocked to be here at Scotland’s newest Metal festival and the place is definitely filling up. Hell there are even signs of some interaction about to happen by the end of their superb set.
“The fuck is up Scotland? “ That, ladies and gentlemen, would be the great hope for the next generation of Thrash, Havok. They’re kicking off their tour at heavy Scotland, it’s a long way from Denver Colorado but the response must have made it worthwhile. Right, remember that critical mass thing we mentioned? Well we’re almost there. Nothing like some proper thrash to get things going a bit ermmmmmm crazy. There are a few rebels the room and we’re glad to see that crowd surfers are not being ejected after all. That’s the spirit!!!
Now there were bands on the bill we had heard of but never seen, a few we didnt even know existed til recently and then there are the bands that we know well, and if truth be told one name was the reason we were here and not in Glasgow with Primordial and Venom Inc. There is no one quite like Fleshgod Apocalpyse and of all the bands in Scotland that weekend they were our numero uno on the list! Having already stalked bassist Paolo (one member of team CB had a fangirl moment) we were joined by the missing masses, clearly a lot of folk were treating this as a 3 band bill and dragging themselves in out of whatever pub they’d been missing proceedings in. Anyways, this place is now party central. Fleshgod usually draw in a phenomenal crowd. If you have seen them, you will understand why.
Things are preceded by brief announcement from Fleshgod’s drummer Francesco who, worryingly, arrives on stage on crutches. The poor fella has a broken ankle and tells the crowd that rather than cancel the gig the band are going on with the show using some “technology” to fill in the bits you can’t play with a broken ankle. This was mostly because he was getting bored sitting at home, and fair play for making it over. The crowd are sympathetic and he gets a huge cheer of encouragement as he struggles to get behind the kit. Being honest, my heart stopped when he first staoted on stage with crutches. I thought they would be cancelling. Dont be daft I told myself, this is FA.
The PA plays out their “Marche royale” as opera singer (yep, every band should have one) Veronica walks the stage, staff in hand, and takes her place as the band members take to the stage. It’s grandiose, totally over the top and fucking amazing to watch.
And we’re off…..”We are Fleshgod Apocalypse”.. “From Italia”..
This is a masterclass in death metal of the Italian variety. They add a touch of class to the metal line up here at Heavy Scotland. Veronica Bordacchini gives them that extra something special with her operatic vocals and Venetian masked ball image. Bellissimo! “Cold As Perfection” and “Fool” had the place going crazy. Circle pits, crowd surfers, Head banging. I pity whoever has to follow this…. Fleshgod Apocalypse never disappoint and their Heavy Scotland set just confirmed what we already knew, they are untouchable and that’s exactly why they have earned so many fans, including Team CB.
That’s a tough act to follow…. wonder if Grave can do the job?. Their take on Death Metal is a bit more straightforward that the Italians and although they hit the stage hard and heavy they couldn’t match what had gone before. Their set was cut short a bit because of previous overruns but the band didn’t mind, telling us that they respected tonights headliners, even if they were Polish.
Right, where had everyone been because by now the place was jumping. Must be that bunch of Polish lads closing the first day of Heavy Scotland… A wee band called Behemoth.
I have never seen so many people rush in just before a band. Theres a flood of fans pouring into the arena as darkness descends. Whether you are a fan of blackened death metal, or Behemoth for that matter, you can’t deny they put on a stellar show. Corpse painted people are a togs dream and as Nergal comes on stage, filming torches held aloft, the place erupts. Ok, a lot of it can be a bit silly (horns, fake blood, erm, a chalice) but there’s no denying that there is something unique about Behemoth. Apart from a demonic array of tunes in their back catalogue they also have thee most awesome stage presence. This is what Heavy Scotland could, should and will be. The crowd are loving it as the charismatic, hooded figure on stage works his magic, master of ceremonies at the black mass. Nergal is just so intense, we’ve seen Behemoth at big festivals but they’re really in their element in this environment. The frontman struts about the stage like he owns the joint and the crowd are awestruck, wrapt in wonder.
What a fitting end to an amazing first day at Heavy Scotland. Now here at CackBlabbath we have attended a shitload of gigs and festivals, and clocked up thousands of miles travelling the length and breadth of the Europe and we can honestly say Heavy Scotland is a match for anything else. Well organised, well run and with a truly world class lineup if it goes on it can only keep growing.
Call it home pride if you will, but having something like Heavy Scotland in Edinburgh has been long anticipated and well overdue. As Behemoth took their bow we headed for home buzzing, and loaded with anticipation for day 2.