After a stellar first festival last year I had been looking forward to the return of Breakout, Brighton's only open air Metal festival. If you want to get the full day's entertainment then it is going to be a long day as the festival kicks off at 10:40am which means a full 12 hours of music. Although not that many people get there that early, I aimed to get there for a more respectable midday start to catch Seething Akira but it took me longer to get through town than I thought so I only caught the last few chords of their perfomance. Which is a shame because they looked interesting and to rub salt into the wound, as I wandering past the stage after they had finished someone walked passed saying “That band were ****ing awesome”. Oh well, I will have to check them out next time they are in town.
The first thing that really hit you this year was how much smaller the site was from last year and instead of the two stages there was only one which looked like the 2nd stage from last year.
However the first band I got to see were The Gospel Youth, a Brighton band who have just released their first EP. This was more a classic hard rock type sound than Heavy Metal with deep passionate vocals. It was a lovely sunny day and The Gospel Youth's sound was easy to get lost in with their nice mix of 70s/80s rock. They finished on the current single off their EP called Empires which is a catchy power track and finished off the set leaving everyone on a high.
As if skipping forward a decade, By Definition were a more 90s grunge sound mixed in with a bit of Metallica style Metal. In places it reminded me of Pearl Jam dirtied up a bit. “Witness for fitness” was their stand out track, a well crafted rolling song with the instruments leaving lots of space for the vocals so they stood out. Final track started with classic double kick drum with a nice groove that got the all the heads bobbing along.
When Zoax hit the stage it was obvious they were here to make an impression. Kicking off with a dramatic start as the two guitarists came on from opposite sides of the stage playing gently melodic rifts. As the singer and drummer joined in, the pace picked up. While the front-man Adam Carroll stirred up the crowd the band ploughed into heavy thrash with gentle drops and screeching guitar licks…
Then then the lead singer Adam spent two whole songs charging round the audience while the band dutifully kept the music going from on stage. While he ran around, there was a mixture of geeing up the crowd with quips like "You are here to have fun right then let's have fun" and screaming out the lyrics to the songs. It worked well and caught the attention of the crowd that was getting lulled into quiet appreciation in the afternoon sun. The bands had obviously been told not to swear on-stage, I imagine quite a feat for some of them but Zoax made light of it encouraging the crowd to use the words Potatoes and Asses instead, with a distinct Father Ted sounding accent. This was more than a band on stage… It was a total performance.
So far the festival had been running very well on time, in fact most of the bands were hitting the stage early. Next up were Black Tongue, who brought a bit of old school deep throat Doom Metal to the show. With the singer Alex stomping around the stage with his “Trust No One” t-shirt sneering at the crowd as if all the songs were personal insult at whoever he was glaring at. It's not the sort of music that is easy to get into if you don't know it but they seemed to capture the attention of the crowd with their no nonsense noise. The single from the upcoming EP called Coma starts with “**** this world” and a lot of the lyrics are your typical “Life sucks” type stuff, what else would you expect from a Doom Metal band?
TRC have been around since breaking onto the Hardcore Metal scene in London back in 2003. As they said, they were a bit rusty after having a bit of a break but they didn't seem to have lost any of their stage presence. A fairly typical band from that era with Chris Robson and Anthony Carroll sharing hardcore vocals, dominant loud chuggy guitars and the first band to break the no swearing rule by letting the odd bad word slip out. The festival was starting to fill up a bit more by now and as they said themselves… They are not the tightest band or the best musicians they just want to have fun and they succeeded very well. Looking like they were having a blast on stage and the crowd loved it.
I'm not really sure where to begin with Heck. They have an interesting Hardcore Grunge sound bordering on Bleach era Nirvana… The problem was they spent most of the time with at least one member off the stage doing something crazy in the audience. Doing crazy stuff like crashing in on a Gladiators duel on the inflatable amusements they had at the festival this year. Organising the crowd to do things like line up and then run around them madly.. Even when they were on stage they were mainly throwing their instruments around more than playing them. Unfortunately the performance seemed to take something away from the music and I was left at the end wondering what they sounded like! Which is a shame as it sounded quite interesting and a bit of a toned down set may have won me over as a fan.
Martyr Defiled have been steadily growing over a couple of years now and put on a flawless performance. With a great deal of deep vocals screamed at the sky with the vocalist Matthew Jones' arched backwards as far as he could. Along with just the right amount of “make some noise” shout outs and plenty of hands in the air action… Martyr Defiled took control of the stage and won the crowd over in no time, holding their attention till the end. At one point I thought they were going to launch into the audience too but it was just Matthew coming down to sing a few bit at the front of the crowd. Any more bands crashing around in the crowd and you would have to rename the festival Walkabout!
The Qemists were one of the highlights from last year where they headlined the 2nd stage, clashing with another band on the main stage. So it was nice this year to have no distractions to their performance. Up till now all bands had been on on stage nice and early but The Qemists took a bit longer to get up and running, though when they did they start it was with pumping samples blasting out as the band came on stage. Bruno and Olly share the vocals with Olly running around the stage screaming passionately at everyone while Bruno bobs around stage with his more tuneful vocals. One of the stand out tracks was “Do what you want to do” their upcoming single hopefully in the lead up to the release of the anticipated “Warrior Sound” album that seems to have been scheduled to come out later this year…. All year long… They put on a short, tight and energy packed performance that got the whole place buzzing with their cleaver mix of dance samples with rock and metal overtones.
The sun had now set and the lights were in full swing as We Are The Ocean came on-stage with a more traditional Rock band sound. Kicking off in a very Black Sabbath style, they performed an interesting blend of rock, punk, indie and post hardcore sounds and pulled off an interesting cover of “Dazed and confused” by Led Zeppelin which fitted perfectly alongside their own songs. We Are The Ocean put on a more traditional performance without some of the theatre that so many of the other bands had used and it was a nice break to be able to focus on just enjoying the music.
After what seemed like a few technical difficulties SikTh took to the stage with their dual vocalists Mikee Goodman and Justin Hill pulling probably the biggest crowd of the day. There had been a buzz about them playing all day long. It's not an easy style of music to pigeon-hole but it's high energy complex music which had an impressive light show to back them up. The crowd was going going mental and it was a real shame that they had to cut their set as things were running a bit late.
Deaf Havana had yet more technical problems setting up and by the time they started quite a large chuck of the crowd had given up and left. They were always a bit of a strange band to headline a Heavy Metal festival as I would imagine them more suited to a normal Rock festival. While they put on a good show with singer James Veck-Gilodi looking very Goth / Pagan with his hoodie…. I don't think it was quite metal enough for the crowd.
It's a bit of a shame really as this year they seemed to have a more rounded selections of rock and metal bands than last year and it was well worth £25 ticket price. I did end up wondering if they had called it a Rock festival rather than “Rock and Metal festival” maybe they would have attracted some of the older rock fans who would undoubtedly have enjoyed the festival as much as the metal fans. Still it's early days for the festival, being only in it's second year. I hope they come back even stronger next year as the Racecourse is a wonderful place to have a festival and I really hope they manage to find a system that works and pulls in the crowds year after year.
See more images in out gallery. http://www.brightonsfinest.com/html/index.php/Gallery/breakout-festival-2015