Le Mans, France, 24th-26th June 2005
Due to bad planning by the coach organizers and drivers who had not much idea once they hit France we got to the festival late. I’ll just mention now what a nightmare the actually journey was, 26 something hours from us leaving Barrow to getting to Le Mans Race Circuit in France was a long and at times torturous trek. This was to be repeated on the return home with a wait on Preston Station for the first train to Barrow. Much better to make your own way there me thinks.
With the gates opening at 12 noon we arrived at the festival site about 1.30. By the time we got our tent up, camp sorted etc etc it was about 2.30 when we got into the festival itself. The first band we wanted to see, after missing Beecher due to the late arrival, was High On Fire. Due to start at 4.00. We had a look at the three stages, the site itself and purchased the relevant food and beer tickets. We got up the small stage, officially know as the Velvet stage, looking forward to High On Fire kicking this fest off for us. A fair size crowd formed in the small stage area, no doubt sharing the same anticipation as me and Marko about Matt and his boys. So you can imagine our surprise when after an announcement in French everybody started to leave. At a loss as to want had just happened Marko asked the sound man and was informed that High On Fire where stuck at the airport and would hopefully arrive later. OK, not to worry, next up Jesu.
Justin Broadrick latest beast Jesu were set to take the stage (velvet again) at 5.30, with anticipation again we were ready. What you must be joking, another French announcement, people walking out again, de ja vu anybody (well we are in France)? Marko’s trip to the sound guy this time bared no fruit, he didn’t know what was happening either!!
Not getting off to the best of starts for us at the moment, but we’re here and the festival is under way which is cool enough. The next scheduled band to play we wanted to see were Cult of Luna which wasn’t until 8.00. So in the meantime we saw most of the Walls of Jericho set which was better than I expected, a lot more hardcore than I imagined them to be. Then Anorexia Nervosa, a French Black metal act who where not bad, they got a very good crowd response, which I think had a lot to do with them being French. When we got back to the small stage we where greeted with the dying breaths of Jesu’s set. Justin thanked the crowed and apologized about getting lost on the way to the venue (oh, that’s what happened). Judging by the reaction of the crowd at the end of the set the show must have been a good one. Oh well Cult of Luna should be on soon. Your ave’in a laugh, this is most definitely de ja vu. This time Marko never even asked.
Caught a bit of Fantomas who where strange, strange, strange. I’d not heard their stuff until today but had obviously heard about them due to the people involved. They speeded through their numbers which where short blasts of music spliced together with samples of strange cartoon sounds. Also Dave Lombardo’s kit was shockingly huge, reminding me of something out of the Time Bandits. We then saw a little of Lacuna Coil next who where OK but not really my cup of tea. We where preparing ourselves for the first major highlight of the festival for us, our very own My Dying Bride. Being the last band on the second stage today they went on about 11.15 with the next hour being sear bliss. They played classics old and new during the set like only they can. And what a great performance from Aaron, total wrapped up in the songs, looking every bit the tortured poet. In short they soon made up four any disappointment during the day, a true sight to behold. Why do these lads not play the UK more?????
We’d seen on a notice board earlier that High on Fire where supposed to be playing about 11.45 up at the small stage so after My Dying Bride we went up to the small stage hoping to maybe catch the last part of their set. Now I’m not to sure what time High on Fire Played but when we got to the stage Cult of Luna where just swinging into action which for us was great as we thought we would have missed them by now. The Swedes certainly shown a good account of themselves mixing their crushingly heavy riffs with there more lighter passages with ease. Most certainly a pleasant surprise and a fine way to finish off our first eventful day. On the way back we nipped down to the main stage and caught the last of the Melvins/Jello Biafra. By the time we got there, they where already playing their last number, which was (can you guess?)…….Holiday in Cambodia. Sounded OK but I think we spent our time better at the small stage.
Unfortunately this day had a shaky start also with a badly organized queuing arrangement which had us entering the site late again. This would not of been half as bad if it was not so fucking hot, the sun even at noon was really fierce. Infact all three days where scorchers and both me and Marko where glad the stages were indoors where we could stay out of the searing heat. Due to the queue incident we missed the first band we had planned to check-out Warscars. I’d never heard of this lot before but the name suggests some type of grind to me, sounded interesting. So in the end the first band we got to see was Ultra Vomit, again a band I’d never heard of but the name suggested something extreme. They turned out to be a French grind/comedy act who got a little stale as the set progressed. Next where Relapse madmen Cephalic Carnage who played a blistering, interesting and varied set full of energy and zest. They even did one track which was a tongue in check piss take of Black Metal complete with corpse paint masks and evil poses and gestures. Not long after this we where treated to some good old gore/death brutality by those crazy Belgium’s Aborted. Blasting madness and creeping putrefaction was the order of the day here with them putting in a good solid set. In-between this and the next band we saw a couple of songs by Flogging Molly who, I have to say, thought where crap. The tracks sounded like The Pogues with double bass, plus the beat was always the same. The sort of beat pissed old men knock out by stamping their feet and slapping their knee’s to Irish jigs in bars all over the world!
Next up were New York old hands Immolation, who smashed into there set of brutality like it was there last one. These guys know their shit and it’s great to see them here today. Quick dash across to the main stage where Dissection are just about to go on. This was when this festival started to come into it’s own with such quality extreme acts on one after another. With Nodteveidt out of prison and Dissection on the warpath again the show promised to be a good one. Well it was not bad but nothing great, not really what you would expect from reading about them and their reputation. Next on the main stage where Kreator who I thought were unfortunately very dull. Even classics such as Extreme Aggression and Betrayer just never cut it. After Laying low at the small stage for awhile and having a good smoke we where looking forward to Enslaved. It seemed like our idea of getting there early paid off as a good size crowd gathered four these Norwegian Black Metal Gods. And nobody was to be disappointed as they ripped through a great set even playing some really early numbers which was outstanding.
Well here we are, highlight (well for me at least) of the festival, the mighty Neurosis. Spellbinding, awe-inspiring, magnifique, just a few ways you could describe their performance tonight. Probably rather restrained by their hour-ish set, they played mostly stuff of their latest album. During the set, there was a huge circular projection screen showing strange and dark images, which was so easy to get sucked into, watching as it fitted the accompanying music so well. A few times I had to pull myself away from it and remember that Neurosis where actually on stage playing so better watch some of the band as well!! To sum the show up, they where everything I hoped they would be and more. These lads really are the Godfathers of this shit and along with the visuals, the whole thing was simply breathtaking. I for one will be checking them out at one of their own shows if they come over again. Well nothing was really going to be as good as what we’d just witnessed but Megadeth were the headliners on the main stage tonight, so over we went to see what was what. Again, same as the Kreator thing, pretty dull for me I’m afraid. They played well and it was Dave Mustaine on stage and all, but it never really did it for me. It’s probably the same for Anthrax (who we also on this bill, but never checked out) and the other older bands reforming or making a noise again, great for the younger crowed who never seen them in the early 90’s.
Got into the site no trouble today but the first band we wanted to see were Masterdon but were not on until 3.00. So with some time on our hands we had a look round the extensive metal market which was there. I will not go into to much detail as the merchandise on offer was to vast with 1000’s of extreme CD’s, t-shirts, 12”, 7” etc etc. A lot of underground labels where represented with Relapse having a good stall. Seemed to be a lot of limited, festival only stuff knocking about as well. After this, we watched some of 25 Ta Life’s set which was pretty good hardcore. There was a fair few hardcore bands on the bill and that was represented in the audience, with a lot of more hardcore kids in attendance, as well as the obligatory metal crowd. When we got to the main stage we were informed by a notice board that Masterdon had gone on earlier so we had unfortunately missed them. Bit of a bummer as I would of liked to have seen these live after all the hype they get. Obituary where the next band we saw who being Obituary where really good but I think I’d been spoiled by seeing them last Oct in Bradford which was awesome. They just never had the same vibe on the main stage. I was looking forward to seeing Napalm Death after recently reading Choosing Death where their early days where well wrote about. Barney and the boys did not disappoint opening up with Unchallenged Hate and putting in a good solid set. Some guy on the coach during the return trek said that Barney had collapsed after the set due to the heat. Now onto another pleasant surprise of the festival Sunn o))). From what I’d heard about their live shows, I was expecting them to be boring, totally Fucking crushing would be more appropriate. Slow huge doom with a sound of it’s own, talk about hypnotizing. Vocal was supplied by none other than Attila Csihar who whispered cold Black metal style ramblings and managed to add a truly chilling dimension. I’ve heard people have thrown-up at Sunn o))) gigs due to the low frequencies and at times toward the end of the set I could feel those same frequencies turning my stomach just a little, but with this being a festival, I think they where showing a lot of restraint. Back to the main stage for Dimmu Borgir who where unfortunately not very good. Seemed a bit dull to me, but as you can probably imagine, they went down a storm. Over again to the second stage were the Misfits where doing their thing. Again not to good, they played a lot of the older classics but very badly and about 10 times faster than they should have been. Fair enough, the Danzig days are long gone, but these lads never managed to capture anything of the old fiend magic. Now here we go, a band I’ve wanted to see for years but never managed to catch them, the one and only Motorhead. No time was wasted getting their set underway, blasting straight into their metal mayhem with Lemmey shouting for this and that to be turned up. I reckon the sound men for tonight had been given a limit on their volume as Motorhead where slightly louder than the other acts, I could not help thinking they are probably much, much louder at one of their own shows. All in all, a good set with a mix of old and new tracks. And now we’re at the last band of the Fury Fest, the one & only Slayer. Veterans of the festivals you can pretty much always rely on them to rip this shit up. I must say me and Marko where pretty wrecked by now so detail of the set is out the window. Not the best I’ve seen them play but Slayer never the less, still ripping shit up after all these years with a crazed fan base that’s as strong as ever. No need for band therapy or reunion tours for these lads. An excellent festival which I would recommend to anybody with a taste for the extreme, pisses all over the The Lightload.
Scribed by: Mark Burns