Dreadfest is just around the corner, taking place at the UK’s home of DIY hardcore and metal, Temple of Boom in Leeds, on March 22-24th. We’ve had the pleasure of attending the two previous incarnations of Dreadfest, and so it is an absolute joy to return for a third year, and we will be covering the festival too! Dreadfest 2019 is already sold out and promises to be the most ambitious yet, expanding to three full days, as well as having the addition of a brand new stage, which means extra room for more bands to play!
The line-up this year is incredibly stacked, featuring some of the most raging bands from the underground of metal and hardcore music, with acts appearing from all over the world. We could easily ramble on about more or less every band on this insane line-up, but we’ll try and keep it brief by picking some of the bands we are most looking forward to seeing. And let’s not forget, there are still some fantastic new discoveries to be made too!
Wormrot are travelling all the way from Singapore to headline on Friday. The trio have a reputation for being one of the most ferocious and dynamic bands in modern grindcore, earning themselves a fantastic place on legendary extreme metal label Earache Records. Their latest album Voices is a masterclass in blistering speed and raging intensity. Wormrot are simply an unmissable band to see live, and seeing them tear up Temple of Boom is bound to go down as a legendary performance.
Speaking of legendary grindcore bands, who could possibly forget Finland’s Rotten Sound? They’re taking the headline slot on Saturday and we are incredibly excited to see them play. One can only imagine how crazy the pit is going to be during their set! When it comes to grindcore, Rotten Sound have become a household name, plugging away since the early ’90s til this very day. Their albums Exit (2005) and Cycles (2008) show the band at their absolute peak, and are essential classics of the genre.
Closing Dreadfest 2019 will be Sunday headliners Fukpig. This offshoot of Anaal Nathrakh lose some of the industrial elements in favour of a more bare-bones, crust and d-beat inspired sound, though equally as furious. Fukpig often perform wearing masks, so we are excited to see what kind of harrowing experience they can provide for us this year; especially considering everyone will be fucked out of their heads by the time Sunday evening rolls around. Bring toilet paper!
Astral Noize Records: Wren, Herd Mover and Tides Of Sulfur
We would feel like bad parents not to give a shout out to three bands who have put out releases on Astral Noize Records! Wren‘s thought-provoking take on sludge metal is a perfect mix of atmospheric textures and crushing heaviness. Herd Mover‘s hectic noise rock is all over the place, breaching into elements of post-hardcore and doom. And finally, ANR’s newest addition, Tides Of Sulfur deliver horrible blackened sludge with total abrasive venom. We are excited to catch up with them, and you should definitely check them out and pick up some cassettes from their merch table!
We always look forward to seeing our favourite Bristolians, Svalbard, and they stand as one of the most interesting bands we have had the honour of interviewing. Not only do Svalbard hit hard with their highly emotive and melodic blackened hardcore, but they are never ones to back down on their beliefs. Svalbard always want to challenge their listeners with their thought provoking music, and their latest sophomore record It’s Hard To Have Hope pushes this ethos further than ever before, with songs about pro-feminism, unpaid internships, sexual harassment and animal cruelty. Their live performances are always powerful, both sonically and emotionally.
Irish blackened noisecore band Unyielding Love are genuinely one of the most terrifying live acts we have ever seen. Taking a leaf from Full Of Hell, Unyielding Love combine black metal and grindcore with power electronics, doubling up on the amount of violent noise on display. These guys are truly one of the most punishing, visceral and brutal bands in the UK right now, and their live experience is nail biting, teeth-grindingly intense and absolutely unmissable. Just don’t get too close, because when this band go off, nobody can stand in their way!
One of Friday’s highlights are Leeds’ own noise rock extravaganza Cattle. This weird outfit almost defy description and have to be seen to be believed. Featuring two drummers, facing towards each other like they are in battle, a saxophonist, lots of noisy, piercing electronics and savage ranting vocals caked in distortion, Cattle are a band at war with each other. Once the mayhem begins, the band members are practically fighting each other to see which can make the most insane racket. This band get very loud, creating a dense cacophony of dissonance, barely held together with the occasional groovy basslines and drum breaks.
Sheffield based trio Kurokuma bring a fresh approach to sludge metal, bringing in elements of tribalism, psychedelia and electronica. Just off the back of a couple of EPs, Kurokuma have made a name for themselves with their crushingly heavy, sweaty and all out fun live shows that have brought them as far as touring Japan with Conan. Kurokuma will certainly be the ones to get the party back in full force on Sunday. In particular, their set finale ‘Dope Rider’ features one of those riffs that’ll leave you headbanging so hard, you’ll need a neck brace afterwards!
When it comes to UK grindcore, Helpless are one of the brightest new faces, with plenty of noisy and sludgy elements in their sound. The trio throw in jagged, discordant riffs and unpredictable tempo changes with ease, taking some influence from Converge. Helpless’ debut album, Debt, was released by Holy Roar Records, and is a scathing commentary on consumerism and greed. Helpless have a great track record for their brute force and blistering speed, laced with lashes of noisy feedback.
As we’ve already mentioned, there are so many utterly fantastic bands on this bill that we can’t wait to see, and new faces that we are excited to explore, but Leeds’ own power-violence crew Gets Worse are always one of the most ridiculous bands to watch. Gets Worse tear through so many short and fast blasts of madness in their live shows, that even they can’t keep count! Their use of gang vocals and insane stop/start riffs lift them a step above their many peers in the Leeds grind and PV scene, and it’s not surprising that their unique brand of mayhem has taken them all over the world.
Dreadfest takes place on 22nd-24th March 2019. Weekend tickets have already sold out, but there may be some very limited day tickets still available here.
Words: Chris “Frenchie” French