Saturday saw London’s HMV Forum play host to Boltfest 2012, and Live and Loud Rock’s friend Toby Gibbons was lucky enough to attend the event…
It is not very often a gig this special comes along. In fact a gig like this will probably never be repeated, especially considering it is a gig to celebrate Bolt Thrower’s 26th birthday an event that will technically never happen again. It is testimony to the bands legacy that Bolfest managed to sell out a matter of days before the line up was actually announced, and then did so for a second time when extra tickets where provided, in a matter of hours! What made this gig even more special is that it was held not only to celebrate a landmark but also to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust charity.
Bolt Thrower footed the bill themselves meaning all of the £10,000 raised through ticket sales will be donated to the charity. Boltfest’s final selling point was the spectacular line-up, which included Vallenfyre, a new “Super Group” who made their live debut, Benediction, Bolt Thrower’s long term partners in British Death Metal, Discharge, one of the most influential punk bands of all time, Autopsy, continuing their phenomenal revival and, of course, headliners, Bolt Thrower one of best and most loved Death Metal bands ever.
Unfortunately, I missed the first two bands as I was busy drinking cheaper beer in the pub next door before venturing into the venue and the realm of the £4.50 can of larger. From what I heard though Benediction sounded tight and had a much crisper sound then the more bass heavy noise of the following bands. (Ed Note: Standard Gibbons)
Next on stage was the band I was most looking forward to see, original hardcore punk founders Discharge. Playing a medley of hits from their rich back catalogue, including Never Again, The Nightmare Continues and State Violence State Control, alongside newer tracks written during their recent reincarnation, the band had the potential to steal the night. However something did not quite click. Be it the sound problems they suffered towards the end of the set or the fact that they were missing their original vocalist, something did not really feel right. The venue, being a cavernous theatre hall, is not really a suitable venue for hardcore anarcho-punk bands and it may have just been a case of the band playing for the wrong crowd in the wrong place. Having said that, the band, despite their problems, where still enjoyable if not as fantastic as I was hoping, and still more then earned their place on the bill.
Next up were band of the night, Autopsy, who took to the stage with their relentless death doom bludgeoning assault. The band played with energy and aggression with set highlights including the classic In the Grip of Winter alongside more recent hit Hand of Darkness. As is always the case with Autopsy, it is Chris Reifert’s unique vocal delivery that sets them apart from every other band playing and this set did not disappoint, with a perfect vocal delivery combined with a precise percussion performance allowing him to out-play every other vocalist and drummer of the night. With a neigh-on perfect bass heavy murky sound that still allowed the top end to ring through, Autopsy proved to be too good even for the mighty Bolt Thrower.
It being their birthday gig, it was only right for Bolt Thrower to headline, and they proved to be the perfect end to a fantastic gig. Blasting through a set of greatest hits in chronological order it was a perfect display of why this band has lasted 26 years with a complete rendition of World Eater being the highlight of their set. The band’s volume, combined with their super-low tuning made an incredible noise, resulting in the floor literally shaking under the sonic pressure. Add to this the stage being covered with dry ice and an over the top light-show, the whole experience felt like the gig was coming from the trenches of the First World War. Ending with the perfect combination of When Cannons Fade and At First Light, the band finished their explosive set and brought the gig to a close.
Considering the fantastic line up this gig had, it is difficult to see any possible future Boltfests being able to top the first, but after an event this good I am sure everyone who attended is hoping there will be many more to come.