Live Review: Rabidfest 2022 Day #1 (Saturday)!

The day is finally upon us and Oxford beckons for 20 bands at The Bullingdon and this year’s incarnation of Rabidfest. A celebration of the great and the good in the UK underground Metal scene that also pays attention to some of the local talent, it’s a vitally important event in the calendar for the region. Add to that the fact that it’s also charity work, this year raising money for PACT and you have a combination that is as undeniable as the line up. Last year saw Weaponry, Blood Oath and Diamond Head decimate the weak so the gauntlet has been layed down and the reputation is there to be retained. Mines a pint. Guinness if you please…

Someone has to open the show but let’s be honest. There is no way on God’s Green Earth that Slay Duggee [9/10] should be opening Rabidfest. They’re a slick party Metal outfit who sweat their rocks off leaping about the Devolution Magazine sponsored main stage in onesie line dog costumes with masks. Not only are they hilarious good fun but they’re also damn tight musicians so their set really is something you want to witness. The rabies jokes and a request to spill a little beer on the curb for Liz Truss RIP are the cheese on top. It’s like watching Municipal Waste on steroids and when their frontdog starts swinging from the lighting rig above the stage during the final bark, fortunately it doesn’t all come crashing down!

The second act to take to the stage are 13 Burning [7/10] whose Traditional Heavy Metal with Power Metal overtones is greeted warmly. Their bass is turned up, giving the effect of a second guitarist and there are even a couple of tapping sections and bass leads thrown in for good measure. “Dream Caster” has hints at Black Sabbath influences with classic Doom Metal riff and vocals are nailed. They have warmth and charm as well as stage presence, what they lack is one song with a fist pumping anthemic chorus as the icing on the cake.

Disinherit [8/10] have a debut album on the way and have just thrown out a new single in “Pleasures Defective” so there is plenty of hype for them. Some technical issues before the start of their set don’t put them off and they deliver half an hour loaded with Death Groove swagger, raspy dry throated vocals and bouncy bass. They have a timeless sound with nods to both modern Deathcore and also 90s Death Metal and it gives them an instantly gratifying appeal, especially when they come armed for the apocalypse with a fistful of undeniable headbang worthy riffs. They may not get the first circle pit of the day but they do get a healthy Most Pit front and center for their final bulldozer of a cut. The hype for the album just got turned up a couple of notches.

For Oxford Royalty The Grand Mal [9/10] this afternoon isn’t just a show. It’s an album release show. The band are in the party spirit, doing a round of shots while tuning up before wave after wave of Kyuss worshipping Stoner Metal riffs galore hit with a knowing grin from frontman and bassist Dave-O. They have all the verve and swagger you could possibly want and perform like a well oiled machine, so at ease on the stage they’re almost horizontal. Their performance is slick during cuts like “Shallow” and “Rule My Soul” with an understated coolness and pinache as well as groove so deep it makes the Mariana Trench look like a millpond. Bathed in red light “Smash The Grave” is a set highlight of hypnotic bass lines and soul feeding rhythms.

Combining early 90’s Hardcore and Rap-Metal while hailing from Yorkshire Pulverise [8/10] are the kind of band that represents a guilty pleasure of a good time. They have a rare breed in a female drummer who dishes out more silly facial expressions than most have in their locker as they don’t take themselves too seriously while the husky female rap flow of cuts like “Breaking Point” remind of early Dog Eat Dog and Stuck Mojo. Pulling out a mid set Cypress Hill medley that goes down a storm while frontwoman Jojo is the first to get over the barrier and bounce with the crowd before bringing a little girl to the stage to headbang with them. They maybe a cliché and something of a throwback but they are caked in nostalgia and are a tight live act so even the most battle hardened Metal Head can’t help but cracking a smile watching them.

Full of Southern drawl Sulvain [7/10] sound like the bastard child of Cancer Bats and Pearl Jam driven by the drummer who loves a double kick to inject a little more life. Easy on the ear, their melodic cuts add to the variety of the day with some heavier bands to come, however some of the vocals are strained and it’s a real shame. It’s like there are a few too many or too few lyrics on a couple of occasions to make the vocal style stick but that doesn’t escape from the fact that cuts like “Fifth Whiskey” are undeniable. The NOLA style grunge act played Bloodstock Open Air Festival earlier this year and that experience shows in the performance level and stage presence, so maybe it’s just a little too early in the afternoon for them to be in their stride.

Joining the ranks of 70’s Stoner Metal bands from Birmingham are Alunah [7/10] who benefit from the bright clean vocals of Siân Greenaway as she leads them over smouldering atmospheres and dark melodies. The quartet bring with them a plethora of monolithic beast riffs to be worshipped while occasional blues leaning moments and nuances that border on  Thin Lizzy or Hendrix also creep in at times but never boil over into the flamboyant solo which their set cries out for. What they do have in their armoury however are some well executed key changes, in particular on “Hunt” which stop them from disappearing down a more hypnotic path…

Manchester Comedy Thrash bastards Footprints in the Custard [10/10] have murdered their bassist and used his strings to create a mankini for one of their six string overlords that leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination. A treat for the ladies while airing parts that would otherwise not see the light of day, it’s not the only anomolly to take place during their set as they batter their way through cuts about Nan’s, Space Forces and what Willies are actually for (yes, you read that right). But it’s “The Horn” which has flavours of Alestorm about it that gets everyone dancing with sea shanty vibes, including the band themselves, so not only do they win over the crowd and get a wall of death but a standing ovation when they finish, making them a very tough act to follow.

Masters of crushing intensity Krysthla [10/10] feel a little bit out of place on a day which has been all about fun and swagger but if anyone has the strength of mind to shatter illusions of happiness then it’s this skull crushing quintet. They have a lot of love for the underground scene and have been around for the whole day, enjoying a few beers and talking to the locals so by the time they take to the stage, if anyone didn’t know who they were, they sure as hell do now. They bring wave after tsunami wave of riffs backed by a rhythm section as tight as they come, effortlessly ploughing through the crowd of headbangers with cuts like “Zero Sun Game” and “Luminosity” while new (ish) bassist Harry Jewell gets a sweaty hug from Adi Mayes. They’re the kind of band who cause the ground to rumble beneath your feet and threaten to reduce the venue to rubble.

Tonights headliner are seminal Hardcore Punks Discharge [9/10] a band who need no introduction as they’ve made a career of protest to survive and are responsible for more than they are often given credit for, influencing bands like Soulfly, Anthrax, Machine Head and  Prong since 1977. Dynamic and engaging with politically charged lyrics and bellowed vocals makes it easy to see how they became the Godfathers of Grindcore as they remind us how important it is to question the powers that be.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *