The Lords of the Land festival in Glasgow has some serious issues to contend with this year. First of all, how was the lineup ever going to match last year’s Carcass/Obituary/Napalm Death/Voivod magic? And secondly the small matter of the Heavy Scotland event in Edinburgh on the same weekend, featuring Grave, Arch Enemy and Behemoth, as well as others. Well, the lineup proved to be as competitive, if not superior, as you could want. I mean, black metal and death metal legends colliding with thrash and even a bit of grind and doom. FUCK YEAH! The old Barrowland ballroom played host once again.
Opening at the unbearable 12:30pm slot, Rotten Sound were fucking ace. The half hour slot is designed for grindcore bands, and Rotten Sound played to an impressively full Barrowlands considering the time of day. They were sharp, visceral and, best of all, allowed me the opportunity to get a hold of an HM-2 pedal tribute shirt. Killer start to the day, that only improved with the advent of Memoriam. Coming from a guy who named his blog and inspiration after a Bolt Thrower song, I can honestly say that Memoriam are more than worthy successors to the crown. Karl Willets was in fine form, and massive riffs cascaded upon us lucky few. Willets remarked that this was a celebration of life through death metal, and nothing is more true.
Next up was the hilarious vitality of Acid Reign, old school British thrash that felt so alive and vital it made me smile. So did the stage banter, with ‘Hello Edinburgh’ getting a particular chuckle. They were high energy, frontman H racing around the stage, encouraging all kinds of crowd participation and almost shitting himself when caught stagediving and taken to the back of the room before being ran forward and chucked back onto the stage. Mental. Mental is also how you would describe the aural waves of terrifying brutality emanating from Dragged into Sunlight, who took the stage behind clouds of smoke and a ghostly, huge candelabra. Their blackened sludgey noise was fearsome, and the fact that the band spent the whole show with their backs to us added to the esoteric mystery surroundng them.
I took a break from the action during Venom Inc, so I couldn’t pass comment on them but I got back just in time for Marduk’s ‘Heaven Shall Burn’ set which, like every Marduk show, was full throttle black metal of war and darkness. Yet again I had the pleasure of getting ‘Accuser/Opposer’ with Nemtheanga live, and they closed with ‘Panzer Division Marduk’! Speaking of Primordial, they have become a band that have transcended beyond what we would consider simply ‘pagan black metal’, becoming the embodiment of what Bathory strode towards. Nemtheanga’s vocals command immediate attention, like a monstrous and apocalyptic preacher. The stunning ‘Babel’s Tower’ and the enthralling ‘The Coffin Ships’ were particular highlights in a flawless set of blackened doom grandeur.
The stage darkens, smoke billows from under the drumkit and deep, blue lights shroud the oncoming storm of black metal perfection that is Mayhem, and ‘De Mysteriis de Satanas’ complete. Worth the price of admission alone, the howling ‘Freezing Moon’ and savage ‘Pagan Fears’ remind you about how all black metal owes so much debt to this record. Atilla Csihar’s vocals sound like the voice of Satan himself, and draped in a black cloak and then as a demonic priest, he embodies the dark magic infusing each frozen riff. Hw can anyone follow this?
Well, Autopsy with every vintage death metal riff ever just about managed. You don’t realise just how much they’ve influenced the genre, until you think about how every ‘old school’ death metal band basically stole everything fom them. Rabid fury crashes into sludgey, evil riffs while vomitous vocals spill from behind Chris Reifert’s drumkit. Despite the fact that we are approaching 11 hours into the day, I think that this was the best moment of the night. Tiredness overwheming us, the first time these legends have graced Scottish shores in 27 years mean that we were reinvigorated enough to show them our appreciation.What a fucking triumph.