Temples rolls into Bristol this weekend for three days of all things heavy and noisy on differing and terrifying ends of the spectrum. But which bands do you subject your brain to? Here’s our advice…
Converge The most obvious choice in the history of listicles, and for a good reason. Converge shows are the most amazing, terrifying, exhilarating, mindfucking cacophonies you’re ever likely to experience. If you’re not watching the Friday night headliner, your only possible excuse is that they already broke you and you’re being carted off to hospital, sobbing in cathartic terror/joy and rocking back and forth to the chaotic rhythms of The Broken Vow. Or Dark Horse. Or Aimless Arrow. Or any of their other completely amazing songs.
**Nails **With Magrudergrind playing, not to mention Pig Destroyer playing two sets, grind fans aren’t short of choice at Bristol this year, but Nails are simply in too good form not to top the “must see” list. In one of the rare cases of a band actually living up to impossible hype, Todd Jones and co. followed up the promise of Unsilent Death with the destructive Abandon All Life and backed them both with a series of ferocious live shows. Don’t expect anything less than brutal brilliance.
**Will Haven **Having made a successful comeback with Voir Dire four years ago, the world got a reminder of how good Will Haven’s lurching, filthy destruction was, and rekindled interest in those first three excellent records – and paves the way nicely for new album Open The Mind To Discomfort. A band that don’t quite fit into any array of bands, and probably don’t dislike that fact either, the unsettling, pounding riffing style is perfect for slowly sending you round the twist while your brain dribbles out of your ears from the incessant downward blows. Or, in other words, absolutely perfect Temples fare.
**Bölzer **There’s a damn good reason this Swiss duo are the most talked about band in the underground. Huge riffs, ferocious vocals, all the things you liked best about classic extreme metal with something very much of their own, full of ideas and no sign of tired nostalgia trips or shameless rehashes in sight, and a vague whiff of another astral plane of existence adding extra atmosphere. Plus they’re immensely charismatic live, and make a vast noise for two blokes. Not bad for a band that still doesn’t have an album out. Get there early because their stage will be rammed.
Portal So completely batshit insane, both sonically and visually, that you’ll do well to come away with your faculties intact, Portal should probably come with a warning label. Instead, they come with a Phil Anselmo seal of approval and a whacky set of masks. Another band that rather defy definition (there’s death metal in there somewhere, but beyond that, don’t bother trying to attach labels), the Aussies have four records to their name, and each is a level of twisted Lovecraftian horror above the last one. If you’re not afraid, you’re doing it wrong.
Sunn O))) That there is a band this heavy and challenging and droning anywhere in the world that can headline a festival of any description speaks volumes about Sunn O))). Of the five other bands headlining this weekend or who headlined last year, all have more in the way of hooks – even Neurosis. But for sheer dense sonic weight, none can match them either – well, maybe Neurosis, but even them, only just. There’s a musical, atmospheric quality to Sunn O))) that takes them beyond their musical peers, though, and makes them a more mesmeric, entrancing experience than anyone comparable.
Celeste They mix sludge and black metal and a whole bunch of other crushing stuff in a way that will make you want to break everything, and they play wearing red lamps on their heads. If you’re not even a bit curious to see them after that description, we’re probably on a hiding to nothing. The Frenchmen are occasional but infrequent visitors to these shores, and have a habit of bypassing the major population centres – possibly why it took till their superb fourth album Animale(s) in 2013 for the buzz to really take off around them. It’s humming now though, and with good reason. Miss them at your peril.
**Between The Buried And Me **Mixing seventeen different types of metal and even more types of prog together, along with the occasional bit of something totally different (check the Cole Porter-esque chorus on Telos), BTBAM have spent the last decade and a half going from being a very, very good band into being one of the best bands in metal. Switching from visceral brutality to soaring melody in the blink of an eye, and going from the insane and complex to the catchy and accessible with no apparent warning, BTBAM stand out on any bill. They’re one of a kind – possibly because no one else is crazy enough to replicate what they do.
Year Of No Light There aren’t many festivals in Britain where an experimental, instrumental post-metal band with two drummers and three guitarists would fit in perfectly, but Year Of No Light are a natural fit at Temples. The French sextet are a distinctive beast, with their mixture of warmth, crush and melody, interspersed with the odd splash of aggression, and while fans of Cult Of Luna will find plenty that makes them lose their shit (Géhenne should inspire some sore necks), their expansive, hypnotic character is all their own.
Tribulation Arguably the underground band of the year so far, the Swedes followed up their excellent second record The Formulas Of Death with an astonishing, gothy extreme metal masterpiece this year with Children Of The Night, and put on one of the best live shows London has seen in ages with their set at Incineration Festival earlier this month. This lot look dead set for much, much bigger things, with their curious mixture of evil aggression and catchy chug. Imagine someone threw Watain and Beastmilk into the pot with Motörhead and Entombed, and make it as good as that sounds. Catch them in Bristol, and be able to say you saw them before they got huge.
Temples takes place in Bristol from 29-31 of May.