With the midweek announcement that there would be no Ghostfest next year, doubts have surfaced over the future of the Leeds-based festival as it celebrates its tenth anniversary and first foray outside the north.
Delays and a massive queue mean that few are here in time for Astroid Boys’  late start. Newer tracks show a grittier side to the Cardiff rap crew, while the elated reactions to Dusted and Minging clearly demonstrate that the hardcore scene has firmly taken them under its wing.
Malevolence  have also rightfully earned themselves a dedicated following, with their brutish metallic hardcore now honed to a precise assault. The antagonism of Condemned Of Misery gets the required response, whipping up a floor-wide pit of Street Fighter II imitations. Sadly it also gives a few wankers  an excuse to deliberately kick innocent bystanders; a scene that spoils several of the day’s sets.
Coming out to Vengaboys will always gain you new admirers as Lincoln’s Blood Youth  find out, with a workman-like set of hardcore nous, some of the very best melodic choruses of the day and some impressive stage acrobatics that deserve more than the cowshed stage’s limited surroundings.
Oathbreaker’s  ear-splitting cacophony brings a different heaviness to the overblown testosterone elsewhere. The Belgians bring a maelstrom of banshee-like screams over a suffocating atmosphere and piercing undercurrent that makes for a truly unpleasant experience.
The only way Baltimore’s Turnstile  could be more fun is if bouncy castles and Super Soakers were involved. Inviting up crowd members, tearing across the stage and giving little regard for themselves or their instruments, it’s a truly breathless display that pays homage to their DC heritage.
With their Gakuran uniforms, masks and Manga-influenced crossover, France’s Rise Of The Northstar  are a completely different proposition to everything else on display today, baffling and delighted onlookers in equal measure. However, a poor sound robs the leads and hip-hop laced vocals of their impact.
Judging by the number of t-shirts on display Desolated  are one of the day’s top drawers, and they pack the second stage, with their down-tuned stomp and breakdown heavy set clearly a more favourable draw than Born Of Osiris’ electronic grandeur next door. Despite their rapturous following, it’s a set reliant on energy over in favour of any significant focal points.
You can always rely on Heart Of A Coward  to deliver, and though they play to a sparser crowd than expected, in the chest-beating Deadweight and Psychophant they possess some of the most exhilarating tunes of the day while Jamie Graham is in his usual belligerent mood. New songs Hollow and Mouth Of Madness go down a storm, which bodes well for up-coming album Deliverance continuing to fuel their upward trajectory.
Martyr Defiled  attack their throat-ripping deathcore with such hellish fervour it’s impossible not to be swept up by the likes of Vultures and Black Mesa, particularly when bug-eyed frontman Matthew Jones repeatedly launches into the crowd to scream into the faces of terrified observers at the back. By the end of play they’ve won themselves a cowshed full of new fans.
Despite only having a dozen shows under their belt, Counting Days  deliver an efficient set of iron-clad metallic hardcore riff-fests, with Sands Of Time and the impassioned Prison Of Misery already sounding like established anthems. The ex-members of TRC and Heights are clearly onto a winning formula, but sadly their rookie status sadly means that there are only a few dozen people here to witness its fruition. With debut Liberated Sounds dropping next month, expect bigger crowds in future.
After being unable to make the Leeds date yesterday and rumours circulating of another no-show, Emmure’s  fans are clearly ecstatic when Frankie Palmeri and co. hit the stage. The likes of Nemesis and Solar Flare Homicide get the floor of Motion bouncing in unison, but they’re only occasional peaks in an otherwise pedestrian set of mid-paced deathcore stomp. Frankie’s effortless magnetism and the band’s swagger is enough to keep the front of house engaged but means they do very little to win over those beyond the first few rows, which is a shame as the eerie draw of MDMA shows they’re clearly capable of so much more.
So many bands on the weekend’s bill owe a massive debt to Hatebreed’s  iconic hardcore assault, so it’s fitting that the headliners receive both the status and appreciation they deserve in a victorious, all-conquering display. Taking in songs from their entire catalogue to celebrate their 20-year anniversary, from the recent hooks of Honor Never Dies to a pulverising rare outing of early number Puritan, this is a euphoric occasion that not even a cavernous sound can hope to derail. Affable frontman Jamey Jasta is in fine voice as he leads the throng through the call-and-response of This Is Now and In Ashes They Shall Reap, and whipping up the biggest pits of the day during Hollow Ground. The reason the Connecticut crew are such a bridge between sub-genres is down to the sheer X-factor of anthems like I Will Be Heard and sense of universal inclusivity that only the best bands can achieve. If this is to be the last Ghostfest, there are few better ways it could have been given it the send off it deserves.