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Headbanger's Balls, live in Gloucester

We went to Gloucester for the charity metalfest

If you’re unaware of Headbanger’s Balls, it’s a short, multi-band tour that’s entirely crowd funded (it reached its target within the first 3 and a half hours) and all money from ticket sales/other fundraising goes directly to the Teenage Cancer Trust. So what we have is one stage, eleven hours and thirteen bands. Bring it.

With the different styles of music on display today, there should be people leaving venue as each band starts – as online trolls tell us, metal fans apparently don’t like things outside their own favourite sub-genre.

Well that argument is obviously bollocks because the same people watching the brutal black metal from Ascaris can be seen stomping along to the blues rock of Welcome Back Delta. Headbanging crazily to Seprevation’s deathy thrash one minute and enjoying the more subdued progressive metal of Nycosia the next is possible too, apparently.

Unfortunately the owners of the Olympus Theatre haven’t turned any heating on and as it’s a freezing December day that might explain why the members of Retribution are running round like lunatics – they’re just trying to keep warm! They do seem to be enjoying themselves though as they jump into the audience. In fact, everyone on stage gets more animated throughout the day, from Black Tamanous, who are fairly static while they concentrate on their modern thrash to the likes of Suicide Watch, who are a lot more mobile with their singer prowling around while the rest of the band use every inch of stage behind him.

It’s worth considering that maybe the heating was turned off deliberately to sell more merch as more than one brand new beanie was spotted in the crowd. Perhaps they should have thought ahead and organised gloves and scarves to sell too! Of course running around like a headless chicken is another good way to keep warm and so, as the alcohol consumption increases and the inhibitions decrease, the pits start to open with more regularity – some more effective than others. During headliners Bull Riff Stampede’s set, one particular woman seems to have more trouble staying vertical than everyone else in the circle pit, whether that’s due to the heaviness of the music or more liquid problems is unknown.

Local bands Hellbound and Oakhaart (who earlier this year won the Metal 2 The Masses Bloodstock competition) both prove why they deserve places on the bill with excellent performances. Lifer also give it a decent whack but keep resorting to cajoling the crowd into responding – it doesn’t connect quite as well as hoped.

The best of the day honours must be split between Fury and Reign Of Fury (not related). The former for their dive-bombing, finger-tapping, crazy-soloing power metal prowess and clearly evident total ecstasy of playing and the latter for the best crowd interaction (even before the stage invasion!) all day.

Great music, great cause, great Balls!

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