Temples Festival

The underground’s darkest flames light up the West Country

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Temples is fast becoming not just a highlight of festival season but a necessary pilgrimage for the blackened and the bearded alike. With this in mind the organisers have added a third stage and also managed to bring over bands rarely seen in the UK.

Sweden’s MARTYRDØD [7] hit the main stage and you’re never really sure whether they’ll bring the death/crust or the shambolic chaos. Thankfully it’s the latter. YAITW’s [8] super-blackened hardcore opens up the floor with the band on fire and feeding off the energy the crowd throws back at them and LENG T’CHE [7] continue the rampant pace with a set that pummels from beginning to passionate end. TRAP THEM [9] bring the atmosphere of a club show onto the big stage perfectly. Vocalist Ryan McKenney spends the whole set in the crowd while his band bust veins and eardrums alike. Square peg? Round hole? Bollocks. Energy, riffs, nostalgia, neck-snapping ferocity. **WILL HAVEN [9] **are as powerful and solid as ever. Playing to the heaving tent that is the third stage, SLABDRAGGER’s [8] mix of Southern grooves and hardcore riffage is blissful brutality for the eardrums and the ale-crazed, surging crowd hang on every chord.

WEEDEATER [8] are an onslaught of bone-shaking grooves, gritty guitars and heavy-as-fuck stoner doom. You can almost see their heavy vibes pulsating through the crowd. BONGZILLA [8] close the third stage with riffs aplenty and their sludgy, stoner rock goes down so well that people are stopped from entering the space. NAILS [9] take no prisoners during their time on the main stage and, with a manifesto that incorporates turning your anger into something positive, it’s tough not to believe every word they spit. Despite the endless tide of imitators having rolled in over the decades, headliners CONVERGE [8] are still virtually peerless in their field. Bristling with controlled, emotional and melancholic chaos, tonight sees them near their dynamic best, especially during Concubine. If frontman Jacob Bannon would only dial down the sentimental guff a bit.

**SATURDAY **

Opening day two’s main stage, CAÏNA’s [7] furious dirge of bleak metal has compelled a decent number of the curious and hungover check out their early set. They’re not disappointed. Also representing the UK underground, GRAVE MIASMA [8] unleash a surge of abyssal death metal through the darkness that’s felt keenly throughout the room. France’s CELESTE [8] bring an alien presence to their darkened hardcore and heavy motions of sound from behind a wall of smoke while Germans MANTAR [8] make a heck of a lot of noise for only two people and their furious rhythms take hold quickly. TORCHE’s [7] grungy, acid rock vibes bring some more energy to their crowd. Their tuneage may sound like being strapped to the underside of a Boeing 747 during takeoff, but it’s still an engaging respite from the day’s heavier offerings. Darkly psychedelic, Swiss bass and drum death metal duo BÖLZER’s [6] reputation has packed the second stage. Sadly, a terribly weak and washed-out sound means that few stick around.

“We’ve been singing the blues for a long time,” preaches **GOATSNAKE [7] **frontman Pete Stahl, and the band’s energetic refining of Sabbath-esque doom proves they’ve returned aging like a fine wine. Perhaps one of the week-end’s most anticipated performances, the theatrical and primitive yet deceptively technical black metal of Australia’s PORTAL [7] aren’t for everybody, but there’s no arguing its captivating effect. PIG DESTROYER [9] play Natasha in full on the main stage, and it is literally the best sludge/noise/dirge/spoken word/audio-visual horror show about a dead teenage girl and complete mental breakdown you’ll ever see.

SKITSYSTEM’s [8] third stage headline set was always going to be about taking the opportunity to hear the songs, rather than gawking at the stand-in(ish) bandmembers. The constant moshpits and pogo-ers suggest time has not dulled their effect. Without doubt a highlight of the weekend, **TRIPTYKON [9] **cram their audience into the second stage, but push through and you’ll behold a barbed treat for the senses. A tangible atmosphere radiates from Tom G Fischer’s powerful presence and from the moment they step onstage, the crowd soaks up every last shockwave conducted through the room. SUNN O))) [9] bring walls of amps, smoke and intense drone to close the main stage. It’s loud, painfully so, and vocalist Attila Csihar offers an extra dimension to an already traumatic performance. Nosebleeds, fainting and vomiting are but a few side effects of this incredible exhibition.

**SUNDAY **

A brilliant way to ease yourself back into another action-packed day, OHMM’s [7] expertly crafted fusion of prog metal, doom and psychedelia is sadly over far too soon. The French do anguish all too well and MONARCH [8] take despair to the limit with a set that is equal parts beautiful and horrific and ultimately impressive while being in stark contrast to YEAR OF NO LIGHT [9], who build tension and grace in movements of weight and opposing serenity. The mid-afternoon sun that streams into the third stage isn’t ideal for TRIBULATION’s [7] deathly textures and gothic grandeur, but it does little to dampen the Swedes’ attack that bristles with wild verve.

VALLENFYRE’s [8] oppressive old-school death metal gets better with every outing, frontman Gregor Mackintosh’s hilarious banter giving breathing space between the doomy Splinters and relentless Cathedrals Of Dread. KROKODIL’s [6] stripped down, melodic deathcore garners a receptive crowd, but for such a stellar lineup of musicians, they could have brought something more to the table. Making the most of their surprisingly high billing, London-based sludge duo GHOLD [8] play one of their tightest, heaviest shows to date. They. Will. Be. Huge. New Orleans’ GOATWHORE [8] truly know how to forcefeed you a proper metal show and the crowd eat up every second, with a steady row of crowdsurfers and a sea of fists in the air.

KEN MODE [8] have slowly been making their way into noise-rock territory and today they show just how far they’ve come in recent times with a set that is wall-to-wall fire. Emotional doom flows from the hearts of PALLBEARER [9], who move some of this crowd to tears with a set that crushes both in heaviness and pain. The quartet are humble and honoured and we are rewarded with a wonderfully honest and heartfelt performance. In a weekend with ‘legendary’ bands scattered throughout one name stands above all: VOIVOD [9]. The whole festival seems to want to cram into the tiny shed they’re playing in, and you can’t blame ’em. Tonight, they’re at their no-frills if still thoroughly decentred best.** BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME [8]** revel in their place as both the most extravagant and melodic offering at Temples, stretching out their five-song set to include the sumptuous exploration of new track Memory Palace and the metallic crunch of stunning closer, White Walls. EARTH [8] and their somewhat gentler drone style is a perfect ending to a phenomenal weekend. Dylan Carlson’s lingering, country-tinged sounds flow over the crowd and allow for a moment of introspection after what has been a heavy few days. It’s a gorgeous, expressive and passionate finale.