Slam Dunk Festival North 2022: Review [Part 2]
Words: Dan Barnes
Photos: Rich Price
Check out Part 1 of our review here!
Nestling in the lower part of the field, just next to the VIP area, lies the unassuming-looking Knotfest Stage. A colourful tent from the outside but just wait until you discover the horrors awaiting within. If Slam Dunk 2023 had a black sheep it would be Knotfest. Wherein ten of the festival’s most confrontational acts abide, ready to ensnare whomsoever crosses its stygian threshold.
Hot off their UK tour, rapidly ascending stars Heriot bring the power and intensity of their club shows to Slam Dunk. The tent is unusually rammed for before noon as the gathered masses revel in bulldozing riffs, delivered with pin-point accuracy and laying waste to all but the most prepared. There are elements of Gojira audible in the band’s uncompromising sound, all of which bodes well for the future. Higher Power is one of those bands who seem to have been popping up all over the place over the past couple of years and these local lads have been honed to a razor-sharp cutting edge by the experience. Their blending of modern metal with hardcore, punk and crossover means categorisation is all but impossible, but when you can mix killer riffs, with huge beatdowns and some psychedelic interludes, why restrict yourselves to a single genre?
Siblings Connie and Ethan Sgarbossa lead SeeYouSpaceCowboy through one of Slam Dunk’s more chaotic sets. The metalcore/ hardcore/ sasscore/ art punks always seem barely inches from losing complete control of their show, but always bring it back to some form of sanity. With song titles of a verbosity not seen since Carcass’ early work, these Californians unnerve with noise and a performance to challenge. Dragged Under’s metallic hardcore is infused big beatdowns but also with undeniable nods to classic rock and punk; Static Dress is another local band whose combination of post hardcore, screamo and emo has been generating some fair movement in the front of the stage.
French outfit, Landmvrks, play a set filled with nu metal inspired metallic hardcore, built on big, solid beats and featuring some machine gun riffing. All the way from Texas is metalcore merchants Fit For a King who veer from their path either through an emotional breakdown or massive deathcore moments, giving a sometimes brutal, sometimes fragile performance. “We came to party!” announce Escape the Fate, and party they do, merging emotional metalcore with a Nu sound, in the vein of Papa Roach, against dualling vocals and a plethora of huge beats.
Veterans of the metalcore scene, We Came As Romans’ adoption of post hardcore into their sound, alongside all manner of orchestration mean they are more than your average scene band. Such confidence has the band in its newer material that the last album, 2022’s Darkbloom dominates todays set. The electronic Doublespeak, the emotional Golden or the abrasive Daggers, the new tracks further enhance the band’s legacy and Slam Dunk showed its appreciate for their continued efforts.
When it comes to rapid ascents then look no further than Sheffield bruisers, Malevolence. Since the world get switched back on in 2021 they’ve been a mainstay of the festival scene with repeat appearances at Download and Bloodstock, including the S.O.P.H.I.E. headlining show when they stood in for Hatebreed, let’s not forget, as well as a surprise showing at Outbreak; and with a sold out November jaunt in the theatres to come, the band really are making hay while to sun shines.
The backing of Nuclear Blast has been a blessing, but without the chops to back it up, Malevolence would have been found out. As it is, the five-piece are primed and ready for the bigtime and their elevation up the Slam Dunk bill from 2021 proves they are capable. Malicious Intent still dominates the set, stirring the capacity crowd into a frenzy of excitement. The title track, Life Sentence and Still Waters Run Deep is still a devastating opening to the show, not forgetting the older, more established material like Keep Your Distance, Serpent’s Chokehold and a couple from Self Supremacy. Bodies fly, voices are raised higher than arms and Alex stands master of all he surveys. It cannot be too long before Malevolence is just too big to be constrained by mere canvas and guy-ropes.