Wildfire Festival, Biggar – Day One 24/6/16.

 Friday :- So here I am again, third year running for me at the fantastic Wildfire festival, run by the ever smiling Dave Ritchie. Situated in the rolling hills in the grounds of Wiston Lodge, the views are nothing short of stunning. Due to finishing work at 6.15am, catching an 8.00am train which ended up being delayed and resulting in a 6hr journey from Crewe we arrived at the site, picked up our passes, met up with the rest of the Planetmosh crew and headed off behind schedule to catch our first band of the day which was Bury based thrashers Vice.

They were half way through their set as we entered but the disappointing news about Friday festival headliner Tim Owens not playing was soon forgotten as the full on thrash assault of ‘Rise’ got the front rows headbanging. Fronted by Tom Atkinson, his guitar partner Jack Trelawny then belted out the stuttering riffs to ‘Ascension’, bolstered by some rib rattling footwork from drummer Connor Summers. Their all too brief set closed with ‘Greed’, the old school Metallica (before they lost the plot) main riff was backed by thunderous bass work from Simon Robertshaw. Slough based Divine Chaos were up next and it was good to see them supporting British thrash metal with two of the band wearing Evile and Reign Of Fury t-shirts.

Divine Chaos

They like to pen long songs with multi time changes and their delivery was relentless with an unhinged vocal delivery from Benny F, a dead ringer for Rasputin! Highlights of their set were ‘In Return We Kill’, with riffs flying around everywhere as a possessed lead vocal must have destroyed what was left of Benny’s lungs. ‘Death Toll Rising’ got a pit opened up with the mini moshers being joined by a few older members of the crowd as its Kreator like rage and churning Entombed end led to set closer and my favourite number ‘Path To War’ which was a seven minute adrenaline rush proving the lunatics have taken over the asylum!

Mason Hill also delivered in spades, opening up in style with the early Tesla tinged ‘Your Memory’ rocking out of the p.a system. Even though it was chucking it down outside, the lead vocalist out cooled anyone else in the crowd by wearing shades. The classic rock of ‘Survive’ with its intense lead vocal and backing vocals upped the

Mason Hill

ante followed by a guitar heavy cover of ‘Mississippi Queen’ by Mountain. ‘Where I Belong’ another of the 4 songs played today from their latest self titled E.P, was almost the perfect rock song as its balladic opening and guitar solos led to a stadium rock finish. ‘Broken Sun’, another show stopping number began with some deft Jimmy Page like licks into heavy, dynamic rhythms. The gritty blues of ‘Out Of Reach’ brought to mind The Temperance Movement but with heavier riffs. Set closer ‘Now You See Me’ was chock full of early Aerosmith swagger and Scott’s most powerful vocal.

  Solitary then proceeded to make things a lot heavier once more with forty minutes of rabid, old school thrash metal, another band wearing their influences kitted out in Slayer, Sacred Reich and Sabbath tshirts. Now in


their 22nd year and showing no signs of getting the pipe and slippers out, they exploded onstage with a ferocious ‘Trigger Point Atrocity’ and kept the intensity levels in the red with follower ‘Keep Your Enemies Closer’. Lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Rich Sherrington barks out the lyrics and provides rhythm guitar to the lead work of Andy Mellor. The quartet is completed by Roy Miller on drums and the fast fingered bass guitar work of Dave Cunningham. Other choice cuts were the intense Exodus like chug of ‘The Diseased Heart Of Society’, the vitriolic vocal in ‘Humanities Decline’ and ‘Unidentified’, introduced as “faster than Slayer” and Rich was right and it prompted the opening up of the biggest pit of the day, and of the festival so far. ‘Requiem’ closed their set with a short, sharp balls out thrashout to the finish line.

West Lothian based The King Lot are the ideal band to get a festival going. They did it here two years ago and today was no different as the power trio launched into set opener ‘Lets Get Together’ after an air raid siren intro announced their arrival. Not the Roxy Music song but a rebel rouser with AC/DC like power chords. ‘Addicted’ was sugar sweet power pop pinned down by ground shaking bass lines from frontman Jason Sweeney. ‘Telegram’ could have been the more melodic side of The Who, albeit cranked up to ten by Jason’s band mates Michael Fairbairn on guitar and CK Gillon on drums. ‘As They Burn’ was total guitar overload with intense three way vocals. A surprise cover of Love/Hate’s classic ‘Blackout In The Red Room’ preceded the slow burning ‘Ghost’ which led into a rocking big crescendo ending. ‘One Of These Days’ was a power ballad with balls and that’s when I stopped taking notes and rocked out until the end of their set.

Die No More

My last band of a very impressive day was Die No More, hitting the stage with the turbo charged Sabbath like thrash of ‘Save Yourself’, setting the bar high for the rest of their set. Follower ‘Soul Destroyer‘ was mid paced multi tempo thrash metal which lead into ‘Blood In The Veins’, like a more melodic ‘Inner Self’ by Sepultura, it was no less intense and got heads nodding all around. ‘Enemy Within’ was dedicated to Tim Owens by lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Marc Marquhar and their crowd pleasing set ended with ‘Council Of War’, a real headbangers heaven of a song with precise riffing from Marc and lead guitarist Kev Smith but my highlight was ‘Oblivious’ as its heavy riffs were backed with some killer melodic hooks.

After being awake for almost 30hrs I was dead on my feet and headed back for some well earned rest albeit missing headliners A Joker’s Rage, who I apologise to for missing their set. Tomorrow was another day with first band Spartan Warrior due onstage at 11.30am.

Photography by KS Gig Photo.

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About Dennis Jarman

Full time downtrodden album/gig reviewer and part time rock God!