Heavy Scotland are, in their words, looking to help grow the Scottish metal scene. Bringing over Behemoth is a good start, but if they really want to do that they need to get some locals on the bill and they’ve found the perfect way to do it. Over three nights, eight bands will go head to head to fight for the opportunity to open the main stage of this two-day festival on the Sunday. The first night gave us a glimpse at who could take their place on that stage.
Kicking things off are Corrupt The System who come from the Megadeth and Metallica school of thrash metal. With that in mind, it’s strange that the song which stands out the most is ‘Fade Out’ where they slow things down a bit. Lead singer Nick Parkinson has a tendency to get overexcited and shout into the microphone rather than sing which can be distracting at times. It’s an occasional thing rather than the norm, though, and it doesn’t take away from what is an impressive performance. By the time they hit their last two songs, they’ve found their groove, and they leave the crowd nicely warmed up for what is to come next.
If Corrupt The System came from the Metallica school then Damaj stuck around and did university too. The ‘Tallica worship is strong here, and Daniel Stewart even has a bit of that Hetfield-esque upward inflexion on the end of every line. You’re almost waiting for the yeahs to come creeping in. Despite that, it’s clear that Damaj are a more polished outfit than our opening band and they come across like established pros. If they want to stand out, however, then we need less Metallica and more Damaj.
Lucifers Corpus finally take us away from the thrash metal sound that will dominate tonight and instead bring us some good old fashioned riffage. This is the kind of metal that Phil Anselmo has made a career out of and it is packed full of groove and swagger. If you were told that they’d made their way over from New Orleans, you might just believe them until you heard them talk to the crowd in between songs. They deliver a set which is perfect for a Saturday night with a beer in your hand, and the crowd reacts accordingly.
Our last battle band are an entirely different proposition as Scumpulse come onto the stage with the intention of making your ears bleed. Their set is fucking loud and brings to mind what would have happened if Motorhead had decided not to play rock and roll and instead headed down the extreme metal route. This is crusty and filthy punk rock melded with black metal, and it’s as good as that sounds. The by now well-lubricated audience laps it up and even as your ears ring from the devastating noise you can’t help but smile.
Before we all drunkenly stumble home, there is one last treat as headliners Animator hit the stage. Over from Ireland for the occasion, they’ve brought us some boozed up thrash metal which was terribly kind of them. It’s fair to say that by this point most people are drunk enough that if they’d wandered onto the stage and farted into a kazoo, it would have gone down well, but thankfully we get something a bit more intricate than that. This is metal meant to be partied to, and it’s a party which Animator deliver.
I had to sneak off before the winners were announced which meant that I tragically missed the air guitar competition, but I’m informed that Lucifer’s Corpus and Corrupt The System move onto the final. Personally, I’d have gone for Corpus and Scumpulse but the truth was that all four of these bands brought something to the table and if Heavy Scotland keeps delivering results like this, then the next few months are going to be a treat.