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By: Owen Coggins
Temples Festival is entering its third year after resounding successes of the 2014 and 2015 editions. Judging by the high quality of the festival in its starting-up years, we can assume some continuity for 2016: the industrial warehouse complex venue; the nearby Wetherspoons struggling to cope with hordes of hungry riff-seekers; Attila Csihar wandering the festival wearing a suit jacket over a Skinny Puppy t-shirt. And of course, a fantastically diverse line-up of great music from all across the spectrum of heavy music. In this age of digital findability, there’s still room for trusted institutions like record labels, websites and festivals that show through the consistent quality of their suggestions what it is you might actually be looking for even if you don’t know it yet. So while part of the joy of Temples will be watching jawdropping bands and then find out who the hell they are, here’s what I’m looking forward to most of all on the Motion stages this year.
Friday for me will be all about the main stage black metal monstrosity. Mayhem playing the recording which is not only one of their classics, but one of the entire genre’s defining statements. The first instance is happening at Maryland Death Fest at the end of May, and then there’s a mammoth European and Latin American tour for the full-album show, so kudos to the organisers for bringing the anticipated show to the UK. An April Fool’s joke by Varg Vikernes claimed that Burzum would be joining Mayhem on tour: even the daft suggestion of that unprecedented and ludicrously unlikely situation points to the fact that just seeing the band screech through De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas will be a massive event. While Mayhem shows have been known to be unpredictable, the band and crowd will certainly be prepared, from an insane line-up of proper kvlt black metal throughout the day.
Mg?a will be returning to action in the UK after the massive success of last year’s Exercises in Futility, another step in an ever-more-unbelievable process of making records better than the last. Between the complex, grim yet vastly compelling Polish black metal and the headliners is sandwiched one of my favourite black metal bands—no, scratch that, just bands—of all time, especially in terms of live atmosphere: the incomparable Urfaust. Witnessing the conjuring of occult vapours by their wild, oddly operatic and archaic ceremonial sonic darkness is absolutely mesmerising: they’re one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen. I last experienced their lo-fi black magick in a forest in Cumbria, so this will be a totally different setting for the two devil’s troubadours from The Netherlands, but they will undoubtedly provide a powerfully memorable ritual of intoxication. Add the possibility of new material (with an entire full-length reportedly recorded as of April) and it’s fair to say I’m looking forward to this one. Just a bit.
So that’s the top end of Friday night, one of the most intense triple bills imaginable of distinctive, influential, epic and crushingly heavy black metal. Adding Esoteric and Ruins of Beverast to the list is just insane, giving the line-up solid quality all the way down. I’m new to the openers Funeral Throne, but if they promise to begin the day ‘thinning the veil and widening the hole in the sky’ I‘m willing to take their word for it. I’m reliably informed that there’s some great punk on the other stages, and for some friends that are attending, sets by the likes of Chaos UK are anticipated as much as I’m looking forward to Urfaust. I’ll try to catch some bits and pieces here and there between the black metal bands, but my Friday plans will be simple: watch as much as I can of every single set on the main stage. FREEZING MOON!
After that lot on Friday, I imagine I’ll be drifting around for the next two days with a sort of black-metal-noise-induced concussion daze. But happily there’ll be a full weekend left of great bands compiled by the Temples team, representing a massive range of the heavy, the sludgy and the plain loud. Of course the big deal on Saturday is Melvins: legends with decades of distorted experimentation to draw on, for what will be a massive headlining set. They’ve influenced so many bands who deal in many varieties of heaviness, with entire subgenres practically splintering off from an album here or a weird track there. I’m hoping for a bit of Lysol’s oil-slick sludge, but ever since seeing King Buzzo play in Fantomas years ago and showing a dementedly versatile brilliance, I’m happy to sit back and enjoy whatever it is that they cook up for us. Up against them headlining the second stage is Dragged into Sunlight, who I’ll want to catch up with again: hopefully there’ll be a chance for a little overlap. Last year the set times and changeovers were pretty carefully planned out and ran smoothly enough (even with the final day delays caused by SunnO))) obliterating the sound system!). But with such a packed three days of three stages we can only wait agonisingly until the schedule is released in the coming weeks!
Other prospective highlights of the middle day are Dragged Into Sunlight’s recent collaboration comrades Gnaw Their Tongues, whose bleak and putrid noise will be poured out from the seven bowls of wrath. Another great artist to include, unclassifiable but totally at home amongst the diversity of heaviness at Temples. Bongripper keep turning up at a bunch of festivals I’ve been to in the last few years, and they’re always reliably immense. Their first time at Temples will be another more-than-welcome installation of ultra-extended doom. Meanwhile, the kick-out-the-jams groove of heavy rock stalwarts Groundhogs and Norwegian noise-rock-weirdsters Årabrot contribute further angles on a well-rounded day.
Sunday brings yet more smashing metal on top of the bill, this time in the form of Carcass. It’s rare that a festival gets three main stage headliners in a row that I’m excited about, and it’s great that they represent such different and crucial areas of the world of metal and its offshoots. And just like the Friday, there’s a brilliant combination of acts: on before Carcass, the old school Swedish death metal of Grave. However, late Sunday will be another subject of intense focus on the stage timings: opposite the grindcore and death, over on the second stage is an equally compelling prospect: Mare followed by Jucifer. The Canadian avant-doom group are a strange beast, with a discography lasting an entire 25 minutes released in 2004, but they managed to pack a bewildering number of styles into that short time. Then Jucifer will, I’m sure, hit Bristol like a force of nature with their trademark wall of amps. Beyond this, late additions to the bill Conan will (as always) be appropriately loud and uncompromising, and there will be a fitting send-off for the long-running Palehorse, who will be at the end of their UK tour with Ghold and calling it a day for good after this finale.
After last year’s twin drone doom/hardcore triumph, and the first year’s inaugural success, this third edition sees Temples collect together another brilliantly distinctive line-up to satisfy the allround appetites of the distortion connoisseur, as well as proving they know their stuff well enough to absolutely nail the combinations of specific subgenre representatives. Add in some great local ales and food, a totally appropriate all-in venue keeping everyone together in a festival atmosphere with just the right level of scuzziness (and some promised improvements and developments), Temples 2016 looks like it will be setting an early high bar for festival of the year.