This was my first time attending Les Fest and this year’s event had been moved to a new location, Wiston Lodge situated in South Lanarkshire. Following a 4+ hour train journey from Crewe to Glasgow + connecting train to Lanark, then a 25 minute car journey, with an hours sleep after a 10 hour night shift, I was tired to say the least but the short walk from the lodge to the site of Les-Fest 3 immediately alleviated said tiredness. Situated at the foot of a hill and a lake, the campsite and 3 log cabins had some stunning views and the acoustic stage was situated next to Lodge. Once unpackeded I made my way to the marquee that housed the main stage.
The main stage was impressive and as I walked in Kingwinsford based band Martyr De Mona were blasting through a very punchy p.a system (my ears are still ringing 5 days later). Playing a set featuring material from their debut album Impera, their set was chock full of biting, twin guitar melodic hard rock with a solid backbone rhythm section. A fine example of this was from their single ‘Influence & Persuasion with some abrasive riffing and prime time Thin Lizzy guitar harmonies. Heaviest song of the set was final number ‘Lycanthropy’, a drum driven song with chugging riffs, a tasty wah-wah guitar solo and a quiet/shouted twin vocal which was not overdone and complimented the song’s vibe.
Next up were Manchester based Incassum. I have read many good reports about them and they did not disappoint with a set full of Tool like intricate time changes thus displaying a very high level of musicianship, old school death metal grooves all topped off with the devastating voice of Sharleen Kennedy who could switch between a growl and clean vocal at the drop of a hat and at times sounding like Dorothy Pesch. Highlight of the set for me was ‘Walk Alone’, a 7 minute slow burner. It is probably the nearest Incassum will get to a ballad as it built up from a lone guitar intro into a clean vocal almost melodic rock until it burst into full on raging thrash metal.
Things now got a lot more extreme (not Extreme, thank God) as Nexilva proceeded to pound out a set which drew to mind a mix of Cradle Of Filth, Morbid Angel and Behemoth. All songs were from their latest album ‘Eschatologies’, the title track of which was dominated by sheet metal riffing and an awesome display on drums by Connor Jobes. Other highlights of their set was ‘Necromancer’, once again featuring some insane footwork and a truly unhinged vocal from Gary King. ‘Cybernetic Lucidity’ was a swirl of crushing, down tuned riffing but song of the set was ‘This Is Humanity’. It’s early Morbid Angel technicality with yet another hellish vocal. There must be something in the water in Sunderland!
Next up were Deadly Circus Fire who impressed me with a crushing 7 song set bringing to mind musically the intensity of System Of A Down, Mastodon, early Will Haven with a Black Sabbath groove backed by a Maynard James Keenan (Tool) like delivery from Adam Grant. Their set was based on debut album ‘The King And The Bishop’ and highlight of the set for me was closing number ‘Nothing’ with the refrain of “Put It In A Bag” threatening to tear out Adam’s lungs.
Penultimate band on Friday night were Demonic Resurrection from Mumbai, India. Formed in 2000 and surely the most travelled band to play Les-Fest 3. Their set was dominated by new numbers from their forthcoming 4th studio album ‘Demon King’ displaying punishing death metal with dominant Fields Of The Nefilim style keyboards to fill out their sound. Vocalist Sahil “The Demonstealer” Makhija, although softly spoken offstage is a bellowing frontman onstage. Two older songs that impressed me the most were “Apocalyptic Dawn” and ‘The Unrelenting Surge Of Vengeance’. The former featured hypnotic, speed metal guitar patterns swamped by keyboards and the latter thudding death metal punctuated with Rush type passages. The band can be seen supporting Onslaught throughout the UK from July 13th-21st except London.
Tonights headliners were Glasgow based Bleed From Within who I had heard nothing of before but had just assumed they were just another shouty Kerrang band but not for the first time this weekend I was eating humble pie as they burst onstage with ‘Leech’, all pacey,jarring riffs held down by the aggressive bark of Scott Kennedy. They smashed out a deafening set of blistering metal and were the first band to entice circle pits, a wall of death and Scott even got to do an Iggy Pop walk on the crowd’s hands. They won the Metal Hammer ‘Best New Band” at the 2013 Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards in 2013 and from this worthy headlining performance, it’s easy to see why.
A very metal end to the first day of Les-Fest 3 and time for a well earned few hours sleep for me!
Photos by Linda Heron and Dougie Purves.