BOLTFEST Review: Celebrating Bolt Thrower’s 26th Anniversary w/Vallenfyre, Benediction, Autopsy, and More!
Bolt Thrower, probably the most successful British extreme metal band ever. Formed in 1986, the band has a fanatical and hugely loyal following across the world. In order to honour these fans and to celebrate its 26th anniversary the band put together Boltfest featuring Vallenfyre, Benediction, Discharge, Autopsy and, of course, Bolt Thrower.
Thinking there wouldn’t be many takers the band only made tickets available for the downstairs area of the historic HMV Kentish Town Forum in North London. The tickets sold out immediately, so an extra 200 were made available for the balcony area. These sold out in minutes, meaning 2050 lucky people were at this awesome show.
Furthermore, the festival was an all-for-charity event, the tickets were priced at just £5.99 and all proceeds are going to UK charity Teenage Cancer Trust. Incredible.
Anyway, I rolled into the gig fashionably late, missing Vallenfyre and Benediction and right on cue to see Discharge. Still featuring two original members – bass player Rainy and guitarist Bones (also of the great punk band Broken Bones) – Discharge got the crowd seriously moving with the kind of hardcore thrash crossover which made them so influential to thrash metal and death metal thirty years ago. They had some technical issues with the guitar but it didn’t ruin it, and they were a good act to get the audience ready for something far heavier and more disgusting to follow… Autopsy!
I’ve been a big fan of Autopsy since I first heard their 1987 demo (called ‘1987 Demo’…!). This is a band that never sacrificed heaviness or filthiness for commerciality. Still totally underground 26 years after the band formed, they seem to be at a creative peak right now, and on stage they absolutely slay. Opening with the brutal ‘Hand of Darkness’ off latest album Macabre Eternal, they went on to blitz the crowd with 50 minutes of sonic gore. Eric Cutler, Danny Coralles and Joe Trevisano made the most of the stage, with the enormous Coralles really going for it. Remember that Reifert plays drums and does vocals, so the guitarists do need to keep active.
I met the band at one of the bars in the venue after they played. They were drinking beers and chatting, just hanging out and being totally relaxed. They really seemed to be friendly guys and it was a real privilege to meet them. So much so that when they were pulling faces in the photos all I could do was grin…
Oh yeah, Danny Coralles is even bigger up close!
So on to Bolt Thrower whose show ended the night. This band produces a live sound that is a sonic wall of power. Mixing faster passages and numerous slower, heavier sections with downtuned guitars, pounding double bass drums, Karl Willets’ guttural vocals and Jo Bench’s thundering bass. They kicked off with the title track of their debut album from 1987, In Battle There Is No Law!, a thrashing death metal track which had the crowd going mental and they stayed mental throughout the show.
This was a great event, made all the more special knowing that a charity has benefited so much from it. All the bands and the people in the background who made it happen deserve a lot of praise for this, and getting to meet the guys from Autopsy was the icing on the cake.