13 People You’ll Bump Into At An Extreme Metal Festival
Extreme metal is as much about passion as it is about music. It’s part subculture, part cathartic fight-club, part family. That’s what makes events like Glasgow’s incredible Lords Of The Land festival more than just another gig to be checked off the calendar. They’re an occasion – for the likeminded from across the spectrum to come together, get cataclysmically wasted and bash heads in the front-row fray.
With a line-up boasting the returns of thrash titans Dark Angel and Demolition Hammer to Scotland for the first time in three decades, there’s no lack of excitement – just ask the heavyweight being stretchered out with a dislocated knee and a grin on his face. And with a supporting line-up packing in Bloodbath, Unleashed, Carpathian Forest, Cannabis Corpse, Vallenfyre and Lawnmower Deth, the aural beatdown simply won’t let up.
It’s rejuvenated crossover kings Discharge, though, who sum up the atmosphere most concisely in a brief break from spinning the pit.
“[People] came out today because this is something they believe in…” seethes vocalist Jeff ‘J.J.’ Janiak. “I don’t want no part of that outside world!”
Quite. And with that, let’s find out who exactly those people are…
THE TRAVELLING ULTRAS
Jona, Morris & Oscar, Barcelona
Metal fans travel like no others. It’s to do with the passion; the adventure; that knowledge that you’re part of a community where you’ll be welcomed with open arms. Wandering around the inside of the Barrowlands today, we meet folk from Germany, the Netherlands, The United States and this rambunctious crew from Spain. “Did we travel over just for this show?” they grapple with our question, somewhat incredulously, between inhalations of beer. “Well, of course we did: they’ve got Dark Angel and Demolition Hammer on the bill!”
MR BLACK METAL
Some fans turn up to events like this hungry for the heat of battle. Others turn up in search of that bristle of frostbite. You’ll be able to spot the black metaller by their daubed-on corpsepaint, the 1,000-yard stare, the inimitably grim air and – ever so occasionally – the inexplicable reek of rotting flesh left in their wake. There’s a knowing mixture of the ridiculous and the sublime about these sorts. It’s a trait gleefully highlighted by their heroes in Carpathian Forest this afternoon as they cover Turbonegro’s All My Friends Are Dead. Just don’t expect any of that self-referential silliness to come with a smile…
Things not to say at a metal show #1, ‘Aren’t you a little old for this sort of thing?!’ Metal is a lifestyle, and - sort of like a puppy that you didn’t initially realise was going to grow into this snarling Rottweiler of obsession – it’s for life. There’s a familiar, knowing chant of ‘OLD MAN STAGEDIVE’ as this silver fox is hoisted over the top for his first crowdsurf of the day. “I’ll never forget my first mosh-pit – September 19, 1977 – Adam & The Ants,” he reminisces with a wry smile. “After that, I got into punk: bands like The Jam, The Clash and The Ramones. I got into my favourite metal band Napalm Death through John Peel. I fell out of it for a few years, but when my son started bringing me to Metallica and Slayer shows I realised I still get that same buzz of excitement.”
THE METAL HIPSTER
You know this guy. He loves his metal (seriously, it doesn’t get better than Deafheaven, does it?), but you can’t seem to get into an in-depth conversation without him telling you about his ultra-eclectic tastes and how much he’s into the coolest new rap record. “It’s amazing to have a show like this in my hometown – all day on the Barras Diesel [a local cocktail of beer, cider and blackcurrant cordial]. I love the variety that you can get within the extreme genre, with a nice bit of black metal, thrash, and even some crust punk. Still, next year I’d love to see a co-headline with Converge and Run The Jewels.” Does anybody know where the van selling mashed-avocado burgers is parked?
THE HUMAN CANNONBALL
Crash-helmets and gum-guards at the ready. There’s your everyday mosh-monster, and then there are machines like this. “Some people try to take look after their bodies,” he tells us in between crashing through a group of ageing Germans like skittles on a bowling alley and picking them back up so he can knock them down all over again. “I don’t. Also, the mixture of extreme music and mild cardio I get at events like these might be the only thing between me and a heart attack…”
People you wouldn’t expect to find at a festival like Lords Of The Land: Michelin-starred chefs. If there’s one thing never to be forgotten, though, it’s that metal truly is for people from all walks of life. It’s an opportunity to unshackle that other side of yourself; to exorcise any bad vibes through the catharsis of the pit. For this big lad – standing a solid 6’4” and with a saucy chef’s temperament that would have Gordon Ramsay retreating to his condiment cupboard, being able to get away from a stressful working lifestyle is imperative. “You can work with the same people every day of the week and feel like you share nothing. But then you come to an event like this and get into a darkened room with a few thousand strangers and feel connected by one common interest…”
THE GOOD-NATURED LURKER
Meet one of metal’s quiet men. Reminding us that it’s not all about chaos and confrontation, Ally explains, “I’m not really one for going in the pit, but that doesn’t mean you won’t see me headbanging and throwing horns. I spend most of my time at a festival running around between stages with my meticulously-planned custom spreadsheet trying to catch as many bands as possible. I’m just a friendly, approachable fellow who’s always chatting with randoms, making new friends and catching up with all the others I’ve met over the years!” Hugs all round.
You got a minute to chat, sir? Er, no? Never mind. Eyes glued to his phone and barking instructions into a perma-buzzing radio, it’s not easy being the architect behind an event like this. In between co-ordinating arrivals and scrambling to meet outlandish rider requests, you’re likely to catch the men behind live music stepping back to cheekily admire the congregation they’ve helped bring together. Not for long, though. Because someone just buzzed through that there’s a nasty looking traffic warden circling the tour buses outside. The joy.
“Never ever feed me drink and drugs after midnight – you never know how it’ll turn out…” Er, it’s always after midnight in a way, mate… Meet the resident mischief-maker, relishing the perfect storm of all-day inebriation, a hall full of like-minds and a soundtrack to the apocalypse to cause trouble to. “I’m the real deal, not a poser!” he assures us, somewhat defensively, as we question whether he wouldn’t be having just as much fun at chucking rocks at a riot or enjoying the impending collapse of western civilisation. There’s no shame, though, in turning up for a bloody good time…
Paul & Gina, Leeds
Euan & Iona, Edinburgh
Battle-jacket? Check. Beer in hand? Check. The air of individuals ready to fling themselves off the speaker-stack in the first five seconds of a particularly gnarly riff? Check-mate! Thrashers are the denim-uniformed footsoldiers of the metal community: conscripted for life on that first spin of Kill ’Em All, ready to jump in headfirst at the first sign of action, and – without fail – some of the friendliest fuckers you’re likely to meet in life. It’s testament to their passion and durability, too, that between the goofy party-thrash of Lawnmower Deth at 11:30 in the morning and Dark Angel’s tornado of evil drawing things to a close towards midnight, they’re the only subset of punters still throwing down (er… and up) where so many others have faded away.
SEEN-IT-ALL MERCH DUDE
Adam (Lives on the road, obvz)
“Have you got change for a fifty, mate? What do you mean, ‘Get fucked!?’” This is a man who’s seen a thousand venues and hawked them all. It seems like something of a cliché for musicians to refer to members of their crew as ‘part of the band’ nowadays, but watching a gent like this dealing with his endless queue of pissed-up punters, rushing through the photo-pit to grab the requisite social media shots and rushing through the crowd to pass-out hand-printed flyers, it’s hard to deny that these guys are vital cogs, particularly when the band’s still rooted to their punk foundations like Discharge.
Mine’s an XL!
THE NEW-SCHOOL OLD-SCHOOLER
Extreme music always moves forward with at least one eye on the past. It’s why events like this (none of the acts in attendance having been around for any less than a decade) aren’t written-off as ‘nostalgia’ fests. They’re about heritage. Accordingly, there’s a certain breed of fan who resides on the cutting-edge of cool, ever-ready to get behind the next big thing, but only after having earned stripes in attendance for legends like these. PLUS: having so many bands you’re into leaves your patch-collection looking fucking badass!
What’s that, just another face in the crowd? Weren’t you on the other side of the barrier last year, mate? Of course, it’s legendary Acid Reign singer Howard ‘H’ Smith. Like all the best legends he’s a man of the people, equally happy to be standing on either side of security for a show like this. “The old school still care just as much as they did,” he grins. “They might creak a little bit more than they used to. They might have a few more responsibilities. They might have kids. But when a bill like this comes along, they’ll put real life on hold. At event’s like this, it’s not about the ‘old-school’ and the ‘new-school’ – on days like this, school’s out! I’m actually staying on a sofa belonging to the 22-year-old son of a friend of mine. I’m on the sofa and he’s in bed. Isn’t that supposed to be the other way round?! He’s only really desperate to see two bands today: Dark Angel and Lawnmower Deth. So we’re in from start to finish. And what do you know? Lawnmower Deth get me onstage to do a song!”