It’s just two and a bit short weeks until Ritual Fest; Leeds’ premier showcase of grimness, will be upon us. With fifteen premier acts from the spheres of doom, deathgrind, blackened, extreme, progressive and basically anything grimy and furious scheduled across two stages, the organisers have really pulled out the stops this year, so we though we would give you a little preview of what to expect from the acts, and encourage you to pick up a ticket and head up (or down) to Canal Mills on April 8th.
Playing: 2:30pm, Main Stage
The earliest band of the day on our list, Conjurer have been making a name for themselves over the past year or so, but thanks to a series of clashing gigs it wasn’t until earlier this year that we got to see them and understand why.
Holy fuck. We’ve not been that impressed by a live band in a very long time; the sheer force of their performance is a product of both the intensity of their music, and the sheer gusto with which they perform it. Standing in front of guitarist and vocal monster Dan Nightingale is like staring into the face of a hurricane; the noises that come out of him are just a bit unholy.
Show your faces and prepare to be awed for a solid, uninterrupted half hour.
Playing: 5:30pm, Main Stage
The reactivation of Bossk in 2012 was one of the more exciting things to happen in post-metal in the last five years. Of course, it then took a further three for much of anything to happen, but last year’s album Audio Noir was an absolute fucking triumph, and Bossk don’t half know how to pull off that shit live.
We’ve covered them a fair amount over the last few years, and whether their 2013 ArcTanGent set, supporting Old Man Gloom in 2014, Amenra in 2015 - or any of the times we haven’t written about them – they’ve always had the goods.
A smokey atmosphere and minimal crowd interaction will meet audience members; facets lending themselves to an immersive, powerful performance. Not to be missed.
Playing: 6:40pm, Main Stage
For a band who basically winged it at a John Peel session, having never played ‘live’ before, Anaal Nathrakh aren’t half bad at it now. Fair enough, they’ve now been playing stages across the world for fifteen years, but it’s something of a feat nevertheless.
Through a wall of sheer intensity – blast beats, chainsaw-buzzing guitars and flashing lights – Anaal Nathrakh’s show is incendiary, and you’ll do well not to set on fire whilst watching it.
It’s unlikely you need any encouragement to put yourself in a room with them, but just in case: don’t be silly.
Playing: 8:40pm, Second Stage
At the deathier end of the spectrum, the utterly compelling Misery Index are enjoying a period of some of their finest work. Although not the quickest producers of work, Heirs To Thievery and The Killing Gods are by far their best to date, and with a release slated for some time in 2017, there’s a sly chance anyone heading over to the second stage around headline-time will catch something brand new.
Throttlingly brutal, the Baltimore four-piece appear to be more in the stand-and-deliver mould of performance, but it’s sweat-inducing stuff and the room is likely to be very lively. Bring your circe-pitting face.
Playing: 9:30pm, Main Stage
So much more than ‘former Emperor frontman’, Ihsahn is a major, major coup for Ritual Fest. Enigmatic and engaging, his presence at Complexity Fest last month was rapturously received, with even The Guardian in attendance, who called his set “a multi-faceted, idiosyncratic feast for the senses.”
Progressive music at its absolute best, with the right amount of bite – and probably an Emperor medley for good measure – if you’re not going just for this, you’re absolutely bonkers.
For more info on Ritual 2017, including tickets, lineup and transport, head to ritualfest.co.uk!