On a bastard hot summers eve, hordes of thirsty and sweaty fans have toddled down to the Garage for a night of superior musicianship and a display of skills.
And what better way to kick off than with the sublime Savage Messiah (8). A strong blend of thrashy riffs and uber-catchy songwriting is what the London-based foursome bring to the floor and they bring it in style. It's kind of like what Megadeth were going for with the dreadful 'Super Collider' but Savage Messiah can pull it off. “I quit my job today because they wouldn’t let me have time off to record our album” bellows frontman Dave Silver, which explains their fully committed performance. They pummel through a set that draws heavily from their forthcoming third album and based on what we've heard, it is going to be a belter. Although being able to call on huge, galloping tunes like 'Plague of Conscience' is always going to help your cause. It's a commanding show from start to finish, even if Dave looks to be suffering in the heat toward to end, and I would certainly expect something great when the lads wrap up their record.
Sticking with the thrash vibe but amping up the brutality are serial shredders Bloodshot Dawn (8), who also have come here with destruction in mind. You won't find the soaring high vocals of the previous band but a barrage of harsh screams and gutteral growls. Bloodshot Dawn are a nastier breed of beast but never sacrifice any of the elegance. The dual guitar attacks that lay siege to the Garage are furiously precise and wreck all the necks. The rhythm section is solid and they pound out a seismic foundation for frontman Josh McMorran and Benjamin Ellis to get creative over. Pushing bands like Decapitated and Kataklysm for technicality is no small feat. Bloodshot Dawn are an incredible young band with bigger things up their collective sleeves.
In between sets we are 'treated' to a bout of crap pop songs from DJ Trev (?) who seems to catch everybody of guard when he runs up on stage and drops 'Gangnam Style' to more that a few raised eyebrows. Gina G's one-hit wonder 'Ooh Ahh... Just a Little Bit' even opens up a circle pit! The novelty soon wears off and Trev takes his 'Macarena' elsewhere. It's fair to say that I didn't expect that.
The energy pulsing through the Garage is peaking and the anticipation is reaching critical levels, not to mention the sweat leaking out of everyone... ewww. But when the mighty Wintersun (9) do hit the stage, the place erupts. Teasing out the long but majestic intro and tearing into 'Sons of Winter and Stars' sends the London crowd into a state of delirium. Every single person seems to be a die-hard fan as every syllable is echoed back at the visibly ecstatic Jari Maenpaa – the mastermind behind Wintersun. His virtuosity and smooth playing style is a joy to behold and the whole band seem spurred on by his fretboard magic. Their densely-layered soundscapes can be hurtling along at ridiculous speeds one minute and get all spacey and atmospheric during the next, it is a truly unique spectacle. Drummer Kai Hahto, who has been on board since the bands origins, adds his own flair and drama to proceedings with his supreme accuracy and pace behind the kit. So, it is another magnificent triumph for the Finnish folk masters and it is easy to see why they have amassed a cult following.