After a day pottering around Frodsham Marsh and having more kidney pain due to the persistent stones of buggery I headed to this gig in hope of a good old noisy treat. Having attended one of the qualifying heats and been impressed, tonight’s final promised much. Rather than follow procedure and be where people would expect me to be I much prefer seeking out new sonica within each annual journey and so with 4 all time new bands for me to view tonight the pleasure should be all mine.

Once again upon arrival the start was delayed - the bands wanted to soundcheck - not a punk gig then bah! I wandered off, found a secluded corner and read a book on 'Garden Wildlife' by the knowledgeable dude Michael Chinery - see, always prepared. Back to gaff and still no doors so another wander, another read and the wind blew and a greenfinch called. Back again and hey presto - in we go. 6 bands for Fungal to assess and instead of going in to too much detail I am going to try and be terse, accurate and without digression. A hard task for this textual nomad and passionate sonic 'erbert but one must try!

Plagues hit the stage and gave a thick, syrupy lesson in hard thrashy metal core. The riffs were gale force in parts, more gusted in others but no matter which way the howling turned the set was kept tidy, efficient and well rehearsed. Several moments saw the band pound with unity which enhanced the outpouring and involved the crowd’s interest a little more. The band hail from Manchester and have only been around for a year or so but on this evidence one could easily believe that this was a well journeyed crew with all the erudite insight of hardcore fanatics. The standard has been set and it ain't half bad - get yer fuckin' weapons ready!

The Amorettes snuck in next and were one of he two bands I had seen win the heat stage from earlier in the week. 3 lasses, rockin' hard and plying a trade very much out of sync with what would transpire tonight. As expected the songs were borne from the bowels of the rock shithouse and smeared the gaff with delightfully stinking riffage and pounding rhythms. All 3 components can play (provided they don't drop a stick nudge, nudge) and this is very much the key factor in the bands success which is stating the obvious but sometimes the addled headed need to be reminded. Great structure to the songs, influenced by the old school long haired brigade and flowing quite nicely I like what this crew do even though my heart is spiked and riddled with glue. Again a darn decent set and one wondered if this opposing style would win through. 'Hot And Heavy' stood out but I'd be a fool to pinpoint a dud! Let the decisions commence!

Arke came next and hammered out a set with a little more melody than expected and yet ploughed deep furrows with some hard boiled moments that took a little adjusting to. Very dense of sound and all-consuming if you are easily blown away I digested this one slowly and towards the latter stages had got to grips with the style and sound the band were slamming forth. Technically bang on the mark and with a fuckin' good following in tow this is a crew to keep an eye on in their chosen sub-generic pool and certainly a unit to throw in the mix on more lighter gigs. As the set progressed the band gained stature and the fans foamed even more - would the judges (whoever they may be) take note?

Last Chance To Dance came to do damage and worked their scorched arses off to achieve just that. Repeated hammer blows were dealt and the wounded came back for more - such is the perversity of tech metal deviants. Sodden with focused aggression, built on intricate thrashing notes and with all inner guts blatantly brandished this was one to cause cerebral bleeding and very much a niche noise. I know many punkers who would walk away from this and say 'what a fuckin' racket' but I am more stubborn and even if the oncoming wind doesn't fill my sails I am more than happy to be blown along by the obvious confidence and belief. It did what it said on the highly polished tin and for the ones who are better in the know it fuckin' worked. A band I need to see again just to be sure of if ya get my drift! In the meantime I could always 'Eat A Dick' if ya know what I mean!

The second band I had seen previously earlier in the week were This Is Turin and to say I was taken aback would be a sore understatement. Tonight however the level was taken up a notch and as the cacophonous heavens opened and as the spirited outfit started their showcase the rains of hard rhythm were accompanied by numbing thunderclaps of noise that shook the gaff asunder and noticeably upped the ante. Forked lightning power struck the onlooker and this was a sure-fire episode of storm-driven sonica one didn't want any protection from. Soak it up ya fuckers, soak it up. Unbelievably this carnage isn't my chosen dwelling place but I can appreciate the tumult and chaos and very much enjoy if it is done with such accuracy. From first to last I was mesmerised and thoroughly entertained - will they win the contest - my wager is placed?

And lastly Betreaus. Well, going off the reaction to the intro this was the band who would win the popularity vote for sure. But would they win the overall event? The mix of quiet serenity and big, big splashing riffs surely made its presence felt and ignited the crowd into frenzied action. As I watched I found myself feeling rather out of it as I felt this was my least favoured band of the night. Technically superb, unpredictable and with a varied delivery this was a tight arsed lesson for sure but just passing me by and not hitting my inner musical zones. Again I need to see these dudes again but if I was put in a position to pick one band who wouldn't win tonight’s battle then these would be my choice. Think on - I have an opinion and right or wrong I put it on the line. A decent band but like I say just missing the Fungal target.

So that was it and rather than wait to see who won I fucked off home. Download means jack shit to me and the fact that bands are out there and playing the asses off pleases me no end. I know the festival is the Mecca for some and if that is the case then go fuckin' get em' but prestige, status and all that nob rot isn't the bread and butter of the scene yet I don't begrudge anyone going and having a good time provided they do the leg work ‘week in, week out’ first.

Anyway as I write this I have a peek on Facebook to see if This Is Turin have won and I can collect my bet. Guess what - Betreaus came through and won the day - which is all fine and dandy with me and sweetly re-enforces the point that I make about reviews and such textual assessments. It is the opinion of one passionate man and that is all. They are done to the best of my ability and in the time allowed from my hectic, idiotic lifestyle but hey, I get off me arse and try. Top congratulations to Betreaus and I hope you blow em' away at Download (literally he, he) and to all the other bands - well played, chin up and never, ever give in. 'Born a rocker, die a rocker' never seemed so apt!

review by OMD (30 May 2011)