For the 2nd year in a row, Worship Metal made the merry trek to Scotland’s Wildfire Festival for 3 days of beers, burgers and a bevy of bloody brilliant rock and metal bands! So much more than just a music festival, Wildfire is a family friendly event set in the most stunning Scottish scenery imaginable that also happens to have top class UK (and beyond) rock and metal acts causing chaos….the perfect combination for an unforgettable weekend.
Here’s the full Worship Metal verdict on an ever-growing festival that may have celebrated its 5th anniversary but is only just heating up. The spark has been lit!
Admittedly, we were still erecting our tent (fnar fnar) when 48 Hours and then Turbyne hit the stage and we humbly apologise for our tardiness! Next time lads, next time. Which means – for us anyway – the first band of the festival was the deceptively vicious Nest Of Vipers , a hard rock/heavy metal collective lead by the multi-voiced Hannah Jones who sings, screams and growls her way through some top class tunes. These guys perfectly balance melody and malevolence and are well worth checking out. Viper Strike! Wildfire 2016 saw the introduction of a second main stage and so it was straight off to catch the deliciously dark grooves of Dead Dollar Days . A more mellow proposition than some of the bands on Wildfire’s bill, their Muse-esque musings proved particularly enticing and eased an already growing crowd into the weekend while Rusted Hero  upped the sleaze factor with their dirty late 80’s sound; all hair, riffs and a Skid Row meets Guns N’ Roses vibe. Vice , on the other hand, turned the screw with a savage, thrashed-up metal onslaught that proved this years Wildfire was going to out-heavy previous incarnations. Vice’s forthcoming debut album is going to ferociously flay the skin from your freckly face if their blistering performance was anything to go by! In fact, Wildfire’s canny eye on the UK’s up and coming carnage-bringers was no more evident than when Divine Chaos  hit the stage. Holy hell, these guys mean serious business and their brutal thrash and feral performance laid down the gauntlet for those bands who like to wreck necks! Divine chaos indeed. Belfast’s Gasoline Outlaws  may be an entirely different proposition in comparison but their classic riffing and good-time grooves were equally as infectious. Stand out track “Nothing On Me” may prove to be prescient, these guys are the real hard rockin’ deal. The melodic hard rock of Orangefall  kept the energy crackling with 14 years of experience speaking volumes. These virtuoso’s from the valleys were a perfect fit for Wildfire and surely a return to Scotland is on the cards! However, it was soon back to the thrash and a band with pedigree. Celebrating over 20 years of fearlessly flying the flag for UK thrash, Solitary  returned to Wildfire to a bigger audience and a better reception than last year. And deservedly so, their coruscating classics “Predator”and “Keep Your Enemies Closer” are familiar favourites by now but it was the tracks aired from their forthcoming third album that proved the most thrilling. Showcasing Wildfire’s diversity – and the audience’s hunger for bands from all walks of life – The King Lot  and their mid-tempo rockers were a welcome surprise. With bags of charisma and a locker full of catchy anthems and fiendish hooks, these guys have a bright future indeed….and that’s your lot. One thing guaranteed at Wildfire is fun, frickin’ bags of the stuff and Demons Of Old Metal  – who’d been stalking the main arena for some time, fully dressed up in their shock garb – were a breath of fresh air (well slightly putrid but they are demons after all). Foregoing much of the cliched mask and make-up antics of Slipknot, Mudvayne et all, D.O.O.M live up to their old-school namesake and rocked like the classic metallers of old. Mason Hill  are on the rise and their performance at this years Wildfire proved that the hype surrounding these hard rockers is fully justified. Tighter than a ball-aching pair of ill-fitting leather slacks, their cover of “Mississippi Queen” divulges their classic influences but it’s Mason Hill’s own material that impresses the most. UK thrashers Die No More  practically secured themselves co-headlining status this year and their rise in the last 12 months has been a joy to behold. Taking Metallica and Annihilator’s 90’s melodic thrash blueprint and re-fashioning it for a modern thrash hungry audience, the band are noticeably on top of their game….and the huge crowd assembled certainly appreciated them. “Oblivious, “Dark World” and “Council Of War” may have been highlights but there was a powerful, confident sheen to their entire performance. The big time beckons! So, Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens headlining absence was noticeably regretful but fuck it, shit happens and the show must go on! Ironically, that Queen classic was just one of 3 outstanding covers from A Joker’s Rage , a band who defy categorisation and a band who, on face value, shouldn’t appeal to a metalhead and yet proved so unfathomably contagious that shit-eating grins and bouncing up and down like a loon became mandatory. “Bounce” is beyond catchy and should be played at every rock/metal club for the next decade and their cover of “I Am The Walrus” was simply brilliant. Worthy headliners? You betcha! Surprisingly special is the only way to describe them.
What a way to close the day but could Saturday beat it? You bet your ass it could!