Last day (boo) and it was up to Wretched Soul  to smack everyone round the face first thing with their ungodly death/thrash attack. Some may say it’s too damn early for this shit but we were all for this kind of wake up call! Ferocious and lacking in remorse, Wretched Soul’s ghastly witchcraft cast an eerie spell on those who’d gotten their asses out of bed early. Scotland’s own Excellent Cadaver  kept the heaviness flowing with their deathly metalcore providing oodles of groove and a fine vocal performance from Andrew Downie. So far, so heavy, so good! It was up to All Consumed  then to take things to the next level and their mid-tempo death metal was a body-slam to the system, all growls, grooves and grins; an often missed level of fun forming a vital part of their ferocity. No more so than on their death-ified version of The Proclaimers “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”, a crowd-pleaser that prompted Sunday’s first sing-song. Death metal has no right being this damn entertaining! Avenford  then bought a European power metal feel to proceedings but the majority of their material fell flat, awash with ideas that the likes of Helloween had honed decades ago. Talking of flat, the deadpan, between song, delivery of Kayley “Hell Kitten” Davies from Sky Valley Mistress  was perceived as lacking in effort by some but we found her – and the band – to be alluring, a stage presence focused solely on rock and roll. Building in intensity as their set progressed, a couldn’t give a fuck aura to these youngsters that marks them out as the real deal. The fact they have some cracking songs in their back-pocket will only aid their progression. Future stars in the making. From the future to the past, as NWOBHM stalwarts Soldier  proved that time does not dilute raw talent and these battle-scarred veterans are fighting harder than ever. Foot-stomping, defiant and taking no prisoners, their anthemic calls-to-arms are comfortingly classic, no fucking with the formula and simply providing straight-up NWOBHM thrills! Hell’s Addiction  were up next and their gloriously dirty rock was a sweary, leathery, greasy delight. Channeling the dangerous fun of prime Mötley Crüe and Guns N’Rose’s, their new album, Broken, is released on July 2nd (soon to be reviewed in these pages) and will be a rip-roaring treat. Kane’d , the Wilson Phillips of rock/metal, made the journey up from Wales and while their unique selling point are the three improbably pretty sisters at the helm – whose combined vocal harmonies are off the chart impressive incidentally – there’s more to this band than mere pretty faces. The rain may have dampened proceedings at this point but Kane’d certainly put more than a few smiles back on people’s faces. The Iron Maiden-isms of Portsmouth’s Dendera  kept spirits high with a well-honed performance of ambitious classic heavy metal tunes but Sunday’s first must see band was the fast-rising Stone Broken . Delivering an exceptional debut album in the shape of All In Time at the beginning of the year -a fully-formed hit with nary a duff moment – catching them live had been on Worship Metal’s wish list ever since. They didn’t disappoint. Huge songs, flawless delivery and a knack for a fiendish melody or two had the sizeable crowd in raptures. File them under ‘will be huge’. The final NWOBHM band of the weekend happened to be a doozy. Vardis , one of the pioneers of the scene, are highly respected elder statesman. Playing in Scotland for the first time in 30 years, Steve Zodiac and co. punched out old classics alongside material from the recently released Red Eye, proving that the old guard are a long way from putting down that “dirty old telecaster” for the final time. Now into the business end of the festival, it was left to Dorje  to provide something fresh and keep those still in attendance on their feet. Fortunately, they were more then up to the task! Dorje have an uncanny knack of making extremely technical metal both catchy and overflowing with groove – you can mosh to them while simultaneously marvelling at their intricacies – and this is one band that fully deserves wider recognition. With “Aeromancy” proving as impressive live as it did on their outstanding Catalyst EP, Dorje’s set felt all too short…we could have listened to these guys for days. Bring ’em back Wildfire! They don’t come more gloriously retro than Colour Of Noise  whose love for Bad Company, Zeppelin and the greats of 70’s rock is writ large on their exceptional songwriting. “Head On” and “Can You Hear Me”, the latter channeling Queens Of The Stone Age alongside their 70’s heroes, were 10/10 stompers, replete with massive choruses and the powerful vocals of Matt Mitchell. A storming end to the Infernus Stage on a stormy day that battered Wildfire with rain but did nothing to dampen spirits! The Jokers  closed what had been an exceptional weekend for rock and metal with a last hurrah for back to basics rock and fuckin’ roll! Prompting smiles and impromptu drunken dancing all round, they were an ideal way to wind Wildfire up.
Shattered but happy, those still in attendance knew they had been part of something unique and tickets for Wildfire 2017 went on sale the very next day.
2017 can’t come quick enough….be a part of it!