Infest 2017:
Revolting Cocks/Die Krupps/Rotersand/iVardensphere/Accessory/end.user/Wulfband/NoyceTM/Vampyre Anvil/The Juggernauts/Empathy Test/Among The Echoes/Chemical Sweet Kid/Riotmiloo/Sidewalks and Skeletons/They Called Him Zone

Bradford University, West Yorkshire - 25-27 August 2017

"I just love Infest, even when the bands aren't to my taste"

Some words follow - they may seem a little tongue in cheek, and the pro-Infest sentiments are true. It's really great to see a UK festival taking risks, mixing new acts with old and getting those who wouldn't otherwise come to the UK over. It's more that some of the early acts were a bit weak. This year the sound was really not as good as it usually is in most cases - which was a shame.

Day 1: Friday 25th

They Called Him Zone
What might have been cutting edge and stylish nihilism in the 1980s comes across as pretty dull and charmless. Effectively channelling early Goth down to the compulsory shades just highlights how much the rest of the world has moved on.

Bubbling with presence and confidence firing a shotgun of variations on the theme of dark-edged lounge singing at a mostly confused audience who can follow the broad musical strokes whilst missing any lyrical subtlety in translation. A more hirsuite Ronan Harris who tries a little too hard?

[They Called Him Zone photo]    [NoyceTM photo]    [Accessory photo]   [Rotersand photo]

Photos [L-R]: They Call Him Zone, NoyceTM, Accessory, Rotersand

Infectious if straightforward beats touching lightly on other influences as well as the mainstream, without trying to offer anything too hard for the crowd to follow. Have to admire the construction of the sound that produces such a reaction from the crowd. Accessible might be a better name? But let's not get too snobbish.

There is always a problem when you are frankly most enthusiastic about your new material, but the audience wants the old, especially when the style has changed perceptibly. However Rotersand walked the path between artistic interest and audience with good success. Overall solid, even though it felt overall a little more subdued and slow to start than some other shows.

Day 2: Saturday 26th

In the world of noise acts it can be hard to stand out from the masses. Your sound may be unique to a degree but what you really need is a schtick. In a world which has medieval knights and C20th military fetishism a mostly incomprehensible screechy vocalist, whatever their gender, is not going to be enough. Though this afternoon with free added local talent. The underlying music isn't without merit, but the vocals try pretty hard to counterbalance that and drag it into the tedious.

Chemical Sweet Kid
Industrial rock of the unashamedly guitar variety from France with a front man who has no lack of presence or confidence on stage when given a chance. The original material is mixed - the tracks that work best don't rush quite as fast as the majority. It feels sometimes that the drum track dominates rather than supports the other parts of the music and the unrelenting programmed timing suffocates the live human parts.

[Riotmiloo photo]    [Chemical Sweet Kid photo]
   [Empathy Test photo]
  [Wulfband photo]

Photos [L-R]: Riotmiloo, Chemical Sweet Kid, Empathy Test, Wulfband

Empathy Test
Say 'synth' and 'big in Europe' and thoughts go more to europop than the thoughtful melancholia served up here. Mature and confident sound throughout though demanded a much better quality of PA then the stage had to offer.

You can probably judge age and formative musical years from your reaction to Wulfband. First channelling and then subverting angry early EBM where masks and muscles are about menace rather than clowns. And then the wrestling starts.

There's a choice with acts like this - surrender and go with what was a pretty accessible set, or try and fight it in which case its best to head for the bar. Range of influences expertly marshalled, though perhaps lighter on the breaks in the first half than had been signposted.

Die Krupps
When you have been around as long as Die Krupps it is clear that a crowd of 700 deserves the same show as a crowd of 7,000. What could cruelly be described as going through the motions is actually a slick, well rehearsed show. It may lack spontaneity and arguably at times authentic empathy with the audience but it is over an hour of entertaining rock music.

[end.user photo]    [Die Krupps photo]    [Among The Echoes photo]   [Sidewalks and Skeletons photo]

Photos [L-R]: end.user, Die Krupps, Among The Echoes, Sidewalks and Skeletons

Day 3: Sunday 27th

Among the Echoes
There comes a point in a man's life where he needs a hobby to keep himself from noticing how little he has achieved. Some people buy a sports car, some have an affair, others rediscover a lost childhood love for Lego, Doctor Who or model trains. Others play in a rock band.

Sidewalks and Skeletons
Confident without being ponderous, modern without being ostentatious. Mix of broad soundscapes showcasing a range of influence and perfectly washed over and revitalised the audience - many of whom seemed captivated without quite knowing why.

Vampyre Anvil
In an effort to investigate whether it is possible to have too much of a good thing, VA throw a number of influences into a cement mixer and see how they settle. On the plus the dark drum and bass foundations are broad enough to support most of what they layer on top, but all too often the vocals send the tower crashing to the ground in a jumbled mess.

[Vampyre Anvil Photo]    [The Juggernauts Photo]    [iVardensphere photo]   [Revolting Cocks photo]

Photos [L-R]: Vampyre Anvil, The Juggernauts, iVardensphere, Revolting Cocks

The Juggernauts
The music says old school straight EBM with a clear beat and semi comprehensible vocals; but the image says tongue firmly in cheek. Close your eyes and the stomp is there, but open them and that clarity of approach is lost, which isn't lost on the crowd whose interest noticeably wanes as the set goes on.

The beat is contemporary without being over complex - the crowd is grabbed by the sheer dominance of the percussion that you feel more than hear, the drums synchronize and amplify. There are no gimmicks, no lack of confidence, no indecision to give a chance to breath or escape - even if you wanted to. But there is a crack in flaw in the gem - the vocals. Thankfully though used relatively sparingly, the vocals are as likely to fight against rather than reinforce the noise - and that is just a terrible shame.

Revolting Cocks
Small eclectic festivals that draw from a broad base of artists can be wonderfully educational, especially when the headliners look to scene past more than scene future. So it is with RevCo, who bridge between EBM and industrial guitar rock - in a package honed by years of on-stage and studio practice. Despite initial sound problems (not for the first time this Infest) they soon get down to business and gift the crowd a solid set that serves up a treat to the fans.

Oh I just love Infest - even when the bands aren't to my taste. It is a really brave, innovative event that regularly brings bands to the UK for the first time.

Review: Alan Strode
Photos: (C) Simon @ Disturbing

Official Infest website:

See also:

Infest 2016
Infest 2015
Infest 2014
Infest 2013
Infest 2012
Infest 2010
Infest 2008
Infest 2007
Infest 2006
Infest 2003
Infest 2001
InFest 2000
InFest '99
InFest '98