Photos (c) Sharron Wheeler-Davies
It’s quite remarkable to see so many metalheads in a Wetherspoons. Not unpleasant, though.
OK. It’s Saturday morning, and I’m up early. I make it time for a fry-up. I fall into what is usually a very normal café in town for a large breakfast, to find myself surrounded by metalheads with the same idea. Is there some sort of gathering happening? Oh, yes. The second day of Temples Festival is about to kick off. Best eat up and get down there, then.
Arriving on site for another ten hours or so of the most crushing music known to man, I rendezvous with a friend and line up in the main stage for Celeste, who turn out to be a wake-up call akin to having your bed set on fire. The Frenchmen are barely four silhouettes under heavy smoke, that we wouldn’t be able to see at all if not for the head mounted red laser lights they’re wearing. This dark visual perspective compliments the mood of their harrowing post-metal superbly.
Sonance appear next on the main stage, making a triumphant return after wowing the crowd at last year’s event. Hailing from Bristol itself, these four chaps assault both our ears and eyes by playing their bleak and despondent drone metal perfectly, accompanied by a disturbing video backdrop, capturing everything from desolate landscapes, to kaleidoscope patterns, to images of mental anguish that wouldn’t be out of place in a Sopor Aeturnus video. Brilliant work.
After wandering outside, I have a chance meeting with one of my musical heroes (not appearing on the bill), and need to calm down a tad before watching anyone else. No, of course 1600 hours isn’t too early to neck a cider. This is Bristol, don’t you know. Feeling relaxed again, I move to the third stage to watch our local post-hardcore darlings Svalbard, who absolutely beast it as always. They treat us to a couple of new songs, which really crank the atmospherics up a notch from what we’ve seen and heard before. Much like in 2014, this lot provide one of the sets of the weekend.
My companions and I, noting the long queues for food, pick this moment to enjoy dinner at the pub round the corner. It’s quite remarkable to see so many metalheads in a Wetherspoons. Not unpleasant, though.
Upon our return, it’s time to fall into the main stage once more, to enjoy Pig Destroyer, who are playing for the second time this weekend. I wasn’t able to catch their grind set last night, but I’m not bothered, as tonight I’m witnessing them play the far more interesting “Natasha”, their near-hour-long doom opus. It isn’t often you can say you’ve seen a band play a full length set that consists of just one song. It’s so heavy I can feel every bass note vibrate through my boots even at the back of the room. Ranging from doom to sludge, to drone and post metal, the Virginia veterans provide a captivating experience from start to finish.
I just manage to squeeze into the second stage, to watch the thoroughly avant-garde Triptykon. Thomas Gabriel Fischer et al do exactly what we expect of such a seminal name. They give us massive highs, enveloping lows, plus all the energy and presence you’d expect of such consummate professionals.
The job of closing out this unreasonably fantastic day falls to Sunn O))). Having seen a diagram of the amplifier setup they’ll be using in advance, the first thing I do is make sure all of my friends have earplugs. The Seattle veterans begin, and every cell in my body shakes as the decibel levels go to nearly 120. One friend, who suffers from a heart condition of sorts, actually has to leave the room. Another comments that witnessing a Sunn O))) set is like “watching a car crash, only in hyper slow motion.” He’s absolutely right. Their brand of noise/drone metal is distressing, unfathomable and hazardous to your mental health, but impossible to look away from. Their two-hour sensory assault comes to an end, and I find myself wondering whether sleep or the pub would best help me recover. Oh, of course it’s the pub. Maybe a quiet one, though.
Head to day one here, and stay tuned for day three.
Check out Svalbard’s ‘Flightless Birds’ right here: