Mangata Festival - Review and Recap of Day 1 (16/07/2022)
Updated: Sep 5, 2022
Where does one even start after such an amazing weekend?
Arriving on site Saturday morning I had no expectations as to what the weekend would bring. Me attending was a last-minute decision and I went with next to no preparation and no expectations, which meant the weekend just gave me one positive surprise after the other.
The night before I had a glimpse at the line-up and had made some rather vague plans regarding which bands I would check out on both Saturday and Sunday but would also allow myself to just enjoy the music and be spontaneous, floating between the 3 available stages.
The festival itself was located at the Castle Rock Brewery in Nottingham with an almost perfect stage layout. The main stage was in the main area and visible as soon as you walked on site. Second stage was nestled perfectly in the old cold store which gave a nice intimate feel to each band’s set, but also brought much needed relief from the heat at times. The third stage was located to the right of the main stage. The idea itself was great to give smaller bands and solo artists a platform to perform, but I would have loved to see this stage a bit further away from the main stage as the soundcheck from there interrupted the performance on the third stage on more than one occasion. Maybe something to look at for next year’s set-up?
When at any event I like to watch the crowd, see who attends and how they enjoy themselves. With Mangata I was absolutely delighted to see how many people attended and how diverse the crowd itself was. Everyone was in a great mood, chatting and of course drinking between sets (it was a hot weekend after all) and when the music started blasting out of the speakers their attention would be on whoever was on stage.
Now let’s talk music – day one had one hell of a sick line up.
I started my day with Buried By My Heartache on the second stage who also opened up the festival itself. The Lincolnshire groove metal band had a great stage presence with a fun attitude that made the set overall really enjoyable.
With Munkey’s groovy and gravelly voice alongside some sick riffs, their sound was a perfect way to kick off the weekend. Also really loved the skull mic stand!
After that I moved myself over to the main stage where Froglord christened the stage with their self-proclaimed amphibian metal. Turning up on stage in their masks and cloaks they were set to push the boundaries of the metal norms. This band has completely messed with my head as on stage I could hear so many different influences from Slipknot, to Rob Zombie to Heilung yet when I listened to their songs at home, I heard influences like Conan and the like?
These amphibians certainly have their own style and I dig it! Not only was each song on point, they also stayed in character throughout the show which made the set even more fun to watch. These guys are the full package when it comes to a live show.
With Devastator being next on main stage and some time to spare, I quickly went to check out Replica Jesus on the second stage. Having seen these guys previously as an opening act for Raised by Owls, I knew what to expect – and of course they delivered their smooth Kyuss style sound. Being a bass heavy band, which I always enjoy, I don’t think the tech could handle just how heavy they would be. However, Replica Jesus being the professionals they are, the technical issues did not stop them from delivering a solid set and a good show.
Devastator was up next on the main stage and they brought their speed with them. Fast paced black trash metal at 2:30pm – just what the doctor had ordered. If anyone can get people to headbang in the heat at that time it, would be these guys.
Their set was a mix of skilled guitar shredding with almost melodic interludes and a great pace set by the drummer. Overall, gnarly and I am excited for their new album which is in the making.
I stuck around main stage as the next band I wanted to see was Draconian Reign. The dark symphonic death core band from Nottingham has 2 members who are also part of The Five Hundred, yet sound nothing like them. I half expected to hear the same style of music but was surprise to hear sounds that are much darker and aggressive. The band itself looked unified and polished when based on their music alone I would have expected 5 guys looking like Dimmu Borgir to stand on stage.
This band is just pure eye candy, but don’t be fooled by looks – their sound is absolutely sick. Mangata was only their second live show and if they hadn’t mentioned this on stage I would not have known. Their sound was polished, their attitude on stage was as if they have been on stage for years and the overall set was just flawless. They feel like they belong on stage and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.
Next up were Wolvencrown – again on main stage. An atmospheric metal band that was not at all on my radar to see. I had sat down in the backstage area to have a break, but once they started playing, their sound just pulled me back to the stage and I had to watch their set.
They have an overall grandiose and almost cathedral like sound that just completely pulled me in. It reminded me of a metal version of large-scale movie score that is just meant to be played to the masses. If you have the chance to see this band, do it!
Those Once Loyal continued the brutal sound on the main stage, but not until they enticed the crowd to get closer to the stage and get engaged. These guys finally got a mosh pit going in the crowd, so kudos to them as it was a hot day! Their sound took me a bit back in time to the early 2000’s which in all fairness was a great time for Metalcore. Thoroughly enjoyed the amount of crowd engagement from the band and how they managed to break the crowd out of their static rut.
The heat finally got to me at this point and I moved myself into the cold store to watch Wolves Don’t Sleep on the second stage. Starting their show with some confetti cannons for the atmosphere and fun, the band then continued with some unapologetic, uncompromising and unstoppable Metalcore. With them you literally get what is on the tin and they don’t disappoint if that is what you are after and the crowd seems to agree as more and more people made their way inside to watch the set.
Now let’s talk The Five Hundred. These guys have put on a show that would fully have given them the rights to be the headliner of the day. This band to me is the full package. The lyrics are well thought through, the sound is aggressive, yet soft, a mix of growling interlaced with melodic singing. There are thick riffs which are every now and again broken up with lighter sounds. The drums are equally thick and heavy, setting a great pace that makes you want to move your body. Their set was electric, exhilarating and explosive. I did not want it to end.
Each member of the band seems to know what role they play, and they execute it with precision. Overall, The Five Hundred brought energy to the stage that clearly crashed over the pit barrier and into the crowd as we saw mosh and circle pits as well as a wall of death! Hell, even I nearly threw my bag to the side and join in – in hindsight I wish I had! These guys have made it onto my “must see live” list and I am hoping to see the again soon.
The actual headliner of the day was Palm Reader – another Metalcore band that very much gave me vibes from bands like Enter Shikari and strangely The Used. Now I know I said The Five Hundred put on a show worthy of being the headliner, but these guys were just as good. You can’t really compare both bands, but they certainly also deserved to finish day 1 on the main stage. Once the last act on the second stage had finished, these guys had everyone’s attention as every single remaining person on site made their way over to the main stage. This band knows how to beautifully balance their songs between mellow anger and frustrated aggression which they express by mixing melodic singing with the brute force of spoken words.
What really caught me off guard was how well they convey emotions in their music. I could feel the pain and hurt behind the sound of “Hold/Release”. Palm Reader are a band that can switch from emotional to energetic – they went from pulling at the crowd’s heartstrings to sending them into a decent mosh pit with “Swarm”. Again, these guys deserved to finish the day as they were absolutely mesmerising to watch. Another must-see band.
Day 1 of Mangata was absolutely brilliant and I am sure I am not the first who has said this so far and I won’t be the last, but the Mangata team managed to organise a piss-up in a brewery and they did a cracking job! I can’t wait to see it come back next year.
All photos in this post are shot by Luke Agger-Joynes (watermarked) & Rebecca Marshall