Some confusing back-to-front billing at this annual metal-fest
WHAT'S not to like about the annual Jagermeister tour? In return for a bit of corporate sponsorship from the syrupy alcoholic beverage folks, audiences get to see a bunch of rising metal acts for a recession-friendly fiver, while the bands enjoy a guaranteed full house.
This year's headliners were an odd mix, however, and the running order rather peculiar. Gojira are the more popular act, who've been going for more than a decade and have traversed the UK several times.
Ghost are something of an unknown quantity for many, and this is their first major British tour. But their theatrical production meant that they got to play last, much to the vocal disapproval of a minority of partisan punters.
Few could have predicted that a quartet of French eco-warriors would be acclaimed in some quarters as the future of metal, but that's the burden Gojira have to shoulder. Theirs is an accomplished blend of polyrhythmic, technical metal and political lyrics, whose subtleties are often sacrificed in favour of bludgeon in the live arena. That said, Joe Duplantier has developed into a commanding frontman, you can't argue with the aptly titled The Heaviest Matter in the Universe, and L'Enfant Sauvage is both crushingly heavy and strangely beautiful. If they're not the new Metallica, they might just be the new Machine Head.
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Fronted by Papa Emeritus II, who's surrounded by hooded Nameless Ghouls, Swedish sextet Ghost prize their anonymity. In fact, it's not difficult to find out who they are, but exposing them only appeals to the kind of spoilsports obsessed with uncovering Banksy's identity.
Appearing in a fug of incense and smoke, Emeritus sports a particularly fine mitre and robes decorated liberally with inverted crucifixes. But whereas most Satan-fixated metallers set out to conjure up the infernal sounds of Hell itself, Ghost seduce us into Lucifer's realm with the atmospheric, eminently hummable, keyboard-heavy melodic rock of Stand by Him, Elizabeth and the Blue Oyster Cult-esque Ritual. Tongues are firmly in cheeks here, and they rely rather too much on taped backing vocals, but it's hard to resist chanting those blasphemous lyrics all the way home.