April 8, the hottest day of the year so far in the UK and a couple of hundred metal fans are milling around the dark confines of Canal Mills in Leeds for the second Ritual Festival which sees headliner Ihsahn joined by thirteen other bands split across two stages which, other than the various food and extreme metal merch stalls dotted about the venue, has more of the feel of an old-school all-dayer than an actual festival.
For nine hours, extreme metal fans are assaulted with a barrage of brutality from hardcore to grindcore to doom which, despite his standing in the extreme metal scene, makes the choice of Ihsahn as headliner something of a strange choice. Of course, his credentials are a league above everyone else on the bill but following the brutal grind of extreme metal super group All Pigs Must Die, the hateful fury of Anaal Nathrakh and the grinding sludge of BossK, the progressive leanings of the Norwegian frontmans’ bring the event to a more serene conclusion.
Elsewhere, the second stage saw Scouser grinders Corrupt Moral Altar blast through thirty minutes of bowel-crushing hate, Canvas bring a dash of hardcore twist to proceedings, The Afternoon Gentlemen causing mischief with their snotty grindcore and headliners Misery Index batter what was left of the everyone’s senses into a gibbering submission.
Aside from the odd stage clash due to overrunning and Ihsahn suffering horrendous technical issues which resulted in almost an hour delay before he finally took to the stage, Ritual Festival gave extreme metal fans exactly what it said it would do on the tin. So, we’ll see you next year for 2018’s event… that’ll give us just about enough time for our pulverised eardrums to recover.