The first Hit The Deck Festival has been marketed as the alternative to Nottingham's other DHP-promoted multi-venue festival Dot-To-Dot, but Hit The Deck is anything but alternative in the true sense of the word. Merely, it is 'alternative' in the corporate branded, Kerrang! TV friendly manner, where metal is mollycoddled and packaged as a fashion; where every riff is filed free of any rawness and spirit, yet still pushed to the point of clipping incase the latest I-pod has a volume limit that doesn't allow for tinnitus without being overridden.
Inevitably, you have to trawl through an ocean of dross to find anything worthy of note. Summerlin and Evarose abort the type of insipid pop-punk that was annoying enough when created by bands across the Atlantic a decade ago, the latter being slightly more of-the-moment by simply tracing Paramore.
Elsewhere, other bands bring more aggression and a higher tempo but just as little originality. Exit Ten and The Ghost Inside apparently sit within the bracket of 'metalcore', but don't quote me on that. Indeed, both bands taking the very worst elements of both genres; the overused, uninspiring riffs of the former and the incessant preening of the latter, but it is hard to find anything to hang a definitive description on.
Fortunately, the festival does have a saviour, namely the Norwegian sextet Kvelertak. The bands irresistible blend of punk, hardcore, black-metal and traditional rock 'n' roll has gained them a reputation of being one of the most exciting bands encroaching any of the genres listed above. 2010's self-titled debut full-length was a highlight of a young decade, and very few albums in the previous one stand at the same level. It may represent a peak in metal that is the benchmark for the next nine years in the same way that fellow Scandinavians MinÃºs overshadowed hardcore with 2000's 'Jesus Christ Bobby', but Kvelertak have enough time to better themselves.
Live they are an even more ferocious beast, with perma-shirtless lead vocalist Erlend Hveljik driving each song forward with guttural screams of fervour. Without question they will be the one act not to miss across the whole line-up.
What could have been an interesting premise and an opportunity to showcase truly exciting 'alternative' bands in the same manner as Birmingham's 'Supersonic' has unfortunately been ruined by a line-up that, rather than showcasing the best new acts in its mother genres, merely ticks boxes that may appease Atticus, Macbeth and statistics in their target demographic but challenges nothing, and strays far from being a true alternative.
Jordan Dowling) ) ) ) )