First launching in 2018 with all of three bands, Primordial General Mayhem has since evolved to become an expansive two day congregation of some of rock and metal's biggest and brightest.
Primordial Radio, the UK’s premier Rock & Metal station, hosted The Primordial General Mayhem 2022 on April 22nd and 23rd inside a state-of-the-art Epic Centre at Lincolnshire Showground. Showcasing some 20 different artists spanning two stages with no clashes, the energy and enthusiasm of the weekender was as palpable as it was infectious.
In a two-day stretch filled with highlights, here are some of the especially memorable takeaways from the 2022 edition.
Being the first band of the weekend at a festival shouldn't be an easy task but Cage Fight didn't seem to get that memo, as within three scathing, snarling tracks of their brand of hardcore, they have turned a fairly placid, unsaumming crowd into a frenzy of limbs with multiple moshpits throughout the set. Vocalist Rachel Aspe (ex-Eths) sounds ferocious throughout but on new song 'Guillotine', could be mistaken for a demon, quite contrary to guitarist James Monteith (also of Tesseract) who looks like he's just having the time of his life, as per. Cage Fight's set is 30 minutes of bile and spite, with the band not missing a beat throughout and leaving the crowd fully pumped for the rest of the night. Make sure to grab their debut LP on May 13th, but strap in.
To see an artist so globally revered and popular as Devin Townsend rock up in the middle of a Friday afternoon to play a 30 minute set with just his acoustic guitar and laptop to 1200 people is quite something in itself. That he appeared early on stage to do his own set-up, wearing his most casual of t-shirts and jeans, then proceeded to blow every single person in the crowd away with his frankly ridiculous vocal range and immense songwriting ability, coupled with his humour and humility, is an absolute testament to the man. Looking around the crowd, it was clear to see many who were fairly unfamiliar with much of Devin's work (myself included), and within the first song most of us had our jaws firmly on the floor, elated in ecstacy throughout at just how magic music can be. Devin approached this set with so much excitement, you'd think it was his first; the crowd for acoustic gigs can be quite hard to gauge from an artist's perspective but he had everyone in the palm of his hand from the off, including the couple of kids in the audience that he spontaneously sung a song to. As he wraps, everyone here is wishing for more, but we're also aware we've just witnessed something quite spectacular from one of the greats of our genre.
Headlining the night is Florence Black, hard rockers from South Wales on the back of their 2021 album Weight of the World. They're the sort of band that a lot of the crowd here will have been appreciating for years now - it's solid, classic hard rock with big riffs, massive choruses on songs like 'Zulu', and heaps of energy to boot. It's a great way to finish off the night - everyone is sated and ready to do it all over again tomorrow.
Opening day 2 is Delilah Bon, the new project from Lauren Tate that fuses elements of club-pop, rap, industrial and metal in a way that sounds genuinely fresh, exciting and authentic. Tate, along with her bassist and DJ bounce off each other so well, and their serious lyrical themes of female empowerment and some pressing issues in today's world are paired well with their fun, neon aesthetic and, during their last song, full choreography. It's rare for a vocalist to excel at everything they attempt, but Lauren Tate here can sing, scream and rap with the best of them, even going full Christina Aguilera at one point in 'War On Women'. It wouldn't be surprising to start hearing Delilah Bon's name in a lot more places, as here they've managed to convert every single person who was looking skeptical when they came on stage, by the end of their set, emphasised by the fact they had by far the biggest queue for merch of anyone all weekend. (Also, in a continuation from yesterday's theme of artists treating the kids here well, Delilah Bon finished their set by throwing out plush toys to the littluns in the audience, which is definitely one of the cutest things I've seen at a show).
Whilst the lineup at Primordial this year spans far and wide, would it really be an alternative festival without at least one good old-fashioned metalcore band on the bill? Defects provide a decent showing of that, heavily rooted in the sounds of the early 2010s, for those of the crowd that like their riffs downtuned and their choruses catchier than the common cold. Vocalist Tony Maue is the star here with a huge range and a hefty scream, but the songs are well-written enough (and with a sprinkling of Slipknot in their sound), to keep the metalheads here happy.
The heaviest band of the weekend at a festival where heaviness isn't really the selling point, Vexed begin their set with a relatively small crowd, but by 30 minutes later when they're finished, the room has trebled in size from everyone that was just passing by, realised there was a really fucking great band playing, and were drawn to stay. Nearly a year on from the release of their debut LP Culling Culture, those songs still sound as fresh and vibrant as ever, and 'Hideous' has to be one of the absolute best, most punishing openers to a set going at the moment. Vocalist Megan Targett sounds even better live than on record, with the most guttural growls heard all weekend but a breathtaking clean vocal too. It's always impressive how 'normal' Vexed look, before seconds later they have ripped your face clean off with their massive riffs. With their second album firmly in the works, the heavy scene better watch out for Vexed, because they have the ability to go supernova.
Hot off the release of their highly acclaimed third record Bob Vylan Presents: The Price of Life, the punk rock/hip hop duo use this weekend to give the live premiere of some of those songs, but first choose to start their set with some light yoga, albeit over a fairly aggro beat. Throughout their 45-minute set, Bob Vylan manage to turn the room into their personal playpen, clearly stoked on their journey to be able to be here today, as they detail when talking about their rough background and why they are doing what they're doing (and it really feels like they need to). They're angry at the state of the UK and rightly so, but are also wary of the children in attendance, so very cleverly (and also quite hilariously) used a kid's TV show as an allegory for one of their songs about the London Metropolitan Police - "imagine if Paw Patrol terrorised people of colour". Interestingly, the duo pull by far the biggest crowd and pits of anyone all weekend, testament to how good they are, but also how important they are. They clearly have diehard fans here too - frontman Bob hands over the mic to a woman in the crowd for pretty much an entire song and she nails every word. During the last song of the set, there is a stage invasion of what must be about 100 people, and it's a real celebration of the band and what they stand for - the album is currently sitting in the UK charts, on Bob Vylan's own, entirely independent label, so go pick it up if you can - these guys deserve every good thing they get.
As Everything Unfolds
As Everything Unfolds are a band that can't be easily categorised and it shows. Elements of pop, post-hardcore and metal with weird song structures clearly confuses some of the crowd here, but by a few songs in, everyone is going with it. Vocalist Charlie Rolfe has the chops to suit the massive choruses and the screams to suit the heavier parts of the songs, but it doesn't feel like the musical mix is quite there just yet, but does feel it will be soon. Keyboardist Jon Cassidy is a great watch, so into what he's playing and headbanging like he's in the heaviest band in the world. A good set by a good band who definitely have the potential to be great, Could really do without the airhorn sound effects between nearly each song though.
Kris Barras Band
What a weekend it's been, and the Kris Barras Band are a solid choice to wrap it all up. Somewhere between Black Stone Cherry and Bon Jovi with a more country influence in the vocals, the four-piece are super tight and Kris himself is reminiscent of the guitar heroes of old. Stunning vocal harmonies between the members, Kris Barras Band could be a great gateway into alternative music for people who are still a little scared of the heavier end of things, so that can only be a positive. The group are very good at what they do, go down well and everyone here leaves the venue having had a wonderful two days.
Massive credit to Primordial General Mayhem for not only being a fantastic weekend, but also for managing to replace both their original headliners only a few days before the festival started. The atmosphere over the two days was great, the bands superb, and the crowd amazing. The lineup itself had zero cohesion, but that managed to work in the festival's favour as it got fans of more specific scenes in our world to see bands they would probably be unaware of otherwise.
After the last few years, it feels incredible to be back at festivals (even if I did somehow manage to get sunburnt, even though it was a 90% indoor event). Great work to everyone involved, let's do it all again next year!