Let’s tell you something about Incubate first; This cultural circus settles itself in Tilburg every year for a week. With art and theatre and music of various kinds, lectures and general cultural goodness it’s known to turn every pub into a venue. It’s not particularly known as a metal festival, however enticing us with a black metal Friday this year, billing names such as Immortal and Mayhem, we couldn’t resist to take a peek. This year Susanne Maathuis and Kaat van Doremalen will brave the tidal wave of different cultural influences to report on the darker and louder sides of this wonderful festival. On the 20th of September they were set up for a good night of some old-fashioned (and some new stuff) black metal. And even took a look at some nice doom on Sunday.
On Friday the 20th we went into the 013 for some frostbitten, aggressive, filthy and sick black metal. For starters we got some nice sludge shoved in our throats by Iron Witch, as first band on the metal program, they did rather nice with a full crowd. It was hard to get in the stage 01 from the beginning till the end of the evening; you could see that as an accomplishment. Iron Wich brings us screams that are made to kill some bass that oozes through your body and drums on your heart. Even though they didn’t bring us anything special, they set the mood for the evening. And we thank you for that.
Serpent Noir was up next in the Green Room (dutch name: Kleine Zaal) unfortunately they were doomed with a sound tech that was kind of wrestling with the overall sound. They started with a nice dark and atmospheric intro, which had caught the feeling of the whole set of this band. With songs about fire, ecstasy and infamous Draconian tradition they bring us vile and very dark black metal. They gave us an example of some real nasty and filthy black metal, and they did this well.
Khold brought us some very spherical riffs in a quite old-school way. This was some real nice black that battered on for the whole 45 minutes and didn’t bore at all time. In the front some nice headbanging was going on. Some of the people who got a week ticket (yes the festival takes part from Monday till Sunday) and didn’t know what was going on in the 013 were quite smashed by what was going on there. But after some of them left, some stayed and even they got the hang out of this blackness all around them.
Then Verbum Verus played in the small stage, this band is a local band from Tilburg. And they definitely ripped the place apart. Even the naïve ones to stand in front of the stage for some headbanging got sprayed on with blood; you saw people covered in blood leave the venue. Preaching and demanding these guys bring you some perfect shaped unholy riffs, sickening growls and drums that hiss at you like a rattle snake. Even adding some atmosphere with some incense drooling through the venue and candles lit up on the stage. They definitely earned their place on this bill, they bring you quality, they bring you the core and something to think about.
Following up was Gehenna on the main stage, they lend their name from the bible, that describes the place of Gehenna as a place outside of Jerusalem were children were sacrificed to the god Moloch. This rhythmic, aggressive, filthy and very battering black metal gives you a full package. Even with some steps outside for some nice doomy parts. They bring you little presentation; the band doesn’t do much on itself. But if you just listen to the music you can feel what it is about. It is some nice cult black metal, even existing for quite a while since 2013. A really nice show, nothing special, nothing shocking. But they are very convincing.
The same counts for Mayhem, they roamed the genre for quite a while and are still standing strong. Theatrical, dark, hard and provoking they put on a really nice and tight show. From the depths of hell front man Atilla Csihar is preaching for the darker ways. Bowing down on the audience that is head banging and being very enthusiast of seeing Mayhem on the 013 main stage. This clearly is a band with a lot of history, if we can say. We all know the story of Mayhem and we’re not going to repeat that here, just look it up on Wikipedia if you don’t know it. The provoking behavior really took part of the success of Mayhem. They have an enormous live reputation, and it is showing once again. But where there was once animal heads and blood there is now standard stage light and some relics held up by the front man. This is causing the show to get to theatrical sometimes. Mayhem sounds dark and vile and some dirty looks are thrown into the crowd to fuck them up some more. Guitars are ripping through your eardrums, drums and bass are fast as an oiled machine and they go together with vocals that rip through everything that is alive. It is clear that the reputation of the band is still standing. Last time they were in Tilburg they even thrashed a hotel room. We were thinking if they have been nice this time.
Finally it was time for Immortal to get on the stage. From the beginning of the show till the end of the show you’d got that oldschool feeling. The core of black metal was standing right in front of you, and that is why we wanted this experience from the front row. We landed into a wild crowd full of headbanging and moshing menace. A lot of the people in the crowd must have felt like they were thrown into a fucking candy shop and got locked up in happiness as the eight year old they all were in the past. This would be a full pyro show, and they delivered. To the fowl, deep and hard as shit black metal as they are they added pyro’s some fire-spitting and a lot of smoke. If you were standing in the crowd you have definitely have felt the intense heat coming from the stage. These guys deliver and give you a full on black metal live experience. Hell freezes over on stage, with some ultra fast drumming and some really nice riffs that are getting thrown in your face. These are the creators of frostbitten black metal, and they show you how it’s done. And they still are big examples for other black metal bands out there.
On Sunday the 22th we went back to the 013 for our little after party. Kick back and read our experience. Opening this day in the Green Room were crust punk/trash metal legends Doom; Their name is deceiving, where they rarely have songs spanning over 2 minutes and thrive more on an aggressive vibe than the genre they share a name with. Loud and hard-hitting these guys from Birmingham do get across a decent message, that is if you can make out any lyrics. All we can say it’s a great way to wake up. Renowned for their ability to start a pit anywhere we waited to see if the wild haired foursome would get the rather tired and thin crowd to do more than sedately nodding their heads. Sadly no pit happened, not even after some mild coaxing by frontman Denis Boardman(“Move! Or I’ll come get ya!”). we were happily kicked awake by these heavyweights, but I think they may have been to loud this early in the afternoon for Incubate’s final day. Three in the afternoon is early when you’ve had a week of festival.
Next we had Blackheart Rebellion in the Green Room. Having played Roadburn expectations were high, and on record these post hardcore punky Belgians sound pretty good. Having missed them at Roadburn we were looking forward to finally seeing them live. They started with a lot of power and punch. Sadly as the show went on they lost memento, lost power and honestly became a bit dull. The show was energetic and quite engaging, but somehow the emotions meant to be trapped in the music didn’t leap across to the crowd. As the concert progressed quite a few people left the room, and by the end of the gig I felt I was listening to a completely different band.
Next up we went to check out locals in Ggu;ll(do not ask us how to pronounce it). These four guys make a deep, ark, brooding sort of doom with atmospheric influences. Most prominent though are thundering riffs, crushing drums and anguished growls and screams from frontman William van der Voort. You feel yourself nodding off and getting dragged into the bleak, dramatic scenes they paint with their music, led by the almost melodramatic line of atmospheric melody. As opposed to most doom shows these guys actually are quite energetic on stage, headbanging and bouncing around. All out a great gig and definitely a band worth checking out if you can. We went to see another local with quite a name. Faal is what we’re talking about. They deliver us some sickening funeral doom. They give us an homage to all bands that came before them, and they know how they have to do that. You can definitely see that these are men with experience and even experimental.
Have you ever seen a guitarist play with a fiddlestick from a violin on its guitar? Faal does this. And it definitely brings you a very atmospherical sound and it drags you along in the feeling they want you to give. Their frontman is giving you some foul screams along with some dragging riffs and vivacious drums.
After Faal we went to see the very experimental drone band Barn Owl. This is a band where you should close your eyes to get the experience. They ought to bring you a musical experience in another way than most bands. They want to deliver a feeling moreover than technical music work. When we’ve closed our eyes we saw oil drainers bang up and down in a very slow way in a massive oil field while the oil oozes through the pipeline into your head. It builds up till you see a wasteland that has suffered under drought and war. It sounds desolate and threatening. It drums on in your head like a hulking and sad song. We’ve got drained out emotionally after this band. It even gives you trembling hands and it makes you anxious.
And the closer of this evening for us was Worship which definitely had a similar atmosphere like bands as Anathema (early work) and Moonspell. They use some ham-fisted and cumbrous vocals that use a lot of resonance. This definitely sets the tone for this band. Even on stage they stay true to the thick layers that are used on the many albums this bands has put out there. They will take your brain impulses and mutilate them to the obedience of their riffs. The feeling they give on stage is as a very slowly rotting disease that eats and doesn’t stop eating. Worship creeps and ponders in its slowness. In the audience you saw heads slowly bang up and down. And a weird hippy in the back that got totally possessed of something. Worship was definitely a nice band to end Incubate.
Various Venues, Tilburg The Netherlands
September 16th to September 22th, 2013
Kaat van Doremalen (text)
Susanne Maathuis (text & pictures)
Incubate – Official Page