On Saturday October 7th 2017, almost exactly a year after hosting the excellent Mannveira/Wormlust package, Het Bos has another delectable line-up for anyone into the dark and destructive. Opening the night are Eggs of Gomorrah, the Swiss band has a fat and muddy sound, with lower end vocals, and a clear dose of death metal influence and while the performance doesn’t have major mistakes it just fails to capture me as anything inherently special. Visually, while it’s clear the band put their most into the performance, there’s not a clear idea how to present it all. The band is relatively young though, having dropped their début in 2016, so who knows what they will develop into.
Second on the line-up is Bölzer; it’s incredible the way this duo feels like you’re listening to a full band, never is there any emptiness in the music. Especially interesting are the passages where melody and lamenting clean vocals break through, just to be swallowed up by a wave of aural violence again with Svartidauði, a little while later. The entire show is an intense experience, with the interesting song structures leading to very distinct peaks and dark muddy depths. The fact that there are moments where the onslaught pauses, but the dark vibe in the music remains intact, keeping the tension and menace high the whole show shows exactly how excellent this band is.
Next up we have the breakout band in the current Icelandic black metal invasion, they have a solid live reputation, and clearly, do not give a fuck. Joining them is Mithyrming‘s bassist, this time on what appears to be an 8 string guitar. Svartidauði are known for their intense, no mercy sound and their very low lighting, and while Het Bos has clearly, to my delight, updated its lighting rig in the past year, Svarti chose not to use it. However, their new guitarist is clearly struggling with playing his lines in the dark, and while he plays them mostly flawless, and the band, in general, perform very well, it wasn’t an easily won battle. That said the whole band is road hardened and excellent live, and the only moments to gasp for breath in the onslaught of whirling blast beats and guitar riffs are the moments between songs that the band takes to thank the audience via a raised fist and a hand on his heart.
The final band of the evening are Archgoat and the crowd is clearly very excited for them, one guy loudly tells us he flew all the way from the USA to see them and proudly displays his signed poster of the night. With inverted crosses painted on their forehead’s and plenty of spikes and bullet belts, the band is visually the most imposing of the night. Their sound is of a pretty traditional black metal variety with a clear death metal sauce. Occasionally old Satyricon comes to my mind, juxtaposed against black metal’s punk roots showing in various ways. The low growled vocals, occasional barks, and wails, impressive drum fills and blastbeat work give the band a menacing and very dark sound and an unrelenting feel. The only thing you can really do is let it happen to you, as the sound seems to attack you from all sides. The band are in excellent shape and don’t miss a single note, and though the vocals occasionally down a little in the mix, this just adds a little to the confused and uncomfortable feeling they invoke.
After this pummeling the punters stick around and slowly file out, trying to gather enough wits to decide whether to go explore Antwerp city at night, or just go home and recover from the waterboarding and plethora of different black metal samples we’ve experienced tonight.
WORDS AND PHOTOS BY SUSANNE A. MAATHUIS