Attempting to improve on 2014’s The Satanist (review here) was always going to be a near impossible task but with I Loved You At Your Darkest (review here), Polish blackened death metal act Behemoth very nearly succeeded. A robust and forward-thinking follow-up held in high regard by many, the only thing which appeared to hold it back for some was the enormous shadow cast by its predecessor.
Persefone’smetanoia(Napalm Records) opens and it feels as if I’m watching an Andrew Lloyd Weber Broadway musical. Metanoia is atmospheric and grandiose; one would expect nothing less from Persefone. ‘Katabasis’ explodes onto the listener with a bombastic array of seventies progressive rock and psychedelia feel. Marc Martins Pia has shades of Yaz and Freddy Mercury on the opening track juxtaposed with the guttural vocalizations of death metal. The guitar work of Carlos Lozano Quintanilla and Filipe Baldaia are a wild mixture of mathematical genius, LSD, and a plethora of thirty-second note runs. ‘Katabasis’ can be an intense listen.
Legendary producer Cameron Webb is the subject of a new video, chatting about his long time working with Lemmy Kilmister and Motörhead producer, as we approach the one year anniversary of the passing of Lemmy on December 28th.
Myrkur has generated lots of attention, and seemingly Amalie Bruun, primus motor, has received threats to her life for being a female musician doing the post black metal thing. It seems to be the ultimate blasphemy to certain individuals, that probably haven’t been there from the inception of the scene nor have they understood the rebellious primary foundation of the initial scene, where most of the legendary figures embrace both musical diversity and experimentation. I must admit to first seeing it as yet another cash-cow of everything that is black metal, like most things these days, it seems. However, with the release of her début album, M (Relapse), she won me over. Therefore I really wanted to catch her full set, as this would be my first exposure to her music in a live setting. Sadly, we didn’t manage to be at the festival site until Myrkur were in the middle of their set. Yet, even from afar, in between all the bustle from festival-goers elsewhere on the site, her angelic voice penetrated and created a welcoming atmosphere.
Gojira, by TJ Fowler Photography
Gojira were simply incredible! It’s not the band I have played the most, although I became a fan around From Mars To Sirius (Roadrunner). But as a live band they are simply amazing! The level of musicianship, the songs’ ability to balance brutality and catchiness… It’s simply one of the best live bands in the metal genre these days, just like Behemoth. Both bands are able to create this energy that just makes the audience feed from it for the entire time the show lasts. With a set consisting of twelve songs, and with a good variation of songs from all their five albums, the show had a little for everyone of their fans. But maybe the most spectacular about the show was seeing them perform ‘Stranded’ live for the first time. That song manages to take some minor details and create an enormously catchy extreme metal song.
Tuska Festival 2016, by TJ Fowler Photography
The mood was entirely different as we entered the tent stage again to catch Swedish gloomsters Katatonia. The band used to struggle live, but has since the mid 2000’s also become a live band worth catching. Their new album, The Fall Of Hearts (Peaceville) is really good, and it was nice to get to hear a couple of songs from it. The only negative aspect of the show was really that it didn’t last long enough, and that they neglected their back catalogue somewhat. Then again, they played ‘Nephilim’, and ‘In The White’, two personal favourites of mine, and two songs I never had expected for them to play. And of course the band played the hits, and by saying that, I am thinking of ‘My Twin’, and ‘July’.
Children Of Bodom, by TJ Fowler Photography
Finishing off the Tuska experience: Children Of Bodom. Actually they seem to be more about calling themselves The Children of Bodom Hate Crew these days, which makes Alexi Laiho slightly come across as an emo boy at 37 years of age with mascara and nailpolish and an attempt at the teenage rebellion thing going with his image. Musically on the other hand the band are rock solid, and if you enjoy seeing keyboards tilted forwards to show off solo skills or you enjoy endless solos more reminding of power metal than extreme metal, I’m sure this would be the show for you. I, as you might have figured out, think Children Of Bodom are a bit too cheesy to my taste. I enjoyed my sixth serving of muiku immensely more than this last Tuska headliner. [slideshow_deploy id=’42730′]
Saturday was hot, and very very bright, and somehow the head had felt better. With a yearning for some sunglasses, it was time to get to the main stage and catch Primordial’s set. The band where one would think it was a solo performance with some backing musicians, but it has always seemed like nobody minds Alan Nemtheanga stealing the spotlight. Seven songs with what one can only assume is filled with the struggle of Irishmen and dissatisfaction with modern times – of course without any countering solution, but at least in ‘Bloodied Yet Unbowed’ what seems to be a defense and rationalization of black-and-white thinking.. But it’s good fun! And who were we to ever expect intellectualism or deeper psychological self-awareness from extreme metal, and to most of us I expect the intellect to seek out food for thought elsewhere.
Primordial, by TJ Fowler Photography
Next up was Tsjuder, the festival alibi for true Norwegian black metal, anti-life anti-human, so on and so forth. Right from the start no energy was saved as the band kicked off their set with ‘The Daemon Throne’ and ‘Slakt’. What from afar looked as a tent crammed to the brim with people actually turned out to be a half empty in the front towards the stage. Apart from the disappointment in terms of turnout, it didn’t seem to have any effect on the band, who kept the audience on their toes throughout their entire set. In terms of putting on a proper show the trio may have fallen short though, compared to other bands. Not that primitive black metal was ever about putting on a show – or so they would probably claim –, but three guys in makeup on a large stage lacks a little in terms of the visual aspects.
,Anthrax, by TJ Fowler Photography
Back at the main stage Anthrax was about to prove that age is no limit to putting on a good show. As someone said: “I’m amazed at how they still have all that energy and jump and run around on stage as if they were still teenagers”. Indeed this was true, the band were on fire! Yet, it was somewhat special to have crossover thrash metal legends on stage for ten songs, when one fifth were actually covers. Then again, their own songs included ‘Indians’, ‘Caught In A Mosh’, ‘Madhouse’, and they did finish it all off with ‘Among The Living’. As this for some reason was my first time experiencing the band live, I can’t say anything else than that I would sure like to be able to experience it again sometime. On our way to catch Anthrax we were also able to visit the smaller Inferno stage at the other side of the festival area. On stage Jess And The Ancient ones were seemingly pulling of a great gig, but staying at the smaller club scene was not an option when Anthrax were set to perform, as much as the Finnish band recently released a great album.
Ghost, by TJ Fowler Photography
Ghost, by TJ Fowler Photography
Finishing off the second day of the festival were none other than Ghost, the band that have grown to mega size over the course of just three albums. The melodic rock had people come from all sorts of places to catch the band live, at least judging from the people I was able to talk to before, during, and after the show. Where the first album was a bit more on the hard rock side of things the music has also taken a turn towards the more poppy. And there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just that love songs about the devil seems a bit far out there, and almost completely surreal. The lyrics could just as easily have been about the more worldly concepts of love, but I guess the satanic stuff makes it a little more mysterious, or something like that. I think it’s starting to become slightly cartoonish by now. That the weather turned full on Marvel with thunder and lightning as they finished off their set only seemed even more fitting. [slideshow_deploy id=’42730′]
This was my second time in Finland, the first stay having taken place as recently as during last December. Back then I experienced Finland, all the way from Helsinki to Jyväskylä, as mostly pitch black or artificially lit up. The contrast to a hot and sunbathed Helsinki was immense. Was this what the city looked like in proper lighting? Was this even the same city? The architecture seemed typical Scandinavian, the people and concepts quite alike those I was used to at home, in Bergen, Norway. However, during the first hour after we stepped off the boat from Stockholm I had Muiku, a Finnish dish, basically consisting of small fishes that were fried, salted and served with garlic sauce. I was sold! This delicious genocidal maritime creation set the tone for the stay at Tuska. It might have looked like a bunch of sardines crammed together, and one might imagine it to be an experience easily forgotten, even one had wanted to forget. However, muiku, like the Tuska festival isn’t easily forgotten, and I have a feeling that the festival will see me again, probably with a tray of these delights of the sea in hand.
Cattle Decapitation, by TJ Fowler Photography
Tuska was one smoothly run festival, everything organized and probably streamlined over the course of the years since its inception back in 1998. From picking up our passes, to buying beer in time for opening act Cattle Decapitation, it all proceeded with smiles and an air of general politeness. The audience turnout for the band of American grindcore purveyors was even much better than anticipated, and as ‘Manufactured Extinct’ aired from the massive speakers in the front, it seemed that all was set for a proper open air experience. Somehow, even though the band aren’t about theatrics or any dark overlord, Cattle Decapitation seemed a little off in sunlight. I don’t know what it is, but somehow sunlight seems to take that aggressive edge off the music, and it’s usually the only real drawback to these outdoor summer festivals that start early in the day.
Lordi, by TJ Fowler Photography
On our way to catch Kvelertak we made time to catch some twenty minutes of Lordi. The band looks like something left over from the He-Man franchise in terms of the way over-the-top costumes and stage props. As for the music it’s pretty dumbed down heavy metal, probably catering to the fans of catchy tunes and sing along choruses. It’s easy to see how it gets a following, although for the ones among us that prefer our metal a little more extreme, it falls short of being all that impressive. Of the Norwegian eclectic ensemble of Kvelertak there was something else to be said. They were impressive in both sound and in how the minimalist approach they had seemed to get a huge crowd at the Helsinki stage (second largest stage, in a tent) going, fist pumping and headbanging, and even, from the looks of it, singing along to their Norwegian lyrics. Especially the songs off the new album seemed to get on well with the audience, and maybe especially so ‘1985’ and ‘Bersekr’. It’s pretty obvious that this is not the last Tuska sees of Kvelertak, at least not judging from the response.
Testament, by TJ Fowler Photography
The wait to see Behemoth perform the entirety of their The Satanist (Metal Blade) was shortened considerably by how the veterans in Testament made time a negligible concept during the hour they played the Radio Rock main stage. Twelve songs in total, and all the classics from starter ‘Over The Wall’ to ‘The Formation Of Damnation’ that rounded up their set and gave us five minutes to get to the tent stage and some real damnation. But first it was all about stocking up on beverages at the beer tent, and grabbing yet another serving of those lovely small fishes, muikku. It’ s like a good version of french fries, though it’s fish. Topped with garlic dressing it becomes the junk food of the gods – or beer swinging Norwegians. It must be said that the prizes for beer were almost as high as back in Norway. Granted it was probably 2EUR less than back home … And hey, I forget, there was also a 1 Euro return to be had if you handed in your empty can. I think I at some point paid 11 Euros for a bottle of Brooklyn lager. Now that is madness, and not just on my own behalf. According to my sources it will also be possible to enjoy alcoholic beverages outside the specific fenced off sections from next year, due to new Finnish laws. That means it won’t be necessary pretending to drink soda from paper cups anymore. Anyways, the partying was mostly in the parking lot outside the festival area. Everyone sat down on the lawns in the sun, played music from portable stereos, and from the looks of it most were in the good festival mood, were we all share the fun with each other. I can’t say that I saw a single fight or argument during the entire stay at Tuska.
Behemoth, by TJ Fowler Photography
At five to nine Behemoth took to the stage, led by mastermind Nergal. Flanked by bass player Orion and second guitarist Seth, and backed by drummer extraordinaire Inferno, Nergal commenced the task of delivering the audience a run-through of their last album, back to front. In other words the band did all of The Satanist, even the closing track, the bombastic ‘O Father, O Satan, O Sun!’. What separates Behemoth from many other bands is the professionalism, be it both in choreography, playing, and in general showmanship, be it Nergal’s communicatiopn with the audience or the stage props and pyrotechnics. They don’t just offer a concert, they offer an entire package, and ever since I saw them in the early 2000’s they have just kept getting better and better at this. Behemoth blew us all away, again, and even threw in three extra songs as an encore; ‘Ov Fire And The Void’, ‘Conquer All’, and the classic ‘Chant For Eschaton 2000’, from what has always been my favourite album, the ferocious Satanica.
Behemoth, by TJ Fowler Photography
As we tried gathering ourselves after being utterly blown away by Behemoth’s performance, we caught some songs from Avantasia. It seemed as if the crowd in front of the main stage were having a blast, but as this was just as little my cup of tea as Lordi, we choose to move on and into the night. Because when in Finland you do as the Finns do, which seemingly means partying till you eat table plants and fall off chairs, after everyone has helped emptying the entire tax-free liquor cache.
Here at Ghost Cult Magazine, we all vote on our favorite albums each year. Just a couple short years ago, Behemothhad won with one of their best to date, The Satanist (Nuclear Blast). On April, 24th, 2016, I and the rest of the Boston crowd at the Royale were able to see Behemoth play this masterpiece from front to back at the “Blasfemia Amerika Tour”. Simply mentioning “it was an experience” just simply will not do.
Myrkur, by Hillarie Jason
Myrkur, by Hillarie Jason
Before getting to Behemoth’s set, we did have an opening band to get us started. The one woman black metal project, Myrkur, hit the stage ready to kickoff what promised to be a great night. Amalie Bruun is the only contributing artist to the project, but she did obviously have some help with a few other musicians (guitarist, bassist, and drummer). One of the strangest moments of the set is when I realized the bassist was no+ne other than Liam Wilson of The Dillinger Escape Plan! The set list was comprised of mostly tracks from the one full length album, M (Relapse), that Myrkur have to offer. Song by song, Amalie moved from guitar to keyboards and from one microphone to the other as her vocals would change mid song from clean to harsh. Finally, Myrkur ended the set with Amalie alone on stage at the keyboard performing a Bathory cover of ‘Song to Hall Up High’ to the fan’s praise.
Behemoth, by Hillarie Jason
Finally, after a short break, Behemoth hit the stage with the sounds of ‘Blow Your Trumpets, Gabriel’. With each passing song on The Satanist, there were strange videos being played on either side of drummer, Inferno, to really set the mood. At one point in the show, frontman Nergal made his way over a makeshift bridge of sorts from the stage, over the photographers’ pit, and literally into the first row or so of fans. In his hand was a silver goblet, filled with offerings to the fans, his own Holy Communion waffers! The final few in the goblet were lifted above our heads as Nergal crushed them into pieces and threw them into the air in defiance. After the ever epic, ‘O Father! O Satan! O Sun!’, the band made their way to the back briefly but then returned for a second shorter set that kicked off with old classics ‘Pure Evil and Hate’ and ‘Antichristian Phenomenon’. Other hits such as ‘Conquer All’ and ‘Slaves Shall Serve’ were also played to the fans’ delight. But, like all good things, the show came to an end with closer ‘Chant for Eschaton 2000’, complete with projectile blood shots on to the front row from Nergal, Orion, and Seth. With this live show, Behemoth has once again proven why they are atop the metaphorical pedestal of extreme music and have no plans of letting any other bands share that space.
After New England has taken the beating of a lifetime from Mother Nature this winter in the form of tons of snow, and frigid temps, it was good to feel the warmth of a venue again. This night was not just poised to be a memorable metal concert, but it was my two-year anniversary with my girlfriend Tara. Keep your flowers and candy; I can’t think of anything more romantic than a night of top-shelf death metal, gore and blasphemy, and my beloved agrees, so off we went to Boston for the show.
I had access to the House of Blues Foundation Room for me and lady on this night. I had some preconceived notions about what the experience was going to be like: corporate and sterile. I could not be more wrong about the unassuming, funky Indian-themed environment. I had a blast and would do it again.
Tribulation opened the show and they were killer. It seems like the band is poised for bigger things here in the US and it was great to see so many fans in the venue super into them. Maybe it’s because Johannes Anderson kind of looks like Evan Peters from American Horror Story. No, that’s not it. They played an awesome set of a few favorites and one new song from their forthcoming album Children of the Night, dropping in May from Century Media.
Aeon just flat out destroyed! From the first note to the last they just brutalized the audience to death musically. They were the “aha” band for many when this tour was announced, some fans I know claiming they would leaved after the heavy Swedes were done exsanguinating us all. In the mean time this band keeps killing it big time year after year. They played a brilliant, if too brief for me set with happy little tunes such as ‘Satanic Victory’, ‘Living Sin’, ‘God Gives Head In Heaven’ and ‘Forever Nailed’. I caught up with Tommy Dahlstrom backstage for a quick interview between bands and he said he’d never been happier with a tour. You could tell from their performance it was true.
Behemothwas next and I thought right off the bat it would be hard for them to live up to their performance for last spring. In my mind that was as flawless a performance as I might ever see in Death Metal, and I have seen some great ones. Well they certainly came close again tonight. On the even bigger stage of the House of Blues, Nergal and his comrades in Behemoth certainly seemed like larger than life heroes. Milking every ounce of energy and adulation the audience could give, Nergal cajoled cheers and demanded attention with every dramatic arm movement and pose. With the set list now comprising at least half of 2013’s The Satanist (Nuclear Blast) plus the “hits”, it would be nice to hear the band play more from their classic, 90s material. But alas, I doubt we will hear too much of those songs in the future, which is a shame. Still, if the show had ended here I wouldn’t have complained.
Nearly any other band would have been hard pressed to follow the performance just witnessed. Cannibal Corpse does live what they have done every step of their career: play technical death metal with effortless mastery. After 25 years it says a lot that they can play a brutal set of 14 tracks and, still leave you wanting more. Newer cuts like ‘Evisceration Plague’ and ‘Kill or Become’ flow perfectly with ‘Hammer Smashed Face’ and ‘The Wretched Spawn’. The pits were consistently awesome for the Corpse, as opposed to Behemoth, but that is likely due to the up and down tempos of the co-headliners. Although I have seen the band countless times, they never fail to amazing with putting on a great set. Corpsegrinder was hilarious as always with his in between song banter, allowing him to be the foil, while his bandmates focus on playing. They continue to be the gold-standard of all death metal band and arguably the best ever.
Ghost Cult proudly presents a whole new issue of our GC digital mag. It stocked to the brim with fresh content, including interviews with Ghost,Dark Tranquility, Immolation, Baroness,Continue reading →