Satyricon is known to have the seed of their album writing sessions come from jamming. With their new orchestral collaboration finished, the last studio album from the band being stripped down and new music on the horizon; we asked Frost about the challenges of creating new work, but keeping with the high expectations for the band:
“It (Satyricon, 2013) was a very demanding album in many aspects, but they mostly had to do with the musicality of it. Getting everything to sound right and in accordance with the ideas that were the fundamental of the different songs. We had to enter a territory where we hadn’t really been before and we had to bring dynamics into the music that we had never done before that albums. This was definitely demanding. But when it comes to the soul and spirit of it, that will always be there. That’s an attitude, and it’s also about a feeling. Both Satyr and I are people that feel the fire burning, that is never something that we doubt. For us it is truly Black Metal because it has that vibe and that energy and that atmosphere. It couldn’t really be anything else, but it doesn’t matter for us what it’s being called. Trying to label something very often has to do with standards and conventions for many people. That is the type of thing we would like to avoid. We don’t want to have all these standards and conventions to adhere to. The way we see it Black Metal is not about all those. It is a very creative and open musical genre. That also means that you could fall pretty long if you do it wrong. It could easily get pretentious. Trying to master something that is dramatic, dark perhaps even theatrical. Something that is epic, something that is grim and cold, all the imagery, everything around it. To manage all of that and do it well, without becoming clowns because of the way you do it. That is actually difficult.”
Satyricon, by Susanne A. Maathuis Photography
Are there any other acts out there right now you feel manage to strike the balance?
“Not that I can come up with, no. Maybe if I got to think a little longer but I really had to say very few do it. We had a discussion, a couple of us, on the bus on the way here earlier today. Which bands have that nerve to it, and only that has that kind of purity. For most part you only find that among the older generation of bands. I think understanding the spirit and the attitude is fundamental. But you also have to be able to express it musically. No make-up or spikes or bullet belts will help you. If you choose to have that, that’s simply because you feel that it is part of the identity and it pertains to a certain tradition and all that. It can never be worth anything in itself. It’s all again in that attitude and feeling. The previous Satyricon album is an example of an album that is really filled to the brim with it. Even if it is varied and if there are ambiances that are something else than pure darkness, that just makes the darkest parts feel even more menacing and gloomy. There is a deeper darkness to it, which you can feel more because of the contrasts. That kind of vibe and feeling quite dominate the album. There is a lot of grimness and aggression. When that beast is roaring you can feel that it is alive. It is not a dead album with dead music on it. I know the next album will also be very vital. Perhaps even more varied and even weirder than the previous one. Because we felt that many doors were opened for us. There will be lots of different types of music, but it will all carry the Satyricon vibe and the Satyricon musical signature. We have to continue to develop and explore other parts, and try to get further. To improve and to learn, that’s the fundamentals if you want to be creative. That’s the driving force here.”
Satyricon’s Live At The Opera DVD is out now from Napalm Records.
Satyricon are arguably one of the most commercially successful band to emerge from the 90’s Norwegian black metal scene. Pushing the fringes of the genre as they went, they’re now about to release a unique DVD Live at the Opera (Napalm Records), of a performance in the Oslo opera house with the Norwegian National Opera Choir. Susanne Maathuis caught up with Frost, the enigmatic drummer of the band, for Ghost Cult after their show in Nijmegen, the first of their short European tour supporting the DVD.
Being that tonight was the first concert of a new tour, we started the conversation with the evenings’ performance:
“We were a bit late so we didn’t actually have a sound check, but we try not to let the crowd notice that. We had a good start, we met a crowd that enjoyed having us here and enjoyed the show that we delivered. It’s good to have the feeling of good contact between crowd and band, that is basically the reason why we’re here. We’re not actually here to entertain ourselves, but to create moments of magic with out audience. This is a good start.”
Touring to support the soon to be released DVD Live at the Opera, with the Norwegian National Opera Choir, we asked about that performance and if it satisfied expectations:
“Absolutely, and we knew it was going to be special when we came up with that idea in the first place. We had gotten to perform one song with the choir at a closed event, ‘To the Mountains’, and we felt afterwards we really just had to do a full show in that setting; The Choir and Satyricon in the Opera house. It turned out that the choir really wanted to do it as well, because they had a blast when we performed together. I think that their enthusiasm was almost as great as ours. And since they were up for it and the choirmaster was up for it, the management at the opera house wanted to make it happen. Everything that needed to be set to make it happen was set and we could make it a proper plan and then realize the plan again and actually getting to the point where it was becoming a show. All the way we were certain that it was going to be an absolutely outstanding experience for us all; for the band, for the choir, for the audience at the Opera house that day. And that’s how it was really. Given the experience we had with that one song, we understood that this couldn’t be wrong. The band could handle the setting, we were absolutely sure about it. We knew that the choir would deliver. The man writing the arrangements for the choir, which would be the same man on this full show project, he understood Satyricon. You need the composer to understand what to achieve. Basically he needed to understand Satyricon’s music, which he did. The choirmaster helped to do it, because his task was to make the choir sing along to Satyricon’s music in a way that Satyricon could perform in the usual way, without really adapting, changing, removing or adding anything. He managed this flawlessly and that shows his skills and his very professional attitude and ability.”
Satyricon, by Susanne A. Maathuis Photography
Will you do more of these special shows, one off concerts? Do you have any ideas or was this just a one time thing?
“Who knows, Satyricon is a band that enjoys doing that sort of thing. I think we’re really fit for taking upon us slightly unconventional tasks, be it this or something else. Perhaps we would do something with the choir again, but in a very different way. All I can say is there have been talks about such things. Whether or not it can be done for practical reasons, we don’t know yet, but I think there is a mutual wish to do something again in those lines.”
“But there could be other things, I mean this tour is an example of us doing something slightly different. We’re jamming a little on stage. Today we played like three pieces that aren’t even finished yet. We have just toyed around a little with this in the rehearsal place and we have started the sense that there is something there that will probably end up as songs on the next album. It’s still too early really say and it could end up being very different from what the audience heard today. It’s still a little fun to do it and it’s a slightly 70s way to do it. The old hard rock bands, they played material in an unfinished form, basically rehearsing it in a live setting, a lot before actually recording it on albums. Many of the great hard rock songs were jams to begin with, that didn’t really have a proper structure. It just came into being as the band jammed on the basic ideas, and they did it live.”
Satyricon, by Susanne A. Maathuis Photography
Satyricon’s Live At The Opera DVD will be released May 1st through Napalm Records, and is available for pre-order in their web-shop.
The Tenth edition of the Incubate Festival, festival celebrated by tens of thousands in Tilburg, closed this weekend after their biggest fest ever. The Ghost Cult Team in Tilburg was at the festival and our reviews are live here on the website. We wanted to to take one more look at this ground breaking, week -long event via the lens of our photographer Susanne A. Maathuis and some of the terrific images she captured. Thanks again also goes to our correspondent Lorraine Lysen for her excellent account of the artists that mattered. Enjoy!
It’s early evening and The Midi is host to Spindrift, a band who play what can only be called ‘Psychedelic Western Cinematic Rock ‘n Roll.’ Most members of the band are, in fact, wearing cowboy hats, and the audience is having a ball dancing along to these tunes. The vocals are often used as an instrument, creating haunting melodies largely without lyrics. Kirkpatrick Thomas’ vocals are strong, and he sings very well in his falsetto range. The drums are very percussive and are occasionally supported by tambourines and some very intensely played maracas.
Projections are a very important part of Spindrift’s shows: the band is currently touring Spindrift – Ghost of the West, where they play the album that serves as the score to the film. Spindrift have done something like this before, with the 2007 film The Legend of God’s Gun, which was based on their 2002 album by the same name. One big difference between the two film projects is the substance of the films, with The Legend of God’s Gun being a homage to the band’s favourite spaghetti westerns, while Ghost of the West focuses on the past, present, and future of the west.
They played a great new song called ‘Kama Sutra Tiger Attack’.
A good 20 minutes before the show and it is already getting difficult to actually enter the venue; it seems most of Incubate has come to see Wovenhand play. They start off very heavily, and the sound is close to stoner and dark psychedelic. The music is accented by percussive drumming, and features David Eugene Edwards’ characteristic vocals through a condenser microphone. After a couple of songs Edwards’ takes out his banjo for a few songs with a more country feel, before going back to his guitar.
Naturally, the focus of this show is Wovenhand’s latest album, Refractory Obdurate, which was released in April of this year. This album is much heavier in sound than the previous few, and while this means the bearded rhythm section of the band can showcase their excellence, it also meant that a few members of the audience were taken aback by the ferocity of the music.
As usual, Edwards puts his heart and soul into his performance, and the show is filled with a tranquil sort of energy which is quite unique to this band.
If I had to summarise a show GOAT in one word it would probably be spellbinding. Luckily, I am allowed to expand upon that, and try to explain just how magical this show is to someone who was not there.
The bare bones of it are as follows:
The band consists of drums, bass, guitar, and singers, and everyone is masked and dressed in an odd assortment of robes. The two singers wear African gowns and masks with feathers, and they dance around the stage with bells, bangles, ribbons, and sticks with feathers.
There is much more to the show however, as the music is an intoxicating blend of all sorts of tribal and folk music with a much heavier psychedelic rock and stoner base. The beats inspire to move and to completely lose yourself in the music, urged on by the shamanistic outfits of the singer and the ritualistic dancing on stage. There is no better time to witness GOAT than late at night, when they fill the darkness with chanting and haunting melodies, and the audience and the singers dance until they drop, or until their ritual is completed, and their spell is released.
GOAT’s new album, Commune, has just come out this September, and is filled with this wondrous spiritual and cultural mixture.
Sol Invictus (De NWE Vorst) are a British neofolk band who have been playing in a variety of settings since the band’s conception in 1987 by Tony Wakeford. They play good strong emotional songs, laced with a kind of melancholy that only the British can achieve. The bass, percussion, and electric guitar are very good at lending emphasis to the lyrics. The vocals are in a small range but have a great deal of expression. They sometimes seem closer to spoken word recitation than conventional singing. The violin and flute provide the melody that the vocals lack, and the drums lend a very dramatic air to the songs.
Sol Invuctus also play a few songs form their new album for the first time. This new album, called Once Upon a Time, is out as of 26th of September, and is in the 70s progressive and dark folk genres.
As we settle down into our seats in the theatre of Tilburg we are welcomed by Marinke, one of the curators for Incubate, who is proud to present Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra. This is one of many incarnations of the project usually called Silver Mt. Zion, whose official band name changes every time someone joins or leaves the band.
This orchestra, which consists of two violins, a bass, a guitar, and a drummer who also plays the organ, plays a mixture of any and all genres of music, including classical, reggae, blues, and stoner. The rhythm section sets the foundation, and the guitar and violins build on it, often with a drone played by guitar or violin and melodies played on top of that with the remaining instruments. The bass does not play the drone, but is in fact very melodic and weaves through the rest of the music. The vocals are often in duets, but this band can also sing five vocal lines at once. Sometimes the female vocals are below the male vocals and this creates a pleasant kind of tension.
Silver Mt. Zion pretty much played the entire 2014 album: Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything, and the loud applauding of the audience’s standing ovation called the band back on stage for an encore, for which we were very grateful.
God is an Astronaut is the last band playing at Incubate 2014, and their show is a great end to the week. They manage to transition seamlessly between soft and heavy sounds, have a good balance in the guitar sound, very tasteful bass licks, and a drummer capable of great subtlety in his playing. Many of the songs are framed by keyboards, and the vocals, whether clear and delicate or synthesised, are ethereal in sound and remind a lot of the vocals by Alcest’s Neige. The music very atmospheric, but occasionally has sharper edges to the riffs and a slightly more aggressive sound, which make it very danceable.
The stage presence and audience interaction are both pretty good, they don’t shy away from speaking to the crowd and the new keyboard player / guitarist Jamie Dean jumped off stage into the audience a few times to headbang and borrow someone’s sunglasses. While drumming on the live shows is usually done by Stephan Whelan, due to an infection in his leg he had to leave for home. Luckily for the band, they write and record their albums with Lloyd Hanney, who flew in to finish the rest of the tour.
GIAA also played a new song, and it is much heavier in sound, more in the post-metal and even post-black direction. The new album is planned for spring next year.
This show is held in the Consouling Store, which, for the duration of Incubate, is located in a storefront off the Pieter Vreedeplein, across the road from Midi and Extase. The seats for this matinee performance are soon filled, and the rest of the audience sits on the floor or stand around.
Kiss the Anus of a Black Cat’s latest album, which came out in 2012, is called Weltuntergansstimmung, and this album marks their transition from dark folk music into a more synth heavy darkwave genre. It may seem like an insurmountable difference in genres, but the dark atmosphere and Stef Heeren’s unpolished vocals make this new sound recognisable as KTAOABC.
This is a try-out show with their new equipment, and they have quite a set-up of synths and a great many effects on the small stage. They create soundscapes by layering their synths with samples and covering them with Stef’s vocals. Due to the newness of the equipment the songs take a little time to set up, and some of the transitions were a bit more muddy than was perhaps intended, but once the sounds all come together the result is very captivating.
Who knew an acoustic show could be this heavy?
The initial opinion of a King Buzzo show is likely to be ‘eccentric.’ From the King’s hair, vocal delivery, and guitar playing down to his use of the available stage, everything about him is somewhat odd and intriguing. He is also a very good storyteller, regaling the audience with tales of his favourite artist, Iggy Pop.
As the lead singer of The Melvins, acoustic is not Buzzo’s usual style, and while that may show in the delivery of a number of Melvins’ songs, his new solo work, which he wrote specifically for the acoustic guitar, are actually really intricately written and showcase just how good a guitarist Buzzo really is.
King Buzzo has put 31 years of song-writing experience into his acoustic album This Machine Kills Artists (Ipecac) and puts on a truly spectacular solo show.
If we were planning an award for ‘best dressed band’ at Incubate, it would probably have gone to Kadavar. This Berlin-based trio, sporting long hair and beards over their button ups and waistcoats, are masters at combining the old with the new. The genre might best be described as heavy psychedelic rock, with strong clean vocals, and melodious guitar over strong bass licks over pounding drums. After their performance at Roadburn in 2013, where they promoted their new album, Abra Kadavar (Nuclear Blast), we knew this was going to be a show we didn’t want to miss, and the energy and stage presence of the band together with their super tight playing made this a show a definite crowd-pleaser.
The projection behind the band initially shows the ocean, and even the lighting is mostly in blues and greens: The Ocean have obviously made an effort to present the band. The music builds from a calm and laid back sound with the occasional heavy accent to a hard rock or even metal sound. Clean vocals give way to grunts, and a shouting sort of singing. These developments are part of The Ocean’s sixth studio album, Pelagial (Pelagic Records/Metal Blade), which came out in 2013. The concept behind it is that the pressure keeps building as you go deeper beneath the sea. The projections are also part of Pelagial, and were shot as a movie by Craig Murray. In effect, Pelagial is a truly Wagnerian ‘Gesamtkunstwerk,’ a synthesis of different art media that work together to complete the experience.
Regardless of the artistry of the album, this band puts on a show that is undeniably good. The whole band oozes stage presence, and front man Loïc Rosetti jumps into the audience to starts a small moshpit, as well as crowd-surfing as far as the microphone cable will allow. So whether you appreciate art or just want to rock out to some great post-metal, The Ocean is definitely a band you will want to see live.
The Midi is already pretty packed before the show even starts, so it would seem this band is very popular with the Incubate crowd, and it doesn’t take long to find out why: 65 Days of Static combine synths, drums, bass, and guitar and end up with soundscapes that are befitting of a sci-fi film. They mix rock and electronica by layering their live drums with samples and by the use of synths, and end up with a post-rock sound that occasionally touches on heavy psychedelic. From gloomy to energetic, peaceful to frightening, the variety and depth of the compositions is astounding.
Incubate Festival has come and gone and what remains is a legacy of being the most successful event in its history. The organizers reported that an impressive 16,000 fans from 29 countries visited Tiburg for the week in mid-September, recalling that with musical acts, featured films, comedy and other attractions, has a little something for everyone. Ghost Cult’s Dutch crew was on hand for the review of the musical acts of interest to our followers.
Nadja is an ambient/drone project from Canada by Aiden Baker and Leah Buckareff. They played in
The Paradox, which is very dark, but also very full. The crowd is also very silent, however, as Nadja features in a very special project from The Consouling store: They record Nadja’s show on Monday the 15th, and produce the album during the week, ready on vinyl and cd for the pre-sale on the 20th and 21st. Making a record in only five days is an amazing achievement, and gives the Incubate audience a chance to look at exactly what goes into the making of a record.
It is probably due to this amazing project that this is not a show with much audience interaction, but more of a demonstration of soundscaping. It is with deep concentration that Baker and Buckareff play their distortion driven guitar and bass over programmed synth and drums. Clean vocals alternate with guitar for the melody and drone, and the result is very dark and atmospheric. They even use bows on their bass and guitar as if they were playing cello’s, and the haunting sounds of Nadja combined with the ambitiousness of the project they are involved in make for a truly chilling experience.
Kerretta hails from New Zealand and plays instrumental post-rock. The Extase is quite crowded and it’s already hot and steamy before the band takes to the stage. The trio play a very strong set, in a genre very close to heavy prog. The songs are instrumental but you don’t miss the vocals, because the mid to high range, where the vocals usually reside, are already filed by very melodious guitar and bass lines. In fact, the bass especially supplies lines that could have belonged to vocals. One of the reasons this three-piece band fill up the full range of sound is the amount of pedals they have, which, rather than building a massive wall of sound, provide a great mixture light and heavy sound.
The musicians themselves are obviously very passionate, and the crowd is well pleased with the performance. Their latest album, Pirohia, came out just this month, and if their live performance is at all indicative of this album, it is bound to be good.
Moon Duo was formed in 2009 by Ripley Johnson, guitarist for Wooden Shijps, and Sanae Yamada. They play a mixture of rock and psychedelic which can be described as space-rock, or perhaps repeat-o-rock. However you want to label it, the repetitive riffs are soothing to the ear and easy to move to, especially with the occasional stoner touches to the music. The Midi is very dark, which means that the projections pull a lot of attention. It’s pretty busy in there, and the crowd is spacing out. This show was a very relaxing end to my first day of Incubate, providing the audience a chance to unwind and enjoy the repetitive riffs and projections in the near darkness.
While many port-rock bands inspire to move and dance, Long Distance Calling inspires to dream. Elemental in this is the clean lead guitar, sometimes even played with a slide. The sound ranges from atmospheric to heavy progressive, as well as having a few breaks in which the drum and bass play a central role. They sound a bit like a cross between Anathema and Alcest, so if you enjoy both those bands you’re likely to enjoy them.
Although they had already worked with guest vocalists on their previous albums, they’ve been adding more vocals of their own on their latest album The Flood Inside, as well as a guest performances, and the band has therefore been reinforced by Martin “Marsen” Fischer, who does keyboards and vocals. His clear voice reminds me of Poets of the Fall, and takes on the dreamy quality which in other songs belongs to the guitar.
Long Distance Calling are planning a new album for next year.
Even before the first note sounds this show is spectacular to the multitude of fans gathered in the Midi theatre. This is due to the fact that Dodecahedron, whose self-titled debut album came out in 2012, don’t play live very often; in fact, I’ve been told this was their second live show.
It doesn’t take long to enthuse the rest of the audience: Dodecahedron have very good theatricals, and a very impressive and original black metal sound. The show has a lot of smoke and four of the five band members are wearing cowls. The vocalist even has a facemask under his cowl, to further his undefinable persona. The music is heavy and idiosyncratic, and the guitars are often flirting with dissonance. The vocals are bestial, and fit in well with the overall heaviness of the music. There is a lot of nuance in the drumming, which helps set this band out from their peers. The music is at times lethargic, which is supported by the somewhat minimalistic lighting, but features some surprisingly progressive breaks.
In short, Dodecahedron manage to squeeze every ungodly wave of sound out of their instruments, and even include 3-person chanting. They have a decent amount of heavy prog riffs and some downright brutal sections among their high quality black metal.
The Extase may be a small venue, but the energy and stage presence of Svart Crown is anything but small and they play with the gusto of a band headlining a large festival. They have a lot of audience interaction, which resonated well with the crowd. Much of the audience was enjoying a good head-banging party.
Svart crown is a French band that started in 2005. Because their sound is a mixture of black and death metal, the pace of the music is faster than most black metal. The songs are very energetic and powerful, and the band do a very good job of transposing the pace of their music to the show itself, with very little waiting or banter in between. This seemed to go down very well with the audience, and on the whole, this band gave of a very positive vibe.
Since this is Krallice’s first time touring Europe, the expectations are high, and the fans are plentiful. Although advertised as progressive black metal band, Krallice has a lot more sludge to its sound than that moniker would suggest. They have some very good melodies in the calmer sections, which are indeed more to the progressive end of the scale. However, I have to admit that their music does not charm me, despite my love for prog and black metal. The main reason for this is the drums. I have a long-standing distrust of blast-beats, because if they are not exactly at the start of the count, they sound as if the drummer is too slow. Unfortunately for me, this drummer seems to try to place his blast-beats as far behind the beat as he possibly can. Luckily, while it may not be the band for me, there are a lot of fans who have less trouble with this musical aspect, and while I vacated my spot for some other audience members, I could clearly see the massive grins of people who had waited a long time to see their idols play.
The Extase is jampacked for Ggu:ll, a Hypnotic Droning Doom band from Tilburg itself. It is evident, however, that this band doesn’t just pull crowds by being local: They have one of the heaviest sounds I’ve heard so far at Incubate. A few of the adjectives that spring to mind are ear-splitting, bone-grinding, and chest-vibrating. The growls are heavy, and so is everything else! However, the band doesn’t focus solely on sounding heavy, their guitar sound fills the mid range very well, and there are no gaps in the veritable wall of sound that assaults you with music that, despite its obvious gloom, manages to put a smile on everyone’s face.
The show we have planned for tonight was meant to have an opener. Meant to, mind you. For some mysterious reason there is none, and only the Norwegian Ulver will play after a very lengthy period between the doors opening and the show starting. The great hall of the 013 venue is separated into two parts: below seats are put in for the seated part of the show, and on the balcony are standing places. With Ulver you’re never sure what kind of a set you will get and when the vocalist and electronics man step up to a big square block with effects, to start the show we’re thrilled. The visuals start with an old man in a bed and a crow flying over him as an almost religious sort of heavenly, yet eerie mix of sounds fill the room.
After a while the percussionist joins in dropping chains on drums and even whipping them dramatically over a huge gong set beside him. Then after a few minutes the whole band joins in and the atmosphere explodes into a much more intense thing.
Throughout the show the visuals stay incredibly captivating, the low lighting on the band itself helping you focus on the different visual stories being told. These images really manage to add a new depth layer to the emotional message of the music. The set seems to be mostly newer work, with more vocals involved and hardly any traces of the bands black metal roots. The sound is balanced surprisingly heavy yet not loud, Conversation of people a few feet away can still be heard, which is surprising.
Sadly the strong voice of vocalist Kristoffer Rygg sometimes skips and wobbles a bit on the high ends and the vocal lines seem a bit disjointed from the music in general, like someone improvising over an instrumental piece, instead of vocals written for said piece of music. This doesn’t bother the crowd though, who are clearly enjoying themselves so much that by the encore a good deal of the people on the seated area get up and start dancing in front of the stage, much to the baffled appreciation of the band. It was a wonderful gig and night out to remember.
Tonight we had a special treat, post-rock rising stars Long Distance Calling are played a full “An Evening With ” concert in 013. No opener, just 2 hours of ambient complex bliss. On their last album, the formerly instrumental band decided to get vocals involved, and this led to some speculation on part of the live shows. Many fans were concerned the instrumental epochs the band was known for would be shoved aside by the new tunes with vocals. The new vocalist also made us very curious to see how he preformed. It’s one thing to sound good on record, but live is a completely different set of playing cards.
The first thing we noticed when the band started playing is they didn’t have their vocalist in a prominent place up front. He’s hidden behind the keys, synths and computer elements, with the guitars on the front of the stage. Another thing we were quite happy about is the mix of songs of the set. Instead of focusing on their newer work from their last album, they provided a good mix of older, instrumental songs, flowing seamlessly into newer songs with vocal elements. The two hour show was in two parts, with a short intermezzo between the first and second hour. The first part relied more on a little more edgy and up tempo set, with vocals coming in at different intervals. In the second set they mellowed out more and it felt more like a lengthy jam, where they wove several numbers together, including a brand new song. Vocalist, Martin Fischer, also got a somewhat bigger role to play in the second set. His vocal timbre fits well into the music and reminds a little of Brian Molko from Placebo and Alice in Chains original vocalist, Layne Staley. Where I can listen to this band for ever, it’s not for everyone and I can see how the use of almost the same chord schemes and tonalities can become a little dull. The music is more rhythm driven in it’s variations at times. These elements do mean they can seamlessly weave their music together, pulling the listener deeper and deeper into the world they sketch, almost becoming hypnotic. All in all, a very good gig and definitely a band worth looking out for.
Saturday 14th: After a fitful night of sleep and a late brunch we’re back in Eindhoven at two in the afternoon. Today’s program is a little more light hearted, mixing folk metal, some more experimental death metal, and symphonic metal. We start the day with The Monolith Deathcult, who gets to wake up the sparse and bleary eyed crowd with their a little more highbrow and complex death metal. The music and the show feel bigger than their slot suggests. The intros get a bit cheesy after the first few songs but the sound mix is excellent, though a little heavy on the double bass drums.
After a short respite we get treated to the old school trash-metallers of Destroyer 666. Sadly, their playing is a little sloppy and messy, possibly due to the inhumanly fast pace they keep it. The vocals seem pretty decent, but drown a little in the pummeling heavy base mix that plagues the venue yesterday as well. They do give a good an energetic show and the room quickly fills up with happy metal heads finally woken up.
We travel shortly to the cold regions of Russia with Arkona taking the stage. Their folk infused metal is less happy and energetic than most folk metal, and a little more somber. The whole music feels Russian, even if the singing wasn’t in Russian. Sound-wise, the guitars are very, very low in the mix and the vocals very high, which means the drums and bass overpower the vocals quite often. Interestingly enough the folky whistles and the bagpipes are very well audible in the mix, while usually they’re the first things to die. The folk influences are a little more subtle and apparently with their newer music the band is moving more towards the back metal side, though their folk roots stay important to them.
We return to death metal with Hail of Bullets. Normally death metal isn’t my cup of tea, but these guys are great and I find myself nodding along to the beat. With a great songs and a nice little party vibe going on throughout, even for the non-death crowd that’s was there was into it. That it’s a great show however shouldn’t be surprising as this band shares a front man, Martin van Drunen, with the incredible Asphyx, and the rest of the all star line-up of the band. This may also be the reason the sound mix is very well balanced and crisp. All in all a great show.
In metal it’s not rare for a band to form a completely new band simply by addition of a different, usually more prominent, vocalist. The best known example probably is Ihsahn with Leprous. Elvenking and Martin Walkyier’s Skyclad are a similar story. Elvenking played for forty minutes before being joined by Walkyier, and turning into Skyclad and playing another forty minutes. The music doesn’t change much between the vocalist addition (Elvenking’s somewhat emo styled vocalist stays on for the full eighty minutes, running around the stage behind Walkyier). It stays a sort of emo-folk inspired metal. They have a pretty good sound mix and a good performance, but Davide “Damna” Moras’s vocals get on my nerves a little. The switch in the feeling of the music when Walkyier joins the band is amazing. The music, feeling a little more emo oriented at first suddenly gets a darker and more power metal feel when Walkyier’s vocals join in. Sadly, Walkyier’s grand entrance fell a little flat with the crowd, where he clearly expected a grand recognition only confusion shone on the crowds faces when Walkyier walked up, arms spread like a messiah.
It’s now time for one of my personal highlights of the day, Arcturus. I had no idea what to expect but the avant-garde metal troupe of masked entertainers is incredibly good. Their music has so many influences it’s hard to really describe, but the vocals have a certain power metal/prog type feel and the music contains traces of black metal, but also power and symphonic. Simen Hestnæs’ vocals often drowned in the drum and bass parts, unless he belted, and the guitars ate the, quite atmospheric, keyboard additions. Still the show was incredibly good, and I hope to see them sometime with a better mix.
Coroner is described as the Rush of thrash metal. Now I like thrash, especially the hyperactive, aggressive party vibe it seems to share with punk. The more progressive and technical approach coroner has, while they do what they do very well, somehow just doesn’t connect with me. I have the feeling I’m not the only one, since the room is surprisingly empty for what basically is a headlining band. The feeling that if they were programmed in Tiamat’s slot yesterday and Tiamat switched to this slot, both bands would have been in front of a better crowd crept up on me. Again, in the back of the room, Coroners music got lost in the thundering low regions. The band does an energetic attempt to move the crowd, but people seem paralyzed in the sheer amount of sound coming their way. A real pity.
Finally we get to Therion, the proper headliner of the day. Being the symphonic-metal giant that they are, the stage feels a little small for them. With three vocalists (who are also the main crowd entertainers) guitars, bass, drums, keys and a huge amount of razzle dazzle (including a belly dance act.) Very nice. This show cannot disappoint. It’s magnificent to watch and, while softer than certain bands on today’s line-up, they certainly pack a pretty metal punch. The sound-mix is really well balanced, which is needed when you have such subtle vocal harmonies to balance against raging guitars. The soprano vocalist sometimes sound a little harsh and sharp in her high notes, but this is forgiven for the sheer amount of show this band puts out. Even is symphonic metal isn’t your thing remotely, you have to admire the enormity of the show. This was definitely the best band of the day, and rightful headliner.
Since this show cannot be topped by Gothminister and last train needed to be caught, we left Eindhoven Metal Meeting’s party awestruck, exhausted and satisfied. Though the venue was plagued by less than supreme sound, certain bands shone through, and especially the ambiance was magnificent. Eindhoven, thank you for the party! Until next year.
Eindhoven Metal Meeting is quite the event in the southern Netherlands and even most of metal loving Europe by now. This year the festivities were three nights starting Thursday 12th through Saturday 14th of December. Billing 40+ bands in various genres and a very restricted press list, Ghost Cult was more than happy to be their press partner this year. Being solo, our reporter and photographer decided to only follow the main stage, excepting the Thursday when the running order was a little more forgiving.
Day one: Thursday 12th the party begins. Sadly we missed the apparently brilliant set by Death Angel due to travel issues. Apparently these classic thrashers played a great deal of their newer work with verve and gave one hell of a show. Sadly, they didn’t play much of their older work in this set. Arriving just when Sabaton started playing the main stage, the power metal party was starting. Sabaton know how to engage an audience. They may be a bit over the top, although compared to the rest of the power metal genre, they’re pretty timid. Their show was bombastic and everyone in the room enjoyed them very much. There was a smaller crowd than you’d expect with a name like Sabaton, but maybe the variety of the line-up accounted for this. It seemed that the core of the audience came more for the thrash and death related acts. Sabaton decide to play a somewhat different set than they usually do, citing they know many fans at this gig have seen them many times before. The vocals and mix are a little off, but the solos and general mood were awesome. It’s clear though they were playing for a “home crowd.”
Next up in the small room downstairs was Izegrim, a local up and comer in death metal. These guys have been playing all over NL of late and personally I hadn’t caught them yet. Their female vocalist promises to add a slightly different touch to a genre that is usually pretty conservative in its taste. When they started playing, inexperience, and possibly nerves showed. There are some good show elements (stepping forward to the edge of the stage to solo and such), but they last only a fraction of a second, giving their show a nervous feeling. The guitar solos sound a little patchy and the music in general is straight forward death metal as we know it. It’s well constructed though and while inexperience shows in the lie show, these guys could definitely grow bigger after they relax due to some more stage experience.
Finishing on the main stage is Accept. These hard rockers have been around for years, and experience showed. Their show is big and well executed, but carefree and relaxed at the same time. The best thing to see was that they really enjoy themselves. This infected the crowd who, even if it’s not their cup of tea musically, seemed to enjoy them. The sound too was exceptionally good too. Props to these guys for pulling off flawless solos and vocals, thundering drums and even slight improvisations while giving a great show, building a real party. Since I hadn’t seen Death Angel, they were my highlight of the night, but I heard Death Angel could rival them in excellence.
Friday 13th: The next day we return to Eindhoven Effenaar for a second day of loud. This day had a distinctly less party feel with mostly death and black metal bands playing the main stage. No power metal, thrash, or hard rock today, but bleak, dark, aggressive metal. Because of the denser programming today we could only cover the main stage. When we arrived we found out Fleshgod Apocalypse sadly had cancelled due to travel problems. The fans who came especially for this band (and there was a few of them) milled about the main room and in front of the venue aimlessly.
Now opening on the main stage is Morgoth. This German death metal outfit’s name is so common as a metal band, it’s a bit of a search to know who you have in front of you. They make a very quick solo filled type of death metal, with a very tight drum base. Sadly, many of the songs sound very similar, with growling vocals, and loads and loads of shredded solos. They’re very good at what they do (even though the sound is a little off, with the bass drum being overly represented.), but not very special. Good, more traditional and solid death metal.
At the same time Dues Mortem are playing in the smaller room downstairs. Since Morgoth couldn’t keep my attention I decide to have a look there. The room is decently full, but it seems most of the crowd prefers Morgoth to Deus Mortems somewhat slower, more song structured and listenable black metal. The Polish outfit is less black than some of the other billed bands, and doesn’t really use the more complex chord schemes and high vocals that normally characterize the genre, but pull off a good show.
After this we go to catch Belphegor. A quick discussion over genre-types with a clear black metal connoisseur in the press pit leads to the label of “Blackened Death”, who, while starting out as a black metal outfit, is moving more and more towards death metal. They still work with the wall of sound approach, but the vocals are lower and more growling, there are less dissonant in the guitar work and the song structure is simpler than most black metal. These guys also definitely know how to give a show, adorning the stage with some interesting bone sculptures. Melodies that almost float over the wall of noise created by blast beats, and quick guitar strokes are actually quite good and catchy. Definitely a very enjoyable band.
Napalm Death takes the stage next, and definitely show the punk roots in their hyperactive, aggressive grindcore and death metal. Running around the stage, vocalist Barney Greenway never leaves a dull moment in their 2-3 minute elapsing songs. They get 50 minutes to completely annihilate the crowd. Sadly, the sound is poorer than usual with these guys, and it kind of muddles and confuses the more crisp sound they normally have. Everything was very loud, which is good for Napalm Death in general, but now gets a bit over the top, especially with the sloppiness in both the playing and the mix. Definitely not a bad gig, but I’ve seen them do better.
The next band is one I’ve been looking forward to for some time; Carpathian Forest is, according to my black metal connoisseur, the only real black metal band on the bill. Being one of the relics from the old Norwegian scene, they should be exceptional. Sadly, the mix is terrible, laying emphasis on the bass drum and low sounds, vocals strangely mixed, where‘s vocals drowned out whenever the second set came in. It almost felt like a death metal mix, and even then was very poor. A fan mentioned, flabbergasted, that he hardly recognized the songs they played. Definite disappointment, while from an engagement and visual point of view the show was exceptionally good.
Then it’s time for odd duck on today’s billing; Tiamat. The new wave/Goth metal band would have been in front of a better crowd had they been billed the next day, when there is more melodic metal booked. This means that the rather dull song structures and lethargic deliverance which works wonderfully for goth fans does nothing at all for the more death and black oriented crowd today. Many trickle out or silently abide, waiting for whom they really came for to get on stage next, Watain.
Playing on Friday the 13th of the 13th year of their existence, the show doesn’t seem to hold much special value for Watain themselves. Having heard horror stories of the bands stage props and blood chucking habits, I was prepared for the worst, but didn’t get anything too bad. They left home their rotting sheep’s heads, only tossed one goblet of old blood into the awaiting crowd (which hit a very excited young man and his much less thrilled girlfriend), and had their fire rig set up flanking the drummer, accompanied by two huge screens made up of skin and bone panels. The band still has their own particular funk, but nothing too bad, and the sound was actually the best of the whole day in the much plagued room. I think the band has toned down the gore for a festival gig, where the next day the same room still has to be used for a full day. The show was excellent and really engaging, even though the band is mostly interested in their own ritual performance, and not much in the ecstatic crowd. Definitely worth waiting for the witching hour for them to start.