Netherlands Deathfest 2019

Netherlands Deathfest 2019

A festival I had decided not to attend this year after having been there the previous two in a row. A friend convinced me to go just two weeks prior to the festival weekend. I was convinced. Then something tragic happened and I almost cancelled last minute. I eventually made it and I am so glad I didn’t pass the opportunity.

Early morning flight into Eindhoven, train to Tillburg, a couple hours wait for the AirBnB check-in, and then straight to the festival grounds in the city centre. The festival takes place in the 013 Poppodium on 2 different stages. The previous years the organisers also made use of the Patronaat stage right across the main venue, but this year that wasn’t hosting any gigs (which lead to various rumours for the duration of the fest – thank goodness those rumours were disproved by an announcement only hours after the festival had ended)!

Day 1, 03/05/19

I arrived just in time to catch the Finnish band Rippikoulu  perform their last couple of songs delivering some interesting sounding cavernous death metal. Low tuned guitars, echo over distortion and chaotic vocals is my impression of the very little I managed to hear from them. Although this sound is not exactly my cup of tea, I do see why some might be interested in giving them a chance. For fans of the Incantation sound (surely they weren’t as technical as Incantation).

Next in line to try and get the crowd warmed up for the weekend to come were the mighty Anaal Nathrakh. This band has never ceased to impress me on stage, although getting them on a day with a good sound seems like impossible (5/7 times I have seen them the sound was average at best). The reason I’m impressed is that they seem to know about the sound not being great, but they still go at it like as all is good sound wise, delivering a crushing performance. Seeing metal musicians on stage being inebriated or intoxicated is no news, but I believe it is the first time I saw Anaal so clearly wasted. Now don’t get me wrong. They only looked wasted in between the songs, the moment the next song started they would immediately transform into the professional nutcases we know. As soon as the given song would end, they all went back into their wasted state of being! I massively enjoyed once more, and I do hope I manage to see them at some point, having a great sound support for their performance. I’m optimistic about that.

Small gap between the next bands I really wanted to see, so that gave me the opportunity to go check out bands I did not know of, or had never heard of. Enter Fubar. Netherland-ian grindcore. Yup, that’s pretty much it. You can’t go wrong with grindcore. Hyper fast polka beats going into blast beats, razor sharp guitars, constant riffing and aggressive vocals. A very pleasant filler for me. Guys and girls who are into this kind of music, go ahead and give them a chance. You might be up for a pleasant surprise.

Time for the almighty Cryptopsy from Canada to take on the stage. Yet another band which has never disappointed. It is probably my 5th time seeing them and I almost know in advance that it can’t go wrong. Performance, sound, attitude, energy…all top level. I can picture the vocalist in a “who can headbang faster” competition with Corpsegrinder of Cannibal Corpse. The band was tight and delivered an almost flawless set. Every time they finish a live set, the vocalist reminds the crowd that they are a band without a label, and urges them to support the band directly through purchasing some merch. This time however, they only urged the crowd for support without mentioning anything about labels. That makes me wander whether something changed in that front my dear Canadian friends. I’ll have to dig into it.

Brujeria in action

And then there was pandemonium. Brujeria from Mehico motherfockers!!!!! Just the right balance between death metal aggression and fun. I can’t possibly know who the exact members were, as they seem to change musicians almost every time I have seen them. Plus, all members were wearing a Mexican cartel style scarf around their faces (as one does), but I could definitely tell that Shane Embury (Napalm Death) was on bass, and N. Barker on the drums. I am almost certain, or I would like to convince myself, that on guitars was Dino Cazares, but I will reserve a certain level of ambiguity about that. The vocalists constantly addressing the crowd in Mexican was a treat, as no one really knows (except for Spanish speaking individuals of course) what they were commenting on, but everyone just cheered, as a metal crowd does. I shouldn’t find this so hilarious as most of the times the frontmen of bands address the crowd in English but brutal vocals. Again, no-one really knows what the hell was just spoken, but everyone follows the unwritten code of conduct, which demands a cheer! Lol.

Just before the headliners of the 1st day, I got the chance to see Extinction of Mankind. A crossover band from the UK, playing a blend of death metal and punk. Very energetic and surprisingly, older looking than your average musician of this sort of genre. They have been active since 1992 and their high voltage performance gave me a boost of energy. Never heard of them in the past, I believe these blokes were definitely a highlight of the (unknown to me band) weekend.

Day 1 was headlined by Electric Wizard, a band from the UK, known for their slow tempo, seriously low tuned and heavy guitars. Sound was amazing and the video playing in the background (some sort of cult movie I believe) added to the whole “spaced out” vibe they convey. Lost in the maze of tunes, feeling the bass vibrating the chest, I found my mind playing tricks when at some point I couldn’t tell the difference between the band on stage and the video playing at the back, as those two started merging into one. Kudos to the light tech who probably set this whole thing up deliberately. The band was impeccable, and so was the sound.

Setlists

Rippikoulu (main stage)

  1. Kadonneet jumalat
  2. Kuolematon totuus
  3. Ikuinen piina
  4. Anteeksiannon synkkä varjo
  5. Pimeys yllä jumalan maan
  6. Musta seremonia
  7. Maailma palaa
  8. Sisälmyksiä katukivetyksellä

Anaal Nathrakh

  1. The Road to…
  2. Obscene as Cancer
  3. Monstrum in Animo
  4. Depravity Favours the Bold
  5. Hold Your Children Close and Pray for Oblivion
  6. Forward!
  7. In the Constellation of the Black Widow
  8. Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes
  9. Forging Towards the Sunset
  10. More of Fire Than Blood

Fubar (small stage)

                No Setlist Available

Cryptopsy

  1. Crown of Horns
  2. Detritus (The One They Kept)
  3. Slit Your Guts
  4. Cold Hate, Warm Blood
  5. Two-Pound Torch
  6. The Prophecy (Lord of the Rings: The… more )
  7. Graves of the Fathers
  8. Fear His Displeasure
  9. Phobophile
  10. Sire of Sin
  11. Orgiastic Disembowelment

Brujeria

  1. Cuiden a los niños
  2. La ley de plomo
  3. La migra (Cruza la frontera II)
  4. Hechando chingasos (Greñudo locos II)
  5. Satongo
  6. Desperado
  7. El desmadre
  8. Anti-Castro
  9. Marcha de odio
  10. Revolución
  11. Brujerizmo
  12. Ángel de la frontera
  13. Consejos narcos
  14. Colas de rata
  15. Raza odiada (Pito Wilson)
  16. No aceptan imitaciones
  17. Matando güeros

Extinction of Mankind

  1. The Nightmare Seconds
  2. Engage The Enemy
  3. Without Consent

(Incomplete)

Electric Wizard

  1. Intro (Procreation of the Wicked)
  2. Witchcult Today
  3. Black Mass
  4. Return Trip
  5. See You in Hell
  6. Incense for the Damned
  7. Satanic Rites of Drugula
  8. The Chosen Few
  9. Funeralopolis

Day 2, 04/05/19

Great expectations on my behalf for the second day of Netherlands Deathfest, as there are more than a few bands that I really wanted to see again, a few that I wanted to check out, and one that I had never seen before and that proved to be one of the highlights of the whole festival; Tormentor, the cult black thrash Hungarian band of Attila Csihar, who later went on to record vocals for the infamous De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas of Mayhem.

I missed the first band to open the second day of the festival, Father Befouled, but I was there in time for the second half of Graveyard’s set (main stage). I can’t say I was impressed, although there wasn’t anything technically wrong with their music. Straightforward black metal which might be exactly what someone is looking for, in which case, dive in, it might be your thing. I just thought they didn’t have anything new to offer. Or it was just me being impatient to see the bands I really wanted to for that day. Sound was promising, which was a good sign for the following bands.

Setlist:

  1. Almulk Biallawn Al’Asfar (intro)
  2. With Fear and Thirst
  3. To Earth and Death
  4. The Visitations of the Great Old Ones
  5. Faces of the Faceless
  6. Wings Like Daggers
  7. One With the Dead
  8. The Mighty Columns of Irem
  9. Mine is the Shining Light
  10. Blood of Vengeance

Next, I went to catch a glimpse of Jupiterian (small stage). A sludge/doom/death metal band from Brazil. The sound was cavernous and good. This kind of sound is not my cup of tea, but the band was very professional and the fans of the band seemed to be very pleased with what they were witnessing. Although I did see and enjoy their whole set, I don’t think I will be listening to their music at any point unless I happen to run into them at some festival in the future, where I will gladly see them again.

Setlist:

No setlist available

I remained at the small stage area to see Krypts from Finland. Chaotic death metal would be a good way to describe them, but one would really need to listen for themselves to understand. Same as before, I massively enjoyed seeing them live, but I would not run to the merch stand to buy their music. Not because they don’t deserve it, but because their style is not the one I’d prefer to listen to at home. I’m sure they would appeal greatly to fans of Funebrarum and Incantation.

Setlist:

No setlist available

I then moved back to the main stage to check out Cenotaph, as I had heard of them before. What I had heard was that there are 10-15 bands called Cenotaph all over the world and had no idea who I was seeing. I will take a fellow metalhead’s word that they were the Mexican Cenotaph, and that this was their first gig in 18 years. Which would explain how sloppy they sounded. Unfortunately, they did not play well. Too many mistakes which were obvious despite me not knowing a single note of theirs. I really wanted to give them a chance, since what they did sounded sincere, but they sure did need better rehearsing. I decided to keep my mind open and give them a second chance in the future should it arise, but I also decided that the night would be long and needed to go and have something to eat. I left after 3 songs.

Setlist:

  1. Requiem for a Soul Request
  2. Ashes in the Rain
  3. Among the Abrupt
  4. Navegate
  5. The Solitudes
  6. Tenebrous Apparitions
  7. Severance
  8. Crying Frost
  9. Soul Profundis

I got back from scavenging for food, to walk into the small stage where Gutalax had taken the stage. Brutal death metal from the Czech Republic, treading on the funny side of the spectrum. I know that this far I sound very sceptical about most of the bands of the day, but the festival was going to take off from that point onwards. Pig squeal vocals, bunny costumes, toilet brushes, moshing and stage diving pretty much sum things up. The music is proper death metal, laced with a generous pinch of humour. I had seen them before in Brutal Assault 2016 and knew already what to expect. A crushing show, put a smile on our faces and opened our appetite for more.

Setlist:

No setlist available

About time for things to get serious though. Mightily so. Pestilence  took on the main stage, and boy were we smacked with what we witnessed. They were playing at home, and you know what they say. There is no place like home, and Pestilence sure showed how comfortable they were playing at home. The sound was crystal clear, loud, but not overly, as we could still talk and hear each other at a normal voice volume. This kind of sound I have experienced once more at Inferno ’16 for Suffocation. One could hear everything and still be able to talk at a normal volume. The band seemed energetic and happy to be on stage. They’re passion was contagious and the crowd headbanged throughout their set. My usual spot to see a show is up front, but this time I decided to enjoy from a distance. I got a good vantage point on some steps and saw the gig happen before me. Pestilence set the bar too high and on the one hand I was really happy they did so well, on the other I was thinking that things might go downhill from here on. How mistaken I was…

Setlist:

  1. Unholy Transcript
  2. Non Physical Existent
  3. Multi Dimensional
  4. The Process of Suffocation
  5. The Secrecies of Horror
  6. Suspended Animation
  7. The Trauma
  8. Out of the Body
  9. Reduced to Ashes
  10. Twisted Truth
  11. Land of Tears

Going back to the small stage, I saw Butcher ABC, a death/goregrind band from Japan. I found them highly entertaining. Technical music structure passing into pure noise, through a gory prism. Again one of the bands you have to witness and decide for yourself. I found their music interesting at the very least. I had never heard of them before, but I will surely be lending them an ear first opportunity given. And this last bit pretty much summarises the essence of metal festivals. You see bands you don’t know and get an idea on whether you want to check them out or not.

Setlist:

No available setlist

Unleashed

I took a small break which cost me seeing Carpathian Forest, but I wasn’t that much gutted as I knew I was seeing them a week later at Incineration festival in London. I went back to the main stage to witness Unleashed  unleash their dirty, muddy Swedish death metal. I was a fan of the band for the 1st four albums, but then I lost them. Not intentionally, I just got interested in other stuff and they were in hiatus so I had no idea what was going on with the band. Well apparently other than an 8 year hiatus, they have been very active and productive. They now have 13 studio albums, plus a few live recordings, box-sets and compilations. Latest album out in 2018 (which I had no idea of, of course), and the tracks they chose to play on that set sounded grand. I took a mental note to go back to the band and check out on what I have been missing all these years. Their performance was solid, the sound tight and their presence imposing. I will be looking forward to a headline tour where they will have the chance to play longer. Within the 55’ they were given on stage though they managed to fit 14 tracks.

Setlist:

  1. Finlandia, Op.26 (intro)
  2. Blood of Lies
  3. Dead Forever
  4. Don’t Want to Be Born
  5. Lead Us Into War
  6. The Longships Are Coming
  7. They Came to Die
  8. Stand Your Ground
  9. Hammer Battalion
  10. The Dark One
  11. Your Children Will Burn
  12. I Have Sworn Allegiance
  13. The Hunt For White Christ
  14. Execute Them All
  15. Into Glory Ride

Grave Miasma from the UK took on the small stage to deliver their unholy black/death metal. Yet another band sounding like as if they are playing in the depths of a cave, only these ones, really know how to do it. I have seen them on many occasions in the past, but this time was different. When you have a friend with you who is a huge fan of the band, pointing out all the cool moments, or a nightmarish riff, or a gatling blast beat, then you do see the band from a different perspective. I had enjoyed the band in the past. This time I really loved them. Since 2009 they have released 3 EP’s and one full-length album. Not very productive, but I’m sure it’s in the spirits of keeping things as cult as possible (lol).

Setlist:

No setlist availaToble

Tormentor

And there came the time for me to see Tormentor with Attila on vocals. I really didn’t know what to expect. As a huge fan of Attila I have pretty much listened to any project or band he has been involved with, irrespective of whether I like it or not. It doesn’t matter. It is Attila. So I had of course listened to the 2 demos I knew of (The 7th day of Doom ’87 and Anno Domini ’89). My impression was positive, but after a few audits I moved on to something else. Well what I saw live that weekend literally blew my mind to the black hole in the centre of our galaxy (not the one we have a picture of – that is too far away). Obviously the sound was massively improved compared to the demos, but nothing had prepared me for that perfection. Razor sharp black thrash riffs haunted by Attila’s unique vocal style. The band seemed tight, like as if they had been doing gigs forever. Their presence showed a level of confidence that is admirable. Attila spat and hissed at the mic, ranging his vocal chords from brutal guttural to high pitched screeches with ease. At points he would take a second mic and do all these weird sounds holding both mics by his mouth. To this day, I cannot believe how well they performed, especially since they haven’t been active live since the early 90’s (as far as I know of course, and please correct me if I’m wrong). Should you get the opportunity to see them live, do not miss it. I repeat, DO NOT MISS IT.

Setlist:

  1. Tormentor I
  2. In Gate of Hell
  3. Apocalypse
  4. Elisabeth Bathory
  5. Damned Grave
  6. Transylvania
  7. Tormentor II
  8. Trance
  9. Beyond
  10. Heaven
  11. Anno Domini
  12. Branded the Satan
  13. Mephisto
  14. Live in Damnation
  15. Seventh Day of Doom

Time had come for me to wrap up and go get the last bus towards the room I was renting. As much as I wanted to see Bethlehem, the prospect of having to walk home (65’ walk) forced me to only watch one track and leave. I couldn’t even reach the small stage area as everyone in the fest was trying to squeeze in there, since Bethlehem was the last band to play the second day of the fest.

  1. SeNiemals mehr leben
  2. Die Dunkelheit darbt
  3. Aberwitzige Infraschall-Ritualistik
  4. Gestern starb ich schon heute
  5. An gestrandeten Sinnen
  6. Fickselbomber Panzerplauze
  7. Kalt’ Ritt in leicht faltiger Leere
  8. Schatten aus der Alexander Welt
  9. Tagebuch einer Totgeburttlist:

Day 3, 05/05/19

The third day of the festival found me almost exclusively at the main stage. I was there for Possession, who warmed up the crowd well with their black metal. The sound sounded once again pretty neat so that gave me hopes for a great sound during the rest of the festival. It was more of a catch up time with friends, so I didn’t manage to get a close look at them, so I won’t go into judgemental mode. The general consensus though was that they were a decent band, worth checking out if you’re into their style of music.

Setlsit:

No setlist available

I popped in next door to see Phlebotomised on the small stage. The name predisposes one as to the musical direction of the band, but I was surprised not to find a gore/slam band. A keyboard rack was set at the very front of the stage and that gave me a hint that I wasn’t going to be seeing some gore/slam band, but I surely wasn’t expecting an experimental, technical death metal style. At some points they even had proper electronic music passages. I want to say “for the fans of Rings of Saturn and Rivers of Nihil”, but again, that would be my subjective take on what I experienced.

Setlist:

  1. Devoted to God
  2. Proclamation of a Terrified “Breed”
  3. Barricade
  4. Eyes on the Prize
  5. Deformation of Humanity
  6. Mustardgas
  7. Descend to Deviance

From here on I took no break till the end of the festival, seeing bands back to back. Next in line were Revenge, whom I was highly anticipating to see for the first time. Our heads were blown off by their barbaric music. War metal for some, death metal for others, black metal for the rest…who cares. The trio from Canada were ruthless and unstoppable. No chatting between the songs, no cliché metal lines, just raw destructive music. Another highlight along with Tormentor and Pestilence.

Setlist:

  1. Us and Them (High Power)
  2. Traitor Crucifixion
  3. Pride Ruination (Division Collapse)
  4. Mass Death Mass
  5. Desolation Insignia
  6. Altar of Triumph
  7. Banner Degradation (Exile or Death)
  8. Wolf Slave Protocol (Choose Your Side)
  9. Death Heritage (Built Upon Sorrow)
  10. Oath Violator
  11. Silent Enemy
Mgla

Mgla from Poland were the next to take to the stage. I have listened to their “Exercises in Futility” album and I am a big fan of the sound, music and atmosphere they have created. Therefore seeing them live for the first time would hopefully put my doubts at ease, that this kind of sound is difficult to reproduce live (I have the same opinion about Batushka – great band, but the sound is difficult to reproduce in live situations). I was indeed proven wrong and if one had their eyes closed, they couldn’t tell the difference between the live and studio version. In their black full face and leather jackets they had a quite imposing stage presence. Not much talking between tracks once again, which added to the whole atmosphere.

Setlist:

  1. Exercises in Futility I
  2. Exercises in Futility IV
  3. Mdłości II
  4. With Hearts Toward None I
  5. Exercises in Futility II
  6. Groza III
  7. With Hearts Toward None VII
  8. Exercises in Futility VI

Another band I had been longing to see live for ages was about to go on stage. Vomitory from Sweden with a fairly consistent presence till 2011 have reunited and I was eventually to see them perform live. Pure death metal sounds filled the main stage area and necks started snapping as their uber heavy riffs were blasted towards us. They seemed very comfortable on stage despite the many years of hiatus. They also seemed to be enjoying every moment, like as if they had missed, what they do best, greatly. One happy camper right here, made me go through their discography when I eventually got home after the weekend was over.

Setlist:

  1. Ack Värmeland, du sköna (intro)
  2. The Voyage
  3. Gore Apocalypse
  4. Revelation Nausea
  5. Madness Prevails
  6. Regorge in the Morgue
  7. Terrorize Brutalize Sodomize
  8. Serpents
  9. Primal Massacre
  10. Chaos Fury
  11. Raped in Their Own Blood

As Vomitory were finishing I ran to the small stage to see Viscera Infest from Japan. Fine brutal death metal with some attitude I must say. They couldn’t speak a word of English, so they addressed the crowd in Japanese instead. No big deal; metal language is universal. The vocalist screamed something in the mic (in Japanese), the crowd looked at each other and then roared back. He said something else, the crowd went “yeeeeeaaaaahhh” and everyone was happy. At some point they tried making the crowd do the cockroach mosh (where one has to lie on their back and just move their limbs like cockroach). Now that is one difficult thing to do when you don’t speak a language the crowd understands. Eventually the moshers lay on their backs and the moshing began. Problem was that half of them stayed on their backs (as one should when cockroach moshing apparently), when the rest jumped up and started moshing traditional style. You can imagine the chaos that followed. I’m sure I heard jaw bones snap, but I could be mistaken.

Setlist:

No setlist available

Back to the main stage to see Incantation cast their death metal music on us. There is nothing to say. I was just standing there in awe, trying to understand how one decides to write such sort of music. Truly mesmerising, impeccable performance. Age doesn’t seem to bother John McEntee (guitars/vocals) much who this year turns 50. This year also marks the 27th anniversary of the band, or at least that what John mentioned. Long may they live.

Setlist:

  1. Christening the Afterbirth
  2. Shadows of the Ancient Empire
  3. Lus Sepulcri
  4. Golgotha
  5. Profound Loathing
  6. Immortal Cessation
  7. Rites of the Locust
  8. Carrion Prophecy
  9. Dominant Ethos
  10. Ascend Into the Eternal
  11. The Ibex Moon

Everyone must have a band they missed for a stupid reason at some point and then never had the chance to see them since. Well that would be Deicide for me. They were playing in Thessaloniki – Greece in 2001 along with Benediction as co-headliners. I saw neither of these bands up until I saw Deicide in Netherlands deathfest and Benediction a week later at Incineration. They had trouble with the sound from early on. Glenn calmly was trying to get the sound tech to fix it but in vain. The sound problems were probably only on stage as we could here pretty well. However the band couldn’t hear themselves, and as a result there were more than a few sloppy moments. This did not put anyone down, neither band nor crowd. Deicide, with all their experience and professionalism managed to make everyone happy. This made me regret ever missing them in 2001 and never managing to see them all this time, but also made me promise myself to not miss them again in the future.

Setlist:

  1. Dead by Dawn
  2. When Satan Rules His World
  3. Scars of the Crucifix
  4. They Are the Children of the Underworld
  5. One With Satan
  6. Once Upon the Cross
  7. Defying the Sacred
  8. Serpents of the Light
  9. Seal the Tomb Below
  10. Oblivious to Evil
  11. Excommunicated
  12. Dead but Dreaming
  13. In the Minds of Evil
  14. Crawled From the Shadows
  15. Sacrificial Suicide
  16. 16.   Kill the Christian
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