XMAS METAL FEST (WITH CANNIBAL CORPSE, MARDUK, BEHEMOTH AND OTHERS) - 013, TILBURG, NETHERLANDS, DECEMBER 16 2001
By the time we got inside from the slightly freezing cold we'd already missed the first band. This band turned out to have been Sinister, put on as a worthy (?!) replacement act for Kreator. Well, I'd seen Sinister a few weeks early and, though I have yet fully to recover emotionally from discovering that their deepest of death grunts arises from a rather small girl, their music didn't captivate me that much.
Vomitory had already started, and they played a variety of tracks that seemed to go down pretty well with the crowd. Their most recent album, "Revelation Nausea", was a pretty good one and they obviously played several tracks from that.
Unfortunately there were two halls with acts from more or less the same genres, so inevitably you end up walking to and fro, and missing quite a bit here and there. After seeing Polluted Inheritance in the small hall, I decided to mainly stick to the large hall. Polluted Inheritance sounded OK but didn't impress me much; the only thing I remember is that the singer played an Ibanez Jem with monkey grip...
Krisiun had started playing by the time I had squeezed my way back to the main hall. These Brazilians (I seem to recall) played an amazingly tight set, with their amazingly fast drummer and sympathetic stage presence. Will check these guys out more, because so far I hadn't heard anything by them.
Dark Funeral were up after Krisiun. When someone told me their singer allegedly goes to a mountain to sit there for 7 days and nights to wait until Satan himself appears to help him with his lyrics, I figured they were a bunch of fruitcakes. These guys are definitely too image-conscious, and I am sure it helps them sell, but I guess for me it's the music that matters most. With Dark Funeral, I am afraid, the music is just too simple, too technically un-challenging. At one point the singer shouted: "It's...time...to..."...and I was prepared to shout "leave...the...stage!" but to my surprise he and many people in the crowd then shouted "open...the...gates!" So I guess the image definitely appeals to some.
Apart from Kreator (...) and Cannibal Corpse, the biggest reason for my wanting to attend this year's XMas Metal Fest was Nile. These guys have made wonderfully challenging, heavy-as-fuck music for two consecutive albums, and I like them a lot. I'd never seen them play, so this was my chance. They kicked off with "Black Seeds of Vengeance", and from that moment until the very end hurled at the audience their typical brand of high-standard, very heavy music. I don't remember many of the tracks they played, but I think it's safe to say that a good time was had by all, including me. When they did "Ramses Bringer of War" a wide grin appeared on my face, signalling my personal start of Enjoyment for the rest of the evening. A very, very cool and majestic track (based on Gustav Holst's "Mars Bringer of War", but much much heavier). Unlike some other bands on the line-up, Nile was as full of energy as if this was the first time they played in front of anything other than a pub crowd. The set lasted too short, alas.
I was very sceptical of Marduk indeed. I'd seen them this year on Graspop and to me it had just seemed like a bunch of noise. Now I was much more up close so I got more of the atmosphere. Part of what I like about metal is the tremendous energy that seems to exude from the music, and Marduk is definitely a band that gets across as very angry, very full of energy, very happening. I personally think they are too image-conscious as well, a thing seemingly shared by all black metal bands alike, sell-out or not. I've never really heard anything by them, so I can't tell you what they played. But their sound was good (in general the whole day had good sound) and, like I said before, it was all energy. I does have to be said that their drummer is not the pinnacle of innovation. Basically, he plays a constant blast-beat on the bass drums, then does the same thing on his cymbals all the time, in all the songs, each time ending with 2 or 4 hits on the hi-hat. Once you notice that kind of thing, it starts to grind on you. Well, on me, anyway.
The masters of...um...what do they do? Death metal? Gore metal? Thrash? Techno-gore? Anyway, they are one of the first and one of the best at what they do. These guys are technically pretty OK, especially guitar and bass. They treated us to a selection of songs from "Butchered at Birth", "The Bleeding", "Vile" and "Bloodthirst", as well as a track from their debut album that I'm afraid I don't know... They also did two new tracks, one of which was called "Compelled to Lacerate". They sounded pretty good. Their forthcoming album should be interesting (February 2002).
Most of the bands dedicated single tracks or even their whole set to the sadly departed Chuck "Death" Schuldiner. That was cool.
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Written December 2001
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