Rotterdam Death Fest, Baroeg, Rotterdam, 22 November 2014

Rotterdam death fest return to the Baroeg this year for two days of death metal. The first day was reserved more for technical, modern death metal, the second day aimed more at old school death metal. For me there was only one major attraction really, the New Zealand trio that go by the name Ulcerate. The rest of the bands were mostly not very interesting. So I only went the Saturday when Ulcerate played and even then skipped the first couple of bands.

The first band I saw was the US progressive death metal band Gigan. I don’t think I had heard them before even though they have released several albums already. They were quite fast and with some odd melodies and harmonies, which I guess is meant by the “progressive” label they got. Or maybe that’s because they have a left-handed guitarist. Pretty decent actually, but like with many of these bands, the music is quite hard to digest and takes a few listens or so to set in. During the lead guitar work it sounded a bit thin, a second guitar player would probably be great for a band like this.

Solace Of Requiem was the next band on the list to play. I didn’t know them either. Labelled as black-death metal, but honestly I could not really hear the black influences apart from a bit raspy vocals. But never mind. This was kind of okay, but ultimately sounds a bit samish to me after a couple of songs.

I had heard the Spanish Wormed before thought. But I thought the album that I heard rather boring, with a lot of blasting and low-end riffing with very limited melody in it. Again all the songs seem a bit like a blur too me.

Then the final band was Ulcerate. They are only a threesome these days, and I was curious how that would work out live. They used to have a second guitarist. But actually it worked out fine. The guitarist played a lot of guitar parts using a looper and two amps. So that mostly properly filled out the wall of sound. Contrary to most previous bands they actually go beyond the 5th fret on the fretboard, actually the guitarist is all over the guitarboard, adding many dissonant chords and melodies to the already twisted, and dissonant riffings. And that at a frantic pace, set by the equally impressive drums. He’s probably one of the most technical drummers around. In contrast the vocals and bass guitar are mostly pretty straight forward giving it a very brutal edge. But the most impressive is probably that among all the complex, and sort of chaotic parts, they actually manange to hold it together and work out really great songs. The opening song they played Await Recission is an excellent example of this. I really like what they do with the melodies half-way through the song, breaking it up a few times and restarting it until they eventually complete the melody line. The rest of the set was for a great deal new songs of the Vermis album, with a couple of songs of The Destroyer of All and Everything is Fire, including the beastly title track of the latter. A very impressive gig. Maybe not to mosh to or head bang a lot, most of the crowd I guess was watching in awe. But much like the latest Gorguts, this is more music to listen to, because there is so much going on and the musical flow changes continuously.

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