It’s been nearly 15 years since I went to a gig in Leiden; I don’t think there has been much metal ever since. However now, a new venue named Gebr. Nobel opened its doors in 2014. And they organised a neat festival on this Sunday of the pentecost. I rode on my bike to Leiden and arrived just around the opening times.
It was only shortly after that the first band played on the main stage, namely the cult black metal band Countess that actually originates in this town. They’ve been going on for more than 20 years and released over a dozen albums, but I had never actually heard them. I expected something along the lines of early Bathory or Venom, but that was not the case. The music was heavily driven by keyboards and the guitar just doing some basic riffing and leads. And all that on a rather calm pace. The only thing that would really make me think it was actually anything like black metal at all were the vocals – a raspy grunt. Not really bad, but I miss a lot of aggression.
On the small stage Heretic was about to start. Another band I had never heard. They play a mixture of black metal with punk. O well, after a few songs I had enough and went back to the main stage.
There one of the two bands I wanted to see were preparing the stage: Soulburn. I had seen them a couple of months back and they were very good then. After the intro they started with a song of their latest album – Under the Rise of a Red Moon if I recall correctly. An excellent live band, actually better than on the album. The riffs are a strong mixture of death, doom and black metal in a style that is very typical from Eric Daniels, but generally faster than Asphyx. Bob Baghus’ drumming is very solid. The material of the new album mixes quite well with the songs of debut album. And especially its title track is terrific, especially the lead part in the middle. Hopefully, the next album won’t take another 16 years to complete.
Back in the small hall, a French black metal band played, called Hell Militia. Also an unknown band to me. And I couldn’t care much about them either. I watched a few songs to go back to the main stage.
The headliner actually played rather early this evening. It took quite a while before the intro Gehennae Incendiis actually started, but then finally the resurrected NWOBHM Hell appeared on stage. I saw them play at a festival in bright sunlight and they were very good then, but I had hopes to see them in a club some day. Perhaps one of the most peculiar stories around heavy metal. Founded in 1982, released a bunch of demos and singles, then fell apart five years later, followed by the suicide of the band leader Dave Halliday. In 2008, Dave’s friend Andy Sneap reboots the band as a guitarist with much of the original remaining lineup, and adds guitarist Kev Bower’s brother David as the singer. They recorded songs from the earlier days and finally release the debut album. A second album follows a couple of years later with partially more older material but also a couple of newer songs. They opened with a song of the latest album, called the Age of Nefarious. They band played very well and singer David is not only a great singer but a great entertainer as well using lots of props, but no dildos though. During one of the songs he appears on stage as a giant Devil’s figure with cloven hooves on stilts, and giant horns on his head. The newer songs don’t even fall out of place between the older material, and actually both sound as timeless as can be. Let Battle Commence greatly explains their intentions for the set and they definitely fulfilled their promises. After On Earth as It Is in Hell, they only came back for more in the form of Save Us From Those Who Would Save Us. So an excellent gig from a bit of a tragic band. Afterwards, the drummer threw one of his sticks right into my hands.
On the small stage a few other bands had played during Hell, which I missed; and now it was time for Funeral Winds. Another semi-cult black metal band form the Netherlands. I never bother to listen to their music as I don’t care for low-fi black metal. Nevertheless I watched them play a few songs but then left. Later the also resurrected Inquisitor was supposed to play – whom I had seen in the early 90s and I wanted to see again – however they cancelled shortly before the gig, and got replaced by another band I didn’t know. So I didn’t wait and went home a bit early.