Rotterdam Deathfest, 14 November 2015, Baroeg, Rotterdam

I think this is the fourth installment of the Rotterdam Deathfest. Contrary to last year it was only a single day event, even though the initial announcement was for two days. Fallen Saints had cancelled briefly before the event due to illness, so that reduced the bill to only six bands. The bill however seemed to miss a real headliner, and as a result the turnout was quite low. I myself suffered a bit of an illness so I decided to skip the first couple of bands, Caedere and Buried. And I was running a little later than planned.

So when I entered the venue the French Mercyless had just started playing their first song. I hadn’t heard this band before, so I checked out a couple of their albums and they sounded quite solid death metal with some thrash influences, not that much unlike the mighty Massacra. Live they sounded exactly like that. They focussed on their debut album and on their most recent album. The stage presence is a bit static, as with many metal bands. Singer Max seemed to be quite pissed off about the attack in France the day before. They ended their set with a cover of Evil Dead by Death. Quite a good gig.

Another change of plans was Loudblast, who appeared next before Apophys. When the stage was changed over, some one, I suppose from the organisation came on stage and announced that they were glad that Loudblast were still playing despite having lost a friend during the aforementioned attack in France. A minute silence followed before Loudblast kicked off. Like Mercyless I hadn’t heard Loublast before, and stylistically not very unlike the other French death / thrash bands. There is a bit more fury in this than Mercyless, and they really tried to engage the audience. They also closed their set with a cover, for which Max from Mercyless came on stage to handle the vocals. They opted to play Motorhead’s Ace of Spades. Quite a good gig as well.

Then Apophys. A relatively new Dutch band, but with experienced members. In part formed from the remains of Toxocara, however they aren’t as good as Toxocara were on the first two albums. The music is less technical and less fast and hints a bit towards metalcore. They played their entire debut album. Solid but nowhere as good as Toxocara.

The headliner of this year’s festival was the English Cancer, who released three great albums in the 90s and a couple shitty releases afterwards. They brought only one guitarist which made the sound a bit thin, especially during the solos. The set list consisted only of songs from the first two albums. It seemed however that they were too enthusiastic, they raced through their set. They ended with cover of Celtic Frost’s Dethroned Emperor. After some 50 minutes they cleared the stage, instead of the 75 minutes they were given, with no encore. Some Electro-Convulsive Therapy or Meat train would have been excellent. So a bit of a let down, particularly because their gig a year and a half ago was very, very good.

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