Dark Millennium @ JKC Nirwana, Dronten, 24 September 2016

Dark Millennium are a progressive Death metal bands from Germany that released 2 albums in the early 1990s. Especially the first album is very good and quite original. They broke up quickly after the release of the second album, before I got a chance to see them live. Now some 23 years later they did their first gig since the reunion in a town in the polder called Dronten where a small festival was organised called Doc Fest metal meeting. That was a fine reason to go there as well. The other bands on the bill were all Dutch. I skipped a few that didn’t sound very interesting.

When I entered the venue, the also re-united Ceremony had just started their set; the venue however was largely empty . Their sole album released also in the early nineties is quite good. And their live performance was chaotic as the first time I saw them, half a year or so ago. I guess they practiced a lot. Besides some old songs they also composed a few new songs and added them to the set. All in all quite a solid gig.

The next band was Razend (which means something like raging in Dutch) and is the continuation of Outburst. Corrine van den Brand of the excellent Acrostichon fronts this band. However she doesn’t really use here deep grunts a lot, but yells, screams and sing in a clean voice. I never cared much for Outburst and this sort of angry thrash metal they play does not appeal to me much either.

After another long change-over another re-united band took the stage: Dead End. I saw them a while back and they were okay. Mostly mid-paced death metal. Their bass-player occasionally steals the show with some interesting lead work. Otherwise it is pretty standard and not very exciting. Especially the newer material seems to lack in the aggression department.

Yet another reunited band was next. Usurper plays thrash metal leaning more towards speed metal. They have released one album in 1990 and then broke up. This year they started to play some shows again. Musically, it is all alright, not really original; however the vocals are quite dull and I don’t like the tone. The singer seems to be the only original member – so that is kind of weird. So a decent band.

Then it was finally time for Dark Millennium to hit the stage. I was very curious to hear if they could capture the atmosphere of the first album. After the intro they kicked off with Spiritual, due to some sound issues it sounded a bit sloppy. However that got resolved. And the second songs sounded much clearer. It felt all slightly faster than on the album and the guitar sound was much crunchier than on the album (one of the minor issues with that album). They only played one song of the second album, which I guess is also the best of that album – Of Sceptre Their Ashes May Be. Two new songs were played of an already recorded and soon to be released third album. They sounded a bit different from the other album. After a keyboard interlude, they played the brilliant Below the Holy Fatherlands, I especially like the opening lead guitar work. The Bringer of Plague song off the demo and the final song of the debut – The Atmosphere – closed the set. Especially as this was their first gig in 23 years, it was actually a stellar performance. Hopefully they do some decent touring after the release of the new album, and I have another chance to see them again.

The festival organisation was otherwise pretty much crap, even though the location and venue was not bad. There was very limited information available, not even the running order or the start time of the first band or the expected ending time. The turn-out was horrendous, I guess there were at most 30 paying visitors, who seemed mostly to attend the barbecue in stead of watching the gigs. The change-overs between bands took very long, more than 45 minutes was no exception. So all-in-all there is much room for improvement to this festival. Fortunately Dark Millennium saved the day.

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