Cruciamentum, Blood Incantation @ Baroeg Rotterdam, 19 March 2017

Cruciamentum and Blood Incantation are touring through Europe and at this Sunday afternoon gig, the Baroeg added three more bands to the bill, that all could fit the label “local”.

The venue was already quite full when I arrived, particularly for a Sunday. The opening band Graceless started a short time later. Most of the band members also play in other bands, including Soulburn. They label themselves as old school death metal, which I guess they are. The riffs are basic death metal riffs. On the other hand, the pace of the music is too fast for doom metal most of the time and too slow for death metal. And the leads are very melodic compared to many death metal acts. So not bad but it could do with some punch.

Well punch enough for the next band. Neocaesar is a relatively new band by ex-Sinister members Bart and Mike. And frankly they play pretty much in the style of the album “Hate”. Nothing wrong with that, especially as Sinister hasn’t been much of interest for years and they now have a drummer that can actually play. Fast death metal but with lots of room where they take it a bit slower. There is a very clear old school touch here, but with some more technical riffs. They sound much tighter as the previous time I saw them, which IIRC was their first live gig. All the songs they played were from their self-released debut album called 11:11.

Cruciamentum was the band I really wanted to see. There debut album is really good, very dark and heavy death metal. They opened with the album opener. Live that guitar sound was a bit grainier, making it sound even heavier. Half way through the set they played a new apparently yet untitled song. Otherwise the focus was on the latest album. Ending the set with the mighty Collapse. The opening riff is so heavy. Only the vocalist sounded a bit hoarse, especially when speaking in between the songs. Great gig.

Then one of the oldest still going death metal bands in the world got on stage: Thanatos. Even though the activity is rather low. It was announced to be the last gig with drummer Yuri, but with the promise that they will continue. Probably Paul en Stephan have more time now that Hail of Bullets has split up. They played some newer songs, but most crowd response came when they played songs from the first two albums from the 1990s, like And Jesus Wept, War, Dead by Dawn and Outward of the Inward. Pretty good gig.

The last act was the American band Blood Incantation. This band graced a lot of top-lists from 2016. So I was a bit curious how it would sound live; on the album I can’t really get into it much. And I think the problem is that the songs are fragmented, sometimes there are dissonant riffs, then fast and complex fretboard runs, back some old school powerchords, melodic or clean section, and so on, but there seem to be missing a flow in the songs. The last song they played was a 13 minute song that is a prime example of this. Technically a great band but I can’t really get into the songs. The vocals sounded low in the mix, and were hard to hear during the announcements in between songs; in part that was due to the occasional effects used on the vocals. They seemed to be weird statements about outer space, inner space, or whatever.

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