In The Grip Of Winter Fest, 28 January 2018, Baroeg, Rotterdam

A new festival in Rotterdam’s club Baroeg, mostly aiming at death metal, may be a bit of misnomer considering the total lack of winter weather. But hey, referring to a Autopsy song is always fine. Hehe, maybe they can Headline next year. Six bands were found to play on this dreary Sunday afternoon and early evening.

The opening band of the day was Silenxce (no typo there!) a very old Dutch band that produced a few demos in the mid to late 1980s that got resurrected a couple of years ago. I had never heard of them before. They play something like speed metal, and early thrash metal. It actually all sounded quite dated and never exceed the hobby project status. Most of the riffs have been heard before. The vocals are rather monotonic and not all that good. Quite a mediocre opening by a band that doesn’t really fit on the bill anyway.

The second band was Craven Idol. A band that I was curious about. This UK outfit plays an odd mixture of black metal, think early Bathory with a bit of a more modern thrash riffs and death riffs thrown in – Cruciamentum comes to mind – but with some typical heavy metal style guitar melodies. Overlay that with some chaotic guitar solos. Some how this works quite well despite a bit of slop in the performance. I dig this band.

Then Reptilian, a rather young looking Norwegian band that plays death metal – somewhat Swedish sounding but with odd riffs and much slower passages thrown in – much like a lot of Norwegian death metal bands, there is something odd to the music. The songwriting seems however mostly be a bunch of solid riffs knotted together without a clear flow in the songs. They played their material quite well, but could also improve on presentation. Not bad tho.

My primary motive of going to this festival was another Norwegian band called Execration. They are a very unique sounding death metal band, that blend more traditional death metal riffs with odd, avant-garde passages. This results in mostly longer songs, in a non-standard format, often with a bit of an unsettling feel in the music. I was wondering how this would come across in a live setting. But all in all it worked quite well. Every songs has something interesting all of the time and they manage to keep it together. They even played Grains of Odes to the Occult which has originally a different tuning, than the later material, but the fixed it to the standard E they use now. Great gig.

The second reason of going was the Brazilian band Rebaelliun (again no typo). They sound quite a bit similar to their country mates Krisiun; raging death metal, with lots of tremolo picking and blast beats. I had seen them twice in the late 1990s/ early 2000s. And now that they have reformed they are finally back on the European stage. The set consisted of a lot of newer songs, with a few older songs, like Spawning the Rebellion and At War. Stylistically these songs are very similar. A second guitar might have given a bit of a fatter sound, especially during the guitar solos. A very good gig.

The headliner was none other that the yet again resurrected Dutch death metal god fathers of Pestilence – or perhaps soap opera would be also a bit appropriate. The last gig of them i saw a few years ago was terrible and Patrick Mameli seemed to be very unhappy with the band at the time. He’s been through a lot of motions it seems, being fed up with metal. His Spheres album was ahead of its time, but badly received, the C-187 album was a disastrous release and frankly the albums released since the resurrection have been mostly quite mediocre. This tour however they promised to play only songs from the first four albums. And Patrick recruited a whole new band from Eastern Europe. After some technical problems with the drumkit got resolved they finally started with the intro from Malleus Malificarum and the song Anthropomorphia. After Parricide and Subordinate to the Domination, they chronologically played a selection of indeed the first four albums. Obviously Testimony to the Ancients got the most attention with 5 songs. The two Spheres songs got very little response, but the remainder was quite well received. Patrick seemed to be in good mood. It all sounded quite good, nevertheless there seemed to be something missing, but it’s hard to put a finger on what. Besides that a lot of the guitar solos were played quite sloppy. Solid gig.

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