Darken The Moon, 2 December 2018, De Casino, Sint Niklaas, Belgium

It was the Tenth edition of the Belgian Darken the Moon festival already. A few years back I went to edition number V, in Brussels, this time it was held in Sint Niklaas, which is about half an hour closer by. The festival was held in a very neat, old building called De Casino. It was actually quite big for this type of festival. Nevertheless the hall was reasonly well filled at the start of the first band. When I arrived, after some trouble finding a parking spot, the first band had just started playing.

Vin de Mia Trix are a Ukrainian doom metal band. I think they played two songs (or was it three), so that means the songs are very long. They tend to be mostly funeral doom with a few My Dying Bride inspired parts thrown in, and even some faster death metal parts. It as their first gig in Western Europe the singer said after the first song. All in all not bad, besides some small mistakes.

Second band of the day would be Ophis. I had seen them a week earlier, wut now they had a different guitarist. They played the same songs as last week, somewhat different order. I miss a song from the debut. Godforsaken would have been really cool. The new guitarist seems to need a bit more practice on some parts, other than that it was a very good gig.

Marche Funebre have played on every instance of this festival, so these Belgians appear on the bill again this year. I think they are even part of the organisation. I never much cared for them, they mostly seem to lack the melancholy or gloomy atmosphere of doom metal in most of their songs. Some are even more death metal than doom. Well played, lots of enthusiasm going, esp from the singer, just not really my thing.

Bell Witch are something special, just two guys basically, both singing, one playing the bass guitar and the other handling drums and some organs by way of foot pedals. They only played one song caller Mirror Reaper, which is their latest album and took nearly an hour and a half. The bass player is most of the sound, using tapping on bass with two hands to play two different parts – a bass part, and a melody part, the latter sounds very close to a guitar. I think he used 4 different amps to create his sound. Musically this is really dragged out funeral doom metal with lots of repetition. During the last bit of the set a extra singer came on stage to perform some clean vocals. After half an hour or so it started to bore me due to the similarity and lack of real hooks.

I especially wanted to see the band Mournful Congregation. They recently released another fabulous new album, and did a short tour in Europe to support it, yet playing a full set. After the intro the opened with the first real track of said album. The three guitars often create different layers in the music making it very interesting and varied with lots of atmosphere. Their songwriting is excellent. Despite the slow tempo, it never bores. They went a bit back and forth through their catalogue with The Epitome of Gods and Men Alike, the semi-acoustic Weeping and the perhaps their finest song Mother, Water the great Sea Wept. To conclude with Suicide Choir. Great gig again.

The last band Green Carnation seem a bit out of place. I had never heard of them, but checking their discography it turns out Tchort, previously of Emperor plays in this Norwegian band. Musically, they started out as a doom metal band some what reminiscent of early The 3rd and the Mortal, but changed towards progressive metal / rock later on. I didn’t really enjoy them, maybe a bit because they were a bit out of place, but I also don’t really like the mid paced music. Peculiarly the keyboard player was standing behind a stack of amp cabinets and hard to see. I didn’t really like the vocals much, the seemed rather dull, lack power and reach. Hence I left early, as it was already getting late on this Sunday evening. Nevertheless a good day for some doom in Belgium.

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