From Dusk Till Doom Festival, Centre Culturel Engis, Belgium, 7 October 2023

This was the 5th instalment of the Belgian doom metal festival From Dusk Till Doom in ten years time. I had not attended the previous four editions, as they have been over a 3 hour drive. For this edition they had – or so I understood – invited the 7 best acts from the previous year. And it actually made a line up, that was almost too good to be true when it comes to doom metal. The festival was sold out too. So I opted to go, and made it a small weekend holiday and spent three days in Belgium.

The opening band was the Deha. A one man band from Belgium that has been quite prolific over the years; in fact the same guy is active in several one-man bands. So he played a single song for 35 minutes, handling guitar and vocals and the rest came from a laptop. It missed a little substance and was kind of repetitive.

The second band was (Echo) from Italy. Not many festivals let the 2nd band already play for an hour. But this time it was the case. I had seen them before, also in Belgium and they had released at least two more albums since. I recall wasn’t all that impressed by them then. Musically it is not bad at all, the Pantera style vocals don’t seem to fit very well.

Ophis is a German doom/death band. One of the bands that made me want to go. Their first two albums are very good, have a kind of desperation in it. They managed to play 5 songs in the hour they got. With only Earth Expired off they Withered Shades album. The other four came of their more recent albums. They apparently had problems with the monitors, however it didn’t hurt their performance. And the gig was pretty awesome.

The Spanish Evande, I think I had seen before too, but I don’t recall much of it. They play more melodic doom death. Not too interesting in most aspects. I liked the singer very deep grunt. Natalie Koskinen of Shape of Despair did a guest appears on one song which she had had done on one off their records.

The second band that interested me was Ataraxie from France. They have a very distinct style, with very long songs and lots of dissonance. The three guitars create different layers and hence the sound is quite complex. In the hour they got they only played three songs. I had seen them live not too long ago, and there was only one song overlap with Les Affres du trépas as the set closer. The lead guitar part at the end is pretty original as it is played by scraping a coin across the strings. Face the Loss of Your Sanity which starts with some blast beats. started the gig. And Anhedonie was played from their second album. A very good gig.

I have seen Officium Triste several times, as they are Dutch and often play in the vicinity of my home. I would rather have picked Hamferd instead. But Officium Triste is a cool and recognizable band. Lead guitarist Gerard seemed to have a bit of an off-day as he made numerous mistakes. The rest of the band was solid. I never like Pim’s clean vocals much and they haven’t much improved over the years. His grunt was fine though. Not their best gig, but the set list was a kind of best of their material.

Esoteric is one of my favourite bands ever. The songs are very complex and long, most songs easily hitting the 15 minute mark. And they opted to open with one of their best songs Dissident. The amount of gear they actually bring is quite impressive as the whole stage is practically filled with effect boards. But they create a very distinct and very thick sound. It nevertheless was an awesome performance once again, with Circle and Silence from the Maniacal Vale and Culmination off their latest. I am still hoping they will play Descent some day. which is a monumental song. Somehow their best songs all start with a D. Disconsolate is the 3rd one. Impressive.

The last band was Shape of Despair they don’t play live very often. I had seen them once before on another festival with a shorter set. Now they were the headliner and got an hour an a half to fill. Quite a challenge after Esoteric. Musically, the songs focus more on atmosphere, created by the guitars and the vocals – both female and male. The tempos remain slow with fairly long songs. In the end there isn’t all that much distinction between the songs even though there are cool melodic lines that stand out. Pretty good gig.

In the end it was a long day. 8 bands in 12 hours is quite exhausting. Hopefully the festival organizers can come up with a similar grand lineup for next year.

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