Drachten Death Fest 2024, 10 February 2024, Induna, Drachten

I think this was the third instalment of this festival that I went to, even though it is not that close by it is often worth the drive. This year had a longer bill that the previous years as they opted to use too halls for gigs. Unfortunately there were two cancellations shortly announced before the start of the fest, namely Unlocked, and the Wehrmacht (under the name Biermacht) because – well – it is probably one of the stupidest band names ever chosen. No reasons were cited. Not having the Wehrmacht was quite a disappointed as it was one of the reasons for me to go.

Anyways, the Dutch bannd Mancuerda opened the festival. They actually come from near where I live, so it seems a bit strange to drive some two hours and seeing a – for me – local band. Not that I had seen them before though. They play mostly mid-paced death metal, with gore lyrics. I think they mostly remind me of Mortician, without all the ridiculously fast blast beats sections. Maybe that is also because of the samples in between songs. All in all it sounded hardly interesting at all. Everything was pretty standard and basic.

The small hall (or Lytse Seal in the local language), was actually quite small and an inconvenient location; the pillar in front of the stage terrible for both viewing the band and for mosh pits; the lights were pretty terrible and it was very hot when crowded with people. The first band to appear on this stage was Organectomy from New Zealand. They are said to play brutal slam death metal, so I expected tons of blast beats, however these turned out to be pretty rare. Mostly low-tuned, palm-muted riffs with lots of dissonance. Quite technical riffing. Not bad, but not all that great either for me. It seemed to be the most crowed gig in this small hall though. It seemed a bit odd to let Mancuerda play in the main hall and this band in the small one.

Back in the main hall (or Grutte Seal), there was Enterprise Earth. An American band who mostly play deathcore. The weird thing is they actually have some really good riffs and melodies going every once in a while. Then they bust it up with boring chugga chugga riffs and breakdowns.

Aphotic are from Italy and announced as playing doom/death metal. Well I didn’t hear that much doom in it. It was mostly quite fast death metal, towards the more cavernous style, yet with some slower sections in it. The vocalist used two mics, I suppose one had more effects on it – yet it did not sound all that much different. Intriguing band and I’ll have to check out their album.

Wormrot from Singapore played the same festival last year. They play noisy, fast grindcore. I don’t care much for it, although – for what I recall – they sounded a lot more coherent than last year.

The Dutch Insurrection had a new album out and this was the release party. It is already their second album, but I never heard of them before. Musically it was mostly melodic death metal. Quite run-off-the-mill. The singer made some attempts at humour, but didn’t catch on much. They seem to have fun though.

Sanguissugabog is a US brutal death metal band. I think they use some sort of octaver on the guitar to get more base in their sound as they have no bass player on stage. The guitars sounded very low and highly distorted. Like many of these bands they seem to take a few gimmicky things from Suffocations – like the breakdowns and the rhythmic riffing and centre their music around that. Then it doesn’t all sound that interesting.

The only fill in band for the festival was the local band Atmoran. So kudos for the organisation to even find a replacement. This band – even though they have songs they wrote themselves – opted to play some classic Sepultura covers. However that mostly meant Chaos AD and Roots songs – basically the nu-metal stuff I don’t care for. They did though play the way more interesting Arise and Inner Self. And actually it sounded quite good apart from the bland vocals.

Primitive Man are a US drone/sludge/doom/noise band or whatever. And it was noise. Thick layers on top of the bass and guitar makes it hard to make out riffs. It is completely devoid of melody. Basically it is all powerchords. The primary variation comes from the drum fills. Not a style I like at all.

The last band in the Lytse Seal was Abyssal. They come from the UK. And they were dressed with black hoods and the singer ever covered most of his face. Normally a one-man studio band, they appeared as a quintet live – the one-man being the singer. Death metal with some other stylistic influences, mostly black metal. It sounded quite cool, so another band I need to check out some more.

Suffocation is always an awesome live band. They promoted their new album and played no less than four tracks of it. The remainder was classic tracks. Catatonia, the mighty Breeding the Spawn came early in the set. It’s always mind boggling how easily Terrance seems to play these crazy riffs and leads. Yet is always super tight. With Funeral Inception, Infecting the Crypts and Liege of Inveracity and of course Pierced from Within, they basically played all their classic songs. Not that I would mind to hear some Mass Obliteration, Suspended in Tribulation or Souls to Deny next time though.

The last act of the festival was Napalm Death. They had some trouble setting up the vocals, but managed to get it right just at show time. The set list was quite different this time. Taste the Poison and Next on the List off Enemies of the Music business aren’t played all that often. They threw in MAD, which I can’t recall that they had before. Shane is still on leave. So they still had a fill-in bass player – Adam, who did pretty good. Some of the other choices for the set were – well basically odd-one-out songs like Amoral, Resentment always Simmers. Barneys vocals didn’t sound all that great, as it sounded a bit cracking at times. Of course the set featured Suffer the Children, Scum, You Suffer. Instinct of Survival is still a great song. And the newer The Code is Red is also interesting. Peculiarly the set closer was Contemptuous another more experimental song of Utopia Banished. Not their best gig ever, not as raging as they can. Barney’s humanitarian speeches are – albeit he’s done more preaching in the past – a bit superfluous.

Maybe it wasn’t the best instalment of the festival ever. The cancellation of 2 quite special bands can hurt a festival such as this. All in all it was a cool day though. And the venue is quite a relaxed place to be.

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