After a bit of a break during the second day of the festival, the third and the final day was promising to say the least with none other than the legendary Autopsy with Demilich and Asphyx added for good measure. If you were a fan of old school Death metal, you were supposed to leave the place happy and ready to come back next year.
But before all of that, there were some more treats to enjoy, the first being Belgium’s Blind to Faith. Featuring members of AmenRa, the quintet mixes effectively sludge and fastcore with good results despite a total lack of originality. Nonetheless, they provided the best way to start the day after two days of festival by playing a solid set for the crowd of curious already at the 013 at 13:30. Morpheus Descend then offered a similar lesson in classicism, but in another genre, by playing a good set of unimaginative Death metal at 16:00 on the main stage. It may sound dull when described like this but everybody needs an appetizer and both these bands were perfect introduction to a long day of grinding music.
The first band to really demonstrate some greatness were the returned Gadget and their swedish grindcore. With a new album set to be released by Relapse Records this month, the swedes had remained quite quiet since 2010 and the release of their split with Phobia. Now that they are back with a full album, they seem ready to destroy by the sound of their performance. After two days of extreme music, it’s telling when the sound of some full on blast beat can still impress you. One to look out for.
The all out attack of Gadget was then followed by the comparatively more relaxed set by Gruesome, a Death tribute band by their own admission, led by Matt Harvey (Exhumed), and obsessed by the sound of Scream bloody gore and Leprosy. After performing songs taken from their first album, Savage land, they proceeded to cover their main inspiration by announcing a song from Leprosy « side 1, song 2 », a sign of some pure fanboyism, without the shadow of a doubt.
Coffins was next on the main stage and despite having replaced their singer with a younger screamer (who was already on tour with them last year) and found a different drummer, they offered a powerful set of mid tempo Death metal. The songs might stick to the same tempo, you can’t deny the power of these riffs when they are played through such nice amps. Truly one of the bands that benefited the most from the sound the 013.
Demilich on the other hand disappointed many with a set that suffered from an understandable lack of preparation. After announcing a month before the event that guitarist and vocalist Antti Boman was not able to play the guitar because he had broken his arm, he had found a replacement three weeks before thanks to Danny Tunker (Alkaloid, ex. Aborted). With little time to rehearse complex songs, their set was not without faults compared to the perfect performance they had given as a full band at the Brutal Assault festival. The sound of the 013 also did not play in their favor since drummer Mikko Virnes does not trig his drums, making his presence less important than most bands at the festival. Nonetheless, their set was quite enjoyable from the front row and the good humor of frontman Antti made the performance still quite special.
I then missed Funerabrum, who apparently performed one of the best set of the fest according to friends, because i had to go eat somewhere, and came back for Asphyx. The local legends are far from rare but they always offer an excellent set and this night was no different. The set list of songs from Death the brutal way or Last one on earth offered no surprise but who can deny the pleasure of hearing the titular tracks from these albums? Martin Van Drunen was also in full playful mode and invited the organisation to get better beers for next year’s festival in his own native tongue. Let’s hope they get the message!
Entrails followed and played an excellent set to celebrate their last show with frontman and bass player Jocke Svensson and drummer Adde Mitroulis. The two performed a show worthy of the band’s excellent reputation by playing tunes such as Eaten by the dead or No cross left unturned and reminding everyone with old school Swedish Death metal is the catchiest of all Death metal. Too bad the singer’s throat was not in it’s best form but the set was still solid although not as good as the one at the Unicorn two years ago.
Finally, it was time for the main event and that’s when things took a turn for the worst. I have loved Autopsy‘s music for more than a decade and have enjoyed their earlier output as well as the more recent albums. However, I look both era for what they are and how different they are from each other. Sadly, it means that hearing songs from Mental funeral (starting with my favorite song of the album, Dead) with the booming sound of Tourniquets, hacksaws and graves was not too pleasing to my ears. I think, it made the songs loose any sort of atmosphere which is the sort that could happen for a band that has never lacked in morbidity on album. Despite playing on a large set the band was perfectly capable of taking the space with a lot of playfulness. Band « frontman » and drummer Chris Reifert constantly interacted with the crowd but in turn made the whole experience sound like any big metal bands, which Autopsy is not. Now, it probably means that I just don’t want to hear Autopsy’s material played much like I do not think experiencing Darkthrone‘s Transilvanian hunger with a high energy performance and a big booming sound would improve my experience of the music. At least, it won’t hurt my appreciation of Autopsy’s albums.
However, it does mean that I left the festival with the feeling that although it had been organised with the best intentions, there were many things to change for the next year to be more special. Nonetheless, this first Netherland Deathfest delivered many solid and impressive performance in the kind of setting most festival would envy and that only means that there is room to progress, to improve and to make this one of the best festival in Europe.