Final day at the Netherland Deathfest and even if people seem a little bit less excited the rooms are still full, even at the beginning of the fest at 15:00 in the afternoon, when Corpsessed hits the stage. You know you are surrounded by dedicated Death metal fans when more than a hundred people come to see on a Sunday afternoon a dark and complex Extreme metal band and nod their head approvingly all along the set.
The first notable band of the day was Regarde les Hommes Tomber, at the Patronaat stage, whose mix of Black metal and Postcore is a more apt start for a day of headbanging rather than the harsher sounds of Pseudogod and Corpsessed. After two days of fast and heavy Metal, a change of pace is more than welcome and Regarde les Hommes Tomber have a lot of mountains and valleys in their songs. When they were first announced, I dismissed their presence as a band I had seen before and would probably skip. Instead they got me in the mood for another day of Metal thanks to their coherent stage set-up, their subdued stage presence surrounded by red light and the fantastic songs from Exile, their second and latest album.
I then came back to the Patronaat to witness Vastum, one of the reason I was excited to come back to the Netherland Deathfest for another weekend of Death. The american quatuor released one of the best Death metal album of 2015 with their old school Bolt Thrower groove and their stage presence was equally as impressive as the one of the British legends. Just like the old Bolt Thrower, Vastum is a bunch of crust musicians playing Death metal. Their prowess in Acephalix was already a warning sign for fans that these musicians meant business but they definitely delivered a very impressive set, making everybody rush to the nearest merch and distro to find their albums. Gifted by a tall and enthusiastic frontman always up or a stage dive and grabbing the heads of the headbangers in the front row, the band delivered a set that brought an atmosphere of Metal brotherhood to the audience. The perfect performance to engage people in forty five minutes of musical brutality on the last day of a Death metal festival. Definitely one of the most perfect performance of the fest.
Demolition Hammer were hotly anticipated by everyone, as proven by the growing number of people wearing their merch as the day passed. The band had set-up their tee-shirt, beanies and caps at the merch tables from the first day of the festival and despite the unavailability of their catalog, everybody seemed to be waiting enthusiastically for their performance. Thankfully, the Bay Area thrashers didn’t disappoint with a set comprised of old school Thrash in the vein of old Exodus, Testament and Vio-lence. Demolition Hammer was a third division Thrash metal band back in the day, but because they remained only loved by the most hardcore fans, their sound is now more vital than ever for a whole new generation like myself who is discovering them. A kind of time capsule buried in the ground to be only brought back for everyone to enjoy a healthy dose of unadultered Thrash. From the front row, where all the members of Wormrot could be seen banging their heads, to the top of the stairs at the back of the main stage, everyone loved this blistering set brought to an end with the old/new classic .44 Caliber brain surgery.
The other notable performances for the day were Hooded Menace‘s and Impaled‘s shows on the Second Stage. Hooded Menace is no longer an exceptional band to be found at festival but their show remain excellent and are always getting better. This one was no exception because the Finns were celebrating the first appearance of their new singer, now only devoted to his microphone, and at the same time saying farewell to their bass player (and also previous singer). The new guy showed some impressive chops on the microphone and seemed more eager to get people to get into the show with a commanding presence filled with fingers pointed at the audience and muscle flexing (his buns were also quite impressive). A very good addition to the band who is now becoming as good live as on album. Impaled concluded the day for me with a mix of Thrash and Grindcore linked up bit an excellent sense of humor. With their members coming from Ghoul and Exhumed, the band add been on-stage in one band or another this whole weekend but the musicians showed no sign of tiredness. After all those years, I had always managed to never check out Impaled and this show was a fantastic occasion to get acquainted with their riffs, their guitar wizardry and their jocky titles full of puns. A perfect ending for the festival.
However, even with so many excellent sets, a few stood out for the wrong reasons. Pseudogod seemed to please a good number of my friends but I remained bored by their one dimensional Black Death metal despite the fact that I was really looking forward to see them. I was also looking forward to see Craft but they sounded very unimpressive and flat on the main stage. Maybe the Swedes lacked the experience needed to hold their own on such a big stage but even the songs I recognized from the Fuck the universe album failed to inspire me.
Compared to the previous Netherland Deathfest with its final performance from Autopsy who failed to inspire me, this second edition was a triumph and left me energized after three days of almost constant headbanging. Apart from a few objectionable bands, the whole lineup for this year was mostly very impressive and entertaining for fans of Extreme metal. Sure, this kind of bill is mostly created to please fans of the old school, but there are enough new bands keeping it true for next year’s bill to as, if not even more, impressive. A reunion show with Dismember playing Like an everflowing stream in full? Insect Warfare? A Discordance Axis reunion? Cavity? Gatecreeper, Acephalix, Ilsa, Nails… I have high hopes for the third Netherland Deathfest and I am convinced I won’t be disapointed. See you next year Tilburg!