Ok, Day Two. Ready….Go!
Top-notch atmospheric hypnotic black metal. Sure, the style has been done before, but they executed it perfectly, had a perfect sense of melody, and since Drudkh wasn’t anywhere to be found, this was the next best thing. They deserved way better than the 1pm slot with 20 people watching them.
I missed them opening for Enslaved earlier in the week in Chicago, and then only caught about half their set here. Competent if unspectacular melodic black metal. I’d have to listen to them closer to figure out if their one guitarist is actually as awesome as he makes himself look by the motions of his fingers.
Some more competent if unspectacular black metal. Or, maybe they were spectacular, but c’mon, I saw 18 bands, so I can’t quite remember everything! (Really, it’s a credit to the festival that all the bands had as much individual identity as they did.) Actually given their name/logo/origin, the music was actually a lot more militant and ‘viking’ than I was expecting.
I totally understand why these guys have a pretty good buzz going. They sound completely “pro”, and sounding like Opeth these days doesn’t hurt either. Perhaps a little too much like Opeth for my liking. That’s why it was nice when they brought out the acoustic fun in their last song, it gave a bit more connection to the earth, if you’re feelin’ me. Subtract two points for the guitarist with his hair tied back! If you’re onstage, performing in a *metal* band, and you still don’t let your hair loose, why the heck do you even have it? For your second job as a romance-novel model?
Let’s see if I can remember the eight people onstage: singer (girl), violinist (girl), drummer (girl!), bass (12-year old boy with a wedding ring, seated), 2 acoustic guitars, electric guitar, and keyboards. It sounds like it was basically their first performance, and it kinda showed, but I really like the concept, so hopefully they can keep this orchestra together and develop it more. Ooh, and they played a “Tolkien” song! (Pippin’s depressing-as-fuck lament from “Return of the King”)
Shroud of Bereavement
Most memorable moment was the singer/guitarist chugging from a half-gallon of milk between songs. They probably would have been a lot more memorable if their sound was better. They had two keyboardists, but I could only hear about half of one. And their female vocalist sounded incredible during the soundcheck (especially compared to the Earthen singer), so it was unfortunate that I could hardly hear her either. It was definitely good to have a doom-ish band like this on the bill though. I left a bit early to grab some dinner.
Hordes of Yore
Another good band playing “Heathen Crusade metal”, but I was hoping for a bit more ethnic instrumentation.
Holy crap, these guys easily won the whole festival. They came storming on stage in their Irish war-paint and never let up. Every member of the band was great to watch, with the singer in his Jesus-robe being the obvious focal point. He was climbing all over the stage, roaming out in the crowd, playing some flute and a big-ol’ horn, and was fookin’ funny too. Oh, and their songs completely slayed. Stomping, melodic, headbanging folk metal. It’s simply a crime that the first time I heard about these guys was when the HC lineup was announced. With a performance like that, they could be headlining Wacken.
These guys were the ‘Slough Feg’ of the night, though a slightly more intense version. Almost speed-metal with tons of guitar harmonies. The “singer” was a bit unfortunate, but a lively performer if nothing else. Lots of fun, and perhaps a hint of what it would be like if a real power metal band ended up playing.
Damn, did these guys bring it. Powerful death metal that just sounded great. For some reason, I was thinking “eh, they’re from the other side of the world, I’ll understand if they don’t have their shit together. They probably don’t have ‘survival-of-the-fittest’ to encourage them to raise their game”. But they were one of the most pro-sounding bands of the whole fest. Their frontman has the skinniest fingers I’ve ever seen on a (male) bass player, but he played some awesome stuff. They also win the award for Most Genuinely Heartfelt ‘Thank You’ Speech.
Ok, so you’ve got a singer/guitarist fronting your band who may very well be Rasputin. Yeah, the mad fucking monk, still alive and kicking after all these years. Then, you’ve got a singer/bassist *also* fronting your band, and he just happens to be King Of All Vikings. With that, how the hell can you lose? So yeah, they pretty much slayed. And that doesn’t even include the third singer and all his wacky instruments (flutes, bagpipes, some sort of strap-on zither-type thing). Probably second-best band of the fest for me.
The narrations and between-song banter was awesome. Unfortunately they had to play some music too, and that didn’t do a whole lot for me. Beyond the masked singer, there wasn’t much to watch either. So after 12 hours of watching bands, I checked out about halfway through their set. Seemed like lots of big Bal Sagoth fans stuck it out ’til the end and were having a great time though.
For the festival, they actually were running 10 minutes ahead for much of the day, and the lights were doing stuff, so that was nice. Only other thing I could have asked for was for the place to not reek of Sloppy Fuckin’ Joes the whole day!