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Napalm Death Campaigns In Bristol
When it comes to Napalm Death, they really are a band that needs no introduction. Pioneers, perhaps even inventors depending on who you ask, of grindcore, bringing together metal heads and punks for well over thirty years and always remaining true to their principles, Napalm Death are truly deserving of the often overused tag, "legends." One of the reasons that they've remained so popular is their live shows, in which they easily connect with the crowd and perform with such energy that they still inspire young fans to get on stage themselves. A Napalm Death show always feels like an event too, as often they put together an amazing package of bands that fit well together but still display a good variety, such is the case on their current "Campaign For Musical Destruction" tour, which on Tuesday the 7th of March, made it's first British stop in Bristol.
The best way to open an event is with with a bang and if ever there was a band that brings the boom, it's Escuela Grind. For some reason, the band seems to attract controversy regarding their genre and image but, for lack of a better phrase, I don't understand why. From the first note, the quartet are a blast (I promise that's the last of the explosions synonyms,) and they're so much fun. Vocalist Katerina Economou is a force of nature, leading the charge as the band treated those who arrived early to their mix of hardcore, grindcore, death metal and powerviolence. I'm still a relative newcomer to the band so I can't list every song they played, but "Cliffhanger" was a definite highlight. Escuela Grind crafted an instant connection with the crowd, joking with them, receiving positive responses to their short statements regarding social issues (a subject we'll be revisiting later in this review) and just generally being great to be around. They're not just impressive live, they're quite frankly amazing. I can't wait to see them again. This was their first show in Britain and they're more than welcome to come back any time. More...
70000 Tons Of Metal 2023: Day Four
They say all good things must come to an end and so it was that the final day of this year's 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise, the first for three years, had a slight air of sadness about it. But metal fans aren't the type to go out with a whimper and thus our fourth day at sea is traditionally the time to go all out with costumes and to lose a few inhibitions.
A bright and early start seemed to be on most sailor's agenda, as everyone wanted to make the most of this last day floating through the Caribbean, and there was certainly no better wake up call than Nightmare. The French power metal squadron have been going for some time now but this was the first chance many fans and onlookers had to hear new vocalist Barbara Mogore, who is 100% natural in her new job, giving the impression that she's always been leading the line. Perhaps as was to be expected, the band gave a good deal of attention to their latest album, "Aeternam," performing the title track as well as the songs, "Crystal Lake," "Divine Nemesis" and "Downfall Of A Tyrant." "Dead Sun" was also represented with four songs, including the title track which opened the set and "Starry Skies Gone Black" which closed it. Fans don't need to worry about the future of Nightmare with a new vocalist, as they're clearly in very capable hands. More...
Steel Panther Went On The Prowl In Tempe, Arizona
We now live in a world where the littlest things seem to offend someone somewhere on a daily basis. You may love, hate, or love to hate Steel Panther, but you know what, they’ve just released their sixth studio album, “On The Prowl.” Judging by the size and enthusiasm from the crowd on their recent tour stop in Tempe, Arizona, there’s no need to ever return to their day jobs anytime soon.
We don’t celebrate Mardi Gras in Arizona, but there were enough costumes and rocker wigs at the Marquee Theater that could have filled any Spirit Halloween pop-up store. Kicking their set off with a familiar favorite, “Eyes of a Panther,” the crowd got their first live glimpse of the new permanent bassist, Spyder. It had to be an arduous task replacing the very much beloved, Lexxi Foxx, but from what I witnessed, he's fitting in just fine.
After a couple of songs in into their set, I had figured out what Spyder’s shtick is, he’s the “new guy in the band.” It was the expected and correct characterization for him and he executed it to a T. It was most evident when they played, “Ain’t Dead Yet,” off of the new album. It’s an acoustic ditty where Michael Starr plays an acoustic guitar and sings, Satchel rocks his six-string, Stix plays the keys and Spyder…well, a set of windchimes.
70000 Tons Of Metal 2023: Day Three
This year, thousands of metal fans boarded the Independence Of The Seas to enjoy the eleventh round of the 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise, which departed from Miami on January 30th and made its way to Bimini, Bahamas. On the third day, as is custom, the ship landed at its destination and the Caribbean warmly greeted headbangers from all over the world. This sun kissed part of the world is absolutely stunning, a treat for lovers of warm weather and beautiful scenery, though be prepared to spend should you find yourself heading to the district, as several beaches require a $20 entry fee. Even the free beach is limited, with visitors required to buy a wrist band to go further, should they so wish. After an hour or so of soaking up the rays and enjoying a drink on a sun lounger by the sea, it was back on board to have the customary nap before the musical shenanigans we'd all come for began.
Having overslept a little, it was a race to the Star Lounge for the first time this voyage to see Texan progressive/Gothic metal outfits Oceans Of Slumber. Having seen the band without any knowledge of their background five years ago in London (and being blown away,) there was no way I was missing out on seeing them again. The intimate setting only enhanced their soulful melodies and bittersweet heaviness and those who crammed into the lounge were treated to one of the more emotionally charged sets of the festival. Singer Cammie Gilbert's voice is as powerful as ever and clearly impressed newcomers and fans alike, as her performance was the talk of many visitors throughout the rest of the night. Oceans Of Slumber has come a long way in five years and in the next five, they'll become one of American metal's most popular names and sooner rather than later no doubt. More...
70000 Tons Of Metal 2023: Day Two
Rise and shine sea dogs! The second day of 70000 Tons Of Metal 2023 dawned and with it came the knowledge that the Pool Deck, perhaps the most notable stage on board the ship, was open for business with plenty of favourites ready to let their sound ride the Caribbean wind. Opening the stage was German power metal veterans Freedom Call, perhaps the happiest metal band on Earth, though personally, I was less than chipper to wake up just after they'd finished their set, missing out on the fun in the sun. So after a quick shower, it was time to head up to the eleventh floor for my first taste of sea air and outdoor metal this year.
Despite missing out on Freedom Call, perhaps there was no better way to get into the spirit of things than by witnessing one of your bucket list bands, which in my case was Dutch death metal legends, God Dethroned. The quartet has been on a roll since their second return in 2014, releasing two excellent albums with a third reportedly in production and watching this lineup, it's safe to assume that God Dethroned has never been healthier. They looked as if they were enjoying themselves as much as the fans were and songs like "Poison Fog" and "No Man's Land" sounded absolutely amazing. Perhaps the biggest surprise was just how quick it was to take to the band's new single, "Asmodevs," which may have even been the highlight of the set. God Dethroned not only met expectations, they exceeded them. More...
Mac Sabbath Increase Hypertension In Mesa, AZ
Fast food and metal, a match made heaven and hell, right? Absolutely! Especially if the band is Mac Sabbath! This was my second taste of “drive thru metal” and you can supersize me with Mac Sabbath without any regard to my personal health anytime. I’m usually not into gimmicky type bands, but Mac Sabbath is different in a couple of ways for me. I grew up eating McDonalds as a child and in my teenage years I developed my metal ears listening to Sabbath. It’s just a genius concept and I Mcfucking love this band!
I’ve been hangry for some Mac Sabbath for awhile and lucky me, they stopped in Mesa, Arizona during a small run of shows. When I arrived at the venue, it was packed with “customers.” The merch line was a mile long and it was the same with adult fountain drink line. I overheard that the previous night’s show in Tucson was just as packed. After a short delay from the projected starting time of the show, the world’s best Black Sabbath tribute band dropped their circus tent-like shroud and fast-food metal mania commenced.
Opening with “Organic Funeral,” the trio of Slayer MacCheeze, Grimalice and the Catburglar graced the drive-thru stage. Ronald Osbourne, the restaurant/stage manager, showed up to work wearing a yellow straight jacket with a pentagram stitched onto one of the elbows. He managed to maneuver his way towards the giant drinking straw microphone stand and sing before eventually freeing himself from the jacket.
For those that haven’t attended a Mac Sabbath show, between songs the band will make puns out of anything music culture and fast food. As you might have already guessed, all their songs titles are Black Sabbath/Metal puns. Here are a few: “Sweet Beef,” “We’re Not Going to Shake Shack,” “Frying Pan.” The list goes on and on.
70000 Tons Of Metal 2023: Day One
In the modern metal world full of festivals, it seems that cruises are becoming more and more common. Whether it be Chris Jericho's Rock 'N' Wrestling Rager At Sea, the Kiss Kruise or the Mediterranea Metal Cruise, heavy metal on the open sea is becoming more and more common. However, to understand how this became a thing, you need look no further than 70000 Tons Of Metal, which as it proudly boasts, is the world's original metal cruise.
First setting sail in 2011, the floating festival quickly grew in size, popularity and prestige to become the institution it is today. After a few years away thanks to the worldwide bastard that was the COVID-19 pandemic, the cruise returned last week for its eleventh voyage. Boasting some of metal's most popular names, cult favourites and up and comers, 70000 Tons was back with a vengeance.
To get festivities underway, sailors had a choice between British death metal veterans Cancer or German heavy metal stalwarts Iron Savior. Fortunately, with every band scheduled to play twice, it's only a matter of scheduling and not worrying about missing out that helps form decisions. So it was decided that the best way to get the ball rolling was Iron Savior, given their more upbeat sound. They proved to be the perfect choice, as their sonic bridge between heavy and power metal matched the excitement felt on board. Of course, with nearly thirty years of music under their belts, not all albums could be represented in forty five minutes, but the carefully chosen setlist including three songs from "Kill Or Get Killed." The chemistry between frontman Piet Sielck and bassist Jan-Sören Eckert also added to the fun of a memorable set which concluded with "Break The Curse" from 2004's, "Battering Ram." Iron Savior are an underrated band who delivered the goods big time today and proved a perfect opener. More...
Godflesh Digs Deep For London Show
Godflesh has always been a law unto themselves. For as much as they are pigeonholed in the industrial metal category, which is definitely a tag they helped create, they've never been afraid to take risks, veer into new territory and challenge any preconceived notions as to what Godflesh is. While not always in full metal mode, as evidenced by their latest album, 2017's excellent, "Post Self," they will always attract headbangers thanks to their connection to Napalm Death, though they certainly don't cater to this crowd specifically.
The Birmingham duo recently completed a two night residency at the 229 club in London, a venue located immediately to the left of Great Portland Road tube station, which is a fascinating place in and of itself. The 229 is a club which not only hosts a variety of performances, but all profits go to benefit university students and inside it's something of a mix of different typical settings. The main hall itself is quite big, with a raised stage and, at least on this occasion, folding chairs located either side, almost like an assembly hall or community centre, while towards the back is a bar not unlike one would find in the more corporate place like an 02 Academy. The staff were also excellent for the most part, being very friendly and welcoming, though this was also the first time I've ever seen security stand amidst the crowd, for what reason, I haven't worked out. More...
Fleshgod Apocalypse Brings Motocultor To London
If you're going to a metal show in London, you're almost guaranteed to be in the north of the city and more likely than not, in Camden. It's unsurprising then that this reporter's first gig of the year took place at the legendary Underworld venue, directly opposite Camden tube station. Tonight was an interesting one as five bands from across the globe convened to represent France's Motocultor Festival, which will take place this August in Carhaix, some of which were performing in England for the first time.
For some reason, the show was delayed by quite some time, with doors opening over half an hour later than scheduled, likely causing the relatively short set times. Nevertheless, opening the festivities tonight was Ethereal Sin from Osaka, Japan and they certainly kicked things off in style. Attention was immediately drawn to drummer Meet Schattenclown, who performed the entire set blindfolded and inch perfect to boot. Much like compatriots Sigh, Ethereal Sin mix black metal with their country's heritage and folklore to create a dazzling aesthetic, which fits hand in glove with their brand of extreme music. Ethereal Sin is immediately likable, displaying an earnest love for their music, for playing and just to be part of the tour. Frontman Yama Darkblaze promised that they would return to London in the near future and judging by the response from the crowd, they'll be welcomed back with open arms. More...
Anaal Nathrakh Returns To London With Full Force
Look up the most influential or acclaimed comedies of all time and you'll always see The Odd Couple. This might be a strange way to start a review of a metal gig, but when you think about it, metal shows are often at their best when they offer variety, or a combination that you wouldn't normally expect to see. So it was on April 14th in London, when British blackened industrial grindcore outfit Anaal Nathrakh teamed up with Japanese avant-garde black metal legends Sigh to put on a Hell of a show in every sense of the word.
Appropriately, it was a freezing cold night in the English capital city, with no shortage of ice and a little snow outside before eventually heading inside to the Scala. Despite personally attending live shows in London for nearly twenty years, this was my first visit to the Scala, which hopefully won't be my last. The Scala combines the grandiose feel of an old theatre upon entrance, while in the gig room itself, for lack of a better term, it provides a two tiered space with an area for those who like to be down the front and dirty, as well as those who have done their time in the pit and prefer to stand in the back.
Opening the show, those who arrived early were treated to a little local flavour as London's own De Profundis took to the stage around seven. While their time was short, they more than made the most of it, unleashing twenty five minutes of heaviness and anti-authoritarian death metal. As one might expect, the set focused heavily on the band's new album, "The Corruption Of Virtue," released only two months prior. These songs, such as "Weaponised Rape" and "Scapegoat" sat perfectly beside opener, "Martyrs" and closing number, "War Be Upon Him," both taken from "The Blinding Light Of Faith." A short stay, but a memorable one and De Profundis continue to make a name for themselves as one of Britain's leading death metal acts. More...
The Great Heathen Tour
Tonight, in San Diego, the second-to-last stop on Amon Amarth’s 2022 "The Great Heathen Tour" with Carcass, Obituary, and Cattle Decapitation will take place. This will be a hometown show for the latter. Tomorrow night the tour will wrap up at the Forum in Los Angeles. More...
Put Mexico Metal Fest On Your Must Go To List
When I normally write up a festival review, I break it down day by day and band by band. For Mexico Metal Fest 2022, I’m doing it differently. I’m going to get straight to the point with pros and cons. I mean let’s face it, you’re reading this to determine if it’s worth the price of a flight these days and festival ticket. I’m guessing that you’re probably not reading this to stroll down memory lane.
This year’s festival took place at Expo Guadalupe (a popular local fairground used for rodeos and other events) which is located approximately 15 minutes from downtown Monterrey, in the state of Nuevo Leon, Mexico. The festival was postponed twice due to the global pandemic and several bands dropped off and were replaced before the 5th and 6th editions took place over the weekend of September 23rd and 24th.
So without further ado, I’ll get on with it.
For the sheer quality and number of bands, this has to be the most budget friendly festivals in all of North America. There were 52 artists at this year’s edition and there wasn’t a huge drop-off in talent after the headlining acts (W.A.S.P., Rotting Christ, Kreator, Hellhammer, Jinjer). In fact, the filler bands were also some heavy hitters that have headlined festivals numerous times before (Destruction, Sodom, Cradle of Filth, Dismember, Nile, plus a ton of others). The cost for a basic, two-day pass in U.S. dollars was around $170. If you do the math, that’s $3.52 a band. Go ahead and see if that value exists at any U.S. based festival right now, probably not.
The overall festival experience was top notch. You can see the stage from almost any vantage point on the grounds and the quality of the sound was excellent. Every band sounded great and I don’t remember any glitches with the band mixes throughout the weekend. The schedule was also on point 99% of the time. I remember only one band going over their scheduled allotment time and it was only by 5 minutes. Did I mention the lush and green mountain view behind the stages? You have to see it to believe it, metal paradise!
The food and beverage options were very affordable and tasty. Now, there were some cons in this area as well, but I’ll list those below. But for now, if you like tacos, hot dogs, ribs and burgers (basically any type of hunger destroying meat option), you were set. In regards to alcohol, there were stands in any direction you looked. For the most part, it only took a couple of minutes of waiting in line to order your favorite Mexican beer or libation of choice. If you ordered a beer, they always poured two bottles to fill your cup to the brim and it cost a fraction ($7.00 for 24 ounces) of what you would pay for a beer at a festival in the United States.
Merch, merch and even more merch. There were two areas that housed the merch, the official festival merch tent and another area the size of a soccer field of merch tents. If you were looking for any (and I mean ANY) shirt design from your favorite metal band, they probably had it at this festival. There was also a killer selection of patches, pins and jewelry/accessories scattered throughout this small pueblo of merch vendors. The average cost of a T-shirt was about $20, so again, not too shabby for a festival and outside of the festival grounds there were additional merch tents that were haggling their wares even cheaper. More...
Meshuggah's Recent Pounding Of Tempe, AZ
I’ve seen Meshuggah three times live and the experience just keeps getting better. However, this was the first time I’ve seen them in my own city and even though the venue wasn’t as large as the other two, the Tempe, Arizona crowd made it seem like I was seeing them at a festival.
The Marquee Theater was almost at full capacity and this crowd was louder than the two previous Meshuggah shows I’ve attended. Here is my captain obvious quote of this road report: Meshuggah fans are just fucking rabid regardless of venue size or number of attendees.
Meshuggah is known for their extended mood setting live show intros. On this current tour it was different. For example, the first 3 minutes of the first track (“Broken Cog”) off their latest effort, “Immutable,” already has an intro feel to it. So, to set the scene for the next paragraph I need to explain the album’s artwork for those that aren’t familiar. The artwork depicts a person/cyborg/biology class skeleton burning via an explosion, there are shades or red, orange and black within the color palette. Like all of Meshuggah’s releases, it sets the stage.
When the band entered the stage (minus their cyborg drum god Tomas Haake, who was already perched on his throne a couple of meters above stage level), they stood still in front of lighted replicas of themselves burning like the album’s cover artwork. The lit replicas flashed on and off and back-lighted the Meshuggah front four during the tribal-esque feel of “Broken Cog.” The first half of the song felt chaotic and uncomfortable. This is what Meshuggah does best during their live shows, they control the mood.
Meshuggah played a total 13 songs this night including their encore. I won’t give a play by play for every song they played though, you can find that online easy enough but I will say my highlight songs of their set were: “Ligature Marks,” “Born in Dissonance,” and “Demiurge.” The setlist was great but the song that put the crowd into a frenzy was the set ender, “Future Breed Machine” off of their second studio album, “Destroy Erase Improve.” I had a feeling that something special was about to happen once they added two more microphone stands on both ends stage right before the final song started. More...
Imperial Triumphant's Reign Over Phoenix
The first time I witnessed Imperial Triumphant was this past summer at Mystic Festival in Gdansk, Poland, but my actual introduction to this band took place two weeks before. You see, before I go to any festival to report on, I always research a few bands I’ve never heard of, or know little about, in order to determine if they’re worth checking out or not. I downloaded their album “Alphaville” and I think I made it through 45 seconds before I switched to another Mystic Festival band, Dopelord. I knew that Imperial Triumphant wore some rad costuming live so if anything, I’d get some cool live shots during their set. The story continues...
At Mystic Festival, I remember the line-up schedule being quite busy that day and my wife and I were hanging out with some friends between bands. I told them that I was going to shoot Imperial Triumphant and if they wanted to see something eclectic and exotic at this festival, this would be the band to see. We ventured inside and I strode into the empty photo pit with ease. Once the band took stage, I was amazed by it all; the music, the costumes and the light show. After my three-song photo allotment, I returned to the area where I left my wife and friends and they were all gone! I checked my phone and the message said, “Come outside, we couldn’t take it anymore.” This pretty much sums up this band. You either love them, or you can’t take it anymore.
A month or so after Mystic Festival, I saw that they had a tour stop in my city supporting their latest album, “Spirit in Ecstasy,” that dropped this past July. This was the perfect opportunity to see them up close and in a more intimate setting. There was already a decent crowd waiting to see them when I arrived considering they were the first band of a three-band billing with Zeal & Ardor headlining. When the house lights dropped and the blood red stage lighting was the only light source in the room, you wouldn’t even have noticed the band take the stage if it wasn’t for their full regalia costumes and crown headdress.
Live Concert Report: Steve Von Till
I’ve never driven five hours (each way) to church before. Maybe that’s not saying much since I haven’t been to church in well over 26 years. This wasn’t really church, but on a Sunday in early August 2022 I did somewhat feel like I was at church, the best one I’ve ever experienced. The spirit was strong, and I had goosebumps on multiple songs. Mississippi Studios in Portland, Oregon was set up like a church with rows of seats (instead of standing room only like I’ve encountered at other shows at this venue). More...
Mystic Festival 2022 Day Three
The final day of Mystic Festival 2022 had arrived. It was bittersweet in a way, but I was totally exhausted by this point. After arriving at the festival grounds, I had to check out the Death Mask exhibit. Most of the masks and art had a very Tom G. Warrior influence. I wasn’t sure if this was his exhibition specifically, or a tribute to him by Mystic Festival itself. In any case, it was worth checking out even if it was for only 5 minutes because yours truly was kicked out for having a beer in hand. I’m sorry, I can’t read signs written in Polish, Mr. Polish security dude…
Today was avant garde day for me because the first two bands I checked out were Igorrr and Imperial Triumphant. If you’re feeling adventurous and have never seen either of these bands, I highly recommend it for the visual aspect alone. Both of their stage shows blew me away. With Igorrr, you get the feeling you’re at some bizarre, metal performance musical/opera. On the other hand, with Imperial Triumphant, you’ll see their incredible costuming with cacophonic bursts of jazz metal thrown in for good measure. If you want to broaden your metal horizons, these two bands will do the trick.
I also was able to check out a little bit of Weigedood. They were excellent and exuded a “the end of the world” atmosphere with some black metal overtones for flavor. After a couple of songs, I had to haul ass to the main stage to catch Poland’s hometown heroes, Vader. Exclusively for Mystic Festival 2022, Vader played their “De Profundis” album in its entirety. In addition, they played a KAT (One of Poland’s most influential metal bands) cover and introduced new song, “Of Moon, Blood, Dream and Me,” which had never been played live before. Even with the amazing pyrotechnic show and 17-song set, their crowd was still chanting for more after they finished.
Mystic Festival 2022 Day Two
Today, I woke up a little hungover. Realizing that Day Two of Mystic Festival was going to start in a few hours had a greater effect than the bland coffee at the hotel and I was soon on my way to the festival grounds. My must-see list for the day included a total of six bands with a lot of stage hopping in between. I started my day at the Park Stage and finally witnessed the Polish stoner/doom legends, Dopelord.
Dopelord was everything I would hope they would be. They’ve never toured the United States so to see them on their home turf was something special. There was a lot of Sabbath worship, but it only added to their aura. The bassist even had a shirt that said “Sabbath Worship,” at least they have no shame! A couple songs into their set the PA went out but it really didn’t matter; they carried on with the song and then conquered the crowd for the rest of their set.
Next up were NWOBHM legends, Saxon. This was my first time seeing this historical band and afterwards I knew why they’ve stood the test of heavy metal time. At this stage of their career, they may appear that they should be at the bingo hall snacking on prunes but all jokes aside, they command a stage like they’ve have been for 40 years or more. Their style of heavy metal may sound dated but it in all actuality, it has aged like a fine black leather jacket through the decades.
After Saxon, it was Benediction on the same stage. I haven’t heard much of them as of late and even had to Google them to find out when was the last album they put out (turns out it was in 2020). That doesn’t really matter anyways because Benediction’s brand of death metal went over well with the Mystic crowd. They were super energetic and enthusiastic throughout their whole set. Lead vocalist Dave Ingram was quite a jokester between songs. On more than a couple of occasions he made sure that everyone within an earshot of the stage knew that Friday was “Benediction Day” and we should all drink. Ok, dully noted.
Metal On Wheels
Six years ago, in my little town, Club 66 closed its doors. As the midway point between San Francisco and Portland, Ashland, Oregon makes perfect sense as a place to play between the bigger city shows. Until 2016, you could head over to Club 66 and catch a metal act or two several times a month, sometimes even multiple times in the same week. Since then, I think there has only been one metal show—Anthrax back in 2018 at the Ashland Armory.
In those glorious Club 66 days, San Francisco’s Hemorage came through several times. Today they returned, to play, WITHOUT leaving their tour bus.
Hemorage has creatively transformed touring with their playing-from-the-bus shows. They’ve been doing this since October of 2021, mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area. Previously they would set up near a venue with a much larger act and become the unofficial and unauthorized openers.
They made a few headlines after the cops shut them down in April before an Exodus show. Gary Holt gave them a positive shout out so the unauthorized aspect of their performances doesn’t seem to piss off the bigger names whose crowds they momentarily borrow.
The current tour had them making 17 stops in eight days as they covered much of the territory between Sacramento and Seattle. Several of the stops didn’t happen due to timing, and most had a change of time or location at the last minute, so if they are coming to your town, and you want to see one of these shows, you’ll want to follow them on Instagram and/or Facebook where they post the last minute updates.
On this afternoon in Ashland the time got changed from 2 to 6 p.m., and the venue moved to right next to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The area in front of the old Black Swan Theater provided space for a circle pit. Seeing the looks on the old people’s faces that were heading to OSF was priceless. Some had big smiles and others looked horrified.
Is this the wave of the future? Will other bands follow suit? Who knows? All I know is Hemorage made the return of metal to Ashland, Oregon a lot of fun on this afternoon.
Mystic Festival 2022 Day One
After some sightseeing around Gdansk during the early part of the day, I headed over to the Gdansk Shipyard for first “official” day of Mystic Festival. As I got closer to the festival grounds, I noticed there were definitely more people going to the festival today. It now felt like a traditional European metal festival to me. The Main Stage had also now opened up for the headliners. Additionally, there were more food and drink vendors near said stage which was really convenient.
The first band I caught was Norway’s Kvelertak. This was my first time seeing them and I was really surprised by the energy they exude live. Frontman Ivar Nikolaisen was multitasking singing while balancing a full microphone stand in one hand and smoking and holding a bottle of wine in the other. The amazing thing was that nothing was ever dropped or spilled while he plowed through the first two songs of their set like it was nothing. Unfortunately, after I photographed the first three songs, I had to head over to the Main Stage to catch Mastodon. I'll definitely check out Kvelertak live in the future.
The crowd had already started filling in the open area in front of the Main Stage for Mastodon by the time I arrived. If I remember correctly, Mastodon was the replacement band for Gojira when they dropped off the pre-pandemic line-up. Mastodon was a worthy replacement and played some of their older material in the beginning of their set. That was great because honestly, I can’t stand the band they’ve become over the last few albums. They’ve also never been the most exciting band to watch live and today was no exception.
Next up was one of the bands I was most looking forward to throughout the whole festival, Heilung. If you’ve never seen this band live before, how can I describe it to you other than it’s a religious experience. Between the stage setup, the ceremonious rituals and last but not least, their music; there is nothing else like it in regards to live shows right now. They started off their set with some material that I wasn’t familiar with (probably new material), but ended their set with songs off their much acclaimed “Futha” album. I’m excited for the new album which will be released later this year.
Mystic Festival 2022 Warm-up Day
After a two-year delay and a change of location, my dream of attending Mystic Festival finally became a reality. The festival was originally supposed to take place in Krakow, Poland, but thanks to the pandemic, the location shifted to the picturesque and the most metal of places, the Gdansk shipyard in the extremely photogenic city of Gdansk, Poland.
The shipyard is actually home to a few nightclubs, pubs and eateries so the locals already knew the layout. For the rest of us, the festival grounds were easy to navigate with short walks from stage to stage. There was plenty of food and beverage tents and most importantly, Porta John/Toi Tois everywhere. Mystic Festival had about 3 festival merch booths and another dedicated to the bands that were playing that day. In addition, there were about a dozen or so vendors selling everything that you could imagine that would be sold at a metal festival. The prices of everything for sale at Mystic was fair I thought. No price gouging at all like some other festivals I’ve attended.
The first band I saw on the warmup day was Carcass. They seem to land on just about every festival lineup that I attend, so I didn’t stick around for their whole set. I’m an old school Carcass fan so I was quite surprised when they played “Exhume to Consume” right out of the gate. Jeff Walker and Bill Steer haven’t aged a day and they still play with the same vigor they did when I first saw them in 1990.
After Carcass, I headed over to the indoor Shrine Stage and caught Bay Area thrash legends, Heathen. Heathen never garnered the same popularity that Metallica, Exodus, Testament and Death Angel did during their heyday, but when you’re still playing larger festivals, does it really matter? Heathen played a blistering set that included songs from all over their discography. One thing I noticed is that founding guitarist, Lee Altus, was not present. After some quick research, I learned that he’s back at home tending to a sick family member. We wish him and his family good fortune and a return to the stage soon. More...