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North American Siege 2022 Tour

The North American Siege 2022 Tour, featuring Arch Enemy, Behemoth, Napalm Death, and Unto Others in 19 cities, wrapped up on Sunday night in Los Angeles. Arch Enemy and Behemoth traded places as the headliner. For the (Friday the 13th) night of May 13, 2022 in Berkeley, California at The UC Theatre, Arch Enemy finished off the evening.

The UC Theatre has a capacity of 1,400, and the show was sold out. During the Behemoth set, it felt like there were 2,000 in attendance as movement was near impossible. The UC Theatre is arranged in three tiers. Visibility is good from the bottom tier but only from the front third of each of the upper two tiers. Unfortunately, if you find yourself in the back of either of the upper two levels you will be watching the light show on the ceiling and not the bands (and this is true even if you are over 6 feet in height). Personally, I think they should reduce capacity/ticket sales by 10-20%. Other than those factors (and the $14 beers), it’s a great venue and metalheads appreciate the frequent metal acts the UC Theatre books.

The bands on this tour were quite diverse. The differences in music made it almost feel like a festival rather than a billing of similar bands. I can’t imagine anyone into metal who would be into all four bands or who would dislike all four either. There was something for everyone. From the way the audience came and went, it was apparent that some showed up for only one or two bands. More...

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Desertfest UK 2022: Day 3

There's no feeling more bittersweet than the last day of a good festival. On the one hand, you know that you've still got another day of fun ahead, but on the other, it's back to the real world tomorrow and all that goes with it. If it's time to go though, it's best to do it in style and so it was that the final day was spent entirely at The Roundhouse, a beautiful venue a little further away from the others in Camden, but well worth the small trip. It's hosted so many legendary bands over its history and has been the setting for live albums from such bands as Kreator, Opeth, X-Ray Spex and Paradise Lost to name a few. There really was no better place to experience the atmosphere and spirit of Desertfest, which by now has become as important in the doom fans' calendar as Roadburn.

While there were of course many upset fans when it was revealed that The Obsessed were unable to perform, the announcement of Dvne as their replacement was met with a great deal of excitement. Promoting their latest album, "Etemen Ænka," it was easy to see why people were so fascinated to see them. The band are hard to pin down, taking elements of doom, progressive and post metal and creating a soundscape which borders on the ethereal. Despite having two albums under their belt, it seemed to be only songs from the aforementioned "Etemen Ænka" on display, which didn't seem to bother their fans at all, who were lost in the atmosphere created by the Edinburgh quintet. If you're interested in music that paints a picture, then Dvne should definitely be on your list. More...

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Desertfest UK 2022: Day 2

Following a fantastic opening day marking the tenth year of Desertfest in London, it was time to head back to Camden on the Northern Line for another day of doom, desert and stoner music, in a city which may not embody the aesthetics of the music, but provided an excellent area with quick access to most of the venues. After arriving on the tube and having a quick chat with the Socialist Workers booth outside the station, it was another descent into The Underworld to begin what would no doubt be another highly enjoyable day of rock and metal.

Not having the same advantage that Blind Monarch did the day before of being the only band on, Scottish heavy/doom metal band King Witch still drew an impressive crowd and once they began playing, it was easy to see why. Think about all the things you loved when you first discovered heavy metal music and you'll notice that King Witch has them all. Led by the Doro-esque delivery of vocalist Laura Donnelly, the quartet's take on traditional metal is a refreshing one, not drenched in denim and leather, but taking the melodies and darkness that made metal so challenging for the status quo to begin with and bringing them into the modern world. They looked like they were having just as much fun as the audience and it was so easy to like them. I also can't remember the last time I enjoyed the bass so much! A fantastic start to the day from a band who will surely be back at Desertfest and much higher up on the bill in the future. More...

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Desertfest UK 2022: Day 1

Three years is a long time to wait for anything. Think how much can happen in three years, or better yet, think about how much HAS happened in the last three years. It was back in 2019 that British doom fans, stoners and desert rockers congregated for Desertfest but finally, at the end of April 2022, they returned to the north London town of Camden to bask in the sonic sunshine and feast on some of the meatiest riffs music can offer.

This was the first time I had attended the festival, much to my own surprise, but I must say, it felt like home immediately. Camden has a large number of venues and most would be in use this weekend as homegrown talent and international musicians descended on the famous capital for three days of rock and metal. The festival is meticulously run, with staff being that rare combination of friendly and efficient, making sure people got their wristbands quickly, keeping the lines moving and once that's done, leading festival goers straight into the area where they can begin drinking immediately. This is all done outside The Black Heart, a wonderful pub and one of the venues for the weekend and features the official merch stand for the festival, which was selling shirts and hoodies rapidly. The whole thing comes together to create a perfect festival atmosphere which is normally only attained in vast fields and camp sites, an impressive feat. Still, I sense that you;re reading this to hear about another important part of the event; the music.

Opening the festivities at The Underworld was Sheffield doom metal outfit Blind Monarch. Being the first band on, it was unsurprising to see the venue packed as everyone wanted to kick the weekend off right. The saying is, "In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king," but Blind Monarch delivered a performance worthy of royalty, keeping most of the wanderers in the building who had initially only come to get their first fix of music. Blind Monarch were a great way to kick things off, giving the audience exactly what they came for; slow, crushing and relentless doom metal. Expect to hear much more from them in the future. More...

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Nervosa And Burning Witches Roar Across London

Metal has come a long way when it comes to women in the genre. Where once there was hardly any women at shows or performers on stage, groundbreaking acts like Girlschool, Doro and Lita Ford gave them a voice in the field and showed that they can rock just as hard as the guys. Fast forward to 2022 and some of the best musicians and bands in metal are women, with hardly anyone batting an eye. So it was a natural choice that two of the breakout all female bands would team up at some point and treat fans to hell of a tour, which exactly what happened when the new look Nervosa paired with the Switzerland founded Burning Witches.

Having unfortunately missed the opening band and being unimpressed with Hunting Horror, we begin our review with Burning Witches. On a personal note, both bands are special to me as I was not only there for both of their British debuts (in 2015 and 2019 respectively) but also interviewed them. Three years on and both have made some big changes to their ranks, meaning this was the first time I'd seen Burning Witches with vocalist Laura Guldemond and guitarist Larissa Ernst. It's fair to say that the spirit they displayed three years ago still lives on as Burning Witches pay tribute to classic metal bands with their own brand of traditional heavy metal. More...

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Baest Brutalises The Black Heart

Unquestionably one of Europe's fastest rising death metal bands, Denmark's Baest has been on a relentless stampede ever since releasing their debut album, "Danse Macabre" in August 2018. Only a year and a month later, the quintet would unleash the superb, "Venenum," with their third full length, "Necro Sapiens" following in March 2021. Not one to rest on their laurels, Baest will be releasing a new EP, "Justita" this month and to celebrate, the band has been headlining venues across Europe, including a stop in London to perform at The Black Heart.

The Black Heart is an interesting venue, tucked away on Greenland Place, the next street over from The Underworld, it boasts a fantastic downstairs bar, decorated with gig posters and the best soundtrack a metal fan could ask for. Upstairs, just past the toilets, is where you'll find the performance area, where on this occasion, deathcrusties Sewer Trench were kicking off proceedings. Honestly speaking, Sewer Trench were fine. They had some good support locally, but most of those who weren't part of their circle of friends seemed a bit nonplussed. They were a solid band to open a death metal show and may be worth checking out if you like the style, but offered little in the way of memorable songs or stage presence. More...

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Goatwhore Levels Mesa, AZ On First Night Of Tour

“An End to Nothing” was the song Goatwhore chose to kick off their set during their most recent stop in Mesa, Arizona. That was the perfect play on words considering the Goatwhore touring machine was shut down for a couple of years by the pandemic. The extreme metal masses have missed them without a doubt and their fanbase in Arizona was no exception.

Tonight, Goatwhore played like they were shot out of a cannon. The energy level after a two-year hiatus from touring was evident. Their set only consisted of seven songs, but it felt like there were 666 of them. We relished every second of it. Every note lasted forever and every beat was in slo-mo like “The Matrix.” It was the first night of the tour but they played it with such intensity, it had the feel as if it was their last show ever.

If you’ve never been to a Goatwhore show, they exude a ton of energy and it flows non-stop between band and audience. Ben Falgoust is one of the most underrated frontmen in metal. He’s constantly interacting with the audience and egging them on. Sammy Duet, sounds like he’s playing two guitars since his rhythms and leads are so tight and crunchy throughout each and every song. The rhythm section anchored by Zack Simmons and Robert Coleman are the cement thickening all this heaviness into one amazing must see, live band.

Even with just a seven song set-list, the band just about touched on every album within their discography. Every generation of Goatwhore fan was fulfilled. I was super stoked to hear that “Apocalyptic Havoc” made the cut. This is my favorite of all Goatwhore tracks and in my opinion, should always be included in their set-list. It should come as no surprise that the show’s closer was “FBS,” definitely “Le Roi” of all Goatwhore tracks. The Mesa, Arizona audience responded in earnest and their reaction was the high that Goatwhore needed to carry onto the next stop and beyond. Laissez le bon temps rouler! More...

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Primordial Wields Lightning Over London

The Islington Assembly Hall in North London is quite an interesting little place. Standing for almost a hundred years, the venue has hosted everything from community meetings to dances to tea parties and now hosts a number of live shows throughout the year. Amusingly for a venue with such innocent events taking place in its history and with the motto "Deus per Omnia" above the stage, it's become a great place to witness black metal, having hosted such bands as Rotting Christ, 1349 and Moonspell. This past Sunday, another of black/pagan metal's most beloved bands took to the stage, as Primordial brought their "Heathen Crusade" tour back to the English capital, four years on from their last visit.

Opening the show was Luxembourgish dark folk band Rome, an outlet for musician Jérôme Reuter, which to date has released fourteen albums. While there's very little to say with regards to stage presence, which features Jérôme along with a drummer (possibly Patrick Damiani) simply performing the songs, saying "thanks" now and then and moving on, there's definitely something to their music. It should be made clear that Rome isn't a metal band, they're more in line with dark folk music, which served as a fine opener for the night's lineup. An interesting listen, which provided enough intrigue to stave off the boredom many metal fans can feel when confronted with something they can't headbang to. More...

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Ministry Holds Mass At The Fillmore New Orleans

The Fillmore was brimming with excitement. Though Corrosion of Conformity and The Melvins are fairly regular acts in New Orleans, Ministry is not. The industrial outfit’s last visit to the Crescent City was back in 2015. Though the Melvins were not able to make the show, we found out as COC was playing, the show was no less thrilling.

Corrosion of Conformity, complete with guitarist and vocalist Pepper Keenan, had the amazing skill of making that big venue and wide stage feel really small. We were transported to an old, small, smokey bar somewhere in the backwoods of the deep south as they started into their set that began with “Bottom Feeder,” “Paranoid Opioid,” and “Shake Like You.” Woody Weatherman was deep into his guitar and seemed not to even notice anyone else was in the room with him. Mike Dean would get on the mic to help emphasize Pepper’s vocals, but he was also deep in the groove with Woody.

“You guys want to hear some heavy shit.” Asked Pepper to which the audience enthusiastically responded. They ran through their slow, groovy, whiskey-drenched hits “The Door,” “Vote With a Bullet,” and “Wiseblood.” “How many of you guys like to boogie woogie.” Pepper said before launching into COC’s very popular bangers “Born Again for the Last Time,” “Albatross,” and “Clean My Wounds.” Corrosion of Conformity was able to play all of these great songs because The Melvins were not in attendance.

Before Ministry came out, a foreboding chain-link fence was brought out to the stage. It would separate the band from their audience for most of their show. The lights dropped out, and the colors of the Ukrainian flag splashed across the stage. Ministry made it clear that they stand with the brave people of Ukraine during this current onslaught.

Ministry on stage

The band powered onto the stage, seeming like wild animals thrown into a cage. They viciously launched into “Breathe,” “The Missing,” and “Deity.” Al Jourgensen spent very little time behind his glowing green cross-laden podium and instead menaced the audience from behind the fence. He would grab onto it and shake it, nearly toppling it at times.

Al also spoke about the band’s history between songs and explained why he wanted to revisit some of their early records for this tour. To explain one aspect of Ministry’s creation, they performed “Supernaut,” a Black Sabbath cover as spacey visuals illuminated them and a sound bite talked about how youths are doing acid. Two more non-Ministry songs came after, this time from the band Pailhead that Al played with in the 1980s: “Don’t Stand In Line” and “Man Should Surrender.”

Al finally picked up a guitar of his own for “N.W.O.” as visuals of flags from many nations flooded the stage. You could feel the floor tremble when people saw their favorite flag and would jump with joy upon seeing it.

Cesar Soto and Monte Pittman’s guitars were tight and precise. Razor sharp. Roy Mayorga’s drums were prominent and clean among the churning guitars. The juxtaposition of this precision with COC’s bluesy, soulful sound was so interesting. This was a lineup where you used both sides of your brain to take it in.

Check out the photo gallery.

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Paradise Lost And Moonspell Decimate Manchester

As some (mostly British) people will be aware, this week, the grey and frowning island of the United Kingdom has been bleaker than usual over the last few days after being battered by Storm Eunice. With howling winds, pouring rain and temperatures that would make polar bears think twice, this was the perfect setting for the greatest pairing of Gothic icons since Robert Smith played for Siouxie And The Banshees, as Paradise Lost and Moonspell rolled into Manchester for a dream lineup.

Unlike some fortunate venues, there was no Alunah opening tonight, so instead there was plenty of time for people to join a queue (as we Brits love to do!) and pick up merchandise before Portugal's darkest musical export Moonspell took to the stage. As one might expect, there was a strong showing from their most recent effort, "Hermitage," which included the opening number "The Greater Good," as well as mid set numbers "The Hermit Saints" and "Apophthegmata." These new cuts were received well but it should come as no surprise that staples like "Opium" and "Extinct" were greeted with a significantly warmer response. More...

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Live Concert Report: 2021 Josefstadt (Day Three)

Josefstadt ended less than a week ago, and the festival already seems like a lifetime has passed since. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve flown halfway across the world during that week and reentered an entirely different life. Anyway, as promised, you can find some photos from the third and final day below.

For my day one report, click here.

If you wish to view/download a much higher resolution of any photo, just click on it before viewing/saving. More...

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Live Concert Report: 2021 Josefstadt (Day Two)

Day two of Josefstadt has ended. Before we get into some photos from the day, I wanted to touch on a couple of issues from my day one report.

By late afternoon on day two, there were no signs that fire had ravaged part of the food area on day one. New tents were in place, new signage, new cooking equipment, and everything was back to normal. I’m not sure how such a quick renewal can take place, but someone made it happen.

The sound/lighting booth that I mentioned as being a viewing obstruction on day one was moved back quite a bit for day two. There were still hundreds of people with little or no view behind it during the Marduk and Hypocrisy sets though.

Now for some day two photos.

Mean Messiah

Laura Guldemond of Burning Witches

Truchło Strzygi

I felt like Truchło Strzygi had the best performance of the day—very lively and entertaining. Smiles from ear to ear all across the audience.

Kids get in free!

Dordeduh panorama on the Octagon stage

The above photo was taken from the previously mentioned bar area that serves as a balcony of sorts for the Octagon stage. Best view in the house, but, unfortunately, only 15 or so people can fit.

Marduk


Ad Nauseam

Hypocrisy

The day three update won’t happen for a few days, as I will be too busy traveling, but it will happen. I promise. I’m really looking forward to Azarath and Mgla today.

More photos (and I mean dozens more) will eventually be posted here.

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Live Concert Report: 2021 Josefstadt (Day One)

Day one of the Josefstadt (aka Mini Brutal Assault) Festival is history. Were it not for Covid, this would be a five-day festival, with more than two stages, and several times as many bands. However, I can’t complain as this is still one of the largest metal festivals (if not the largest) that has taken place in the past 18+ months.

The layout is different than it was last year and, of course, very different from Brutal Assault. The large Sea Shepherd stage for Josefstadt is where the Obscure stage was for 2019 Brutal Assault. Fortunately, it isn’t enclosed like Obscure was. I felt somewhat claustrophobic in the Obscure tent in 2019. The Octagon stage is the same as it was for Brutal Assault with the twist that it is opened up to a bar within the fortress. Although a major improvement, the area can still be too crowded and difficult to get in and out of.

There is no large video screen like there is for Brutal Assault. This wouldn’t be a big deal if it wasn’t for the fact that the sound and lighting tents are very wide and not that far from the stage. If you aren’t in front of them, you can’t see the stage, which is why the video screen would be nice. Sound quality is excellent (unless you are in the photo pit between speakers) like it is for Brutal Assault.

And now some photos. More...

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Live Concert Report: Vader tours Poland

When MetalDays 2021 was cancelled a few months back I found myself with a free week in Europe. I scanned the concert calendars each week to see if anything would materialize, and finally Vader announced a series of shows in Poland. Poland had always been on my radar as a place I wanted to visit so I began to plan.

Originally, I planned to see Vader in Poznan and then Sunnata the following night in Warsaw before continuing my journey to the Czech Republic. However, Sunnata’s show in Warsaw on July 31 was postponed so I was left with an open Saturday night in Poland.


Nothing else was announced so I ended up going with Vader on back-to-back nights. Vader wasn’t playing alone. They were playing with four other bands so I became familiar with them as well. Gruzja (and KAT, but to a lesser extent) also became interesting to me. Clairvoyance and JAD were the two other bands on the bill.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band on back-to-back nights, doing essentially the same set, in different cities. Turns out, the second night isn’t nearly as great as the first. I could have, and probably should have, predicted that. Maybe I did. Again, I had an open night so this seemed like something I shouldn’t miss.

Friday night in Poznan began Friday afternoon at the soccer stadium for the local team. I love stadiums, have been to dozens, and have toured, on a more formal basis, at least a half dozen as well. So that’s what I did before the gates opened since the concert venue was just outside the stadium. Vader came to the stadium to eat before the gig so I got to meet them as well.



Poznan crowd

I think we were supposed to stay a meter and a half away from each other and wear masks. Neither of those things happened. Covid-19 is really low in Poland right now so those rules seemed a bit odd—especially since this was an outdoor event. The show was fairly normal in that there was a mosh pit, crowd surfing, people standing, etc.



Gruzja in Poznan (July 30, 2021)


The sound quality was not great, especially near the stage. Near the mixing booth the quality was good. Gruzja and Vader were both excellent in my opinion. Gruzja seemed to attract the younger crowd, KAT the older crowd, and Vader was for everyone.



Gruzja in Poznan


I left during the KAT set as the last trams were about to finish for the evening, and I didn’t want to be stranded. I knew I could see the entire KAT & Roman Kostrzewski set the following evening as the start times were much earlier in Warsaw.


Vader in Poznan

If you haven’t heard of KAT, and are wondering why Vader was opening for them, you are probably not alone. They’ve been around since the late 1970s and were/are huge in Poland. They were/are so big in Poland, that there are actually two versions of the band these days (similar to Venom or Queensryche). However, they have never toured outside of Poland and probably have very little following elsewhere in the world. The version of KAT at these events was with the original lead singer, Roman Kostrzewski. His vocals are very unique so I’m not sure how the other version of KAT is getting along without him. Tim “Ripper” Owens is their vocalist I hear.


Roman Kostrzewski of KAT

Flash forward to night two. I took a three-hour train from Poznan to Warsaw. Note for anyone taking a long-distance train in Poland: Bring your own toilet paper! Anyway, back to the show.

Everything in Warsaw was bigger, much bigger. The stage was probably four times the size as the one in Poznan. The sold out crowd was also several times larger. Despite this, there were only two (extremely slow moving) beer lines. You could easily wait over an hour to purchase a beer! The toilet situation was also bad. Eight porta potties and that was it. No urinals. No one peeing in the bushes. Several of the doors on the porta potties were broken so intruders were common as well. I’ve never seen a worse situation at a planned event like this. I felt especially bad for the ladies.



Massive beer line building before most of the attendees have even arrived


The grounds in Warsaw were also a mess. I don’t think concerts are normally held at this location outdoors. There is an arena nearby that normally holds indoor shows, but that is closed due to Covid. Walking could be hazardous. One step would be on a hard rock and the next would be in quicksand. The benches were mostly wobbly or broken. Sound was, again, not good at all near the stage. I spent most of my time near the mixing booth for OK sound quality.

Food isn’t a necessary option at all concerts—especially if only a band or two are playing and there are nearby eating possibilities with in-and-out privileges. However, this was a five-band concert (over six+ hours) with no nearby food stalls or restaurants or in-and-out privileges. There were zero food offerings--not even a polish dog or some French fries.

I’m not sure what the organizers were thinking. They lost out on a ton of beer and food revenue (not to mention customer satisfaction) by not having food options, more beer lines, and faster moving lines. Maybe this is normal in Poland? I don’t know, but I didn’t see anyone complaining. If this was in Denmark or the USA, people would have been outraged.



Gruzja on the bigger Warsaw stage

As expected, I was a little less enthusiastic about the bands in Warsaw as I was with the Poznan show. This probably had as much to do with the beer situation as it did with the fact that the element of surprise was gone for me, having just seen these performances less than 24 hours prior. Vader seemed to have a lot more pyro going on in Poznan than in Warsaw too. That may have been because they played before dark in Warsaw and after sunset in Poznan.


Vader's set in Warsaw begins (photo taken from my spot in the beer line--55 minutes after I began standing in said line)

When darkness came on the scene in Warsaw so did the bugs. I’m not kidding. Mosquitos by the thousands descended on the crowd shortly after KAT hit the stage and began ravaging everyone’s flesh. I needed some food, some beer, a place to pee, and relief from the swarm of locusts so I split—once again missing the second half of KAT’s set.

Vader and Gruzja will be at Josefstadt in less than two weeks. I’m looking forward to a more comfortable environment there.


Vader in Warsaw - July 31, 2021

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2021 Metal Magic Festival (Part Three)

One last take on the 2021 Metal Magic Festival… After this, I won’t clog the MetalUnderground airwaves with anything more from the festival, but I will occasionally post a photo or two, and sometimes with a story, here going forward. Parts one and two are here and here.

Now that I have had a week to reflect on the festival, my biggest regret is that I didn’t watch more bands in their entirety. My other biggest regret is that I didn’t spend enough time talking to new and old friends. So, if I had to do it all over again, I would need this festival to happen twice more—once to see all of the bands from beginning to end and once to miss all of the bands and just sit and talk with the wonderful metalheads who visit this festival every year.


Next year’s festival dates have been announced as July 7-9, 2022. The 2022 Metal Magic Festival will be back at the place where it was held in 2017-2019. The ground has been improved so no more drunken trips over the holes in the ground made by cows. Also, it’s the week before the 2022 Gefle Metal Festival, another small metal festival that shouldn’t be missed. Some years they are on the same days.


And now for the promised "dozen photos or so"…



Illdisposed bassist Onkel Kusse


Crocell frontman Asbjörn Steffensen


Afsky’s sound check was enough to give me chills


Altar of Oblivion


Turbocharged giving a shout out to my home country


Wokeh’s Tiago Dias


Traditional humor and horror in the Metal Magic prop department


Ultra Silvam


Slaegt


Hadron


Helvetets Port providing the background music for someone’s dinner


Evil warning the crowd to “take care of your balls”


Drukner


Furious Trama


Denial of God


Dead Void


Gabestok


Dusk @ 2021 Metal Magic Festival

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2021 Metal Magic Festival (Part Two)

The promised “much more thorough review” may never happen, given my time demands and my already fuzzy memory of all of the events that happened at this year’s Metal Magic Festival.

However, I will promise one more post with a dozen photos or so when I have the time to find those photos.

For now, the words of Ronnie Ripper of Turbocharged will sum up my thoughts on the subject.

”Another MMF completed! And there is nothing just "another one" about it, it's been two years and it's in the middle of a worldwide madness that has halted life as we know it, still the grand masters of everything worth living for has succeeded to not only put our little shitty band back on a stage, they have also pulled off the event of the year with no gunpowder spared! Salutes go out to everyone who made Metal Magic Festival the most precious happening on earth yet another year! Life would be shit without you folks, stand tall and keep the spirit alive! Massive thanks from the bottom of my heart!”

The set from Turbocharged was far from shitty. They furiously cranked out a shit ton of covers that had the audience moving, shaking, and smiling—just like Ronnie was as he roamed the grounds of the festival site during all three days.



Metal Magic Festival crowd



Crocell on the indoor stage



Pot of gold at the end of the rainbow


Manoj Ramdas (AKA Viron Vortex) waking up the Friday crowd




Slægt on the indoor stage







Ronnie Ripper and Turbocharged on the outdoor stage at 2021 Metal Magic Festival

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2021 Metal Magic Festival

Yesterday, and for the next two days, perhaps the largest metal festival in the world for the past 16 months is taking place in Fredericia, Denmark. The 2021 Metal Magic Festival features two stages, 28 bands, and hundreds in attendance. All attendees must show proof of being fully vaccinated or a negative Covid test.

The venue is a new one this year, with a much larger indoor stage than either of the two prior locations. The lighting and sound indoors is really spectacular, but the audience members must be seated.

This quick overview will be expanded into a much more thorough review, with dozens of photos, when I have some downtime. For now, I must sleep and then get on to day two of the festival.


metal magic demongrinder-denoise
Metal Magic Festival organizer and guitarist of DemonGrinder, Martin Jørgensen


metal magic wokeh-low-light
Wokeh on the indoor stage


metal magic rob coffinshaker-denoise
Rob Coffinshaker conjurs up a sunset

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Live Concert Report: 2021 Metal Aid (Night Two)

For day one, click here.

Night two of 2021 Metal Aid at Amager Bio in Copenhagen, Denmark saw a few more people in the seats despite a UEFA Euro 2020 match, featuring Denmark, happening simultaneously. Between bands I noticed a number of Metal Aid attendees checking their phones for score updates. Alas, even with an early Danish goal, Belgium came back to defeat the Danes 2-1. Everyone was better off focusing on the music.

Night two consisted of Demolizer, Withering Surface, Slægt, and Artillery. Withering Surface and Artillery have been around for decades, while Demolizer and Slægt are on the younger side. Slægt has actually existed for a decade now, even though the members of the band are still in their 20s. The current lineup has been active for six years.

Demolizer got the crowd going with their brand of thrash metal. Young and old seemed to enjoy their energy and spirit. While there were moments of crossover and punk, I was pleased that they were more in the thrash category than what I was expecting.

Withering Surface were next. After a farewell concert in 2005, Withering Surface disbanded. In 2019 they reformed, wrote a new album which was released in 2020, and were booked to play a number of shows, including 2020 Copenhell and Metal Magic. Covid-19 wiped out most of those opportunities, or at least postponed them, so Metal Aid was their first performance in front of a crowd this large in over 15 years. They did get in a few small gigs in 2020 before Denmark went back into lockdown.

They will be at the 2021 Metal Magic Festival in a few weeks. When Michael H. Andersen, the vocalist for Withering Surface and co-owner of Mighty Music along with many other metal titles, asked the crowd how many had seen them at the 1999 Roskilde Festival, not many hands went up. Some of the youngsters in the crowd probably weren’t even born yet. Perhaps one or two were conceived at the 1999 Roskilde Festival. Nergal, of Behemoth, would not be surprised if such a conception were to have occurred.

If you are a fan of Melodic Groove Metal and haven’t heard Withering Surface before, check out their old stuff or their 2020 album, “Meet Your Maker”.

For me, and several others that I spoke with, the highlight of Metal Aid was Slægt. Since 2017 they have been one of my top ten favorite bands, and I don’t see them falling off that list anytime soon. Their last two albums and a 2019 EP are fantastic. Their live performances are always outstanding, energetic, and smile producing. Don't be surprised if they release a new album of material in 2022.

I’ve been lucky enough to see them five times now, even though they have yet to tour the USA. When they visit a town near you, don’t miss it! I would love to see a Slægt world tour with bands like Cloak and Tribulation. Slægt will also be at the 2021 Metal Magic Festival where I will happily see them for the sixth time.

Last, but not least, was the mighty Artillery. It’s been over 30 years since “By Inheritance” frequently made its rounds in my college CD player, but the surviving members continue to impress and deliver the goods.

I saw Artillery at 2016 Copenhell, but I was so jet-lagged and tired that I didn’t make it through more than a song or two before heading home to get some sleep. Artillery went on at Copenhell a 1:15 a.m., and my first act of that day was Solstifir, a full 12 hours earlier. On this evening, at Metal Aid, I was able to relax and enjoy their entire set.

Overall, Metal Aid delivered on the promise of emergency assistance to metal bands and fans alike. Going forward, the metal community can anticipate a return to concerts and festivals that we have so desperately missed during the past 15 months.

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Live Concert Report: 2021 Metal Aid (Night One)

“Many, many years ago on a distant shore
Men did gather secretly beyond a hidden door
They travelled long and travelled far
Dark into the night
Yes, this is the place they've chosen
To build the metal site”

No, Metal Church was not one of the bands at Metal Aid 2021. But their lyrics, above, summed up this event for this photographer and reviewer.

Maybe it hasn’t been “many, many years”, but my last live metal show was 2019 Brutal Assault which is more than 22 months ago—certainly the longest drought for me in the past 40 years (when I went to my first concert). I know my situation is not unique.

Travelling long and travelling far was certainly the case as I flew about 6,000 miles combined between three flights and 20+ hours. When I showed my Covid-19 vaccine certificate to security at the door, the guy next to me said something like, “Wow, you came all the way from the USA for this?” I told him I am dedicated.

Capacity at Amager Bio was reduced from over 1,000 standing individuals to a few hundred sitting metalheads. Most would have preferred the former, but with three compression fractures in my spine, I was more than happy to sit for most of the four and a half hours of music.

Night one consisted of Svartsot, Heidra, Ethereal Kingdoms, and Lotan. Svartsot is the only band I had heard of before this mini festival was announced as Svartsot was scheduled to play at Copenhell 2020 and 2021, both of which were cancelled.

Lotan kicked things off. Again, I wasn’t very familiar with the first three bands and didn’t have high expectations based on minimal listenings beforehand, but all three exceeded expectations. I heard some grumblings about Lotan’s performance from some audience members, and maybe the long interval between shows for me reduced my critical ear, but I enjoyed their short set more than I thought I would.

Ethereal Kingdoms were next. They aren’t in my favorite genre of metal (think Nightwish or Within Temptation, although sometimes heavier with very occasional death metalish vocals/growls). Some sort of story seemed to be unfolding during their set. A bloody heart emerged near the end, but the front row was spared any sort of GWAR or Watain blood bath.

A neighbor at the show told me I would really like Heidra as they would feature more of the Scandinavian spirit. He was correct. Heidra was excellent in their presentation and delivery. Combine Amon Amarth, Finntroll, and Alestorm in your head and out pops something similar to Heidra.

Finishing off night one was Svartsot. Like the rest, Svartsot was way better live than I was anticipating. My seat was particularly amusing as I was right in front of Hans-Jørgen Martinus Hansen who alternated between Irish whistles, the mandolin, bagpipes, and his beer throughout the set.

The sound at Amager Bio was perfect. I wandered around the edges and sat in the front row, and the mix sounded great in all locations which isn’t normally the case—especially at indoor venues.

I do have high expectations for night two as seeing Artillery and Slægt were my main reasons for buying a ticket for Metal Aid. A few tickets remain for tonight, but they may be gone before showtime. The other bands tonight are Withering Surface and Demolizer.

Night Two report

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Moonspell: Bringing Halloween Home

In the age where livestream shows are becoming the closest thing we have to going to gigs again, the audience has an idea of what to expect. Normally, viewers think that they'll be tuning into a glorified rehearsal, where the band sound tight, but with no one around to cheer. While this does give a more intimate atmosphere (who wouldn't want to hang out with their favourite bands while they run through tracks?) there are plenty of fans who miss the spectacle of a live performance. If ever there was a band that wasn't going to half ass their livestream though, it was Moonspell.

Originally meaning to take place on Halloween night, the Portuguese metal ambassadors were forced to move their show back by a few days, though naturally, it proved to be worth the wait. Those who logged in were treated to a vast selection of songs from the extensive Moonspell catalogue, from their debut "Wolfheart" to their sophomore classic "Irreligious," to the epic concept album, "1755." Appropriately enough for the beginning of the show, it was "Vampira" and "Wolfshade (A Werewolf Masquerade)" which kicked things off. It's been twenty six years since "Wolfheart" hit the shelves but these songs definitely haven't lost their bite or their spirit and sound as fresh as ever, something which can be said of any of the classics and gems brought out on the night. More...

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