Tuesday, May 14, 2013

... HEAVY DAYS IN DOOMTOWN II -Copenhagen, May 2013- : LIVE REPORT !!!

DAY 1 : Freshly arrived in Copenhagen, after a quick stop at the hostel with the almighty Mikael Olofsson and a pretty long time finding Christiania for some good weed, here we are -just in time for the beginning of HIGH PRIEST OF SATURN. Stengade is a really nice venue, a bit smaller than what I'd thought but perfect for this 1st night's round-up and the performance of this hypnotic Stoner/Doom band (their 1st outside Norway).
Vocals by Merrethe are beautifully ethereal and Martin Severtse prooves right-away that he'll be one of the best composers of the festival and it'll be more than a simple bonus to see him with his other band RESONAUT on the last day, also guitarist and compositor he sings too in this one and it sounds more classical-like Stoner/Sludge  but confirms too his taste for psyched-out sounds... HIGH PRIEST OF SATURN  is definitely more Doom and Heavy Rock oriented and their present set is already a highlight of the fest which starts awesomely ... I guess the guy on organ was here the same than the one playing on the CD, so maybe the band is now a steady quatuor, this organ brings really dominating 70's vibes and makes the overall atmosphere faithful to their brillant debut which is integrally played for everyone's greatest pleasure, along with a Pink Floyd cover ("Simple Life") !


HUATA : I had been half convinced by the performance of french droning wizards of Doom at last year's Roadburn, a bit hesitant and not as cohesive as tonight that's for sure. But a rich year for the band has passed in between and the guys are a lot more stronger and confident , being now a steady line-up boosted by evocative praise from a great part of the underground and it looks like tonight quite many people are waiting for their peformance which they won't regret any second !!!
The introduction to their fuzz ritual ceremony "An Alarc'h" is sung in breton by Ronan, this sounds awesome - like sacred words, invoking the gathering of all disciples. Everyone's is perfectly tuned, serene and concentrated and Ronan 's voice reaches at several times stunning peaks of dramatic and painful screams. Both songs from "The Atavist of Mann" coming after are cleverly coupled and make the first part of the gig very energic and captivating.
"The Solar Works" is an unreleased song which is for the first time played here in Copenhagen, quite logical considering that it was originally planed to appear on the compilation album of the festival which sadly  didn't finally saw the light of day ! HUATA will now release this song on a stricly limited to 100 copies 3"" CD (homemade) and this will be only available on their forthcoming tour later this month (watch out for all dates infos on their FB)... This song is a perfect bridge to the linked duo "The Retaliator" / "Hercolobus" which (for those who don't have heard it yet) is the integrality of HUATA's side on the split album with their dutch buddies BITCHO... And, under a lot of subjuguated eyes, here is revealed the new dimension that the breton band has now taken, a lot more personnal in everything should i say ! more droning, menacing and hammering, more spacey, tight and audacious too !!! The atmosphere is almost trance-inducing and the band definitely wins everybody's attention until the very last notes of a really memorable set. Hats off guys \m/

On first floor, there's some arts and merchandise, also a large place with good seats where all kind of smoking is allowed, which is cool because it's a bit cold outside to tell the truth, I feel some degrees missing in the north !

HEXVESSEL are definitely not my cup of tea and the scene is certainly too small for such a dense collective of sounds, I listen a part of it and still feel sorry for them to see that a good part of the audience is leaving little by little the place before the end, a bit like what happened to HUATA last year at Roadburn, for different reasons though but the truth of the day is not obviously the same on tomorrow.

DAY 2  starts with TONER LOW , the dutch trio is hunger of playing live (after a long time of inactivity) and full of positive vibes to present their new album "III" through a killer set filled with some of the heaviest psyched-out Stoner/Doom around ! This new album is a must-have.

ALUNAH will be a very special moment, there's a wide variety of heavy sounds displayed during these 4 days but none  like this full hour of tasty UK Doom... The easiness of Dave Day on guitar is very impressive, the guy is majestic in its playing and attitude, damn crushing and so serene at the same time... Soph doesn't count her efforts and looks pretty excited, maybe the flow and tone of her vocals could be more ultimately accurated on stage but she's a great frontwoman and the setlist is just fantastic with five songs of "White Hoarhound" and two from the "Call of Avernus" debut album and ... "Oak Ritual" is one of the best songs I'll hear in the week-end, mighty doom riffs with earthy psychedelic soundscapes and to end on the crushing pagan Doom of "Belial's Fjord" was awesome,  a very very good set !

Next hour will be necessary to eat something and all I can say is that the food for sale is pretty good, that veg hamburger was a 1st try for me but won't remain the only one in the following days... My diabete deplores the absence of light sodas (not on the 1st day's place) and just normal bottle of waters but I'll be more organized later and must admit I feel so well that I'm lazy to cross the street and buy something at the close supermarket...

It's so nice to meet Sarah MsSabbath Eriksonn, Michael Strandell, Kees de Vries, Thomas Iommi, Abbe Loud, also get to know some cool new faces (special mention to Melinda and Niklas) and really a memorable blast to share those great moments with especially my friends of HUATA, still present - until they leave by sunday morning - like a lot of bands who stay 2 - 3 or 4 days, enjoying this awesome festival as much as they can... great discussions, topless weed, cocktails, laughs, rabbit red-eyes, HIGH and LOW moments, fuckin HEAVY sounds... we all enjoy our time here and are definitely in a very special dimension !

Already 20:00, let's find a decent place (at the extreme right of the scene) for the ceremonial set of SATURNALIA TEMPLE, just nearby Mikael Oloffson who carefully takes care of encens for the band which subtly enhance the magic of the moments to come... I regret to not have more carefully listen their stuff before but can still make the title track of the album "Aion of Drakon" my peak of the gig - as this is the only song I admit to really know ! The hypnotic and ritualistic vibes are tightly delivered through fuzzy and ultra heavy - from bizarre to sinister - riffage blended with groovy wah-wah guitars.
Of course Tommie (guit/voc) catches the attention, including with his unique druggy-effected vocals, but his two buddies are not on rest at all, infectious and pulsating, definitely those swedes really overcome themselves ! 
In the end I reckon I'm just a wimp not to have given more attention to S.T. before (despite the numerous incentive comments of Mikael), this band rips and obviously even more if your really into the occult ;) which is not my case at all but there's a real identity richly layered which deserves a different and deeper than usual approach to their sound.

Just a few minutes to come back quickly at the main stage for PROCESSION... The hall is already densely packed so I decide to watch this one from the balcony which is a nice way to get to see differently a gig.
The originally chilean but now swedish-based band is probably the most METAL band from the whole line-up of the fest and it's a kind of fresh air which embrace the whole audience; this is exactly the kind of band that remind -if necessary- that about 90% of the people present are before anything else composed of Metallers !!! the band is perfectly cohesive and Felipe embraces the frontman costume with just enough charism and sense of humor to get the sympathy of everyone at each of his intervention, it's not that he's extremly talkative but he often places a few good words and that's a good change among all those stoned bands who seriously lack of communicative words with their fans during their show !!!
The guys have freshly released their new album and wide-eyed, we can now delight of awesome Epic Doom with  "To Reap Heavens Apart" or  "Conjurer", maliciously, the setlist is also composed of what we can already  consider as old classics from the band like "Raven of Disease", "Like a Plague Upon the Earth" or "Destroyers of the Faith"... This was the 1st time I saw Procession on stage and I'm already impatient to see them next month again at Hellfest :)

CONAN was next on this stage, lots of people were looking after this show, and as it seems a kind of trademark from them - the sound is immensely loud and hammering. Vocals are punishing and the atmosphere truly agonizing, I quickly decide to go outside, soon joined one by one by haggard buddies ! 

Next playing BELZEBONG  will be far more accessible, hahaha ! Still raw and filthy with nice southern hints,  but more musical and diversified than many others from their category, the polish dudes prove to have a very good experience of the scene and not just weedy sounds (and smokes) to share with their fans but also a sick communicative energy !

SAMOTHRACE was another of those unexpected jewels that the organization managed to propose for the Heavy Days, their 1st gig ever in Europe (and the 1st of their tour) under the sign of "Reverence to Stone" logically played in its entirety with its two epic songs "A Horse of Our Own" and "When We Emerged", while  I guess two slightly shorter songs from "Life's Trade" complete the set.
The sound is collosal, nicely balanced, and the extremly heavy style of the band crushes my last neurons surviving from this memorable day ! The ambient and so peaceful parts are more or less developed according to the songs, they bring a kind of (uncertain) relief and push the band further the classical (Post) doom melodic soundscapes. The scene is well occupied with Spinks on the left, Desmond (bass) in the middle and Castagna on the right - rather discreet but she's not in rest for some sick riffs !  Spinks sings a bit like Brent Anderson from Order of the Owl (ex Sourvein), stooping (and even almost seated on a song) to get the most tortured vocals, rough and hopeless, those roars can freeze your blood. The music of SAMOTHRACE is mournful, yet dynamic and captivating, and everything in this gig - from the music of course, to the band's attitude and lights (not always the case during the week-end to say the truth) was a real purposeful performance, thanx guys !

Watch VIDEO of DAY 02 : here

DAY 3 starts for me with DANAVA on the main stage, a difficult set from the beginning with technical problems but the nasty US Heavy Rockers finally start and little by little, with speeded-up versions of songs from "Hemisphere of Shadows", everybody get into it... until the soundboard fucked-up everything ! Just 3 songs and after about 15 minutes of interruption, it's with great sadness that I consider their appearance at the fest closed...   But it's with immense anger that I'll learn that they played about half an hour later in the Dödsmakinen (2nd stage) while quite many people were not aware of it ! a serious mistake in the communication of the orga team ... Oh well, luckily I had already seen Danava at Roadburn last year !

PAGAN ALTAR are next band for me on the main stage and it'll be easily my highlight of this saturday, the setlist is just perfect : "Pagan Altar", "Judgement of the Dead", "Cry of the Banshee", "Walking in the Dark", "The Rising of the Dark Lord", "The Aftermath"... Terry Jones voice is great, yet it could have been certainly better if the valorous guy didn't caught a disturbing cold which forced him to drink frequently water ! But the set is captivating with an Alan Jones in top form, twisting, twirling and having fun with a funny hat with England colors. Motivation, experience, great musicianship... those guys are maybe the oldest musicians of the fest but have plainly justified their reputation of CULT band !  

And what about some Funeral Death/Doom  now with MOURNFUL CONCREGATION ? Ah, definitely this programmation kills and there's even other bands which I regret not to take more than a few minutes to see (COUGH, LECHEROUS GAZE and their completely drunk singer, yet spiting good punkish vocals!)
The aussie band is used to come in Europe and looks like at home on this stage, one hour of pure relentless grief. To have all those four guys aligned with obscure lights and delivering their uncompromising pieces of slow and despaired art was something pretty impressive (and again the balcony was great for this set) !

I end this third day with GRAVES AT SEA  who gave here a punishing lesson of raw Sludge. I've rarely seen something so heavy and brutal at the same time and their friends (including Samothrace guys) nearby the stage were pretty much bringing forces to their assault with furious stage-diving and slaming... Nothing disagreeable during 10-15 minutes, impressively brutal and funny at some point but I think we're all tired and we decide it's time go sleepin' !!!

Watch VIDEO of DAY 03 : here

DAY 4  : It's sunday and to tell the truth I've seen already all the bands I really wanted to see in the first 3 days but a fest is also nice to try take time to discover new bands   and SEREMONIA from Finland is aptly starting on a ceremonial tone the last episode of this successfull 2nd edition. The native language vocals help make their fuzzy progressive Stoner/Doom pretty interesting, sounds a bit like Jex Thoth, all enveloped in a dark and esoteric mood... Another great band on Svart rds to explore !

Another one on Svart rds (and also Finnish) present today is DARK BUDDHA RISING who've played  a very distinctive performance, visually of course but musically they were maybe the noiseist act from all !
Their studio stuff is a lot more accessible in my opinion cause even if atmospheres are regularly shifted from the heaviest to some more psychedelic trippy sounds and dark ambient moods, all vocals are here almost just pure noise tortured-like growls  which are pretty hard to bear and make some songs too confused to be captivating all along... Yet it's been interesting to get to see such a droning psychedelic noise band on stage !

Despite the more and more felt tiredness, I'm really happy to see KADAVAR for the 1st time on stage in such great conditions and the german trio quickly shows that it is now a very experimented Live band, assured and mature, after various Tours in Europe and America over the past year...
With their freshly released sophomore album "Abra Kadavar", the guys have now more choice to compose a full setlist and logically blend new songs ("Doomsday Machine", "Eye of the Storm", the excellent "Come Back Life"...) with old ones - including "Living in my Head", "Purple Sage" or "Creature of the Demon" as essential hits...
The overall is powerful and heavy and this set is a perfect conclusion to this fest for me with this amazing Psychedelic Heavy-Rock; certainly not just only organic as one could have thought, occasionally stomping or spacey, Lindemann just perfectly knows how to shift around heady and vintage vibes and this new album is in my opinion a lot more consistent and even original than what have recently released all their retro-colleagues on Nuclear Blast.... 

I prefer not to think about the so boring vocals of MOSS and consider that my last good moments came from ORESUND SPACE COLLECTIVE (including Tom Sutton - ex Church of Misery) and their extra-extended set (they were the last band playing on stage 2) filled with very heavy guitars jamming and electronic psychedelica ! 

The festival is over by now and already my head boils with dozens of images and sounds accumulated in my smoky mind during the 4 last days ! I feel that musically Roadburn 2011 was maybe more memorable with its crazy line-up (Candlemass playing "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus" with the original singer, The Gates Of Slumber, Blood Farmers, Count Raven, etc...) but this 2nd edition of The HEAVY DAYS IN DOOMTOWN was remarkable on so many points : organisation, line-up, timing, food quality and prices, general atmosphere, DIY ethic, nice place given to visual arts (see last picture as a good example), etc...not forgetting a pretty nice city to visit beside (not the case of Tilburg ! and I will always pass on the abusively expensive London !!!) the ridiculous price of 55 Euros for the ticket with a T-shirt and 2 posters included -  that in the end, I've got the feeling that  it is the BEST festival I've ever done !!!
I don't know how the HDDT will evolve after such a successfull edition, it could be quickly limited in terms of capacity or a relocation will be necessary which would kinda suck because the site is awesome ! Anyway, it is highly recommended and  has definitely everything to become your new annual pilgrimage... and shit it's agreeable to already dream of other killer bands to possibly come within the next years like Archon, Ice Dragon, Stone Magnum, Curse The Son or In The company Of Serpents... just to name a few yankees I would dig to see on the old continent ;)

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