Date: November 18-19-20, 2010

Location: Columbiahalle, Berlin, Germany (warm-up show at K17 Club)

The second edition of the Nuclear War Now! festival, could not be ignored by any fan of underground black/death metal. With titans BLASPHEMY and also reunited ORDER FROM CHAOS (specially for this occasion), the billing that included 16 bands (before the unfortunate cancellation of KERASPHORUS) made the trip to Berlin very tempting and ultimately inevitable. A few weeks later a warm-up show at K17 club was announced, involving, among others, historical VULCANO, which resulted in a three-day absolute blasphemy. But let’s take things from the beginning…

Thursday, November 18:
We arrived at K17 by the time local band ZERSTORER got on stage. Despite them choosing to be considered as a blackmetal band (judging by their aesthetics and image), however, their sound is much more closer to death metal bands like OBITUARY or early SEPULTURA, mixing those influences those with plenty of war feeling. They were followed by Filipinos (!) DEIPHAGO, which were a small surprise, although their recent album “Filipino Antichrist” had a certain impact on the scene. On stage, the power-trio performed flawlessly noisy, old-school blackdeathrash, which owes a lot to SARCOFAGO, the headliners of the evening VULCANO and generally Latin American old-school evil thrash cult of Cogumelo Records. All in all a great show by DEIPHAGO, do check them out if you are followers of such sounds.

In the role of co-headliners, BLACK WITCHERY mostly warmed themselves for their main appearance at the festival two days later. Anyway their blasting BLASPHEM-ian metal is impossible not to penetrate the human body. More about them and their show below. For now we can focus on the appearance of Brazilian gods VULCANO, who, despite the fact that only Zhema Rodero remains from the original line-up, didn’t struggle much to deliver some lessons on robust, horny metal live, in a way that only few bands manage to give nowadays. The secret lies in the words “honesty” and “feeling”, which are easily found in all-time classic hits like “Death Metal” and “Fallen Angels” as well as newer songs like “Guerreiros De Sata”. There could not be better preparation for the holocaust of the next two days!

Friday, November 19:
At the fantastic site of Columbiahalle, Hellenic band EMBRACE OF THORNS took the role of the opener of the day, as there was a last-minute change in the billing. Despite the tiredness from the flight, they stood deservedly, unleashing brutal, bestial death metal with excellent image and mighty presence on and of course having an impeccable “Atonement Ritual” LP in their luggage. They were succeeded by swedish act MIASMAL, which were a good tribute to old-school death metal of their homeland (aka NIHILIST / ENTOMBED / DISMEMBER). Up to that though; for something more they must grow their own personality and sound. From now on, the festival was the joy of the power-trio, as all the bands that followed consisted of three members. MOTORHEAD would be very proud! This paradox began with funny enough (in a positive way) BONE AWL, whose music relies mainly on the holy trinity of VENOM (above all), HELLHAMMER and early BATHORY. Early blackmetal with doses of punk and an admittedly powerful show from the Americans.

Things got serious and the first strong mosh-pits started when Italians BLASPHEMOPHAGHER got on stage. Those who have watched playing live already knew  this killer combination of BLASPHEMY-like metal, sick VON aura and war feeling in the veins of BOLT-THROWER. Anyway, in Berlin they were even more devastating, showing that they have fairly developed a significant core of fans among the underground extreme sound. Following them, the enigmatic XIBALBA from Mexico, who, after 14 years away from discography, reappeared just last year releasing a demo tape. Admittedly they created strong atmospheres, based on the traditional Norwegian sound of the first half of the 90s but had the misfortune to appear between the two best live acts of the evening. And that’s because Brazilians MYSTIFIER, followers of the SARCOFAGO school, tore everything apart, giving excellent old-school extreme metal, derived from pure underground times when terms such as thrash, black, death were fearlessly mixed, producing unique hybrids. Beelzeebubth’s guitar unleashed deadly riffs while while (small in the eye but huge in soul) Leandro Kini moved with mastery between vocals, bass and keyboards. This was a historical moment and it is no coincidence that several people traveled from Brazil just to watch them live since it is unknown when they would be another opportunity.

However, it was about time for gentlemen Chuck Keller, Mike Miller and the great Pete Helmkamp to climb on stage. The (first after many years) live performance of ORDER FROM CHAOS led the audience to an expected frenzy. For those who are not aware, OFC have been one of the major act of U.S. underground death metal in the late 80s/early 90s, a band that carved their own way because unlike most of their compatriots who have religiously followed SLAYER, POSSESSED and co., they chose to build their sound on the drier, war-like European, Teutonic thrash. On stage they stood like solid rocks, as a result of their members’ experience with Helmpkamp representing an imperial, leading figure. The complaint was that although the created panic to the metalheads below, the show lasted for about 40 minutes, which is only partly justified by the fact that Keller and Miller would be playing tomorrow with ARES KINGDOM. So be it, since it the end of the night we were tired and had to immediately gain forces for tomorrow’s  acts…

Saturday, November 20:
… or, otherwise, the day of BLASPHEMY! Before that though, we had many things to see yet. So we started with Swedes VANHELGD, a band true to the vision of their compatriots some 15-20 years ago. Angry old-school death metal it is, without a trace of originality, of course, but still OK for the necessary warm-up. Then we had FAUSTCOVEN from Norway, a little surprise, since they yielded excellent doom/death from 1991-94 with an evil feeling reminiscent of MERCYFUL FATE, ANGEL WITCH and BLACK SABBATH and all that through the riff-machine of early MY DYING BRIDE, as well as the most doom moments of DARKTHRONE.

Unexplainably early (given their reputation) came out VON GOAT, the project of Shawn Calizo from historical VON. The truth is that there was a lack of consistency on stage, as the bass was played by He Who Gnashes Teeth of BONE AWL and the drums by the drummer of the reunited VON version. Probably this was why they played only 8 pieces with half of them coming from their recent “Septic Illumination” album and the rest being timeless hymns of USBM, like “Devil Pig” and “Satanic Blood”, songs that influenced numerous bands. Although the show had the audience divided, I felt satisfied, although I missed “Veinen” or “Watain”. In any case, after a while the public reunited to one solid mass, as we all stared at the majestic appearance of BLACK WITCHERY, wondering how the hell can those three men be so impressive on stage. The truly eerie atmosphere that emerges from the live performances of the Floridians seems to be something out straight from inferno. Strictly musically, their choice to produce such a grinding sound might retracts something from their compositions, but as a whole and with the new opus “Inferno Of Sacred Destruction” they were truly great.

Following Spanish act PROCLAMATION were known to me, since I had attended their show on Athens, Greece last March so I had an idea what to expect, and this was unholy,  black/death metal in the veins of leaders BLASPHEMY with a steamroller bass and dual vocal attack, an aspect I believe is their highlight. Now the time had finally come to feel a little proud of my compatriots, as DEAD CONGREGATION climbed on stage just third from the end and behind only huge names, proving their status among the international scene of extreme underground. And how could it be any different since all their releases, topped by the abysmal “Graves Of The Archangels” can reach ultimate darkness! However they managed to look even more hooking live, with their encircling, doomy death metal causing frenzy to the fans who demanded (for the first time throughout the event!) from Anastasis and his friends to get back on stage for encore, which they did.

Reaching slowly at the end, we had a final beer refill because next were the mighty ARES KINGDOM, who, as mentioned above, include 2/3 of ORDER FROM CHAOS and their recent album “Incendiary” was the epitome of old-school deathrash sound. Unfortunately, some technical problems affected their sound and they did not produce 100% of the energy they could be broadcast to the audience. This didn’t matter much though, as the time for the main act of the festival had finaly arrived. Five huge (artistically and physically!) dudes, full of bullets, skulls and inverted crosses, captured the stage of Columbiahalle, the intensity of the amplifiers reached maximum levels and there was chaos! BLASPHEMY, the  living history of North American blackmetal stood worthy of their name, with Ryan Forster in guitar swapping riffs with Caller Of The Storms while Nocturnal Grave Desecrator vomited nightmarish lyrics with the help of bassist Victor Kusabs (also member of New Zealanders  DIOCLETIAN who have just released the superb “War Of All Against All”). Any description of what took place in the arena will seem poor, the public had dived into madness and mosh-pits reached the limits of danger. And how could it be otherwise when we had before us the band with just a demo and two full-length (note that “Fallen Angel Of Doom” is scheduled for reissue in 2011) paved the way for an entire branch of the extreme metal and created the famous Ross Bay Cult scene! Anyone who was there and did not feel the tremors of their live show, probably has done something wrong in the choice of their musical preferences…

The end of the event found us jaded (at the festival site one could see everywhere unconscious “corpses”), with the necessary amount of alcohol in our veins and pervasive emotional uplift that we had the opportunity to be present at such a unique occassion, hoping the 2011 version will hold equally powerful names (REVENGE maybe?). HORNS UP, ALL HAIL ROSS BAY!

~ by antifleshnimbus on March 29, 2011.

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