Date: March 14 & 15, 2014

Location: Halle 101, Speyer, Germany

This text took some time to be completed, so it’s mostly about a memory journal of the short trip to beautiful Speyer on the bank of Rhein. There, in Halle 101 one of the strongest line-ups of the broader blackmetal underground coexisted for 2 days and nights, with NIGHTBRINGER from the US of course being probably the main attraction since bands from the other side of the Atlantic do not visit us very often. But let the memories slowly unfold…

Grey Mass Poster

Friday, March 14th:

NawaharjanAfter a few real weizen biers (and not the soap-waters that are exported to Greece) in the hotel, we arrive at the club, wait a few minutes in the entrance queue and upon entering, Berliners NAWAHARJAN are about to open the celebrations for the dark side. Without having heard anything about them before, they functioned appropriately as an introduction to the two-day ritual with occult atmosphere, relatively good sound and a contrabass (I think) decorating their raw tracks. But the first great shock came with Irkallian OracleIRKALLIAN ORACLE. It’s not that I had no clue about them and had the vinyl already ordered, but the fact that their live performance would become a life experience was beyond imagination. Of course Carl Tiburtius (or ar-Ra’d al-Iblis – see also MATRICIDE, NIGHTBRINGER, ACRIMONIOUS) is no random artist and here he sculpted low-tempo esoteric death metal, causing a swirling in the air and absorbing those that that chose to be in tune with his sounds. The special percussion used to accompany his abysmal hymns left us by the end of the set to try and figure out what we had exactly experienced.

RavencultThankfully, the small break helped us reorganize our minds as RAVENCULT who would follow, had no intention to joke. Without any corpsepaints (as always), without any distinguishable arrangements on stage but with a megaton force, they gave nothing less than a blackthrashing orgy spat out of hell, just to make our necks violently unscrewed. Although the demos and “Despise…” are perfect releases too, personally I cannot possibly resist the mania caused by the Ofermodrabid tracks from “Morbid Blood”. All the energy collected during IRKALLIAN’s set, was here unleashed towards all directions. In that manner, the time of OFERMOD’s performance was mostly used to regain powers than to consciously watch what Michayah had to manifest. Although I am opposed to the opinion that their releases follow a declining course, as I find “Thaumiel” excellent for the purposes it serves, on stage they seemed a bit “confused”, while the second guitar was choking the sound coming out of the speaker rather than giving an extra dimension to the tracks.

DiabolicumTheir compatriots DIABOLICUM that followed, were a good memory injection in order for us to remember the late ‘90s/early ‘00s era, when the industrial sound had made its raid into blackmetal. And contrary to some “purist” beliefs, this idiom had given certain gems back in those times, but faded out quickly. In any case, the Swedes gave a respected live show, yet without driving many people crazy. Anyhow, I was gathering my physical and mental powers for yet another ritual by AcherontasACHERONTAS, the seventh one among my personal concert experiences. And what a road they have walked during all these years until the recent “Amenti” masterpiece. So it was in Speyer after all where I was destined to undergo the most intense experience by them, despite all the adversities with electric power suddenly cut amidst the staggering “Legacy Of Tiamat”. But they did not give up for any reason; they left for a while, regrouped and came back to finish it in the proper way which was a glorious ending of their performance, which also included special vocal appearances from ar-Ra’d al-Iblis and Scorpios. Blackmetal is fortunate and honored that such bands, devoted to their vision, continue with their ways and reach their goals, despite any difficulties they may encounter.

ArchgoatWith the first day of the festival coming to an end, the time of the great ARCHGOAT was here. The European equivalent to BLACK WITCHERY (or probably the other way round since the Fins are present for more than two decades) in terms of volume a power-trio can produce, tore Halle 101 down showing no mercy and without any compromises. Bestial black/death sonic wall, rhythm section pounding right upon our chests and hymns in the likes of “Penis Perversor” raping our ears! After the Finnish attack, the club was emptied in a disappointing was. Or not? The scenery of the 50 of us Nefandusremaining on spot, waiting for the NEFANDUS show combined the pure paranoia possessing Belfagor, synthesized one of the most special live situations I have attended. The maniac Swede gave an act of madness, during which he would throw things to the crowd, fall down on the floor, produced some of the most insane shrieks and generally the feeling was that anything could happen causing a note of fear on the whole situation. Although “Your God Is A Ghost” EP was in no way equal to the grandness of the transcendental “Death, Holy Death” album, this experience in Speyer was truly unique and probably the ideal closing of Grey Mass’s first night.


Saturday, March 15th:

Fides InversaAfter the last moment cancellation by VERBUM VERUS (a shame because I wanted to watch them again after last September in Holland) the evening started with Italians FIDES INVERSA. Without being bad or anything, I cannot say that their blackmetal, based on the Swedish forms of ONDSKAPT etc., won my attention in great degree. On the other hand, Temple Of BaalTEMPLE OF BAAL with their crushing style were much more riveting, although some problems with sound would not allow them to unfold in perfection the virtues of French blackmetal they represent. However, the first great thrills of the night were true upon the start of SVARTIDAUÐI’s Icelandic invasion. I dare to say that as we speak, they are one of the most quickly upcoming forces of this Svartidaudisubgenre; especially after “Those Who Crawl…” demo back in 2010 and onwards they have rapidly accelerated and are ready for take-off. It’s not only the realization that they have achieved to create a distinct personal sound (something apparent in “Flesh Cathedral” and the upcoming “Synthesis Of Whore And The Beast” EP) by mixing the orthodox approach by DSO with the most interesting parts of the post-metal idiom), but also the fact they when they perform on stage, it’s done with such intensity that an aura of horror emerges in the air.

PseudogodPSEUDOGOD that followed were definitely better than the last time I’d seen them in Berlin (NWN! Fest 2012). Solid death metal with a blackened atmosphere, however we were still living into the abyss created by SVARTIDAUÐI earlier. Dutch Funeral WindsFUNERAL WINDS brought an old school Norwegian aura to the festival, with their DARKTHRONE-meets-GORGOROTH compositions, however they seem to be too much of a cliché. It’s OK though because the relaxing during their set would prove overly beneficial. The reason is that One Tail, One HeadONE TAIL, ONE HEAD contrast to their not so strong performance last year in Prague Death Mass I had attended, this time were de-va-sta-ting! Their passionate black’n’roll whose roots go back to the 80s, to BATHORY, CELTIC FROST, but also to VENOM and SODOM and MOTORHEAD (and and and…) gift to our ears and a channel of energy release as frontman Luctus draws us to a satanic, dionysian feast by the end of which we simply gather our pieces.

SargeistIn total contrast with the above situation, SARGEIST did not seem to be on form that evening. The sound was terrible, and this probably annoyed Shatraug and the others to a level that resulted in a typical and thus disappointing set. However, it was now time for the event’s main attraction and this is no other than the entrance of NIGHTBRINGER on stage, whose magnificent “Hierophany Of The NightbringerOpen Grave” (along with the fine split releases with ACHERONTAS and DØDSENGEL) influenced –in my opinion– a huge part of today’s blackmetal with the strong presence of lead guitars guiding the songs to unknown paths. An impressive scenery was being assembled in front of us, worthy of the ideological and philosophical approach of the Americans and as soon as the ritual begun we found ourselves bathed in red lighting on another dimension where the illusion of time is almost eliminated; a truly one-of-a-kind experience that demanded our full attention in order to Mglakeep up with the constant changes of rhythms and states of mind. By the end of their show, physical and mental fatigue was creating a huge discomfort to me but there was no chance of course to miss even a second of the performance of mighty MGLA, the band which gives a true substance to words such as “passion” and “faith”. This time the shock wasn’t equal to that in Prague, the sound definitely didn’t do justice to them and they seemed somewhat tired, maybe because they were on the end of the tour with SVARTIDAUÐI and ONE TAIL, ONE HEAD. Even so, with the familiar blue illumination of the stage, the Polish looked almost invincible in what they do, which is nothing less than the real essence of blackmetal itself.

As their set was ending, exhaustion was more than remorseless while on the following morning, the equally tiring trip back home awaited us. Give these facts, the return to the hotel for a few hours of rest became a necessity. I apologize to SEKTARISM and OSCULUM INFAME and look forward to a future meeting between us. Apart from that, the feeling of fullness we acquired from this two-day quest on Speyer and the Grey Mass festival was more than present. Auf wiedersehen to everyone…

~ by antifleshnimbus on May 25, 2014.

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