For quite awhile it's a well-known secret that the underground open-air Death Feast is a mecca for fans of extreme metal. There is no other festival like Death Feast in Germany which is focussed on the extreme metal and so the organization booked bands - renown and unknown ones - from different countries for 3 days full of death metal and grindcore. For the 4th time Death Feast brings about 3,500 fans to Hünxe, a small town North of Oberhausen and east of Wesel.
For me it was another first, but Jan, my partner in crime, have been here before. A novelty was the shower / toilette container at the camp site which even offered a flatrate - which I took immediately -, these wristbands were pink and didn't really fit to the black-dressed people. They also got a better PA which delivered an even more brutal sound - and for the soccer fans they had public viewing in the party tent. Great atmosphere and lots of space to enjoy the performances, so no it was rarely crowed at the entrance, even in front of the stage you didn't get crushed. Circle pits or head banging, anyway it was pure fun. The festival area was big enough to host about more fans, so even if next time 1,500 more fans will come, no problem at all!
Okay, the weather wasn't perfect. A lot of sun, but also a few rain showers and Friday a storm warning worried organizers and fans. More about that later on, just a short comment... Friday's running order got messed up and the crew had to improvise a lot. But well, it's an open-air and you can't pre-order the weather, you have to adjust to what's coming.
We arrived Wednesday and around noon only about a dozen fans had set up their tents. During the next few hours more people arrived and the crew was busy keeping everything under control. When everybody settled it was time to party at the party tent.
Thursday: Beneath, The Sickening, Vomitous, As You Drown, Abysmal Torment, Inferia, Deranged, Prostitute Disfigurement, Leng Tch'e, Defeated Sanity, Hail Of Bullets, Dying Fetus
Thursday was kicked off musically by the Icelanders Beneath. With their brutal death metal they did a solid wake-up call. The band so far has only a mini-CD under the belt and so they played tracks of Hollow Empty Void. Highlights: Oblivious and Wartorn.
The Norwegian band The Sickening musically are following the same path, but presented an energetic performance. Especially the blond singer left a positive impression with his deep growls. He was always in action and did quite some miles passing the stage from side to side. With this powerful performance more fans were drawn to the stage.
Vomitous came on stage with 2 shouters and the Swedish kept the energy level with their aggressive stage acting. Okay, the space in front of the stage wasn't crowded, but the first warmed up for a circle pit. Others tried to reach working temperature with headbanging or necking some beers.
Swedish As You Drown can be described as a very young band playing old school death metal spiced up with modern death metal. Or in a nutshell: Cannibal Corpse meet Job For A Cowboy - but focussing on old school death metal. The band did their best - like the previous bands - and it was obvious that they were proud to play at Death Feast! Their effort was crowned by the first circle pit of the day, even if it was just a small one.
The first highlight of the day were the Italian band Abysmal Torment who came from Malta to Hünxe. More and more people gathered in front of the stage and with their brutal death metal they set the place on fire. Singer Nicky Farrugia offered extreme deep growls which he spiced up with pig-screams. The guys played songs like Relapse Into Sickness off their debut Epoch Of Methodic Carnage and Supreme Tyrant In Putrscence off their sophomore album Omnicide. Great sound, great stage acting - especially the guitarist offered quite a show - and a great atmosphere. First highlight of the day, even if the guys at to go on stage without their second singer, but who cares? Especially if a band gives away some shirt! Every band should have this present for their fans! :-)
The Finnish band Inferia was founded back in 1990 and they have 6 albums - incl. a live album - and 3 demos released so far, but I still haven't come across them. Well, it's impossible to know all and everything. The foursome offered a solid set of death grind, but even if it was quite okay, their music was too average. Sounded too familiar.
When the Swedish Deranged entered the stage fewer fans were waiting for them, but the band wanted to have fun and delivered a good show. Their singer asked the audience, if they want some more Swedish death metal and the crowd gave a positive reply. The Swedish had fun and with their energetic show they could convince the people. Okay, there was no circle pit, but headbanging.
Out Dutch neighbors Prostitute Disfigurement draw more people and while the first rows did some headbanging it was time for a circle pit a few meters away. Btw, why do circle pits are only go clockwise or counter-clockwise? The Dutch presented brutal technical death metal spiced up with mean blast parts and groove parts. Even some melodies could be detected - at songs like The Sadist King And The Generallissmo Of Pain off their 2008 album Descendants Of Depravity. This mix peppered with deep grunts and you get what extreme metal fans are longing for. Great performance and lots of fun! Thumbs up!
Next in line Belgium band Leng Tch'e which offered a mix of hardcore and death / grind. A bit more melodies and lots of grooves, but don't get me wrong, they kill! Grind parts, double-bass-drum attacks were melt together with hardcore and thrash riffing. Their new singer Serge Kasongo was the eye-catcher with is mask and his performance. Unfortunately the others weren't that active, but Serge's aggressive vocals was a real asset. Anyway, Leng Tch'e got applause when they left the stage.
German death metallers Defeated Sanity play brutal death metal which can be compared with Dying Fetus, Brodequin and Cannibal Corpse - time for a more brutal sound. Hyperspeed blasts were combined with short groove parts and complex structures - and that made the people move. Especially the drumming was inhuman and growler Konni (Despondency) sounds like a dying alien, like someone from outer space. Their singer AJ had to show up at a court in the USA and so was unable to do the show. Anyway, with their brutal sound Defeated Sanity warmed up the audience for tonight's headliner. Meanwhile time to gather oneself and get prepared - by drinking a beer - for the co-headliner.
Hail Of Bullets easy off a bit and offered a different sound with their panzer groove death metal. Time for some headbanging. And as soon as the tank was rolling Hail Of Bullets couldn't be stopped! Frontman Martin controlled the masses from the very first second while the other guys were out to destroy everything on their way. Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit. Brutally the Dutch steam rolled everything, but unfortunately the set was almost the same as in the past. They played almost everything off Of Frost And War. Van Drunen spoke German and cheered up the fans with the announcement of a new album. The place was on fire! Nothing new from Hail Of Bullets, but as usually a fantastic show! Well done.
Everybody was waiting for Dying Fetus, it was a veni, vidi, vici performance. They played extremely tight and you could just pity their drummer who had to deliver the basis for their extreme blast attacks. Bassist Sean Beasley and guitarist John Gallagher growled like a group of a hundred and thrashed the place with death blast hymns like Your Teachery Will Die With You, Praise The Lord and Grotesque Impalement which made the crowd turn loose. The highlight was Eviscerated Offspring of their debut and Bring Back The Glory. Their brutal death metal was a revelation for all death metal fans. Dying Fetus were the winner of the day!
Everybody who had left a little bit of energy could head over to the party tent and get more death metal - even if not live. Or have a few drinks til the early morning.
Friday: Cerebal Bore, Haemophagia, Kraanium, Ingrowing, Milking The Goatmachine, Human Rejection, Amputated, Cliteater, Sinister, Rompeprop, Grave, Necrophagist
The ones who stay too long at the party tent sleep longer. We got up late and so skipped the shower, coz the queue was too long. Even early that Friday there was a strong wind blowing which already tore down some tents and pavilions, but it's possible some just stumbled over their own tent and tore it down...
So we arrived late at the festival site and missed most of the set of Cerebal Bore. Sorry guys!
The wind already ripped off the black plastic covers at the side stage, the wind got stronger every minute and while the Spanish band Haemophagia played their backdrop was blown up which looked cool, but should lead to something... Haemophagia offered some solid death metal, but only a few fans showed some action. Anyway, the band and their album From Sickness To Cult I will soon give an in-depth look, I dig their song Head Shot!
After Haemophagia left the stage Anzo from Metal Hammer came on and announced that the change over will take about 30 minutes, coz they need to fix the black plastic covers, etc. Anyway, it didn't looked like much changed, coz the covers were still flapping and nobody tried to fix them at the rigs. It seems to take an hour and then we got told that due to a storm warning they had to close down the stage til app. 8 PM and that the shows have to be moved to the party tent. Nobody was happy to hear this, but we had to accept it. The crew had to haul the equipment to make shows at the party tent possible. Additionally they had to clear the tent, so the time schedule was screwed up - and that meant that all bands - except for the headliner - had to cut their sets. The organization had to keep their time schedule, so there was no other way. As it wasn't planned to have bands playing in the tent, there was no stage and the band played at audience level - and so the ones in the back couldn't see the bands. Some were really pissed, but hell safety has to have priority!
Kraanium was the first band to play in the tent and it was packed. At that time there was no barricade between band and fans, later they built one up, taking the ones from the photo pit in front of the stage. The security had a tough job to keep the fans in check and to make sure the circle pit won't include the 'stage'. The sound was okay, but when they played Perverted Sensation we had to run to secure our tent and property - while the sun was shining.
We were back in time for Milking The Goatmachine. The guys with the goat masks fired their grinding riffs at the fans and the crowd partied. Unfortunately in the back you only got to see some horns or ears off their masks and the space to go crazy was limited. Everybody did the best to support the band in this situation. It was fun, even under this circumstances.
Next in line death metal from Greece! The singer of Human Rejection had a heart for the people in the back and climbed onto the PA frequently and so gave the fans a chance to watch him doing the grunts. The guy was full of adrenaline and was switching between the PA towers, getting up and down. The fans rewarded him with a small circle pit and a human heap - if the unlucky one at the ground is lucky, his bones won't be crushed when the other jump on top of the heap.
The British Amputated set the place on fire, it seems that they enjoy this! They were happy to play, even in a tent without a real stage. They combine death metal and grindcore, a mean mix. They were going crazy on 'stage', even if they had only a limited space. The fans were shouting and the singer was cheering up the crowd to go crazy. Great show.
When the Dutch porn grinders Cliteater entered, the tent was packed and the atmosphere at peak. Cliteater guarantor for party. The place was on fire when they fired their classic porn grind tunes at their fans. Their singer also entered the PA to give the people at the back of the tent a chance to get a glimpse. The fans loved him for climbing the PA, but the security tried to make him come down - but the shouter ignored them, he kept grunting.
Sinister were the first ones who got a play the stage outside and everybody was happy to get out of the tent. The Dutch celebrated their raw death metal which is spiced up with a das of US death. No surprise they been called the European Deicide, not only for their music, also for their blasphemic lyrics. Sinister delivered a solid show, nothing spectacular, but fun to attend. Probably it was the big stage and the fact that the crowd had more space... The guys had a powerful sound, obviously enjoyed playing and so the fans enjoyed the show, too.
Party time! Rompeprop came to start a grindcore party. The crazy Dutch filled the spot Illdisposed left vacant after they had to cancel on short notice. The fan reaction suggested that nobody was missing the Danish... Rompeprop came on stage in disguise, looking like Abbath of Immortal (singer / guitarist), King Diamond (bassist) and Peter Criss (drummer). After the first track they introduced themselves as Immortal and people had to laugh about what their singer had squeezed into his spandex pants to show big balls. The crowd was bombarded with songs like Embryjojo, We Want Gore, Hellcock's Pornflackes, Foreskin Farts and Knijerment u V-hals - all presented in a brutal way. They were celebrated like a headliner!
The Swedish death metal heroes Grave had no problem to keep the level and the audience savored their straight-forward Swedish death metal. They dominated the crowd. The band fired song after song and the headbanging didn't stop. Grave enjoyed every moment and got into an emotional high. They even presented a song off their new album which fit very well to their classics like You'll Never See... Unfortunately even Grave had to cut down their set which didn't please singer Ola Lindgren. Absolutely understandable, coz the atmosphere was at a high when Grave played. First Ola refused to go off stage, but at the end he had to and he was pissed! Big way! It's really a pity, coz Grave rule!
German progressive deather Necrophagist could play their whole set. A fact some fans weren't happy about. The technical progressive death metal isn't easy listening and unfortunately Necrophagist had a bad sound which erased details. Songs like Stabwound, Fermented Offal Discharge and Only Ash Remains suffered from the bad sound, but I really respect their technical skills, even if their sound is a bit tiring after awhile. I was astonished by their craftsmanship! Kudos for Necrophagist, but perhaps they should have switched spots with Grave... The vibe was going down, but it might be the late hour they played... Anyway, great performance!
Saturday: Blustery Caveat, Vomit The Soul, Squash Bowels, Carnivore Diprosopus, Carnophage, Grind Inc., Aeon, Severe Torture, Waco Jesus, Dying Fetus (Special Set), Lock Up, Suffocation
No more storm, no other catastrophes. Everything as schedule, just my camera went on strike when Greek band Blustery Caveat entered the stage to open the last day. I wish I had first hit my camera in anger, coz after awhile I did and it worked again. But too late to see Blusters Caveat. So brutality is the answer!!! ;)
Quite a few fans had gathered in front of the stage when Vomit The Soul entered the stage to thrash the place with their death / grind which is spiced up with some mean groove parts. Their brutal sound was convincing, but the band's performance was static and it seemed that they lack motivation...
Almost the same could be said about the Polish band Squash Bowels. The Polish seemed to be rooted to the spot, but fired old school grindcore attacks at the fans. It was nice as long as they were on stage, but as soon as they left, you forgot about them...
Carnivore Diprosopus is a Colombian-Spanish outfit which got together to play brutal death metal. These guys delivered a good performance and so the crowd was more active, too. They combine blast parts, grooves and grunts and they did it a lot better then their predecessors. Well done.
Believe it or not, but Turkey has some good death metal acts to offer! Like Carnophage who played songs of their debut album Deformed Future // Genetic Nightmare. Their technical death metal is fast and shows some melodic elements here and there. I haven't heard of them before, but they left a positive impression.
From Krefeld - the home of Blind Guardian - came Grind Inc. to stream roll all and everything. What else to expect then grindcore from a band called Grind Inc.? The guys enjoyed being on stage and the crowd had fun too. Especially grunter Christoph Mieves and bassist Thomas Granzow got the fans attention due to their performance. It was great to see Thomas singing along - without a microphone - and making faces. Unfortunately they had to perform without their 2nd singer who left the band and so the vocal were a bit one-dimensional. Anyway, Christoph was doing miles on stage, the blast attacks were mean and the groove hit you hard. They played very tight. Grind Inc. presented their new album Lynch And Dissect and showed that they are even more relentless!
Time for some Swedish death metal! Time for Aeon! The self-confessed loather of Christianity had a fat sound which made their powerful riffs murderous. Grind Inc. used every inch of the stage while Aeon were 'just' head-banging propeller-like. Looked good, but a bit more action would have done their hateful attacks good. Anyway, we got a full dosage of brutal death metal. Btw, is it allowed to say it's fun when you talk about hateful metal? I really dig the Swedish and with their black-ish sound they offered something different. Fans of Deicide should dig them - like I do!
Musically the Dutch Severe Torture are close to Cannibal Corpse and so it was easy for them to move the people with their hyper-fast death metal attacks - peppered up with a fat groove. The guys would have deserved a bigger crowd, but the ones who watched them, got the full package. The Dutch can keep up with their American heroes and their singer - like Martin van Drunen - won over the audience by talking German. As a little appetizer for their new album they played the title track Slaughtered.
Time for a death / grind party with Waco Jesus! The place in front of the stage was crowded and the guys were treated like heroes! It seemed like everybody was just waiting for them to hit the stage... Time to go crazy! Time for a massive circle pit and a huge human heap! The place was on fire! Waco Jesus delivered a perfect set of old school scum grindcore and their singer is a real entertainer. Songs like Filth and I Live For This Shit were welcome by all and you believed Waco Jesus that they live for this shit. Great show. No guitar solos or water on stage - like the singer announced. Great performance, a real highlight!!!
For most bands it would be impossible to keep the level after such a great performance, but everybody who knows Dying Fetus, knows that they can. The guys don't run around on stage, they are totally focussed on their brutal death metal attacks. This was a special set which featured their albums Purification Through Violence (1996) and Killing On Adrenalin (1998), both albums have a cult status within the scene. And so a slaughtering fest began! They kicked off with Intentional Manslaughter, followed by killer tracks like Skull Fucked, Kill Your Mother, Rape Your Dog, Praise The Lord - and every track they played was a hit the bull's eye! The crowd went berserk. The fat, bass-dominated sound was pumping and made your brain melt. Awesome show! Dying Fetus left an exhausted, but happy audience. Hell Yeah!
It doesn't happen too often that Lock Up hit the stage, so everybody was happy to see Shane Embury (Napalm Death, Brujeria), Nick Backer (Benediction, Brujeria) and Tomas Lindberg (At The Gates) at Death Feast. Unfortunately I can't remember the name of their new guitarist who replaced Jesse Pintado (Napalm Death, Terrorizer) who passed away. Anyway, the guy fit in very well and it was obvious that he enjoyed being on stage. The rest of the guys were highly motivated, too. To me it seemed like they were louder then any other band... Lock Up punished the audience with their old school grindcore which was spiced up with death and thrash citations. The crowd gathered the past power reserves for Feeding On The Opiate and After Life In Purgatory. Lock Up slaughtered the place, a real massacre - but what a treat for grindcore fans!
Last, but not least Suffocation should enter the stage. They are the forerunners of technical death metal with grindcore elements - and a dash of hardcore. The audience was already exhausted after 3 tight performances, but Suffocation knew how to play the trick and set the place on fire. The Americans are known as an extremely brutal live act - and they showed this at Death Feast. Singer Frank Mullen delivered a great show and his extreme deep voice sounded like on disk. The other guys banged themselves into a trance-like state, but managed to play flawless the complex tracks. This band is still setting standards and there are only a very few bands who can keep up with them. Songs like Jesus Wept, Blood Oath, Liege Of The Inveracity were celebrated by the fans and was the final blow. Suffocation were the perfect headliner for Death Feast, no doubt about it!
My resume: I really like this small but nice festival. Everybody who is into brutal metal should check it out! Take a look at the billing and you shouldn't have any doubt that it's the place to be. Okay, I would like to have a few thrash bands playing for a larger variety, but this festival is about the music and not a kind of amusement park. At many larger festivals it's about everything else. If you are looking for things to improve you will surely find something, but at the end of the day no festival is perfect. And it seems that the majority of people will be back next year! We already marked next years installment in our calendars. And the ones who don't want to wait til next summer, this October there is Death Feast Ultimate in Oberhausen, a 2-day indoor festival, confirmed bands so far are: Napalm Death, The Crown, Pestilence, Severe Torture - among others. I have to thank Jan for his help and I think there will be a big hello in October, and everybody else, see you next year! Cheers.