True to tradition, the first day of AMF is dedicated to Danish up-and-coming bands. Speaking of up-and-coming; the first band on the bill is very appropriately called RISING. The trio comes from Copenhagen and plays a hard-hitting blend of progressive metal and sludge. The energy level's high and there's definitely a lot of crunch as well as melody in this output. Truth be told, it's not entirely my thing musically and singer Henrik tends to just shout his way through the songs without too much versatility.
Welcome to the SCARRED BY BEAUTY gym class! The young hopefuls fronted by former Hatesphere vocalist Joller have from the outset approached their career with professionalism and a fantastic attitude. They jump and move in a constant effort to incite the audience to chaos. As much as I enjoy watching the energy on stage, Scarred By Beauty's music simply won't sink in with me. There' s no doubt these fellows know how to handle the instruments, and Joller has an excellent voice, that much has been proven many times. I'm just not moved.
The same can be said of the Thursday audience of AMF. There isn't much response from the stout northerners. Someone dryly notes next me: 'If they could sing as well as they jump, it wouldn t be half bad'.
A shift entirely in style to local FEROCITY who musically are close relations to Illdisposed and Panzerchrist. Not exactly spring hares, this lot, but they deliver the goods in the shape of brutal, waltzing death metal with a hauntingly grim growl in the front. There are a couple of instances here and there where I think the quintet loose momentum, but overall an approved effort indeed, and by the way so much more down my alley than the previous two bands.
Another stylistic shift and also a notable reduction of the average age on stage with the entrance of ESSENCE, a four-piece from the north of Denmark who have specialized in a kind of German power thrash anno 1990. And they do this impressingly well! Front man Lasse most of all looks like the guy who sells you jeans in the local clothes store, neatly groomed and styled, constantly with a big, selling smile on his face when he isn't throwing his loud and clear thrash vocal through the PA. More visually true to the genre, he's flanked by two genuine metalheads, bassist Rasmus and guitarist Mark. This is a good show and a great experience for fans of old-school thrash. Full speed ahead and the first pit of this year's Aalborg Metal Festival!
The evening is rounded off by nothing less than a cover band. A slightly unusual decision by the festival I'd say, but then again, it makes sense in this case. MERCYFUL DIAMOND pay homage to the King and do so decently. Michael Dahl does a marvellous job of copying Diamond's voice - and that even despite the fact that he claims to have spent the week with a throat infection. Impressive. The cover versions of the old Mercyful Fate and King Diamond tunes are not perfectly executed as such, The Family Ghost in particular doesn't exactly live up to the original, but still, it's hard not to enjoy a round of Fate/Diamond live music on a rainy Thursday night.
Let's see what tomorrow brings - we have bigger names in store!
Brief Encounter: Lars Bjerre, PR & Press Manager, Aalborg Metal Festival
POM.dk: Are the tickets for the festival sold out?
Lars: Almost - they will be tomorrow!
POM.dk: Are you going to keep the format and size you have now?
Lars: Yeah, I reckon we will. We thought about other concepts, but we have more competition now with the Copenhell festival in the game.
POM.dk: What are you looking forward to hear in particular at this year s festival?
Lars: Devin Townsend, no doubt!
POM.dk: You has a few cancellations this year?
Lars: Yes, sadly Marduk had to cancel, and with them Melechesh. Gloria Morti from Finland also cancelled. But luckily Decapitated were ready to do the gig. They cancelled last year because of a plane incident.
POM.dk: Any messages for our readers?
Lars: Yeah, come to the Aalborg Metal Festival, hahaha!
The coordination team of the AMF have been allowed to use the meeting room of the
principal of Aalborg University during the festival, thus the stylish background.
Studenterhuset is owned by the university.
Never ever envy the band who has the three o'clock opening slot on a Friday! There aren't many metalheads here, that's for sure, and the ones who are, aren't exactly hurling themselves into the pit. Your own two Powerofmetal.dk hacks included. None of us are hardcore fans, and this is precisely what 9000 JOHN DOE do. It's not as if this four-piece do a bad job, it just sounds like standard and very basic hardcore. The bassist and guitarist both seem a bit introvert and kind of forget to look into the audience. There are a couple of instances where I think they're onto something (interesting vocal harmony between bassist and singer and an extremely chugging however shortlived riff in one of the last songs), but in the end it's just a bit dull. An average afternoon performance all in all.
Is Mercyful Diamond making an appearance again today? No, not quite. The singer and the drummer have been replaced and the outfit in front of us is now called SERPENT SAINTS instead. No matter how you toss and turn it, these lads were born somewhere between 20 or 30 years too late! For these guys, Dio is the king, NWOBHM is really the only true path, they sing about heading into the night and wizards and stuff, and they do a cover of Breaking the Law. Apart from vocalist Søren Adamsen (also Artillery!), the stage presence of the band is close to non-existent, but they clearly enjoy what they do immensely. It's not necessarily easy-listening music, but rather technical and displays a solid bunch of riffs. Hooray for the old-school.
PLAGUE OF ANGELS comes to us from 'fookin' Yorkshire' as singer Dave proclaims. Behind his possessed growl, the front man clearly has a dry sense of humour. Plague Of Angels is death, heavy, extreme, modern and slightly math. These young chaps bring 97% aggression and 3% melody. Very fookin' metal!
[Rating: 80/100 - Attending: Phil]
BILLY BOY IN POISON are from Copenhagen and their ballgame is metalcore, i.e. staccato riffing, modern sound and a high energy level indeed. So much energy, in fact, that the rather portly bassist falls over at some point during one of his countless jumps. Entertaining stuff.
If you like the infamous Entombed sound, you might want to check out PUTERAEON, also from Sweden. Jonas Lindblad, who's also in Taetre, fronts the four-piece, and does so convincingly. For the most part heads-down old school Swedish death metal, but there's also room for an Entombed ballad of sorts, which, in my view, is a bit too lengthy and thus boring. Luckily, it's followed by a blastbeat carnage just for the sake of the contrast. All in all a cool gig by the Swedes.
As one of the stalwarts of the Danish live circuit, RAUNCHY are hailed as a welcome guest here in Aalborg. Raunchy return the warm greeting with a solid and varied set. The sound is a bit thin from the outset, but this is soon levelled. When it comes down it, Raunchy is heavy fucking band who happens to be able to do a bit more than just being heavy. The electronic elements, the catchy pop choruses, all that is there, and still the band never forgets to add the majestic breakdowns.
To put it bluntly: FEAR FACTORY need to redefine themselves. In other words, they need an additional singer to do the clean vocal parts, because Burton is no longer capable of doing them justice. If you look at the man, he's a shadow of himself. He looks unhealthy, not fat as Dino, but just unhealthy and less self-confident than ever. Look, we don't know what's going on behind the scenes, but the man's been criticised for not being able to deliver for a long time now, and it has to affect you eventually. The man had one of extreme metal's best and most influential voices, for pity's sake!
Apart from that, Fear Factory crushes tonight and the growls and shouts, Burt can still do. In fact, the clean parts of the Demanfacture songs which have been placed in the second half of the set he does quite well too, even if not as brilliantly as he did them years ago.
'Soul of a New Machine' came out 20 years ago, the front man informs us, and those of us who bought it just after it was released can think about that remark... No matter, Martyr is aired and it stands out as one of the heaviest and most convincing tunes of the evening. Killer track, simply.
[Rating: FF: 85/100 - Burton: 60/100]
The most anticipated concert today for yours truly is DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT. The quiet, thoughtful man I interview earlier in the afternoon is transformed into the mean and lean Dev with the compact, heavily sequenced sound, a musical force of nature who spreads his love and passion for the music.
Supercrush from 'Addicted' gets everyone going and from there on and until Grace concludes the phenomenal gig, Devin holds the audience in the palm of his hands. Funny, silly, witty and crushingly heavy, the man and his tight and professional entourage deliver one of the best gigs this year, nothing more, nothing less.
Note: Keep watching our site for the interview with Devin Townsend - will be posted soon!
Brief Encounter: Dave Hutchinson (vocals), Plague Of Angels
POM.dk: What's Plague Of Angels up to right now?
Dave: We're in the middle of mixing our as-yet untitled new EP. It's a remake of our last EP, 'Entropy', plus a couple of extra tracks.
POM.dk: Are you going to tour more now?
Dave: Not until next year. We're working on what we want to do, you know. We have a new drummer, and we've only done a couple of shows with him so far.
POM.dk: Is this your first time in Denmark?
Dave: Yeah, it is. We're here to promote ourselves and make new friends!
The last day of Aalborg Metal Festival 2012 sets off on a high. The Danish W:O:A Metal Battle winner for this year, ELECTRIC HELLRIDE, prove exactly why they won that honour. Even if they pulled the shortest straw for today and got the 2 o'clock opening slot, they couldn't care less. Full-on thrash from beginning to end! These Copenhageners aren't proggies or the greatest technical geniuses of thrash history, but they have something I find more important, namely feeling and passion for their music - even if Aalborg hasn't quite woken up yet. The bar is set high from the outset - let's see if the rest of the day will follow suit!
No less potent are CARO, also from Denmark. The young, enthusiastic thrash-inspired death metal outfit seem like a diamond in the rough. Unpolished, with lots of conviction and, again, passion for their music. The entertainment is also taken care of since the front man has a decidedly cocky attitude - let's just say completely immature, but at the same time very funny. Brutal stuff, could go far, nice one.
Brief Encounter: Casper (vocals/bass), Electric Hellride
POM.dk: Which bands in particular did you look forward to see before coming here?
Casper: Devin Townsend. And Iniquity because it's not a common thing to be able to see them.
POM.dk: What will happen in terms of touring for Electric Hellride over the next months?
Casper: Not so much right now, but in the spring we'll do a Metal Battle winners tour of Denmark with Asphyxion and By The Patient.
POM.dk: How was it to play Wacken?
Casper: It was simply amazing! Luckily, it was one of those gigs where everything just came together right!
Immature isn't a term I'd use to describe the next band on the bill. The British trio DYSCARNATE has harvested great acclaim for their 'And So It Came To Pass' album, and what they do this late afternoon in Aalborg is in truth absolutely brilliant. Drawing on the great legacy of the peers of their home country - Napalm Death and Carcass spring to mind - the impressively tight band tears through a set of devastating power, ripping riffs and the double vocal duties of guitarist Tom and bassist Henry work like a blast. Amazing gig!
Danish DAWN OF DEMISE is a war machine. From the first notes of Extinction is Imminent to the last howling tones of Beyond Murder, the quintet waltz everything into the ground with their mercilessly brutal death metal groove. I've never heard them with a better sound than what they have this evening - and it suits Dawn Of Demise a lot to get the sound their music deserves! Crushing, no less! The two tracks which stand out for me this evening are the colossal Juggernaut and He Rises Again. Killer.
Almost 20 years on, SATURNUS are still the doom kings of Denmark. This is a concert many, yours truly included have been waiting for to happen for a long, long time. Saturnus do not fail us. A young girl in front of me notes that she almost cried three times during the concert! That's not quite were I am emotionally, but, still, I get her; this is emotional music, and it easily gets right to you. Mesmerising, as the Copenhagen band draw us into the lull of 7 and Inflame Thy Heart, yet so powerful when shaking the proverbial tree with the up-tempo Empty Handed.
It's clear from the expressions on the musicians' faces that there are onstage sound issues along the way, but to us in the audience it matters not: here, the sound is crisp and clear and gives room for the majesty of the sound of Saturnus.
Brief Encounter: Brian (bass), Saturnus
POM.dk: Which bands in particular have you been looking forward to seeing today?
Brian: Sadly, we only arrived today, so I missed Fear Factory. I heard that Burton Bell's voice weren't too good, though. I'm looking forward to Iniquity, Decapitated and Gojira. The atmosphere here in general, really, is something I've been looking forward to!
POM.dk: What do you expect happens when you release your (by the way phenomenal) new album, 'Saturn In Ascension'?
Brian: Hmm, don't know, really. First of all, we'll have a PROPER release party in Copenhagen on the 29th of November. We're going to play a two-and-a-half-hour set!
POM.dk: Do you have touring plans in the wake of the release of the album?
Brian: We're going to do a number of dates in Denmark in March or April and we have the Brutal Assualt festival booked as well. Since we're celebrating our 20th anniversary next year, we're planning a three-hour anniversary set as well as five to six shows around Europe.
Brian (far left)
Visit: Saturnus @MySpace
Heading straight back to death metal pure, the veteran Danish death metal band INIQUITY tear the house apart. The band's reunited in one of their countless line-ups, and I'm tempted to say that I wouldn't mind this reunion to go on for a while - a hope which is, however, crushed as powerhouse singer/bassist Martin Rosendahl states that this will only happen for a short while. As someone in the audience spontaneously shouts out loud: 'This is objectively speaking extremely cool!' Indeed.
Brief Encounter: Bjørn (bass/vocals), Dawn Of Demise
POM.dk: Which bands in particular did you look forward to see before coming here?
Bjørn: Dyscarnate. Iniquity who just played an awesome set. Decapitated who just borrowed some of our equipment, by the way. Gojira and Devin Townsend.
POM.dk: You've been on a mini tour of India. How did that work out?
Bjørn: It was awesome! the food was great, people were really nice. We played three concerts in front of all in all 3000 people!
POM.dk: Are you going to do more touring right now?
Bjørn: No, not right now. We're negotiating something right now. We're already working on tracks for the next album, and we have six or seven songs ready. We'll head for the studio in the summer!
Objectively speaking, the Finnish grindcore combo ROTTEN SOUND are also extremely cool. They're extreme, that's for sure. I'm not a big grindcore fan myself, but I have to admit that it's infinitely charming when a grindcore band uses an Entombed style guitar and bass sound and blast away full throttle.
DECAPITATED isn't the luckiest band in the world, that much is certain. Accidents and deaths and what have you have been on their agenda throughout their career, and one can only wish for them that everything will be good from now on. This is the second time this year that I witness the onstage technical death metal onslaught of the Poles. The Wacken show was really good, but usually the intimacy is hard to achieve there. Not so here in Aalborg. Vocalist Rafal and his hardy men are in good shape and fire on all cylinders. [Rating: 85/100]
Brief Encounter: Jacob Dinesen, photographer, founder of Devilution Mag, based in Copenhagen
POM.dk: Which bands are you looking forward to see today?
Jacob: Rotten Sound. I missed Gojira's gig at Copenhell, so I'm really looking forward to seeing them tonight. Yesterday, Devin Townsend was really amazing! It's always fun to be here in Aalborg, I always like coming here.
POM.dk: How are things for Devilution?
Jacob: Things are great! We have new ideas in the making right now which we're looking forward to present to our readers - I can't disclose what our new initiative are about yet, but it's going to be great!
Visit: Jacob's photo site and Devilution
Finally, it's time for everyone's favourite Frenchies: GOJIRA take to stage with a background of glittering stars. And stars Gojira have indeed become. Not in terms of attitude, because the sympathetic crew of earth metallers have not lost the connection to the ground they walk on - but in terms of professionalism and power, they have in truth become a monster of a band. Four or five years ago it would've seemed unlikely that a combo with their sound and style would reach as far as they have, but I suppose that an approved seal by James Hetfield and co horde doesn't damage your career at all!
I'm truthfully happy that the band has come to this point as I bang my old and worn head somewhere in the pit to a fantastic collection of tunes from 'The Link', 'From Mars To Sirius', 'The Way of All Flesh' and the phenomenal 'L'enfant Sauvage'. Do you realise how crushingly heavy Backbone is?! F*ck me! The only thing I miss is really Liquid Fire from 'L'enfant Sauvage', but that's a minor thing. Joe and the rest of the band are full of energy and find the time to kid around and joke in between the power blasts.
This, ladies and gentleman, is the perfect end to an Aalborg Metal Festival which has been more than good. A fantastic billing in intimate settings, a nice and relaxed atmosphere. I'd like to use this opportunity to send kudos to the sound engineers of the festival: Thank you for a consistently amazing sound which has done all bands with no exception justice. Well done!
Killer festival - can't wait to see how it'll be outdone again next year!
Attending: Philippe Leconte and Thomas Nielsen
Rising - loud and dirty
Scarred By Beauty's gym class
Old-school death metal: Ferocity
Would you buy jeans from this man? Essence
Mercyful Diamond say say fuck you to a throat infection
Hardcore from Aalborg: 9000 John Doe
Born too late - Serpent Saints
Rotten to the metalcore - Billy Boy In Poison
From fookin' Yorkshire - Plague Of Angels
Entombed metal: Puteraeon
Fear Factory power
The King: Devin Townsend
Thrash energy in the early hours - Electric Hellride
Brutali and cocky - Caro
British metal when it's best - Dyscarnate
A war machine - Dawn Of Demise
Thy name is DOOM: Saturnus
Death metal pure - Iniquity
Kiitos for the extreme display of brutality to Rotten Sound
Polish power: Decapitated
Majestic earth metal: Gojira
Picture Gallery Day I
Picture Gallery Day II
Picture Gallery Day III