This years edition of Into the grave was going to be a two day festival with a slamming line-up. Exodus was announced at the previous edition, but who could have guessed that Slayer would come to Leeuwarden to kick some ass?! The rest of the line-up sounded promising too, so with high hopes and good spirit I went to Into The Grave.
The first band of the day starts at 16:00h, and it’s already quite busy when I arrive 15:00h. It takes ‘till 15:45 before the gates are opened and most of the audience is still outside when Gruesome starts to play. Security is tight, which slows down the entrance a bit, but that’s understandable in this day and age and no one is complaining much.
This band is a tribute band to Death and damn! do they nail that! I’m not a big Death connoisseur, but people I spoke said that if you close your eyes, you would think it was Death itself playing on the stage on one of their better days. Gruesome is awesome! It is varied, melodic and the rapidly growing crowd is bobbing their head in appreciation.
This enthusiastic bunch is working hard on stage to put down an interesting show, but until halfway the set the sound is not quite right. Where Gruesome sounded quite good, Vektor is struggling with the sound, but in the end they got it right and that was the boost the half filled square in front of the stage needed. There’s lots of movement in the crowd and Vektor performed a great set.
Scar Symmetry (SWE)
I’ve never heard of this band before, but I was pleasantly surprised. The combination of clean singing, grunting and their Progressive Melodic Death Metal sounded very well. Scar Symmetry may not sound like a typical death metal band, but it is very entertaining and a nice change after the wild bunch of Vektor (meant in the best possible way!). There is quite a fan base for Scar Symmetry in Leeuwarden too. It’s rather busy in front of the stage and a lots of fists and horns in the air. Sweden is well represented today and Scar Symmetry is a fine example of Swedish metal.
This band has quite a large fan base of a younger age. Where the avarage age in front of the state was 30+ with the first three bands, with Ammaranthe it dropped to a sure 20-. I’m sorry to say that Ammaranthe could not convince me. Musically it varied from decent female fronted metal to poppy-rock with rap and all. Even the hot outfit of singer Elize could not fascinate me enough to stay, so I looked up some friends and grabbed a bite to eat. The rather big crowd enjoyed Ammaranthe a lot, so I think it’s just me.
I’ve heard quite a lot of this band and saw some video’s of their shows. Even on youtube this band looks pretty impressive! Yes, there is quite a high level of AC/DC in the show and music of the band, but fuck it, this is the way a live show is done! When the stage is set up, there are two massive walls of Marshall amplifiers on either site of the stage. Pretty impressive! (I know, only 4 of them were real amplifiers, but hey… the looks are superb!) From the very first second to the last, Airbourne kicked everybody’s ass! With every song the crowd is going berserk and response is always direct! Everybody on the venue moved… even the floor of the square (being the roof of the parking garage beneath it) moved quite a bit! Another impressive moment was when the stage went dark and the search lights went through the crowd and WWII plane engines and an air raid siren (operated by Joel) sounded. Fans knew that this was going to be the intro to Live It Up and the crowd exploded. Airbourne lived up to their live reputation and then some! During one of the last songs, singer Joel climbs on the shoulders of a (I presume) security gard and plays his guitar from there, close to his fans. Awesome! Slayer is next, but even they are going to have a hard time to top this! The time that is needed for the changeover I use the catch my breath of this explosive set of Airbourne!
The Slayer crew and the stagehands are extremely efficient in the changeover and soon the intro of Slayer sounds. This intro takes a while, so the tension is build higher and higher. Repentless is the first song of the night that blasts at te people in Leeuwarden (literally) and it slams home. God damn what a killer band this is! But the next thing to be noticed is, that it seems a bit sluggish; the ultra high speed of a few years ago is not there any more. Still it is fast, ferocious and incredibly well performed. The light show is awesome and the frequently changing backdrops are impressive. Slayer is best heard loud, but during this show it gets too loud. People in miles around the city centre of Leeuwarden complained of the bass sounds and rattling thee cups in their cupboards. The city counsel threatened with a €10.000 and €25.000 fine if there was going to be another exceedance of the sound limits. The threatening with fines is lamentable, but luckily it was only a threat!
Conclusion of day 1
Airbourne was the best band of the day; fair and square, but damn with Slayer and the rest of the bands, this was one fine and heavy day! After a short drive to my sleeping place at a friends house (thnx J&B!) I went in “early” because the next day was going to be a long one with even more bands!
The sunny weather that was promised for yesterday and today is not there yet. Yesterday there was some drizzle at times and the expectation was that, that could happen today too. With a lot of clouds, a tiny bit of sun and, moderate temperatures and an occasional drizzle shower it was going to be a great festival day again.
Evil Invaders (B)
With great interest I walked towards the stage when Evil Invaders was announced. The friend I stayed with told me that this Belgium band was something else and that I would enjoy them for sure. Evil invaders got off with a false start because the intro got stuck and a bit later the monitor of singer Joe isn’t doing what he wants it to do. But after two songs it is all set and Evil Invaders is kicking in to gear… I mean overdrive! God damn! What a band! I could use all the English swear words I have in my vocabulary to emphasis this band! Besides their ultra fast set it is tons of fun to watch. Joe is screaming to the crowd with big gestures and wild eyes and they comply with no hesitation! The band is running around on the stage and the crowd is going nuts! Fucking A! I’ve never seen a moshpit, circlepit, and a wall of death during an opening act this early on the day! This band I got to see more! And you should too!!!
I am still overwhelmed by Evil Invaders when Tribulation enters the stage. The genre of Tribulation is a bit complex. Official it is death metal, but it is far more than that. There are some spiritual influences and the music is layered, complex and melodic. With this mix I was more than curious how this would sound live! What strikes first when the gents of Tribulation climb the stage, are the two guitarists dressed as androgynous beings. From a photographers point of view this band is a blast! But musically it is fantastic too! The complexity is there and performed superb. Even the quite long instrumental parts never get boring because of the complexity and the show performed. Visually the show is a treat too. There is lots of movement, expression and poses to which the crowd reacts a lot! This band is going to be in the top of my wish list to see again! I enjoyed the hell out of this in every possible way!
Still dazzling of Tribulations performance, Unearth kicks of with their typical American Metalcore. After the complex sounds of Tribulation, Unearth is more raw and straight forward. This is exactly what the crowd wants and the interaction with the band is prefect. These guys know how to handle a crowd! With a lot of jumps and running the energy of the crowd reflects on the band, there are some wild moshpits going on and beers are flying around. It’s great metal has so much different sub genres.
Black Dahlia Murder (USA)
This deathcore band is intense… extremely intense. Singer Trevor is the master of ceremonies and with his ever raised arm (luckily his left 😉 ). He arranges the crow to do whatever he wants, while the bands plays the complete set extremely tight and fast. When Trevor asks for more crowd surfers to meet the band, he gets a fucking tsunami of crowd surfers! There are so much crowd surfers, that the security hardly can keep up with them, but they manage to catch them all. A few moments later, Trevor wants a big circlepit around the tent on the square to scare the hell out the sound technicians. Obediently the hardcore fans of Black Dahlia Murder start running around the tent which is quite hilarious! Although this is not exactly my genre, I enjoyed the show greatly!
This is not the fastest nor the loudest band on the bill, but possibly the band who enjoys being on the stage the most!. I am quite surprised by the amount of Vovoid fans on the square, whom are a bit older than the average visitor of Into The Grave, but even they let their hair (or what is left of it) fly free. Still this band is decently fast and extremely enthusiastic. There is a lot of fun on the stage, without missing a single note. The sound has changed a bit over the years. The thrash is not that thrash any more, but it is still a mean piece of metal!
With Korpiklaani on the stage, the young ones take over the place at the barrier. Some are dressed in their folk outfit, but most of them won’t go that far. The songs of Korpiklaani are all know by heart and are sung out loud. Even the Finnish songs are sung phoneticly. Even though the crowd is quite enthusiastic, most band members remain quite stoic. Except front man Jonne; he is all over the stage and smiling broadly. Although it sounds not bad, this is not my cup of tea. Maybe it is because I got spoiled rotten by Evil Invaders and Tribulation, but Korpiklaani can’t hold my attention for very long. Luckily there are a lot of metal heads who enjoy the living shit out of them! I take this time to catch up with some old friends and grab a drink and a bite.
What is there to say… I’ve seen Exodus before so I knew what to expect… at least that’s what I thought. Exodus, with Steve Souza in front, proves that even if you are past 50, you can still create havoc! what do I say? MAYHEM! This performance of Exodus was one of those performances which you cannot describe without expletives. God damn what a fucking great performance! It’s raw, merciless and violent! Steve is urging the crowd to be violent in the Exodus way. He explicitly tells the guys en girls in the moshpit to pick each other up when one falls down and to take care of each other. It doesn’t take long for the mosh pit to get wild and the crowd surfers come in countless numbers, like at the beach in Hawaii with a perfect surf! Again the security handles it extremely professional. Almost all famous Exodus songs were played this evening and even with the volume turned down quite a bit, it was still loud as hell!
These old rockers prove that death metal can be played in bright lights, with a bright white backdrop! (you know who you are! 😉 ) The backdrop has all kinds of dissecting instruments on it, which doesn’t make the white more comforting… It makes it more sterile… in a bad sort of way. Although death metal is not really my genre, some bands have my interest more than others. Black Dahlia Murder I added today and Carcass is definitely one of the bands that has my attention. There is a huge variation in their songs and everything is played very carefully. This is great! With Carcass it all comes together and the sound is perfect! I Never thought that a death metal band could grab my attention like they did in an intense way! Great show!
The last band of this day and this festival is Kreator. There is much ado in front of the stage, as all pyro’s are unwrapped and the confetti canons are filled. It takes some time, but when the intro starts and two dark figures with skull-faces ignite their torches, the show is on. When the torches extinguish, the band kicks in to gear and a few seconds later the confetti explodes into the air with a loud bang, filling the sky over Into The Grave confetti. Even songs from the time I was a young lad are still played with heart and soul and are received by guys my ages when the song was released! Hows that for bridging generations! And Kreator is fast! The first place of old timers playing thrash is an ex aequo with Exodus. The sound was superb like it was with Exodus, which made it a great experience. Kreator made a hell of a show and were a great way to say goodbye to Into The Grave for this year.
Into The Grave has done it again; a great two day festival with hardly any complaints. The only ones that reached me were the lines at the toilets in between bands and that there were too few places to sit. Besides the compliments for the organisers Paul and Tjerk, I would like to compliment the security guys who professionally caught all the crowd surfers. Their great coordination prevented a lot of serious injuries. Job well done! Another remark I would like to make is, that the music sounded way better when the volume was (forcefully) turned down a notch on the second day. Much more definition and details in the music and all the way in the back you could have a conversation without having to shout. See ya’ll next year!