The most leisurely festival of the Netherlands must be Occultfest. At Saturday, there is always some entertainment for kids and the music is loud, but not too loud.Best thing this year: It was possible to camp again! And of course there were quite a lot of tents present. Another great argument in favour of Occultfest is, the drink tokens are only € 2,00 a piece and the food tasted great and was not expensive.Last years edition was characterized by rain and mud; ankle deep mud and fierce showers. This years edition should be dry and even a bit sunny and a bit of rain later in the evening.So it would be perfect weather for a nice metal fest with some well known and a some less well known bands.Even though the first band started at 12:30 pm, most metal heads who camped out there were still sleeping, but not for long!
The first band of the day kicks ass right from the start! It doesn’t take long for the first metal heads to stick their heads out of theire tents. With Collission they see an energetic band who is playing a pretty descent set. The headcount of the audience is quite low, but the tent opposite of the stage is filling with more and more people and they trickle on to the field in between the tent and the stage. Collision plays some tracks of their new album, which is appreciated a lot by the fans on the field.
The two-stage concept makes it possible to have bands play back to back, but Occultfest hasn’t chosen for that concept. Luckily there is some time between the bands, so there is time to drink and eat and never miss out of a song. Nebenwirkung is a German band who’s playing punk-rock for 35 years already! Their the second band of the day and it’s hearable they have a lot of experience. Musically it is much more refined and has a bit more of a rock-edge than in their early days, but the punk is still there! Most songs are in German, but some lyrics are English. Most of the happy campers have now woken and there is quite some interest in this German band. It’s different, it’s melodic and there are a lot of positive sounds around me. This band is fun!
Deem Index (NL)
After grabbing a cup of coffee, I notice it is getting quite busy in front of the stage and when I finish my coffee, the first song is just started and when I reach the stage it is clear why there are a lot of metal heads in front of the stage of Deem Index. At the right side of the stage there is a attractive, blond, young lady playing the bass in spirited black shorts and top and a bright red dress to top it off. It’s clear she isn’t put there only because of her looks, because she plays a mean piece of bass! Musically it’s melodic from time to time and well put together. Dead Man’s Walk (NL)* The sun is getting more and more visible when Dead Man’s Walk climbes the stage with their new drummer and more and more people leave their tents and enter the gates. Dead Man Walk plays death/thrash with a nice twist. There are quite a few breaks and changes in tempo which keeps it quite interesting. It’s a pity the present audience isn’t very impressed by Dead Man’s Walk and leaving half way the set for a bite to eat and a drink. Undeserved, because Dead Man’s Walk is live pretty good and fun to watch too!
Now this is something else. Monomad plays shroom metal and I had never heard of that genre before. The stage performance of singer Valdis Kazāks is hard to describe. Even though he’s not jumping around that much, his expressions are; from theatrical to normal to sheer madness and back to any random other expression. This makes is fun to watch. Intros are gaining in importance in the metal scene and Monomad uses them too. Not only ton start their set, but some songs start with an intro to. The way Monomad does it, it sets the mood for the next song in a quite a good way. The only criticism I have is, that at some times it all gets a bit straggly, even though there are only three on the stage. Seen in that light it is quite an achievement 😉
With the winners of the Audience Award of the Metal Battle this year, Occultfest got themselves a band with some big ambitions. Infantry plays a thrashy variant of death metal which subjects are mostly war or war related stories. What strikes me the most with this band, is their high tempo in their songs, which is kept throughout the complete set. No slacking or sloping of the tempo of the songs, but it’s as fast as machinegun fire from start ‘till the end! The audience is not very much interested in this band either. There are hardly any people at the barrier right in front of the stage. The first spectators are at 10-15 meters and that is a shame. This band deserved way better!
Shade of Hatred (NL)
With Shade of Hatred the stage is filled to the brim and there must be quite some communication to walk about. This being the first open air gig of the band, makes is extra special to them, according to singer Rik. Much to my surprise this melodic death metal band really is melodic! There are lots of variations, breaks, tempo changes and I even got confronted with a double guitar solo! Daring but awesome! Apparently Shade of Hatred planned less time than they got, so there’s time for an encore. Not long after the band starts with their last song, singer Rik gets of the stage and joins the head banging crowd and sings a good part of the song on the grass between his fans. He even get hoisted on some shoulders while singing and just in time he runs around the stage to receive the final applause. It is not perfectly clear to me who had the better time; the audience or the band. So… if you can, go and see Shade of Hatred!
After a band singing in the German language, it is now time for a metal bandband singing in the Dutch language; “Nedermetal”. According to singer Coen, You’ll never notice they sing Dutch, but I beg to differ. It’s Dutch and, if you’re Dutch, it is understandable and that what’s make it fun and special. No1408 plays a varied and melodic type of metal with some punk influences with a rock twist. It’s not busy in front of No1408, but that is too bad for the ones not there. The band has a lot of interaction with their crowd and at times that is hilarious. Especially when there is a pen found in the grass. Singer Coen participates and coordinates the search party from the stage until the rightful owner is found, without too much damage to her weekend.
Funeral Whore (NL)
With funeral Whore there is some real aggressive death metal on the stage. If you have ever experienced a “wall of sound”, you must have been at a gig of Funeral Whore! What an intense set! Singer Roy is sweating profoundly and is totally submerged in his role and this looks dangerous! (in a good way!) He is spitting out his lyrics while the band plays merciless. Funeral Whore is one of the bands which attracts people, so it is getting quite busy and a serious moshpit is in front of the stage… in the sun on the still green grass. Funeral Whore knows how to kill it. This is how death metal should be performed!
In the setting sun, Bloodphemy is next up. At this time there are more people in front of the stage, than that there are in the tent or at the camping. Although Bloodphemy is a death metal band too, the organisation of Occultfest did a splendid job to have a great variety of the genre. Bloodphemy is in no way comparable tot the other death metal bands of the day and that is a good thing. Bloodphemy is stomping through their set with lots of energy, but I like their lethargic songs the most. Their heavy slow and varied.
Another metal band from Belgium and what a band this is! These guys are extremely musical. Harmonics, grunting, clean singing, there is hardly any singing technique which these gents skip. There is lots and lots of experience in each and every band member, but the fun is there too. The keyboard of this band is a real addition and blends in perfectly. Musically it all fits together precisely, the tempo changes run nicely into each other and the solo’s are beautiful. The last song of the set is Betrayal and this is a goose bump material. Superb build-up form slow with keyboard strings and low grunts to ultra heavy, speady metal with screaming vocals and back… and forth… wow! just wow!
Toxic Waltz (D)
Toxic Waltz got a false start when the intro couldn’t be started, but after a few minutes the intro started and could de set get in to gear. This band plays a good set of pure thrash which is a nice change of genre, like Thurisaz was. in their midstNot only the intro was a problem, during the set there were some other technical problems too. Although professionally handled by the band it is still a bummer if it happens. The band members are very energetic and the music is fast and catchy. It is getting darker by the minute and the atmosphere at Occultfest is great with this band on the stage. Lots of hair is flying around and heads are bobbing. Too soon Toxic Walz has come to an end. I like this kind of thrash a lot.
Fenris performs songs in English and Dutch and have just released a new album “… en dodenakkers tot den horizon” (“…and cemeteries to the horizon”), so there are quite a few songs from this new album to be heard. Fenris plays viking metal and is acted out quite well by the band and especially the singer. The spectators enjoy Fenris aswell. There are a lot of them in front of the stage and in between the tent and the stage. The music is fast and vicious, but still melodic. The fun part is, that some songs are in Dutch, which is a very nice variation. The audience is enjoying this vinking metal greatly. There are quite some horns filled with beer and there is enthusiastic bobbing of heads on the field.
This is the other band most of the audience came for. It’s busy in front of the stage when Cliteater is kicking it off. Frontman Joost has a thing for jumping and takes every opportunity to jump. The drum riser is favourite! Outside it is getting quite dark now as suddenly inflatable balls with fluorescent sticks in them are thrown from the back. Within minutes there are inflatable balls and hundreds of fluorescent sticks flying through the air. At first it looks like fun when someone interlocks the sticks and makes a jump rope, but it gets out of hand fast. The sticks are wildly thrown around and for quite some people the fluorescent sticks seems to be more interesting than the band on stage and that is a pity. The band takes it professionally and joins a bit of the action, but with a lot of distraction going on in the crowd and on stage (dodging fluorescent sticks) the performance wasn’t very good, understandably.
Insanity Reigns Supreme (B)
After Cliteater a lot of people decide to leave, but there is still a big number who stays behind for the last band of this festival. the stage is decorated superbly! Incense burners, candles, skulls, large flask with blood, cabinets with ornaments, iron stands for small fires… this is atmosphere! When the religious intro starts, the drummer appears dressed as a vicar and so is the rest of the band except the singer. He is in a vestment and has black contacts, so his eyes appear completely black. It was a pity that the lighting on the front of the stage was poor. As a result a lot of the details in the decoration of the stage went to waste in the dark. Musically and stage presence-wise it just was great!
Occultfest did it again! A relaxed festival with suprising bands and this time with great weather to make it almost perfect. The only bit of a let down was the lighting of the front of the stage when it got darker. Toxic Walz and bands after them were slightly more than silhouettes from about 5 meters. Luckily that is only a small practical problem and I didn’t hear of any other problems. A big plus was that this years edition had quite a few bands with women in their midst who did put in some heavy duty labour to kick some serious heavy metal ass. Traditionally there were some true gems at Occultfest this year. In my opinion Thurisaz was the biggest gem of all of them, mainly because of their well performed complex music.