Netherlands DeathFest 2018 – 013 Tilburg Netherlands

Spread the metal:

Article by Arto Lehtinen and Timo Hanhirova  / Pics by Arto Lehtinen

Netherlands DeathFest has carved its place as one of the important extreme metal fests on European soil. The third edition of the festival offered a wide range of extremity in terms of music and bands. A major bummer hit the festival when, all in all, six bands were forced to cancel their appearance because of various incidents (rough weather caused major problems with European flights, a van breakdown, etc.). This didn’t make things easy for the organization to find possible replacements. Despite unexpected setbacks, the Netherlands Deathfest retained festival goers respect by staying loyal to extreme metal. made a visit to the Netherlands deathfest to witness a number of killer shows and see how death/black metal thrives in the catacombs of the underground.


The opener, Hellbomb, fails from Russia, and set up the evening’s tone. Their somewhat bland but peculiar brand of crossover extreme metal/whatever jumping all over the place, including sludgy breaks and black/thrash was still mere dress rehearsal for what was to come, as Aura Noir had the privilege to start up the festivities on the main stage and show what world-class black/thrash sounds like. And boy, it was nice to see Aggressor playing bass while standing, at least for the duration of most of the gig. It’s been intriguing to follow his recovery from the accident in 2005. Lotto machine had now put Apollyon to drums, and blasphemer did the guitars, so it’s a pretty solid line-up. Aura Noir usually delivers the goods, and this time was no different. “Piece” from soon-to-be-released Aura Noire album, the opener “Dark Lung of the Storm” with it’s twisted rhythmics sounds a bit like “Virus bleeding” to Aura Noir. Great, more of this! (TH)

The Norwegian Aura Noir had a busy schedule as they had been booked to perform at a black metal festival in Finland. The three-piece were on the main stage, even though Aggressor has some limitations in standing, but he did a major part of the vocals, standing on his feet behind the mic.  Aura Noir unleashed the pure filthy black-thrash assault and offered a great set of uncompromising  songs such as “Destructor” and “Sons Of Hades”. Apparently, new Aura Noir is about to unleashed any time soon, looking forward to it for sure. (AL)

Hierophant was in the touring package with Broken Hope and therefore their place at the deathfest was justified.  As Broken Hope was the main stage act, the Italian deathsters shared the second stage, which definitely suited to their performance. Originally, Hierophant sounded a bit more metalcore-ish in the beginning of the career, but the latest 2016 output MASSGRAVE presented the entire new band with a more brutal death metal oriented sounds. Hierophant definitely sounded extremely raw and brutal at the stage and even the darkened small venue created the more nihilistic feeling. (AL)

I was so bummed learning of the cancellation of Auroch, and, In that point, the looming cancellation of The Rites of thy Degringolade that I must admit I wasn’t the most receiving subject when Porto’s The Ominous Circle took to the stage of Het Patronaat with all-encompassing black fury. Or at least they tried and seemingly most of the audience was sucked into their domain. Unfortunately, not me, not this time. They came up somewhat pretentious with their esoteric and ritualistic antics and certain death-metally bite was gone in their live sound. I’ll give them another chance some day to really hit it home. (TH)

Suffocation seems to have some kind of vocalist dilemma, cos the NY death metallers was fronted by Kevin Muller from Pyrexia last summer and now the Disgorge drummer Ricky Myers had been recruited to take the vocals over. Obviously Frank Mullin has permanently retired from touring activities because of having these hired guys, but obviously he is still the part of the band. Whatsoever Ricky Myers turned out to be one hell of a great frontman and did an splendid job for Suffocation. In general, Suffocation sounded nothing but brutal and pulled off a pure murderous set of 11 songs of the finest Suffocation tunes .(AL)

Broken Hope guided by Jeff Wagner has undergone quite a few line-up changes and been on hold once. The latest output MUTILATED AND ASSIMILATED is a fine slab of brutal death metal with gore-filled lyrics. The five piece did a nearly 60 minute set of 17 songs picked up from several albums. The material of the last album played a major role in the set. Current vocalist Damian Leski proved to be a tremendous growler whose deadly approach was great and fit perfectly to the older material.(AL)

So yes, I still had naïve hopes when The Rites of thy Degringolade should have took the Het Patronat stage. It took me about 30 secs to understand that this is not it, this looks a lot like Tilburg’s own Antropomorphia. And indeed it was. I also knew that I had to flee quickly because I’m still wondering what on earth happened to this band after the beginnings. In 2012 I was dumb enough to buy their reunion record without thinking, now I know better. They even look like some cheap black metal band and their current music doesn’t have anything resembling of that classic EP of the yesteryears, The Necromantic Lovesongs. They are deadly though, they bore me to death, sorry to say. (TH)

Carcass showed up at the Netherlands Deathfest with a new guitarist, whose identity remained a mystery until the, now former guitarist, Ben, broke the news by leaving the band in order to focus on his studies. The new recruited guitarist has obviously played in the same bands with Bill Steer and has been in Angelwitch before. As far as Carcass is concerned, the old school British grind mongers did a pretty solid and safe set, not offering any surprises.

Carcass definitely relies on doing the same list all over again without revamping it by adding more obscure songs. It would have been great to add at least some never-played-song-before. That would have demanded the band to rehearse them for sure. However the British grindcore legends still sound brutal yet melodic and offered a fine set. (AL)

As Auroch and Rites Of Thy Degringolade being on the same tour with Profanatica were forced to cancel their gig, because of a broken van. Fortunately, Profanantica was able to make it to the show.  The three piece created a totally brutal outbursting set with an extreme primitive and barbaric approach. “I want to masturbate on the book of god” –“Fuck off your god”  shoutout echoed inside the HelPatronaat venue when the blasphemic and barbaric riffs were blasted out with the barbaric grip. (AL)


And yet another festival day, it was time to start Saturday. Skullhog from Limburg was a nice warm up as their slimy and primitive goregrind in the vein Autopsy and such doesn’t require much brain power to digest. Good riffs and old ugly guys, what could be more splendid. (TH)

The Mexican metal fans are known for being dedicated and passionate for metal.  As far as the Mexican metal scene is concerned, the scene is definitely huge, some bands have been able to get the chance to play outside of their homecountry. Hacavitz have released a few albums and been invited to the Deathfest. Hacavitz did a double gig duty at the fest because of Auroch had to cancel. Their primitive blackened death metal sounded uncompromising and barbaric. The band did a solid set consisting of stuff from their three outputs. It would be about time to have a new album out.

If Aura Noir is the ugliest, Devourment must be one of the filthiest. The amount of sheer sleeziness in the stage is staggering when these Texans play their messy, brutal slam. Did they even play their hit Baby Killer? I bet they did but I was just so drenched in bile that I didn’t realize. Have to give current vocalist (and ex-guitarist) Ruben Rosas some kudos too. He does next to nothing in the showmanship department. And that’s the real Devourment style, pretty much the same as Mike Majewski did before him. (TH)

Drummer Jim Sadist’s death in 2015 was a tragedy way bigger than any band issues but I couldn’t help myself to worry that mighty Nunslaughter may have lost it’s live mojo when they decided to continue. Luckily, they still are these good old Devil Metal merchants we’ve grown to love (or loathe), nothing more, nothing less. They might have lost something, but the real mister Nunslaughter, Don of the Dead, still did his best to give some proper Nunslaughter speeches between the songs. During the few first songs the main stage seemed to be a tad too big for these underground legends but they managed to own it by the end of the set. (TH)


The German Blood got great response. The simple and brutal grind core definitely made the audience go crazy. The reckless frontman’s movement on the stage was out of control. Even though the guys look like pretty normal office workers, they haven’t lost any credibility in their performance.(AL)

Before Emperor took over the main stage 1349 conquered the stage. The four piece did less than 60 minute set consisting of 10 songs. The mandatory intro “Scupltor Of Flesh” got kicked and was followed by “Slaves”.  The set covered up the five 1349 outputs in a row. All in all, the Norwegian black metal squad did pretty solid with the professional routine grip thru the whole gig.(AL)

Emperor spent several years on hiatus until they got activated to celebrate the anniversaries of their albums. As for the Netherlands deathfest, Emperor’s purpose was to do the entire Anthems album from beginning to end with a few extra surprises. The Norwegian black metal squad has always gained a monumental status on the metal map therefore being a headliner of the event was more than obvious. The 70 minute set of the Norska Svart metal started by the opening hymn of Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk called “Ye Entrancemperium” and followed by the rest of the songs of Anthems in order. Emperor’s black metal is as austerity and ecstatic as the Norwegian mountains and the landscape. Both the chaotic, but yet controlled and beautiful hymns with the mandatory Emperor trademark sounded more than fabulous and splendid. Emperor is definitely the epitome of the black metal institution. (AL)


After the second stage’s light-hearted and even somewhat comical Sacrificial Slaughter we had something totally different on the main stage. Altarage from Spain had many similar features with The Ominous Circle but for some reason their gig pleased me more. Maybe I was just in a better mood for this kind of music. A band, trio, looked really small and alone in the big main stage but otherwise their saturated death/black ritual worked surprisingly well with only one guitar. Dual amp stacks helped to create thick and menacing tone. Altarage is obviously still something more suitable to way smaller venues but it was still worth seeing. (TH)

Australia’s very own Cauldron Black Ram was one of the main treats of this year’s NDF and I wasn’t disappointed. Their pirate metal is somewhat unique of mixture of rum, gun powder and traditional Australian extreme metal and I bet these guys played most furious riffs of the whole festival. Even there wasn’t anything utterly special about their performance they delivered the goods. I must now dig up the Skullduggery album after the years of negligence. (TH)

Angelwitch stands for real old school NWOBHM and was definitely quite odd choice amongst all the extreme metal bands. However their set was appreciated by the crowd. Especially the old AngelWitch classic songs such as Angel Of Death got the warmest reception. As for the set – it consisted of songs off the debut album for obvious reasons and the latest AS ABOVE SO BELOW. The frontman and leader of Angel Witch Kevin Heybourne isn’t much of charismatic showman, just expressionless at performing the gig. It was great to hear an immortal classic named after the band’s name. (AL)

I’ve never been into New York’s Internal Bleeding, legendary or not, but I have to say that they pulled off really entertaining show in NDF. They aren’t as wicked as Suffocation or utterly brutal as Devourment and their tone sidetracks to hardcore to be really my cup of tea, but their death metal kicked some butts there in the audience and I can appreciate that. At least oldies and goldies sound like solid NYC death metal even I don’t care for like their new stuff much. It was still fun to just watch the pit of excited audience. In the end they called audience to jump on to the stage and headbang there, beautiful.  (TH)


Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin is the kind of band that plays nowadays in both 013’s main metal events, NDF and Roadburn. I’m not sure if they should playing in Deathfest though. I like classic Goblin as much as anybody but I miss the stricter policies of late Neurotic Deathfest, where even Dark Angel’s thrash metal was almost too “soft”. That said, Goblin had pretty basic performance. Only thing that kept annoying me was way too scantily clad bassist. Her antics felt tacky and totally unnecessary food for dumb men’s eyes. (AL)

The French black metallers Merrimack had a busy weekend. They had a gig in Finland at the Turku Saatanalle indoor fest and then had to drag themselves to Tilburg. Obviously every piece of travel plan didn’t go as planned. Their gear got lost on the way to Amsterdam and now it has remained a bit mystery if they were found and if the Merrimack guys had to rent and borrow gear from other bands. However, Merrimack hit the stage and their singer literally took the stage and controlled it with a vicious performance. His scars all over his body definitely created the vibe as he has cut himself more or less. Merrimack did a solid gig and got the good respond. (AL)


Grave, having the only one sole member left, as members have come and gone, but Ola Lindgren has found the solid line-up with Tobias Cristiansson (ex-Dismember) and Mika Lagren… Grave did a real old school death metal by focusing the material of the old demo stuff as well as the debut album INTO THE GRAVE. When “Deformed” got blasted out the sounds were totally out of tune and to be honest ear ripping awful. Obviously the guitarist/vocalist Old Lindgren’s gear got some malfunction. Obviously Lindren’s fistpunch fixed the problem as the sounds got better. Grave’s harsh delivery of the old death metal was pure nostalgia trip to the early days 90’s when bands used to sound grim and brutal. The old Grave material is still brutal, nihilistic blowing the most recent death metal stuff away easily. Extremely Rotten Flesh sounded a bit modernized compared to the demo’89, but the style could be recognized. Sometimes Grave do these old school special gigs, and they are pure gold as long as the sounds are great without any technical issues. (AL)

About year ago it was announced that original guitarist Anders Björler was to leave the At the Gates. It meant that dynamic, even genius duo of that good early At the Gates, Björler and Alf Svensson were both out of the band. After that, the band started to tease with the promises of darker new record, something even in The Red in the Sky is Ours vein. I’ll believe it when I hear it because the new video song they played also in Netherlands Deathfest main stage sounds absolutely nothing like that first album. Even the name To Drink From the Night Itself flirts with the style of early lyrics, but alas no, nothing else “old” there. The song is more of a blatant, watered down version of beaten-to-death hit song Blinded by Fear. Super catchy but I can’t hear any of that rich imagination that made early At the Gates something totally different. They also released remake of Raped by the Light of Christ which hinted band could again embrace their glorious past in their setlist. Alas, no, just your usual mix of Slaughter of the Soul and newest At the War with Reality album with couple older songs. (TH)

It must be the first time I have heard a drum machine to play wrong but Darkspace managed to do just that! Luckily it was just short-term glitch and majority of the gig was properly executed. It was still memorable to see baffled Darkspace guys trying to follow erratic drums for a while. If you ever saw Darkspace live you know what to get. Their material is dense, suffocating even. You really are sucked in to the black hole if you just let their art really sink in. For the maximum effect it was good that they played on the smaller second stage. (TH)

Wasn’t the Italian black metal outfit Mortuary Drape supposed to call it quits? At least they announced pulling the plug a few years back and did some farewell gigs. Obviously something made them change the mind as they are still carrying on. The Italian black metal legends did one hell of a show by offering a lesson of how the ancient old school black metal is supposed to sound. They received the insane response at the Patronaat venue. The whole front row turned into a battlefield. The Italian cult black metallers didn’t show mercy, just punching the audience with raw old school black metal. (AL)

The offical Netherland Deathfest Facebook