Nokturnal Mortum + Biały Viteź @ Pomerania Fest, Gdańsk

Spread the metal:

Pomerania Fest: Nokturnal Mortum + Biały Viteź + Azel’s Mountain + Proch

@ Protokultura, Gdańsk

21st April 2018

Review & photos by Oliver M.

Founded in 2016, Pomerania Fest is undoubtedly one of the most promising Folk/Pagan Black metal festivals in Eastern Europe. It takes place in the beautiful city of Gdańsk in Poland at the Protokultura Club every year since then. Graveland headlined the first edition two years ago and it was a great success. It definitely helped to spread the festival’s name within the underground black metal scene. By the way, its name was taken from an historical region split between Poland and Germany.

This year, Ukrainian legends Nokturnal Mortum were invited to headline the third edition on April 21st. Their return to Poland was highly-anticipated by their fans there. Indeed, the band hadn’t performed on Polish soil for around 8 years. As part of this recent edition called “Verity and fire”, the organizers invited three very talented local support acts: Biały Viteź, Azel’s Mountain and Proch. Great line-up at first sight.

A few hours before the beginning of the show, I struggled in finding the Protokultura Club. It is actually well-hidden in the industrial zone of Gdańsk, with no signs at all. It looks like an old garage but provides a brilliant sound fortunately. The soundcheck went very well for all bands. I was very glad to see some excellent labels present at the merchandise area, selling CDs, vinyls, tapes, shirts and hoodies.

There was obviously Musical Hall which has been working with Nokturnal Mortum and a few other Ukrainian hordes for ages. They have a very interesting distro as well. As expected, Heritage Recordings was present that night. They’re well-known for making fantastic releases for NM, Graveland and Temnozor. The owner also runs Hammerbolt Productions by the way.

Then, Werewolf Promotion were selling many great, rare tapes (it’s their specialty I would say) and made me discover some talented acts such as Severoth, Azel’s Mountain and Stworz. Finally, Art of the Night Productions had a small merchandise stand and introduced some promising local hordes (like Helroth for example) to me. I strongly recommend you visit the webshops of those labels.

Pomerania Fest III wasn’t officially sold out but the venue was still well packed. There were a bit more than 300 people, making the festival very successful since it’s difficult to organize such event in Poland. When Proch start playing at about 7:00 PM, there were very few people in the venue unfortunately. It was a pity because this young trio really deserved more attention.

Formed in 2013, they performed tracks from their debut album “Trupi synod” released by Eastside in March. This Polish label has been working with many excellent Eastern European acts through the years and they proved it again with Proch. The trio delivered some very good Melodic Black metal with an old-school occult atmosphere.

We could also hear a few haunting layers of synths which strengthened that satanic ambiance at times. Those were actually very efficient. A good discovery!

Setlist:

A few days before the event, my friend Volf (from UK Symphonic black metallers Ethereal) recommended that I check Azel’s Mountain. I have to say he was right because their live performance impressed me. After releasing one eponymous EP in 2014, they delivered their debut album “Góra milczenia” through Werewolf Promotion two years ago and even made a cool video to promote it.

The musicians performed a great set of Pagan Black metal that conquered the audience. They proposed some inspired compositions and “Azel’s Irae” is definitely their best song thanks to its killing riffs. By the way, it’s interesting to notice their drummer Sławomir also plays for cult Polish horde Ohtar! Hope to see them again in the future.

Setlist:

Along with Nokturnal Mortum, Biały Viteź was the most anticipated band that night. Playing in their hometown of Gdańsk for the second time (at least) must have been something special for them. The crowd chanted their name as they came on stage and they received huge acclaim from their numerous fans throughout the set.

That was fully deserved since they offered a fantastic show. I wasn’t surprised at all as I’ve been a big fan of them since 2012. I discovered those Pagan warriors thanks to their great Split CD “Ogień wilczych serc” with the legendary Graveland, released by Eastside (again!).

Then, they made their first opus “Odejść by wiecznie żyć” three years ago. This is a pure masterpiece of Epic/Folk/Pagan Black metal. Wearing coats of mail, they were very charismatic on stage, especially when founding member Wojmir was using his horn.

By the way, it was cool to see Mścisław from Graveland on the bass and backing vocals. I can’t wait to get the new album (their latest song “Popioły” is absolutely sumptuous) and see them again soon!

The first ever show of Nokturnal Mortum in Poland took place in Katowice in 2005 and achieved somewhat cult status within their fanbase when German label No Colours Records released it as a Live DVD four years later. So, it was the third time the Ukrainians played on Polish soil and there have been a few changes about their live performances since I reviewed their gig at Kolovorot Nove Kolo Fest in Kiev last year.

Firstly, they welcomed Surm as a full-time keyboardist, which was awesome news and a relief for me. I’ve been waiting for that since the departure of Saturious in 2014. Surm did an amazing job on their last critically-acclaimed album “Verity”, especially for the dulcimer parts.

Keyboards have always been the main reason why I love their music. Then, they modified the setlist on several occasions and this time, Knjaz Varggoth had the excellent idea to perform “Lira” (Komu Vnyz cover) instead of “In Shackles of Time”. This cover song is very different and far better than the original one.

As I expected, they played it in their own style and even composed some interesting parts for that. In my opinion, this is one of the album’s catchiest songs. As always, Nokturnal Mortum delivered a brilliant set, including mostly tracks from “Verity” and a few ones from “The Voice of Steel”.

They didn’t offer any old classics but I won’t complain to be honest since “Verity” is truly a masterpiece. Five months ago, I saw them on stage at the unforgettable Call of Terror Fest 2 in France and noticed the arrival of Surm really contributed to improve their live performances.

I appreciated a lot the way he played the keyboards and dulcimer alternatively. While he was performing dulcimer parts, we could still hear some pre-recorded synths which sounded well actually. It made sense, otherwise they would have to use a second keyboardist like in their early years!

He even added new dulcimer parts to “Ukraine” and “White Tower”, which made the songs really different from what they used to sound in the past. I think it’s time for Musical Hall to release a new Live DVD for Nokturnal Mortum! Moreover, the band offered two surprises I wasn’t expecting at all.

They performed “Valkyria”’s mind-blowing break right in the middle of “White Tower” and “Ukraine”’s impressive guitar solo in its entirety. It wasn’t the edited version of the song fortunately! Being a huge fan of Heavy/Power metal music, I was glad Jurgis played those guitar parts to perfection.

Varggoth and his comrades received great applause from the crowd and I have to say some people were a bit out of control at times! Anyway, it was really nice to hear a few Polish fans saying “Slava Ukraini!”, which was very appreciated by NM. That was an incredible show. It’s such a pity they didn’t record it.

To conclude, I would like to thank Jarosław Pomorski and Wojmir for the perfect organization, warm welcome and help on everything. It would be awesome if they could bring the mighty Graveland and Kataxu together for the next edition. Many special thanks to the Protokultura Club owners for making this wonderful festival possible. We fully support Pomerania Fest and hope to come back to Gdańsk for the fourth edition next year. Dziękuję bardzo Polska!