Thyrfing’s Viking suggestion offers us a welcomed break. Moshpit and walls of death can be set aside for a while. This does not mean the Swedes lack energetic peaks, but their complex and deeply narrative songs are more inebriating and enthralling than destructive and forceful. It’s like sitting around a campfire in a wood and listening to Jens Rydèn (formerly in Naglfar) telling us ancient legends, maybe with a not-too-insane headbanging to underline the most compelling moments, such as “Griftefrid” and “Kaos Återkomst”. Enchanting and, in its own way, relaxing.
Pure 80s’ thrash fashion and a savage moshpit mark the set of Holy Moses, commanded by a seasoned but untamed Sabina Classen/Hankel-Hirtz, cheerfully breaking all the basic security restrictions she possibly can. Not content with letting the crowd onstage for singing support, she is also the only one I’ve seen stage-diving in both days. Riot girl.
As previously noted, Aborted might have deserved a better, later positioning on the bill, and it’s a pity because the band obviously is one of the most notable in the festival. But today’s orgy of technical death ends up being quite heavy, and not in the good sense of the word. Swiss Bölzer have a different and, in my personal opinion, more interesting take on death metal, with crazed and haunting vocals layering on disturbing guitar lines. The ensemble has something epic and at the same time threatening within it, and actually sounds very close to some fine black metal acts.
Irish folk gang Cruachan are a lot more fun and lighten up the evening, thanks to a brilliant performing and interaction with a devoted crowd, fully launched in unchained, soaked-in-beer and at times exhilarating folk dancing. A perfect introduction for folk giants Ensiferum, for whom today’s performance is more a celebration than a test. Everybody in the hall is content with the fun and dancing and the amount of sing-along provided by the compelling energy of “One More Magic Potion”, “Twilight Tavern” and “Iron”, and warrior Petri Lindroos is clearly having a good time.
More or less the same can be said for Unleashed. The majestic Swedish deathsters led by Johnny Hedlund have nothing left to prove to anyone, nonetheless they deliver a perfect, portentous set of straight, raw and assaulting anthems mixed with Norse mythology, that drive every old school fan in the room literally nuts.
Now, coming to Morbid Angel. Probably anything that I could say on this band would sound overly predictable. Trey Azagthoth obviously magnetizes attention, being the character that he is and the fundamental pillar of the Morbid Angel squad; but this is not just Azagthoth’s band, this is a whole lot of “Number One” of metal. David Vincent above all is no less impressive, his charisma is compelling and somber at the same time. Maybe he’s not the most empathic frontman in the world - but when he talks, announces songs, or bellow them out into the mike, you goddamn well LISTEN to him. The Covenant songs thunder away in all their majestic, archaic glory in an Effenaar that is almost too full even to barely move your feet. As a result, not everyone properly enjoys a dramatic “Fall from Grace” played at one o’clock and bits, but if you were not yet destroyed by two days of metal at maximum power, that was certainly the highlight of the weekend.
Aware that any performance, after one hour of full-throttle Morbid Angel mayhem, risks to seem lack luster, we try to make a fair share between two diametrically opposed scenarios: In Solitude’s eerie and somewhat unsettling (“eldritch”, Saille would say …) piece, and One Tail One Head’s rather frantic, but overall honest black metal. Both enjoyable, in their own way, although experienced in a dream-like state out of exhaustion and satisfaction. That’s all for this year folks, see you in December 2015!
Text and photos by Arianna