No Mercy Festival April 9, 013 Tilburg, The Netherlands
|Event:||No Mercy Festival|
|Written by:||Marcel Hubregtse|
16:00 - 16:35 Dew-Scented (also in Switzerland)
16:55 - 17:30 Scarve
17:50 - 18:25 Behemoth (also in Switzerland)
18:45 - 19:35 Napalm Death (also in Switzerland)
19:55 - 21:00 Moonspell (also in Switzerland)
21:20 - 22:45 Obituary
16:30 - 17:00 Mystica
17:20 - 17:50 Heidevolk
18:10 - 18:40 The Monolith Deathcult
19:00 - 19:35 Root (also in Switzerland)
20:00 - 20:35 Extreme Noise Terror
21:00 - 21:35 Anaal Nathrakh
The impossibility to see everything during the festival means I've got to clone myself for the next edition. The problem of attending a festival such as this on your own is that some shows weren't viewed in their entirety. But not to worry, five of the twelve bands also played the No Mercy Festival in Switzerland which was attended by Bas.
What took me by surprise on arriving in Tilburg was the fact that quite a few people had already showed up to see Dew-Scented kick off the No Mercy Fest on this Easter Monday. The band themselves appreciated the fact that so many people had already turned up and showed this by giving it their all. A cross section of their career was played with a couple of new tunes. Dew-Scented's Slayer inspired thrash came across well, which was also helped by a heavy yet clear sound. All in all, a good warm-up for the rest of the day.
Off to the second stage to see a bit of Belgium's Mystica. Not being familiar with their material it was difficult for me to get into. Musically what they presented was some run of the mill, a dime a dozen melodic black metal with some slight death metal and heavy metal influences. Albeit proficiently played Mystica didn't leave that much of an impression.
Back to the main stage to see France's young hopefuls Scarve With a new album just out they wanted to prove why they are considered by many to be a rising band. Well, Scarve didn't disappoint. Helped by yet again a great sound and with Belgian Dirk Verbueren behind the drum kit, they pummelled the crowd into submission. Their brand of Meshuggah-esque death/thrash metal isn't an easy-listening affair. But who cares when it is executed the way it is? You won't hear me complain. Scarve proved why they are considered young French hopefuls by many. It seems that after Gojira another extreme metal band from France is about to conquer the world.
After the technical firepower it was time to come to my senses with a bit of Dutch language pagan metal by my Gelderse brothers Heidevolk. Dressed in gunnysacks and with drinking horns they hail from the Dutch province of Gelderland. And proud these people from the heath land are of their heritage and province. As backdrop a flag of Gelderland was used, and of course Gelderland's anthem was played towards the end of the set. Heidevolk are all about having fun on stage and entertaining the people watching them. They once again passed both departments of that test. Heidevolk live is an entirely different entity to Heidevolk on cd. Somehow their brand of pagan metal never did anything for me on cd but live they grabbed me. Now they came across as a heavier and more proficient unit and the fun the band was having rubbed off on everyone present. So, all in all, a surprisingly positive note early on in the day.
Next up were Behemoth on the main stage, but since they also played in Switzerland and I really wanted to see all of The Monolith Deathcult I only saw fifteen minutes of their set. What did catch my eye and ear immediately was the great light show and (again on the main stage) great sound. I know 013 in Tilburg is renowned for its great sound but this really did take me by surprise. Crystal clear, yet as heavy as a heavy thing. During the fifteen minutes I saw them they played a song of the upcoming Apostasy album. If this song is anything to go by then Apostasy will turn out a true killer album, a mix between Zos Kia Cultus and the, for me personally, disappointing Demigod.
Finally, after having somehow always missed them live, I get to see The Monolith Deathcult. The White Crematorium is regarded by me as one of the best death metal albums to have come out of the Netherlands during the last five years. But will they be able to pull their slightly Nile inspired brand of death metal off live? Now, a week after having seen them I am still not 100% per cent sure as to what the answer to this question is. So, let's settle for the political answer of: Yes and no. Yes, as in, they were a well oiled live machine who know how to entertain and beat the crowd senseless and play their songs flawless. And, no, as in, somehow the music didn't make as much of an impression on me live as it did on The White Crematorium.
Halfway through the twelve bands the intermediate impression is a very positive one. It is a good thing to programme smaller unknown bands for a festival like this. They now get a chance to present themselves to a larger crowd than is usually the case. The only problem I have with this many bands playing on two stages is, of course, the aforementioned problem of not being able to see all their shows in their entirety.
The next fifty minutes on the main stage are for Napalm Death Personally, I am really glad that Napalm Death has returned more to their grindcore roots lately. Their death metal albums were decent but nothing earth shattering. I have always held the belief that Napalm Death should do what they do best, and that is play old school grindcore. But judging from the reception the death metal era songs get compared to the reception the more grindcore songs get it seems I am one of the very few people present who think that. Napalm Death plays a cross section of their entire career in those fifty minutes filled with fire and dedication, just as we've all come to expect from Napalm Death. Not as mindnumblingly brilliant as at the start of their career but as the professional outfit it is nowadays. The two eye catchers on stage, of course, still being Mr. Hair, Shane Embury, and jack in a box Barney Greenway. All in all, a proficient professional set without any surprises.
During Napalm Death's set I left the main stage for about fifteen minutes to check out Root on the second stage to see if I could somehow now fathom the reason why these guys are a huge name in underground black metal circles. Well, NO, I still don't understand the reason. Okay, so they have been around since the early nineties, so what? Their music is dull, uninspired, uninnovative, bland etc. So what that they were amongst the first black metal bands around, that still doesn't make them any good. Musically it was a mess and visually… come on ever since Messiah Marcolin showed up dressed as a monk on stage with Candlemass there is no way you can do the same thing being a fat vocalist, especially when you don't have the voice or charisma of Messiah. In conclusion, I am still wondering what Root is doing on the No Mercy Festival tour. Is Root's inclusion on the bill an example of infamous pay to play? Please let me know. Because Root was a waste of 35 minutes which could well have been spent on a good band.
After this poor performance I decided to hang around the second stage to at least a bit of the legendary Extreme Noise Terror before going to catch the most melodic act of the day, Moonspell. ENT can together with Napalm Death be regarded as the fathers of grindcore. Having never seen them this was my ultimate chance. But what a bummer this turned to be. I always found their early albums extremely enjoyable, especially the contrast between the shrieks and the grunts of the two vocalists. Live, well, ahum, what a waste of time. The band name says it all, yes this extreme noise was terror to my ears. I couldn't make out anything at all, just noise interspersed with shrieks and grunts. Better listen to their albums at home than to subject myself to them live.
After ten minutes I rushed on over to the main stage for Moonspell, who never fail to deliver the goods. With their studio efforts I lost interest in them after Irreligious, but live they are still always enjoyable, treating their audience to a great light show and super sound. And today was no different. A stage set-up which was sober but effective as hell, a beautiful backdrop, a light show to kill for and a sound, wow, I almost had an orgasm undergoing it. This was an hour of pure bliss with as cherries on the cake for me the renditions of Vampyria and Alma Mater. I was totally impressed by the great Moonspell performance. When the show ended I made a note that this would most probably turn out to be the best gig of the day for me. Okay, so Obituary was still to come, and they have always been a favourite of mine, and Anaal Nathrakh to come as well, but then again, this show of theirs was probably AN's fifth, or something like that ever, so not really expecting too much of it.
Anaal Nathrakh and live, words that don't go together since they almost never ever perform live. Because of that fact I just had to see AN for you'll never know when another chance comes by. And did they surprise being the last band of the day on the second stage. They left me mesmerised for the full 35 minutes of their set, beating me into a senseless pulp and submission with their brutal as fuck black metal. Well, post black metal would be a more appropriate term, especially live where some slight grindcore influences seep through. Whereas Extreme Noise Terror became one big noisy blur Anaal Nathrakh's instruments could be clearly defined without losing any power. These 35 minutes were a sheer blissful journey into hell and over before anyone noticed. A classic gig.
Eleven down, one band to go to top off the day. Missed the first fifteen minutes of Obituary due to AN, so maybe also missed why Obituary were one guitarist short. Allen West wasn't present. But asking around no-one seemed to know the reason for Allen West not being there. Obituary live… when was the last time I saw that? Mmmm, must have been ages ago, probably at some Dynamo Open Air Festival. So, come on and bulldoze me into a further state of submission. Anaal Nathrakh had already softened me up for that. Did Obituary manage to deliver the goods? Nope. First off, the volume was way too low. Hell, standing at the bar I could even talk to people without straining my voice. And second of all, and most importantly, Obituary went through their set routinely and uninspired, although the first ten rows or so of the crowd didn't seem to notice or care. Musically it was all proficient, but nothing great, although only Trevor Perez playing guitar didn't really help of course. A good cross section f all their albums was played, but that was about it. The high of Moonspell and Anaal Nathrakh was subdued due to a heavily disappointing show by Obituary.
After about seven hours the No Mercy festival comes to a close leaving me behind totally exhausted. That's my own fault of course for I wanted to see at least a bit of every band present.
In conclusion this No Mercy Festival was a great way to spend my Easter Monday. Positive notes on the main stage were Dew-Scented, Scarve and Moonspell. Behemoth I didn't see long enough to pass a fair judgement, but of what I have seen I am sure that the rest of the gig was good too. Napalm Death did what we could expect of them. And Obituary was disappointing.
The big positives on the second stage were, my band of the day, Anaal Nathrakh, and surprisingly when judging by their studio albums, Heidevolk. Mystica didn't leave an impression. The Monolith Deathcult performed well and all, but somehow something was missing. I expected much of Extreme Noise Terror because of their legacy, but they were downright shit live. Root was bad too, and I still don't see what people see in them, be it on their studio efforts or on stage.
A professionally organised festival where all the bands adhered to the timetable and everything went smoothly. But a small tip for the next edition… please a bit more variation in the sorts of music planned.
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