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Saturday, 18 May 2019

A View From The Back Of The Room: Incineration Festival 2019 (Rich & Sean)

Incineration Festival 2019, Camden, London


After Desertfest brought all things stoner, doom and psychedelic to Camden town this weekend saw an aura of darkness loom over the area as a plethora of black metal and death metal bands took over The Underworld, The Black Heart and Electric Ballroom for the day. Myself and Sean were both in attendance and here’s what we saw and thought.

The first full band of the day I managed to see were Manchester black metallers Winterfylleth (8). I’ve been a fan of these for years with their mix of atmospheric black metal and Anglo-Saxon heritage and folklore and they seem to get better each time I see them. This time was no exception only being a short set comprised of five songs and all taken from earlier albums. They said they had left their acoustic guitars behind (in reference to their stunning acoustic album The Harrowing Of Heirdom and blasted into furious yet rousing material such as The Divination Of Antiquity, The Honour Of Good Men On The Path To Eternal Glory (the first time played in seven years) and Mam Tor (The Shivering Mountain). A cracking way to get things going.

When I last saw Carpathian Forest (7) at Metaldays they were quite frankly dreadful but seeing as I love their simplistic take on Norwegian black metal I decided to give them a second chance and I’m glad I did as this performance was leagues away from that dismal MetalDays set. They came out and immediately got to business with a set that ranged their entire career from their debut EP like When Thousand Moons Have Circled to new yet to be released songs titled The Beast In Man: The Origin Of Sin and Rock ‘n’ Roll Gloryhole and plenty from in between such as Through Self-Mutilation, I Am Possessed, Mask Of The Slave (where they were joined by Niklas Kvaforth of Shining) and their awesome cover of The Cure classic A Forest. Frontman Nattefrost is a bit of a lunatic on stage. He’s either had a good few drinks or really enjoying themself though most likely a bit of both. The style that Carpathian Forest play does start getting a bit repetitive after a while and my interest started to wane towards the end of the set but this was still very enjoyable.

I managed three songs of Mayhem before leaving as the sound was utterly dreadful and the performance completely uninteresting. Mayhem were not my priority anyway. What was my priority was a rare UK performance by Dutch death metal legends Asphyx (9). It had been many many years since I had last seen them live but they had lost none of their intensity and potency. The style of death metal that Asphyx deliver is very old school and direct. Dirty bludgeoning riffs with an evil doom undertone. Asphyx know when to kick into gear with the fast parts and then when to drop into a slow lumbering pace and crush everything into armageddon. Like a blunt weapon when they hit hard Asphyx deliver crushing blows and when they hit their stride it was like heavy artillery going off in The Underworld. Martin van Drunen is still one of the most recognisable voices in death metal with his unique gurgling howl and his performance was fantastically intense throughout the hour set.

The whole band were on fire and for a band with only a single guitarist play with a virtually unrivalled intensity. The band played a nice mix of material from more recent gems such as Division Brandenburg, Forerunners Of The Apocalypse, Deathhammer and Death The Brutal Way to rotten old school classics such as M.S. Bismarck, The Rack and Last One On Earth. The crowd lapped it up with plenty of pits, stage dives (many failed ones at that) and high levels of chaos and carnage which raised the temperature in The Underworld to scorching levels. Asphyx were a phenomenal way to end a fantastic day at Incineration Festival.


Arriving at the Electric Ballroom, I manage to witness claustrophobic weirdness that is  London’s own Voices (8). Bathed in eerie strobe lighting, their brand of progy black death is devoured by the already ravenous audience in attendance. Wielding both dynamic and destruction with ease, Voices set the bar high and ensure that Incineration is off to a damn good start. The blasphemous rumbling emanating from The Underworld drew me down into it’s murky depths. I’m soon swiftly greeted by the apocalyptic blasting of California’s Unholy Lust (9), whom proceed to tear The Underworld apart with their devastating brand of black/death thrash. The initially small crown swells dramatically, as Unholy Lust then proceed to flatten us all into submission. Quite simply, it fucking rips!

Wandering back over to The Electric Ballroom, the atmosphere takes on an oppressive hue, the lights darkening to bathe the sta. Greeting the packed venue are misanthropic miserabalists Shining (8), led by the polarising but ever charismatic Kvaforth. Regardless of his contempt for the audience and his feelings towards our mothers (of which he has many, apparently), he is master showman, holding the entranced in his malicious grip. Equal parts captivating and harrowing, Shining deliver a strong set drenched in glorious despair.

After ol’ Nicky makes one last jibe at the crowd, I immediately run to the toilets, sprint back and find a favourable position for what’s about to come next. Darkness envelops us all once more, sinister strings emanating from the PA, bringing the already high anticipation to near feverish levels. And then it begins, Septic Flesh (10) take to the stage to unleash all manner of horror upon us. The roll out hit after hit, with Enemy Of The Truth, fucking Communion, Vampire Of Nazareth and then Anubis!  The crowd summon all the energy they can muster, giving every once to this masterful display of monstrous symphonic death metal. My neck has stopped working now

You know who they are, you wouldn’t fucking be here if you didn’t. After what seems like 15 minutes before their scheduled start, The True Mayhem (5) take to the stage, cloaked in blinding strobe lighting. Industrial samples then bombard us, before the legendary Black Metallers erupt into Funeral Fog.  Or what I think is Funeral Fog, it’s difficult to tell as all that’s really manifested is one big wall of noise, occasionally punctuated by Attila's rasp. Faaack, this is making my ears bleed and not in a good way either. Whore and a few other tracks go by, but it’s an indistinguishable mess, prompting me to eventually have to leave and go watch Asphyx at The Underworld instead. Disappointing.

Despite being relegated to a single day (which still takes some getting used to), Incineration Festival 2019 was fucking excellent. We were left battered, bruised and all the more eager to see what next year brings. Roll on 2020!

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