Doom Over Tilburg, Tilburg, Netherlands, 7th September 2008
|Event:||Ashes To Ashes... Doom To Dust|
Ashes To Ashes, Doom To Dust 2008 was the third edition of this Dutch Doom festival. This year the "Ashes…" Staff had the ambition to create one huge Doomfest, with over 15 Doombands playing on different stages. Not the smallest bands too, with big names such as My Dying Bride, Krux and Primordial and inner-doom-circle favourites Bunkur and Warning, to mention a few.
However, it was not meant to be this way. A disappointment in ticket sales forced the Staff to decimate the line-up, keeping most of the big names but unfortunately dropping the smaller, promising bands and of course the wonderful prospect of multiple stages with interesting, self-hating misanthropic doommongers.
But that still wasn't it. After the first decimation, a couple of other changes in the line-up were made. First of all, Shining got removed from the bill as Kvarforth (leader of Shining) got a permanent ban from the 013 (were Ashes… was held) after serious misbehavior in the venue earlier, with his other notorious band Skitliv.
But that still wasn't it. Underground legends Warning also saw their asses kicked off the bill, as Aaron of My Dying Bride apparently made protests against Patrick Walker (guitarist/vocalist of Warning). He claimed that he was attacked by and had received death threats from Pat Walker. It actually turned out to be Rich Walker (Pat's cousin) that had made these threats and only because Hamish (guitars My Dying Bride) was previously in Solstice (Rich's band) and stole money and equipment.
However, the deeds were not undone and Warning was off the bill. Thanks a lot, My Dying Bride (ahum). Another cancellation came from Primordial this time. One week before the festival the singer got ill and Primordial got replaced by Bunkur and Kongh. One thing that should be noted was that because of the line-up decimation everyone that bought their ticket early and thus paid €35 for it got a refund of €10 at the door. We appreciate that!
Enough gossip and whining for now, it should be clear enough that before the actual festival, we were all thoroughly depressed and sad about it. So at that point it was up to the bands to change that, or rather, bend it to a positive form of sadness and possible even increase it, making us forget about all the fuss.
Perhaps it is best to describe Bunker as "the parody that isn't a parody". They are so minimalistic, so slow, so incredibly extreme that you almost hope it's a parody. Their mixture of Funeral Doom and Black metal does not follow the rules that the ancients of Extreme Doom created, but instead it bends these rules, or rather, it breaks them, shatters them, tramples them and feeds the remains to a horde of hungry wolves. And they seem to be completely serious about their music, too.
They got thirty minutes to play and took that opportunity to play one single song. Or rather, half a song. I didn't recognize anything from their only full-length "Bludgeon", but it didn't really matter. What my eyes and ears had to witness should perhaps not be remembered. A continues deep drone from one of their two bassists shaped the foundation. Over the drone, the other bassist vomited his own droning, dissecting "riffs". Add the occasional scream to that, together with a few hellish growls from the drummer, some squeaking deformed feedback scream from the bass and last but not least some drums. Ok, drums is perhaps too big a word, let's stick to "a single drum-beat, drummer gets some beers for the entire band, and another drumbeat" in slow-motion.
You'll get what I meant with my opening words. Strangely though, I did enjoy their gig. It wasn't as emotive and captivating as (funeral) Doom can be, but it surely was enjoyable. The utter sonic violence was impressive and the seriousness with which they laid these sonic waves down too. Perhaps I'll skip them on the next festival our paths cross, but I'm glad I saw them this time. (On a side note - dismantling the set with all amps still on was the perfect end to their song/show.)
After Bunkur's bizarre set it was time for Serpentcult - the reincarnation of Thee Plague Of Gentlemen with new vocalist Michelle. Having seen them before (at the Warning gig), and not being too impressed, my expectations were low.
Michelle of Serpentcult
And unfortunately I was once again not impressed. As I said back then, Michelle simply isn't powerful enough to stand her ground in the hurricane of sludgy groove around her. Musically everything was professionally delivered and very enjoyable, especially with the good sound that the 013 is blessed with, but those vocals… I don't think I'll ever get used to her shrill sound and I'll probably skip them next time.
Kongh was one of the bands to replace the impeded Primordial on short notice and fell a little out of line of the general mood of the festival. While being technically proficient, their dissonant riffs edging on Post-metal were perhaps not what the crowd was looking for. That's the only explanation I can think of why the crowd wasn't too excited about their performance, as I thought their mixture of sludge doom, easier moments, excellent clean and growled vocals with the aforementioned dissonant riffs was quite overwhelming.
The fourth band of the day was the Swedish three-piece Switchblade. Their set was predominantly slow and of the sludgey stoner variety. Throwing a lot of Drone in the mix, together with some very icy Black metal screeches, their sound was full, filthy and vile. Unfortunately they chose to alternate the faster, thicker parts with minimalistic slow pieces, which, frankly, bored the hell out of me. If I'd had it my way they'd drop those, and focus on mixing various kinds of filthy sounds, because that's what they do best!
Anders of Switchblade
Mordor was weird. Their opening 'ritual', for example. The weird chants/prayers/spell and the odd drums sure raised some eyebrows in the crowd. The fact that one of their members played with glasses on stage, and another one with a cap backwards on his head, too. It didn't really kill the mood though, as a matter of fact, they were quite convincing in their haunting atmosphere. Slow, droning black/funeral doom is the name of their game and I was surprised at how good it actually was. Combining their deep drones with high, maniacal guitar leads they invoked visions of the dark planes of gorgoroth and other spawns of Tolkien's mind.
After some research about this band back home, I discovered they did this kind of stuff as early as 1990! And nobody ever mentions them, probably since they haven't released anything after their '94 ep. A shame really, but I'm glad I saw them. Very glad.
Around Krux' performance the venue finally got crowded, and with approximately a thousand-headed-crowd they could start their set. It took Mats a song or two to get into shape with his vocals, but after that, everything went smoothly. Okay, the vocals could have been a little louder in the mix but that was really the only complaint directed at the PA of the entire day.
Mats Levén of Krux
As expected from a "supergroup", the performance was tight, even with two new guitarists. Naturally they played songs from both albums but in my opinion the tracks from the first album were a lot better with "Black Room" and "Omfalos" as highlights. Who doesn´t enjoy catchy, well played, sing-along Doom? Even with the initial problems this was the best band of the day for me.
My Dying Bride
After Krux it was of course time for (one of) Doom metal's biggest bands: My Dying Bride. Judging by the crowd, of which a large part wore My Dying Bride shirts, it was also the main ticket seller. Their studio work never did a thing for me personally, but I decided to forget about that for a moment and watch their performance objectively.
Aaron Stainthorpe of My Dying Bride
One thing caught my attention was that they were quite heavy - I expected a lot more of Aaron's whiny clean vocals which I thoroughly hate. Instead, some say this was because they had a violin player once again, they played tight and heavy and that pleased me. Aaron's growls were pretty impressive as well, I had no idea he still had that in him.
Unfortunately at the time I couldn't tell what songs they were playing, but people around me assured me that it was mostly old stuff. I'm checking out their old albums (again), and I'm recommending you to go see them if they're close and if you're into melodic doom/death. But you probably figured that already.
Here's the exact setlist of My Dying Bride at Ashes to Ashes, Doom to Dust:
Here In The Throat
From Darkest Skies
And I Walk With Them
The Cry Of Mankind
The Snow In My Hand
To Remain Tombless
The Dreadful Hours
The Forever People
After that it was time to lift our heads again and go back home. After a couple of days of thinking it seems just to me to say: even though it couldn't match its initial promises, it was a good day after all. Good bands, good sound, and good atmosphere: what else can a Doomhead ask for?
Many thanks go out to Bert from Metalshots.com, as he provided me with all these wonderful shots. And to Marcel H. for providing the setlist.Thanks!
||Written on 15.09.2008 by If you're interested in extreme, often emotional and underground music, check out my reviews. I retired from reviewing, but I really used to be into that stuff.|
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