Dark Bombastic Evening 2022
|Event:||Dark Bombastic Evening 2022|
Dark Bombastic Evening 2022 by RaduP (156)
There’s a set of three festivals I usually go to every summer, even if for some of them it is just for one day. Rockstadt Extreme Fest, which I sadly won’t be attending this year but about which I wrote about last time, ArtMania, which I already wrote about, and finally Dark Bombastic Evening. I have written about the other two in 2019, but not about DBE, as, for some reason, the festival did not take place in 2019, being ahead of the curve in terms of festivals not happening. The 2020 edition was announced, I did get a ticket, but then everybody knows what happened, we waited, and as 2022 seemed like the year that would allow festivals to happen again and the organizers announced that tickets purchased in 2020 would still be valid, I knew beforehand I would have to reserve this late July spot for it.
Some of the acts announced in 2020 remained (even though that was back when Gggolddd were still “Gold”), some were replaced, and the end result was something surprisingly structurally similar to ArtMania: three days of festivals with four bands beginning at 19:00 and ending around midnight. With the only differences being that DBE had an opening party and that they’d be treating the schedule less opener/headliner set-length-wise, instead having roughly equal set times for all the bands, with most of the difference being that I’d get better lighting for my shots at night. Comparisons with ArtMania don’t stop there, since both are open air festivals happening in relatively big cities, with a pretty scenic view, and all the good that comes with that.
OPENING PARTY: WEDNESDAY, 27th JULY
Driving to Alba Iulia for the first time instead of taking a train meant that I was much more flexible in getting around the city. I had my accommodation very close to the citadel and the festival grounds, while also having a supermarket and a restaurant within a minute walking distance. The festival would officially start on the next day, but the grounds were open a day prior, complete with an opening party, with no ticket required for entry. The camping folks were obviously the ones most pressed to hurry and claim a spot, but I still went not very late, willing to check what familiar faces I’d meet, inspect the drinks and food options, and see whether any band already brought merch.
The opening party had one act performing, though not on the main stage. Roma Amor would be the only act to perform in the back area, on a smaller stage, though one that had a lot more seating around. However it was still packed quite quickly, meaning that I had a pretty hard time making it to the front for pictures. Roma Amor were not an act I was familiar with before, but their name perfectly encapsulates their sound: Italian love songs, whether good love or bad love. The couple on stage were comprised of the acoustic guitar / singer donna and the accordion / bass signore, the latter of which seeming very adverse to wearing a shirt during this performance (he did wear one when I saw them on festival grounds the next few days). Though the singing language was not always Italian, the vibe remained pretty similar to what I felt during my vacation to Rome, so I’d say they deserve the name.
DBE DAY 1: THURSDAY, 28th JULY
Most of the day was spent driving to pick up another friend who was joining me for the festival, and who would be staying with me at the festival, so even if the concerts did start at 7PM, we had already spent most of the day with this move. But we still made it in time to be a bit early.
I always compared DBE with Roadburn, mostly in terms of the bands they tend to go for. My case is made pretty strong by the fact that a bunch of the bands I had already seen from this lineup, I had seen at Roadburn, Laster being the first of the bunch. Though it would be the first time I’d be seeing them in an open air setting, one that I find suits them less than the closed venue, at least during daytime, due to their masks making them seem a bit out of this world. Their performance was as fantastic as I could hope for, with the bouncy riffs and long-form sense of melody setting them apart from the usual black metal crowd. Plus, I was reminded of how tall dutch people are.
What did I tell you about DBE and Roadburn? Not only did I see Messa at Roadburn, I saw them in both editions of Roadburn that I attended. Though this time I would see them performing a mix of both of those sets, playing something more catalog spanning, even if it was more focused on the last album. I do struggle a bit to give Messa any praise I haven’t already given them before, but hearing Close songs alongside Feast For Water songs for the first time cemented how consistent they are.
Austere weren’t a band I’ve given enough dues, though obviously being familiar with the name and having listened to To Lay Like Old Ashes, even if not nearly enough. I was most amazed by the live lineup that they had, with the mainmen from Germ on drums, Heretoir on guitars, and Thy Light on bass. In a sense, I’ve seen all those bands live now, with Germ most literal as I’ve literally seen them at the last DBE I’ve attended, but now I’m very conflicted about whether I preferred that or this Austere performance, due to how emotionally resonant the entire thing was. I can only hope that this reunion turns to the studio as well.
DOLD VORDE ENS NAVN
Dold Vorde Ens Navn (apparently Norwegian for “Hiding Becomes One's Name”) were the type of bands I previously checked out solely due to the lineup. Well, part of it. Three thirds of the lineup are or have been Dødheimsgard members, joined also by Haavard, who was on Ulver’s early stuff, not to mention other connections to Ved Buens Ende and Code. I decided not to review their debut because, while the lineup seemed amazing, I was pretty let down by the very traditional and straight-forward sound of it. Live that seemed like less of a concern, and most of it was due to how much of a stage presence vocalist Vicotnik had. He’d be a figure I’d keep seeing at this festival, whether with the two other bands he’d be performing with, or randomly stumbling upon the band the next day when exploring the citadel.
DBE DAY 2: FRIDAY, 29th JULY
Finally being able to sleep late and having most of the day free and without any rain forecast for a while meant that this was the perfect day for some actual tourism. We’ve seen the Alba Iulia citadel before, but it is still such a great landmark to visit. We did walk around the city walls for quite a bit before figuring out what the ideal way to get in the citadel was, visiting around that one church we hadn’t visited before, and then stumbling upon Dold Vorde Ens Navn in the other one while waiting for the rain to stop.
Alright, I was willing to let the previous two bands I had already seen at Roadburn pass, because, at least for them, it was a different setlist. Here, Gggolddd played their newest album, This Shame Should Not Be Mine in full, just like they did at this year’s Roadburn (and also just like they did at last year’s Roadburn’s Redux, which also became a live album), and having listened to both the actual album and the live album plenty of times, I can safely say that I’ve heard it in full enough times. I’m aware of both its strengths and flaws, but what does one have to do to hear “He Is Not” live once? And once again, Gggolddd had the short end of the stick for playing in daylight when this was really not a daylight album.
VED BUENS ENDE
This was one of the bands I was most excited for the festival, not only because I assumed their performance would be great, but because of how incredible it is that this obscure and influential band reunited and I could see them live. Written In Waters is an album I celebrate quite a lot, and the pretty long set time meant that Ved Buens Ende also had plenty of time to dive into material from Those Who Caress The Pale. The transition to the live setting seemed pretty seamless, still perfectly showcasing how innovative and off-beat their take on black metal is. Czral managed to have quite the stage presence even while having to play seated, and having already seen two of the members here as part of Dold Vorde Ens Navn makes me think that the organizers were really pragmatic in who they invited, but all the better for it.
Both me, and my friend who had never even heard of Wolvennest before, agreed that this is arguably the best show of the festival. Even though I had already seen them at Roadburn before, somehow they were the only one of the bunch where I preferred seeing them here. Maybe it was how it was just after it got dark, how buzzed I was, and how much more tiring Roadburn is comparatively, but something really clicked this time around. It was hypnotic in the best ways, and completely convincing in terms of how transcendental it sounded, looked, and felt like.
Another case of an old band revived, still not having released anything since their reunion, Strid are supposedly the first depressive black metal band ever. And though only one member remains of the 90s lineup(s), that’s still understandable considering that two of the original members have passed away. It also marked the third band that Vicotnik played in, one whose low lethargic energy was a complete contrast to the mania of his performance in Dold Vorde Ens Navn. And arguably, they nailed the depressive sound because they sounded so depressive that they convinced me to go home early. I’m not sure if I mean that as a compliment or a critique. I later found out I missed some technical problems and a gig gone awry because of it, so there is some regret.
DBE DAY 3: SATURDAY, 30th JULY
With the tourism day already behind us, this was gonna be a lazy rest day, complete with the movies watching and video games playing afternoon. We did meet some friends for lunch before moving for the festival, so it wasn’t like we were being completely antisocial.
THERE’S A LIGHT
It’s not like DBE is a metal festival per se, and even for the others I’ve been to, having a non-metal band performing isn’t that out there. And as fan as genres that get a pretty good pass, post-rock is among the highest. There’s A Light have been active for a bit over a decade, so they’re not new nor old, and with their sound often getting heavy enough to touch on post-metal, they were a pretty good fit. However if this was a post-rock festival, I’m not sure how much more thought I’d give them, but as the only post-rock band on the roster, they were a welcome palette cleanser.
There are two things I could safely assess about Hemelbestormer before seeing them: their band name is incredibly fun to say out loud; and they have really long songs. Sure, as a post-metal/doom metal band, it is quite expected of you to have long songs. But considering that the band was formed a decade ago, I did not expect some white-haired dudes on stage. I did expect to be blown away, and they did create a pretty neat parallel to the post-rock of the previous band with a heavier and sludgier version of it.
Usually, when I didn’t know a band on the roster, it was a non-metal band. Here, it was the only metal band I was unfamiliar with, but it was pretty easy to tell from the band name that they’d be a black metal band. I was expecting the usual, but I was met with something really odd. Not only did the rain already start, but the atmosphere they were creating, complete with the stage attire that spelled both folk horror and how your grandma imagines metal bands look like, was something incredibly immersive. And for quite some time I wasn’t even sure if the vocalist was gonna sing at all, since they were just ominously walking along the stage. Hell, I’m pretty sure there wasn’t even any need to, because the atmosphere the instruments and his presence alone were creating was more than enough to cement Slagmaur in my memory.
It was already raining when Slagmaur were playing, but that was a kid’s affair compared to the rain that started in between the shows. We were completely drenched, as somehow rain still managed to pour even under the makeshift roof of the back area, wondering if they’re even gonna have the performance. But then I remember that surely this can’t be the first time it rained during a concert, and how many concert rains I got at other festivals where the ground was completely turned to mud. Surely, this was far from being that bad. And indeed, even with all the cold drench tiredness that should’ve spelled “go home early” for me, Oranssi Pazuzu still kept me in place, sucked into their wild space rock black metal sound. I think some of that manic rain drenched energy has seeped into my pictures, but they still don’t come close to actually being there. The band disappeared as Vangelis’ “Chariots Of Fire” started playing, and it was just then that the tiredness and the fact that this really was the last band of the festival set in.
CONCLUSIONS AND SUCH
In case you haven’t noticed, Dark Bombastic Evening is pretty similar to Roadburn, considering how many bands I had already seen at one before the other, making me think that I could’ve solved some Roadburn clashes better if I realized I’d be seeing those bands at DBE anyway. However the biggest difference is the relaxed atmosphere at DBE. The smaller scale, both in terms of the size of the festival area and of the schedule, means that it’s far away from the adrenaline rush of trying to switch between scenes and venues to catch whatever act that is clashing with something else you’d wanna see. DBE is much friendlier in that regard, especially since there’s fewer attendants, making everything feel a lot more familiar and welcoming. It’s not unusual to find performers blending into the crowd outside of their concerts.
I don’t remember DBE ever bothering with tokens for payment, and even if cards were not accepted everywhere, there was at least one drinks bar that had both decent prices and accepted card payments. There was plenty of variety in drinks, I never had to queue for more than two minutes for a drink or something to eat. As far as food goes, I always went for the “virsli” sausages, but someone did later complain that most of the food was pork based, which I understand is a pretty big problem for people who don’t eat pork or meat in general.
One of the biggest upsides is that the festival is taking place in a pretty big city, meaning that supermarkets, restaurants, accommodation spots are always nearby, maybe even within walking distance, like it was in my case. The festival area being between city walls does add plenty of scenic appeal, and visiting the citadel is always a possibility.
The schedule was a bit leaner than in the other years, which had around six artists a day, but I always enjoyed not having to hurry to get to the festival. If I had to pick, my favorite performances were Wolvennest, Oranssi Pazuzu, Ved Buens Ende, and Austere. Overall, an amazing time, and I can only hope to relive the experience next year.
||Written on 03.08.2022 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.|
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