Incineration Fest at The Garage, 10/05/2014

This Saturday marked the inaugural Incineration Fest in London, a new all day festival bringing fantastic black and death metal bands to England’s capital for a day of great music. With a good, varied lineup and two stages, it was all set for a great day of extreme music.

Even at 2 o clock in the afternoon there was a big crowd in the already packed venue for main stage opening act Premature Birth, who happen to be one of the best opening acts I’ve ever seen. Despite being on a half two in the afternoon they played a blistering black metal set, with fast and melodic tremelo picked riffs and an intense vocal performance, with keyboards adding a slight symphonic touch. A great performance all around kicked the day off to a great start.

Kicking things off for the second stage were Primitive Graven Image. Unfortunately the upstairs part was very small, so not everyone could get into see them, and this was generally one of the downsides of the whole day. However those of us who got in were there for another equally great show, with another fantastic black metal band. Thrashy black metal with a great mixture of choppy, chunky riffs and tremelo picked blasphemy, their set was fun from start to finish, with lots of energy from lead vocalist/guitarist Rob Lehane, and the use of backing vocals from guitarist Luke Lehane was excellent too, screams aplenty throughout the set. Definitely a band to check out if you get the chance.

Having stayed upstairs, next up was brutal death metal act Regurgitate Life, the solo project of Oblivionized guitarist Sammy Urwin. Playing with a backing tracks instead of a live drummer, his technical fretboard wizardry was at the forefront along with great growling vocals. With some ridiculously over the top recorded drums, and with Sammy’s sense of humor mixed with the insanity of the technicaol guitar playing and mental drums it was a great show, and had the first mosh pit of the day upstairs.

Brutal death metallers Unfathomable Ruination followed, and despite having one of the best band names in metal, they were pretty terrible. With a complete absence of guitars in the mix, and the typical “bree bree” vocal style, it was just typical boring brutal death metal which doesn’t do anything for me, so I abdicated the second stage to watch Nargaroth at the main stage instead.

Despite their semi-legendary status, German black metallers Nargaroth are decidedly average, and though interesting at first, their brand of black metal was too simple to be interesting throughout a whole set. They definitely had their moments in the middle of their show, but vocalist Kanwulf is fairly average in his performance too. For set closer Seven Tears are Flowing to the River he brought out a book and was just singing the lyrics from that. Not very “krieg”, and though it’s an atmospheric song on the album, they didn’t really create such a hypnotic atmosphere on the stage on the night, and over the long song duration they started to outstay their welcome, the repetitive melody getting rather dull. With the fantastic Premature Birth, De Profundis and Primitive Graven Image having given great sets already, Nargaroth were something of a let down all told.

There was then an annoucement saying that due to problems with their flight, Carach Angren’s set would be delayed and they would be playing upstairs later in the night. With Anaal Nathrakh and Taake being the two bands I wanted to see most, and with stage time changes and the room upstairs being so small, I opted to stay downstairs in order not to risk missing them, and unfortunately didn’t see either Malignancy or Carach Angren.

Anaal Nathrakh however were the best band of the entire night, and they always deliver the most intense sets of misanthropic, grinding black metal. Mick Kenney couldn’t perform with them due to not getting through customs, and they had a replacement on stage, and vocalist Dave Hunt was suffering from laryngitis, but none of this stopped from from playing a particularly insane set. Opening with the classic In the Constellation of the Black Widow before blasting through favourites such as Submission is for the Weak, Of Fire and Fucking Pigs and More of Fire than Blood, they simply put 110% energy into playing with total brutality. It’s hard to believe that they have a real drummer when you see them, as the drum machines on the albums are insanely fast, but their live drummer pulls it off with aplomb, and Dave spoke to the crowd between most of the songs, getting them going. The sound mix was too quiet early on, but after two songs they managed to get it perfect. They showcased a great brand new song, before their penultimate track Between Piss and Shit we are Born drove the crowd into an absolute frenzy with the best, craziest moshpit of the entire night. Closing their set with Do Not Speak, they play with unreal energy, and it seems that they finished far too soon. They’re one of the best live bands in metal, and anyone who likes their extreme music should go and see them, it’s a viscerally intense experience.

Norwegians Taake closed the main stage with a great set. More melodic and atmospheric than the completely “in your face” performance style of Anaal Nathrakh, but their set isn’t any less intense. All corpse painted up they come out to destroy, with vocalist Hoest looking particularly evil wearing a hooded robe. It’s been only a month since he was at the same venue instead fronting the mighty Gorgoroth, and he puts in a fantastic performance here too, with sharp piercing screams mixed with roaring yells in a formidable performance. And with the rest of the band combining a keen sense of melody and atmosphere with an incredibly heavy sound, as caustic and intense as it was beautifully atmospheric, it’s a flawless performance from a great band who really owned the stage, and closed the festival fantastically.

Overall it was a triumphant inaugural festival with a  great lineup, and it’s good to see that it will also be going ahead again next year. Hopefully they’ll pick somewhere with more space in the second room, and there will be less clashes between bands, but other than those issues it was a great day, and Aeon Promotions have done London’s extreme metal scene proud by putting the event on.

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