Category Archives: Live Reviews

PHOTO REPORT: DIMMU BORGIR + KREATOR LIVE Forum Karlin, PRAGUE,​ dec 9, 2018


European heart, Prague, was exposed to some legendary squads from Scandinavia and closer Germany.  

Norwegian (black) metal squad has shown Prague very nice concert  while introducing their last album Eonian released this year. Also, we could hear some their older hit songs as Dimmu Borgir or Progenies of The Great Apocalypse. Dimmu’s show was closed by their mighty  Mourning Palace from Enthrone Darkness Triumphant.

After Dimmu Borgir, German thrash metal legends played their set with some projection behind themselves and also in the front during the intro. The music was still thrash metal but full of pretty modern sound. To me, it seemed they had more fans in the hall than Norwegians before. Maybe the alcohol in between bands during  the pause has helped in this matter a little.  

Concert went well and sound was very good. Some fans complained about the sound quality, but I was pleased. There was only small hickup in the entrance regarding some formal stuff, but thankfully it was resolved…

Thanks to the bands for nice performance they have delivered, Nuclear Blast, Pragokoncert Bohemia and staff for making this concert possible and pretty much smooth.

Forum Karlín, Prague, Dec 9th 2018

Photography by Pavel Kovalančík

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LIVE REVIEW: DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL – DONNINGTON PARK UK – 8TH-10TH JUNE 2018


Download Festival –LIVE REVIEW by Carina Lawrence / Dark Art Conspiracy

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Photo credit:
 James Bridle
 

Download Festival is the UK’s biggest, friendliest and most diverse rock/metal festivals and it gets bigger and better each year. This year particularly had a strong theme of environmental sustainability, with their new recycling scheme for beer glasses, using plastic reusable cups which you could keep and reuse or give back and made for a nice memento along with the introduction of Greenpeace’s Eco Campsite. Viewing platforms for wheelchair-users were available across all stages and British Sign Language interpreters on two, again highlighting the festivals diversity and how it accommodates for everyone which is great to see.

Continue reading LIVE REVIEW: DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL – DONNINGTON PARK UK – 8TH-10TH JUNE 2018

Steelfest Open Air 2018


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May 18-19, 2018 in Hyvinkää, Finland

Report and photos by Serena Solomon

 

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Steelfest Open Air is known as the metal festival to commence festival season in Finland, more so by those who are fans of extreme metal (black,death, thrash, etc.). As a first timer to Steelfest, it took a little time once there, to get into the festival mindset as a photographer and attendee, since I’m used to the season starting later in the summer.  However, the atmosphere and mood, not to mention music and location made it easy to get into the swing of things. I heard from people who had attended Steelfest regularly, that this year the weather was the best it had been in years.  Festival goers were able to lounge on the grass and enjoy the rare interminable sun and warmth  while also having the option to relax in the cool darkness of the indoor stage area. There was a lot of praise for how accommodating the festival was from the amount of seating and food/drink options available to the accessibility of the location and available accommodations not to mention how smoothly the festival ran in general. The few downsides were the compactness of the schedule; people found themselves running from stage to stage with not much time in between sets to catch a breath let alone eat or socialize. The schedule could have been a bit less hectic, specially Friday, with Havukruunu starting just a half hour after doors opened and shortened sets of more prominent bands. And, although the acts themselves catered to various music tastes, the lineup and order of bands seemed to slightly lack the diversity to keep things interesting through out the day, although ending the first day with Mortiis was probably enough diversity to carry the entire festival.

Overall there wasn’t as much bones, blood and ritual as I anticipated (basing my experience as a Turku Saatanalle regular) and a lot more color (Cult of Fire, Dødheimsgard and Mortiis). My personal most anticipated acts were Nokturnal Mortum, Necrophobic, Alghazanth and Skogen. I was also interested to see Watain, Saor, Havukurrunu, Tomentor and Dødheimsgard. Some of them were a disappointment, some delivered and there were a few performances that impressed me unexpectedly.

 

DAY 1 

Havukruunu kicked off the festival on Friday with a powerful set. However, the fact that they started so soon after doors meant there was a small crowd despite the fact that it seemed many people were eager to see their show. It all felt a bit rushed and not as solid as the performance earlier in the year at Turku Saatanalle VI.

 

Cohol was one band I started to get into weeks before the festival, I know I liked what I heard but had no expectations for their show. I was pleasantly surprised. They put on a memorable performance full of a unique kind of energy and stage presence that fit their music style. It caught the attention of many concert goers and personally left me wanting more.  Hailing all the way from Japan, their journey was well worth it.

I was honestly not familiar with One Master. I listened to their music and felt I might have been able to get more into it if they stood out more live, but for me, there wasn’t much that was memorable about their performance.

Baise Ma Hache was another band I started listening to weeks before. They seemed to have a powerful sound which was conveyed well on their live performance. They had a strong stage presence and kept the attention and participation of the crowd.  The stage presence of some of the other bands was hindered a bit by playing on the outdoor stage. Certain atmosphere was lost with the relentless sunshine, small stage area and lack of visible stage lighting. However, Baise Ma Hache’s set did not suffer one bit.

Another powerful performance was from homegrown Archgoat. Though they are not personally high on my “much anticipated” list, I respect their position within the Finnish metal scene and the fact that they are a much anticipated band to many other festival goers. Every time I have seen them live, they always deliver and never fail to get the crowd going.

Malokarpatan was another band I was not personally so into, however, their performance and sound put a bit of diversity in the lineup thus far. Their stage presence reflected on the crowd and seemed to switch the mood all together just a bit, maybe a bit lighter, maybe a bit thrashier, maybe people were simply becoming more visibly drunk. I’m not sure, but it was a positive thing either way.

I was not initially particularly interested in Satanic Warmaster. The last few times I had seen them live, it was a bit of a let down. However, their performance at Steelfest was an unexpectedly impressive show. Their energy was spot on and they, themselves, seemed more into the music than I had remembered which, in turn, got the crowd more into it as well. I personally had a hard time tearing myself away from the indoor stage to rush to the next band

Deströyer 666 was also a much anticipated band for many festival goers. They were another a band who’s energy and presence was not hindered by playing on the outdoor stage. They definitely rose up to the expectations and anticipation of the crowd as well as gave yet another twist of something different with their sound and stage presence.

Nokturnal Mortum was initially the band that made me say “sold” when contemplating whether or not I would attend Steelfest this year. Which didn’t take long, since they were one of the first bands announced. They were one of the bands I was most familiar with and had never seen live. For me, their energy was spot on, but their setlist could have been improved upon. However, I heard a rumor that their set was cut short due to the hectic schedule (specially since Watain was up next). I personally thought their energy and presence was great and reflected in the audience as well, however, some people I spoke to who had seen them before said this was one of their least favorite performances. Either way, it was a great experience to finally see (and shoot) them.

Finally, Watain. I was quite surprised that they were playing on the smaller stage, however, it made sense once they started lighting up. Though they seemed a bit cramped among the pitchforks and flames, their performance did not suffer. Again, they were not personally one of my most anticipated bands but I was eager to see their set, since I had never seen them before.  I heard they had some technical difficulties and their sound was not as up to par with other gigs they had previously done. I also heard mixed reviews of how the guitarist did taking up playing guitar as well as singing. Some people were impressed, specially since he played the solos as well, and others said his vocals suffered from it.

Then there was Mortiis. Not everyones cup of …whatever. For me it was an odd placement all together, in the festival itself,  its placement in the schedule and the fact that it was specifically a show dedicated to the “Ånden som gjorde opprør” album. This did, however pique my interest to see how the performance would pan out and what people would think about it. From what I heard, people were either really into it or really confused and uninterested by it. Some felt it was a great ending to the first day, some couldn’t bare to stay more than five minutes.  For me personally, it was a unique opportunity to see this character and the atmosphere he creates on stage live,  but it was near impossible to photograph (though the cloak of low light, fog, and a stage prop that made it hard to see him was part of the mysticism and appeal of the show) and after maybe ten minutes, the music lost me. It seemed one had to be a fan and familiar with that particular album to truly enjoy the show, or simply in the right mental space for that kind of atmosphere after a day of extreme metal. One could have likened it to the “get the fuck out” music at closing time, or a more chill way to end the night.

 

DAY 2

Starting even earlier but an hour after doors this time, Hin Onde opened the small stage for the day. They had good sound but this was one occasion I believe being on the outdoor stage detracted from their show. I personally felt it might have been more fitting for them to be inside, and again, possibly have played later in the day since it seemed many were interested to see the band.

 

Nattfog had great sound that filled the indoor area but their stage presence did not convey the power and command their sound provided. They seemed a bit stagnant and not so connected with the fact that they were performing live on stage. The drummer helped bridge the gap between the band and crowd at times but otherwise they seemed like they were not simply rehearsing rather than performing live.

Skogen, on the other hand, had no problem connecting with their own music as well as the audience and provided a visual to support the solid sound that emanated from the stage. They had no problem creating a powerful ambience and getting the crowd enthralled with their performance.

Next up on the indoor stage, Asagraum. Of course, I was curious to see how an all female black metal band would do live, though their music was not one of the most memorable sounds in the lineup. They commanded the stage quite well and brought some of the black metal vibe and aesthetic that I had felt some of the other bands were lacking. Each member had their own performance style but it melded together well and they interacted with the audience directly and indirectly which made them stand out for me more than their music.

Demilich was a much anticipated band for many people, specially since just coming off a headlining US tour. They delivered with their performance and were not hindered by they lack of atmosphere on the outdoor stage. They brought the vibe in the festival up a notch and got the crowd on their feet.

I was quite eager (as many) to see Alghazanth. They had impressed me with thier live show before, and since Steelfest 2018 marked the end of their live career, it was a must see for me and many of the other festival goers. They did not disappoint. For a mid day band, they had one of the bigger crowds filling the indoor stage area. They were well respected within the Finnish black metal scene and could not have said farewell in a better way.

Saor was a favorite for many, from what I heard. I was also eager to see them, since I had been listening to them for a long time and had never seen them live. They had a solid performance but I felt it did not convey the distinct mood their music provides. I cannot put my finger on exactly what it was, whether it was again being on the outdoor stage or the band themselves, but I felt it was missing something. However, the diversity of their music was much needed within the lineup on day 2 and provided a nice change of pace.

Necrophobic. Possibly the best performance of the entire festival. I was looking forward to see them but did not have any expectations. I was incredibly and pleasantly surprised by their sound and energy and everything about it.  They took control of the stage and commanded the entire indoor area with their presence visually and sonically. This was another band I had trouble tearing myself away from to run to the next stage, and one of the few bands that left me wanting more and eager to see again.

Since Necrophobic left such a lasting impression on me and I was not so familiar with Forteresse, their performance was a bit lost on me. I didn’t hear much spoken about them amongst the festival goers before or after the show and was not impressed nor let down by their performance. They had a solid presence but the music just wasn’t captivating for me.. but it was probably a welcome thing since they were between two of the strongest acts of the festival.

After listening to Cult of Fire for a while before the festival and seeing some photos from their previous live shows, I was a bit skeptical since I am a fan of Batushka, and felt they seemed quite similar in their aesthetic and visual appearance. However, aside from the candles/alters and ceremonial ambiance, their live show was something much different than I was expecting (not as Batushka-esque). They brought to the table the ritual aspect I had expected more of which had been absent for most of the festival thus far, but despite the fact that they were all cloaked head to toe and were not easy to see beyond the inferno presented in front of each musician, they had an intoxicating energy. While waiting in the photo pit, I was already enthralled by their presence standing on the side of the stage. The mixture of their intro track and seeing these dark figures in ethereal costumes moving in the shadows off stage sent a chill through me in a good way and, once they started playing, the chill did not subside.  The smallest details of their aesthetic contributed greatly to their haunting presence and their sound provided an energy all of its own that greatly differed from Batushka. They were yet another band that I could not tear myself away from and left me slightly unsettled in a good way and wanting more.

I noticed a lot of discourse about Necros Christos and was curious what all the hype was about. It was their first live gig after two years which included new material from their final album “Domedon Doxomedon”released the day before their show. Their sound was much bigger than the stage they were performing on but somehow it did not hinder their presence. I could feel the power in their music and how it resonated through the crowd with the praises I heard before hand sticking at the back of my mind, it was easy to understand why this band was highly anticipated and a definite unexpected highlight of the day.

 

Dødheimsgard was another unexpected and pleasant surprise for me. Their music caught my ear when listening to Steelfest bands in the weeks before the festival and I was interested to see how their sound and unique aesthetic would translate live. They definitely brought a substantially diverse act to the Steelfest lineup in the best way possible. It’s not a difficult observation to make that their sound, presence and visual aesthetics were unlike any other band, but were easily one of the strongest performances at the festival.

 

My familiarity with Moonsorrow made them one of the acts I was certain I would enjoy. However, it was quite unexpected and a bit of a breath of fresh air to see Ville Sorvali roaming freely around the stage and Henri Sorvali taking up the role as Bassist (a.k.a. Moonsorrow ft. Trollhorn from Finntroll, as the joke goes). Immediately, my mind was brought to none other than Wintersun and their recent transition of Jari becoming only a frontman sans instrument as well. I’m still not sure how I feel about this new setup with Moonsorrow but I have a few more festivals to see to make my mind up. Either way, the performance at least did not suffer at all from the recent transition. The crowd was possibly the most active and engaged I had seen through out the festival thus far, and the band was in no way hindered by the small outdoor stage. Not only was their energy spot on, as always, they played a perfect balance of old and new. Also, their use of smoke struck me as an interesting contrast to Watain’s use of fire the previous day during the same time slot.

And the finale of Steelfest 2018, Tormentor. In my opinion, a much stronger final act than the previous day and a strong enough act to provide a satisfying ending to an amazing start to festival season. Tormentor did not disappoint one bit. They played an exclusive set which coincided with the 30th anniversary of the “unrelease” of their first full length recording “Anno Domini”. It was hard to not get into the show even if one wasn’t a fan of theirs. They took off at full force and didn’t slow down one bit until the end, and managed to look like they were enjoying themselves as well. It was a flawless act to wrap up Steelfest 2018.

 

 

 

LIVE REVIEW: Mammothfest 2017, The Arch, Brighton UK – 6th-8th October


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LIVE REVIEW by Carina Lawrence / Dark Art Conspiracy

Brighton’s annual dedicated metal festival Mammothfest makes a bigger impact each year and this year’s event was no exception, especially as they impressively managed to bag 3 UK exclusive headliners with Rotting Christ, Fleshgod Apocalypse and Amenra.

Since its return in 2014 Mammothfest has always mustered up a formidable line-up, comprised of heavyweight acts such as Textures, Venom Inc, Sylosis, Entombed, Martyr Defiled and more in the past, as well as always showcasing the best and upcoming talent, they even have a whole stage devoted to this, named the Rikstock stage, after Mammothfest director Steve Dickson lost his close friend and business partner, Rik Mosquero to brain cancer, he went on to name the stage in his honour and highlight the emerging artists, Rik himself was in local band Hole In The Sky who have frequently played the festival, including this year’s event. Along with the bigger calibre acts they bring in each year, the festival has successfully managed to upscale its venue as its new current home is The Arch located on the seafront and is a perfect central spot in Brighton, whereas previously the festival has hosted at different and smaller venues across a weekend, highlighting again the growth and expansion of this massive metal event.

Continue reading LIVE REVIEW: Mammothfest 2017, The Arch, Brighton UK – 6th-8th October

LIVE REVIEW: Download Festival – System Of A Down, Biffy Clyro, Aerosmith, Donnington Park UK – 9th-11th June 2017


Download Festival –LIVE REVIEW by Carina Lawrence / Dark Art Conspiracy

2017_DownloadFestival_MattEachus_008 [Web].jpegPhoto credit: Matt Eachus – Download Festival 2017 (Biffy Clyro)

 

Download festival has a special atmosphere and is regarded as one of the ‘biggest and friendliest’ festivals in the world, and most certainly in the UK, being the largest dedicated rock/metal festival the country has to offer, with 80,000 rock and metal fans descending onto Donnington Park in Leicestershire to witness rock’s finest. The festival has hosted the biggest names in rock such as Metallica, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and much more. Festival organiser, Andy Copping describes the festival as the ‘spiritual home of rock’ and anyone who has ever attended will find it hard to disagree, it really does have an amazing atmosphere with everyone united to enjoy their favourite bands. The fact that this year it was some of the best weather Download had seen for years made the three days even more incredible. The weather was on metal’s side and saw the packed weekend shine and go down in spectacular style.

 

Friday 9th June

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Motionless in White got their moment on the main stage following their hard work. It was an early set but the crowd was out to support them and they had some good participation throughout. Because of their daytime slot frontman Chris Motionless remarked that they couldn’t have lots of lights and stage theatrics, so to pack more of a punch, they played new song ‘Necessary Evil’ from their new album ‘Graveyard Shift’ for the first time to make their set a bit more special. They also played other popular offerings ‘Devil’s Night’ and ‘Eternally Yours’ which may have also won over some new fans.

American pop punk act Four Year Strong played the smallest stage going at Download Festival, the Firestone stage, giving fans a chance to see a more intimate set before taking to a bigger stage later in the day, however they pull in a big crowd and engulf the small stage, with everyone jumping around and having fun.

Metal giants Mastodon brought the masses to their set and impress with their technically crafted prog mastery and massive hooks. They don’t need overly fancy lighting or production, they just rely on their music and showcase their excessive talent. They played songs across their back catalogue including ‘The Wolf Is Loose’ and ‘Black Tongue from 2011’s ‘The Hunter’ as well as showing their diversity with ‘Show Yourself’ taken from their latest expansive album, The Emperor Of Sand’. A glorious performance.

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American heavy groove metallers Five Finger Death Punch were one of the stand out bands of the opening day, delivering a crushing set and mental mosh pits whilst firing off their best songs ‘Never Enough’, ‘Wash It All Away’ and ending with ‘The Bleeding’. However one of the highlights and most moving moments came when they performed the acoustic ‘Remember Everything’. They weren’t afraid to get up close and personal as frontman Ivan Moody and lead guitarist Jason Hook went into the crowd and grabbed the eager fans hands to show them some love back. It was a powerful set that was well balanced with hard-hitting numbers and slower songs. The band were truly humbled by the crowd’s reactions and glad to be back on the main stage at Donnington.

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Prophets of rage impressed with their politically charged anthems, which was particularly fitting given the UK general election the day before, so they had plenty to get motivated about in what was their first ever UK show. They went down a storm with everyone pumping their fists and united as one, grooving to their perfect festival anthems. Their set list consisted of all the well-known and classic hits that you would expect from each member, such as Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Killing In The Name’, ‘Testify’, ‘Take The Power Back’, Public Enemy’s ‘Fight The Power’ and Cypress Hill’s ‘Insane In The Brain’. The highlight of their set, and most emotional and beautiful moment, was an instrumental of Audioslave’s ‘Like A Stone’ led by band member and long-time friend guitarist, Tom Morello, which was a great tribute to their fallen comrade and legend Chris Cornell. 

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Headliners System Of A Down didn’t disappoint, delivering an incredible set comprised of all their best hits, the whole arena was buzzing, singing and head banging to their spectacular non-stop 31 song set; ‘Chop Suey’ was particularly special. They played all the songs the crowd wanted and more, including ending on ‘Sugar’ from their debut self-titled album which was unleashed in 1998 and showcased their weird individual kooky style wonderfully. No other band in the world sounds like them and all their songs translated perfectly blasted out in a festival environment. Let’s hope a new System Of A Down album is on the way soon but in the meantime, we are more than happy to listen to their impressive backlog.

Saturday 10th June

British rap metallers Hacktivist did a great job of opening day two of the festival on the main stage, managing to draw a good crowd and injected some high energy into their early 11 am slot, demonstrating just why they earnt their spot there.


Creeper draws in an even bigger crowd, highlighting that putting them on the main stage was a wise decision with their goth-tinged punk. They take to the stage ahead of their idols AFI. They had good crowd participation, with lots of swaying arms, singing and applause. Definitely a successful main stage debut to be proud of. They offered something a bit different and refreshing with nice powerful live dual vocals from frontman Will Gould and keyboardist/vocalist Hannah Greenwood and a largely fun uplifting sound, which included songs such as ‘Black Rain’, ‘Misery’ and ‘Hiding With Boys’, before ending on a powerful emotive ‘I Choose To Live’, giving a motivational talk about living life instead of in fear, in light of the recent tragic terrorist events in the UK.

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Everyone’s favourite pirate metallers Alestorm took to the second stage to play their first ever set at Download, bringing in a large crowd, most of whom were suitable dressed for the occasion, clad in their best pirate outfits. They played all their best party anthems, such as ‘Drink’ and the popular ‘Shipwrecked’. Most of their songs are about drinking, which was perfect for a sunny Saturday afternoon festival vibe. They also treated us to some new songs from their latest album ‘No Grave But The Sea’, including self-titled song ‘Alestorm’, the excellent ‘Mexico’ and their most hilarious and ridiculous offering to date ‘Fucked With An Anchor’ which provided many laughs and lots of fun, with everyone comically shouting as one the lyrics, “Fuck you, you’re a fucking wanker, we’re gonna punch you right in the balls, fuck you, with a fucking anchor, you’re all cunts so fuck you all!”. A definite highlight that won’t be forgotten. Frontman Christopher Bowes later tells us that said “for a brief time we were selling more records than Shikira” with their new album, and asked if anyone had brought or illegally downloaded the album declaring they didn’t care either way. They finish their epic set with their superb cover of Taio Cruz’s ‘Hangover’ which seems fitting. This was a very successful quest for Alestorm and hopefully, we will be seeing them again at Download as a result of this, with their piratical comedic tracks bringing both humour and party vibes, the perfect combination.


American deathcore quintet Suicide Silence took to the Zippo (second) stage next, making for an extreme change of pace and tone, being one of the heaviest bands of the day. They managed to produce some pits and played the likes of the brutal ‘Disengage’ and ‘Conformity’, taken from the latest self-titled album, which was a bit tamer for them, offering up some diversity. However, they seemed to find it hard to build real momentum and therefore didn’t stand out as much as some other bands. This may have been because of the triumphant set Alestorm put on, so in comparison, it seemed a bit bleak and bland.

[2017]_[Download]_[Sarah Koury}59 [Web].jpegPhoto credit: Sarah Koury – Download Festival 2017 (AFI)


Punk rock legends AFI put on a mighty performance which also marked their first time gracing the main stage at Download. For some reason the band don’t play in the UK often, which is a damn shame as they put on a flawless performance, especially with Davey Havok’s exceptional and varied vocals. They stormed through their set, barely without a pause, so managed to play all their hits such as opener ‘Girl’s Not Grey’, the classic ‘The Days Of The Phoenix’ and ‘The Leaving Song Pt II’, before ending on the energetic ‘Miss Murder’. They had great presence, aided largely by Davey, who was alluring and engaging, especially as at one point he looked directly into the camera so only his face was visible on big screen, whilst passionately singing and baring his soul and getting up close and personal for the crowds. A very powerful non-stop set.

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Photo credit: Ben Gibson – Download Festival 2017 (A Day To Remember)


Florida rockers A Day To Remember have come a long way earning the main stage slot before headliners Biffy Clyro. They make an interesting comical entrance with a voice pretending to be the actual stage talking. As you would expect they draw a large turnout and their catchy anthems cause many to crowd surf and singalong. The open with well-known hit ‘All I Want’, and go on to play other popular songs ‘Right Back At It Again’, new song ‘Naivety’ which is made all the better, as the band kindly decide to throw out free t-shirts to the crowd. They surprised fans with ‘End Of Me’ which they hadn’t played in a while but thought this prestigious appearance was the perfect time to bring it back. Their set saw some of the biggest and best stage productions of the day with well-placed fire and massive beach balls dispersed into the crowd. Saving their best until last, they closed their brilliant and fun set with ‘The Downfall Of Us All’.

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Photo credit: Paulo Nuno – Download Festival 2017 (Wednesday 13)

Ex-Murderdolls frontman Wednesday 13 and co headline and demolish the Dogtooth stage. His solo project sees some of the best and strongest work he has done to date. The tent was absolutely packed with everyone cheering and doing whatever Wednesday commanded. He said it would be a special show and didn’t disappoint, especially as they enlisted the help of performers Pyrohex who added to the dark creepy ambience with their fire show and undead makeup to match the eeriness of the band. Wednesday 13 had a few outfit changes throughout including a sinister mask on the back of his head which again added to all the wonderfully weird imagery. Following the recent release of new album ‘Condolences’, they primarily focused on this and played single ‘What The Night Brings’, ‘Cadaverous’ and ended on title track ‘Condolences’. A killer and unforgettable set that confirmed just why they were headliners.

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Photo credit: Ben Gibson – Download Festival 2017 (Rob Zombie)

Keeping up the dark horror themes, legendary horror-rock filmmaker and musician Rob Zombie headlined the second (Zippo Encore) stage and turned it into his own weird and wonderful world for the duration, with superb visual production, including fire and confetti and theatrics including some alien sex dolls to accompany ‘Well, Everybody’s Fucking in a U.F.O’ with Zombie declaring what a big issue alien abduction in the world is and that not enough people talk about it, which made for a change of subject from the norm. They played all their massive hits such as ‘Living Dead Girl’ and ‘Dragula’ as well as gracing us with some great covers of Ramone’s ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ and Alice Cooper’s ‘School’s Out’ which went down brilliantly with the huge crowd. Zombie was obviously impressed with the crowd and reaction himself declaring that there was “nowhere else like this in the world”.

2017_DownloadFestival_MattEachus_001 [Web].jpegPhoto credit: Matt Eachus – Download Festival 2017 (Biffy Clyro)


I opted for the heavier offering of Rob Zombie who catered for the metal heads on the second stage but I did manage to catch some of the Scottish rock trio and Saturday headliners Biffy Clyro. Despite being an interesting and perhaps slightly controversial headliner choice, they pulled in a massive crowd and played all their best hits, with brilliant stage production and pyrotechnics, before ending on an epic firework display. I think it’s safe to say they won everyone over and completed their first ever Download headliner slot with style.

 

Sunday 11th June

The first act of the day for me was heavy metallers Orange Goblin from London who had an early slot on the mainstage, but despite this, they had a decent turnout considering and delivered a belting set which ended on the massive ‘Red Tide Rising’.


Melodic extreme metal act In Flames from Sweden had the crowd clapping in anticipation before the emerged on the main stage and later chanted their name in appreciation. Although their music may be serious, lead vocalist Anders Fridén has quite the sense of humour and in between songs he made the crowd laugh with his dismay at the lack of beer they were supplied which he clearly was not impressed with. They end with the crushing ‘Take This Life’ to the joy of fans.

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One of the highlights of the whole weekend was glam rock masters Steel Panther with their crude, hilarious and debaucherous antics, which had the vast crowd laughing immensely throughout. You get two for one with them, as the deliver a comedy show just as much as they put on a brilliant rock show. Some particular notable comedic moments were when the band claimed that other bands were trying to sabotage their setup as they are intimated by the ‘best band in the world’, their many sex tales and jokes poking fun at bassist Lexxi Foxx. The best thing about the band is yes they are silly and don’t take themselves seriously, but they are damn good musicians also and demonstrate this with all the best and funniest hits such as ‘Just Like Tiger Woods’, ‘Death To All But Metal’, ‘Poontang Boomerang’ and the standout ’17 Girls In A Row’ where the fittingly invited women on stage, so the stage was absolutely packed with ecstatic women posing and dancing with the band which was a brilliant moment. They closed their epic and slapstick set with the super catchy and perfect festival anthem ‘Party All Day’ (Fuck All Night).

Swedish progressive metallers Opeth brought class and sophistication to the second stage, and simply oozed with skill and craftsmanship from the start to the finish whilst delivering classic songs like ‘Ghost Of Perdition’ and ending on ‘Deliverance’. The new title track song from their new album ‘Sorceress’ made for the perfect opener and worked well in the live environment. Mikael Akerfeldt’s vocals impressed, going from sweet and ethereal to sinister and dark. A stunning set, the only downside being how short it seemed and given some of their songs can be on the long side, they didn’t manage to play all the songs you would expect.

2017_DownloadFestival_MattEachus_051 [Web].jpegPhoto credit: Matt Eachus – Download Festival 2017 (Slayer)


American Thrash metal heroes Slayer headline the second stage and get straight to business with a non-stop relentless set. As you can imagine being one of the heavy hitters of extreme metal they brought carnage and immense mosh pits, only like Slayer could. It was a chilling and exciting moment to hear the monstrous classics ‘Reigning Blood’ and ‘Angel Of Death’ blasted out which they saved for the encore.

2017_Download_BenGibson_vaerosmith-9 [Web].jpegPhoto credit: Ben Gibson – Download Festival 2017 (Aerosmith)


So the time came for rock royalty Aerosmith to take to the stage at Donnington for the final time, after many fond memories, with this special performance also marking their last UK show as part of their farewell tour, as a legendary band that have been around impressively for nearly 50 years. They kept the eager crowd waiting, and as the festival neared to an end you saw the full scale of the masses that had descended on the site. They made quite an entrance with a montage video intro accompanied with the dramatic O Fortuna music to show the history of the band and their performances at Donnington over the years. The wait was worth it as they played all their top hits such as ‘Crying’, ‘I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’ which gets the biggest singalong as expected, along with ‘Dude’ (Looks Like A Lady) and of course in the encore they go out on their world known ‘Walk This Way’. Being a band of their magnitude and reputation they were geared up with massive production and visuals to fit each song such as elevator imagery for ‘Love In An Elevator’ and fire engulfing the band on the screens, adding to the grandeur. One thing is for certain Aerosmith will truly be missed.

2017_Download_PauloNuno_0105 [Web].jpegPhoto credit: Paulo Nuno – Download Festival 2017

This was a special year for Download festival celebrating their fifteenth anniversary and the weather was perfect for the occasion, enhancing the experience and atmosphere whilst watching rock and metal’s finest, including witnessing a few goodbyes and debuts, adding to the rich rock history of Donnington Park. The atmosphere was brilliant, with dedicated rockers seeing the festival as ‘home’ and a place to be yourself and enjoy the music old and new. The increased security in light of the recent tragic events in the UK was dealt with professionally and extremely well and everything was smoothly run, making everyone feel safe and they should be highly praised for this. The bands and the festival goers all had a blast and now we all eagerly await Download 2018.

 

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LIVE REVIEW: Turku Saatanalle V continued… 3 months later: BATUSHKA, KORGONTHURUS & WORMWOOD


Turku Saatanalle continued… 3 months later.

By: Serena Solomon / Dark Art Conspiracy


The most anticipated band of Turku Saatanalle V, Batushka, finally made it to Turku along with the homegrown black metalers Korgonthurus who also didn’t make it to their TSV appearance. The double make-up gig also included a much anticipated bonus – hailing from Sweden, melodic black metalers; Wormwood.

At Ravintola Kåren, the venue hosting the gig, it is more typical to find events that involve cloth covered tables and fancy food being held there. Needless to say, when the venue was announced for this gig, I was quite intrigued. The last gig I attended there (or was even remotely interested in attending) was a cover band night hosted by Åbo Akademi’s rock club three years ago. Not only is it rare to see a gig such as this hosted there, the more frequented venues in Turku have a completely different setting and ambiance. Experiencing this kind of gig at Kåren was refreshing in a way, but in other ways, felt off… such as watching Korgonthorus in all their corpsepainted rustednail-covered bracer glory– then looking to the left and seeing a renaissance style mural taking up the entire wall, complete with crystal chandeliers. 

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Despite having to get used to this new atmosphere, the bands played, the people watched headbanged, moshed, and even meditated?

 

 

 

Korgonthurus

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 Upon entering the venue, the curtains were closed (scoff) and doused in red lighting as atmospheric music played in the background (nothing I could recognize).

The curtains were pulled back and the band was in position… which was a bit comical and theatrical, completely out of place in comparison to the simple “walk on” typical for this type of gig. They had a bit of sound difficulty but their performance and the acoustics of the place distracted and the crowd soon relaxed and got into the music.


Their sound was solid for their genre but compared to the other bands playing that night, to me, they were like a base coat for a more intricate design- a solid band to set the mood for something more anticipated and unique.

 

 

 

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Wormwood
The crowd was noticeably more attentive when the curtains opened for Wormwood. The band also, in my opinion, started with one of their strongest songs (
The Universe is Dying) and the crowd was hooked.(4 left)
They, too,had some sound problems but powered through and it didn’t hinder their show a bit. Their presence and sound had that something unique I had been waiting for during Korgonthurus. And similar to the headliners, only having one album, in my opinion played the best songs off the album.

Their energy on stage was infectious and I think my memory of the gig is partially foggy due to my own energy catching up and running around to try to capture it all and enjoy at the same time. My only complaint is that they didn’t play longer! Also to the asshole who kept putting his arm around my waist, fuck you.

 

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Batushka

Initially it was hard to discern when the atmospheric music being played between bands ended, and Batushka’s intro began. But then,the stage hands came to light the candles-enter the frankincense I was hoping for.

That sensory element only certain bands can pull off and an added component that can almost be noticeable if missing.As the candles continued to be lit, one solitary undistorted guitar played the intro to their music to set the mood. Though it is known a large portion of Batushka’s show and stage presence revolves around ritual and symbolism, I couldn’t help but remember someone complaining at Turku Saatanalle, that these days there is more ritual activity happening on stages at such events than actual instrument playing. The person had a point, but I also think many fans of such music appreciate the variety in stage presence and activity on stage embracing and supporting the bands imagery and lyrical themes.

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It also surprised me that some unexpected things happened as well as a few things being left out from what I was expecting after watching some of their live videos online (to get a feel of what was coming). I didn’t think their activities on stage could vary that much but it was, in a way, a good thing that it was a bit unpredictable (for someone who had never seen them before).

Though their faces were covered, the main vocalist successfully portrayed some emotion and somehow translated facial expressions through hand gestures and body language. 8.jpgI could visualize, for example, when he had his hands out towards the crowd a certain way, what kind of facial expression might go with such gesture, which gave a bit more of an idea of at least the mood behind the lyrics (since I could not understand them). The setup of the stage was also interesting to me. Of course, the vocalist/frontman is up front and, to go along with their ritual/mock-religious ceremony theme, was set up behind a podium/alter. The backup vocals had their place somewhat behind and to the side… but three of the four musicians were far far behind, in the shadows, as if they should be heard and not seen. 9.jpg One of them I couldn’t even manage to get a photo of and it wasn’t the drummer. I’m curious about the significance of that.

It was also incredibly interesting to observe the crowd’s reaction and response to their music and show. At some points, the vocalist directed the crowd to “shh”… and they did. 10.jpgOther times, I looked around and saw people with their arms extended and palms out as if truly at some religious ceremony. Others seemed as if they were meditating… eyes closed or open. Feeling and interpreting the music in ways I have never seen at such gigs, as if it was more of a ceremony to them than a metal gig.

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Check out rest of the photos at https://darkartconspiracy.com/concert-photos/

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