Location: Leeuwarden (Netherlands)
The second day of Into The Grave was a long one. The festival camping awoke early as it seems as even before the first band starts the audience arrived with a good amount.
And being the first band of the day Enforced was opening on the Reaper stage. The Americans make a mix of Thrash, Hardcore Punk and Death Metal. The band has formed in 2016 and released two albums so far. The open the show with the energetic “ Hemorrhage” which does not make in impression right away. The early birds are still in the awakening process so it takes some more convincing from the band. Slowly they seem to bring a bit of motion into the field but it is not as wild as it can get yet. A pity, for the guys surely have their moments. Too early, too soon.
Today is the day that a lot of themed bands would come by. The first one is Wind Rose who describe their music as Dwarven Metal. The Italian Power Metal that is behind the theme seem to speak well with the audience that is mainly dressed as either a pirate or an Alestorm t-shirt.
Musically they have a rather simplistic approach, catchiness being the main motor. Refrains with lots of repeating of words, songs that are much alike in the way they are built. They could work on a bit more variety in that. Yet, they seem to bring a cheer to the day, people get into a good mood with a beer in their hands so that is a credit to give to them. Most successful is their song “Diggy Diggy Hole” which is a cover originating from a game.
Sisters of Suffocation is up next and for us its been a while since we came across the band so we were looking forward to see this Dutch formation hitting the stage. Turns out to be one of the highlights of the day!
The Death Metal band has to perform with a stand-in vocalist due to circumstances, but they happen to found one who suits with them quite well. Their energy is contagious, on stage they are rather active and with a lot to see the band makes their songs come alive vibrantly. The band is going to bring a new release to the world this year. “Eradication” is the name and with a show like that it will surely find its way to the audience.
Cobra The Impaler is booked as replacement band for some unfortunate cancelations. And we got to hear that the band is booked for next year as well. Interesting, then this years show must be convincing. The Belgians make Progressive Metalcore and maybe with this genre they are a bit of a stranger on this day. Both musically and performance wise they are not one of extremes and with their modesty it is hard to come across the people who come either for the Thrash or those who enjoy the theatrical bands on the bill today.
Personally, I could appreciate the music the band brings. It has a good built, they have that progressive part of them bringing a lot of tension and have me listening with care to grasp the details in there. But I am also seeing that the guys struggling a bit with the audience who only responds mildly. A bit unlucky that they are on this day I think, because with some more bands around that are in their line of sound they would have had a more enthusiastic response. Let’s see what next year will bring then.
Heavy Metal formation Night Demon has their roots in USA. The guys are not super active with releasing albums, but have a bunch of singles on hand after their latest one from 2017. What this band is king at is the interaction with the audience. Not in its most obvious way but vocalist Jarvis is a person that you simply listen to when he takes word. A little surprise from them as well, Golden Earring’s “Radar Love” is played and that instantly hits a good spot. There the band made a good choice. Covers are a thing that the band gets joy out of as it seems but their own material falls in line with it. Surely, Night Demon is not the biggest surprise today but they played an entertaining set and leave the audience with a smile on their faces.
Flotsam and Jetsam have been playing at Into The Grave several times already and it seems like the guys are pleased to be back again. Walking around on stage a bit playing their Thrash while the sun is shining. The band has quite a discography to choose from and so they found a nice selection here today. “Suffer The Masses” for example, which seems to be well appreciated. Some crowdsurfers appear and that means the party is on. With acknowledgment of this from frontman Eric they keep the groove going on and when the band introduces some newer material it shows again that after many years the band does not bore us at all. Until the next one!
If you were coming some Brutal Death Metal then Ingested was there for you. And I think they may have had the wildest mosh pit going on today in front of the Reaper stage. The British formation Ingested has not much trouble in setting things in motion. Even a circle pit is not too much asked. And understandable. Braided front man Jay Evans brings in a voice that is powerful but when those two guitarists are laying their work onto it, making it brutal and give it the character it has. Blasting some more onto it and there is the powerful formula of Ingested.
Orange Goblin have been seen before at this stage and with a remark at the crooked tower at the festival area he surely makes the audience laugh. Stoner Metal, a good groove and a bit of humor is what we got to know them from and so we got to see them like that again. The band is therefore maybe not bringing us the most surprising act of the day, but simply a feel good set to enjoy in the sun.
With songs like “Made of Rats” the band shows themselves to be good entertainers but it seems that the newer material is getting most people on board. Their last studio release is from 2018 so it may not be that new, but still. As always, Orange Goblin is one that you can easily have at a day even if you are not to much into their genre. An entertaining set from these guys.
Midnight was playing on the Reaper stage and got into our top 3 fast. The band plays Black/Speed metal since 2003 and has released their new album “Let There Be Witchery” in March this year. Black ‘n Roll as they describe it themselves.
Masked the guys enter the stage, no sense of identity and with an energetic punk vibe they perform their shows. Jumping around a bit, having a way of performing that makes it very vibrant. The evil edge around the songs they have are interesting to watch. Solo’s are often giving a slight bit more power to the whole, but when the three are at one altogether they come out strongest. Probably the most surprising act of the day.
From Midnight’s evil we get to Dark Funeral. The Black Metal giants from Sweden have released a new album earlier this year and with a a stage full of black and white guys it is quite a change.
They aren’t the most energetic, the music is sometimes a bit slow but ready to roll over you. Powerful, but not making much of an imprint right away. It takes a couple of songs to get into but when the Power Metal fans are already queueing for their favorites it is obvious that there is not much motion.
Luckily there are some people that enjoy Dark Funeral here today but it does not look like they get the credits they deserve. When the band throws in some of their older material they are strongest. It was a decent show but at the wrong time, for the wrong audience.
The Dutch Heidevolk was a size too large for the Reaper stage they were programmed to play. And that I mean in multiple ways. First… they have a lot of people in the band and it got cozy there at the Reaper stage. Second, much more important… there was a huge crowd gathering to see them. Meaning that a lot of people were standing till far back watching these guys.
With their Folk they have toured internationally a lot so it is no surprise that people came to see them. Even more surprising the guys weren’t at the mainstage is the fact that they always get the crowd going. Horns in the air and myths and saga’s to enjoy.
Hits like “Saksenland” and “Brittania” are most remarkable and people are crowdsurfing and moshing vigorously. We can’t leave these guys thinking… why not the mainstage.
Gloryhammer is one of the bands today where Christopher Bowes plays with and where fans have eagerly waited for. The Scottish formation saw their vocalist leave the band last year but a replacement was found fast. The new guy, Sozos Michael, goes under the name of Angus McFife V: and is eager to pick up the hammer. The massive one he walks around with on the stage. The theater of this band lives on as always.
There has not been a new album with Angus yet but the older tracks are well known and the audience gives the band a grand welcome with enthusiasm, crowd surfing and singing along. A colorful experience that is not unspoken for Gloryhammer is really one of those bands that divides the audience. A lot of haters as much as lovers. Must be said, the guy know how to put up a show.
Those who are not into the Power Metal have gathered early for Destruction at the Reaper stage. Some German Thrash is a good one to counter that and with Destruction you get to see a band that is around for almost 40 years. They never really stopped releasing material during those years, so they have an extended discography to choose from. And the choices the band makes are going through the whole period of existence. Some of their oldest songs pass by. From “Nailed To The Cross” to “Repent Your Sins” and of course “Diabolical”, which is taken from their latest release that got out in April.
The band’s raw approach is suiting well with the Thrash fans here tonight. The band is such an opposite from what we just saw on the main stage, modest on performing and having the focus on the music being played tight as possible. What the two have in common is how people enjoy it. The crowd surfing, cheering, headbanging is there altogether. How nice that at a festival like this such different bands have their spot.
Alestorm is slowly becoming one of the most controversial bands to play at this festival. Haters spend their time responding to every message on the festivals socials to share their disgust and lovers are massbuying pirate outfits and inflatable products to bring on the party. Let’s be fair… The amount of Alestorm T-shirts on the festivalgrounds was large, the band surely brought people to the festival. And in times like this were A lot of catch-up events are taking place, prizes going up for everything, a festival simply needs to have bands that guarantee people buying tickets.
And must be said… a giant duck on the stage of a metal festival does bring something cheerful to the field. Bowes and co are bringing their pirate themed songs with full joy and it is clear that the atmosphere is good amongst the people who stuck around, but regarding the band is really splitting up the audience the part that did not like them most likely have left for an after party already. \and the rest takes up another beer and sings along to “Keelhauled” or “Tortuga” or one of the many singalongs the band has produced through the years.