Location: Steenwijk (Netherlands)
It has been a while, Stonehenge was canceled due to the pandemic just like the majority of the events during that time. But when we arrived in Steenwijk it was clear that people were looking forward to be back again.
The festival opens their doors early, but due to a long commute disrupted by local protests we arrived around noon. The first band we got to see was Helslave. At these hours, the bands play only twenty minutes, which leaves us with a short introduction to these. Helslave is coming all the way from Italy. A long ride away. Announced to have a good bass intro they were starting their show well. Their singer being quite energetic and powerful while the rest of the band is a bit more modest in their performance. In the short time they have they do gather our interest and it is clear the set could have been a bit longer when it was up to us.
On the other stage it was Foetal Juice that played their set a bit more brutal. Humour, gore and extremity are coming out of them. The British formation takes it raw and has a small moshpit going on at the early hours of the festival. So obviously they are much appreciated by the audience. If we look at what we get we must admit that the band does not really bring a surprising sound though, it is recognizable. But when it is brought with enough passion, which they do, it surely hits off.
Abrupt Demise are the locals here today. They have been around for 10 years and that we have seen them around may not be too strange as their singer is organizing the festival today. What we see is a band that likes to have a good connection with their audience. They put themselves quite upfront at the stage and cheered on by the fans and friends around they are right in their element. Special mention for guitarist Ardy de Jong, which surprises us with his playing as well as performance. The band’s debut “The Pleasure to Kill and Grind” came out in 2020 and now it is time for everyone to hear it here at their hometown at the mainstage of the festival.
With Disquiet we go a bit more to the Thrash side and the last couple years we came across them multiple times, becoming one of our local tips to talk about. So, the guys were on our shortlist today, for whatever that means while there are two stages where on either one of them someone is always playing. The melodic side of them came forward quite well which makes it easy to get onboard regardless the short set. A good portion of audience seem to enjoy them as well. It helps that they seem the most enthusiastic band we have seen so far today. Disquiet may have outgrown this time slot a bit though. A good show.
After Disquiet we get to see a band that is a bit more strange at this specific festival. Jurassic Park they are called, and they are giving tribute to the Rock and Roll era. They certainly struggle a bit to get the attention from their audience, their liking. They are eager and give a 110% as it seems. The response is perhaps a bit less than they deserve. The rockers are bringing in some good riffs, a well thought performance where they bring in some show elements as well. Maybe not the best response they hoped for, but it is not that the audience completely disapproved of them. Just probably worked better in a different environment.
One of the good things about being at Stonehenge is that a lot of people show up early at the day already to see also the earliest bands play. And that helps Burial a bit today. They are announced as being a bit if a comeback kid and looking at their discography they had some periods of activity that not always resulted in releases. Unfortunately, we cannot say we enjoyed this band a lot. We must be honest though; the sound was a bit boring and standard. The show also not standing out too much and the overall response from the audience was not a lot either. Not all 30 bands on a day can be a winner. Left us with a little bit of time to explore the food options. They had some decent spareribs for example.
How different is Cytotoxin who enters the mainstage with a barrel of ‘chemicals’. It appears that the Germans described themselves as ‘Chernobyl Death Metal’ and that this includes that they bring out a great exhibition of showmanship. “ Nuklearth” came out in 2020 and with the songs they play here today they show to have also can bring the skills in. Guitars are leading the sound but keep it in balance with everything else there is. Their way of asking for a circle pit is perhaps the one that brought a big smile onto our faces and the guys got what they wanted. The guys had 25 minutes to fill but if they had a double slot they would still have out attention. One to watch.
Bodyfarm is a Dutch formation that has been around since 2009. The band is touring actively and crossed the path of many metalfan out there already. Their latest album “Dreadlord” dates back to 2019. Here at Stonehenge they leave no time go to waste to lay out an enormous wall of sound over their audience. Its loud and brutal. The band let their music have its impact and does not need a lot of extra show beyond it. A contrast with the previous act but nevertheless effective. With a charismatic frontman they manage to get some appreciation of the Stonehenge visitor today.
Hideous Divinity we have seen last at the Amsterdam Metal Fest some years ago where the sweaty metal nights energized the Amsterdam nightlife scene. Today they are at Steenwijk they have a bit more trouble to get people going. The Technical approach the band takes needs some time to find the audience. But eventually they seem to have the audience on their hands a bit. During the pandemic the band just had some small releases so perhaps there is a new full length ahead from them.
When Gutalax enters the stage you can not have missed out on the atmosphere being changed into some sort of Metal Beach party. Inflatable objects everywhere, confetti, balloons and such. And party is what the whole burst into from the first seconds of their set. There is Disco and Mosh, Grindcore and Czech people in white suits. It is amusing and over the top. Where a band like Alestorm is having a different genre it has its similarities with this entertainment except perhaps that the execution of it all is a big win for Gutalax.
Consolation is a Dutch formation that has a calmer approach than the craziness of Gutalax. The guys formed in 1989 and they have not a whole lot of releases on their name, the last one being from 1998. After some years of inactivity, they are now back together playing their set. The show itself was quite straightforward, the band played their tracks with some enthusiasm and some fans seem to be around appreciating the classics passing by, but they seem to have some work to do in convincing the mass.
The band Lik had to cancel their appearance at Stonehenge at a rather late point, but it was Cryptosis which was eager to take their spot here today. Recently we saw the band also at Into The Grave Festival and today they are here with their screens and visuals to bring some progressive Thrash to the field. Although perhaps a bit different than expected for many the guys seem to hit it off today and with vocalist Laurens quite upfront, they have a charismatic person to take the spotlight. But the guys are benefiting most from the mix of them all and their visuals, adding just a bit more to the show. A good stand-in we would say.
Severe Torture is a guest we have seen around here several times. They have their base in Boxtel (NL) and are finding their way to the scene for 25 years already. The last couple of years there were not too many releases on their name but this year a new EP came out. It is called “Fisting The Sockets” and of course we got to hear some of it here today. Their sound is loud and, in your face, brutal and simply unavoidable here today. Fast guitar riffs are falling all over you and the band let not time go to waste. They played 35 minutes and it feels like every second of that was filled twice, worth the time to spend!
It has been a while since we saw Sinister so we were looking forward to see them here today. A long list of releases is on their name and also during the pandemic it did not remain quiet around. Since their last full length album “Deformation Of The Holy Realm” in 2020 they had a boxed set and a compilation to follow that. Their set today was quite diverse looking at the different tracks they chose and with much material on hands you have the option to do so. Some line-up changes have taken place in the last couple of years but they seem strong as ever. Good to see them crossing our path again.
Benighted has lot of eager fans gathered. The French formation has some years on the counter and now the time to tour is back they have an album from 2020 that is ready to be presented. “Obscene Repressed” is scoring well as it seems and with some good moshpit going early in their set it seems the guys have not too much trouble getting the fans on board. Most remarkable on their set must be the powerful vocals. An impressive sound coming from that throat and brought with the right balance with guitars they have got a good set performed. Interesting one
Beheaded was next and their show was a bit unfortunate. The band had soundissues and struggled a lot with that. All the way from Malta and then having this going on is not what they had in mind obviously but it seems they did not let it spoil their show too much. As it was time to get something to eat we left them at
When we returned to see Malevolent Creation we were getting excited. The band is around for many years and currently on an anniversary tour for their second album “Retribution”, which was released 30 years ago. The guys are established at the same year as your reviewer which makes us smile to realize. Lots of changes in the lineup however. Today the band is yet ready to impress the audience. A calm approach with the focus on their playing without extra. They don t need it. Skillfully they play their classics and did a good job at that.
The American Misery Index was ready to put up a show as well. At first sight it did not look like the guys enjoyed playing their show today but simply went to the routines. No enthusiasm was to be found. A bit disappointing. But when you are Misery Index the autopilot is not doing a bad job either. And where the guys are giving us some good riffs here today. It did not result in a lot of movement on the festivalground but the show was still interesting to see.
Vader had some soundissues as well and it seemed to annoy frontman Piotr to a level that we felt frightened for the soundguy who tried to fix it. Luckily after the first song that annoyance was purely channeled into their music having these powerful tracks brought alive with a passion that we had not seen here before today. Its hard to stand ground during their set and with livid memories to a bruised rib after a Vader gig in Baroeg some years ago your reporter decided to stand a bitmore in the back. The Polish once again showed they live up to their reputation and was one of the highlights today.
Suffocation is also one with a lot of history. Founded in 1988 the band released eight full length albums through the years, the last one dating back to 2021. A new vocalist is onboard since 2019 and we realized the pandemic made that we have not really seen him around yet. Something new to see and hear and it seems like he is a good fit to the band. The band skillfully goes through their classics and although we know that Suffocation never really disappoints it is good to see they reconfirming themselves to be a stable factor in the Death Metal scene.
Marduk came by to bring some filthy Swedish Black Metal. Raw as we know them. The band is kind of living of a reputation of their live shows, last two albums were live albums for example and many of their releases are taken from live shows. But a live recording does not beat seeing the band come to stage in front of you where you feel the heaviness of Morgan’s guitars and the abuse coming from Mortuus his throat.
Whether it is “The Hangman of Prague” or “Materialized in Stone” the band lets this demolish you. A heavy sound here to day, an impressive show that with its intensity reaches the audience well.
The last band of the night was Samael. With the Industrial touch to their music they are a bit of on outcast here tonight but it seems that the majority of the people stuck around to see them. Their album “Hegemony” dates back to 2017 and so far we have mainly seen singles come from them, but the band has something coming up. A tour to celebrate one of the older albums, so that is what the guys are giving us today as well. Yet a song like “Black Supremacy” at the end of their set is scoring a lot as well.
The set feels short and before you know it is over again. These Swiss guys return in September but for Stonehenge we will need to wait another year. Ah well, as long as it is only a year we are served faster than last time.
20-05-2023 Achterhoeks Metalfest
12-04-2023 Dead By Wednesday (GALLERY)