Once every year, the Dynamo at Eindhoven turns into blast- and d-beat heaven for a wide range of grinders, punks, metalfans and some homeless people to get their fill of extreme and raw music. Taking two days, with over 30 bands playing on two stages, Bloodshed Fest always proves to be one of the leading indoor festivals in the wonderful world of grindcore. Catching and covering all of the bands for this review was impossible, but read on to see what this year’s edition had to offer.
Due to some bands cancelling and some timetable changes, the first band I caught on the main stage was Slavebreed. Coming over all the way from Athens, these guys had the difficult task to open up for a slightly empty stage. But within a few minutes, their crust spiced grindcore attracted quite some viewers, and the first moshpit wasn’t far away. The singer looked amused by the fact that more and more people joined in moshing, and this gave the band a boost as they started playing a little faster and more enthusiastic. Not bad at all for the first band of the day!
Next up were Matka Teresa from the Netherlands to grind things up in the basement stage. Even though Friday was way less crowded than Saturday, and Matka Teresa were one of the first bands to play in the basement, it was already scorchingly hot and humid down there. Luckily, this didn’t keep Matka Teresa from playing a pretty intense (and short) show. The mix of grindcore and crust with some powerviolence parts was a nice soundtrack to sweating things up in the basement. Plus, their singer looked genuinely pissed off, which made the overall experience a lot more convincing.
Back to the main stage, to see French grindcore veterans Blockheads tear up anything within their reach. I had never heard from them before, which is something that struck me as surprising after it only took me five seconds of their first song to realize that this might be one of the best grindcore bands of the festival. The sheer brutality and rawness of the gig was almost second to none, and the energetic stage show was a lot of fun to watch. Whenever you need to convince someone that grindcore is more than malnourished dog-owners ripping off Discharge or guys with a dubious morale singing about porn, you should bring them to a Blockheads show!
After some intensive record browsing at the distros, some food and drinks (and unfortunately just missing Blood I Bleed by a few minutes), I caught Gadget at the main stage. They played some pretty intense Swedish styled grindcore, but unfortunately it didn’t really stay interesting long enough to see all of their gig. It might be a stupid remark when reviewing a grindcore band at a grindcore festival, but the show just didn’t have enough variation to keep it from getting a bit boring. Not that it was bad either, but compared to Blockheads or Nauseau, Gadget was just a bit subpar.
After Gadget it was time to see Dead In The Dirt play around 15 minutes of hateful hardcore. The basement was packed and everyone seemed to enjoy their downtuned mix of hardcore and slow, heavy riffs. Even though they are labelled “Entombedcore” they have a sound and face of their own, and the 15 minutes flew by in no time.
Last band of the day was Nausea, the legendary (pre-Terrorizer) grind/hardcore pioneers from California. While most people in the audience were getting intoxicated by whatever means, Nausea played a really tight set consisting of their own material and some classic Terrorizer tracks like Fear of Napalm and After World Obliteration. Nausea definitely is a band that really lives up to their cult status, unlike some other band which played Saturday, which I’ll discuss later on. To top this gig off, there was a slightly inebriated crust making himself comfy at the stage, and falling asleep between the monitor speakers for about ten minutes. And oh, did I mention the stagediver who went headfirst into the floor? Rock n roll!
For some hangovers there’s only one working cure: more drinking and grindcore. Luckily the Saturday of Bloodshed Fest had enough of both to offer, starting off in the basement with Shoot The Bastard from Leeds. Consisting of three of the same members as The Afternoon Gentlemen, the music sounded much alike TAG, maybe only a bit less schizophrenic and more hardcore. The vocals of Mick and Elliot were the perfect Infest/powerviolence screams, and all members of the audience tried to mosh and scream their hangover away. Shoot The Bastard also did a really good Infest cover set at the afterparty, which was also a perfect way to close off a weekend of grind!
After a well-needed breakfast, some walking around and seeing parts of Shining, Human Error and Suffering Quota, the next band I tried to catch was Deathrite. I had listened to their demo a few times, and like Dead In The Dirt, they seemed like a pretty good hardcore band with some Entombed/Repulsion influences. Unfortunately, after a few songs they became extremely predictable and boring. I now sort of understand why some people jokingly call bands like these “Entombedcore”, because some of these bands don’t get much further than standard grind/crust with a HM2-like sound and a sort of trendy image. The same went for The Secret, of whom I expected a lot, but they also failed to convince me in any way.
Next up were Undergang, the zombie death metal from Kill Town (that’s Copenhagen for us mortals) at the main stage. I was really looking forward to seeing them play some ultra slow and heavy death metal in the vein of Rottrevore and (early) Grave between all the furious high-speed grindcore. These guys really killed it! They have become a bit “less sloppy” since the first time I saw them play in Dynamo a couple of years ago, but the band still brings forth a putrid and bludgeoning slab of old-school death metal that many people could learn from. The singing style of Torturdod could be compared to Sepultura’s “The Curse” and the earlier mentioned Rottrevore, which he even maintained during the announcing of the (all Danish) song titles. Overall one of the best shows of the festival!
After Undergang’s slow death metal it was time to speed things up with The Afternoon Gentlemen in the basement stage. I already saw them play at an almost empty Little Devil a few years ago, and now the basement was packed with people trying to catch their own brand of “power joogle pogger violence”. They played a really fierce bunch of fast and intense songs that got a big moshpit going that almost got my nose broken. The band members seemed to have a really good time as well, and all together this was one of the best shows as well.
Following The Afternoon Gentlemen, Chapel of Disease started playing old-school death metal at the main stage. Less slow and decaying as Undergang, and more in the vein of early Pestilence and Asphyx. It was cool to see another band playing something different than grind/crust, although the bad sound really ruined the gig. I could only hear half of the riffs, and most of the leads and solos were inaudible. I could see the guitar players shred out some nice solos, but I had to imagine what they sounded like. I hope to see them again someday, but with a more decent sound.
I have a warm heart for anything that sounds (even remotely) like Motörhead. So it may come as no surprise that I was pretty eager to see Speedwolf play at the festival. Even though they are mainly influenced by Motörhead, they still manage to have their own sound. The singer looked a bit tired (or drunk, who knows), but the guitar players and especially the really skilled drummer made a big party of the show. The audience seemed to have a good time as well, as there were quite a few people that came for the Speedwolf gig only.
After some walking and talking and getting disappointed by The Secret, I checked out Anatomia at the main stage. It wouldn’t surprise me if this was the first band with a keyboard player ever to hit the stage at the Bloodshed fest. When they started playing, I instantly added Anatomia next to Nocturnus on the list of the only death metal bands that don’t sound like shit with keys. Anatomia played old-school death metal mainly inspired by the likes of (early) Autopsy, Winter and Nihilist. The guitar sound was heavy as tits and the riffs were really memorable as well. The keys added a sort of eerie horror movie soundtrack vibe to the music, instead of plastering the songs with childish melodies. They weren’t as dirty as Undergang, but they made a really good impression. And to top it off, they’re from Japan. They seem to know how to play some good metal over there!
The last band for me this day were British legends Extreme Noise Terror. Even though they have some really decent records, don’t bother going to one of their shows. You could spend your time better knitting a sweater, feeding homeless people or visiting a distant relative, because Extreme Noise Terror is really terrible live. Not only the sound was bad, but also pretty much everyone who tried to play an instrument failed. The two singers also made a big mess of their vocal dutie because you could not hear a single word of what they tried to sing. Maybe they had a bad day, but this just didn’t sound anything like the legendary band I expected to see.
So much for this year's edition! Needless to say, I had a blast (insert drum roll here). Everything was well organized, most of the bands kicked ass, and the food and drinks were really fine as well. I do hope that the organization continues the course they set at Saturday, with some other related genres next to d-beat/grind because some variation at a festival like this is really needed. Some bands for next year's edition will be announced in December, so stay tuned!