Complexity Fest kicked off their sophomore edition Saturday the 25th of February. The organization again came up with a varied line-up of bands, but all with a technical component one way or an other. Metalrage was also present this edition after a very positive experience in 2016. Due to personal circumstances we arrived after the first few bands, so the venue was quite busy already.
Gorod was the first band that we witnessed. Gorod plays a technical version on death metal, with some small jazz influences in their songs and also some variation on deathcore in their sound. A good sound is very important for the performance of a death metal band. Without a good sound all nuances get lost and it is basically a wall of sound where in the meanwhile somebody screams some inaudible words. Luckily the sound in Het Patronaat was quite well during the whole festival. It also helps that, because of the jazzy intermezzos, the sparse clean singing and core-like grooves that Gorod has in their sound, the sound breathes a bit more so the various numbers are well distinguishable. While the music of Gorod is normally not my cup of tea, their performance was highly enjoyable, which has mainly to do with the enthusiast performance of Julien Deyres. He was clearly having a blast on stage and his enthusiasm transferred seamlessly to the audience. A nice way to kick off Complexityfest!
After Gorod we went on to the smallest stage of the festival to witness fellow Frenchmen Kadinja. A band totally unknown to me, but after listening some Youtube snippets I was intrigued enough to go and watch them and leave Bossk for what they are. The performance was quite okay, although not good enough to keep my attention focused on the stage the whole time. Their version of Djent is quite straightforward and not something new. Well executed, but not a performance that really stuck with me.
Agent Fresco was the third band we witnessed. While my Portuguese companions made some jokes on the “fresh agent” name of the band (fresco is seemingly fresh in Portuguese), we witnessed a very professional performance. The sound was crisp and the performance to the letter. The songs showed a lot of variety with a good balance between heavy and atmospheric. The only drawback was the performance of vocalist Arnor Dan Arnarson. He was staring to the ceiling or sides of the stage a bit too much to my liking, shying away from eye contact with the public completely. A bit strange for a performer to basically completely ignore your audience. Anxiety, shyness or arrogance? I don’t have a clue, but weird it was. Besides this detail, I thoroughly enjoyed the performance and Agent Fresco rightfully is mentioned as one of the bands too watch.
We witnessed a little bit of Napoleon and it seemed that some part of the public was really enjoying it with even some hardcore dancing going on. They have one of the more accessible sounds of all the bands performing that day and has more than average –core influences incorporated in their sound. Good to also hear some less progressive bands, since all the complicated stuff can grow wary on your ears. Due to the need of drinks and food (we’re still human), we only watched this band for a bit, but what they showed on stage was a lot of energy and fun.
German tech-death masters Obscura were the next to watch. Their tech-death has a lot of nuances when listening to them on record and I was wondering if these technical details will be highlighted during their gig. I must say I was a bit disappointed, it was a really straightforward performance with a very sympathetic Steffen Kummerer, but for the non-Obscura listener it seemed that a few songs just blended too much with each other, as if you were listening to one song. To be frank it bored me a lot and I left to get a good spot to watch Exist Immortal.
Exist Immortal was one of the bands I was looking forward to the most of this evening. Their album ‘Breathe’ has had some glowing reviews throughout the net, so they got my attention. I must say they didn’t disappoint at all. Despite the small stage they had to play (the smallest of the venue), they really showed some excellent musicianship and also performance wise it was spot on. The vocalist showed his reach in the slower and the more heavier work and also the drumwork and guitar play was tight. Really good performance, I hope these guys will get their break and will be picked up by more people.
Headliner of this evening was rightfully so Ihsahn. He played an excellent mixture of really heavy black metal stuff and more jazzy and progressive lighter work. His vocal delivery in both was remarkable. The switch between vocal styles seemed completely effortlessly and his laidback, friendly way of addressing the crowd was very pleasant. Of course with such a backing band as Ihsahn has it is almost “easy” to translate those difficult songs from record to a live situation. What are those guys extremely talented! The music of Ihsahn is not really something I will listen to when I am at home or in the car, but I can appreciate it for the musicianship that it shows. That they are also capable of bringing it live is a testament to the musicians involved. The audience was really digging the performance, so it seems that Complexity Fest had a winner with Ihsahn.
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