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Neurotic Deathfest 2008 - Europe’s premiere indoor death metal festival expanded

Holland’s Neurotic Deathfest is Europe’s premier indoor death metal festival and is until now still growing bigger with every edition. In 2004 and 2005 it was held in the Baroeg in Rotterdam, in 2006 and 2007 in the Dynamo club in Eindhoven and now, in 2008, they moved to the three-hall venue 013 in Tilburg. In two days, metalheads from all over Europe came to be treated with shows from the world’s greatest death metal bands while boozing till a coma. Of course Metalrage was present; DemonDust, Sledgehammer Messiah and I on both days and Carn on Saturday only. Read our live reviews underneath!

Stage explanation:
Neurotic Stage = Dommelsch Zaal
Relapse Stage = Kleine Zaal
Terrorizer Stage = Batcave

Friday May 30th

Hour Of Penance
(Relapse Stage)

Before I start my Hour Of Penance review, I’d like to remind you of last year’s NDF, when the French band Kronos made its appearance. Kronos released with The Hellenic Terror my favourite album at that time, which even ended up at no. 1 in my year list. My current favourite album of 2008 is The Vile Conception by no other then Hour Of Penance. Kronos delivered a top-notch performance last year, so my expectations for Hour Of Penance were, of course, high. The fact that they had to open the festival didn’t lower singer Francesco Paoli’s nerves and I must say that the sound wasn’t optimal at the beginning, but fortunately that got solved pretty early on - also due to top class death metal drummer Mauro Mercurio. Hour Of Penance’s set seemed to be liked by the attending people quite soon and the first pit was started, while Pauli even decided to dive into the public. Conclusion; except for the first few songs a great brutal kick off for this festival! (Mindsaver)

(Neurotic Stage)
After Hour Of Penance we went to see Exmortem at the Neurotic Stage. We decided to watch the show from a distance, which brought a complete different atmosphere due to the big hall. These long-time running Danish death metallers had a lot of space on stage, but were nonetheless all standing still with their muscular postures (similar to the looks of Illdisposed). Mid-tempo death with intense outbursts every now and then was unleashed with a clear sound that promised a lot for the bands to follow. I’d say a perfect opener for the main stage. (Mindsaver)

(Relapse Stage)
Hate from Poland was another personal favourite of me playing here tonight. Scheduled on the small stage were I’d expected them to be at their best, they unfortunately weren’t as good as I hoped. Next to the fact that their death metal probably isn’t suited for a festival like this - their sound is in my opinion to mechanical and tight comparable to the brutality of the other bands - they sure missed their second guitar player who wasn’t able to play due to a broken arm. Also the drum sound was a disappointment since the toms and cymbals weren’t well audible. A bummer ‘cause I was really looking forward to see this band. (Mindsaver)

Aborted (Neurotic Stage)
Every death metalhead should know by now that Aborted always has an excellent live performance. Today they proved that they can be as convincing on the biggest stage of the 013 as they are on smaller stages. With a mega backdrop they were well prepared as well. Aborted was without a doubt the most melodic and least ‘true’ death metal of the entire festival. One song of the coming record Strychnine.213 was played, which continues the line of growing dynamics by more and more melody. It’s praiseworthy that they turned a ‘true’ death metal festival into a seething pit with this ‘no-so-true’-death metal-sound. (Sledgehammer Messiah)

Dying Fetus
(Neutotic Stage)
It had been a while since I last saw the death metal monster Dying Fetus in action, and with their la
test effort War Of Attrition appealing to me as hell I was curious to their show. Again the band appeared in a different line-up, with a different drummer than last time and only one guitarist (of course being the sole remaining original member John Gallagher). Nevertheless they played an utterly tight and grooving set which pleased me a lot. Luckily the band didn’t play a too long set, because they’re almost statue-like performance becomes quite boring after a short while, as happened to me on their previous tour. Overall a very nice and tight show with a lot of songs from the last album and their legendary Destroy The Opposition record. (DemonDust)

(Relapse Stage)
After witnessing Coldworkers’ European tour just after the release of their debut in 2006 I wasn’t really impressed. Instrumentally everything was fine and the songs were good as well, but the miserable presentation of the singer dragged the band down. It was too bad that his vocal capabilities didn’t compensate that; it consisted of way too monotone screaming. Today you could see that he was more experienced and had a better presentation, still nothing spectacular though. Musically he didn’t grow a bit. What a shame, because the rest of the band was again tight as hell with good new material from Rotting Paradise. When are they gonna get a new singer? (Sledgehammer Messiah)

Severe Torture
(Relapse Stage)
Due to - for me - incomprehensible reasons I was sitting at the balcony watching asses walking by, while Dutch brutal death metal masters Severe Torture played a special set that only consisted of songs from their first two albums, Feasting On Blood and Misanthropic Carnage. The sound was as usual extremely brutal but as said, I haven’t seen anything of it. Last thing I heard though was that the hall was unridable at a certain point, so that is of course a good thing. (Mindsaver)

(Neurotic Stage)
Suffocation started out brutal, just as any other band on this festival. It was only somewhere in the middle of the set that the true significant brutal soul of Suffocation showed itself and as one of the oldest death metal bands kicked the others’ ass. Because yes ladies and gentleman (wait a minute…we can just as well leave the ladies out, since their numbers on this festival were negligible) after 18 years these chaps still ahead of millions of bands. Frank Mullen’s charismatic hardcore and mega-active performance is a lust to see, and how many people in the audience did copy ‘the hand’?! Besides, how many high-level ultra blasting black drummers are there?! That makes this band rule supreme, permanently. (Sledgehammer Messiah)

(Terrorizer Stage)
Luckily Suffocation wasn’t very impressive at the time that Benighted begun their set, so it wasn’t really hard to walk away and go check out these sick French on the smallest stage of the 013, the Batcave. During their half an hour of playtime they completely destroyed the hall with the most brutal set you could imagine, this was deathgrind at its best! Nemesis, Collapse, Identisick, Mourning Affliction, Slut, Grind Wit and Foetus all passed by and were played with a lot of enthusiasm by the band, of which both the singer and bassist player took a dive above the attending heads. Add fans that helped the singer out with screaming/grunting and a moshpit and you’ve got an excellent party. Highlight! (Mindsaver)

Blood Red Throne
(Relapse Stage)
While it was getting late and my state of preparedness getting low, I still had to check out Norwegian’s Blood Red Throne. To keep it short; Blood Red Throne delivered a superb death metal performance and showed that they deserved to headlining slot of the small stage. Great grooving sound and perfect entertainment - sweet. (Mindsaver)

Napalm Death (Neurotic Stage)
Headliners Napalm Death have never ever disappointed me with their shows, and of course this was no exception. The longest running grindcore act bashed out their songs with a high dose of aggression, energy and enthusiasm. A lot of the classic songs passed by with a great chaotic sound that raped the remaining brain activity of the drunken crowd. The foursome must have had the smallest backline I saw at the entire festival, with a small cabinet for the guitarist and no amp for bassist Shane at all. It’s not what you bring to deliver your message obviously; it’s the message itself that counts. Napalm Death are still the nuclear explosion you expect them to be, and when Suffocation vocalist Frank Mullen joined the band to do some guest vocals, the party was complete. No better headliner than the leaders of the extreme, I hope they’ll last for another twenty years! (DemonDust)

Saturday May 31st

Grind Inc.
(Terrorizer Stage)
The first band to play the smallest hall in the 013 this Saturday was Grind Inc., who play, unless their name presumes, ‘just’ death metal. I still have to review their latest effort Sudden State Of Hate so I thought it was a good idea to check these guys out live, and I must say that I’m now looking a lot more forward to check out that disc. A brutal sound laid down the foundation for two singers who didn’t had to play any other instruments, and although their sound was quite the same they made it an energetic show on this early stage. (Mindsaver)

Decrepit Birth
(Neurotic Stage)
I’ve reviewed Decrepit Birth latest effort Diminishing Between Worlds a while ago, which was an enjoyable release filled with extreme death metal, played in the highest gear. Curious to how this would hold up live, I witnessed their intense show. These dudes were tight as hell on an average speed that reminds one of bands like Nile and such. The guitar play of Matt Sotelo also feels a bit like Karl Sanders (and so does the size of his belly, haha!). Highly technical stuff for the intellectual death metal heads, yet somehow compensated by the caveman look and sound of the vocalist (who had Chris Barnes written all over him). A good show by a band with a lot of potential, I think we will hear a lot from these guys in the future. (DemonDust)

Fleshgod Apocalypse
(Relapse Stage)
Italian are always doing very well here at Metalrage (NOT!), but there are exceptions. Fleshgod Apocalypse was for me unknown, but curious as I was I went to the small hall to check ‘m out. I was just as surprised as pleased that Hour Of Penance (who played this NDF on Friday) frontman Francesco Paoli was also the singer in this band, this time handing guitar as well. Remarkable was that this time Paoli was even more nervous which in this case led to a not so spectacular performance. (Mindsaver)

Cephalic Carnage
(Neurotic Stage)
I love Cephalic Carnage. Period. After a hilarious doom show at the Roadburn festival a couple of weeks earlier, they returned to claim their position as the most bizarre band at Neurotic Deathfest. Hits from all their albums were played and, stoned as they were, were performed quite tight. Funny thing was that vocalist Lenzig accidentally announced their touring buddies Hate Eternal as Hatebreed, and then apologizing for being too stoned. Even though they had the smallest crowd at the big stage, to me this was again the best band of the festival. These guys are unfortunately still highly underrated, mainly because the average metalhead can’t comprehend what is going on. I do, so I banged my head and fists and thrashed with those few other dudes that understand. MOSH! (DemonDust)

(Relapse Stage)
I thought that I’d forgot how brutal Sickening Horror was, until someone told me that Sickening Horror were still in Greece, and that Cephalotripsy were their substitutes. Utter brutal death metal was thrown upon the audience from the small stage, with as most prominent Angel Ochoa vocals - probably the most sickest from all the bands playing this NDF, while Cephalotripsy (what’s in a name??) weren’t even scheduled in the first place. Some research cleared some interesting links by the way, their vocalist is also in Condemned (who were headlining the small stage the same day) while their bass player is no one else than Shawn Whitaker, who also played on previous editions from the Neurotic Deathfest; last year with Viral Load and two years ago with his solo project Insidious Decrepancy. (Mindsaver)

(Relapse Stage)
I wasn’t the only one who knew that Unmerficul was one of the best bands scheduled on the small stage today, since it was already packed before they begun. I unfortunately can’t remember much more then smiles on my colleagues’ faces and that Unmerciful, who include Origin’s guitarist Clint Applehanz as well as extreme blaster James King (also Origin), played a completely destroying show. Hail US-brutal death metal! (Mindsaver)

(Neurotic Stage)
Cryptopsy needs to introduction I hope. The band has seen another severe line-up chance, with only ultra blaster Flo Mounier remaining from the original line-up from 1992. The new vocalist is a bit too metalcore in my opinion, something that doesn’t suit the music too well. But nevertheless, even if you’re not a drummer, it’s always a pleasure to see that guys blast his way through the setlist. His skill is so extraordinaire; a lot of other drummers of bands playing today could be seen watching him from the side of the stage. Respect all over. Although Cryptopsy is far from what they once were, the band can still deliver a lot of brutality with a lot of passion and energy. Let’s see how long the new line-up holds itself. (DemonDust)

(Neurotic Stage)
This was the fourth time that I saw Behemoth live in only one year time, now for the second time on the main stage in the 013. I now know them good enough now to ensure that they won’t let you down, although I was curious for the reaction of the death metal crowd for these blackened death metallers with their corpsepaint and such. The audience however seemed to appreciate Behemoth’s brutality, which is justified because they’re one of today’s most skilled death metal bands. The set was nonetheless not very surprising with tracks as ‘Slaves Shall Serve’ and ‘Christgrinding Avenue’ (which Nergal heralded with ripping of a bible that was later on burned by the public). Behemoth ended with ‘Chant For Eschaton 2000’, not very surprising either but still a great grooving track. All in all very pleasant. (Mindsaver)

(Relapse Stage)
Origin released their fourth mega-blasting record two months ago. Could I recognize any songs of it live? No. Was this one of the most impressive and brutal shows of the festival? YES! These guys know how to make an ultra-brutal sound for a full forty minutes. There is not one, I repeat not one, second that these guys take only the slightest step back. That makes it even more impressive that they are able to keep sounding interesting and brutal for the entire set. Of course only Mike Flores’ absurd bass playing style is enough to fill the entire set, but Origin in total does never loose your attention and that is something rare with a band which keeps on bashing on this ridiculous speeds. (Sledgehammer Messiah)

Hate Eternal
(Neurotic Stage)
Hate Eternal, Erik Rutan that is, is back! The death of bassist Jared Anderson in 2006 was a huge loss, but we all know Rutan isn't a quitter. A couple of months ago he released Hate Eternal’s fourth record with help from Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse) among others. Rutan gathered some excellent musicians and today they closed the mainstage of Neurotic Deathfest. They are no longer operating as the strong trio as before, but they extended to a foursome. Although they performed an excellent set you could tell the audience was getting tired. No massive moshpit as they deserved. Hate Eternal as a trio looked stronger to me, but that could as well be caused by the huge stage and the end of one of the most brutal festivals there is. Although the energy of the audience was missing Hate Eternal brought Neurotic Deathfest to a worthy ending. (Sledgehammer Messiah)

Pictures by
Details Written on Sunday Jun 15th, 2008
Writer @Mindsaver

Tags: #Neurotic Deathfest 2008