Old Grave Fest (powered by our very own favorite psychos from RTMC) is maybe one of the best Underground indoor metal festivals from Eastern Europe. So far, every edition was awesome & insane and this year’s edition made no exception. As a tradition, Old Grave Fest VII took place on the second weekend of October on 12th and 13th.
The first day started according to schedule around 17:30 (open doors) and the first band that officially opened the madness were Fuck You! Dracu. It started in the best way possible, delivering us some good ol’ Hardcore Punk in the best tradition of fury & speed. Of course, the hoods and the aggressive, tired-of-society’s-bullshit attitude was present – making it a blast. They played about 8 tracks (maybe we’ll soon hear about an album or an Ep?!) and a GG Allin cover (ha! told ya they are fans of). They were followed up by the Thrash Metal act from Greece- Nightbreed with an irreproachable sharp and clean performance. They’ve played from both their albums, tracks as Beyond Inferno, Holocaust, Pandemic and so on. Death, war, and satan – 3 topics that never get old to be put to Thrash Metal sound. They played pretty passionate and focused. However with a short delay, good enough to catch up with old buddies at a really not so good, kinda’ expensive glass of not so dry, gin, the Italian maniacs from Nuclear Aggressor got on stage. They struck our brains with aggressiveness and determination, all of this under the Thrash Metal sound of speed, horror, and perfection. Kudos to their bass player – that bass sounded fuckin’ amazing. As one could have seen, the crowd got engaged very quickly, and who wouldn’t? Their performance was a total madness of riffs and drum beats with (have I mentioned it?!) a bass line that made a total raving in my head.
After a quick break, just right to put down another disappointing glass of not so dry gin, Chevalier followed up on stage. As their name suggests, (it translates as “Knight”) their show was epic from top to bottom. It looked like they were the highlight of the night for most of the crowd. Even if the sound engineering wasn’t the most decent (actually I for one I am disappointed with this part, because of almost the entire night, the acoustics were bad, and it wasn’t because of my not so very dry gin, but that’s another story) they’ve held an untainted, clean Heavy-Speed Metal performance in the best classical manner that one could ask for. It was a show to remember for any Heavy Metal fan as much as a must-see live – and take in consideration that that’s written by an asshole carcass that’s not into Heavy Metal, or at least not anymore and haven’t listened to since a few years something new from this area, except for the classics. And thinking about it better, maybe never something so honest and passionate. These guys (and lady) are living it through their whole-self. Seeing someone to play so passionate it’s a rare thing, nowadays. To be short – it was a fantastic show and more than that I think I saw a few tears at the end of this magnificent performance.
Dawn of Winter got on stage, leading the atmosphere (as natural as it is) to a classic Doom Metal. Their act is something that should be in every Doom Metal fan agenda. They have a unique manner of playing, yet clean and classic. No horsing around- only making a quality Doom Metal. The crowd seemed to enjoy every part of their show. Their sound is a mixture of rhythmic, melodious clean tune, energy and a strong voice. Their show was great.
Arkhon Infaustus got on stage and turned the page to a great Death Metal performance all technical and brutal. They played very determinedly and confident with a touch of rockstar attitude at the beginning of the show. All-in-all, as an Immolation fan (probably they are also) I was excited to see them on stage, but not only for this. The crowd was also excited about their performance. To make it short: It was a total blast.
Another break, another cigar and the long-awaited band of the night: Heellooo! (insert Antti Boman‘s voice)- Demilich followed up delivering us the legendary Finnish Death Metal in their unique representative manner
Their performance was the definition of amazing, even if, this time as well, the technical-(sound system)-related problems showed up (yeah, in my head the songs were running one after one, but in reality, the club acoustics wasn’t the best for how they play). Anyway, we are talking here about Death Metal played by the book (of course, that “book”, probably named “totally insane & sick Death Metal from another universe” is written by them). They’ve played tracks from “The Album” (- should be read on Antti Boman‘s voice and yes, that means Nespithe) such as When the Sun Drank the Weight of Water, The Planet That Once Used to Absorb Flesh in Order to Achieve Divinity and Immortality (Suffocated to the Flesh That It Desired…), The cry, etc also from my all-time personal favorite release – their ‘91 Demo –The Four Instructive Tales …of Decomposition, tracks as (still my favorite one) Embalmed Beauty Sleep, And the Slimy Flying Creatures Reproduce in Your Brains, etc. (thank you, Demilich, for helping me take my exam at Forensic Medicine, it’s all due to the above-mentioned Demo).
They made one of a hell show, as expected. As an offtopic remark, I’ve missed a little Antti Boman‘s stories and jokes during the gigs, this time he wasn’t as conversational as I’ve seen him be before, however still a memorable night and show.
The crowd asked for encores after encores, even if they’ve played almost a full hour, the time passed so quickly that I for one haven’t realized how it all reached to the end. It was pure awesome. Total craziness, sickness, and insanity beyond this universe performance and sound. Demilich are true legends of Death Metal and their live-performances live up to the status.
The night was over but the party continued in a metal bar down in the old town of Bucharest.
Saturday caught us drowned in black coffee. We rushed to get sober and moved our boots to attend the second and last day of the festival.
It began around 15:30 (Open Doors) and the first band to get on stage (at around 16:30) was Crossbone, a local band who carries Thrash Metal in its blood. They hit the crowd with some fast riffs, showing us how to worship the 80’s Speed Thrash Metal. They were followed up by Speedrush from Greece. They had an energizing approach to an aggressive – well-played Speed Thrash Metal. They made the stage crumble in the old school way.
After a short, but welcome break and this time, a failed attempt to replace my traditional dry gin with a glass of cheap wine, Eggs of Gomorrh got on stage. They started as sharp as a knife in the chest, changing the tune to a furious Black Metal. It was very well received and appreciated by the crowd that started to gather around in a much larger number. They put perversion and gore on fast and violent riffs along with insane drum-beats and determined screams. Their show was a total blast. Kudos to them for the energy and the intensity they’ve performed with.
They were followed up on stage by Vultures Vengeance, an Italian Heavy Metal revelation. They are all about epic Heavy Metal, starting with their stage presence and clothing that reminds of medieval tales. Their music wears influences from bands as Omen and Manilla Road, all as a true worship of the scene. It was a totally interesting show with an irreproachable stage performance. The crowd was delirious during the entire act. Around 20:00 Nocturnal Witch (You’re <-an angel witch ->Nocturnal Witch / You’re Nocturnal Witch) got on stage and started breaking necks and bones. It was one of the highlights of the night. They sounded perfect from all points of view, including the sound, that for some (and welcome) reasons were much better. The crowd got engaged quickly on their meticulous yet raw sound. The atmosphere became all about darkness and evil provided by their skilled performance. Witchcraft and disaster are how they deal with a show, all nicely arranged into Thrash Metal tune. They played tracks both from Summoning Hell and the older releases. All in all, it was a hell of a show.
After a short delay, Phrenelith got on stage. Personally, it was the long-awaited band of the night and they didn’t disappoint. I would start, though, by saying out the fact that the sound was bad, as bad and superficial as it was a night before at Demilich (*starting to develop sort of a personal passive-aggressive attitude toward the sound folks). And for a band like Phrenelith, it’s is something important. They play a Death Metal that’s as putrid and wretched as it can get, as you’d have with the monolith that is David Torturdød. Their sound hits as the cracking open a dead body. It was all about filthy, Blackened Raw Death Metal with delirious riffs and deadly atmosphere. Something that every Death Metal fan should have it in their agenda. A great show with an undoubtedly great stage performance. They played their instruments as a mortician plays to pathology.
Malokarpatan followed up from the depths of Western Woodlands of Slovakia, bringing us their unique mix of Black Metal, Slovakian legends, and sunglasses (and, as Fenriz would put it, big sunglasses – cool band). They flooded the room with fast riffs covered up in their rustic unique manner. They made one hell of a show. The crowd was totally engaged with their music and excited. Everything about them is authentic (drinking wine on stage instead of beer), including their performance, that was fantastic. Their catchy riffs and rhythm flooded the room. They’ve played from both their albums (Stridžie dni and Nordkarpatenland) and after an obvious encore was asked and delivered. It was a memorable show, and one should see these guys on stage at least once.
After a short-recovering break, Ranger followed up. Speed & Violence shouldn’t be only the title of their last release, but a whole reference to their act. They play Heavy Metal at it’s finest. Old school and simple but authentic and passionate. Their sound was an ambivalent division between Thrash Metal and Speed Metal but keeping their roots and attitude in Heavy Metal. It was one of the most awaited bands of the night for lots of fans. Their act was energic, simple and plain all in the good manner of Ranger. If asked, I should totally say that they are a band to see for every Heavy Metal fan.
Pagan Altar was to finish the night and the festival. They got on stage after midnight and it didn’t take long to hear their “intro”. Pagan Altar is a legend with a long of a history in Doom Metal. Seeing them on stage gives you a certain feeling. For me, it feels as the time stops and relaxes me in a mixture of sweet, pleasant nostalgia. They create a warm atmosphere completed by their catchy rhythms and characteristic tunes. They play with that certain passion and energy that simply flows through the crowd. It was an act to remember. They’ve touched tracks from about all their releases. It was a well-chosen – great band to end a great festival.
The merchandise area was unfortunately very small, with local stands having half the room the bands all sharing the other half. The official merch of some bands was so well hidden that I only discovered say, Chevalier’s stand the third time around. I guess it could be seen as a good marketing strategy – have the folks return, again and again, maybe this time they’ll discover something relevant under some In Flames shirt. In short, I was a little disappointed, because generally this festival had one of the best merch spaces and one could always find lots of goodies. This year, unfortunately, except the official merch and some t-shirts unrelated with this fest, I haven’t seen anything to get my attention – what happened to tRock?
Overall it was a total blast as expected and beyond. Kudos to RTMC and all the people involved in this graveyard of insanity and awesomeness & kudos to your therapists for not doing their job!