Kill-Town Death Fest 2018
September 6th-9th, Copenhagen (DK)
Words and pictures by Omer
Legends speak of a Death Metal festival that was so good, it ran for a few years and gained tremendous respect in the Extreme Metal scene, specifically the Death Metal scene.
That the atmosphere in it was so nice, it was topping most of its bigger brothers in Europe, and that the people behind it did everything they could to make it so, without any real help from big music industry names. That festival was Kill-Town Death Fest, and it was one of the main attractions for a good few years, until it needed to close its doors at 2014, for various reasons. However, in 2018 it made a comeback, and the 600 limited-run tickets that were available, were all sold out pretty damn fast. The festival spot has been changed to a bigger, better venue, but none of the charm was gone and the heart of the festival kept on pumping, fueling the best atmosphere you can get in a Metal fest, pretty much.
Walking into the Black Stage at 18:00 to watch Reptilian has been a nice entry into the festival. I watched these guys live a few years back when they just began, and I felt that they weren’t ripe yet. It was good, but didn’t leave any trace. This time, however, this Norwegian bunch sounds and looks much better. Songs from the band’s debut from were heard all across the slowly-filling place and this time, left an immense impression, as the band members sounded so tight and so good, it was like watching a whole different band, in comparison to last time. Strong start to the festival!
Cemetery Urn was next, in the main stage upstairs. The Australian fourpiece have shown exactly why they’re one of the most angry names in the Death Metal underground, as they manage to deliver some of the angriest tunes from their latest effort that came out just in recent August, ‘Barbaric Retribution’, and as the name suggests, it is pretty barbaric, in the best way possible. The crowd obviously loved it, and as the second gig in this festival, it forcefully opened the ears of everyone around.
Say what you will about the French, they can produce some of the most evil-sounding and grotesque Death Metal out there, while still sounding as interesting as it gets, and this was exactly the case with Necrowretch, who came up on the stage at 21:00 and for me, were one of the highlights that night, as I pretty much liked everything these dudes have put out over the years and like me, a ton of others, as the band managed to encircle itself with a massive fanbase, as was apparent by the amount of people gathering in like a bunch of sardines in front of the main stage. Without too much hesitation, the band went wild (and along it, the crowd) with tunes like “Satanic Slavery”, “Putrid Death Sorcery”, “Sprawl Of Sin” and more that made the entire place rumble with some of the harshest guitars around and blasting drumwork by a very determined member who kept his evil eye(s) opened in a bewitched manner.
If you find yourself hungry during the festival, rest assured, you can quench that hunger with any of the dishes in the venue’s kantine, or if you’re a vegan, try some veggie-based burger in the truck that was parked right outside the festival. As a fat cunt, I tasted most of everything around, and I have to say that everything surpassed my expectations. However, I’d much rather spend my money on a Gin and Tonic, which may or may not qualify as food. I care not!
Around 22:00, the American torturers that go by the name of Torture Rack, went up for the first time on European soil and those who had any doubt about the amount of aggression these guys could put out, have been satisfied.
The American assault continued with the almighty Blood Incantation, being today’s headliner and showing everyone how a band can have this violent genre of music, while still having interesting as heck topics to showcase in their songs. In my opinion, Blood Incantation are easy in the top ten Death Metal of recent years. Now, I’m not just saying this because I’ve watched them a gazillion times live, but because it’s just that good. Memorable songs like “Chaoplasm”, “Starspawn” and the mystical “Vitrification of Blood” have left the crowd cawing for more.
Now even though the day is officially over, you don’t have to leave after the last band if you don’t want to. You can remain in the area, listen/dance stupidly to the tunes that certain DJs are playing and drench your throat with cold drinks. At 5 o’clock in the morning, you’ll need to find your way back to the hole you came out of, though, since the place needs to be re-arranged for the next day, and also because you’re currently drunk. Go home!
Remember the background music I mentioned? Well, one of the things Kill-Town is known for is a corroboration with different underground professionals and so, if you walked into the Byhavn area at noon (as in, the area in front of the outside stage), you could already hear the blasts coming out of the damn-cool-tree-hung speakers, courtesy of a collective of DJs who walk by the name of “Metal Maniacs”. The name fits so well and the music ranges from classics to sickly moderns, that in certain times one just wants to stay there for the larger sum of the day, and to hell with everything else.
Another thing the festival is known for, is it’s nice little “cinema” that goes on prior to the performances, the “Virus Cinema” in the Black Stage area and so, in Friday, I finally got to see “Witchfinder General”. I like these sort of stuff, mainly because it gives the attendees another thing to do while there. As in, come in, get a beer, watch a movie, get something to eat outside, get back in time for the gigs. Obviously, you don’t have to. But you want to, trust me.
Fast forward a bit, and we’re with Galvanizer, a Finnish band that lives and breathes groovy Grind, and that even made me, someone who’s not really into it, have fun and bang my head a bit. Taphos were after them on the outside stage, and oh boy, these younglings know exactly how to rip a new one. They’re angry as if someone took their food in prison, and even at 17:00, they’re able to spew some scarily angry tunes.
Now, to those of you who aren’t familiar with the American entity that goes by the name of Pissgrave, who went up on stage next – You’re in for a… well, something. Your ears would probably bleed, your nose would probably break in the pit, and your general reaction would be anywhere between a grin, and a surprised grin, since these Philly chaps aren’t messing around. Every riff here reeks of death and every growl here is from beyond the, well, grave.
The American assault continued with Ascended Dead, a name that slowly managed to capture more and more attention these past few years, mainly because these guys have managed to play some of the meanest sounding Death Metal out there, with on-point flesh cutting guitar work and vocals that would make one’s soul crumble.
Venenum, on the other hand, aren’t new at all anymore. As a band that stapled the resurrection of the “Old school” sound across it’s music, I believe there were no disappointed faces in the crowd. The Teutonic group has proven in the last few years that they’re a force to be reckoned with and the amount of vocal and gesture-al support when songs such as long “Merging Nebular Drapes” or the hyper “The Nature Of The Ground”, from the band’s successful full length, proved exactly that. The band developed quite much since their self-titled EP, and in all honestly it was a pleasure watching these guys again, only this time it was a few levels above what they previously presented.
The European attack have mercilessly continued with Londoners Grave Miasma, who ripped the stage with their well-known blend of uncompromising Occultism. The riffs were as heavy as (probably) possible, the vocals by Y were destructive as ever, and songs like “Arisen Through The Grave Miasma”, “Gnosis Of The Summon” and many more were heard beyond the gates of the underworld. These fellas are now so accustomed to being on stage, it seems it has become a second nature to them, where everything falls into place in the most aggressive way possible. Perfect gig.
One of the bands that really intrigued me this past year was definitely Triumvir Foul. Back when their debut album came out, I have to say I had mixed feelings. However, all those mixed feelings were combined into one “Holy Shit” feeling when these Portland-ers dropped ‘Spiritual Bloodshed’. Not only that my jaw kind of dropped when I heard it for the first time, with every listen, more and more of the music elements here have revealed themselves and so, I was very excited to see these guys live for the first time, and oh boy, I wasn’t disappointed. Hearing these guys transform what I know and love from the album, unto the cozy Black Stage was brilliant. Furthermore, on occasion it sounded better than on the album, not because of the sound, but because the amount of energy surpassed the height of the Everest.
Although I was saddened to know that Mortem needed to cancel their show, seeing the darkness-filled Americans closing the second day of KTDF was more than enough to put a smile on my silly face as I pave my way back to civilization.
In the third day of Town Of Kill… ehhm, tough crowd. Anyway! Virus Cinema! Today had “The Beyond” from 1981 and although it was an interesting movie to watch, I couldn’t stick too long.
I came back just in time to watch Antiversum. One of the most chaotic musical names of our times, they will leave your ears bleeding and your soul begging for more. The almost pitch-black stage did well to hide the members, since with a band like this, it doesn’t matter who you are or how you look like. All that matters is the music, and the message and so, with one strong as heck full length names ‘Cosmos Comedenti’, these Swiss guys manage to create the bottomless pit that their music is all about. I feared the atmosphere of the album may not pass on the stage, but luckily it did in the best way possible. Legitimately one of the best shows in the festival.
At 19:00, Danish Death Metal stars Undergang went up to the main stage and raped everyone’s eardrums with familiar, murdering tunes from their several full length albums. The place was packed to the brim with loyal fans, not that I expected anything else, as these guys have been around for about a decade now, smashing and destroying their patch to Death Metal greatness.
A pleasure it has been, when the almighty Necros Christos went up on the dark stage later on. From the last time I’ve seen them, a few years back, I was surprised to see the Near-Eastern clothes and suits has been dropped, and instead of them, casual looking shirts, jackets and headwear has been placed. Neither bothers me, but it also shows that the direction of the band may have changed significantly since the days of Doom Of The Occult, for example. In any case, the renowned Berliners have showed once more, why they are still one of the top names in Death Metal worldwide, and why they share the imaginary bloody crown, with a few other names. The crispy aggression is top notch, the disturbing riffs that were taken from the band’s last effort, with the skin-cutting solos of material from previous years, were all executed in such a manner that left no prisoners and of course, the remarkable vocals of Mr. Dalos Ra, that even alone are memorable than most, out there. Excellent isn’t a word I tend to use, but I will now, as it was nothing less than that.
The festival is always loyal to smaller bands, too, and so I hurried into the Black Stage to witness Scolex, who are maybe young in their number of years of existence, but play some mean tunes and although this group has only put out an two small releases, I would wholeheartedly say that their ‘Torn From Beyond’ EP is a very nice little gem and watching the energies bursts in a live version, was tremendous.
A whole lot can be said about Demilich. The Finnish technicians have recently resurfaced with heaps of tours and other gigs, and it only feels natural to bring them to a festival like Kill-Town. It’s a bit hard to describe these veterans, as they’ve been around since the 90’s, have one full length and a lot of other, smaller releases out, have some of the longest song names in the history of long names, and sound anywhere on the scale between Gorguts and Immolation, while spraying their own (Heh. Got it? No? Err) weird influences on the music. Knowing Death Metal and not knowing Demilich is basically a hole in one’s knowledge, as tunes like “The Planet That Once Used To Absorb Flesh In Order To Achieve Divinity And Immortality” or “The Faces Right Below The Skin Of The Earth” are damn classics. A bit on the weird side of classics, but still classics.
I didn’t have a lot of previous knowledge of Necrot, though. I just listened to a few of their songs out of ‘Blood Offerings’, their debut album, and that was it. Suffice to say I was not disappointed. Heads were flying, bodies were smashed against everything, and the place almost cracked open (as was the case with some skulls, maybe) with some of the angriest, most gritty Death Metal the festival has seen this weekend. The riffs are just right, the vocals are on point, the rhythm is built to destroy your surroundings and the attitude doesn’t care about my silly opinion or any other person’s. Excellent.
I was pretty much dead after the American group, but I quickly found myself banging my head in front of Incantation, the headliner that closed Saturday’s billing. A moment most of us have been waiting for today, the hunger has been filled with classic, sickly heavy tunes like “Transcend Into Absolute Dissolution”, “A Once Holy Throne” and “Christening The Afterbirth”. Moreover, It was a delight seeing one of the most unholy Death Metal groups the world has ever known, playing songs from it’s entire career, satisfying every taste and every opinion in the Main stage. By the time the band finished, I was so done I almost fell down the stairs, drained yet satisfied, with an ugly smile smeared all over my face. Onwards to Golgotha! Or, to the next beer, anyway.
As it is custom in Kill-Town, Sunday is also an active day. However, it is always more on the heavy, doomy side, and so it named “Gloomy Sunday”. It’s a bit of shame some attendees leave and often don’t include Sunday in their plans, just because it’s not a total Death Metal attack like the past three days, as they miss out on some genius acts.
One of those, was Spectal Voice at 18:00. Featuring members from Blood Incantaion and others, the Colorado-based entity is seriously one of the strongest things you’ll hear in this century or so. Why? I have no idea, but apparently the brains behind the pack, found the middle point of having terrifying horror-based Death tunes and assaulting the listener with some of the heaviest moments ever. If you haven’t seen these guys live yet, you need to.
Runemagick was a whole other deal in terms of me knowing them. As in, I didn’t. Well, I did, but never thought I’d see them live, since at a certain point in time I lost track of their million-something releases and their breaking up and coming back. Having said all of this nonsense, it is safe to say that the Swedish Doomsters had one of the most intriguing gigs the whole festival, and not just during this Sunday. As in, I do hope that most bands around our times would have as much aspiration as these guys showed on stage. Armed with a brand new summer full length release, the band was more than ready to hit the stages once more, and ripping the crowd with their Sabbath-On-The-Heavy-Side brand of music, was heard clearly and it was spectacular for anyone who’s looking for a fat riff and a low, crawling vocal. Mesmerizing.
At a certain point after the previous Scandinavian gig, another Scandinavian group went on stage. This time straight from Finland, the one and only Rippikoulu. Now, the 1990 band has been one of those names that everything good is associated with them over the years, but also kind of never surpassed their own limits in terms of further material. However, it’s hard to believe there was ever anyone attending this year’s Kill-Town without knowing who these fellas are and that has never listened to ‘Musta Seremonia’, at least partwise. The performance was special also because they played it in it’s entirety, and personally I loved every minute of it. The lack of communication with the crowd was also something I was quite fond of, as I usually don’t require too much talking between songs. Just let the music do the talking and that’s how it went with Rippikoulu – Heavy as hell performance by one of the heaviest names this festival has seen over the years it existed.
If we’re already touching the festival’s heavy side (heh), then 23:00 saw the beginning of the gig by none other than Wormridden. The Japanese-Danish group has some strong releases out and slowly grew in the underground, clawing their way through dead bodies on the ground and presenting the world with some of the most atrocious Doom/Death to witness, much of which is attributed to the heavy as hell guitar work and the throat-killing vocals by Takashi Tanaka, who’s also known from Anatomia. These dudes don’t play around, and if your ears survived up until now, congratulations, they won’t survive for much longer. Pleasure!
The last band on Sunday, and the one to close Kill-Town 2018, was no other than Hooded Menace. These guys visited quite a lot of festivals since their formation in 2007 (even Kill-Town, back in 2012), and it seems that with every release they had put out, their number of fans worldwide only grew more. The band underwent a number of lineup changes, and on the band’s latest album, it was already equipped with a new vocalist, who took no prisoners on his deathly path. It is worth mentioning that in comparison to previous Hooded Menace shows that I’ve attended (even if I’m trying to be objective here, I can’t, as I simply like this band too much), this time it was more of everything, in every term. Aside from the fact that the songs were of course amazing one by one, it seemed like the presence of the band on stage and the general atmosphere was taken right out of a horror movie. The gestures, the samples, the music, the (lack of) lights, altogether made a musical performance into much more than that.
By the time the band finished it’s set list, I came to realize that the Resurrection edition of Kill-Town, has come to an end. Not a sour one at all though, but a sweet one, as once again the Copenhagen-based festival reclaimed it’s spot among the dead and the ruined, as one of Europe’s best festivals to be in.