Report: Tyrant Fest 2018

Tyrant Fest 2018
17 and 18 November (Oignies, France)
Words and pictures by Wouter
Contributions by Ingrid de B. (ING)

Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th, l’anne du bâtard 2018, we fancied a drive to the Northern parts of Frankia, to visit Tyrant Fest. Despite some yellow fevered road blocks and subsequent detouring, the impressive sight of the 19th century “9 and 9-bis” coal mine lifts of Oignies greeted us in time to see the second band start.

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Tyrant Fest was made up of many festival locations, spread over the renovated industrial heritage compound built around the two lifts. Besides the two indoor venues (Metaphone and Annex) there was an impressive if small art exhibition, an indoor metal merchandise (‘black’) market, guitar try-out/workshops and much more to keep one occupied besides the bands and having a beer.

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First up was Thaw, the band that went into our history as the ‘garage practice band’. Thaw didn’t put on a bad show, though. The more ambient parts, that seemed doomy to me, were mixed with very fast riffs and a lot of noise. One of the nicer things about this band were the more technical riffs they intertwined in the noise, which made it interesting to listen to. However, the audience was not that enthusiastic and one of our crew members even walked out. This had something to do with the energy from the stage or maybe we should say the lack thereof. They played… like it was their first show. Well, no, wait! They played like they were not even putting up a show. They were playing in the garage of their parents in a circle, with their backs towards the world. Sounded good boys! But maybe some more podium practice? (ING)

Favouring food, we skipped Hangmans Chair. A small walk to aid digestion brought us the art exhibition. The show displayed, among others, the works of Vincent Fouquet (artworks of Kataklysm, Tsjuder and Hellfest), Dehn Sora (artworks of Amenra, Blut aus Nord, Ulver). Not only the drawings/paintings, also the pictures by William Lacalmontie (e.g. Alcest) were a nice sight to behold before seeing the next band: Schammasch.

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Where one adores Schammasch, the other hates it. Some find themselves in the middle and that’s how I ended up writing about it. Taking care that it will not be the fanboy please-fuck-me-in-the-ass-report or lynching the whole band (and taking care they will burn painfully in keyboard hell), here are my thoughts on their concert. They played parts of Triangle (Metanoia) and Contradicton (Golden Light) and some songs of the Hermaphrodite (an album I did not get that well into). I was happy to see that they skipped the incense burning (or I missed it?) and just simply gave a good show. Sadly though the sound (the whole day) was not that great and with a band as Schammasch this makes the difference between a holy cow-memorable show and a meh-show. Add to this ingredient a portion of not really enthusiastic audience and your recipe will be a decent, but not a great show. They were just good, and that’s it. Nothing too bad, nothing too memorable. Not like Der Weg Einer Freiheit, the band that played after Schammasch and blew me away. That quite made me forgot most of that [what is their name again] did. Maybe this is the fate of most bands, but not Schammasch which is normally quite a memorable band. (ING)

01_05_DWEF_01 Der Weg Einer Freiheit, the band of Romantic Sehnsucht put on super-steroids by drummer Tobias Schuller, a long time favourite that I have yet to see disappoint. Although they came close with the vocals of Nikita being in-audible (sound problems again?), the musical play was still brilliant. In part this was due to having a setlist that contained many best-off’s such as Einkehr (Stellar, 2015), Ewigkeit, Zeichen and Aufbruch (Finisterre, 2017). The delicate melodic pieces, together with the immersive, impressive and aggressive riffing made for a non-stop headbanging concert of the day.

Calling themselves the dirtiest band alive, Aura Noir was closer of the evening. Indeed, their mix of old-school heavy metal (1 guitar, 1 bass and a drummer) makes for a good-ol’ evening of un-compromising thrashing around (although, in retrospect, less arm wind-milling around in the mosh pit would have been appreciated). The music, in contrast to said mosh pit, was delivered with great skill and talent. Songs of their 2018 release (self titled Aura Noire, this time spelled correctly) such as Dark Lungs of the Storm and Shades Ablaze could be heard in their rather impressive setlist. Perhaps not for fans of the more deep darkened, atmospheric or avant-garde types of black metal, Auro Noir is definitely a band to enjoy a beer after just such varieties of black.

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The possibility of having a last drink in the (somewhat over-abundantly lit) hallway aisle after the last play was off course gladly embraced and appreciated, before we made the walk back to our respective beds.

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Tyrant Fest opened the next day with the option of joining a free of charge guided tour around the ‘9-9bis’ complex. The tour explained (in French unfortunately, so I might have missed large bits and pieces) the history and working of the mine and the complex around it.

After a slight delay in opening the doors, the first band to hit the stage was Azziard. Uncompromising quality death/black metal from France. Agression a plenty, but enough tempo changes and melody to make Azziard stand out from the crowd of similar bands. Perhaps a bit less on the epic side, they bear resemblance to Kjeld and Krater. That and a definite increase in sound quality made for a good start of the second day!

One of the many reasons for me to plan a trek to Iceland next year, besides geysers and sulphur, is Audn. Their atmospheric black metal combines subdued, midtempo drumming with two guitars in such intricate, fast and eclectic ways that I was hooked at the first spin of Farvegir Fyrndar. Their latest formed also the dominant part of the setlist. Seeing them live again brought about the response of: wow, holy shit. The vocals of Hjalti Sveinsson are a big contribution to this effect; his epic screams are of a depth and veracity rivaled by few. The lyrics are sung solely in Icelandic, including telling what the next song is going to be (except when spreading the English plague). A show that was appreciated by the audience and yours truly both, even after seeing them for the third time in less than two weeks.

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Sharing the tour with Audn, The Great Old Ones were next on the roster. These French post-black metallers solely use Lovecraft for inspiration and lyrical themes. Although many bands have had one or other run-in with Lovecraft, the music of TGOO is truly from some other world. The guitars (all three) never stop winding and creating a moody, cold and heavy atmosphere – also live. Although I was not fully caught on with their latest (EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy, 2017) and more a fan of their Tekeli-li (2014) work; their play at Tyrant Fest convinced me of the brilliance of their new work (When the Stars Align being a definite favourite).

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A surprise in speed, unrelenting, pure Satanic aggression and just awesome play was Arkhon Infaustus. Reformed in 2016, after a dormant period since 2009, they performed a mix of death/black metal with definite conviction. Albeit for songs about debauchery, obscenity and (slightly) perverted themes. Their frontman, with his bass (and never far from a bottle of liquor), managed a really catching, gripping performance. Aided by two guitarists knowing their business, this play was perhaps the best of today.

Good things come in pairs, so next up was the Luciferian un-order of Watain. No need for much introduction, as these Swedes have been around for some time and have some real gems in their long ouvre. Their latest, Trident Wolf Eclipse (2018) was off course promoted (Nuclear Alchemy, Sacred Damnation), but also a good selection of 2007 release Sworn to the Dark made it to the set (e.g. Sworn to the Dark, The Serpents Chalice). Frontman Eric has his way around the stage of being the aggressive ambassador of chaos and Satan’s own hell fires – he was therefore a real pleasure to see. The guitars are a brilliant statement of that which Dissection and Watain once started out for: the aesthetics of Lucifer’s chaos put to music – likewise a brilliant pleasure to hear.

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Good things also must come to an end at some point; after a brief stint backstage for some band pictures our crew went home tired but happy.

We had a lot of fun while seeing bands, being at the festival, teaching our pet goat Geijs some decent metal and receiving a mini Icelandic (cultural) course (thanks for the good times, Audn!). Something minor that might be up for improvement is the TL lighting in the lounge aisle and bar; this made for quite a sterile and over-lit place for drinks and talks. Aside this minor point, Tyrant Fest served a very enjoyable package of bands, art and merchandise, on a unique location. We will be sure to visit again, when we can!

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