Report: Soulcrusher 2019

Doornroosje Nijmegen, 5 October

Review made by: Erik
Pictures by: Rózsa

With the fourth edition of Soulcrusher, connoisseurs of darkness are again being treated on an addictive dose of dark apocalyptic riffs. Each edition of this superb festival varies in offered musical styles. But one thing does not change: the line-up is always of consistent quality. With Tryiptykon, Daughters, Lingua Ignota and many more this edition has more than enough to offer to feed your hungry black souls. Albeit slightly less diverse then previous editions. But hey, who bothers? The audience certainly didn’t since it was, deservedly, quite crowded.

At the two stage venue the atmosphere is really nice. With good beer from tap or bottle, plenty of excellent music and lots of friends and acquaintances it feels comforting and relaxed. But in this case it is the music that matters. So let’s start reviewing, shall we?

In the early afternoon the first band to hit the Red stage was Leechfeast. This Dutch/Slovenian Doom/Sludge band managed to give a solid impression. Slow, threatening lush and spongy dark riffs with prominent bass is being presented in excellent form. Accompanied with electronics performed by guitarist Jaka Bolic and even saxophone from bass player Jure Sajn they produces a dark and enthralling palette of songs. Vocalist Jako Vatovec is standing in trance before his mic screaming, chanting and mesmerising the audience resulting in a an intriguing performance leaving the audience hungry for more. Great performance guys!

Unfortunately enough this can’t be said for 30.000 Monkeys. The maniacal Noise Rock of these Belgian guys missed some coherence, tightness and was sometimes plain messy. Especially the multitude of breaks in the songs and the distorted guitar interludes manage to distract me in an unpleasant way. And I think a large part of the audience agrees since this stage was getting less full by the minute during this show. Perhaps a few monkeys too much on their backs for these Noise rockers? Ah well, better luck next time.

I quickly hopped over to the Red stage to see Telepathy. The instrumental Post Metal of the from the UK hailing Telepathy is something extra-ordinary. No vocals are being presented, just plain instruments here. Well, plain isn’t exactly the right word since they managed to make some sincerely good music on stage. Presenting a load of tracks from their latest album “Tempest” they kept the audience interested with a tight rhythm section and powerful, aggressive riffs on the stage. A more than solid performance where they definitely have gained a few fans today. I am looking forward seeing this band again in the near future.

Aided by a nice beer it is time for . These Finnish guys really hit it off on the stage with their blackened Stoner/Doom. Presenting songs from their newest full length “Astral Death Cult” it was a massive beast on the stage. Especially drum monster Joe E. Deliverance managed to give some powerful punches on the drum kit. Aided by great guitar riffs and the powerful blackened throat of bass player Deaf Hank it was a feast on your dark soul and ears. Great performance of these guys and I am hoping to see them live soon….very soon.

After eating some food at a local cafeteria I encountered an after dinner dip. The blackish Doom metal of Mizmor (USA) couldn’t fix that on time unfortunately. The ambient soundscapes and tremolo guitar which later bursts into Black Metal aggressiveness were good but also very introspective. The contrast of these two should be intriguing of fans of the genre. Aided by a superb sound and atmosphere light setting the music was soothing yet aggressive at times. Of course playing some songs of their latest “Cairn” album it was interesting although it could not satisfy my music hungry soul. The sober music just lacks some tension. Well, I think this is my problem since the audience seem to enjoy every note these four guys make on the stage. So I will give this another try in the near future. Mizmor definitely deservers it.

Working with members of The Body, Full of Hell and others Kristin Hayter creates, in the form of Lingua Ignota, a mixture of dark spiritual melodies, (industrial) noise and chants. Vocally. it remembers me a little of the emotional outbursts of Diamanda Galas although it is has unique splendour of its own. With the superb release of “Caligula” I was really looking forward seeing this disturbing piece of work live. Standing alone in front or behind a screen with a led-light she maniacally screams her lungs out. Sometimes playing keyboard adding atmosphere at this performance. Musically this is really intriguing however some work can be done on the performance side. Add some visuals and you are spot on Mrs. Hayter! It was a more than decent performance although I think it could have been performed in a more interesting way. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the emotional outbursts of this on-orthodox act. This doesn’t mean that Lingua has nothing to offer so check her releases out!

U.S. Noise rockers Daughters have gained quite some audience ever since they have started. With the absolute killer album “You Won’t Get What You Want” this band was one of the more anticipated bands on this edition of Soulcrusher. And these Hardcore miscreants manage to pull it off on stage as well! With a sound best described as a mixture of Big Black and Gang of Four they have concocted a powerful disturbing potion of noise and agony on the stage. Especially vocalist Alexis is an absolute maniac on the stage. Screaming, spitting, jumping in the audience and throwing his mic around. Playing songs such as “Less Sex” and “The Dead Singer” it is very hard to put this experience on paper. But let me assure you: it was absolutely worth seeing live. And well, again, if you have missed out it is really a pity since this performance was something quite out of the ordinary. My conclusion: go see this unique band live and experience it yourself or once more!

Triptykon is deservedly the headliner of this year’s edition of Soulcrusher. Tom G Warrior, of course also known from Hellhammer and Celtic Frost, and his comrades once again are ready to set the stage in flames with its unique mixture of Doom, Death, Black and even a pinch of Gothic Metal. With the superb albums “Eparistera Daimones”and “Melana Chasmata” accompanied with some classics from his previous musical endeavours we are surely in for a treat. Mr. Warrior was in a really good mood making jokes when appropriate. Utterly recognisable and an inspiration for darkened metal bands around the globe this band manages to give a powerful, haunting and dark trip in Nijmegen. With songs as “Abyss within my Soul”, the Celtic Frost song “Circle of the Tyrants” and Hellhammer’s “Visions of Mortality” the amiable frontman and his trusted musicians were crushingly superb. The sound was spot on, the right dose of energy, darkness and aggression was there and you could really see that the audience was enjoying it. So all hail to Triptykon and Soulcrusher for playing and adding it on the bill.

Helas, I could not see everything today. Too many bands and an impatient train were the fact that I couldn’t see Turia and other bands fully. If you are into Black Metal Turia should ring any bells. With two full lengths and quite a lot of splits released this band has been climbing upon the ranks of the Dutch Black Metal scene for several years now. Especially the highly acclaimed split with Fluisteraars named “De Oord” has been acclaimed by both fans and critics. Melancholic riffs aided by the screams, squeaks and howls of (Mrs.) T make it a band with an interesting sound and approach. The maniacal drums of J are something extraordinary. With a pitch black stage, incense and candles they managed to mesmerise the audience. Although I did not manage to see the full set the short ride I had with these Dutch blacksters was a thrilling one. Let us hope again we will meet again swiftly.

I can only conclude that the fourth edition of Soulcrusher was a success. With a great and diverse line up, excellent sound, superb lightshow and atmosphere this was absolute fun to attend, listen and also review. Let’s hope they will be back next year so we are again being treated upon pitch dark quality darkness!