Throne Fest 2016
14-15th of May 2016
Kubox, Kuurne, Belgium
Words: Oscar Wendt
Photos: Dawid Krosnia
FULL PHOTO GALLERY BELOW
Belgium. Kuurne. Kubox. The quiet and typically Belgian residential area. And then this – the grand gathering of all the evil and wickedness. When we’ve seen the line-up, my friend was laughing that it was me who had put this bill together. It was purely unreal, aiming into my musical taste perfectly and shooting it like the master rifleman. It took me seconds to make up my mind to visit Belgium in May. Welcome to Throne Fest 2016!
After arriving to the venue in the middle of some peaceful residential district full of pretty houses and harmonious streets, it was time for some initial recognition of the place. Trying not to spend all money for merchandise at once, we waited patiently for the opening band on the Throne Fest bill. With the beer in hand, we approached the stage as soon as the first sounds of evil started to please our ears. The Italians from Deathrow quickly grabbed my attention with their dirty black metal tunes with some black’n’roll influences. The very diverse mixture was enhanced with some spontaneous Primordial-like vocals which, I must say, surprised me a lot. They may not have gathered the colossal crowd, but this was certainly a great opening to Throne Fest which only put me in the good mood.
Having been put in a proper black metal spirit, we waited for one of the most anticipated performances of the festival. Plaga – the Polish masters of the real raw Satanic depression were definitely not new to me but I haven’t had a chance to see them on stage before. But this is exactly what I expected – sounding exactly like on the records, Plaga swarmed the stage with a several of their songs, sodomizing the gathered people with their unpolished and rough tunes, making me satisfied for sure. The absolute highlight was Sznur (The Rope), with the mesmerizing and repetitive phrase: Sznur… W rękach Diabła… (The Rope… In the Devil’s hands). It was great to see the fantastic Necrosodom in action as his vocals perfectly match Plaga’s music. Their performance might have been cut short due to the guitarist’s injury, but still the band gave me a perfect idea what they are capable of doing live on stage.
We soon refilled the tanks with some more beer and enjoyed Valkyrja show. The band didn’t impress me as much as me before when I’ve seen it, maybe because I’m not used to the new vocalist. But let’s see how it all evolves and I’ll be more than happy to see the band again. It was time for the Finnish Necro Death machine – Archgoat. As soon as I’ve seen the band first time, it became one of my favourite live acts ever. Their concert at Throne Fest didn’t diverge from the standards and, to my joy, the sound was really good (I couldn’t say that about all the concerts in Kubox). Archgoat is one of those bands that doesn’t need any tricks on stage – the music speaks for itself. Three people on stage and the absolute Hell! One of a kind wicked vocals graced the performance throughout, and my favourite Archgoat slow-downs sounded amazing. What more can you expect? The mantric riff of Grand Luciferian Theophany from their latest musical effort simply opens the portal to another dimension. Hail Satan, Hail Lucifer!
Black Witchery was moved to the next day due to the conflict with Gorgoroth (oh well…) so it was soon time for us to witness Behexen. I had a chance to see their previous performance 1.5 year ago as they haven’t been playing live in the meantime. The band completely changed its form! It was great to see them back and I must say that Hoath Torog remains one of my favourite black metal vocalists ever! I’m not sure where he takes the vocal power from but it must be some unknown dimension.
Oh, Gorgoroth, the mighty Gorgoroth. I might have seen the band live 5 times in the last 6 months, but this is something you can never get bored with. Knowing the current setlist by heart, I was not it for a surprise but the band still managed to shock me with their excellence and quality. The good portion of my all time favourite Under the Sign of Hell including Profetens Åpenbaring or Ødeleggelse og Undergang always puts me into my own world, being the best part of Norwegian black metal ever. So how can I get bored with Gorgoroth? Also, Hoest’s amazing vocal work is an accomplishment to the whole creation. That was the immaculate ending of the first day, it was time for another beer on the way to the hotel for recharging the batteries needed for another day of pure awesomeness.
Being now more familiar with the area, we made our way to Kubox again to witness some more bands. And the schedule of that day was really busy indeed! Especially the ending – Mgła, Inquisition, Batushka and Taake? Dreams coming true! But let’s start from the beginning. The international collaboration of The Committee was first on the bill and I must say that I was extremely curious as I recently fell in love with their only (so far) album – Power Through Unity. Oh well… They absolutely crushed me live putting such a professional and mysterious performance that made me feel so hungry for more. It doesn’t happen very often that I count the opening band as one of the best of the festival but here it is – The Committee takes it all. Also, hearing Katherine’s Chant which features the band’s interpretation of the 1938 Russian wartime song Катю́ша (Katyusha) was a perfect indication of the band’s character and lyrical schemes. History is written by the victors! In other words, another day of the festival started in style! Life is beautiful!
After watching parts of Dysangelium, Wiegedood and Inferno, we stuck around, grabbed some beers and started mentally preparing for Mgła performance. I have seen Mgła several times before and it’s always been an emotional experience for me. However, I haven’t had a chance to witness the phenomenal new material live so I was definitely more than curious. Although it was only around 6pm, the band managed to gain the huge crowd, I could even take a risk and say that the crowd was bigger than with the headliners. I think it says a lot about the band. I always loved Mgła’s minimalism. No altars, no paraphenalia, even no faces! Just pure music with the typical ‘less is more’ attitude. I think this can sometimes be more original than all the fancy stuff. And hell yeah, songs from the latest Exercises in Futility sound orgasmic live and they helped me to sail away somewhere far for a moment. The immortal Mdłości managed to shock me again with the monumental structure of the song, however, to my surprise I and II were split into two parts and played seperately this time. That was surely one of best performances at Throne Fest and definitely the most emotional one for me personally.
Due to our really, really poor organisational skills we missed Black Witchery and the major part of Inquisition (I know, we’re a bunch of twats). However, all was not lost as we witnessed Desolate Funeral Chant and Crush the Jewish Prophet which made me feel fulfilled. The amount of hell on stage when the duo is there has always been unbelievable for me.
And now, the moment of truth has arrived. 20 minutes before Batushka was supposed to appear on stage, we placed ourselves in the crowd waiting patiently for the orthodox liturgy. Well, we ended up waiting for an hour as the band took its time to prepare for the show. Anyway, just like with Mgła, the band attracted a lot of attention from the Throne Fest crowd. Large part of it was simply curious if the band does not lose its original atmosphere on stage. And so were we, therefore we got quite excited when the lights went off and a number of hooded creatures appeared in front of us. Very soon, the immense vocalist followed the rest of the band and with the church incense, changed the aromatic experience of the show. The choir started with the famous chants and, finally, the heavy guitars stepped in. Well, the sound engineer of this particular show could be a part of the infamous meme ‘you had one job’. At first, the sound was terribly flat and the vocals were running away back to Poland but, as Litourgiya went on, it got a little bit better. However, to answer the most important question – no, the band did not lose any of its atmosphere. I might have counted 9 people on stage and it might have been full of visual (and aromatic) tricks but the whole Litourgiya album sounds very heavy and doomy live. It’s very diverse and even though it’s based on one scheme, it was easy to get involved in the show. The frontman’s chants and harsh vocals, when they finally became audible, worked nicely and with frequent Batushka blasts, made a feeling of a proper black metal band. But I really must say that it made me laugh when I’ve heard the audience clapping hands to the rhythm of the Yekteníya 3 intro.
All we were left with was Taake to finish up the 2016 edition of Throne Fest. Needless to say, they were dreamlike! I might have been tired after two days of awesomeness, but as soon as I heard the first song, Nattestid Ser Porten Vid I, I turned into a beast again! Some technical problems prompted Hoest’s irritation but the band managed to overcome this really well, putting the show full of energy and charisma as always. Taake does not step off from the podium of my favourite bands live proudly wielding the gold medal since the first time I saw the band live.
As soon as Taake finished, it was time for some last beers and last conversations with people before we headed back to the hotel to contemplate all the we witness over two days at Throne Fest. The overall experience of the festival was superb and if they ever manage to put up the line-up like that again, let them be sure I’ll be back in Kuurne.