Festival report of Chaos Descends Festival 2017 – Ferienland Crispendorf, Germany; 21-22nd of July 2017
Report by Estelle on the 2nd of September 2017
Dreamlike location, prominent lineup, pleasant mood, killer afterparties, Cuba Libre and a children’s railway. What more could you possibly want?
The first band I decided to see on the festival were the death metal band Vorum playing on Friday from the Åland Islands (belonging to Finland). Their crushing 30-minute full-length Poisoned Void from 2013 already got my attention a few years ago from which I got the chance to see songs live for the first time. Just as expected, Vorum played hard and with defeating energy, creating a base cheer for me that never went away ‘til the moment I arrived home after the festival.
After Vorum came the German King Diamond-worshipping Attic with their live ritual. To my surprise their well-composed, high-standard live performances authentically give back the feeling and also the quality of their albums. Attic continuously receives critique about their base idea being unoriginal and simply a replica of both the King Diamond style and sound – however, in my personal opinion, as they model King’s approach on such a high standard, one can simply be pleased to hear more of a style that not every band would be able to recreate.
Order Attic’s new album ‘Sanctimonious’ here.
After Attic came some long-awaited rigid German-style cruelty with Venenum, creating a frore atmosphere. Just as the last time I saw them, the German death metallers concentrated on their new album ‘Trance of Death’ filled with all this ugliness; these atmospheric solos, melodic riffs, unexpectable breaks and tempo changes, driving the audience into madness. To my sadness, they have not played anything from their world-class EP ‘Venenum’, even though their song Bewitched Craft could be the best death metal song written in the 21th century until now in my personal opinion.
Don’t think the new album is not worth investing in, though: Buy it here.
Later came the Polish death metallers Mgła, who I have never seen before and from whom I was expecting a lot, partly based on the everlasting hype surrounding them. Unfortunately and rather surprisingly I could not get myself engaged with the band and was not moved by their music nor by their sound.
Luckily and this time not to my surprise, right after them we got to the highlight of the festival in form of the USA heavy/doom band Cirith Ungol. Cirith Ungol’s show was far more collected and composed than at Keep It True this year, the band members were in sync the whole time and one could just see the excitement and joy on their faces on stage. I lost my mind over how Tim Baker’s voice and energy level does not seem to lower since the 70s and my face was all upon the grin about all the band’s classic songs coming after each other, all getting delivered in album quality live.
Their setlist was diverse and contained indeed every classic that one could expect from them, including the 3 encores Master of the Pit, King of the Dead and Cirith Ungol. Unbeatable.
Afterwards, before getting lost among all the people and cuba libres in the afterparty-tent, we had the chance to hear some raw black metal tunes from the Canadian Sortilegia, pounding us completely into the ground.
The first band I got to see on Saturday were the alternative A Dead Forest Index from New Zealand on the Nature stage. Alternative has never been my thing, the whole thing seemed simply too artsy to me, making me unable to identify myself with the music or the feeling the members wanted to transmit through it. However, it still was a pleasant feeling to chill at the side of an abandoned toilet-blue pool in the sun, in the woods, listen to the two classical guitars and experience something I have not experienced before.
They were followed by the Norwegian black/sludge band with hardcore punk elements, Okkultokrati, who played on the main stage. To be honest I expected some more from them and found them rather mediocre live, leading me to the uncomfortable situation of choosing booze over a band.
Right after them I looked into Night Demon – even though I’ve never been a huge fan of them, I got to understand why others are. It shows just as well from the way they present themselves as from their stage properties that they know how to sell the band. Vocalist “Jarvis Leatherby” [Jeff Hershey, new bassist of Cirith Ungol since 2016] is one of the few people by whom I feel like they were directly born for the stage: he’s absolutely energetic, has fun at what he’s doing and has something in his attitude that attracts the audience. The huge death figure walking up and down on stage was thought to be contributing to attracting attention.
I walked into the crowd of Dread Sovereign with no expectations previously only hearing their first album some time ago, and was pleasantly surprised by how fast they got me engaged. Just by looking at the crowd one could have thought Dread Sovereign belong to the first wave of doom bands from the early-mid 80s – it shows how authentically they play their music as a doom band formed in 2013 if they are able to get the attention of the older generation who could have been among the crowd on an early Saint Vitus or Candlemass gig.
I was then ready for the savagery of Deathhammer. I got exactly what I wanted: pounding energy, brutality, speed and drunkenness; just as usual from frontman Sergeant Salsten [watch my video interview with him on the festival coming out in a few days]. Besides the strong, varied riff-flow and the incredible amount of devastating power it was entertaining to see how Salsten just does not seem to give a damn: After introducing the following song he started to doubt/question himself and was not afraid of also expressing these doubts toward the crowd by the gentle question “What the fuck?”.
As the next act I got to see the USA death/black/thrash band Absu. They provided us with a combination of catchy thrash riffs, rotten blackened vocals and Proscriptor’s insane, bestial drumming, not leaving us any time to recover from the previous Deathhammer’s fierce effect on us.
I did indeed try to understand something from the music of the upcoming German ambient black ( D O L C H ) until I left with the thoughts of “Okay one doesn’t have to understand everything”.
Despite my expectations, experiences and the previous band, I was really much able to get myself engaged with Sunn O))) this time. I have already seen them at Brutal Assault in 2015 where I left with no traces of the band’s impact on me, however, I was curious how a small(er) festival and two years’ time can change the experience of seeing them live.
Even though the drone/noise/black metal/doom metal/dark ambient band’s insane frequencies reach as far as you can see, one gets so much more in contact with them right before the stage as one is also able to observe their movements and the lighting; and where the frequencies are so strong you feel them throughout your whole body and get an ear-pain after 30 minutes.
It contributed to getting involved that I could not leave the dark, gloomy, haunting lyrics out of consideration as Hungarian vocalist Attila Csihar [see also: Tormentor & Mayhem] sang, muttered and moaned in all possible tones and pitches in our mother tongue, Hungarian for the most part.
After around 1,5 hours as everyone gradually came to the feeling that this gloomy, oppressive atmosphere never ever goes away again, Attila winded Sunn O)))’s performance, all the emotions and concerns one developed during the show, as well as the experiences of the previous festival-days up with an indescribable, bloodcurdling screech.
Sunn O))) is definitely not a band preparing one’s mood for the last night’s afterparty. In spite of all my expectations, in my case the band carried out the effect they are making music for: I felt myself far too emptied, weakened and disturbed for some time to get myself together and carry myself over to the afterparty tent.
Even though I still can hardly imagine myself listening to Sunn O))) at home, I indeed gained respect toward and got curious about them and I can only recommend giving them a chance as soon as you have the opportunity to hear and observe what complete darkness and eeriness sounds and looks like.
And now, to sum up…
Strongest standout bands: Cirith Ungol, Sunn O))), Venenum, Attic, Deathhammer
+ dreamlike and kind of easy-to-find location; smooth organisation & communication; prominent lineup; pleasant mood; great people; decent sound; decent food; killer afterparties; CUBA LIBRE; children’s railway going around the festival area
– for the first time ever: nothing mentionable
Recommendations: Go! Go! Go!
Find more information at: http://www.chaosdescends.com/
Photos were used by ‘Estelle’.