Back at Bornicke woods for another edition of the mature UNDER THE BLACK SUN FESTIVAL. This year the organisers planned the largest band bill version of the festival history, joining also some none black metal bands. 25 acts from 16 different countries that were embraced by the black feelings of hundreds of headbangers, proving once again UTBS’s range to aggregate different visions of darkness.
As usual in every festival, but especially at UTBS, the first day normally provides more moments of revivalist encounters and conversations than exactly hours of concentration in front of the stage. Nevertheless, German black metal band SHROUD OF SATAN started the ceremonies with a quite contagious concert, delivering misanthropic black metal to the audience and convincing those who didn’t know them before. We were one of the convinced ones, namely with songs such as “Litany to the Moon” or “Cry in the Woods”.
After them, Swedish thrash metal collective WARFECT entered the small camp stage to present their somewhat fresh approach to the thrash metal sounds, trying to keep a fast posture in the veins of some well known American thrash metal bands. “Drone Wars” and “Inflammatory” were their best moments. Then, the last band confirmed to play in the festival – MORIBUND OBLIVION from Turkey. These guys played in substitution of Wildernessking and performed with no compromise, looking like they were incarnating some real Turkish feeling. There were no stage artefacts as the band kept with its performance, playing tracks as “Machine Brain” or “The Spawning of the Avenger” in an approach to black metal music different from the one that we follow.
DEMONICAL Swedish death metalers came to our eyes for the first time with a well chosen setlist, from where they pointed out some blood fired songs as the good old one “Unholy Desecration” (from their split with Absu), “Death Metal Darkness” or the new one “The Order”.
But the main reason for all those attending the first night came after: North Americans NUNfuckingSLAUGHTER! Starting their 17 dates across Europe, this death metal institution didn’t left their credits outside, delivering the fastest concert of the first night. With a transpired attitude and led by the well humoured drummer Jim Sadist, the band created a very agitated moment in front of the stage, proving that they deserved to present their “devil metal” in a bigger venue. But, the smaller the stage is, the more chaotic its front transforms… It was a privilege to be there during those 45 minutes. “Satanic Slut”, “Sacrificial Zombie”, “Midnight Mass” and “I Hate Christians” were some of the many infamous historic songs played.
During the first night one member of THE COMMITTEE told us to expect a black/doom presentation from this international project. Sadly their performed one hour before scheduled…so it was up to MORTE INCANDESCENTE the mission to awake us from the lethargic headache gained in the latest hours of the first night. Classic anthems as “Necromaníaco”, “Forgotten” and “Necroculto” were played alongside some recent themes such as “The One of The Black Wings” before some ardent fans in front of the stage. As the show moved on, the performance got also more precise, ending with the fast “Black Skull Crushing Metal” in one of the most competent performances of the Campstage.
The pace got slower with Norwegians SO MUCH FOR NOTHING, a project led by Sarkom’s vocals Erik Unsgaard, who went on stage completely wasted (or at least he pretend us to thing that way). Without any concern for the esthetical element of the show, the concert flowed in a non aggressive way, in the vein of Shining’s calmer songs, even if we couldn´t stop wondering about some dispensable attitudes coming from stage.
Italian KULT were the main attraction of the Campstage second day. Now featuring Tumulash (Fides Inversa) as vocalist, the band delivered some well balanced black metal, starting the show with the strong “Winds of War” followed by the also old song “Guerriero di un Tiempo Perduto”. With acclaimed drummer Gionata Potenti taking good control of the rhythmic section, the band evolved to their last studio effort, closing with the fast “Senza Pace”. Even if they are not breaking the boundaries of the genre, the Italian collective left a strong mark at Bernau, showing an aggressive attitude on stage.
Under the Black organisers proved that we aren’t the only ones considering Poland as the World’s current leading black metal country. And on Friday the 4th July, UTBS assisted to a real Polish black metal invasion, with six bands taking control of the main stage.
We chose NORTHERN PLAGUE as our dinner time, before our first live contact with the noise produced by THAW. Dark vests, two vocalists, synthesizer and a different display from the band on stage, to perform one of the most impressive gigs of the event. Presenting some of their harsher tracks (as “Ancestors” or the fast “Divine Light”), the Polish quintet proved to be one of Europe’s best response to the American Black/Sludge attack, mixing perfectly their funeral noise with some ravenous faster parts. After them came one of the biggest surprises of UTBS’14: DEUS MORTEM. If one could expect some thrashened black metal, the band proved otherwise with a direct concert, full of rage and anger, where “Receiving the Impurity of Jeh” and “Ceremony of Reversion” provoked a general neck head to the ones standing in the first lines of the audience. With an aggressive presence over the concert, they finished with the solid anthem “Emanation” in a very promising first live appearance to our eyes.
Increasing the levels of aggression, VOIDHANGER distributed rage and negative feelings since their first riff. Being composed by some members of Infernal War, no one could expect different, especially when you face Warcrimer as the frontman. Black, Death and Thrash metal combined in short aggressive songs as “Wrathprayer” or “Carnivorous Lunar Activities”, which created one of the most agitated audience reactions of the weekend.
The scenario was now perfectly fitted for our first live contact with acclaimed PLAGA. The first thing to notice was the frontman change, once Angst seems impossible to be missed. His impressive presence led the band to one fine and intense black metal show, initiated with the complete “Trąby zagłady cz. II”, and then followed by “Magia gwiezdnej entropii” or “Śmierć Cieplna Wszechświata”, that soon will became respected hymns for the Apocalypse yet to come. It was a shame that the sound could not be at the same level of the band, once the drum pedal was choking the guitar melodies. One of the best moments of the weekend though.
For the final act, still in Polish black lands, consensual MGLA erected again a monument of dark convictions, honouring the darker feelings of mankind. Even if with a less cared sound than their Speyer Grey Mass performance, the hooded man from Krakow delivered nothing but negativity, and counted again with a convinced assistance, marching towards the abyss. Always with the acclaimed With Heart Towards None as their launch platform, religious hymns such as “Mldosci I” and “Further Down the Nest I” were again the harsher moments of a performance that delivered also “Groza III”. It was one of the most complete days we lived at UTBS.
After a stunning second day, the last journey of the festival started with Cuban NARBELETH, presenting their fresh new effort “A Hatred Manifesto”, released through Folter Records, a label strongly connected to UTBS. Led by the charismatic Dakkar, the Cuban trio accused no pressure on stage, always pointing out their joy about the opportunity to play in such an important black metal event. And they definitely deserved that chance.
After them the strongest name of the Campstage for this final day: Czech black metalers SILVA NIGRA. Since the beginning of the concert everybody understood the level of desecration that this band was going to create. Based on their last 2013 full-length, softer but darker songs were unveiled, such as “Cas splatit dluh” or “Bible Bolestných Nářků I”, never forgetting some of their well known sardonic themes like “Sociopat – Lidstvím tělo trpící” or “Krví Zaprodaná”, in a very intense concert, as always. It’s difficult to explain why they aren’t still in a higher reconnaissance level, but once you’re truly committed with the underground, we guess that stronger values take command. Maybe.
Changing styles, French THE GREAT OLD ONES (TGOO) surprised most of the audience with a stunning black/sludge demonstration. Without accusing the fact of playing for a different audience than the one they usually face, the French quintet gave it all during 45m, taking “Tekeli-Li” to a higher level of weight and distortion. All the members seemed totally inebriate on stage, specially the two vocalists, always with aggressive shouts, commanding a somewhat “beautiful” exhibition, to which the stage lights largely contributed. TGOO proved that UTBS’s boldness with black/sludge sonorities was a gained bet. Now imagine this guys playing at night…
The final Campstage act was Australian EREBUS ENTHRONED. They come with the new aussie wave of black metal, and the band faced the audience very close to the fans, creating a good atmosphere in that forest wood fort. We put these guys in the vein of Ofermod, once they present a very intimate and technical sound, even if that complexity turns the concert less appealing towards its end. And that’s just what we felt there.
DARKMOON WARRIOR fucks were definitely one of the bands we most wanted to try for the first time, given their importance for some German underground scene. Superb micro decoration and a “In your face attitude” made the stronger marks of their concert, where some songs sounded almost like industrial black metal, once the pedals were to fucking high, cutting all the guitars effort. This last day had this problem in most of the Mainstage shows. Sadly. Nevertheless, blaspheme hymns like “Blazing Satan Mastercult” and “Toi Hekunra” were a must for us, joining their good 2013 effort “Nuke ‘Em All”.
COUNTESS was supposed to be our dinner time, but, given the fact that so many Dutch friends were partying with this old school institution, we gave it a try. Even if the almost 100 Holland invaders (certainly the biggest foreign tribe of the festival) transformed this concert into a moment to retain, it was still not our cup of tea. Despite the explicit lyrics, the sound was far away from the patterns that we consider pleasant to enjoy. Also because of the lack of any stage scenario.
So ENDEZZMA came afterwards, starting their show with almost one hour delay, which, added to one hour lost at the Campstage, turned this third day into a very tiring one. The Norwegians, though, tried to thrill the audience with a strong stage presentation, under “Erotik Nekrosis” pleasant full length. But the main moment came after 40 minutes of show: the last three URGEHAL songs to be played live! Yes! Profiting from the presence of the remaining Urgehal members (including Enzifer), the Norwegians called to stage “Dødsmarsj Til Helvete”, “Satanic Black Metal in Hell” and “Goatcraft Torment” in an unforgettable moment. A tribute that should make Trondr Nefas proud.
So the enthusiasm of the crowd added to World Cup semifinals, made CORPUS CHRISTII start their performance facing less headbangers than expected. That error was soon corrected, once the blasphemy of the Portuguese maniacs urged everyone to the front of the stage. With Vulturius replacing Angel-O on the guitar, “Luciferian Frequencies” was the launch platform for the attack that, by the time “Victoria Cruenta” was played, had already conquered the public, that went crazy in some tracks, creating some aggressive agitation up front. Well, the show was really pushing to it and with the sound quality improving towards the end of the concert, “The Fire God”, “Evasive Contempt” and the final “All Hail! (Master Satan)” fulfilled the needs for madness from the crowd. Never stop it!
Strangely, BELPHEGOR played before Inquisition, starting by the time the last band should be ending. Well, it’s somewhat strange to see the Austrians headlining UTBS at their less dark and underground phase. Nevertheless, as a Big name, the crowd gave them the headliner status, mostly because they started the show with some of their harsher old songs. Eventually some new tracks from the upcoming “Conjuring the Dead” were also played. For what we were expecting, they turned out to deliver a competent show.
And to close, Colombian / North American institution INQUISITION, returning to UTBS 10 years after their last appearance. “Obscure Verses for the Multiverse” was off course the basis of their show, even if countless anthems were played till the end of a show that finished when many metalheads were already gone, once the delays made it impossible for some. It will be nice to see them again next week in Lisbon, hopefully with more vitality (from our side. From them we just expect the same kult level as always).
And that was it. Even if we ended tired up, the balance of the weekend is, again, a positive one. The addition of the second stage increases the “festival atmosphere”, creating more dynamics. But, on the other hand, it implicates that one has to stand up earlier than prior years. But, undoubtedly, when you have more bands, we get more big concerts. And that is the final sum of this event, not only at the mainstage, but also with bands as Silva Nigra, The Great Old Ones, Morte Incandescente, Kult or Nunslaughter in Campstage.
Sun, forest, friends and black metal. Waiting for next year.