The Portuguese Moonspell (***1/2) brought some darkness over the Swamp Stage with their gothic vibes. Though, it must be said that their newest album ‘Hermitage‘ (2021) brings a lot more progressive rock influences. They shared no less than four songs of the latest record with the audience so the crowd could get used to this new sound. Not only the sound has evolved, but also frontman Ribeiro fashions a new and lighter look with short hair. The new cut does not bring down the force and depth in his voice, however, as classics like ‘Alma Mater‘ and ‘Full Moon Madness‘ still sounded as strong as ever. A good show, with both old and new in the mix, that passed by all too quickly.
Back to the Prison stage we went to chill with Tarja (**1/2). The ex-Nightwish singer still has an unmistakably gorgeous voice, but the music she and her musicians bring just falls flat. I guess many can appreciate her heading into a career as a solo artist, but I’m not one of those people. Flat music and piss-poor audio make for a forgettable performance.
After such a snoozefest, we were in desperate need of a stimulant. Fortunately Mayhem (***1/2) was playing the Swamp. You didn’t need to say more. Black metal is better than coffee or energy drinks. Attila and the Norwegian bunch brought forth the darkness we’ve come to expect from this notoriously legendary band. The sound was yet again top notch at the Swamp stage, which made sure every attendant was fully immersed in the dark atmosphere. The show was rather intense with track after track after track dripping with evil riffs and ominous drum licks, all while Attila brandished his skulls and inverted crucifix at us. A diabolical performance, to say the least.
Before melodic death metal reigned supreme on Saturday with Omnium Gatherum, Dark Tranquillity and Hypocrisy, another legend in the genre took the stage on Friday. Tomas Lindberg and his crew did not waste a lot of time on chatter and threw a mix of modern and old At The Gates (***) material at the crowd at a steady pace. The older material all came from their classic ‘Slaughter of the Soul‘ (1995) album, while the rest of the set sought a balance between the last three albums since their reunion. Lindberg did his best to address the crowd in Dutch as much as possible. A fun gesture that was appreciated by the crowd. Less appreciation was felt throughout the show, however. The steady machine that is At The Gates never felt like they were picking up momentum with the crowd and it felt like they rushed through the set. Maybe too many older fans were hanging out at Cyclone, or maybe their harsher style didn’t match the other bands on the line-up today.
After a twenty-five-year hiatus singer Guido Gevels decided it was time to bring old school thrash metal back to the Belgian pits. Thus reforming Cyclone (*****) and gathering around him long-time guitarist Stefaan Daamen and a trio of new talented musicians Vincent Heyman (ex-The Black Tartan Clan) on bass, Kevin Verleysen on lead guitar and Matthias Debaets on drums. Now, their Alcatraz performance wasn’t their comeback show, but its importance shouldn’t be understated. I suppose after that long a break as a band, you don’t know how it’s gonna turn out. Sure, you’ve got the old guard to back you up, but you can’t help but wonder how you’re gonna captivate the younger audiences. Now that I’ve seen what they’re packing, Cyclone have nothing to worry about. What a party! From the first song onward, fans were stage diving, moshing, dancing and crowd surfing. The pit just didn’t stop; not for one second. Even when the sound went out for two entire songs, people were still going nuts. The thrash five kept on playing, since their backline was still working and they had no way of knowing the outer speakers went out. At least not from the audience’s ongoing pandemonium. Cyclone have undoubtedly left a lasting impression on everyone who chose to check them out over At the Gates. Despite sound issues, this was today’s best concert.
This report continues on page 4.