Fall Of Summer 2016

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Sun, Sand, Metal, not your average day to the beach with the family. A blazing sun, metalheads with a tan, an unquenchable thirst, Fall Of Summer was HOT. Quite literally but figuratively as well. For the third edition of Fall Of Summer, people came from far and wide to the little Torcy. With a solid line-up and idyllic location they made it well worth the travel. It was a fun and relaxed festival. If they keep up this explosive growth and improvement, who knows what the next edition will bring. For now we can only look back with sadness in our eyes. Because summer fell and autumn is just around the corner.
[tabby title = “The Fest”]

This year’s Fall Of Summer layout looked quite the same as last year, although there were some additions: in between the Sanctuary stage and the merchandise tent, we found a nice, small local beer bar. Much to our pleasure, there was ‘Tripel Karmeliet’ available on tap! On the other side of the Sanctuary stage, you could find a vegan food stand.

The rest of the festival had the same layout as previous editions: signing sessions; tokens and a food/drink bar next to the entrance; the Sanctuary stage on concrete; and on the other side of the hill, on the beach, the Blackwaters Stage. On top of the hill there’s a bar, but this year you could buy delicious crêpes (pancakes) as well to go with your beer.
So no big changes in how the festival was organised, but one thing struck me immediately, the food. Fall of Summer has the good kind of organisation: one of the sort that listens to the audience. Last year, they got a lot of praise on the festival, but at the same time a lot of criticism on the food. It’s very clear the organisers took those complaints seriously, since the offer has been expanded greatly, both in quantity as well as quality. There was a fair offer for vegetarians and vegans too. Big up!

[tabby title = “Friday”]

Due to a massive traffic jam near the border we missed some bands: Hexecutor, Die Hard, ADX, Merrimack, Abigail, and Massacra had already finished their set when we arrived. Luckily we were in time for Oranssi Pazuzu. These Finnish lads have written some of the most intriguing psychedelic black metal in history, and they just released their latest opus, called Värähtelijä. It’s no surprise most of the setlist came from this album. Oranssi Pazuzu played a tight and atmospheric set. This would have been a splendid concert if it weren’t for the sun. That damned ball of fire doesn’t deserve any place when it comes to black metal shows. Nevertheless, if you closed your eyes you could easily drift away. Sound was great, as was the band. I’m looking forward to seeing them again in an indoor venue, because I’m sure they’ll blow off the roof.

After a drink and watching a glimpse of Manilla Road, who couldn’t really convince us, it was time to move back to the Blackwaters stage to see what Polish death metal masters Vader would bring. Vader played a tight set, without focus on a particular album. This resulted in a sort of ‘best of’ concert. They crushed their way through the songs but due to the hot weather, the crowd remained relatively calm. To my ears, 1 hour of Vader starts sounding a little bit monotonous, and it wasn’t until the last song Helleluyah (God Is Dead) that the crowd went absoluty nuts. Sand, sweat and beer everywhere, but in those 3 minutes Vader showed us their true potential.

After some food we went to see the first real highlight of the day. I didn’t really know what to expect from Samael. I was a bit sceptical about their venture into the industrial genre and how that would translate to a live performance; especially on a festival like Fall Of Summer. They didn’t play much of those industrial songs. But I’ll be damned, now I’m actually very curious to that part of their work, because that was one hell of a performance. At Fall Of Summer they kept it old school. With the entirety of Ceremony of Opposites on their setlist along with songs from Rebellion and Blood Ritual, it couldn’t go wrong. I’ll say it again, their performance was memorable. A tight set accompanied by a great atmosphere. Especially songs like Into The Pentagram and closing song The Truth Marches On were like a punch to the face. If it weren’t for the keen eye of my co-author, I wouldn’t even have noticed that a great deal of the drums were programmed. Surprise of the festival? I dare to say so.

1. Black Trip
2. Celebration of the Fourth
3. Son of Earth
4. Till We Meet Again
5. Mask of the Red Death
6. Baphomet’s Throne
7. Flagellation
8. Crown
9. To Our Martyrs
10. Ceremony Of Opposites
11. Rebellion
12. After The Sepulture
13. Into the Pentagram
14. The Truth Is Marching On

Paradise Lost was the headliner of the Blackwaters Stage on Friday evening. Widely considered pioneers in the death/doom genre they definitely have enough experience under their belt. Yet it felt somewhat disappointing. They started off great and musically everything was alright. But they weren’t as captivating as I imagined them to be. Interest and attention dropped off towards the end of the show. It started to feel somewhat bland. Vocalist Nick Holmes didn’t have the best of days, I even dare to say his vocals were weak, and the overall sound was a bit blurry. Something was missing from the performance. They played a mixture of old and new with quite some songs from their second full-length album Gothic. We expected a lot since we heard a lot of positive about Paradise Lost‘s liveshows, but had to conclude that at Fall of Summer, they couldn’t live up to their reputation.

1. Gothic
2. Dead Emotion
3. No Hope In Sight
4. As I Die
5. Rapture
6. Embers Fire
7. Shattered
8. Beneath Broken Earth
9. Pity the Sadness
10. Eternal
11. The Painless

[tabby title = “Saturday”]

After a good night’s rest we woke up just to notice that Saturday would be even hotter and more sunny, and we had a lot of bands to cover this day. This caused us to have some doubts about the first band of the day. Hell Militia played in front of their own audience at Fall Of Summer, since the band originates from Paris. It’s always difficult to open a festival day, especially for a fierce black metal band and on a very sunny and hot day. Yet, they managed to get a lot of people to leave the shades and halfway through their set, there was quite an audience watching. Hell Militia ravaged through their set and delivered a concert that was well worth getting out of our tents. At least they made sure we were awake, since their blastbeat-driven, Norwegian style black metal was like a punch in the throat.  Who’d have thought Satan and sunscreen would go hand in hand?

From black to death metal then. Only 5 minutes later we found ourselves on the other side of the hill, where The Monolith Deathcult released their avant-garde death metal on the audience. The audience was rather thin, which could be related to the insane temperatures the festival had to endure. This must have been even harder for the bands playing right in the spotlight, but the dutchies from The Monolith Deathcult didn’t really care about that. They ripped through their technical riffs and were able to evoke the first mosh pit of the day. Halfway through, Fall of Summer attendees were given the honour to hear a new track, Die Glocke. Footage of this song can be watched below.

Funeral doom under a burning hot sun, shortly after noon. Something that doesn’t quite add up. Just like a lot of other bands at Fall Of Summer, Skepticism would’ve definitely been a whole other experience in a dark, enclosed venue. Oddly enough, the band managed to create a very fitting atmosphere. Sweat dripping from their faces, riffs as slow as the passing sun, the theatrical performance. It was a puzzle that only Skepticism seemed to be able to complete. The air was filled with sorrow and grief as the singer, dressed as a coroner, growled his songs. The crowd huddled together in whatever shade the stage offered. Mesmerized for the entirety of the set, I can only imagine what they might be in a darker setting or when they play at night. But Skepticism is a band that can do both. Without a doubt.

Who thought things would calm down after this is seriously mistaken, since French outfit Phazm tore down the Sanctuary stage with their vicious blend of black, thrash, death and a good portion of humor. This turned out to be one of the best discoveries of the festival, they were an unexpected highlight. It’s clear they have a reasonably large fanbase in France, and deserve a lot more recognition from abroad. After Phazm, we took a small break and went to see the last few songs of Grim Reaper, who threw down a heavy metal party. You can’t stay still when hymns such as See You In Hell are performed on a beach, rest assured!

Sadly, we’ve all heard the news by now: Bolt Thrower is no more. These legends laid the band to rest after the passing of their drummer last year. Luckily there’s a new phenomenon rising: Memoriam. With members of both Bolt Thrower and Benediction, this newly formed four-piece sounds just like a mixture of those 2 bands. Withstanding the heat, they performed one of the best death metal concerts that I saw for quite some time. Karl Willets’ voice was strong as always, and with the bass sound a bit grindcore-ish, it made for a very filthy, yet clear sound. Songs like Resistance and Surrounded (By Death) evoked a great response from the crowd, as well as the two Bolt Thrower covers. For those interested in a studio version of Surrounded (By Death), a demo was released by Decibel Magazine just last week. Check it out here.

Sleep is for the weak, and so is sitting down at Fall of Summer. Still impressed by Memoriam we rushed back to the Blackwaters Stage to watch black thrashers NifelheimHow the Swedes managed not to suffocate in their leather outfit with spikes in the sun, I won’t ever understand. Fact is, the band around the two brothers Gustavsson know how to play a set. Nifelheim wasn’t memorable (due to the blurry sound), but nevertheless played a solid gig. And when the first riff of Infernal Flame Of Destruction hit my ears, even I couldn’t help but make my way to the mosh pit immediately.

Unleashed are titans in the viking death metalscene. Not the most original, but great in their simplicity. Having seen them at Graspop Metal Meeting before, I already knew what to expect: repetitive yet brutal and sometimes catchy riffs, a lot of double bass and an overal Heavy sound. Heavy, written with a capital. Vocals were clear – Unleashed might be one of the few death metal acts in which you can actually understand the lyrics. Unleashed conquered the festival, but what else can you expect when songs like To Asgaard We Fly, Where is Your God Now? and the infamous Hammer Battalion are unleashed (pun intended) upon the crowd?

Evil fucking music from Sweden. Most would classify it under the genre of depressive suicidal black metal. But the lines between genres can often be very blurred. However, with a band like Shining the meaning of their music is the most important in the end, a sometimes very confronting meaning. Shining played a solid set and the majority of the crowd was captivated by the music. Shining’s singer, the notorious Niklas Kvarforth, would often talk inbetween songs. While he did speak to the entire crowd it felt as if he spoke to us individually. A very intense show to say the least, for some a bit more than others. It sucked you in and before you realised they had left the stage. After starting of with 3 songs from their latest album, Shining dwelled around in their rich discography. Kvarforth is a natural born frontman, and he kept the attention of the crowd. Sound was clear (which resulted in a splendid version of Submit To Self-Destruction) and the rest of the band are truly talented musicians. Certainly one of the highlights (or should we say low points?) of the festival.

1. Vilja & Dröm
2. Framtidsutsikter
3. Människotankens vägglösa rum
4. Människa o’avskyvärda människa
5. Ohm (Sommar med Siv) (Seigmen cover)
6. Submit to Self-Destruction
7. Låt oss ta allt från varandra
8. Han som hatar människan
9. For the God Below

I can already announce no band was a match for Norwegian kings Satyricon, by far. Fall Of Summer drew the conclusion of their tour in which they celebrated the 20th anniversary of their cornerstone album, namely Nemesis Divina. When looking upon the crowd, there’s no doubt to be left: this was the band everyone was looking forward to. Vocalist Satyr was even a bit emotional, since this would be the last time ever they played Nemesis Divina in its entirety. They played the whole album, but in a slightly different order. Save the best for the last, they must have thought, since Satyricon concluded the album with the atmospheric Mother North. This song was, without a doubt, one of the best moments of the festival and made sure everyone was left with goosebumps. After that, they returned to play 3 last songs: Black Crow On A Tombstone, Fuel For Hatred and the obligatory K.I.N.G. Before, I was a bit sceptical about these ‘newer’ songs, but Satyricon still managed to impress me. Thanks to a great job from the sound guy, an intense light show and the enthousiasm from the band, Satyricon was just stellar.

1. The Dawn of a New Age
2. Forhekset
3. Du Som Hater Gud
4. Transcendental Requiem of Slaves
5. Immortality Passion
6. Nemesis Divina
7. Mother North
8. Black Crow on a Tombstone
9. Fuel for Hatred
10. K.I.N.G.

The organisation must have asked themselves the question what a great start of the afterparty would be. They found a fitting answer by booking Tankard to close Fall Of Summer. The band had the quite unthankful task of playing right after Satyricon, who proved themselves to be the masters of this year’s edition, yet played a cheerful set. Playing a lot of their booze-infused classics, they still attracted a lot of people, and I think the bar staff saw a spike in beer consumption. After Tankard the afterparty could really kick off. Just like the previous editions, there were 2 afterparties: one on the festival ground near the entrance, where mostly metal anthems were played. After this one closes, you can go to the second party on the camping ground, where the bar closes a bit later. And for the second time at Fall of Summer, I was amazed: the French sure know how to build a great party!

All in all we’ve seen some really great bands, had nice company, sunny weather at a superb location. Staff was, as usual, very friendly. Running order was strictly followed and the general atmosphere was very relaxed. All this combined makes sure this festival is one of my favourite experiences, and we’re already looking forward to next year’s edition of  Fall Of Summer!