Day of Decay 2011

author MST date 23/07/11

Day of Decay is a one-day festival that took place for the second time this year in Aalborg, Denmark. Last year, it was located at Baghuset, there were two stages and the festival was headlined by Trigger The Bloodshed, Neaera and War From A Harlots Mouth. This year the festival had moved to DSB Stykgodsterminalen, an abandoned part of the old train station. As you can imagine, the place was filled with dust at first, but some open doors took care of that in no time. There was only one stage, so people who wanted to see all bands (or review all bands, like the undersigned) had to prepare for 14 hours of music. Around 250 people attended the festival, paying 200 DKK online or 275 DKK at the entrance for a ticket.

The final line-up turned out to be very different from the line-ups announced along the way because of an unusual amount of cancellations. Mnemic, Annotations Of An Autopsy, The Blackout Argument and Essence were all supposed to play the event, but they had to cancel for various known or unknown reasons. When Mnemic and Annotations Of An Autopsy cancelled the day before the event was to take place, Facebreaker were brought in as a replacement (the singer was going to be there with Scar Symmetry anyway), all bands were given a few more minutes of play time and beer prices were lowered from 30 DKK. to 15 DKK. during the first hour.

Lineup

Scar Symmetry, Facebreaker, Aborted, Severe Torture, Marionette, Pitchblack, Gama Bomb, The Interbeing, Poison My Blood, Fetus In Fetu, 9000 John Doe, Naked Lucy

Festival Area

The outdoor area was fenced in, leaving only a single entrance open for paying visitors. In that area there were two fully functional toilets, and the queue was always minimal (partly because most men just went on the wall behind the toilets). Entering the building one walked right into the bar that sold almost everything; beer, water, various sodas, drinks, shots and sandwiches. On the way from the bar to the stage, a small metal market had been set up. There was a t-shirt booth that sold random print t-shirts and Day of Decay merch, a CD booth with a salesman who wouldn't let people just walk by, and a long booth where each band would set up camp with their own merch. After the booths, a bridge led attendants over the old railway tracks to the scene.

The stage was pretty small, so there wasn't a lot of room for the bands to move around on. In comparison (to those who know the Danish stages) it was smaller than the stage at The Rock, and larger than the stage at Musikcaféen in Århus. There was plenty of room for the audience, often even too much room as people tended to stand far away from the stage and leave a big area in front of the stage completely empty, which must've been discouraging to the bands that weren't able to pull a crowd. I was afraid that the sound was would be awful because of the very strange venue settings, but the sound turned out to be quite excellent throughout the day.

Because I can, I'm going to extend a tiny little rant to the organisers of Day of Decay: when we arrived we were told that leaving the festival area meant we had to pay 25 DKK to get back in. That's fucking stupid. I realize that selling tickets is not enough to make the event go around, but you're punishing those of us who can't afford to get drunk when beers are 30 DKK each. But apparantly the girls that were seated at the entrance when the festival started hadn't heard of that 25 DKK fee, so we were able to exit and enter as we saw fit. Now, let's talk about the music!

Bands

Naked Lucy @ 12:15

The opening act of the event was the winner of Day of Decay warm-up, a series of events in Aalborg that started in January. The victors were Naked Lucy, a young local hard rock/punk/metal/whatever band. They basically play whatever they want without limiting themselves to a certain genre. We were treated to guitar ballads, fast punk rock tracks, some good ol' rock'n'roll and even a rap song. Naked Lucy don't take themselves too seriously, but they enjoy playing their music, two facts that were very evident in their performance. At the end of the show the singer left his mic on stage, walked around to the various groups of people who were watching the show, and posed next to us as if he was making fun of our hesitating attitude. Before that happened his mic was always in the stand, and he would walk from the stand to the other band members between vocal lines. The lead guitarist was awesome; he looked like a 60's type hippie with a woolen sweater, glasses that were resting on the tip of his nose and a Gibson guitar that produced some cool sounding riffs and solos. The other guitarist was the exact opposite of the first one; ridiculously boring. If this was an album review it would be a bashing because their amateur/high school/garage band's music is never going to get them anywhere. But their live performance was pretty solid. [6½]

9000 John Doe @ 13:10

Next up were another local band that brought rock'n'roll tunes to the event. 9000 John Doe play a mix of metal, hardcore and rock'n'roll with a southern rock vibe. Clad in blue denim vests, 9000 John Doe were determined to party no matter how tiny the response from the crowd was. The singer would dance around the stage while swinging his microphone in the air, the guitarist did a solo while walking amongst then audience in the middle of the set, and the singer brought a beer bong for spectating volunteers. The mood was high throughout the show and the interaction between singer and audience was more or less constant. But while the mood was extremely high on stage, it didn't affect the audience. Those that bothered watching the show were very hesitant, but after all it was quite early. 9000 John Doe played a good show, and I encourage anyone who like their music to go see them if the chance is there. [7½]

Fetus In Fetu @ 14:05

And then the Decay started kicking in. Fetus In Fetu are another local band, but they play a very different genre; brutal death metal. A coffin was placed at the center of the stage, and while some eerie graveyard music was playing as an intro, singer (and volunteer at the festival) Michael Bekker slowly opened the coffin from the inside, got out of it, shut the lid and started the show. He stood on the coffin from time to time. But while the coffin could be used as a tool to send some evil further into the crowd, Bekker rarely even directed his attention to the audience. At times he would actually face the wall at the side of the stage while standing on the coffin, growling his lyrics. The only interaction during the songs was an occasional "Hey Aalborg, are you there?" (in Danish, of course). The rest of the band were extremely stationary, but at least the bassist had plenty of energy. But even with an energetic bassist and a coffin on stage, the show became tedious very quickly. The final song saw a guest vocalist join Bekker on the coffin, which was definitely the highlight of the show. When you're a young band with a very small following and the response from the crowd is as tiny as it was at Day of Decay, you need to direct your attention to the spectators instead of being all theatrical. Or perhaps it just didn't work on me. [4½]

A professional video was shot of the intro and the first song. Watch it here.

Poison My Blood @ 15:00

And then the first international band came on stage and completely destroyed everything. In the good sense of the word. Poison My Blood are a metalcore/post-hardcore band from Belgium, and although I will most likely never get into their genre, their show was one of the best at the whole event. The second the first song started the band exploded completely, jumping around, kicking in the air and swinging their instruments all over the place. The singer's face was almost glowing red throughout the show. It reminded me of seeing The Psyke Project live, and that's quite an accomplishment. Each time a breakdown occurred another dose of insanity was injected into the show, and the sweat was boiling on the faces of the band members. And that's when I turned around and noticed that they were doing their insane show to a completely stale audience. That's my definition of a great live band; a band who are able to go completely mental out of pure love of playing music even though the audience do not react. Further into the show the band's energy started affecting the spectators, and the band kept going all the way through. The singer actually collapsed during a song on purpose and continued screaming into the mic while lying on the stage floor. And when he screamed the final sentence he fell into the drumset, seemingly destroying some of it. It was insane, and it was awesome. I wish more bands in my favorite genres would do stuff like this. [9]

The Interbeing @ 16:00

Four hours into the event, and it was time for another Danish band. The Interbeing were the first band to actually have a fanbase that stood right at the front before the show started. With playback synthesizers in the background, the band played their futuristic Meshuggah-style metal to great effect. Singer Dara Toibin shows an enormous confidence on stage as he stares into the eyes of every single person attending the show while doing his semi-screams and occasional clean vocals helped by one of the guitarists. And it worked. The fans up front were headbanging and raising their horns all the way through the show, and they looked completely satisfied when walking away afterwards. Between songs, Toibin was also good at interacting with the audience, making them raise their horns and shout to get the momentum up. During one of the last songs Toibin did a few vocal lines while walking amongst the crowd, screaming into the faces of the excited fans. It seemed as if the band have had decades of experience doing live shows, and that resulted in a show that is best described by two words: 'rock' and 'solid'. [7½]

Gama Bomb @ 17:10

Time for a band I was eagerly looking forward to. The Irish New Wave Of Thrash Metal dudes in Gama Bomb went on stage to find the stage area almost empty, but because singer Philly Byrne was so ridiculously funny (the Irish accent that most Danish people love helped a bit) the audience were lured closer and closer to the stage. At first it seemed as if the band were bored to tears, but when Byrne explained that they had all been drunk last night and half the band ended the night with some stomach acids, the second guitarist's dull facial expression became a bit more acceptable. It was also around that time when the band started to look a lot more energetic, and the guitarist I stood in front of reacted a lot more to the solos he was playing to my teeth. The main attraction was definitely Philly Byrne; although he never removed the mic from the stand, his eyes were with the audience at all times, and his omnipresent smile made the band's fun thrash metal even more enjoyable. The movement was quite limited, but the band (or rather, Philly Byrne) were extremely entertaining both during and between songs, and for that they deserve: [7½]

Pitchblack @ 18:20

The Danish death/thrash metal band Pitchblack were brought in to replace The Blackout Argument when they cancelled their appearance at Day of Decay. They had quite a following, as the stage area was almost full during their show, and as it turned out they were there for a reason. The band played a very energetic set with plenty of headbanging, sweat and painful facial expressions, and the audience reacted by doing more or less the same. Singer Daniel Fonseca was great with the audience and conveyed the band's energetic music to excellency throughout the set. And yet, somehow (probably because seeing 12 bands in 14 hours is a bit too many) I didn't quite feel it. Apart from being energetic, Pitchblack's performance was so ordinary that I'm feeling a bit short for words. I'm not going to punish the band over something like that though, so I'm going to end this with a solid [7]

Marionette @ 19:35

The young Swedes in Marionette brought more than just music to the event. Dressed in suits, wearing make-up ranging from black eye shadow to colors and glitter and with big puffy hair, the band clearly showed what type of music and image they presented. The singer walked on stage wearing a white mask that he threw away during the first song, and then continued removing more clothing every few songs (jacket, shirt and lastly his tank top), turning the band's gig into a strip show for teenage girls. As if that wasn't enough, the keyboard player with very heavy make-up (he was a dude by the way) was climbing his keyboard to pose on top of it. But apart from that, Marionette pulled off quite a show. The singer was screaming all over the place, and the bassist was very energetic as well. A mother had brought her young boy (he looked like he was 4-5 years old) to the show with earmuffs, and the drummer thought that was so cool that he walked down to give the boy a drumstick. Despite an extremely hesitant crowd who almost didn't react at all, Marionette persisted and never gave up. I can imagine how frustrating it can get when you do everything you can to perform and get nothing back from the audience, but luckily I can do that with this review. Marionette's show was as good as some of the shows that the crowd reacted to a lot, and thus they deserve: [7½]

Severe Torture @ 20:50

Next up were the Dutch death metal band Severe Torture. Singer Dennis Schreurs had borrowed Fetus In Fetu singer Bekker's mic, and therefore Bekker was invited to the stage to do half of the song Buried Hatchet, followed Schreurs thanking him and the audience. The Dutchmen delivered on stage, and the considerably large crowd that had gathered to see them didn't let it go unnoticed. There was headbanging and horns both on and off stage. The guitarist I was standing in front of played some excellent solos and was generally very energetic, but Schreurs was wandering around like I've never seen a singer do before. He would basically turn around at the front of the stage, walk a few steps behind the bassist to his left, then turn around and walk back, to no effect and for no obvious reason. But when he stood at the front of the stage he had eye contact with the audience and made sure everyone knew that they were watching a serious death metal show. The show never got boring, but it was never spectacular either. [7]

Aborted @ 22:05

The main attraction for me at Day of Decay was seeing Aborted play twice in three days. Two days earlier we had been at The Rock to see them play with By The Patient. And judging by the amount of people who had showed up for Aborted, we weren't the only ones who love the insane Belgians. Having seen Aborted play just two days earlier meant that we had an idea of what was coming. But we didn't get what we got at The Rock. We got something better. This time there was a much better response from the audience, and the band reacted to it - a lot. The guitarists had a huge amount of energy, an amount only rivaled by the bassist and singer Sven "Svencho" de Caluwé who were even crazier than they were at The Rock. There was sweat, screaming, jumping and headbanging all the way through the show and the band never even seemed tired. The setlist was exactly the same as it was at The Rock (at least they didn't play any songs that they didn't play at The Rock); they played material from "Engineering The Dead", "Goremageddon" and "The Archaic Abattoir", two songs off their recent "Coronary Reconstruction" EP (all songs on that EP can be found on their upcoming new album) and the title track from their upcoming new album "Global Flatline". Like at The Rock, Svencho wasn't quite able to sing all the lines fully in the opening song, "Dead Wreckoning", but after that everything went completely as it should. Aborted played an excellent show and made a lot of fans very happy in Aalborg. Let's hope for a Danish show when Aborted go touring to promote their new album! [8½]

Facebreaker @ 23:30

The Swedish death metal band Facebreaker were booked as a replacement when Mnemic and Annotations Of An Autopsy cancelled the day before the event took place. As a result, Facebreaker faced an almost empty stage area when they walked on stage as the sun had just set. The band play a slow, yet somewhat thrashy slab of Swedish death metal unlike the Dutchmen in Severe Torture who played earlier. Facebreaker's performance showed a band with experience behind them, and a band who wouldn't give up because the crowd weren't interested. The whole band gave us an energetic performance, and singer Robert Karlsson moved all around even though there were no one standing by the stage. At one point the whole band (sans drummer) were headbanging the same way at the same time, and it looked awesome. If anything was going to make people more interested in the show that would've been it. It was obvious in the band's expressions that they were disappointed in the reaction from the crowd. Later on more people came to see the band, but no one wanted to go all the way up front. The audience were clearly tired; even the applause when the band had finished the last song sounded like people just wanted to go to bed. So in conclusion, Facebreaker's show was an ordinary routine show by a band who know what they're doing, but still reacted to the poor reaction. [7]

Scar Symmetry @ 00:55

After a short break singer Robert Karlsson was back on stage with his second band, the headliners of the festival; Scar Symmetry. Apparantly some of those who were standing outside during Facebreaker still had plenty of energy, because Scar Symmetry's performance turned out to be the great party of the night. There weren't a whole lot of people at the show, but almost everyone were all the way up front. Along with clean vocal singer Lars Palmqvist and the rest of the band, Karlsson showed no signs of being tired despite having played a show already. The band were energetic and efficient on stage, and they proved that even though their music is not very fast or intense their show can get quite a party started. The guitarists and bassist changed places and walked around often, and there was plenty of interaction with the audience. One of the guitarists had some trouble with his axe at the end of a song, but it was fixed quickly while the singers were talking to the crowd. The (mostly young) crowd loved the show, but some had to surrender to fatigue and walk out near the end. When the last few songs were being played only half the amount that were standing at the beginning of the show remained, but the band never lost any energy. When the final song had been played the fans were screaming for an encore, and an encore was what they got. The Swedes ended the Day of Decay with a fantastic show that sent the remaining attendants home with a great last experience. [8½]

To see even more photos from of the various bands, head to the gallery.

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