Day Of Decay 2012

author MST date 25/05/12

Day Of Decay is a 1-day indoor metal festival located in Aalborg, Denmark. The 2012 edition was the third consecutive run of the event, and you can read our review of the 2011 edition here. In 2011 the event had moved to Stykgodsterminalen, an abandoned part of the train station. This year, the event had moved once again, this time taking place at Studenterhuset, Aalborg's best and most often used medium sized venue. Other than that there were practically no changes compared to last year, apart from the slighly more expensive ticket (250 DKKR. in presale and 330 DKKR. at the door compared to last year's 200 and 275 DKKR.).

It takes 5-10 minutes to walk from the train station in Aalborg to Studenterhuset. There are several places to buy food and drinks a couple of stone throws from the venue, and if a 2-minute walk was too much of a challenge the bar prices were still cheap (29 DKKR. for a 0,4 L beer). From the main entrance you could either go left or right: the left path led into the huge casual area where you could find a bar, lots of couches, chairs and tables and a couple of toilets as well as some special Day Of Decay merchandise, while the right path led into the stage area which contained another bar as well as an entrance to a hallway with more toilets and a wardrobe. Studenterhuset provides the perfect place for a mid-sized festival, with space to relax with a cold beer during the 30-minute breaks between the 10 bands playing on this sunny day in May.

Indeed, the weather for this year's event was phenomenal, and the amount of people flushing out of the front door after each band had played was a testament to that. It was a perfect way to spend 12 hours on a sunny Friday, and there must have been around 300 people who agreed with me on that. Now, it's time to check out the bands.

Lineup

Krisiun, Mercenary, Obscura, Sylosis, Dyscarnate, Leprous, The Cleansing, Cold Night For Alligators, Caro, Ferocity

Bands

Ferocity

Aalborg's own Ferocity had been left in charge of opening the festival. The band play death metal in the vein of bands like Dawn Of Demise; mid-tempo to blasting drums, heavy riffing with the occasional melodic lead and guttural growls made even deeper by holding the microphone inside both hands. Now that I'm listening to the band while writing, I notice that there are shouted vocals present in the mix as well, but there were none of these in the live setting. Those shouted vocals could've provided some extra variation, something that Ferocity's music lacked in Aalborg. But the band seemed to have a loyal local following, because by 2 pm when the band went on stage there were already over a hundred people in the venue, which is very unusual for an opening act. Backed by their fans, the band started their set. The music sounded good, and the fans certainly enjoyed it, but there were some slight issues with the vocals at first. The bassist and rhythm guitarist did their part to make the visual appearance an interesting one, while the lead guitarist and singer just walked around and played their music. Later on, the vocals were fixed and the lead guitarist and singer warmed up to the audience to conclude a solid opening performance with no surprises. [6½]

Caro

Another local act were up next. Caro hail from Frederikshavn, and play thrash/death metal, a genre that isn't exactly known for its original elements. I'd recently caught my first glimpse of this band at the Wacken Open Air Metal Battle in Herning, a preliminary round that they won. I was anxious to see whether they had improved or not, and I was delighted to see that the only real criticism I had after the Metal Battle had been taken care of. There were less people inside the venue now, but that didn't affect Caro the slightest. The band went on stage wearing shorts and matching black shirts, looking like professionals. Their performance was professional as well, as their energy and combined appearance made them look like they had played hundreds of shows already. The criticism from the Metal Battle that I mentioned earlier was that singer Michael Olsson tended to spend too much time doing nothing when he should be the acting frontman. This time around, Olsson had completely assumed the role of a frontman, an incredible transformation in such a short amount of time. He would rush around the stage with a smile on his face to get everyone involved in the music, and it worked like a charm. A competition involving a free EP helped get the front row going, and the result was that one of the best shows at the festival came from a band who only recently released their first full length. [8]

Cold Night For Alligators

After a short break it was time for a visit from Copenhagen. Cold Night For Alligators play technical metalcore, no doubt inspired by the likes of The Faceless. The band consisted of a drummer, two guitarists with matching 8-string guitars and a vocalist who had recently been acquired after the original singer left. From what I can gather on the interwebs, the band does have a bassist, but he wasn't there at Day Of Decay for some reason. But the lack of bass wasn't much of a problem. The songs went from mid-tempo melodic metalcore through progressive off-beat parts into ridiculously technical sweeping and tapping in the high end of the scales and (of course) some slow breakdowns in which the guitarists would stomp from side to side like little gorillas. Between songs electronic samples would play in the background while the singer introduced the next song, thanked the audience and got ready to jump around like a crazy person. Because that's more or less what he did throughout the set: he had ridiculous amounts of energy, so whenever he wasn't doing vocals all around the stage he would jump up and down repeatedly, making sure that there was always activity on stage but never doing anything truly captivating that would get anyone watching interested in the performance. But despite the almost non-existant response from the crowd, credit must be given to the guitarists for being able to play their tunes excellently in a live setting while still being able to perform between the technical parts of the music. [7]

The Cleansing

From modern, technical metal it was time to get back to the death metal department. The Cleansing from Copenhagen play death metal venturing into both old school and brutal territories. Having watched the band at Royal Metal Fest 2011 I had my hopes up for a simple, but solid performance. The band have had to acquire a new bassist in Martin Leth Andersen from Strychnos who also contributes as backing vocalist. The Cleansing's music is pretty straight forward death metal, with drums going from mid-tempo to blast beats, heavy guitar riffs and guttural vocals courtesy of Toke Eld. With the right performance, this type of music can be very entertaining in a live setting, but sadly the band just didn't bring it to Aalborg. Compared to their show at Royal Metal Fest 2011, the band looked like they didn't really want to be there, and especially Eld's mighty appearance at the helm of the band was missing, resulting in a band that sounded good, but looked awkward. The Cleansing can, and should do better than this. [6½]

Leprous

The first international band came from Norway and blew everyone away. Leprous play avantgarde progressive rock/metal of the impressively intricate kind, and although I had initially written them off after listening to them at home I got more and more interested in their music as the show went on. Their mix of progressive rock complete with odd song structures and keyboards creating multiple different soundscapes and modern metal with slight hints at metalcore is very interesting if you're into progressive metal. Upon entering the stage to the sound of an intro, it was immediately clear that these young Norwegians are a professional bunch. Clad in suits varying in style but all sticking to a theme of red, the band started their sonic assault on the reluctant Danish audience lead by Einar Solberg on vocals and keyboards. Solberg sports an impressive voice, with clean vocals to rival most young bands and screams to accompany the heavier parts of the music. His long dreadlocks would fly around with great velocity in the faster and heavier instrumental parts, and during longer sections without keyboards he would act as a free frontman, grabbing the microphone and moving out onto the monitors. The band generally functioned very well as a whole as they would close their eyes and feel the music during the quiet parts and then bang their head during the heavier parts. There was even some coordinated movement towards the end during which the whole band would move their whole body up and down as the heavy music lead their joint movement. There was almost no talk between songs, so it was all about the action, and there was plenty of that. The response from the crowd got better and better as the show progressed, and perhaps some better communication between the band and the audience would've made this show quite legendary, but I think those who watched the show at Day Of Decay could settle for pretty damn good. [8½]

Dyscarnate

Moving away from progressive music it was time for a kick in the nuts courtesy of Dyscarnate from the UK. This trio plays deathgrind reminiscent of Misery Index and Dying Fetus, with double pedals replacing blastbeats that replaced double pedals, energetic riffs that bring the grind element into play and a duo of vocalists who each contribute different types of vocals into the mix. It is a genre that already reeks of masculinity, and the fact that the guitarist and bassist looked like your archetypical muscular football fans only enhanced the feeling of testosterone filling the room. Because Dyscarnate are a trio there's only room for one guitar, so there's not much in terms of variation in guitar melodies. The band played a set containing equal amounts of songs from their two albums, and we were treated to aggressive deathgrind anthems such as "The Promethean" and "Judecca". This type of music is the perfect opportunity to bang your head or mosh with a deathwish to, but there wasn't much of a response from the crowd. The music was played as it should and the vocal duties shared between the guitarist and bassist provided some variation both in terms of sound and visual appearance, but there wasn't much of a performance. The guitarist and bassist almost didn't move, they just stood still and stared straight into the air above the audience. Thus, despite the energetic music, it wasn't exactly the most entertaining show of the night. [6]

Sylosis

Dyscarnate's countrymen in Sylosis were up next, and it was immediately clear that Sylosis have a much bigger following than the previous band. One could argue that Sylosis playing melodic thrash/death metal leaning on metalcore makes them a lot more accessible though. The music is not exactly my thing, so I stationed myself in the back of the room where the sound was a lot better and I had a better overview of the stage. Lead by guitarist/vocalist Josh Middleton, Sylosis played a solid show that I'm sure satisfied the band's fans, but did nothing to win over new ones. I can't point at any flaws in the band's execution, not even at the somewhat technical melodic solos that were quite tasty. But the band were completely static and did almost nothing to connect with the crowd. Even the frontman's between-song banter sounded tired and forced, as if he had to get it over with. It wasn't all bad, but it definitely wasn't anything to write home about. [6½]

Obscura

With the release of 2011's "Omnivium", Obscura has become one of the biggest names in progressive technical death metal. Their catchy, melodic yet progressive and extremely technical death metal has earned the band scores of new fans. Obscura has been my favorite band since I discovered 2009's "Cosmogenesis", and this marked my second live experience with the band. Extensive touring has brought the band around the world, and put them on stages in front of several hundreds of people at a time, and Day Of Decay must've featured the smallest crowd that Obscura have played in front of for a long time.

With a floor fan stationed in front of him, making him look like a commercial for hair products, guitarist/vocalist Steffen Kummerer lead the band through opening songs "Septuagint" and "Vortex Omnivium" from the latest album, and played a fantastic setlist consisting of songs from "Cosmogenesis" and "Omnivium". Let's face it, Obscura have never been a very good live band, but watching Kummerer and lead guitarist Christian Muenzner play their technical riffs almost as if they were dueling is a wonder to behold. The former bassist Jeroen Paul Thesseling was a magician on the fretless bass and was the active member of the band, and although newly acquired bassist Linus Klausenitzer fills Thesseling's shoes musically, he doesn't quite cut it performance-wise. It was up to frontman Kummerer to make the crowd feel at home, but it felt like he couldn't quite take the tiny crowd seriously. Sarcastic remarks about the amount of people in the audience who've heard the band's material don't exactly win over new fans. But for a fan like me, who've based almost all of my vocal practice on the "Cosmogenesis" album, the deal breaker was, well, the vocals. "Incarnated" was the third song of the set, and that's where everything started falling apart for me. Kummerer didn't finish the vocal lines, he settled with doing half of some of them and improvising the rest of them, an error that completely ruined the song for me. There were other songs that had changed lyrics, but it never got as bad as it did with "Incarnated". Fanboy-ism aside, Obscura did their thing and it was neither awful nor awesome, but the changed lyrics and sarcastic attitude courtesty of Kummerer dragged the performance into a significantly lower grading than what you would expect from such a professional and seasoned bunch. [6]

Mercenary

I've previously made lengthy remarks about how much I dislike Mercenary's latest album and the fact that they've chosen to focus almost exclusively on that album despite it being their sixth release. But there's no denying that Mercenary are one of the most solid and professional live bands in Danish metal, and that's coming from someone who rarely finds bands fronted by bass or guitar wielding singers interesting at all in a live setting. And the growing pool of new, younger fans suggests that Mercenary's new music hits the spot for some people, at least. Mercenary play melodic death metal, with growled, screamed and clean vocals, mid-tempo straight forward drumming and melodic riffing and solos. Starting the set with five songs off the new album, Mercenary immediately grabbed the attention of everyone in the room. With the endless enthusiastic presence and excellent axe work of lead guitarist Martin Buus and the fantastic showmanship of new frontman René Pedersen on bass and vocals, Mercenary put on a great performance. Pedersen is the type of frontman who dedicates every facial expression to those he fixates his gaze upon, and thus it feels as if he really means something when uttering the growled, screamed or cleanly sung lyrics. And when Buus and rhythm guitarist Jakob Mølbjerg keep changing places throughout the set the energy never stops. And then something surprising happened: Mercenary ended the set with four older songs! Naturally, two of them were off 2008's "Architect Of Lies" on which René also contributed some of the vocals, but "Soul Decision" and "World Hate Center" from the "The Hours That Remain" and "11 Dreams" albums were welcome additions to the setlist. All in all, Mercenary played another top notch show and even tried to bargain with the fans of the older material. They're one of the best live bands in Denmark, and I know I'm going to see them loads of times in the future. [8]

Krisiun

11 hours had passed, and it was finally time for the headliners to ascend the stage. The organizers had flown Krisiun in from Brazil, and they were well worth it. During the last 22 years these Brazilians have released 8 albums and a couple of EPs worth of brutal death metal with almost non-stop blasting drums, crushing riffs and punishing growled vocals. Contrary to what Mercenary had just played, Krisiun's setlist was an extremely varied one that featured only two songs off their latest album and generally included most of their classics from most of their albums. We were treated to old classics like "Kings Of Killing", "Ravager" and "Hatred Inherit" as well as recent blast anthems like "Minotaur" and the excellent "Combustion Inferno". Krisiun consists of three brothers, with Alex Camargo on vocals and bass fronting the band while Max and Moyses Kolesne take care of the drums and guitars respectively. Compared to Dyscarnate earlier, Krisiun were a lot more effective in making their trio work in a live environment, perhaps because they actually moved and headbanged while playing their crushing death metal. Alex made sure to thank the organizers and the audience, and to encourage everyone to get drunk, smoke weed and keep supporting metal, and then made a last effort to blast Aalborg to pieces. [7½]

More pictures can be found in Marika 'MH' Hyldmar's Flickr album.

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