NEUROTIC DEATHFEST - Europe’s biggest indoor extreme metal festival - celebrated its 10th anniversary last weekend. The line-up was impressive; an exciting mix between well-known bands (CARCASS, EXHUMED, MAGRUDERGRIND, PIG DESTROYER) and rather obscure bands (MALIGNANT TUMOUR, VALLENFYRE, WORMED). By writing this, I am aware that I probably make a complete idiot of myself in front of metalheads. But then again, I am no metalbeast but have always been a sporadic metal listener. My wife used to be a (speed)metalchick so when we first met some 25 years ago, we both went to a lot of metal shows (OBITUARY, MORBID ANGEL, AGNOSTIC FRONT, BRUTAL TRUTH and NAPALM DEATH spring to mind). A little later, however, I found the whole punkrockscene much more fun and only occasionally went to metalshows.
When I heard about the NEUROTIC DEATHFEST in Tilburg, Holland a couple of years ago, I became curious and bought a ticket. The great thing about this kind of festivals is that you can rely on the expertice of a bunch of devotees who know the bands that matter and try to book the cream of the crop. I paid a visit to the 2010 and 2011 edition of the festival and was amazed at the diversity of the bands at the festival: deathmetal, blackmetal, grindcore, deathgrind, deathcore… all very LOUD & BRUTAL! Especially the shows at the second stage impressed by their sheer power and intensity. As a result, bands like ROTTEN SOUND and BEHEADED surpassed themselves through a flawless monster sound.
The 10th anniversary had some real surprises: the legendary band POSSESSED who coined the term "Death Metal" in 1983 on the band's 1984 demo of the same name, put on one hell of a show. Singer Jeff Becerra has been in a wheelchair for over 18 years as a result from a street robbery where he was shot and subsequently paralyzed. The band sounded like a ruthless metalversion of Poison Idea and blasted through its repertoire with hardly any stops. POSSESSED were not the only legendary band on the festival. Also REPULSION – whose Horrified album from 1987 is a genre-pioneering masterpiece - made its appearance on the festival. Not as impressive as POSSESSED but still very good.
Also CRYPTOPSY from Montreal put on an amazing show: tight, mean & totaly in your face! Frontman Mike Disalvo turned out to be a supernice dude who ran across the stage and agitated the audience in style. Next to bands with an established reputation like UK legends CARCASS and IMMOLATION from New York, there were a few discoveries to be made. MALIGNANT TUMOUR from the Czech Republic played an amazing mix of metal, crust & rock & roll. Their fast-paced tunes reminiscent of Motörhead turned the small club into a total slamfest. Paradise Lost's chief songwriter and lead guitarist Gregor Mackintosh created the band VALLENFYRE which also includes the bass player from UK crust legends DOOM. Slow pounding metal with a raw, sepulchral voice: awesome! A MAGRUDERGRIND show has to be witnessed to be believed. Insane grindcore with only drums, a guitar and vocals but what an impact this New York trio makes: a primal scream that leaves you gasping for adjectives! I could go on for a while but let me finish this post with CATTLE DECAPITATION who sounded like The Jesus Lizard playing extreme metal! No kidding. Their show was manic, brutal and totally wacko.
Quite some bands that I have enjoyed on this unique festival might not leave the same impression on record. Some bands like the ridiculously named German trio COCK AND BALL TORTURE get on my nerves after 40 minutes. But NEUROTIC DEATHFEST proofs that the most extreme metal genre offers a full range of exciting sub-genres that are best to be experienced in a live setting. Why don't you go knocking at death's door?