5 Jul 2012
Sick Fest 2012 Battle Report
My first immediate concern with a festival like Sick Fest was whether or not it would even be possible to attract enough people to a three-day show of what is essentially a niche genre. My second concern was if it would be well enough organized to succeed. To the last of my concerns I was surprised to find that it was very well organized and felt very professional in most aspects. They kept a ruthless schedule and didn't fall behind even once, but unfortunately the amount of bands resulted in very short sets for some of the bigger bands. That said, in the world of death metal most sets need to be short in order to not become boring.
Sick Fest, according to the promoters, is a death metal and grind festival. When it comes to metal, death metal is probably one of the genres with most sub-genres, so I was rather surprised to find that most of the bands were either brutal death metal bands or slam bands. I had hoped that they had hired bands of greater diversity, as many sub-genres were represented by only one or two bands. As an example, Panacea was the only melodic death metal band, and the two headliners Rompeprop and Cliteater were both gore/porngrind while VxPxOxAxAxWxAxMxC was the only "true" grindcore band. Most of the other bands were brutal death metal bands, which in every nature of the genre gets incredibly boring when you listen to 10 bands each day where 7 of them sound pretty much alike.
The first day DPOS!! and RazorRape, two bands consisting of roughly the same members, stood out as bands that had great contact with the audience. With a lead singer that understood how to talk to a bunch of shitfaced metalheads, both bands got through two great sets peppered by a Cock and Ball Torture cover of Kamikaze Incest.
Amagortis, the weed-lovin' Swiss death metal band, was also among one of the highlights of Friday. Their great energy and presence resulted in a pumped audience, and Amagortis were probably one of the most well-visited shows of the day.
The band that, to me, delivered the best show was one of the biggest bands on the festival. It was obvious that Condemned from San Diego was one of the bands that people had been looking forward to, and they were met with an engaged audience in spite of their short setlist.
On Saturday the first band to play, the Danish melodic death metal act Panacea, had a limited audience, probably because of severe hangovers. In spite of the lack of attendence Panacea delivered a great show with catchy tunes and lots of energy. Sick Fest's softest band was also among one of the better ones.
The third band of Saturday was one that I had looked forward to as they have been featured before on my blog. Back in April 2012 I reviewed their first demo EP "Dehiscent Abdominal Viscera", and getting to see them live was very interesting. Having two lead singers made the show stand out and they showed Sick Fest why slam is great live music.
It goes without saying that both Cliteater and Rompeprop were out of this world. I won't even begin describing their shows. But that said I feel that the best band of Sick Fest 2012 was the German band CYTOTOXIN. I had never heard of them before, but their ultra-fast brand of technical brutal death metal was so well-performed and well-executed that they receive my vote as the best band. The imposing and threatening attitude and demeanor of their lead singer, who looked most of all like a German Frankenstein, took us over the edge and when he would once in a while get off the stage to stomp around in the pit it made the show perfect.
Phantasmo DVD and some wicked distro stands by Ancient Darkness Productions and others. With around 30 bands I wish they would've gone for a more varied approach as Sick Fest featured little more than a slew of brutal death metal bands in the vain of the old Mountains of Death lineups. I could also have wished for a larger turnout as one quickly grew familiar with most people on the festival, and most of the bands only got around half of the audience inside. I was hoping for some serious headbanging and moshing, but apparently in the world of slam every pit must be degraded into 3-5 drunk germans walking in circles at a steady pace whilst waving at the band. Occassionally when things got wild this would escalate into 6-7 people stomping angrily around and mimicking taking their hats off and throwing it to the ground in sheer fury repeatedly. It's great that most death metal bands and fans don't take themselves or the genre super seriously, but it was hard taking the festival, the shows, the bands and the "fans" serious when they were strutting around like displeased chickens.