Early morning, Saturday, woke up to edit news, interviews, reviews and prepare myself for Lupercalia Prima. Reading other magazines, FB pages I have seen one interesting post. Embassy of the Netherlands in Serbia supported festival:
A little different from the usual musical performances, but the Dutch have also something to offer the heavy metal lovers! The Dutch heavy metal band, Sammath, will be headlining the Lupercalia Prima festival at Dom Omladine on Saturday! Sammath are a critically acclaimed Dutch band that will officially be entering its 25th year in 2019. Hailing from Nijmegen, the band consists of members Jan Kruitwagen (guitars / vocals / composer), Ruud Nillesen (bass / backing vocals) and Wim van der Valk (drums). The band are well known in the international heavy metal underground as being innovators. For example, Deathmetal.org, the oldest online extreme metal website, rated Sammath’s latest album, 2014’s “Godless Arrogance” as the best album of 2014. Although the band has achieved cult-like status, for the past decade they have been known as recluses, refusing to play live. This was changed in 2018, when Sammath began playing in the Netherlands again, garnering wildly positive reviews for the few who have been able to catch them.
Now, I am asking all Serbian headbangers, and not only headbangers, but all the people of common sense: in which universe, parallel dimension, twilight zone or whatever, Serbian embassy would support any metal concert? Yeah, we all know the answer.
To educate ourselves for a moment… Lupercalia was ancient annual festival held on February 15, in the city of Rome in order to preclude evil spirits and purify the city, releasing the filth and fertility.
Since every Saturday, Serbian citizens are protesting against government do you recognize any symbolism here? I am afraid, in order to preclude this country, we should keep this festival at least once in a week.
I could open a debate here, but let’s leave it for some other occasion.
Lupercalia Prima was announced as one day black metal feast including four bands. The accent was on Sammath’s performance, that hadn’t been playing outside Netherlands and Germany in past 25 years. Besides Sammath, Void Prayer, Terrörhammer and Virtue of the Vicious were part of the Black Metal Feast.
The festival supposed to start at 19:30 when first support band hit the stage. Surprisingly, right on time. Who else would open the show if not Serbian band? This time, the choice was Virtue of the Vicious. Nothing, but nothing on their FB page, bandcamp, so I can only write they are from Belgrade. What a precious information!
Virtue of the Vicious, from what I heard in their first song, promised a lot. But, the second one just went to some strange direction. Black metal, grindcore, blackened hardcore… Mishmash of everything led to nothing. The hero of this performance, for sure was drummer. Compared to other bands, Virtue of the Vicious performance was closer to rehearsal than anything else.
After a short break, Void Prayer, Black Metal horde (Dutch/Bosnian band) hit the stage. Their first and the last album (according to Encyclopaedia Metallum) “Stillbirth from the Psychotic Void” was released in 2017. From the very first moment when the guys were setting the stage, I might admit, I knew we will have a spectacular show. I might sign and seal that we need more bands like this! Guys had a fantastic performance that had left all the bands far behind.
Candlesticks, robes, hoods, screams sent straight from hell, psychotic, cathartic… No words strong enough to describe the beauty of this performance in all its madness. If we consider the fact that Void Prayer leans on mental state in their lyrics, than mission completed.
In the name of Black Metal, I beg for more bands like Void Prayer!
After Void Prayer I could easily go home. But, before Sammath, another Serbian band – Terrörhammer. The band was formed in Pančevo, Serbia, in 2010. They have one full length album behind (“Under the Unholy Command”, 2015). EP “In the Name of Hell” was released in January 2018. Nine years behind with only one album and one EP, you might think they have nothing, but… Weather they dragged friends and family, it seems their set attracted the attention of the mass (if we can say less than 100 people makes mass). Fans were ecstatic, so it was really hard to avoid mosh pit. It seems the longer pause between Void Prayer and Terrörhammer was enough to recharge the batteries and enjoy in, as they claim, necro speed hooligans show.
And, finally… Sammath!
Sammath was formed by Jan Kruitwagen in 1994 who was inspired by the new wave of black metal and the speed metal/death metal hybrids of the eighties. Kruitwagen grew up in Australia but moved to Europein later. He started working for cult underground magazines such as Violent Moshground and Hell Razor.
The first promo tape “Visions upon Winter Lands” was recorded in 1995. Demo “Zwaardbroeders bij de bergengte” was released in 1996. Than, in 1997, promo tape “De ruïnes fluisteren” (The Ruins Whisper) was released. In 1999, Sammath released its first CD “Strijd” (Battle) via Folter Records. The second album “Verwoesting/Devastation” was released in 2002. The next album was “Dodengang” (2006). “Triumph in Hatred” was released in 2009 and step by step we are in 2014 and speaking about “Godless Arrogance”.
The three piece formation led by Jan Kruitwagen hit the stage. The band has been part of underground scene since the mid 90’s, and it seems even they do not perform on regular bases, they have enough experience and a lot to show to their fans.
If we closer look at set list, than we can say that Sammath tried to include the whole career to the time they were given: “Intro- To Hell”, “Stalingrad”, “Drakenbloed”, Totenhugel, “Godless”, “Raveger”, “Thrive In Arogance”, “Battletorn”, “Nineteen Corpses Hang in the Mist”, “Ferocious Mortar Fire”, “Shot in Mass”, “Across the Rhine is only Death”, “Outro”.
Interaction with fans were great, even more than we all expected from Black Metal band.
The overall sound might be good if the venue was not close to empty, cause unfortunately from some reason, as I might already mentioned, there were less than 100 fans.
The big plus were merch prices, even for Serbian conditions, cheap CD’s, t-shirts and LP’s. The big, even biggest minus goes to beer price that was 5 times higher than regular.
Organizer surprised the fans with gifts. It seems he was pretty much happy and satisfied with the first festival he stands behind. From all he have experienced, I hope he will consider to bring Lupercalia to Belgrade some time soon.