Malta is not a big place. Not a big place means in this case, that it’s quite full in the sense that there’s not that much land left in the north of the island. Therefor the organisation of Malta Doom Metal Festival had to find a sort of remote location somewhere else, for which the location is Chateau Buskett.
The horde of black t-shirts contrasts heavily with the white decor of the main hall of this location, which is usually reserved for wedding parties. It offers an interesting setting for today’s event. There are some bus trips, but Maltese traffic is hell around this time. Still, the festival kicks off in time to a slowly filling venue.
Opening act is Dawn Of Anguish, a local band that is currently working on their first album. The band is built up around drummer Simon Gatt, who has been active in Maltese band Forsaken, an icon in the local doom scene. The band plays a style of doom that heavily relates to hard rock in its structure and experience. Catchy riffs with the right set of balls to have you bang your head, were it not for a slightly nervous looking band behind singer Alex Carachi. There’s not much showmanship going on, making this not the most exciting act of the night.
King Heavy has no problems getting the heads banging and fists raised with their heavy, occult themed doom. Featuring Hooded Priest vocalist Luther Veldmark, the band is not troubled when it comes to their stage presence. Before the gig the good man was actually handing out flyers, but it does not appear to have been necessary. In fact the Chilean band with the great priest fronting them seems to be an absolute crowd favourite. The light installation is also used to boost the experience more. Musically it’s heavy but also full of intricate guitar play by Matias Aguirre, who manages to take the focus of their charismatic singer. The energy definitely reaches a peak during this act, with Veldmark poking and stimulating the crowd with his antics, while the band plays on in full focus with a lot of songs from their recent full length. Definitely a band that might go far in the future.
From the Belgian town of Mechelen hails Marche Funèbre, a band inspired by the more romantic themes. I’m sure there’s a My Dying Bride reference in many of their reviews. The band starts playing in bleak lighting, because apparently the lights guy is still outside. It offers a peculiar start, but the band sticks with what they do, which is really all you can do. Melodic doom parts and a theatrical presentation by frontman Arne Vandenhoeck still manage to set the right atmosphere. It’s surprisingly on the moments where the band kicks off in the more death/black direction with barked vocals and intense blast beats, that Marche Funèbre really comes alive as a band. Some parts are characterized by the typical soaring guitars and a bit of a NWOBHM feel to it. The more silly moment is when the frontman unleashes his fury on a bottle of water, which he kicks over and then throws on the floor in front of him with force. The crowd remains relatively unimpressed, which is a shame. This is definitely a band that combines styles into their very own sound.
Odd one out tonight is the United Kingdom band Tysondog, who have been playing a thrashy NWOBHM style for more than thirty years. “We’re too old for this…”, jokes singer Clutch Carruthers at the start of the set, but the performance says otherwise. These guys play with more energy than any of the previous bands. Though the crowd is not really kicking off, in fact it appears to be lessening, the band is pushing on, full of energy having a lot of fun on the stage. The giggle of Carruthers can often be heard between songs, where he throws out a bunch of jokes, thank you’s then goes off into the next song. It’s a set full of old school sounds, which is always greatly entertaining. This band really deserved some more participation from the fans.
The reason why the fans were holding back becomes clear when Nomad Son takes to the stage and everyone surges forwards. The local heroes have therefor won the day before a single note has been played. On the edge of the stage one guy starts chanting the band name, which is the liveliest moment today for crowd participation. The majestic doom of the band is in the vein of Candlemass et al, with the heavy fundaments supplied on bass by Albert Bell, also one of the organisers of Malta Doom Metal Festival. Add to that solid, sludgy riffing guitars, keys, a very talented vocalist and a truly epic sound is produced in the wedding hall of Chateau Buskett. The singer switchers from soaring, Maidenesque to what sounds close to the King Diamond falsetto.
While the night slowly winds down, Nomad Son takes it to a final high with a near flawless set full of heavy, smoking slabs of doom. Time to get some sleep and get ready for day 2.
Dawn Of Anguish
Scribed by: Guido Segers
Photos by: Justina Lukosiute