Live Review: Incineration Festival – Camden Town, London 11.05.2024

It was that time of year again. We were getting a bit of respite from the inclement weather with a bout of glorious sunshine, and the colossal Incineration Festival had rolled into Camden Town once more with only one thing on its mind: to bring its 10th anniversary edition and absolutely crush all who stood in its path.

With a lineup as packed as Incineration, decisions had to be made so that as much music and as many sets as possible could be reaped. So, with difficult decisions made and historical personal experiences drawn upon, I decided to make my day all about The Electric Ballroom and the six eclectic bands that would be housed on the infamous stage.

Once the doors had flung open and we drew our first breath of the unmistakable tinged air from within The Ballroom, I made my way down to the front just in time to catch the start of the atmospheric post-scorched Black Metal of Fen. From the moment they struck the first chord, right through to the resonating last beat echoing from the speaker stacks, the trio captivated us all and produced a performance which demanded our full attention in order to truly appreciate the complex and intricate art they were cultivating in front of us.

The vocals from The Watcher were decadent and luxurious while Grungyn was a pillar of titanium strength on the right wing of the vision, each track that was served to us was measured and complex in its enormity while each one still managed to maintain a monstrous and barbaric essence to its soul. As the band signed off and departed with an obvious sense of achievement, I was able to reflect and pretty much nail down that the last forty minutes had been an epic start for what was still to come.

Next up were another British constitution on the Black Metal horizon, none other than the magnificent Winterfylleth and their brand of unmistakable English Black Metal. With the stage set and an impressive turnout for the mid-afternoon slot, Naughton wasted no time in unleashing his powerful and provocative vocals on the grateful masses gathered before them. The tracks were grandiose and splendorous while the string work was manipulating and entrancing, each chord, each riff and each down pick acted as a master to the ensemble which were worshipping in their church on this celebration of the dark arts.

The tracks were epic and impressive, and the power with which they were personified was brutal and barbaric, each track standing on its own merit yet intertwining with its set neighbour in order to create a continuous soundscape of elegant and impressive notions. As the set petered out, I couldn’t help but find myself concluding that this was possibly the best I had seen Winterfylleth in all of my nine-gig history with the band, which had also left me with a real hunger to make sure I catch them again as soon as humanly possible.

One of my highlights of the day were up next on the Electric Ballroom stage, true Black Metal legends, Carpathian Forest. The stage was fairly simplistic compared to the usual adornments we have seen in the past, but this may have been a clever tactic on the Norwegian’s part so that they could let the music speak for itself without any distraction, and this it certainly did. Nattefrost was like a man possessed, stalking the stage with intense provocation and a caustic persona, spitting out his vocals with malice and a toxic powered vehement passion. Standout tracks such as ‘Carpathian Forest’, ‘Death Triumphant’ and ‘Spill The Blood Of The Lamb’ were vicious and venomous in their structure, dripping with an audible malevolent immorality and a sinful dark Punk tinged beauty which housed a huge sense of wonderment with each track that passed. The strings were tamed throughout with dexterity and intrigue while the drums secured the backbone on which the tracks draped off it with a depraved nihilistic charm. This was a huge success of a set from one of the godfathers of the Norwegian Black Metal scene and a performance which will live with me for many a year to come.

With all manner of furniture and decorations now housing themselves on the Electric Ballroom stage, it could mean only one thing, it was the turn of the Austrian Blackened Death Metal masters, Belphegor, to absolutely destroy us with their rendition and brand of aggressive and fierce metal. Helmuth strode out and from the opening chord of the procession he took on the mantra of the bands moniker with the gathered hordes acting as his very own Moabites, he barked his vocals out with passionate malice and spiteful venom, attacking his six strings with precision and acidic belligerence. The set progressed with ferocity and momentum, a punishing ‘The Devil’s Son’, a masterful ‘Lucifer Incestus’ and a truly satanic and pulverising ‘The Devils’, all delivered with purpose and accuracy, which almost seemed inhuman at times. ‘Totentanz – Dance Macabre’ closed out the proceedings and left the baying crowd demanding, wanting, and simply begging for more. On any other given day Belphegor could have headlined this beast, I guess we will just have to wait and see what the future holds.

Time to see if the Electric Ballroom stage foundations were as solid as they seemed as we welcomed to the stage the enigmatic and downright punishing Anaal Nathrakh to see if they could shake the building to its core. As the opening track was laid before us, V.I.T.R.I.O.L could be seen stalking in the shadows, prowling like a maniacal beast waiting to be unleashed, and then when the time commanded him he carved himself open, bared his soul and absolutely smashed us with his hostile and destructive vocals, subliminally instructing the crowd to replicate the energy being served from the stage and to deal it back tenfold, this the crowd willfully obliged with and the whole place simply erupted and went absolutely crazy. Crowd surfers finally emerged, and once the first one had taken the plunge to take a trip over the top, the floodgates seemed to open, and the security guys up the front were suddenly made to start working for their money. With each track that bolstered up the set, the Birmingham industrialist Black Metallers seemed to grow into the set, growing in confidence and stamping around their new territory with more and more conviction and belief until by the time the set came to an all too early climax, the band and crowd were joined in unity and were destroying the venue with complete solidarity, like brotherhoods forged from the wreckage of war and time on the frontline. Today, we welcomed Anaal Nathrakh back and partied just as we had the last time we embraced them at Incineration back in 2014.

So, onto the headliners, the final act of the day, and a band who should need no introduction in these worlds; today, we were being treated to the Suomi Melodic Death Metal of Amorphis. Having caught these heavyweights a trio of times before I was keen to increase my count and catch them in a headline stature and boy was I not disappointed, they were probably the best I had ever seen them in the live setting. From the off, they were calculated, battering, melodious, technical and gargantuan. The vocals from Joutsen were clean and harmonious when called upon yet guttural and muscular when needed, the fretwork was mesmerising, and the keys and percussion from the skins were stratospherically inspiring. ‘Wrong Direction’ was absolutely brutal, so passionate and crunching in its makeup while ‘House Of Sleep’ was instrumental in creating a set of celebrations and success in equal measures. The crowd was a little fragmented around the edges towards the latter end of the set; perhaps it had something to do with the other stages housing such colossal choices for the ticket holders, but for the majority who had taken the decision to witness the majesty of these Death Metallers in their entirety, they were not disappointed. The set had it all and it was all served to us with flare and charisma, this had been the perfect ending to the perfect day and one which had me heading out into the Aurora Borealis lit London sky one very happy punter.

This has now been my seventh edition of the Incineration Festival, and all I can say is, bring on next year !!

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