14 March 2014

Live report: Wacken Metal Battle Føroyar 2014

Last edition to close a cycle, since the competition will take a break next year, Wacken Metal Battle 2014 Føroyar was held, as usual, in the old theater in the Faroese capital Tórshavn, called Sjónleikarahúsið.

As in the last few years, the competition was opened by the meet&greet between the spokemen of all the bands taking part into the Battle, the press and the jury, composed this year by Kári Streymoy, former drummer of Faroese metal band Týr, Jörg Düsedau, from the German promotion agency Dragon ProductionsKasper Molin, boss of the Danish promoting and booking company Livescenen and longtime organizer of the Wacken Metal Battle Danemark and Jan Roger Pettersen, his Norwegian counterpart. The judges, who have all been working in the metal scene for many years and with great experience in competitions, were able to give many useful advices to the bands running for a place in the final Battle at Wacken Open Air, and wisely reminded that Wacken Metal Battle Føroyar expecially is an excellent opportunity to have fun and improve everyone's network, without necessarily have fight all the time against the others.

In the evening, despite the weather getting worse by the minute, people began nonetheless to fill the theater and at 20 o'clock Ragnar Jacobsen, well-known anchor of a Faroese radio station and, as usual, hosting the event, finally let the madness begin...


First band up was Ceticide, a recently founded joke death metal band. The band members knew how not to take themselves too seriously and their music ironically focused on the concept of ceticide, since most of the foreign media know nothing about Faroese people, but that they are "bloody whales slaughters". Anyone willing to spend no more than ten minutes of their lives on this issue doing some research on the Internet, knows that the reality is way different from what the media depict it to be, and Ceticide were performing exactly for this kind of audience. The band started its ironic show with a scary intro quoting "I am the devil ... and I'm here to do the devil's work" from the movie Devil's Rejects by Rob Zombie and, although there were no graphic references about the theme, all their joke lyrics made references on this matter. Their death metal, though, was no joke: with an aggressive style, reminding the audience of Lamb of God, Ceticide delivered some good brutal death metal with interesting tracks and a very energic style. The only flaw of their gig, so to speak, has been their frontman excessive coldness with the public, since he barely say a word throughout the whole set, basically leaving all the twenty minutes to music. But, on the other hand, I have to remind this was the first concert ever, for Ceticide...


1. Rite of Passage
2. Dead Shores
3. Dying Whales
4. Ocean Graveyard
5. The Endling


After fifteen minutes, singer Eyðun Hvannastein was again on stage, this time leading Reduced to Ash, a band that had already taken part into the last edition of the competition. After releasing an interesting EP towards the end of 2013, Reduced to Ash came back on stage performing a gig quite similar to last year's: all the five track followed in fact a linear melodic death metal style, that gathered all the public's attention, but was far from adding anything new or innovative to their music. Once more, the main flaw this year was again the limited stage presence of all the musicians, who could have delivered way more, given the genre of music brought on stage. Nonetheless, I do believe they will have many opportunities to improve in the future... 


1. In The Serpent's Lair
2. Chain The Soul
3. Blindfolded We Are
4. Growth
5. Mind


Running for a place in the Battle finals at Wacken Open Air for the third consecutive year, Earth Divide performed once more on this very stage in 2014. This five piece quite easily delivered the most compelling and most successful performance of the whole evening, showing that they indeed have found their balance, greatly improving from the past gigs and having almost reached the necessary strenght to compete against other groups even outside the Faroes. Lead by its energetic frontman Jóhan Fríðrikur Sanderson, the band ranged within its limited discography (just one EP has been released), wisely choosing the songs to play, really being able to deliver on stage. All the audience (and, hidden in a corner, the jury) definitely seemed to appreciate...


1. Godless
2. Claustrophobia
3. The Seed
4. Primal


Another band that had already partecipated to the last edition of the Wacken Metal Battle Føroyar was Asyllex, an extremely young band with a great potential, which is gradually growing and finding their own way. After changing their singer, the four musicians coming from the southern island of Suðuroy once more put up an exciting set, exclusively playing old school thrash metal, reminding the audience about the old good days in the Bay Area, but still showing room for improvement. The new frontman, Hans Hammer, with some interesting Kreatorish vocals, managed to lead the band to a successful gig, despite a technical problem with the microphone in the end. A band that may not have revolutionized thrash metal, but that surely has a great future ahead...


1. Destroyer
2. Fading
3. Diabolic Arrival
4. Can't Trust Anyone
5. Conspiracy


Iron Lungs were the other newbie band taking part into the competition. Or at least, partially. In fact, some of the members of this band had already taken part into Wacken Metal Battle in the last years, but as musicians belonging to other groups. Founded in 2013, Iron Lungs still lacked a certain stability, expecially when it came to their line-up, and seemed not to have their ideas 100% clear. Already during the meet&greet, in fact, while answering to the classic question "what kind of music do you play?" asked by one of the judges, Iron Lungs's spokeman said "We are inspired by Hamferð, but we do not play so slowly [...] we want to create some kind of music you can headbanging to". Basically everything and nothing. 
On stage, Iron Lungs, lead by singer Fridi Djurhuus (who seemed to have improved its performance if compared to the previous year), eventually delivered some nice progressive metal tracks, all having a medium-slow rhythm. However, what was clearly still missing in this band, which of course is just at its very beginning, was the smoothness. In fact, within the tracks, there were several parts that, despite being mostly quite good and interesting, still sounded like they were lacking several crucial connections between each other...


1. Shatter The Stratosphere
2. A Scream From The Spectral Universe
3. Andromedan
4. Hunt Of The Tetramorph


Last to come on stage for this evening, although not taking part in the competition, were Jürghinn, a Faroese hard rock/heavy metal combo. Given the special occasion, the band decided to deliver a special show, consisting completely of well-known heavy metal cover songs (among others, All My Friends Are Dead by Turbonegro, Breaking the Law and a version of Seek and Destroy enriched by unexpected extra backing vocals), that without a doubt made the audience's night. Jürghinn, led by a skilled and affable frontman John Áki Egholm, delivered an extremely energetic set (that though lasted for 45 minutes, instead of the expected hour), that gathered into the theater almost anyone attending the event, keeping their spirits high. 

Almost at half past midnight, as planned, all the musicians gathered on stage, together with the judges and the organizers. First to talk was Teitur Fossaberg, who thanked everyone for attending the Battle and turning it to a successful event. Next in line were the judges, that personally made a speech, commenting the competition, the groups and the value of all the musicians. Last judge to take the floor was of course Kári Streymoy, who was in charge of announcing the winner. Not surprisingly, the winners were Earth Divide, that will take part, along with the many other winners of the Metal Battle around the world, to the finals at the Wacken Open Air this August. For all the bands, organizers and audience, then it was just time to party..

All pictures by Eija Mäkivuoti Photography

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