MÖRKASTE SMÅLAND – THE FOURTH CONQUEST

It feels like it was just last month that I was here the last time. But 12 months have passed. Apart from me getting lost on my way here and having to drive an extra 120kms the trip was uneventful.
I remember the opening band from last year. We have all seen the video of that Finnish band that are so piss drunk on stage that they can hardly stand up, let alone play music.
Last year’s opening band had a vocalist that was more interested in drinking beer than anything. I’ll have to see if that performance can be topped this year.
But the line-up this year looks so much better than last years. There are some bands that I have been following since the 80s/ 90s – IMMOLATION. IMPIETY. PAGAN RITES. THE HAUNTED. NECROPHOBIC. I am really looking forward to seeing IMMOLATION live for the first time ever. That will be a perfect ending for this weekend.
But there are more cool bands I want to check out as well as some that I am not that familiar with.
This is going to be so bloody great.

THURSDAY
Thursday started just as last year at the hotel Hulingen in downtown Hultsfred. You can argue the sanity of having a sort of pre-gig on a Thursday when most people hasn’t really shown up yet but for those for us that had arrived this would turn out to be quite a nice start.

SLUTET
At the end of the 90s there was a hell of a lot of Dis-bands that mixed metal with Discharge or the other way round. Then it pretty much died out. Today we see a lot of crust metal bands. As somebody who remembers the 80s crust bands I gotta say that this whole crust metal thingamajig appeals tremendously to me.
So seeing SLUTET opening up this year’s MÖRKASTE SMÅLAND was like the perfect opening for this weekend. With dual vocals and twin guitars and with a bass far in front in the sound they got my heart pumping. Now I’m stoked for the rest to surpass this.

paganrites

PAGAN RITES
I don’t know when I first heard a PAGAN RITES track but it must have been sometime in the 90s. I have since then come back to them with irregular intervals. So almost 20 plus years I get see them live for the first time.
PAGAN RITES are old school in that old, raw Venom vein. No fancy Norwegian symphonic auto stradas. Just plain, basic black(ish) metal. Or at least that is my memory of them on record. And my memory was correct PAGAN RITES has always been acquired taste. To me it has always felt like they are the outsiders.
But with a vocalist that looked like he was possessed by the devil the band took to stage and delivered a set of black(ish) metal straight outta hell. As much as I liked this performance as much did it strike me how the stage at Hulingen was right for them. They should not have been on the smaller stage at Metropol/Rockcity instead.

tribulation

TRIBULATION
This lot is my Thursday highlight. I have been following them since that very first album and through all the hype they have been getting. And deserved hype that is.
There was a time when I had an ambivalent relationship to TRIBULATION but that let go once I dug deeper into the music. To be honest I cannot label the music with any other tag than metal. There are too many elements of different styles for it to be labelled anything but metal. This was definitely the high light of the evening. I don’t know if death prog or prog death is the proper description of the music but they do wander off to a very proggy land at times. But they do it so well that I don’t mind. I just let myself be swept away. And if the stage was right for PAGAN RITES it wasn’t right for TRIBULATION. They should have played at the main stage at Metropol/Rockcity instead. That would have suited them much better. But they did the best of the situation. I really liked how one of the guitarists moved. It was like he was a ghost sweeping the stage. It looked so bloody cool. Overall a really strong performance.

FRIDAY
After a magnificent ending of the Thursday it was time to tackle Friday. With 8 bands to check out it was gonna be a hell of a night but thanks to a clever schedule I didn’t have to miss a single band. Friday contained a couple of bands that i really wanted to see as well as some i wanted to check out. It looked on forehand like Friday was gonna be a hell of a night.

INTERMENT
I know that I have a CD with INTERMENT but I have a feeling that I have a 7″ too with them, somewhere in my collection.
I was kinda looking forward to hearing their old school. Swedish death metal live but I gotta, say that it wasn’t as good live as on record. Yes, I know. Never compare live with record but I sometime wish that the death metal guitars sound as sharp live as they do on record. But perhaps that is me being too picky. But it was still a cool thing to get to see them live and to start the Friday with some good old Swedish death metal. That woke up the senses the right way. INTERMENT was a great way to start the Friday live experience.

witchery

WITCHERY
There used to be a time when I tried to collect every WITCHERY release. Then all of a sudden I list interest. And in the meantime they have apparently continued to release albums.
And now I get to see them live. I have no idea what to expect from them.
Upon hearing them live I remembered why I have always had an issue with them. While the music is awesome I have always felt that the vocals could be more powerful.
I might be very demanding but when I see a band live I want it to either be a party or a happening no matter what the audience is like. With WITCHERY I got the feeling that this, was just a walk in park gig for them.
But the music is awesome

CURSED 13
I think it wasn’t that long ago I interviewed this lot. I liked the album that I have heard. Do not know how it fits in the discography but it rocked me.
So this one I was looking forward to seeing live. And what a hell of a ride it was. Not the most fancy metal you ever get to hear but that is not the intention either with CURSED 13. But I liked it. With a vocalist that plays the part it gets so much better. CURSED 13 might not be total black metal mayhem but they at least bring some mayhem to MÖRKASTE SMÅLAND.

impiety

IMPIETY
I remember to this day when Impiety’s first CD arrived in my mail box. Released on a tiny Dutch label it felt like I was the luckiest guy in the world. All I had before that CD was a 7″ that I treasured like hell. And all got better when their second CD dropped in. That one blew my socks off twice. Man was that a punch to the face. Since then I have had an on/off relationship.
Impeity is a bloody assault on all senses. A total blast. Seeing them live for the first time was like dying and going to hell. A pure (dis)pleasure. It is always tough to be good on stage when you are a three piece but they did their darndest to entertain. This was the first part in a four part rocket of bands I wanted to see this year. The second part followed later on Friday night and the third and fourth parts followed on Saturday.

TREPANERINGSRITUALEN
This one is a blank to me. I have seen the name every now and then but I have never been that excited to check them out. So this is my first encounter ever with them. I do not know what to expect. I am not the greatest connoisseur of ambient, or death ambient or whatever TREPANERINGSRITUALEN calls it but I do enjoy it. I tried checking out the Cold Meat label releases in the 90s but and every now and then along comes a record like this my way but I don’t listen enough to this sort of music to fully understand it.
When a character plucked from a hanging entered the stage I did not know what to expect. And when the ambient rumblings started I was even more baffled but it soon dawned on me what this was all about.
You don’t have to be a full band on stage to be entertaining. It is enough to be alone if you know how to entice an audience. And that TREPANERINGSRITUALEN did very well.

the haunted

THE HAUNTED
When THE HAUNTED released their first album in the 90s it was like a blast of molten air. Their brand of thrash came in the wake of Swedish death and the Gothenburg sound and from the ashes of Seance and At The Gates. Yet they did not sound anything like that.
The one track I have heard from the new album promises for a major thrash out.
Words cannot describe how good THE HAUNTED was. Well they can but you get the picture. This was a class act performance from a band with very few bad songs. And with Marco Aro fronting the band you got a showman who knows how to entertain. Even with my shitty back this couldn’t stop me from moving. Not a whole lotta thrashing about from me but calmly bopping along to the music
This was worth the whole trip. Very little will top this.

NECROWRETCH
It was not that long ago I interviewed NECROWRETCH or so I thought. My memory says that I have interviewed them but the archive says I haven’t. If I had been better prepared I would have I would have played the CD in my car on my way here but that would have been too good for being me. I will have to just settle for hearing them live and then play the CD when I get home.
I like the music that NECROWRETCH brings forth. This is really cool death metal with an old school-ish feel to it. A massive wall of noise. They sound as cool live as they do on record.
This was a very nice surprise despite my initial misunderstanding about having interviewed them.

gorgoroth

GORGOROTH
This is a band that has both intentional as well as not intentional created controversy. I gotta say that I was late in discovering them simply because of all the controversy that overshadowed the music.
And once I did indulge in the music I wasn’t that hooked. I am looking forward to hearing them live though.
But once they started playing I realized that I am not that into them after all. Sure, they are a tight unit but their black metal sound samey after a few tracks. But perhaps that is the charm with them. That you know what to get song after song.
Even though I wasn’t too impressed by the songs the performance made an impression. A black metal concert is nothing like a thrash concert. And it should not be. A black metal gig should be like a summoning. And that they did do right. It did feel like it was a summoning of sorts.
So when at home I’ll give my GORGOROTH albums another spin. Perhaps I’ll see the band in a whole different darkness now that I have witnessed them live.

SATURDAY
There are two acts on the Saturday bill that i really want to see, NECROPHOBIC and IMMOLATION. If all the rest bands suck this is, still gonna be a total fucking great night. But I do hope that some of the other bands do blow my socks of.

PRUDENCE
Saturday seem to contain more bands that I am not that familiar with. PRUDENCE being the first one that I have not heard a single note from. So I don’t really know What to expect.
I tried listening to PRUDENCE on Spotify just to get an idea of what they sounded like but hey, they are not death or black metal. Just plain good old heavy rock/metal. And not even the kind I like. So that one I jumped and went and did something else.

THE UGLY
THE UGLY is a name I have seen about but I cannot remember if I have heard a single note of music. But hey, that is part of the charm with festivals. You don’t have to know each and every band. Not being familiar at all with THE UGLY I did not know what to expect but boy did my jaw drop. This is some really cool black/thrash hybrid.
It is hard to review a gig where nothing really happens but it is nice to see a band that at least tries to bring the audience a show even though the stage is miniscule. I have seen bands on bigger stages doing less than what THE UGLY did. Cudos to the band.

vanhelgd

VANHELGD
This band is one that I not that long ago listened to on CD. I have a couple of their releases in my collection and I really like what I hear. So this is one band that I am looking forward to. And was this good? I had forgotten how good VANHELGD are. Their doom black is so bloody massive that you totally melt upon hearing it. And like a lightning it struck me how melancholic they are. And I totally like melancholy in my music.
Some bands just totally knock you out. So much that you just stand there being transported away. VANHELGD did that to me this night. This was a really, really great gig.

EL CAMINO
I know I am weird but whenever I see the name EL CAMINO I think of the pickup car from Chevrolet. Not a black metal band. But apparently they are good at what they do in the stoner/doom/heavy compartment. I’ll have to hear for myself when I catches them live.
When they struck the first chord I came to think of a doomier Bombus. EL CAMINO turned out to be really cool. I do wish that they had had a less growly vocalist because that would have made the music even better but after a while I got used to the vocals and could indulge fully in the music.

ravencult

RAVENCULT
Okay. With so many bands with raven in their name I am not sure if I am familiar with this band. I think I am. And if not I hope this live experience will be a great one. Nope, this Greek band signed to Metal Blade is one raven band that I am not familiar with. But since I have an ear or two for Greek bands this one will hopefully be a great one.
I listened to the music before the gig to give me some sort of impression of what to expect. The first time I heard RAVENCULT all I could think was Whiplash around “Power & Pain” but upon seeing them live it hit me. This is like Discharge with a different tuning. Three chords and a blast from hell. Like an unrelenting rhino RAVENCULT rushes towards the inevitable end. And I like it. I have always had a good ear for speedy bands and RAVENCULT got to be one of the fastest around. Not much of a stage show, like so many other bands but still a great gig.

KING OF ASGARD
Another band that I have seen the name of mentioned both here and there without really knowing too much about them. So another act that I will get to watch live as a first time experience.
As I am not at all familiar with KING OF ASGARD (it feels as though there are more bands that I don’t know than there is bands I do know) I didn’t know what to expect from them.
And I was both surprised as well as disappointed. Surprised at how good they were. Disappointed that they weren’t more pagan/folk. I do like it when a band incorporates folk rhythms in their music. It gives the music an added edge.
But KING OF ASGARD was despite all my complaints a nice surprise.

necrophobic

NECROPHOBIC
From that 7″ on Wild Rag Records to the debut album to their latest album NECROPHOBIC has been with me since the 90s.
It is a strange feeling getting to see a band that you have had a relation with for over three decades live for the first time, knowing that one of the original members are not with us anymore. A really odd feeling.
But I am glad that I get to see them live after all these years.
Boy has it been a long wait. But so bloody well worth the wait. If THE HAUNTED was Friday’s greatest moment then this was Saturday’s greatest moment (and that is before IMMOATION had played). NECROPHOBIC was as good, if not better than I had hoped for. This was like a revelation come true for me. One of my best live experiences in a very long time.

FORNDOM
Thanks to all streaming platforms it is easy to check out bands you have no clues, about musically. I have no recollection whatsoever of having heard a single note from this band before I knew they were playing here. So it with fresh ears I take this one on but when I looked this one up I realized that I have a record of them at home. I have just not gotten round to listening to it yet.
This was nowhere near extreme metal at all yet in its own form and shape it’s extreme. Ritualistic ambient folk is what I would like to call it.
Two guys sitting down onstage might not seem that exciting but once the music started they got you by the balls. This was mega cool. I will look that album up when I get home.

immolation

IMMOLATION
I do not believe in religious epiphanies but if I did seeing IMMOLATION live would be one. And if I get to see Incantation live too I will happily die. These are my two fave US death metal bands. Forgive me Possessed, Death and Morbid Angel but these two are so much closer to my heart.
I really hope I can contain me seeing them live. It was bloody close to me wetting myself once IMMOLATION started to play. I don’t remember the first time I got to read about them but it must have been in a fanzine in the late 80s that the name popped up the first time. And ever since their debut album “Dawn Of Possession” (from which they played songs) I have been hooked. It is hard to describe the feelings that ran through me throughout the gig but happiness was at least one of them. IMMOLATION totally annihilated my senses with their massive sonic assault. This is a death metal mastodon of mega proportions. I am so bloody grateful that I got to see them live. This was a perfect ending to the festival.

And with the last note ringing in my ears it was time to summarise this year’s festival. I have to say that the line-up this year included some really cool acts. There were 4 major acts and one minor for me on the bill that alone made the whole journey worthwhile, despite me getting lost in the forests of Småland and being 90 minutes late in arriving at my hostel. But that is all water under the bridges now and with all the cool memories I have from this year’s festival that is just a minor issue, and a memory too.
I really like the whole idea of MÖRKASTE SMÅLAND. Not the biggest festival there is but the atmosphere is cool and the place not too bad. The overall impression this year is the same as it was last year, I’ll be back… Anders Ekdahl

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