Greek Death Grind Scene Festival
Eightball Club, Thessaloniki, Greece

It is always nice to see people caring about music and having a vision for it, being able to fulfill it in the end. What’s more, when they are in position to organize it in perfect order and leaving none unsatisfied in the end (meaning fans and band members), then all tireness and run made for the whole occasion was totally worth it. Such is the case with the first Greek Death/Grind Scene Festival, an idea by John Xanthopoulos about the music he loves, gathering old and new bands from various places of Greece, in a pure D.I.Y. situation -which someones tried to see it different because it had some sponsors, get a life as soon as possible- that made about 200 fans each day enjoy thirteen bands which gave sweat and soul and earned the sincere respect of everyone inside Eightball Club. What follows is a brief presentation of the whole event, with the time every band played next to its name, so that we avoid much reference about it and also see how fast changes in the setting of each band’s instruments was made:

Day 1

Discretion (18:53 – 19:28): The guys from Veroia of Eastern Macedonia were the ones that opened the show. Good sound if we take for granted that each first band in such a case most of the times has problems with it, they presented tracks characterized by raw parts, combined with some technical breaks where mostly needed. The two guitarists filled the sound of the band and the rhythm section was as steady as it should be. Among others, they played a cover of ”Born Dead” by Death (from the ”Leprosy” album), showing that Chuck Schuldiner is the undoubted godfather of death metal. A great band to start the fest for sure.

Sudden Death (19:33 – 20:10): Next on the billing were the youngsters from Thessaloniki. A great and steady growler is what someone showcases first of all. The guy doesn’t make a vain go out of his neck, he’s comfortable and expressive and the whole band accompanies him in the same vain. They all have a very good presence on the scene, with the guitarists not hesitating to bang their heads while playing their complex stuff, reminding to everyone that when you play music, you also have to enjoy it and not work like a robot. They based their set on their own material and they show ready for the next big step. Keep it up this way.

One Of These Days (20:19 – 20:51): These guys caught everyone by surprise for sure. Their undoubted brutality in addition to their extreme technique, makes them a pretty blasting five piece, that shows no mercy when it’s about fans. They all seem so silent off stage that it’s quite a great antithesis to see them lose control on stage, especially the singer whose pig squeals have nothing to envy from much older and famous colleagues of him. Two covers of Nasum’s ”The Deepest Hole” and Suicide Silence’s ”Unanswered” completed the massacre. If they play like this with Devildriver on July, they’ll leave only jaws dropped in their way.

Ixpapalotl (21:00 – 21:38): The grindcorers from Athens were the next band that had the difficult tusk to play after One Of These Days. Pretty experienced and learning to overcome difficulties, they played their tracks in absolute clear and crunchy sound, making the movement inside the club going on, especially as the set was reaching the end. Covering ”Everybody Dies” by Hateplow’s first album only makes them even more sympathetic to everyone. A band for which I had heard only positive comments and such are the ones I have for them. Fully capable as a unit and individually, they showed how it’s like to blast correctly!

Necrorgasm (21:58 – 22:36): The guys from Northern Greece (Kavala and Komotini) with the singer from Athens started the show with ”Redneck Stomp” by Obituary. Having already overtaken the crowd, they continued showing how ”sensitive” they are as a band with track titles such as ”Collection Of Headless Children” and ”Brutally Disfigured”, before adding ”Hammer Smashed Face” by Cannibal Corpse on the set. First time to see them with their new vocalist and definitely the best of all times I’ve encountered them. They sound a click better and more relieved, the vast guitar riffs were the last nail in the coffin. Yeurgh!

Nocturnal Vomit (22:47 – 23:30): The unofficial headliners of the day. If the term old-school had band photos as a definition, they would surely be included on the choices to pick of such bands. European sound of the past owing a lot to Celtic Frost, Venom, Bathory, Asphyx, Grave and such stuff. The vocalist’s final line ”I truly pity everyone not knowing this track” before they end their set with Celtic Frost’s ”Necromantical Screams” has already remained in history. This power trio filled the stage and showed that you can sound brutal by being simple and skilled as a combination. Thessaloniki must be proud having such bands.

Day 2

Incest In Heaven (19:11 – 19:38): The guys from Thessaloniki started the second day of the fest. Good sound, better than Discretion on the first day as the first band, they presented compositions of their first EP ”Misbegotten”. Their Growler showed that he’s not using this only as a nickname but he’s definitely a successful one (some pig squeals in the end made them even more addictive). It was great to see Harry Albanis from the legendary Regent (one of the best Greek bands of all times) sharing the stage with them to scream his guts out on ”Dawn Of The Angry” by Morbid Angel. Good start pt.2 for the whole fest.

Alter Self (19:52 – 20:21): These guys from Athens have a very different approach to death metal that finds me totally by their side. Having maybe the most skilled of all guitarists and also missing their other shredder, they presented their own material which is rather demanding but doesn’t lose a bit of brutality and remaining direct, despite the complex riffs and technical leads. They are preparing their first album and they can claim that they are different but not tiring for sure. Three men that sounded like much more, the future is also by their side. The only the have to do, is take advantage of their skills. Sure success!

Birth Through Gore (20:29 – 21:00): The first gig of Birth Through Gore from Thessaloniki in history and I’m really proud for being there. Two people without a rhythm section? Who would dare such a thing? They did and they showed how it is to fill the stage without having a bassist and a drummer. Excellent guitar riffs played under a recorded drum machine in each track. Relentless guitar attack, with the vocalist screaming his bowels out. They had so much fun that you could see it on their faces. If their first gig was like that, imagine what will happen if they obtain a real drummer. I already crave for a t-shirt by them. I’m blown!

The Anal Treatment XXXperience (21:10 – 21:41): When we are talking about CULT occasion, none shall defy that the band from Kefallonia (if I’m not mistaken) is one of them. These guys easily make old Carcass and Necrophagia sound like they’re describing fairytales in their tracks. Humorous but not less blasphemous and raw death metal, they also played a cover of ”Deathcrush” by Mayhem. I copy what the guitarist of Incest In Heaven told me to: ”It’s the best band I’ve seen in my life after Metallica in Bulgaria, it’s such an honest and great case that I’ll always consider as a lifetime experience”. Convinced? Good!

Head Cleaner (21:55 – 22:28): Totally misinterpreted case, as they should be called Brain Messer instead. If this is the way to clean heads, someone should explain to me why mine and everybody else’s in the club almost left its initial position. Amazing grindcore in the veins of gods like Napalm Death and Brutal Truth, non-stop killer riffs, rhythm section for a seminar (with the best drummer of Greece by their side, how couldn’t it be like that?) and a frontman that knows how to scream, growl, be theatrical and MOVE on stage. With all the respect to all other twelve bands, definitely the best band on the festival by far.

Genna Apo Kolo (22:39 – 23:20): I have stated my opinion for this great band so many times that I’ll become tiring in the end. Second time in a row to see them without their bassist and who thinks they can’t surpass this, should check again. ”Thrones Of Blood” by Suffocation was added to the set (I REPEAT,NO BASSIST!) and the only thing I should add is that it’s always like seeing them for the first time. They have their crowd that follows them in all gigs they do and that’s something you earn by hard work. If they go on like this, I’ll personally ask them to remain a trio. They don’t understand shit about missing members!

Obsecration (23:42 – 00:45): The legendary band from Athens played more than all the bands, over an hour that is. Rightfully gained, they were the headliners of the second day and showed everyone how it’s like to combine experience with skills. I hadn’t seen them since their gig with Hail Of Bullets in 2009 and nothing changed since then. This time they had a very clean sound and they presented tracks from all their career, thanking everyone inside the club and showing that sometimes, veterans do it better. A glorious way to end a two day massacre. May they continue in the same way as much as possible.

In overall, the festival was greeted by the fans and we hope that it is a good way to show to Greek bands that they needn’t argue between them (the eternal problem in our country) but simply support each other. The level has risen up a lot and we have many capable players and singers. If we all help a little, then we’ll be able to claim we have a strong scene and maybe one day, some bands will make the difference, just like some others did in the past. I wish that the festival will continue next year and if this a move for some people to wake up, then we’ll definitely support it. Otherwise, we may leave others sleep the sleep of the just and be present only in words and absent in action. Sometimes, death is better…

Report: Aggelos “Redneck” Katsouras.