Following on from the success of last year’s festival, Incineration returned for its second year in Camden and showcased a great mix of bands across three venues – Electric Ballroom, Underworld and The Black Heart – with the afterparty taking place at The Dev.
Despite arriving at the box office early to pick up our wristbands, due to some sort of organisation problem that saw the festival only begin to exchange tickets for wristbands forty minutes after the advertised time of midday, we only just made it to Electric Ballroom in time to see a full set from stage openers Woland (9/10). It definitely didn’t seem fair that they were playing to an almost-empty venue due to no fault of their own, especially as it was the band’s debut UK performance, but they took it in their stride and didn’t let it ruin their performance, which was powerful and dominating from start to finish. Somehow the songs were even meatier and packed more of a punch live than on CD, with two particular highlights being Conquer All and Live Forever, and it was a truly engaging performance from the Finnish fourpiece. It was just a shame that they didn’t get to play to the crowd they deserved.
Up next was Norwegian thrash band Aura Noir (6/10) and although the crowd was quite into them, it wasn’t the most engaging of performances as the songs all sounded fairly similar to one another, blending into each other, and it got rather ‘samey’ after a while. A good point of the set was the way they made good use of both Aggressor and Apollyon’s vocals, with both of them taking on the frontman role at times and their two different vocal styles helped to mix things up a bit.
The third band that took to the stage at Electric Ballroom was Finnish fivepiece Oranssi Pazuzu (7/10), who were unique to say the least. They had a very unique sound consisting of a great blend of different genres , including doom, drone, psychedelia and black metal for starters, but although they had a big and epic atmosphere to their music, at times it did get a little repetitive as some sections were played over and over. However despite this, it was still a memorable performance and Oranssi Pazuzu proved that they were a force to be reckoned with.
Following Oranssi Pazuzu was Keep Of Kalessin (8/10), who played a stunning and atmospheric show, and the way bassist Wizziac windmilled was impressive to say the least! Although their latest effort Epistemology didn’t quite blow me away like their last releases had, the songs seemed to work a lot better in a live environment – it was almost like the album had been written with the sole intention of being performed live, so it made things a little more interesting and proved that just because one released doesn’t impress you, you shouldn’t write it off completely.
It goes without saying that Melechesh (10/10)‘s reputation precedes them, especially with their brand new critically acclaimed album Enki, so there was a lot of people with high expectations for their performance and needless to say, they didn’t disappoint. Coming onto stage to rapturous cheers and smoke machines going off on stage right and left, they had the crowd eating out of their hands right from the get-go and it was a tremendously tight and together set, with songs such as Tempest Temper Enlil Enraged and Triangular Tattvic Fire being particularly powerful, and it was one of those sets that people will be talking about for months to come – Melechesh are on top of their game right now, both on CD and in a live environment.
Having seen Shining (8/10) multiple times over the past few years, it has to be said that this is a band that always puts on a great show and their show at Incineration was no exception. Although frontman Kvarforth asked the crowd if they were having a good time before promising to change that, you could tell that everyone was lapping up the performance, especially thanks to the impressive drum solos courtesy of Rainer and guitarist Euge even playing his guitar on his back at one point! Love them or hate them, you can’t deny that Shining always delivers live.
Following Shining, it was over to Underworld to see Impaled Nazarene (10/10). Admittedly I’d been a little disappointed to learn they’d be playing at the smaller Underworld rather than the bigger stage of Electric Ballroom but as soon as the set started, I knew I’d end up eating my words because this was a performance made for a small club atmosphere. To say the show was carnage would actually be selling it short, as it got completely insane as the set progressed. There was a huge amount of movement from the crowd that swiftly descended into chaos with bodies practically flying across the room. Cramming as many songs as they could into their 35 minute set, the performance featured both old and new songs (with my personal favourite being Flaming Sword Of Satan from their most recent album) and even though the sound in the venue wasn’t the best, the atmosphere more than made up for it and the crowd was hungry for more as they wound things up with the final song of the night, Total War, Winter War. You can bet there was a few sore bodies the morning after this performance!
After a quick pit-stop to grab some food, it was time to go full circle and return to The Black Heart to catch Alfahanne (8/10). Having been very impressed by their album Alfapokalyps, I had high hopes for what their set would entail and although the small room they were performing in was unbearably hot and visibility wasn’t the best, I couldn’t help but enjoy their performance – especially when Shining’s Niklas Kvarforth, who’d performed guest vocals on Alfapokalyps, joined the band onstage for a song! That really got the crowd going, and added so much more atmosphere to the show, which was great to witness!
Due to us not being tremendously fussed on any of the three headline acts, we flitted between all the venues to catch a bit of all of them before calling it a day and headed back to the hotel for some much-needed sleep!
As a whole, Incineration was an absolutely fantastic festival with a very strong lineup but the problems with exchanging tickets for wristbands is definitely something that needs to be looked into for next year – I know of quite a few people who were very disappointed about missing some of the opening bands due to these issues.