Like some traumatised, scarred veteran, I keep returning for another tour of duty in the Czech Republic. Normal life just doesn’t seem the same, and besides those scars are but minor flesh wounds from stage diving and some cirrhosis, so why not? Add in a plus of a whole lot of fun and amazing performances on the field and I think I need “Born to Grind” on my protective head gear.
Arriving via Prague on the Tuesday again, we dallied at a warm up show at the Blue Monkey Club (our unerring sense of direction meaning we had to cross about 20 train lines to get there), Cancer Clan were the highlight here with some top intensity grind with excellent drumming from their main man. Next we headed up to Trutnov to get settled in in plenty of time for the Wednesday opening evening, themed this year for crossover thash. Openers Evil Invaders were great, a large slab of cheese involved in their style and delivery but I like cheese, as well as some infectiously relentless thashing. S.D.I. next were meant to have some status of legend but for me it was a pretty ropey and uninteresting performance and my attention and self wandered off. I wasn’t expecting much more from Holy Moses given their 30+ years of playing but I was rapidly won over by their power and aggression, focussed on Sabina’s apparently unstoppable energy. They were joined by Dan Lilker for a cover of the Dead Kennedy’s “Too Drunk…” which made for a good party finish. Our friend Selfie the Clown returned for the nocturnal freak show, surely he couldn’t top last year’s twisted self-abuse performance. Oh. Maybe he did. By the time the final “ritual” show happened I think I was rolling around laughing but my photographic evidence suggested there may well have been naked ladies involved. Sorry for missing out on any plot
Thursday the first day proper, kicking into action with Master Blaster, energetic hardcore from New Zealand with an old school melodic vibe, swiftly followed by two-piece Australian grind from Dead Root, Dan Lilker also guesting with them, possibly also on a cover. Wonder how many times we will see him this weekend. Some old school death from Sectesy then the first silly goregrind party of the weekend from the bondaged up Anal Grind. Moom, from Israel, had been recommended by my friend and were impressive with their explosive power violence mix, a real impassioned show. Animals Killing People provided some tight grind with a message and the Saudi’s Creative Waste had got even better since the last time they were here, excellent grind with a fierce and filthy sound. Dead Infection had been poor last time I saw them here but were a lot more on form today, the goregrind a bit more hard hitting if unspectacular. Full of Hell, from the States, were a different ball game though, mixing in an experimental noise element to their grind and having a chaotic structure that kept the attention through their quality set. Speaking of chaos, Total Chaos from California gave us some street punk that they’ve been doing for 30 years apparently and while effective enough there were tinges of style over substance that I get with a some US punk. The lunatics of Ghoul made for great entertainment, sounding more crossover punk than their death metal leanings on recording, but the whole hilarious costumed theatre and special guests on stage reminded me of the crazy party brought by the Gwar. Krisiun from Brazil were solid enough, but as before when I’ve seen them I’ve found their death metal riffing a little “by the numbers” and not ear-catching enough for me. A first time for me to see their compatriots Ratos de Parao despite them existing for 30+ years, but what a pleasure at last. Absolutely raging hardcore edging into grind territory, really now let up in the fast and furious. Want to see them again now! And still to finish we had the (no) masters Discharge, also revitalised with a new singer but with also a peerless back catalogue and new killer tracks mixed in too, the evening ends in the possibility of my destruction.
Friday make a brief visit early doors to catch the decent balaclava-ed grind of Psykoanalyysi, from Finland , before an interlude down in town and then crashed back at the tents while there was a rainstorm before returning to catch some goregrind from Sweden’s Razorrape and then the multinational Deathtopia unsurprisingly giving us some storming death metal. Another first for me provided by Obscene’s legend sourcing, with one of the originators of the Scandinavian punk scene in Crude SS. Very good too, I got a chance to thank them later for keeping the machine rolling on, hopefully into the future too. Their descendents Wolfbrigade were highly anticipated all round and delivered effortlessly, the melodic crust spot on, classics plus the much rated new release, “run with the Hunted”. Annual Japanese bonus next, with Systematic Death, whom I knew little of earlier. Another absolute winner, hyper fast hardcore with a bass player making a smash entry into my all time faves even though they looked incredibly young, and an Asian Tom Araya up front encouraging the crowd. Really no let up as next more Brazilians in Violator showed how relentless thrash should be done. Like early Testament they were simply marvellous and what really added to it was their heartfelt appreciation, celebration of the underground, and universal social/political messages. Just reaffirming the love of what is here and what we hear. What? Infest next?!? Yep, the seminal U.S. power violence/hardcore are here to punish/please us with an insane scattergun/epileptic approach to song structure, their one minute epics all over the place except with perfect precision and no fat, just perfect doses of sonic violence. Singer Joe is an amiable nutter and disappears into the crowd on a regular basis, loving it as are we all. Canadian thrash next from old-schoolers Razor drives along ok in quite a melodic fashion but I think either suffers in comparison from what has gone before or my own stamina. I’m hanging on (and hanging) though as after the reasonably engaging grind of locals See You in Hell we have the Swedes Myteri who I’d been looking forward to. Complete satisfaction too, as this progressive crust is right up my street and I’m up front to savour the shifting dynamics and relentless driving rhythms underpinning it all. Wind down with some Gomora and then it’s over and out
A bit of a blurry morning catching the likes of Nuclear Devastation’s blackened death thrash, Haggus with their unusually serious goregrind, Sucking Leech hitting a fast Napalm style grind and Viscera Trail raw noise featuring a return of Selfie, perhaps even more disturbing in broad daylight. UK representation came with the Oxfordshire lads of Black Skies Burn, who’ve been working hard touring at home and their furious hard hitting death grind is a treat, especially when run through with a good deal of humour. Next to impress are Sweden’s The Arson Project with typically crisp Scando-grind, with plenty of break down sludge in their structures and overtly political samples colouring in the darkness too. I’d heard a fair bit of the Finn’s of Purtenance’s doom/death releases and this first time live for me was definitely a pleasure, a suitably massive, steamrollering distorted sound that rumbled through the guts. Still time to ramp up the party on this final afternoon with a return of local legends Ahumado Granujo and their crazy mix of banging techno spliced with bouncing gore grind, last call for the inflatables, it’s a wonderful sight! Why not carry on the fun with S.O.B., Stormtroopers of Beer? A kind of bonus add on for our eventual headliners as it’s another Dan Lilker outlet, a tribute band to his own band Stormtroopers of Death. The songs are of legend and the delivery by the jam band is with plenty of gusto so the circle pits kick of fine still to the legendary crossover thrash tunes. A shift back to a shady palate of classic death metal next with Sinister. A few years since I saw them at Hellfest but this show from the Dutch guys had an even more epic heaviness that reinforced they still have impact after all these years. So, the main headliners arrive to deliver their Nuclear Assault. They had been a major incentive for me to go to Maryland last year to catch “a” farewell show after not seeing them in the decades of their existence before, this additional European reunion bonus was brought about through Curby the organiser having some difficulties sourcing main bands this year and his good friend (and annual attendee here) Dan volunteering their services. And talk about going out on a high, again. The relentless thrash with the soaring catchy vocal hooks from vocalist John, interspersed with their comedy numbers like “Hang the Pope” just made for a superb messy moshpit and stage dive climax. So good. No rest as next the awesome Swedish melodic hardcore onslaught of Victims, swept along on waves of raging power. A chance of a wind down and to lick some wounds with the Spanish tech-death of Wormed, skills to be appreciated but the complex detail flying over my head really. A bit fiercer direction (into the face) from Wojczech, the German death/grinders consistently delivering some explosive material since I last saw them hear a few years back, before we finally call it a night, almost at the end, with Canada’s Hard Charger. Their groove ridden hardcore is just the thing and the feel of the party at the end of the world, and they broaden the smile on my face all the more.
Returning to Prague the next day we even catch this last one again at a tiny cafe in a park, where the vibe is just as good, supported by the excellent stenchcore crust of Nocturnal Scum from Berlin. Eking out the noisy fun as long as we can. Without a doubt will be back for the 20th anniversary fest next year which promises to reach new heights and lows! Can’t wait to rejoin the extreme world.