After unleashing the first event in May 2014, Incineration Festival has now seen five events hosting numerous worldwide artists including Abbath, Sodom, Dark Funeral, Alcest, God Seed, 1349, Taake, Marduk, Unleashed, Rotting Christ, Master’s Hammer, Tsjuder, Anaal Nathrakh, Impaled Nazarene, Melechesh, Immolation and many more.
The fully sold out sixth edition of Incineration Festival took place on Saturday, 11 May 2019 as a one-day affair at three venues at the heart of Camden Town, London: Electric Ballroom, Underworld and The Black Heart.
A bright sunshine was drying up the last traces of the morning’s rain while the streets of Camden Town were filling with black dressed folks from close and far. The three venues were only a few minutes walking distance apart, however Camden Town – one of London’s alternative compounds hosting street markets, musical venues, pubs – gets really crowded with tourists, especially on a nice day like this.
First on the day’s long band line-up were progressive/technical death metallers Sphinx. They were playing at The Black Heart, a pub with a tiny venue for gigs. A narrow, squeaky and after urine-smelling staircase was leading upstairs, uncovering a small room with barely any light and sticky floor. Not a pretty place at all, but with its rawness perfect for the smaller extreme metal acts.
The day’s mid-size stage, opened by British black metal band Deitus, was club Underworld at the basement of The World’s End pub and has become the centre of the alternative music scene in England and a stepping stone for bands within the industry.
The main venue, Electric Ballroom, is a dedicated music venue and an iconic one! It started as Irish ballroom in 1930s and has hosted in the past decades an array of influential acts such as Snow Patrol, Stereophonics, U2, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Garbage, Sir Paul McCartney, Prince and many more. When I arrived there after manoeuvring through tourist crowds, the 1,500 capacity arena was near full and everyone was waiting for London black metallers Voices to open the main stage. The band was formed by ex- members of Akercocke and for a change there are no Satanic/ occult themes in their lyrics; instead they get inspiration from our urban surroundings and paint a picture of the horrors of being alive in today’s world. Tonight’s set was a mix of material from all the band’s albums, however the largest part came from their stunning, yet disturbing 2014 concept album London. The hard hitting blast of psychedelic melancholia was a great start of the day at the main stage.
Next on the main stage were Winterfylleth, one of Britain’s best black metal bands. Their name, meaning in Old English “Winter Full Moon,” describes the band’s atmospheric icy riffs perfectly. The stage lights maintained a purple-blue tone while the band ran through their 5-song long set.
The infamous Swedish black metal act Shining were having, at this year’s Incineration Festival, their first ceremony on UK soil since 2016. The band’s frontman and the only constant member since its beginnings, Niklas Kvarforth, was making faces or letting out from time to time a howling scream.
Norwegian black metal masters Carpathian Forest were returning to London for the first time since selling out their headline show at The Underworld back in 2013. It was a treat to see the band live as they delivered a mega set from their extensive back catalogue including “Mask of the Slave” performed with Niklas Kvarforth from Shining.
The performance of Greek symphonic death metallers Septicflesh was very lively, dynamic and colourful. The visuals truly complemented their music, the flashing lights were changing from bright red to yellow and green and in between smoke cannons were shooting in the air while the band was telling the tales of ancient gods.
While the stage was sinking in darkness, the crowd kept screaming: “Mayhem, Mayhem, Mayhem…” in excitement to greet tonight’s main stage headliners, Norwegian black metal icons and one of extreme metal’s most controversial and influential bands. Mayhem were performing a special “Demon Anthology” show which was an extended set combining best pieces from whole bands discography and it was also their only UK performance in 2019.
The 500 capacity venue The Underworld was ram packed tonight to see headliners Dutch thrashers Asphyx with their drummer Husky from mighty Sodom tear the place down. The hair was flying, fists pumping the air and the crowd was going wild. The mid height stage was perfect for fans to claim on it and jump into the stretched out arms for a crowdsurf.
The very last band playing tonight- the headliners of the small stage were Abysmal Torment. A great, energetic performance from these Maltese death metallers. Even though there was no space in this small room for moshpit or crowdsurf, headbanging and fist pumping kept going throughout the show.
Incineration Festival 2019 line up:
The Black Heart