Wacken Metal Battle Belgium 2023 Semi Final Oost-Vlaanderen

-- Wacken Metal Battle Belgium 2023 Semi Final Oost-Vlaanderen --

Stijn Daneels


Review written by Stijn “Metal Shredder” Daneels with assistance from Marjolein “Mrs. Metal Shredder” Deduytschaever. Pictures by Stijn “Metal Shredder” Daneels.

Since 2018 I’ve been participating as a jury member of the Wacken Metal Battle Belgium. The contest to choose one Belgian metal act to represent our humble, tricolored country during the Wacken Metal Battle itself. After three years of no metal battles, this year the Wacken Metal Battle Belgium has made its triumphant return and after an excellent first round at the bar Verlichte Geest in Roeselare (read my review of that event here: https://www.belgianmetalshredder.be/festival_article/102) we went to the Asgaard bar in Gentbrugge on Saturday February 25 2023 to check out the next six live contestants. Six bands entered, two bands left to join Hope Erodes & Unravel (the winners of the first round) for the finals.


The first act to compete at this second round of the Wacken Metal Battle Belgium was Raise Your Fist. A band I had heard little of before but Glenn did enjoy their show at Nokfest 2022 last November (read his review here: https://www.belgianmetalshredder.be/festival_article/99) so I was curious to check them out for real this time.

Raise Your Fist’s style was straight-up metalcore with intense vocals, a nice touch of melody and some breakdowns spread throughout. Personally, I felt Raise Your Fist’s sound to be quite rhythmic and the vocals effective. The two things I do think could be improved within Raise Your Fist are the breakdowns (they lacked overall impact and power, especially compared to what a band like STAB is capable of) plus I believe Raise Your Fist’s melodic side could be further expanded (something tells me that guitarist Sander wasn’t playing to his full potential).

Presentation-wise, Raise Your Fist didn’t employ much theatrics but I did like the expressiveness of vocalist Joas, he frequently moved around while delivering his lines and the lively energy within him was also present within the rest of the band and while they were all dressed in black shirts, the blue and red stage lightning did give them a slightly more colorful look.

All things considered, my first encounter with Raise Your Fist was a pleasant one. Their sound still had quite a few rough edges but the core was already solidly built. It sure looks promising.


My first time seeing Crux Tenebris was in late 2019, back then I considered them a solid fledging band but not yet having anything to make them stand out. Since then, Crux Tenebris has made their black/doom/death metal sound harder, faster and heavier as well as putting on a nice visual spectacle (which I had last witnessed during Pluto Fest 2022).

Dressed as undead creatures, Crux Tenebris took the stage, their clothes pitch-black and their faces corpse-white with black eyeliners (pretty subtly applied to be honest). Except for frontman Ken, who wore a white straightjacket and had both the jacket and his face covered with blood, giving him a genuinely creepy zombie/cannibal/lunatic look Musically, the sound of Crux Tenebris was surprisingly melodic, backed by grunting, shrieking and marching drum beats. The band also employed some well-timed tempo changes and sweet guitar solos.

To further talk about Crux Tenebris’s presentation, the band frequently performed in green and red stage lights and also employed flickering lights on many occasions. For me, I feel Crux Tenebris looks at their best when the lights are blood-red with occasional bits of darkness thrown in.

For me, I don’t have anything really negative to say about Crux Tenebris’s performance. Their style keeps evolving and their visual look becomes more and more effective and unique. Everything in the Crux Tenebris formula begins to take true shape and form.


The third contestant for the night was Secondhand Saints, like Raise Your Fist before them this was another band I hadn’t put much attention to before although Glenn did check out the band when they were opening for Aeveris last November in Sint-Niklaas (read his review here: https://www.belgianmetalshredder.be/festival_article/97).

Secondhand Saints presented a hybrid of metalcore and nu-metal, represented by two distinct vocalists. On one side was Laszlo who did intense screaming backed by drilling riffs while on the other side his colleague Jelle did clean singing and who was backed by more melodic riffs. On occasions, however, the singers were backed by the beats of the other one so that created a sweet dynamic within the band’s sound. In addition, the band used occasional electro or piano samples which I felt were used quite effectively.

The few things I think that Secondhand Saints can further improve upon is the overall interplay between the two singers (there already is solid chemistry between them but I think they can play of each other even more and sing together more often) and while their entrance was badass and energetic (successfully pumping up the crowd for the show), that same entrance also felt a bit too long for me (it consisted of samples and instrumentals and it took about 2 minutes before the whole band started performing). So get into action a bit faster, don’t let the momentum fall off.

Recently Glenn had already given much praise to Secondhand Saints and for me they were a genuine surprise when I saw them at Asgaard. Secondhand Saints versatile nu-metalcore sound and limitless energy got the crowd and me totally energized. This is definitely a band I’ll be keeping my eyes on for the foreseeable future.


Objector is a band that I’ve been following for a few years now and I was pleased to see them apply for a spot at the Wacken Metal Battle Belgium. So it took me little consideration to vote them for a spot in the semi-finals and see how they would stack up against the competition.

And all I can say about Objector’s performance that night at Asgaard is… wow! On paper, the band’s style is simple, thrash metal. Yet in that simplicity they went ripping & tearing through the stage with a relentless barrage of fast-paced beats, frantic front and backing vocals, dual guitar solos and occasional melodic slowdowns to give us just enough time to catch our breath. Objector banged their heads like crazy, evoked a few mosh pits and frontman Bock roamed the stage and screamed his lyrics in more than just one microphone (I like it when a guitarist/singer uses more than one mic on stage).

When it comes to presentation, Objector used a lot of green and blue lights that flickered nicely to the rhythm of the songs (making the whole thing feel even more frantic). They also frequently engaged with the crowd which resulted in the small but action-packed mosh & circle pits I talked about earlier.

After that 30-min rollercoaster I knew that Objector had a more than solid chance of reaching the finals and I was correct. Their thrash metal may be nothing new or original, but when it’s presented with such natural speed, power and technique then I can’t help but loving it.


I recall Stellarbone as the opening act for Aeveris last November during which they had already given me a positive first impression.

Stellarbone’s style was straightforward metal that had elements of thrash, groove and grunge within it. It had melody and rhythm but for me, they felt like a band that which was highly developed in certain aspects while lacking some polish in others. The main standouts in Stellarbone’s performance where the vocals and antics of frontman Teun and the powerful drums of Stefan. Stefan’s beats made sure the band maintained a solid momentum throughout. Teun flexed his vocal muscles and smoothly juggled between clean singing (that reminded me a bit of Franky DSVD) and harsh grunting. He also roamed the stage like a maniac and on one occasion jumped off the stage to interact with the crowd (too bad I had to be careful not to step on his wired mic, I would’ve preferred he used a wireless one).

In addition, I also felt the guitar work, while nicely melodic at times, also felt underdeveloped, I think some great solo work would’ve elevated the whole thing significantly. Other than that, Stellarbone’s performance was certainly enjoyable.

While I didn’t rank Stellarbone very high on this Metal Battle they did entertain me very well, just like all the other bands that competed that day. Stellarbone had a natural rawness and flexibility to them that feels accessible yet also offers some nice complexity.


Ah, Cellar Twins! Back in 2019 they had also competed in the Wacken Metal Battle Belgium and they were close to reaching the finals. Since then, the band has greatly evolved with their 2019 album “Duality” being a very enjoyable album to shred through (read my review here: https://www.belgianmetalshredder.be/reviews/192) as well as scoring gigs across Europe.

And at Asgaard I saw exactly how the band had evolved over those past 4 years. For some part the band still played their usual catchy alternative metal sound but their newer material brought up a more experimental and progressive side that was lurking within Cellar Twins. Singer Carl still brought his commanding vocals to the table backed by pounding drums, crunchy bass, marching riffs and beautiful guitar solos from his band colleagues. Vocal-wise, however, I do feel that the occasional backing vocal could make the whole thing a bit more impactful. This lack of backings was most evident for me when the band performed the song “Molotov Parade” which usually has some shouting between the lines of the verses. Not this time and it felt a bit awkward. Personally, I believe that either bassist Elodie or guitarist Jeff could support Carl in that department.

In terms of stage presence, Cellar Twins also positively evolved in that department as well, they played very expressively and never stood still. Even though they don’t play in Flanders often, these fine folks from Wallonia did manage to get the Flemish crowd invested. It was hot-blooded rock n’ roll presented with a genuine love and conviction for the genre.

Although Cellar Twins once again didn’t make it to the finals (but I strongly believe one day they will) the evolution within this band was palpable. Their style has become even more varied and unpredictable and the band has also told me that they were planning to do a Belgian tour alongside Secondhand Saints. All I can say to that is. Make. It. Happen!


My personal ranking:
1 Objector (JURY WINNER)
2 Cellar Twins
3 Crux Tenebris
4 Secondhand Saints (AUDIENCE WINNER)
5 Stellarbone
6 Raise Your Fist

Both Objector and Secondhand Saints managed to claim a spot for the finals Saturday May 27 in Zingem.

And so the second live round of the Wacken Metal Battle Belgium 2023 came to an end. For me, it was an even more difficult night to judge but just like during the first round I saw each of the contestants shine on stage and after the show all the bands were grateful for the chance they had get on that Asgaard stage. It was a very fun night and it ended with two great bands joining Hope Erodes and Unravel for the finals. 2 live rounds left and from those last rounds 4 bands will join the finals. It’s going to be an epic showdown, I’m already certain of that!