Face Your Festival 2021 review
-- Face Your Festival 2021 --
01/01/1970 - 01/01/1970
Review written by Stijn “Metal Shredder” Daneels with assistance from Marjolein “Mrs. Metal Shredder” Deduytschaever. Pictures also by Stijn “Metal Shredder” Daneels.
Ever since I seriously became invested in the Belgian metal scene I was aware of the Face Your Underground series of Belgian rock & metal compilations. This year I managed to grab a free copy of the three most recent Face Your Underground compilations for free and who knows, maybe one day we’ll be making one such a compilation ourselves ???? But our friends from October Changes invited us to check out the inaugural edition of their self-organized two-day event called Face Your Festival at the Ragnarock Live Club in Bree with the lineup featuring bands from the Face Your Underground compilations. We arranged to stay at a local B&B (called Op D’n Stolberg in Weert) and then took the long trip to Bree.
The first band on Face Your Festival 2021 was the crossover band Cuttermess who I had last seen live at Judasfest 2019 and one year later I shredded through the band’s short but enjoyable debut EP “Take ‘m to the Guillotine” (check our review: https://www.belgianmetalshredder.be/reviews/238) since then the band has had a major lineup change that saw everyone minus vocalist Justin being replaced by new folks and of course, the pandemic didn’t gave them a lot of gigs.
That being said however, the band still jammed just as they did before. Crossover metal that I can best describe as a mix between heavy, thrash, death, black and even a touch of power metal. And those aforementioned styles seep through all aspects of the Cuttermess’s sound, vocals, riffs, rhythms, etc. But despite all these subgenres the band did manage to keep a consistent flow in their style, it’s all meticulously applied, not thrown at the wall and watching if something would stick. And then there’s also frontman Kris who jumped around like an ADHD lunatic on stage while sporting blue worker overalls and a bright yellow headband. He reminded me of a construction worker who had just finished his shift and then immediately jumped on stage to perform. And with his wild antics he certainly added a lot of charm to the show.
After having not seen the band for some time now I was pretty surprised to see the band perform so well energetically at Face Your Festival 2021. Cuttermess’s set was short but very tight and featured a lot of interaction with the crowd. All in all, Cuttermess is a band that, thanks to their versatile style and engaging presentation, I believe can be enjoyed by a lot of different metalheads.
[ONE ZILLION DECIBELS]
One Zillion Decibels was a band I hadn’t heard of before unlike most of the other bands on Face Your Festival 2021. That didn’t stop them, however, from pleasing me and the audience with a short but enjoyable gig with solid stoner metal straight from their 2020 self-titled demo release along with a fun classic Black Sabbath medley.
Musically, One Zillion Decibels’ biggest strength came from the excellent guitar work and the howling vocals, it felt a bit like Cowboys And Aliens in terms of themes and riffs while the singing in particular felt like 1970s Black Sabbath. The whole atmosphere during the gig was relaxed with quite a few funny interludes wherein frontman Ludo entertained the crowd with some self-depreciating humor. The whole set felt melodic, engaging and straightforward, just like I prefer my stoner.
Although the show did drag on a just little bit, One Zillion Decibels left me and the crowd clearly pleased with their material, only thing missing was a hot summer day and a BBQ to complete the laid-back, friendly stoner atmosphere that the band smoothly provoked. I believe their stoner beats would fit very well as a supporting act for our country’s stoner giants Cowboys & Aliens. In any case, I’ll certainly continue following for this act in the following years.
A last-minute addition to Face Your Festival 2021 was the old-school rock n’ roll band Promise Down, an add I was certainly happy with since their 2020 debut EP was a joy to shred (read my review: https://www.belgianmetalshredder.be/reviews/237). It also was also going to be the first gig of Promise Down I would be attending so that made it all extra interesting.
Promise Down instantly took the crowd by storm with a high-energy sound that quickly reminded me of Motörhead, speedy rock with bluesy undertones and gravely vocals. What I also noticed in Promise Down is the huge chemistry between the band members. Vocalist William & bassist Ronny did the choruses together and the latter smoothly joined in with guitarist Danny’s swift riffs. Me and the rest of the crowd banged our heads and danced around as Promise Down’s raw rock n’ roll power swept across the venue. It all eventually climaxed with a canon of heart-shaped confetti shot by Willliam during the gig’s final song, conveniently called “Furious Masturbator.”
Promise Down’s gig was definitely one of the highlights of Face Your Festival 2021. An exciting show from beginning to end with a band that, despite being added the very same day as the event kicked off, came in and gave it all they had. Fueled by rock n’ roll blood, pure confidence and a set of songs that breathed that same classic rocking energy from the old days. Nothing more, nothing less.
October Changes, also known as the people behind Face Your Festival 2021 were next to get on stage. I’ve been following this fledging industrial metal band for a couple of years now and despite the ongoing pandemic and the few live gigs the band managed to do since then October Changes did release several well-received singles including my personal favorite, “The Puppet Factory” (read the single review: https://www.belgianmetalshredder.be/reviews/241). But I hadn’t seen the band live yet so this was a nice first, head-on encounter.
The band played a varied set of gothic, industrial metal featuring ballads, heavy songs and everything in between, all from the singles they had released by then as well as an industrially twisted cover of the iconic Whitin Temptation song “Ice Queen” (which I must say, made the song feel heavier than the original). October Changes’ style was sober and organic, which I found to be pretty unusual for this particular subgenre. The band, however, used a lot of samples which did decrease the organic feel of their sound a bit, maybe a live keyboard player can fix that. Vocalist Wendy sung in a clear falsetto voice and took the front in getting the crowd to jump and clap which she successfully did. The other guys showed themselves to be equally fit as well despite all the work they had to do to get this festival up and running. It took me a while to get to my first live October Changes gig and I was very satisfied with their performance at Face Your Festival. An intimate and compelling show that nicely ticks off the gothic & industrial metal boxes without feeling over-the-top or clichéd. We’re looking forward to the next singles.
The final band on day 1 of Face Your Festival was Behind Bars. A band that has had a special place in my heart ever since they represented our tricolored country at the Wacken Metal Battle in 2018 (I was there and had an unforgettable time). Since then, I saw the band a couple more times live and looked forward to seeing them again.
Behind Bars described themselves as an hardcore act with thrash & groove influences and that’s exactly what it was. The band played an intense show with rhythmic lightning effects, distorted yet melodic riffs, headbanging beats and the band members themselves didn’t stand still for a millisecond as they presented material from their 2019 “Free At Last” album as well as some old and new tunes. The songs were all short and heavy rollercoaster rides that left the attendees little time to catch their breath as the band quickly initiated the next hardcore ride.
While their long set felt a bit repetitive to me near the end (hardcore isn’t quite my thing to be honest), I can’t deny that, despite the late hour, Behind Bars came and utterly destroyed the place with relentless fury. The crowd was ecstatic and even required an encore from the band, which they promptly did. If you enjoy hardcore thrash & groove than Behind Bars is one band you should definitely check out, both on record and especially live on stage.
The first band of day 2 of Face Your Festival 2021 was the groove metal band Destroy Humanity, who had contacted us personally earlier this year to check out their well-made debut album “Hypnopompia” (read our review: https://www.belgianmetalshredder.be/reviews/317). I hadn’t seen the band live yet, so I was curious to see how they would do it on stage.
I believe Destroy Humanity’s sound can best be described as subtlety aggressive. While the band played their material restrained you can feel the underlying rage in all elements of the band’s sound. From the anger-filled vocals to the thick bass lines, groovy riffs and pounding drums. The band members, however, played at the sides of the stage (which the exception of the drummer, of course) but that made the middle part of the stage look rather empty. Maybe they could fix that by moving around some more. I also think that some backing vocals would make their sound even stronger.
Overall, Destroy Humanity’s less-is-more approach was surprisingly effective on stage and I enjoyed them more live than on album (wherein the songs felt dragged out). Live, on the other hand, Destroy Humanity made me like their sound the further their gig continued and I wouldn’t have mind if they had time for a couple more songs. Next year Destroy Humanity will be supporting Channel Zero during one of their anniversary gigs at the AB in Brussels and after having seen this groovy and fun gig, I can understand why they’ve got picked for the job.
[CULT OF SCARECROW]
I first saw Cult Of Scarecrow during the Wacken Metal Battle Belgium 2019 semi-finals but the band really impressed me with their awesome full-length debut “Tales Of The Sacrosanct Man” earlier this year (read the review: https://www.belgianmetalshredder.be/reviews/310). This year I had already seen the band multiple times with their gig at the inaugural edition of HeavyLake being a particular highlight.
Describing Cult Of Scarecrow isn’t all that difficult. They play old-school heavy metal (especially when it comes to guitar melodies) but drenched in a doom metal feel (thanks to the symphonic keyboards and operatic vocals). Most of the band’s songs start off with moody keys and then slowly but surely evolve towards an explosive section of lengthy guitar solos and multi-vocal choruses. It made their long songs feel a lot shorter than they actually were. It’s straightforward doom n’ roll but with enough complexity and atmosphere The rather small stage, however, did make the six-piece Cult Of Scarecrow band look packed together, also the stage lighting looked too colorful, I prefer Cult Of Scarecrow in a sea of dark-blue light and so making the band members look like dark phantoms.
While their show at Face Your Festival 2021 was shorter and not as epic as some of the other gigs I had seen of them earlier, Cult Of Scarecrow, as always, managed to entertain me. Doom metal doesn’t stand high on my favorite metal subgenres list, but Cult Of Scarecrow’s energetic shows and no-nonsense style does spark my interest to further discover the world of doom.
Next up was the death metal act Carnal Desecration, like One Zillion Decibels who performed a day earlier, I hadn’t heard of this band before but they, like One Zillion Decibels, had also released a self-titled demo EP last year and of course that was where the majority of Carnal Desecration’s songs at Face Your Festival 2021 came from.
Carnal Desecration wasted no time getting their presence known with a flesh-tearing assault of classic death metal riffs and vicious, beastly vocals all presented with a thick, chaotic sound. That sense of chaos was further amplified by the flickering stage lights. There isn’t much else I could say to describe Carnal Desecration’s sound, I do have a soft spot for death metal (especially when played live) and the band certainly entertained me although I believe a bit more melody could’ve further improved the band’s overall sound (perhaps some guitar solos could do the trick).
The Carnal Desecration gig was a more than solid old-school death metal show that had all the necessary ingredients that a classic death metalhead could ask for. Growling vocals, grinding bass, blast beats and sudden tempo changes all delivered with the necessary intensity and finesse. Carnal Desecration is another band I’ll surely keep on my Shredder radar for the foreseeable future.
[A GOAT AS OUR SHEPHERD]
I recall A Goat As Our Shepherd as being one of the bands recommended to me for inclusion into our Belgian Metal Spotify playlist when I was asking around on social media for new stuff to add (check out our playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7Eh6LjZlWM8ynvwqZsDin6?si=6485f363b8f447fa). This year the band also released their self-titled debut EP and they were clearly pumped and ready to bring it to the headbanging masses at Face Your Festival 2021.
Like Carnal Desecration before them, A Goat As Our Shepherd performed old-school death metal but this time with more thrash & groove metal influences. The band also had a loud, sharp bass sound that gave their music a meatgrinder effect, the drum beats were very hypnotizing, the vocals switched between grunts, shrieks and cleans and the guys performed with such intensity that they even managed to provoke a mosh pit. I noticed a lot of mutual chemistry among the band members and as a result, their music had a great symmetry and all elements of their sound fluently mixed together and amplified one another to great effect.
I like my death metal varied, melodic and brutally intense and that’s precisely what A Goat As Our Shepherd brought to the table during Face Your Festival 2021. The band promised to break the stage down with their hard-hitting and multi-faceted death metal and they absolutely did. A highlight performance on the entire festival.
I’ve been following the sludge & doom metal act Splendidula since late 2017 and since then I shredded my way through the band’s last two full-lengths including their very successful album called “Somnus” (read our review: https://www.belgianmetalshredder.be/reviews/261) which they released earlier this year. They were also one of the final bands I saw live before the COVID19 pandemic began so I was looking forward to seeing these fine people on stage again after all these months.
Splendidula’s entire style felt like doom metal (especially when it comes to song length) but their sound was also pretty complex. It’s very two-sided with grinding and melodic guitars, aggressive drums, angelic female and rough male vocals (often sung in duet). It’s a style that I dig a lot because it’s very hypnotic and unpredictable. Splendidula unfortunately played without their second guitarist David (who was absent because of a funeral) and although the band played his riffs through samples his absence did leave Splendidula feel incomplete. Not only that, but they played without their signature projector (because of space limitations, of course) and not seeing the high-contrast black-and-white images of decaying trees (not to mention the overly bright and colored stage lightning) cut out much of the dreamy, nightmarish atmosphere that I except from a Splendidula gig.
Despite Splendidula’s show at Face Your Festival 2021 being not as impressive as I had wished, I was still happy to see the band again and I’m confident that those who saw the band at earlier shows this year like Zingem Beeft had the chance to see Splendidula at their full power. As for me, I’m looking forward to my next Splendidula gig since I’m sure I’ll then be seeing the band once again at their peak.
The final band of the inaugural Face Your Festival event was the alternative metal band Noord. I remember seeing the band live back in late 2018 during the Metal For Angels charity festival in Geraardsbergen. Since then, the band has released a debut EP called “One” and the band has been gradually evolving and at Face Your Festival 2021 they had the chance to close off the event.
Noord played a varied set of songs that felt like a combo between heavy metal, grunge, progressive and even a bit of hardcore. They stroke a fine balance between raging fury and sweet intimacy and they felt very unpredictable. That sense of variety was also noticeable in the bass, with bassist Louis playing his instrument in multiple ways including pizzicato and slap. Vocalist/guitarist Cédric screamed his way through the songs without feeling forced or unnecessary. Despite the band being a three-piece, their sound was voluminous and precise and Noord played with strength and confidence. Overall a significant improvement in both music and stage presence compared to how I remembered them in 2018.
Noord provided a very satisfying ending gig of the inaugural edition of Face Your Festival. They smoothly entertained the crowd with their intimate yet aggressive alternative view of what metal should sound and feel like and I’m really curious to hear how Noord will be heading to in the coming years.
+ A small, but well-built venue large enough for a grand atmosphere+ The stage smoke machine did a good job to fill the venue without suffocating the crowd
+ An excellent and varied underground Belgian metal lineup
- Few parking opportunities around the venue
- The food truck wasn’t present on Saturday
Despite some practical hurdles and of course the stricter COVID19 regulations at the time, the crew behind this first edition of Face Your Festival did build a small and simple yet very enjoyable event that celebrated the Belgian rock & metal underground in all its many forms. You can count on us to shred this newly founded festival again in the following years.