22nd to 24th April 2022
Dark Malta Festival 2022 Day 3 with Combichrist, Nachtmahr, Sulpher, Eggvn, System Noire, PsycHolies, Blut, Eric 13
here we are already, on the last festival day. I was a little late for day three, be warned that Malta can be a very busy and bustling little island. There was an accident somewhere on the island and traveling around became very slow and tedious…
I missed most of ERIC 13 playing his set. I must have lived under a rock before this gig as I was unaware of this solo existence away from COMBICHRIST. What I did manage to catch kind of reminded me of a Johnny Cash vibe, fully acoustic, a little bluesy and altogether quite enjoyable. Very different to the rest of the weekend and all the better for it. I was hoping for the recent cover of ‘Love is a Stranger’ - perhaps I missed it with the late arrival and then getting myself organised.
Now for something completely different. BLUT are a well thought out, but difficult to define band that judging by this performance really shine when playing live. Their material explores the darker side of life, including more obscure mental health issues and without doubt transforms with the theatre they provide on stage. A rollercoaster of a ride, with some intriguing and quite unique musical approaches that I’m hesitant to pigeon-hole into one genre (or even several).
PYSCHOLIES arrive next with a spirited slab of Electro Gothic Rock. New to me before Dark Malta the set introduced me to a band that surely demands further exploration. No better a compliment, and one of the great benefits of such a varied festival as Dark Malta. Great energetic showmanship and some engrossing musicianship, the crowd submitted to them entirely. Check them out when you get chance.
Next up is SYSTEM NOIRE who shook the stage with pounding EBM beats and energetic rough vocals. As always, the band gave their melodic style of dark electronics a fine airing this evening. Lots of energy that seemed to fuse the band and crowd together in one seething mass of movement. Highly enjoyable, as always.
EGGVN are becoming something of an enigma within the scene, there is always an air of anticipation once they are announced for a gig or festival. Dark Malta was no exception - easily one of the most talked about bands on the bill (before they hit the stage and after). They are a focussed bunch and imagery is an important part of their appeal - spanning every aspect of their existence. It’s details like this that make EGGVN ultimately a more enjoyable live listen than sat at home. Their self-confessed “Satanic Death Industrial Metal” could have once been described as original, but there have been several similar takes on this band formula. So, for me it’s the imagery combined with the live energy that makes EGGVN a simply superb live prospect. I think the Dark Malta crowd were more than pleased and there were some very tired, but ultimately happy looking Goths when the band left the stage.
As the last bands of the festival reach out to entertain us, one of my favourite bands, SULPHER arrive on stage. Seriously, every time I watch this band rip up a stage, I can never understand how they are not filling large Arenas around the world. Every ounce of my being is treated to a workout, blistering riffs, furious playing and torturously powerful vocals. If energy drink companies could formulate a SULPHER drink, it’s more than fair to say it would give you much more than wings - that’s for sure. No other way of putting it, simply an outstanding performance.
Let me start by saying I’ve been a NACHTMAHR fan since the project began, not their biggest fan but I’ve spent many a happy time listening to them on CD and on stage. The imagery divides the scene, and I’ve always been quite accepting that’s exactly what it is - just an image. I’m not dramatically into following a band’s imagery nowadays, I’m now a Goth elder totalling over half a century on the planet. I take the music first, then when the imagery works well alongside the music, I’m a happy bunny. I’m not just talking about the uniform thing that attracts the usual “Nazi criticism” in the context of NACHTMAHR, strangely I can grasp that and be reasonably accepting. I am however getting less accepting of the violent enactment of the two girls, their role as sexual playthings. I was a victim of an abusive relationship for several years, maybe it’s that - I really don’t know. But I do know I struggle watching this intense enactment, and struggle even more to keep the camera clicking.
I have decided this will be the last time I document this portion of NACHTMAHR’s show. Onto the show itself, I loved that guitar has been brought into the mix and it gives Andrea a chance to further show off his musicianship. This added more to the show than any girl-on-girl scene in my opinion and was a special moment seeing him move to the front of the stage. Despite three days of dancing and socialising the crowd loved the set and still had enough energy to show it. NACHTMAHR is something of an almost unique band, there are some searingly high points. This was in many ways yet another fine entertaining performance… except, well…. in today’s climate of violence, abuse, hatred and division I’m beginning to feel a little uncomfortable with aspects of their imagery.
The last band of the festival and possibly the most anticipated is COMBICHRIST. Especially as this was billed as an old school electronic set. It was a purely magical gig, to strip down a bands overall sound should take away a certain something, but somehow this added more to the mix. The energy created by three guys, two on electronics and one vocalist shouldn’t be able to power a festival full of people but as I looked around and watched I saw ecstatically happy people loving the moment - totally engrossed in this flowing power. It was a two-way deal too, both band and crowd feeding each other. I never expected to enjoy this old school set as much as I did. Relentless and flawless, the pounding beats, perfect in every way - this was a very special way to end a very special festival.
So, the end of yet another festival - with the usual post-festival blues. However, I cannot stress enough how extraordinary Dark Malta is as a festival. It’s small enough to be friendly and personable, big enough to feel like a proper festival. The backdrop of being on such a historical and interesting little island firmly places the festival into fresh territory that will provide the international visitor with a holiday destination festival. Perfect, I wish the festival nothing but the best of luck - it’s going to be a blast seeing this festival evolve!
All Pictures by Kevin Stevens