29th to 30th July 2016
Prophecy Fest 2016 Day 2 with Wöljager Music Theatre, Völur, Bohren & Der Club of Gore, Antimatter, GlerAkur, Alcest, Sol Invictus and Vemod
After a wonderful first festival day I was quite excited already and was very much looking forward the second day. One band I was really looking forward to see was BOHREN & DER CLUB OF GORE, a band I always missed when they were around. Furthermore I was eager to see ANTIMATTER who I love a lot and ALCEST of whom many people were excitedly talking about. The big surprise of the day was GLERAKUR though, a band from Iceland blowing me totally away. But before we entered the cave on Saturday, there was a special music theatre of WÖLJAGER taking place at nearby Hönnetalhalle.
Wöljager Music Theatre
The festival day started at the Hönnetalhalle with the music theatre "Van´t Liäwen un Stiäwen" (About living and dying). A theatre play that was touching many of the attendees. WÖLJAGER is the project of Marcel Dreckmann, known to be the singer and lyricist of HELRUNAR. This project is closely connected to the artist's home region: the Münsterland (around the city of Münster, my hometown btw), an area in north-western Westphalia. Marcel tries to set the unspoiled atmosphere of the Münsterland to music, using a Low German dialect only spoken in the Münsterland region. About this project, he explains: “On the surface, the Münsterland may not be a spectacular site, but if you stroll through the country beyond the bigger cities, you will find that it has a very distinct ambience, especially in autumn and winter … austere, earthy, rainy, smoky and misty.” And furthermore about the dialect: “In general, Low German is regarded only in rural and humorous contexts such as the peasant or community theatre. With WÖLJAGER, I want to show that this dialect and the narrative material developed from it do have a serious side, too, which can be relevant even to the people of today.”
The cast of the play was Tine Schoch (Mother/ Magdalene/ Anne Ruhkamp), Stefan Nászay (Wilhelm) and Konrad Haller (Heinrich). So, what was the presents theatre play about? Main person of the play was Wilhelm, a man who was already different as a child. You could say he was the Westphalian counterpart to Greek Cassandra, a man having second sight, foreseeing things happening in future. And he always asks himself why god has send him into life as a clairvoyant. At the end, second sight was not a divine gift. Moreover it is a burden to him giving grief to him and others and separating him from social life. Even though his mother always tells him not to tell what he sees he needs to speak about the pictures in his head: the coffin in the living room or funerals. And he foresees also the death of his father, even though his mother denies the truth, and after a long cold winter, he died. The only happiness in his life is Magdalene, a girl he learned to love and who loved him. But her father gave her to a rich man and in her unhappiness, she walked into the fen to die. The play was so touching I saw several people having tears in her eyes. As Marcel told later, some parts of the story were based on historical tradition, others were emanating from his mind and the names were taken from people from his village. If you ever have the chance to see this play, go! It is a wonderful combination of theatre play and music. // https://www.patreon.com/marcel_vilhjamsson / https://www.facebook.com/woeljager // Rating: 10 / 10
The trio from Toronto / Canada, was playing ist first concert in Europe and were visibly nervous during their show. The band’s name is derived from "völva," a seeress in Norse folklore. Although they hail from Canada, the group is fascinated by European history meaning also Germanic myth, drawing freely from a keen interest in the everyday life of their pre-Christian ancestors, their relation to culture at large and its spirituality. The trio consists of BLOOD CEREMONY bassist Lucas Gadke, drummer James Payment of post-rock band DO MAKE THEY THINK, and experimental violinist Laura C. Bates. You read right. No guitar, just bass and violin. So you can already imagine that the music was something special. The band combines many influences, ranging from pastoral prog to droning doom sound, through multiple folk traditions (Swedish fiddle music and Alpine singing, for instance) and a fondness for the darker side of metal. VÖLUR are both airy and heavy in their own way. The presentation is really authentic and the sound close to perfect. Besides, the show was accompanied by a wonderful light show. Of course as a photographer I loved it! Really a great first show of the day catching the audience from the start. // https://www.facebook.com/VolurDoom/ // Setlist: 01. Breaker Of Skulls / 02. Es wächst aus seinem Grab / 03. Breaker Of Silence / 04. Breaker Of Oaths // Rating: 9 / 10
Bohren & Der Club of Gore
With the second band of the day, it went much calmer and visibly darker in the cave. As I heard, the band is usually playing in complete darkness and this was also the case in Balve. There were only a few direct dimmed lights just above the instruments illuminating the scenery. Founding BOHREN - members Thorsten Benning (drums), Robin Rodenberg (bass), Reiner Henseleit (guitar), Morten Gass (guitar/piano) started playing music together in 1988. The idea was to create a unique style of music, resulting in the foundation of the band in 1992. They called their style “doom ridden jazz music“. Reiner Henseleit left the band in 1996 and in 1997, Christoph Clöser, a cologne-based composer and musician (saxophone, piano, vibraphone) joined BOHREN & DER CLUB OF GORE and the band started performing regularly and released numerous albums. End of 2015, drummer Thorsten Benning quit the band after 25 years and since 2016, BOHREN keep on working as a trio. The trio entered the stage in a stylish outfit, wearing suits. BOHREN & DER CLUB OF GORE was the only band playing at the festival who was not signet to the Prophecy label, but with their musical style they fitted perfectly into the line-up. The atmosphere on stage was as dark as the music. In-between the songs, i.e. ‘Beileid‘, ‘Karin’, ‘Still am Tresen’ or ‘Midnight Black Earth’, Christoph Clöser announced one or another song with a funny story with his remarkable black humour. You can bet that this caused a lot of laughs. I was happy to finally experience this band, even though over the course of the show, the songs sounded a bit alike. // http://www.bohrenundderclubofgore.de / https://www.facebook.com/bohrenofficial // Rating: 8 / 10
ANTIMATTER are one of the bands I really love and seen several times before. So I was looking forward their “exclusive 2000-2007 special set” a lot. I cannot describe ANTIMATTER better than the label website: “ANTIMATTER stands for reflective, melancholic music that is better defined by Moss' charismatic vocals and an emotional undertone than by any stylistic pigeon-holing or mind-cuffs. An important landmark in the founding of Antimatter was Duncan Patterson leaving his former band Anathema, whose albums ‘Eternity’ and ‘Alternative 4’ were strongly informed by his song-writing input. Meeting Mick Moss turned out to be a stroke of fate that was going to shape the unique music of ANTIMATTER. Patterson left the band in 2006 and since then, Moss is going on with the band as solo project, being supported live by different musicians. But also as solo artist he was able to maintain the characteristic sound of ANTIMATTER.
ANTIMATTER are perfectionists and so, the sound check took a while longer than planned. But, the audience was rewarded with a great performance of the band and especially Mick’s voice was sounding great. While BOHREN before were doing completely without vocals, the focus of ANTIMATTER was on the chant of Mick. Quite a contrast! The set was announced as “exclusive 2000-2007 special set” and so, the setlist contained songs from that period, reaching from gloomy and rocking to alternative sounds. The audience was excited and rewarded the band with lots of cheers and applause while diving into their own memories combined with the melancholic, strong music. And I was no exception there. Some pictures and experiences came up in my mind while listening to the show. I loved it! ANTIMATTER really never disappointed me so far. I experienced another intense show which perfectly fitted into the extraordinary surrounding of the cave. I want more! // http://www.antimatteronline.com / https://www.facebook.com/antimatteronline/ // Rating: 10 / 10
The next band, GLERAKUR with their continental European live premiere, were total y new to me. Never heard of them. Around me, people were saying they expect something big. There would be numerous guitars on stage (in fact five guitars and one bass) and two drum sets. So I was really curious what’s coming up now. Hailing from Iceland alone promised big. The sound check also took longer. Seems it was not so easy to get all those instruments into tune. First some more words about this band, before I let you know about the concert. Composer and sound designer Elvar Geir Sævarsson worked at the National Theatre of Iceland and when he had some time off, he recorded some music for himself which a friend found very appealing and so, he sneaked it in for a once-off broadcast on the Icelandic radio. Someday, the richly layered walls of sound found their way to the Prophecy office resulting in a contract offer to the band, only based on the strength of this one single track.
The name GLERAKUR is comprised of the words “gler” (glass) and “akur” (field). Musically, the band subsumes elements from post rock, drone, ambient and black metal music. Listening to the band (and as I can say now, especially live) is an intensely atmospheric experience, blowing you away with the dense sounds. Amazing! I was standing in front of the stage with open mouth. The guys and the girl from Iceland produce giant walls of sound, have a lot of fun on stage and impress with huge variety and an authentic show. It surely was not easy for the sound engineer to get the band into the right live mix, but what shall I say? The long sound check was all worth it! The sound was perfect! Recommended! Check them out! You will love it! // https://www.facebook.com/glerakur/ // Setlist: 01. Polycide / 02. Willocide - Part 1 & 2 / 03. Can't You Wait / 04. Strings. Part 1 & 2 // Rating: 10 / 10
ALCEST were probably the band people were looking forward the most. Long before the concert started, the room in front of stage was packed. The announcement that they would perform an exclusive set, playing their album ‘Écailles De Lune’ in its entirety for the first time ever, draw a lot of attention. Besides the album, a “best of” set was announced. Once more I have to stress the description the label uses for the band since it is so wonderful: “ALCEST – that is music from another world, a world that is real, but that exists beyond ours and cannot be grasped by our senses. A world where all appearances – trees, glades, streams – emit a pearly light and where a faraway and celestial music fills the air like sweet perfume. A world inhabited by infinitely benevolent and protective beings of light, communicating in a wordless 'language' directly from one soul to another. A world where the soul knows neither pain nor sickness nor sorrow, but is filled with a deep peace and an ineffable bliss. A world that lies 'before' and 'after,' 'beside' and 'behind' our world and the awareness of which stills mankind's fears of death.” Isn’t that wonderful? So let’s dive into the world of ALCEST.
The band was founded in 2000. With their albums ‘Le Secret’ (2005) and ‘Souvenirs d’un autre monde’ (2007), they established a new genre, the Post Black Metal / Shoegaze Black Metal / Blackgaze genre. Today, this kind of music is popular beyond genre borders, and today they are the protagonists of the music genre they invented. When the band started the show, we had already 45 minutes delay. But no one really cared since the sound engineers managed to create a perfect sound for each band and ALCEST were of course no exception. I was happy that bands and technicians made no compromises regarding sound quality. Perfect sound and cave… that was a fantastic combination. AS already set, it was the first time for the band to play the album ‘Écailles De Lune’in its entirety and it was breath-taking and intense. Even though the band is not really a “metal” band, the audience in the front rows (I couldn’t see farther) was head-banging. When I can make a guess: No one in the cave was disappointed. It was a great show with an amazing atmosphere. Any song was frenetically celebrated. Finally, my first ALCEST show and then such an amazing one. I was happy! // http://www.alcest-music.com / https://www.facebook.com/alcest.official // Setlist: I. Écailles de lune Album: 01. Écailles de lune - Part 1 / 02. Écailles de lune - Part 2 (live premiere) / 03. Percées de lumière / 04. Abysses / 05. Solar Song / 06. Sur l'océan couleur de fer / II. Best of Set: 07. Autre temps / 08. Là où naissent les couleurs nouvelles / 09. Délivrance // Rating: 10 / 10
Now for something completely different: Neo / Apocalyptic Folk. SOL INVICTUS were play a show in an onetime special line-up featuring Don Anderson (AGALLOCH) on guitar, Matt Howden (Sieben) on violin and Jo Quail on cello. SOL INVICTUS are called the godfathers of classic Apocalyptic Folk. Alongside Douglas P. from DEATH IN JUNE and David Tibet from CURRENT 93, front man Tony Wakeford is rightly regarded as one of the genre's founding fathers. Since the mid-eighties, the band released over a dozen albums, presenting an evolution from raw, post-punk Dark Folk to increasingly sophisticated arrangements. The band is including influences from Early and Classical Music, Ambient, and Jazz into their music. Supported by a changing cast of musicians, Wakeford offers his pessimistic visions with his unmistakable voice, drawing on his exploration of ancient myths and modern poetry as much as on his own personal reflections on (mostly unhappy) love and the transience of all existence.
Currently, SOL INVICTUS on stage is Tony Wakeford (E chord, mouth noise) with Caroline Jago (bass, drums), Lesley Malone (drums, visuals), Eilish McCracken (flute, violin, piano) and Renee Rosen (violin). This cast was enriched this time, as mentioned, by Don Anderson, Matt Howden and Jo Quail and with all those musicians, the stage was really packed. Except of Lesley, all musicians were placed close to the audience while Lesley was hardly visible in the back. With their show, SOL INVICTUS were spreading a special magic in the cave. The additional vivid violin play by Matt, who is using a loop machine, was a great enrichment to the show. As last song, a song AGALLOCH once covered and which got more popular as cover, was played, honouring Don Anderson. ‘Kneel to the cross’ was loudly welcomed by the audience and anyone sang along loudly. // https://www.facebook.com/solinvictus.official // Setlist: 01. We are the dead men / 02. Media / 03. Sawney Bean / 04. Stay / 05. Fall like rain / 06. English garden / 07. The world shrugged / 08. In days to come / 09. Old London weeps / 10. Killing tide / 11. Hill of Crosses / 12. Twa corbies / 13. Blackleg miner / 14. Black Easter / 15. Kneel to the cross // Rating: 8 / 10
Like in the last year, VEMOD were closing the festival. A friend said to me, must be the VEMOD curse that they were playing so late again. By now, there was nearly one hour delay… not as much as last year though as I was told. VEMOD, who promised a special set attuned to the Balve cave, were founded in 2000. The first full-length work of the guys from Norwegian Trondheim is called ‘Venter på Stormene’ (Waiting for Storms) and was recorded between 2008 and 2011, finally released December 4, 2012. Now, Prophecy Production is re-releasing the album widely. VEMOD combine Metal, Ambient and atmospheric Black Metal and are influenced by such bands as ULVER, DEAD CAN DANCE or BRIAN ENO. The combination of dark ethereal Metal and atmospheric Ambient sound layers is celebrated and cultivate in VEMOD’s essence in the frame of deep emotions. The name VEMOD means something like “pensive melancholy about the past”. Combining so many influences, the band itself calls its style “dark ethereal metal”.
For their stage performance, VEMOD promised to create an even deeper atmosphere than in the last year. The stage was set in blue light and in the back, you could see video projections with stellar themes. An extensive Ambient intro followed where Jan impressed with his voice. During their show, extremely atmospheric Black Metal was alternating with hard guitar thrashing. Between those Black Metal parts with kind of demonic vocals, there are always these atmospheric intercourses to take a breath. With their set, VEMOT really created a dark and mysterious atmosphere in the Balve cave, supported by the use of incense sticks and the stellar videos. A worthy final of the festival! // https://www.facebook.com/VemodOfficial/ // Setlist: 01. Intro I / 02. Intro II / 03. At First Light / 04. Der Guder Dør / 05. Venter På Stormene / 06. Ikledd Evighetens Kappe / 07. Interlude / 08. Og Vinden Sang Mitt Navn // Rating: 8 / 10
What’s left to say what I did not already say in the intro to the first part of this article? I really had a good time in the cave. The festival in this extraordinary surrounding is something special. Most remarkable was the quality of all live performances. No single band did disappoint. Fantastic! I had a very good time there and the date 2017 is already marked in my calendar.
All Pictures by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com / http://www.facebook.com/blackcatnet)