FESTIVAL REVIEW: BERSERKER III (Day 3) at Detroit, MI
Berserker III completes its reign over the Masonic Temple in Detroit with a spectacular show featuring monstrous music and blood spattered patrons.
The final night Berserker starts off with a hellish set of black metal from Infernal Alter. Disavowing the false prophets in speedy single-note runs and crashing cymbals, this band makes a mark on the early arrivals to the festival. Fans of Bathory and Celtic Frost enjoy the music these guys make.
The End of Music is on tap and they are breaking any expectations that people may have about the types of music at this festival. While treading in the punk rock alley their indie garage sound brings to mind pre-grunge forefathers with low-fi music that melds in some pop sensibilities into an intoxicating cocktail of tunes.
Blasting death metal with terrifying speed and crushing force the masked creatures who are Troglodyte make for an entertaining musical performance. The band indicates that they only have two songs that don’t involve the subject of Bigfoot. One is called “The Only Good Hippie, is a dead hippie” which fires off in seconds with the band saying “You didn’t think we’d waste a whole fucking song on hippies did you?” Their humor and impeccable musical skills make their set one of the highlights of the fest.
Shortly after starting their set on the third floor stage, Isenblast has packed the room. Heads are banging frantically as the band expels black malice at an ever-accelerating pace. Blood raw vocals raise the hair on the neck as guitars, drum and bass race into the darkest of nights.
Rebel Spies are a welcome breath of fresh air with old school punk that has you thinking of the Circle Jerks, Dag Nasty, and Minor Threat. The singer is making sure to cover every inch of the stage as he lets the music drive. There is plenty of muscle in this music with punchy bass and guitars that put a smile on your face and some giddy-up in your step.
Fucking Invincible may well be the most threatening band to hit the stage at Berserker. The vocalist looks pissed and his vocals sound like they want to shred a whole in your chest. The hardcore breakdowns are quick and deadly with rapid fire guitar riffs driven by a popping snare.
Wasting no time, Tomestalker bludgeon the crowd with grimy low-frequency guitars and bass with equally throaty vocals. This is old school death metal in the veins of Bolt Thrower. A dark majestic music stinking with rot and invoking putrid ruin in the listeners mind. Death is reflected in the band’s appearance with corpse paint to accentuate the drama of their deadly music.
Stnnng start out with a bang. Tight drums and a riotous groove carry gangly chords and flourishing dissonant notes along. Decked out in a smoking black-checkered blazer, the vocalist cajoles the audience with his boundless energy. What a great set of high-energy music.
Antiseen get the party started on the fifth floor with invigorating punk rock that leans toward hardcore. This veteran group has no problem engaging the crowd and getting them into the music. The “I don’t give a fuck” attitude rings loudly from the music and the bands stage show. When the washboard comes out and the singer gets bloody, you know you’ve been to a real throw down.
Blackened thrash blares from the third-floor stage as Perversion throws down the gauntlet with Sepultura inspired songs. As the drum rolls cascade, the vocals bark to the swiftly flowing riffs that seem to be played at speeds that are beyond human capacity. The audience joins the band in headbanging fury.
Muddy bass tinted with fuzz and gravel bottom guitars mark the start of Rectal Hygienics show on the fourth floor. The band forms an inward facing circle with the vocalist moving to face the crowd from time to time. It appears that they want the focus on the music and not the band. Apparently the crowd is fine with this minimalist approach.
The disturbing whisper of “Zodiac” followed by screams brings cheers from the crowd as Macabre swings into their performance. The originators and masters of murder metal play a fantastic set of death metal hitting upon such classic tunes as “Nero’s Inferno”, “The Iceman”, and “Scrub a dub dub” which tell the bizarre and fantasizing tales of historic killers from Nero to Jeffrey Dahmer. Each song is played to pounding perfection and the crowd eats up every note.
Mutilation Rites continues the chaos with volcanic compositions, which erupt from the speaker in shattering waves of sound. At times they sound like a black metal band and at others they morph into music that hints of Mastodon. This is rabid music that has fans of brutal metal panting.
Anyone expecting more death metal when Oozing Wound opened up their show on the fourth floor stage might have been a bit disappointed. There is no doubt that these guys are heavy with chugging and powerful riffs. The drums thump and the bass pops within songs that have dimension and feel. These guys have fun with their music and enjoy crunching things up. There is a Red Fang vibe to their sound, but somehow there seems to be more. This band delivers a great performance on the dark and dank fourth floor.
Having made the desperately long journey from Creepsyvania, the creatures who make up the group known as Ghoul are ravenous for human flesh. Within minutes, the crowd is thrashing like maniacs as the band cranks up some demented tunes. While the music courses from the speakers, blood flies from various creatures who meet their unfortunate demise on the stage. A roiling pit of humanity circles the floor and bodies are launched into the air. In this sweltering stew of blood, bile, and body parts, the band has a grand time jamming and consuming their fans. I’m not sure if anyone notices how much the bass player sounds like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.
Sonic sparks fly in a dazzling display of grind as Dead Church delivers the final performance at Berserker. This is a tough position to play after the main act, yet these soldiers of steel are up to the task. They wield their instruments of mayhem with wild force as they create a raging storm cloud of sound. In a crescendo of ear shattering blast beats, this is the last nail in the coffin and lays to rest a marvelous festival of extreme music. The murmur as people leave the Masonic Temple is that they can’t wait to see what Berserker brings us next year.