Gig report: Decapitated, Incantation, Nervosa and Kassogtha in Zagreb, Croatia

Gig report: Decapitated, Incantation, Nervosa and Kassogtha in Zagreb, Croatia

- in Reviews

March 16th is the night when The Swamp felt the iron once again.

While we were still recovering from neck aches that Cryptopsy and Atheist gave us, another assault happened last Saturday: Decapitated, Incantation, Nervosa, and Kassogtha.

Once again at Mocvara or The Swamp (I’ll stick with this translation further on), but this time sold out the day before the gig, which hadn’t happened in a while. But again, it wasn’t that much of a surprise; it was the weekend, after all.

Nevertheless, the doors opened at 18:00, quite early. So much so that we missed the first songs of the opening band. Usually, the opening act is just “there” to buy time and fill the venue for the next bands, but Kassogtha was not just any opening act. Don’t ask me how to pronounce the name; even John McEntee had no idea. Worse yet, we missed the first two songs, which is a shame. But the moment we entered the venue, it was evident that they were far more than your usual warm-up band. A death metal act with a lot of melodic/progressive elements featuring Stéphanie Huguenin on vocals. Might I add, she may be the first female vocalist I’ve seen live worth a damn; vocally, she effortlessly transitioned from high to low patterns with clean parts added in between. This very much complements their rather complex songs. They may be a young band (formed in 2018), but they have all the markings to grow much higher in a small number of years.

The venue was already quite packed, and the vibe was ready to blister. Again, similar to last time, the stage was also packed with instruments ready to be used for the next scheduled band (read: two sets of drums, amps, etc.). Luckily, this time it was more organized, so band members didn’t have to worry about stepping on each other’s feet during half of the performance.

After a ten-minute delay in the band schedule, the Brazilian band Nervosa hit the stage. This was very much the new lineup that we saw that night with Helena Kutina on guitars, and Gabriela Abud joined the band in the last few years. Nevertheless, I have a bit of mixed feelings about this band in general; it’s cool seeing an all-female metal band, as always, but their music has an “I’ve heard those riffs before from way better bands” vibe. Ripping off Sodom and similar bands doesn’t go a long way. Putting that aside, they are a very tight act using the little space they have on stage as much as possible. If this is your thing, more power to you. Nevertheless, the crowd loved them and was very engaged with their material.

After 30-something minutes, Incantation was on stage. To be frank, it was a bit unusual that they were not the headliners, considering the band’s 30 plus years of existence and 13 albums in their discography, but boy did they kick things off; from the first to the last note, we had a nightmarish soundtrack for claustrophobia. Aside from a few interactions with the audience, they went from song to song with little seconds in between. A kudos to John McEntee (vocals, guitars); the guy is 54 years old and still holds those cavernous growls up his sleeve like it’s nothing. What you hear on their discography is flawlessly translated live; deep chugging riffs, thick high-sounding drums, and vocals that sound like they are coming from a freshly dug-up grave. Personally, I’m more in the Immolation camp, but I was very glad to experience them live.

Right after Incantation’s last, well, Incantation, the stage was rearranged and cleared up: it was time for Decapitated. The second drum set was gone, revealing the higher stage or, correctly, the throne for the drumming beast that is James Stewart, who has played in other big acts like Vader, Belphegor, Skeletonwitch, Kampfar, and others.

In honor of the seminal album Nihility, the first half of the setlist was dedicated to the mentioned album while the second half primarily featured material from their latest record Cancer Culture. With limited stage space, and let’s be honest; this event was made for a bigger venue, the band really delivered the show for the fans; bigger lights, smoke machines, excellent sound, the whole nine yards. It was so packed that we needed to step outside for a few minutes to breathe some semblance of air now and then.

Similar to the previous bands, Rasta on vocals spared little time between songs and delivered track after track like an assault, especially in the first half of the playlist. Non-verbally, he was all over the place with excellent crowd interaction in that department. Personally, even in the Nihility part of the setlist, it sounded too modern for me, too massive. To the point that after the third song, it started to sound the same. This wasn’t helped by the fact that most of the songs were not announced, so someone not familiar with the band’s material might get the idea of a band jamming “djent” riffs on stage. Don’t get me wrong; the band performed like a well-oiled war machine, both musically and in stage presence. Maybe I sound like an old dinosaur on this topic, but this modern-sounding live bands kill off much of the variety and heart of the music; a bit of a raw feel can go a long way. But in the category where, with an hour-plus-long performance and not missing a damn beat, Decapitated had pulled off a killer show in front of the sold-out audience.

Citing Hangtime Agency from what they posted on their Facebook page: We got some ironing done last night at The Swamp.

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