Live Reviews

Complexity Fest: The Place To Start Your Festival Season

First off, let me tell you that I wanted to go to Complexity when it was announced first for 2016. Being set on my birthday in 2017 I didn’t make it, which finally led to 2018 being my first time at what was probably the first large metal festival in this year’s season! There are plenty reasons why Complexity is good for you, trust me!

The Big Four:

The Bands
The Beer
The City
The People

The Bands:

The lineup had a variety, which was most evident on Saturday. Friday was full of heavy deathcore/metal acts, while Saturday ranged from post rock to prog metal and mathcore – there was something for every fan of progressive music.

The Beer:

Everyone knows Heineken, which is served in Patronaat, the venue where Complexity takes place. But there is even more. The festival teamed up with the local brewery to do their very own Complexity beer!

The City:

Haarlem is the better Amsterdam. It’s as central as the Dutch capital, cheaper and nowhere near as crowded. Imagine a chill and relaxed Amsterdam with some gothic churches and without annoying tourists; it’s pretty clear why Haarlem is the better choice!

The People:

Well, once you have experienced the vibes at either Euroblast or UKTM, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The scene is a community in which I have found many friends. A lot of them came to Complexity, so the festival was just as much catching up and hanging out as it was about the music.

Day One: Friday

First off, Friday was the heavy day. This might be due to the amount of deathcore and death metal acts performing. The current Carnifex tour line-up was included, featuring Disentomb, Aversions Crown and Oceano as supports.

While Disentomb delivered almost only stupidly heavy death metal shredding, the Australians in Aversions Crown were slightly more melodic with their alien-metal ambiance. Oceano delivered a consistently hard, gritty and heavy-hitting set. Carnifex summoned some nostalgia with classic deathcore hymns like “Lie To My Face“ and “Hell Choose Me“.

John Frum

French proggy four-piece The Dali Thundering Concept were first to appear on the second stage and delivered some groovy chugs. They were one of the softer bands on Friday and brought a little diversity to the lineup!

What really stood out on Complexity’s Friday was the performance from Dutch death metal band Ulsect. Their dissonant riffage created an ambiance that even Behemoth would dream of. The atmospheric, groovy drumming courtesy of Jasper Barendregt was outstanding. There was also an excellent mix of vocal performances and instrumental sections.

The new supergroup John Frum played next, delivering a captivating technical death metal performance with psychedelic influences. There’s no doubt that they won over some new fans that day.

Ulsect‘s Jasper Barendregt returned to the drum set with Dodecahedron. Their dissonant and heavy black metal closed the first day of Complexity. The evening ended in the city of Haarlem at the Uiltje Bar, where there are more than 40 types of drafted craft beer available.

Day Two: Saturday

The Hirsch Effekt

The first highlight performance of the day came from our German friends in The Hirsch Effekt. With their new magum opus Eskapist out in 2017, the band started to emerge out from the underground. Both old and new fans enjoyed the three piece’s enigmatic and energetic show. Even with some technical issues, The Hirsch Effekt acted in the most professional way one could imagine and set a very high bar for the following artists.

God Mother

Sweden’s God Mother, who just toured with The Dillinger Escape Plan on their latest run, were similarly thrilling. The group was just signed to Party Smasher Inc and they truly deserve all of your attention. I won’t spoil anything – just make sure to catch God Mother as soon as you can. You won’t regret it!

I was looking forward to VOLA as I hoped to hear some new material on stage. Despite the fact that they didn’t play new songs, the audience still received a stellar performance. Suffering from technical issues, it took about three songs until all instruments were audible. Unfortunately, this dampened some of the magic that VOLA usually deliver. Nonetheless, the show was still enjoyable.

Fans of heavy music got were covered with sets from Cabal and Employed To Serve. Even after the fiasco around The Faceless mastermind Michael Keene, the act made it to their European tour with Portugal’s The Voynich Code as support. The latter four piece played a very oriental sounding set that fans of Born Of Osiris would have loved, while The Faceless focused on all of their discography.

The Voynich Code

A stand out from The Faceless was the performance of “The Ancient Convenant” featuring original vocalist Derek Rydquist, who now plays in John Frum. The set was further elevated by the extreme performance of drummer James Christopher Knoerl and concluded with the “Autotheism” trilogy. What a show!

The set from SikTh demonstrated why the band is so often named as one of the most influential bands in modern progressive metal. The London outfit delivered on a level that stood out while drawing a sense of nostalgia. The songs sounded so fresh and energetic that it’s hard to believe some of them are over ten years old! There couldn’t have been any worthier headliner than SikTh for this festival!

Why Complexity 2019 will be even better:

It’s only the third edition of this newborn festival and they already have acts like Ihsahn, SikTh, The Faceless and Agent Fresco playing. This promises a very prosperous future for the festival and 2019 might be even bigger. Maybe there will be a warm-up party, three days, something else? We don’t know, but watching this event grow is great. Still we are able to participate in this process and make Complexity even bigger. There will hopefully be more people, beer and bands in 2019. But one thing is for sure, it will be a blast!

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