You might not know this, but one of the things I love as much as traveling is Metal and Grindcore. Not just any type of Metal, but rather only the hardest: Death (Swedish, Brutal, Old School), 80s Thrash, Black Metal, etc… I also love Grindcore and Crust Punk, which are not exactly Metal but still hard and closely related to it. I first discovered Metal when I was I think 10, got into Thrash Metal (bands like Slayer and Sodom) when I was 14 and into Death Metal and Grindcore when I was 17. While my love for fast and heavy music has only increased with the years, my ear has also greatly broadened to include other types of music such as diverse electronic stuff, Country, and everything in between. And yet, nothing compares to a good Grindcore show or festival—particularly Obscene Extreme.
Even though I finished my master’s degree in May back in 2015, I waited until July to properly celebrate that huge accomplishment at my favorite festival: Obscene Extreme. And when the time finally came, I was happier than a Jehova’s Witness at a doorbell factory.
The day before the festival I took a trip with a couple of friends from Heidelberg to Jena, a city in the former East Germany, from whence we set out the following morning to Trutnov, in the Czech Republic. To get to there we crossed Saxony, drove through lower Lusatia (in Saxony and the Luban area of Poland) and then South-East along the Krkonoše Mountains until crossing the border into the Czech Republic and driving down to Trutnov, a city famous for two things: the battle that took place there in 1866, and Obscene Extreme—the sickest, most awesome Grindcore Fest in the whole world!
I love Obscene Extreme. It’s like Xmas to me. I’ve been going whenever I can ever since my first visit back in 2004. I was there that year, and then again in 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. Guess I’m an OEF veteran of sorts. There are many reasons why Obscene Extreme is such a special festival other than, of course, the constantly solid line-ups. Obscene Extreme is incredibly international. Ongoing since 1999, Obscene Extreme features bands from all the corners of the world and attracts a similar audience. This year there were bands from places as remote as Indonesia, Brazil, and even New Caledonia. There were also bands from all over Europe, from Spain to Belarus. Though it is a festival, drink prices are extremely low, with half-a-liter of beer costing roughly only 1,50. The festival is vegan. No meat or dairy is sold there, which most wouldn’t expect from a Grindcore festival. For me, the most important thing about going, maybe even more than the music, is seeing my friends from all over Germany, the States, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Syria, the Netherlands, etc… Also, while at other festivals you might see Red Bull or Starbucks or whatever giving away free stuff, here you’ll see Amnesty International collecting firms.
The ride to Trutnov was uneventful. We got there roughly at 3pm, and thus missed the first four bands of the festival, which sucked because the opening band was Untamed (France), where my friend Loïc does vocals. I know that playing at OEF was a dream come true for him and I would have loved to see them tear it up onstage, which, for what I heard, is exactly what they did. I also missed Teething (Spain). That was kind of a bummer, but there were lots of great bands on this year’s edition so I quickly cheered back up and proceeded to get me a beer.
The first band I saw was Fredag den 13e, your standard Scandicrust band and definitely one of my dark horses from this year’s fest. I’m into Crust and these guys played with such fury I was blown away and couldn’t help but go to the front of the stage and pump my fist into the air. Unfortunately, they had technical problems in the beginning and had to cut their set short to the dislike of the black-clad, patch-covered audience.
After Teethgrinder’s quality show I went to get my tent situation figured out and didn’t get back until Nervosa hit the stage. This Brazilian Thrash trio was a bit too overhyped before their show. I don’t know if people were expecting to see the female Sarcofago, but the girls got a very good reaction from the audience. I thought their music and show was, for Thrash Metal, below average, but they had the novelty factor of being an all-female Thrash band from Brazil going for them. Maybe they were awesome and I’m just wrong since people definitely enjoyed the show, but my opinion was confirmed the following night after seeing a real Thrash band, Italy’s Bulldozer, absolutely obliterate the stage.
Actually, the only reason I saw Nervosa was because I was waiting for them to get off the stage to welcome the doctors of Grindcore: General Surgery! I was very glad Nausea cancelled their show since General Surgery took their spot. Boy, do I love that band. And they delivered. They absolutely tore it up. They also enlisted Urban from RGTE and Nasum on guitar duties. It was funny to see them the next day hawking their merch next to the stage like they were in a flea market in Mexico. I walked by and Urban said “check out this shirt!” and I was like “it’s awesome. In fact so awesome I already got it in green (which I do) and I don’t have money right now, sorry.” His reply was: “Whatever, it’s cool. I don’t need it.” I thought it was funny.
I intentionally missed Hirax and Broken Hope in order to drink beer with my German friends while I waited for Terrorizer LA (from now on simply Terrorizer) to hit the stage. I didn’t know what to expect from Terrorizer. I wasn’t sure if the old guys could deliver. I was luckily wrong. They opened with “After World Obliteration” and immediately all hell broke loose! It was a very tight performance. Hands down one of the best shows of the fest.
Pig Destroyer hit the stage after Terrorizer. Pig Destroyer rules. The guitar sound was razor-sharp and the blast beats tight as hell. Unfortunately, the guy who does the samples didn’t get his equipment on time but nevertheless stayed on stage. That would have been fine except for the fact that he was just drinking beer. He moved occasionally but for the most part he just stood by the singer, who was totally losing his shit and yelling his guts out. That kind of killed the whole stage show a bit, but hey, it was still sick, intense, and masterfully executed. Obituary was next but I was so tired that I went to bed. Guess I’m just getting old. I did want to listen to at least “Chopped in Half” live though, but since they’re coming to Wiesbaden soon (with Carcass, Napalm Death, and Voivod!) I just peaced out and decided to have a good night’s sleep. That, of course, was just not going to happen.
I woke up at around 4am after trying to sleep through the cold and the loud 90’s music my Dutch neighbors blasted until the the sun came out. I slept terribly. It was cold, loud, and uncomfortable. I eventually managed to conceal a bit of sleep at around 7am, woke up at 10 and got me a coffee from Kafka!Café, a nice little itinerant vegan café that has been a fixture at Obscene for years now.
I got some oat meal for breakfast and went back to the tent to see what my tent partner, Letek, a Polish Noisecore enthusiast, was up to.
We went to check out Mindful of Pripyat, a very solid Italian Deathgrind band obsessed with the nuclear catastrophe of Chernobyl. The show was solid, though unfortunately they got the earliest time slot (10am) and people were either just waking up or were experiencing the onset of the impending hangover, which resulted in a small audience. I then saw Sick of Stupidy from Holland. I had never heard of them and they surprised me and a lot of other people with their aggressive mixture of Grind/Powerviolence. I later found out that they are also the guys from Jesus Cröst, a name synonym with quality. Definitely one of my dark horses from the fest.
The now household beach toys appeared and the crowd filled up with guys wearing costumes. People loved them and partied hard to them, even though they only played for 25 minutes. Same thing for Squirtophobic, from Austria. 25 minutes, Goregrind, and an ecstatic crowd. Bet they’re reconsidering their decision to split up now after the crowd’s response. I listen to very little Goregrind bands, basically being stuck with the classics such as early Carcass, General Surgery, Dead Infection, Squash Bowels, CBT, Ahumado Granujo, and Last Days of Humanity. (Maybe Jig-Ai could be included as the third Goregrind band I really like, though they are already a wee bit different to the aforementioned pair.) During that show I nevertheless confirmed the existence of Satan.
One of the most anticipated bands by many hit the stage after the Goregrind galore at 4:20 pm. I’m talking about Brazil’s Grind dynamic duo Test! A band known for playing literally anywhere in Brazil, though mostly on street crossings, Test surprised many with their brutal frontal assault of old school Grindcore peppered with slower, stoner-type riffs and followed by angry paroxisms of tight and fast blast-beats. Another one of my dark horses from this year’s festival. I later heard they played another show on the parking lot using generators.
I skipped Putrid Offal and waited around to see Feastem, from Finland, hands down one of the best Grindcore bands around, a band that carries the torch of bands such as Rotten Sound and, yes, Nasum. It was my third time seeing them live. They were insane. Those blast beats are some of the fastest I’ve ever heard, all hell broke lose in the pit, and the guys from Finland got a great response from the crowd.
Rompeprop was next but I traded their show for some shots of home-made Pálinka with Feastem and a Hungarian guy who repeatedly asked them how to say things in Finnish, and didn’t go back to the stage until Vital Remains started setting up. They again have new band members. Their new lead-guitar player looked like 14 but nailed every single note. He seemed to be experienced on stage and came across as a seasoned musician. Props to him and to their insane drummer! I was a little put off by the singer’s attempts to gain over the crowd by handing out free beer to “the craziest people” but whatever, Vital Remains delivered a pretty solid show, though maybe the music overshadowed the onstage performance of the band as a whole.
Bulldozer came out to play for the expectant ears of the crowd. The singer came out wearing that silly Dr. Strange cape (which he should really just drop) and I could hear a sneer or two. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but immediately after they started I was caught in a fist-pumping, Motörhead-influenced 80’s Thrashing frenzy that ended with their show. People loved it. I loved it. My friend David, a German who is usually very critical about everything fucking loved it and even ran to their stand to buy merch. (Only to say the next day in an extremely typical German fashion “I have to admit those Italians were not all too bad.) Bulldozer was definitely one of the best bands at the festival.
And then came Japan’s S.O.B. First Vital Remains, then Bulldozer, now S.O.fucking.B. I’ll just say they ruled. It was their first show in Europe since their tour with Napalm Death back in ’89, and it appears they haven’t aged a bit. Sick.
The horrible previous night guaranteed I wouldn’t stay up that late, and so I decided to miss another headliner, (Martin Schirenc/El Cochino playing) Pungent Stench. They were apparently good but not awesome so hey, it is what it is. I was bummed about missing Incarceration from Hamburg, though. Sick Old School Death Metal. They apparently killed it too so shit.
I spent day three basically just hanging out with my friends and didn’t see that many bands. I saw Jasad, a Brutal Death Metal band from Indonesia, who totally ruled the stage. I unfortunately missed Thanatos, was disappointed by Hemdale, dug Martyrdöd and was blown away by Unholy Grave. Oh, and I spent a lovely afternoon in Trutnov.
Obscene Extreme is always a great experience. I can’t say a have a favorite edition. I liked it every single time. Maybe I liked it back in 2004 better since it was even more underground, but I think the organizers have worked very hard to turn the festival into what it is now and am also always happy to see heavy-weights and legends (such as Exhumed, Suffocation, Terrorizer, etc…) play for us.
Obscene Extreme is authentic. You have bands going from all over the world to play for 20 minutes. That’s dedication right there. There are always bands and people from all over the world at Obscene Extreme. Long-lasting friendships have been closed at Obscene Extreme. Going to a festival to listen to the fastest, most brutal type of music among the throngs of costume-donning party Grinders, the black-clad crust punks, and people from basically everywhere is a very welcome distraction from everyday life.
What about you? Do you go to any festivals? And do you listen to Grindcore at all?
Thanks for reading. Til my next post, Seb