Photos: Ali En
Covenant Festival Day One: Thursday, June 8 at The Red Room
The third edition of the Covenant Festival
in Vancouver, BC essentially put the seal on the event as the prime festival in North America when it comes to war metal and other utterly blasphemous derivatives. The fest now appears more and more like the North American counterpart to the Nuclear War Now! Prod Festival in Germany, hosting some of the most obscure, long-running and edgy extreme metal in recorded history. Through a wall of fog, blasphemous cacophony, inhuman volume, blood red pulsating lights, visceral displays of spikes, exaggeratedly huge gauntlets, chains, and other post-apocalyptic attire, and endless displays of sonic ignorance, Covenant Fest truly embodied as a real and true gathering of lovers and admirers of the most wretched extreme metal sounds out there.
The fest kicked off Thursday, June 8th in downtown Vancouver at a smaller venue called The Red Room, with a capacity of about 300-400 max. While I missed the early sets of Firecult and the dark ambient of Randal Collier Ford, I was able to catch the second half of Ceremonial Bloodbath’s set – a mangled and tangled void of downtuned and slow-moving blackened death-doom that sounded as if Disembowelment, Autopsy, and Beherit were having a perverted orgy. What became apparent from their set was also the stellar audio of the club and the overall seriousness, streamlined professionalism and organization of the fest – something that would become ever so apparent in the following nights. While Edmonton’s Phylactery brought things back to punishing speed with their crazed and war-torn black death/thrash, the zenith of the night was – of course – reached by headliners Blood Incantation, a band I’ve now seen play live multiple times and who never cease to amaze in the live setting. The Denver boys delivered their signature strain of psychedelic space-themed progressive death metal with surgical precision and atomic heaviness, opening a portal to another dimension within the venue and crushing the crowd under the weight of a collapsing stargate. To be fair, few bands deserve the “hype” they receive online, but Blood Incantation are an exception to this rule.
Randal Collier Ford