Wednesday, 5 November 2014



The much loved underground KILL-TOWN festival celebrated this year its 5th and last edition. Renown for its consistently good line-ups, it has always attracted visitors from abroad. Wyrd's Flight pays homage to the non-profit ethics of the organisers and their many voluntary collaborators by offering the impressions of a novice to the event, who traveled all the way from Canada to revel in the festivities and catch the last chapter of the Danish event. So thank you -VC- for the enthusiasm and effort in the true do it yourself spirit!
It might well be that K-T is soon to resurrect elsewhere, so let's hope and wait for some official announcements shall we? In the meantime, do enjoy this live report and personal memento pictures from a genuine fan (in her own words, she is "only little", so well done for fighting through the crowd with your travel camera for WF!). Here at Wyrd's Flight we love the old school DIY ethos, dislike shallowness, self-importance and whoring, and shun hierarchies: musicians, artists, promoters, writers, pro & amateur photographers and fans are all part of one underground family who is dead serious about nurturing, supporting and safeguarding what is precious to us. 

Alex Mysteerie

Music festivals have never been on my priority list for a multitude of reasons; living in Canada considerably reduces the pool of events I’d like to attend. When the words “music festival” come to mind, I automatically think of overpriced beer, long bathroom queues, being relegated to the back of a massive crowd, being forced to choose between bands playing at the same time accompanied by a ton of advertisement and official event sponsors doling out useless logo-laden merchandise. So when my partner suggested we attend the fifth edition of Kill-Town Death Fest (billed as an underground death metal festival) in København back in May, I was sceptical and forgot all about it until I stumbled upon part of the line-up in July. With bands like Bölzer, Obliteration, Dead Congregation and considering the fact that this year would be the last ever edition of Kill-Town, I knew the journey across the Atlantic would be worth it. 

Kill-Town Death Fest was anything but the over-commercialized, over-hyped metal festival I’ve come to know and dread. In fact, Kill-Town was the exact opposite; the organisers espoused a DIY philosophy and the festival was 100% non-commercial, seeking to be an alternative to the corporate music business and mainstream festivals. “All the work in the process of organising and during the actual fest is on a volunteer basis, so neither the organisers nor the bands playing the fest are making a profit”. In addition to being a non-profit festival, Kill-Town organisers sought to promote underground metal by flying in bands from across the globe. For this last edition fans could not ask for more, with a total of 28 bands spread across September 4th to 7th, hailing from as far as Japan, Mexico, Chile, USA, and Canada. Plus each band was conveniently scheduled to perform an hour apart on two different stages, avoiding the dilemma of picking which band you’d rather see and allowing attendees to enjoy the festival in its entirety. 
Located in the Nørrebro neighbourhood, the bulk of the festival was hosted at Ungdomshuset, a youth house steeped in political conflict just a few years ago. The venue and the festival were made for each other; both are/were run by a group of volunteers driven by a passion for the non-commercial, underground music scene. The physical layout of the venue, along with the spirit of community and inclusiveness that seemed imbued in every facet of the festival, were what made this event standout to me. The two different stages were housed in separate buildings that run perpendicular to each other, creating an outdoor courtyard conducive to socialising. Everything was within a stone’s throw, food stall (100% vegan), mercy area, drink stand and a bar for each stage. 

Due to travel logistics, we regrettably had to miss the Thursday warm-up show held at Loppen in the free town of Christiania. I was looking forward to seeing Lvcifyre for the first time and was sad to see them booked the first day of the festival. 
We were onsite by 16:00 on FRIDAY which gave us plenty of time to get the lay of the land before the show got underway. The merch area - which was more of an open market than just a simple merch table - had several booths selling a wide assortment of vinyls. Needless to say, a lot of our beer money was spent at a Swedish record storeowner’s table within moments of our arrival. 

The American band, Ritual Necromancy, kicked off the night on the main stage with a barrage of lightning-speed drums and crushing vocals, setting the tone for the rest of the evening. The main stage area was the ideal size for this type of concert, wide enough for the band to comfortably perform on and high enough to ensure maximum visibility for concertgoers. Wherever one stood, all the instruments were very clear, the sound engineer did a wonderful job capturing each band’s sound, which is no easy task for extreme metal.

Bombs of Hades (Sweden) were up next on the smaller, but no less packed, Dødsmaskinen stage.  Bombs of Hades were one of my must-see bands of the festival, their take on classic Swedish death metal with a hint of punk seemed to me a good fit for the opening night of the festival, fun and fast-paced, perfect for knocking back a few Tuborgs. My prediction proved correct, Bombs of Hades easily drew in the crowd after a few songs and ended on a high note. 

By 19:00 we took a break in the courtyard and noticed something peculiar; people were walking in with bottles of liquor and wine or their own 6 packs. We were confused, I stopped smuggling roadsies years ago, I never dreamt of openly bringing my own booze at a festival. Amazingly enough, KTDF allowed festivalgoers to bring at most 2 bottles each, although that maximum wasn’t much respected. I was even more amazed when I realised that the “Wizard Sticks” the cocktail booth was selling wasn’t a cocktail at all but a pre-rolled joint, with real weed in it (and lots of tobacco)! Wizard Sticks were a pleasant surprise and helped me to sleep when my ears were still ringing that night. They really thought of everything. 

Imprecation (USA) took the main stage at 21:00, by then night had fallen and the time was right for some dark and doomy death metal. We caught Imprecation playing their first European gig in 20 years existence. I believe this gave their performance an extra edge, so much so the crowd demanded an encore. They are a band I made a point to check out back home.
Back at the Dødsmaskinen stage, fellow Canadians Auroch, entranced us with torment-filled howls and their very own sinister take on black/death metal. There is something about Auroch that commands visual as much as aural attention; their sound is extremely tight and they have a strong visual cohesion that keeps you watching. They played at midnight, a fitting hour and the perfect time to call it a night once their set ended. 

SATURDAY picked up much where the previous evening left off. The stage was assaulted once more by two Auroch members (Shawn Hashe, Stephen Montesi) plus Nick Yanchuck and Karl Godard, forming the whole of Mitochondrion (Canada). Another visually captivating performance with sombre spoken passages, wisps of smoke, and demonic vocals. Mitochondrion created a devastating atmosphere that struck a chord with me. I was fortunate enough to once again witness a European debut for both Mitochondrion and Auroch, leaving me with a newfound pride for Canadian death metal. 

My number one reason for travelling to a festival about 5700km away from home: Obliteration (Norway). For me, Obliteration is an ultra-groovy old school death metal band. They were energetic and intense, delivering their set with confidence and a contagious sense of insouciance (Sindre Solem blowing snot across the stage mid-set). Once more, the sound was immaculate (thank you sound engineer!) and the bass was extremely present, which made for a pleasant change in the aural landscape. Sindre looked and sounded possessed, his compelling glare igniting a rage in all who watched, waiting for more. I can honestly say I would have been happy going home after they played, but KTDF had more in store for us. 

The much-lauded Bölzer (Switzerland), a two-piece heavy-ass band, took the main stage at 21:00. Everyone I spoke to at Kill-Town mentioned them as one of their must-see bands of the festival so there was a tremendous sense of anticipation in the crowd. I was in awe at the fullness and heaviness produced by one guitar and a set of drums, completely hypnotised by this Teutonic giant wielding a mighty axe with a voice like thunder. Bölzer did not disappoint: candles, pulsating and primal rhythms, haunting and aggressive vocals. But my reverie did not last very long, for KzR had a bone to pick with the sound engineer between a few too many songs, which sort of killed the mood. I am being selfish of course, for a band with only two instruments, the sound must be perfect otherwise the essence of the music can be easily lost. 

Back to Dødsmaskinen to catch Swedish void keepers, Irkallian Oracle. Another much talked about band for which the smaller venue was jammed packed. A dimly lit stage, burning candles, incense swirling about as the conductor of this black mass picked up his sacred tambourine. As common as this sort of imagery has become in the metal world, it can still be very poignant and provoking, especially in a live setting. Irkallian Oracle was able to lift a tiny corner of the veil that night in their eerie hoods and shrouded faces, tribal drums and the ringing of ceremonial bells. Though I much enjoyed their set I did miss the last bit of it as the room was too crowded and really, Irkallian deserved a bigger stage.

And finally we arrived to a very “Gloomy SUNDAY” indeed, the last day of the festival also marking the final edition of the superb Kill-Town Death Fest. With a heavy heart, a runny nose and feeling very jet lagged, I managed to watch two more bands on the main stage. My Italian brethren, the funeral doom metallers, Fuoco Fatuo delivered a solid performance, a suffocating sound and hollow vocals. Somehow it wasn’t enough and it left me feeling sort of flat, the magic I had heard back home wasn’t there for me that evening.

The festival ended for us with a band neither of us had ever heard of before, watching and listening to Ataraxie (France) was a pure revelation. My partner and I turned to each other after the first song with gaping jaws and giddy eyes, the pleasures of discovering a new band! Three guitarists, songs epic in length, drawn out and agonised screams all strung together in a beautiful and melodic way. Shivers (or maybe just my cold acting up) ran down my spine as it dawned on me that this was the funeral dirge sending off Kill-Town for good. 

And thus concluded my initiation to (good) metal festivals. After Kill-Town, we had planned to visit a bunch of museums and landmarks, perhaps go on an excursion outside København (ok, we visited Malmö but that took 0 effort) but our hearts weren’t into it. We were lazy tourists because we were too busy mourning the passage of a unique festival that will be sorely missed. I can only hope that someone out there took notes from this festival and its organisers and will one day pick up the Kill-Town torch for a sixth reincarnation somewhere around the world.

Text and photos by -VC-

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