When you’re done with the huge crowds and ridiculously high food and beverage prices at major metal festivals, then the Into The Grave fest may be a good alternative. It’s annually held in the picturesque inner city of Leeuwarden, The Netherlands. With a ticket price of just under seven Euros and with bands like Enslaved, Obscura, Corrosion Of Conformity, Bolt Thrower and Hell on the bill, you simply can’t go wrong. TINAS was there to take it all in…

The festivities were opened by a local screamo band, called Nom De Plume. They won a local band competition which earned them the opening slot over at Into The Grave. The material reminded me a lot of Caliban and Underoath and the band put on a professional and energetic performance. Sadly the crowd response was minimal at best, but one can question the wisdom of programming a screamo outfit in front of a crowd which consists mostly of older metal heads.

Next on the bill was Dew-Scented, a German thrash/death metal band. With a revamped line-up and a new record under their belt, Leif Jensen and Co unleashed a thrash metal hurricane upon the inner city of Leeuwarden. The band played a very tight live set, leaving the crowd dazed and confused in their wake. There’s nothing like a high octane thrash metal show in the early afternoon.

Corrosion Of Conformity provided the Southern groove at Into The Grave. Their trademark mixture of southern metal, punk rock and thrash metal worked quite well, but it became painfully apparent that the band is virtually unknown here in Europe. The setlist mainly consisted of songs from their early albums, alternated by material from their latest self-titled record. The many (unnecessary) breaks in their set and the poor sound didn’t help things either. I expected a better performance from a band with COC’s stature.

Unfortunately, I had to skip Obscura, due to interview obligations.

British heavy metal band Hell gave the festival its theatrical spin. Taking cues from luminaries like Judas Priest and Mercyful Fate their particular brand of heavy metal was well received by the crowd. Singer David Bower stole the show for me with impressive vocal range and stage theatrics.

Swedish death metal outfit Grave paid homage to the festival name by playing a special set consisting of material from their “Into The Grave” album. It was a nice gesture and it was highly appreciated by all who attended the show. The band put on a solid live performance, but they couldn’t keep my attention for long. I guess old school Stockholm-styled death metal isn’t my thing.

My personal highlight of Into The Grave was Enslaved. These Norwegian progressive black metallers put on the best live performance of the day. The focus was clearly on the last four albums and it became very clear who far they’ve come a long way from their primitive Viking metal of old. Grutle Kjellson turned out to be the consummate frontman, while lead guitarist Arve Isdal pleased the ladies with his impressive physical appearance. A special mention should go to keyboardist Herbrand Larsen. His clean vocals really add a whole new dimension to the already rich Enslaved musical pallet.

It was a long day and with a long journey back home in mind I decided to call it a day and leave Bolt Thrower for what is was.

In short, I had a blast at Into The Grave. The festival personnel were friendly and professional, the bill was diverse enough to satisfy even the most demanding metal heads. This, in combination with the brilliant location and the consumer-friendly prices make Into The Grave the perfect alternative for large scale festivals like Wacken Open Air, Graspop and Hellfest. Until next year!

Into The Grave – Official Website