June 12, 2022 | Leeuwarden – After two festival days of it was nice to start a bit later, but I forgot the exit time in the hotel, so sleeping in was not an option. Therefore I arrived quite early at the Oldehoofsterkerkhof in Leeuwarden. The square where just a few hours before a jumping and dancing crowd had stood, was now serene and empty. I walked around and chatted with colleagues and volunteers, which was a nice way to start the day.
At 2 PM Space Chaser (D) was kicking off the sunday and it was a nice way to start the day. The number of visitors was still low, but as de set progresses, so did the number of metal fans in front of the stage. Space Chaser played quite a decent thrash set without being all over the place. In this case it was a good thing, as most of the present people were here for their third day in a row and were feeling their feet… and their heads and even at 2 o’clock it is a blessing the band is not running around.
Urne (GB) was next at the Reaper stage and it was amazing they are there. With just 20 minutes to spare these guys arrived at Into The Grave, got their gear setup and were ready to play.
The facial expressions of singer Joe Nally were impressive, but their Stoner/Sludge is not working for me. Luckily for them there is a small crowd in front of the Reaper stage who did appreciate their effort.
As fast as I could I hobbled towards the Main Stage, because Evil Invaders (B) were close to starting. Most people had a few beers already and the violent thrash of these Belgians was much appreciated. It was a pity that they only got 40 minutes, but with a nice mix of old an new material, they were totally convincing again. The big stage fits these guys well and singer Joe was firing up his audience to more ‘violence’. In the heat of the bright sun there was some sort of a pit, but most people sticked to head bobbing and beer drinking.
The Reaper stage was where the next action was and this band it is on the complete opposite site of the metal genre; symphonic metal by Ad Inifitum (CH). Singer Melissa Bonny has an intriguing voice and besides clean, she can do rough stuff too! Ad Infinitum is probably not the most innovative symphonic metal band, but the music was solid and Melissa did not make mistakes. Ad Infinitum was quite entertaining and Melissa played a big part in that.
I decided to grab some diner and skip Carnation (B). It was quite busy so it took longer than expected and I returned halfway the last song of Orden Ogan (D).
So I went straight to the Reaper stage to witness Gatecreeper (USA). The band walked on the stage as I arrived, so perfect timing! Without paying much attention I saw a band member pressing some foot pedals and when I looked up it was the singer. That was somewhat of a surprise for me, as most singers don’t use a pedal board to alter their voice and if they do, they keep it hidden somewhere. I found the vocals generated a great sound by going through the pedal board. Most of the time they were subtle but impressive; the lyrics sung by Chase Mason were quite understandable… and that for a Death Metal band!
It was the third day of this festival and the crowd was a bit tired I guess. There was hardly a pit and just a handful of crowd surfers, but a lot of heads were banging and -bobbing! Definitely a band to see again sometime!
Everybody knows or should know Death as they are an essential part of the heavy metal history. With the untimely death of Chuck Schuldiner, Death came sadly to an end.
Luckily with Death to All (USA) former members of Death tour the world to playing old Death songs for those who love them. And in Leeuwarden there were quite a lot of them! Although there could have been more people in front of the stage. It seemed busy in front of the stage, but at the sides there were large empty spaces. Pity, because Death to All was on fire and this festival deserved more love in the form of sold tickets.
Singer Max Phelps looked quite stoic, but in between songs he beamed a broad smile to his bandmates. Max even looked a bit like Chuck with squinted eyes.
The band was enjoying themselves and the ones in front of the stage were the lucky ones to see this pretty damn good set. With ‘Crystal Mountain’ and “Pull the Plug’, Death to All steped off the stage leaving an impression on everyone present.
Red Fang (USA) is not the typical metal band if you see them at first, but they are seasoned metal artists. The Reaper stage was their home for the next hour and they made themselves at home! It was not that busy, but the people were more fanned out over the area in front of the Reaper stage. So near the end of this festival, the stoner/sludge of Red Fang is very nice experience; but they still ripped the stage up.
The performance was not flawless in the beginning; When the start of a song was screwed up, Aaron Beam promised that the next try would be 16% beter than the previous try and he challenged everybody to get their calculators out to prove him right or wrong.
After a few chuckles the band continues with their set, without a lot of hickups. Decent one!
I saw that I was not the only one with painful feet as I walked over to the Main stage. Emperor (N) had been asked to slam the door shut of Into the Grave 2022 and boy did they ever. There is hardly anything to say about this performance, other than that it was a solid show. The sound was perfect and the lighting was fitting for the set. Emperor did justice to their name; the door of Into the Grave had been royally closed for this year by these Norse men.
It was great to have a -relative- big metal festival in the Netherlands again after three years. The ticket sales were quite disappointing, but with higher prices for gas, petrol and food people have less money for leisure. With that in mind, the the prices for food and drinks at the festival were pretty high and that didn’t help either.
The for this festival introduced debit card had quite a few flaws and eyebrow rasising ‘options’, which made it annoying to use. And why? Everyone pays contactless with their bank card or smart phone. I was charged 4 beers while ordering and served with 1 soda. I believe an honest mistake as it was very busy, but the next time I have to use this card, I want to see the amount being charged.
With that of my chest;
For the rest Into the Grave was very well organised, good and surprisingly impressive bands and the best of weather! The mix of subgenres on the different days, was in hind sight perhaps not the most lucky choice as it didn’t help the number of visitors I guess.
Hopefully next year Into The Grave will return with a strong line-up, a sold out festival and without the debit card ;-)