Easter in a Demon's Cave - Witchfest

  • Written by Alfonzo Rodriguez
  • Published in Gig Reviews

“Hey tough guys”, says the beggar at the traffic light. He doesn't get a second chance to gain our sympathy, my friend is negotiating with his brother to buy a new video game. We were on our way to The Bassline in Newtown, Johannesburg where they were hosting Witchfest, a first of its kind metal festival ever held in Africa. A couple of weeks earlier the organisers had to find a new venue for the third time, since, as it turns out, the most evil bands performing throughout the world were coming to blow our brains away… and to probably feed on our remains thereafter. Fortunately the move to Newtown seems to have scared concerned citizens from picketing for the salvation of the festival goers. Despite all bureaucratic rumblings, metalheads from all over the country set up camp on Bassline's front lawn, ready to headbang, mosh and party really fuckin' hard to the sonic assault of the kind of metal music that only reaffirms Metallica's boy-band status.

 Belphegor-Goat-Heads

Photo By PRÄSS KRÄST

At the festival there were many more tough guys, some with big holes in their earlobes, shaven heads, long hair, beards, black clothes and tattoos (although that's not as tough any more). Every now and again a female would stand out in the sea of black t-shirts. Maybe her name was Lilith. The vibe was pretty chilled with everyone happily drinking beer as the air grew thick in anticipation of Friday Night's main acts. One couldn't have asked for a better venue to see these bands play their various brands of technical death, black and whatever other sub-genre of metal. Some guy next to me in the crowd apparently got so giddy as we were waiting for Decapitated that he started singing “Satan” as if he expected approval from his boys' school choir master. No bra, f*ck off. The real shit was about to begin. And it did, from the first beat of Decapitated's set a vortex sucked the crowd into a moshpit. A massive surrounding wall of sound was throwing bodies left, right, up and down like a raging bull was obliterating the crowd. Up on the stage these guys were playing tight riffs at 3 billion notes per second, and you could make out that they were somehow grooving at this speed. Spiraling ever further it was inevitable that one would arrive at a cave in the bottom of the pit. Many folk have feared this cave for the demonic growls that came from it. But here we were, in the cave, and with all the lights flashing one could see a man making these sounds.

 Crowd 

Photo By PRÄSS KRÄST

Saturday was no different, bodies were still being mauled. What remained of the carnage after Aborted was devoured by Belphegor. Finally, it was time for Cannibal Corpse. Half-minced I saw what I thought were the rotating blades of a blender, but it was Corpsegrinder headbanging. It was all over for me, although the festival continued on Sunday. Let's hope we can do this again next year.

 serpenths-Bass-Belphegor

Photo By PRÄSS KRÄST