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The Malta Deathfest - An Assessment

Updated: Oct 13, 2023

The buildup and expectations for the festival were high. The Malta Deathfest was making its comeback after many years with fourteen bone crushing bands, four of which local and another fronted by a Maltese singer.

Friday the doors opened at 8pm with one of the local bands hitting the stage around thirty minutes later.

photo: Rachel Mifsud

Luciferi Regnum is made up of four young emerging musicians fronted by the killer voice of 'Lilith Macabre', she was even one of the winners during the growling competition held later during the festival. But back to Luciferi Regnum’s performance: if there was any fear in the band’s minds (being the first band in a festival of this stature is not easy) this was obliterated once the first tunes of ‘Eternal Darkness’ were heard from the stage. The band was tight throughout the whole performance and the crowd who turned up early, specifically to see them, were not disappointed.

Their slot was around forty minutes through which they played seven songs, namely the already mentioned ‘Eternal Darkness’ followed by ‘Initium Inferni’, ‘Vampire Lust’ ‘The Possession’, ‘In The Light Of', ‘Dysphoria' and the band's debut single ‘Banshee’. Songs which shall be on the debut release the band is getting ready to record. In the meantime, the band’s next announced appearance is at Dark Malta Festival in April.

Michael Khill were up next. Hailing from Modena a city in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region with looks like they’re not that much older than Luciferi they amused the crowd and managed also to get the first moshpit of the night with their grindcore sound for approximately the same amount of time their predecessors had.

Next up was one of death metal’s supergroups Coffinbirth fronted by Beheaded’s Frank Calleja and performing for the second time on the island after their show to support their debut album ‘The Serpent Insignia’, released in 2018. The first show on the island happened on 12 September 2019. This time around, the band was heavy and tight as ever despite having the musicians stand in for those who could not make the journey. The band performed all the songs that make up their debut album but one, performing nine songs altogether.

The outstanding performance by Coffinbirth made it a hard act to follow, but it was time for Hour Of Penance. Up on stage a few minutes before midnight the band performed their technical brutal Death Metal to perfection with songs from Misotheism (2019), Cast the First Stone (2017), Regicide (2014), Sedition (2012), Paradogma (2010) and The Vile Conception (2008) bringing the first successful day of the festival to an end.

photo: Noel Mifsud

Saturday doors opened at 7pm with the first band on half an hour later. Extinction hails from Italy and the blend of thrash and death metal they presented gave assurance that the evening was going to be another fantastic one. The set featured eight songs, most of which were taken from the band’s latest release Cryogenesis, which was released last April on Punishment 18 Records. The band also presented two tracks from their 2019 album, The Apocalypse Mark and finished off an impeccable performance with the title track from their 2017 album The Monarch Slaves.

Another Italian band followed. Indecent Excision presented nine brutal death metal songs taken mainly from their two full length albums, Deification of the Grotesque released in 2011 and their 2015 Aberration, but they also included songs from their various Eps and demos.

photo: Noel Mifsud

Thy Legion were the first local band for the night with a violent set featuring songs from their second full length albums Venerato Diaboli released thirteen years ago and the 2017 World Stigmata.

During the night, the band also presented two new songs taken from their upcoming album, which shall be released in early 2024. Flawless as ever, the band has been boasting a magical collaboration for the past seven years (approximately) of guitarists Elton Falzon and Emanuel Portelli (Animamortua, Hemplifier, Victims Of Creation) complimenting the rhythm section composed by Kurt Dimech on bass and drummer Clayton Cini and fronted by Mark Dimech and Tonio Spiteri on vocals.

After their outstanding show last July at the Farsons Beer Festival, Abysmal Torment returned with another bone crushing show at the Malta Deathfest on Saturday, right after Thy Legion finished their set, and as they did last July they presented their new song Vermin (from their upcoming release) alongside tracks taken from their four full length albums, Epoch of Methodic Carnage (2006), Omnicide (2009), Cultivate the Apostate (2014) and The Misanthrope (2018). And this time around they were even better, heavier, and more brutal. Maybe it was because The Garage offers a more intimate atmosphere, certainly because the sound was engineered better, but credit must be given to the band for their energetic performance. Singer Melchior mentioned during their set that they are proud to be the warmup band for headliners Gutalax, and he was proven right with the energy the band transferred to the crowd in front of them.

photo: Noel Mifsud

Then it was time for the toilet rolls to come out. Everyone kept any prop well out of sight till the last note of Abysmal Torment. In fact, I was thinking if this would be the first clean Gutalax gig. I was wrong of course…

Now I must admit that Goregrind is not my cup of tea, but this was the third or fourth time I’m seeing this Czech band which formed in 2009 and since released three full length albums, the latest in 2021. But the previous times I have seen them in festivals with larger attendance and bigger stages, where my attention was more towards the crowd and their antics than what the band was doing on stage. This time around it was completely different, and I really enjoyed the show. I enjoyed it as much as I’m enjoying the chilli sauce the band was selling as part of the merchandise. I only regret not buying more than one bottle.

The third and last day of the festival opened its doors earlier than the previous two, being on a Sunday with the first band on stage at 5.30pm. I was again proved wrong in thinking that there would be tiredness amongst those who attended for the three days. The day’s schedule consisted of one local, a British and three Dutch bands.

The first one up was Putrefied Corpse who was formed in 2013 in Enschede and released their debut and only album so far Left to Rot in 2019. So, it was understandable that most of the songs presented on Sunday were taken from this album, but we were also offered some non-album songs throughout their slot.

Abrupt Demise formed in Steenwijk three years before their neighbours did and as the prior band delivered a set of no-nonsense death metal. Six of the nine songs that made the set list were taken from their 2020 debut full length album The Pleasure to Kill and Grind which was released on Raw Skull Recordz.

The other Dutch band was on stage later headlining the festival, but prior to them two more bands performed, the first one being Cumbria’s Repulsive Vision delivering more death metal from their two full length albums released three years apart, the 2017 Look Past the Gore and See the and Necrovictology released in 2020.

photo: Noel Mifsud

8.30pm on a Sunday evening, normally many of us will be groaning to the idea that in a few hours we have to get up and go to work. But not this Sunday. At that time locals, Bound To Prevail performed a ruthless seven song setlist. Although the band have a self-titled demo released in 2016 and an EP ‘Omen of Iniquity’ (2017) their set was made up of new tracks, all sourced from their yet-to-be-released album, 'Enthroned In Torment.' These songs were first heard during July’s Beerfest when they shared the stage with Abysmal Torment (and Drowning Sorrows). And although all the bands were so far capped under the Death Metal genre, all of them were distinct as was the fifth and last band for the night, headliners Dutch old school Severe Torture. Formed in Boxtel, Netherlands in 1997 they all but destroyed the stage. Their experience was visible from the get-go and presented a fourteen-song set taken from their five full length albums and releases they issued throughout their twenty-six-year span.

And that was the end of the fourth edition of Malta’s own deathfest. Organization was immaculate, especially when considering that this was all put up by two persons, with help from a very small number of people. And this was expressed by not only those who attended any part of these three days, but from the bands that played. I spoke to many members, both Maltese and foreigners and all were of the same opinion: ‘ The sound (by Steve) and lights (by Philip) were flawless’, and some bands even expressed that this was one of the best festivals they ever played and would very much like to re-visit in the future.

And although we will have gigs during the months building up to next year’s edition, I’m sure that everyone shall be on edge waiting for any for any announcements done by the organisers regarding the fifth edition of the Malta Deathfest. The dates are booked, just keep an eye out to any posts on the festival’s Facebook page.



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