Live review: Complexity Fest at Patronaat, Haarlem, The Netherlands, February 16th, 2019

On Saturday February the 16th the venue of Patronaat in Haarlem is entirely about complex, progressive, experimental and heavy music. That day the entire building of Patronaat is hosting Complexity Fest. On Friday February the 15th it was already possible to get a sample of Complexity Fest with its pre-party with Bear, Hibakusha and LLNN. On this Saturday it is time for the Fest itself. Around 1 o’clock in the afternoon the doors open. It’s my first time ever in Haarlem and in the venue of Patronaat. Once inside I noticed something immediately: when you never been here before this venue is a maze. Later on the day, when I found my way inside the venue, it turns out to be a cool venue. The building, including the halls, are a bit weird, but definitely nice.

A few moments after I found my way to the Second Hall the first band of the day will kick off the festival: Inferum. In Willemeen in Arnhem they already blew me away with their show, so I definitely was looking forward to this show. Originally this show should be their release show of the album that was supposed to be released the day before. Unfortunately the album release is delayed due to unforeseen circumstances. However, Inferum surely gives a hell of a show. This opening show is definitely very promising for the rest of the day. The brutal vocals of Morrison de Boer go through marrow and bone and Inferum bulldozes the crowd. A crowd that is already pretty enthusiastic, based on the loud applauding at the end of Inferum’s set and that is something well deserved for sure!

After the bulldozing show of Inferum it is time for the opener of the Main Stage: PinioL. Immediately when I enter the Main Hall it is clear that this band is a fairly weird band. The music PinioL plays is very experimental. However they surely know how to captivate the audience with their weirdness. When looking at the stage something else stands out for sure: this band has two guitarists, two bass players and two drummers! Alongside them there is Antoine Arnera with a keyboard who at some moment also adds some experimental, deformed vocals to the show. A very experimental show and a very nice show as well.

From now on the Second Hall and the Third Hall will host bands at the same time during the moments in between the shows on the Main Stage. While 22 is playing in the Second Hall I am going to watch the show of the post metallers of Fire Walk With Us in the Third Hall. With their mix of dreamy parts and heavier parts, the intense drums by Ralph van Reijendam and the lingering guitars by Herman Wilken and Nico Nijland Fire Walk With Us delivers a show that is mesmerizing and that brings you in a trance-like state. Vocals aren’t included in Fire Walk With Us’ music, something that isn’t missed when you play a show like this.

Now it is again time for a Main Stage show. Originally this was the spot where David Maxim Micic’s was planned in. However he had to cancel his show on Complexity Fest due to an ongoing knee injury. Four Stroke Baron, who originally were planned for the Third Hall now play the Main Stage in his place. Matt Vallarino’s intense drums and Keegan Ferrari’s roaring bass give this show a pounding and grooving vibe. Added to that are the mesmerizing and weird vocals by Kirk Witt. This all adds up to be a very special and nice combination. Four Stroke Baron only exists of these three persons, with Kirk Witt also playing guitar. Due to this and their setup their show is pretty static. The only one who moves a bit and has some interaction with the audience is bass player Keegan Ferrari. At one moment he also found panties onstage which he picks up and hangs on his bass. There are quite some technical difficulties with Matt Vallarino’s drum kit. Only one of these times it is distracting sound-wise, since they had to stop that song. Show-wise it is a bit more distracting due to the many times crew members are needed onstage.

While Irreversible Mechanism is playing in the Second Hall I went to see Lotus Eater in the Third Hall. Before they started their set this band doesn’t really look like a very brutal band when you look at the clothes of the band members: ska-like pants with squares all-over, a Snoop Dogg shirt and a sport shirt for example. Their sound check however already shows that this band is very brutal for sure! Once they started with their set there is only one thing that Lotus Eater does: giving a very pounding show that is heavy as fuck. A lot of energy is passed onto the crowd coming from the stage, partly due to the band being extremely energetic themselves. In the audience this soon results in a pit in the smallest hall of the building. This show is very overwhelming and to me this is a nice live surprise. The only letdown is that Lotus Eater stops their set quite a bit before their timeslot ends.

After Lotus Eater’s show in the Third Hall the band that plays the Main Stage seems to be a nice live surprise as well: the progressive groove metallers of Klone. At some moments this band thunders but they also show more melodic parts. This is combined with the very melodic vocals from Yann Ligner, who sometimes also delivers a bit of a growly shout. There is a big chance that this combination brings you in a dreamlike trance. Klone is capable of doing that, even after Lotus Eater’s pounding show.

When Dreamarcher, the band that plays Complexity Fest due to David Maxim Micic’s cancellation, plays in the Third Hall, MØL covers the Second Hall in darkness. This is something MØL is very good at, as I already experienced at their show in Willemeen in Arnhem before I was going to interview them. The big dose of smoke MØL uses during their show is something that really adds to this. MØL again gives an overwhelming and extremely intense show, with a lot of energy onstage as well as in the audience. This results in many people going insane and a few pits. Vocalist Kim Song also regularly bends over towards the audience from the stage with a penetrating look in his eyes, he even gets into the audience during their show. All of this definitely adding to the experience of this great, intense show!

With my head still in the vibe of MØL’s show I went to the Main Stage where Conjurer just started their set. With their heavy-as-fuck riffs, pounding drums and extremely intense vocals that go through marrow and bone, Conjurer crushes the venue and the audience. At one moment vocalist/guitarist Dan Nightingale, one of Conjurer’s two vocalists, even shows his intense and raw vocals without using the microphone which are even clearly audible in the back of the hall. A few times Conjurer shows some instrumentally more dreamier parts, some of those being combined with the aforementioned brutal vocals. Heavy as fuck, pounding and brutal are however what can be said about Conjurer’s set for the main part of it.

While The Algorithm is playing in the Second Hall and the Third Hall is hosting the show of The Physics House Band I decided to spend some time to get myself something to eat.

Then it’s time for The Ocean on the Main Stage. At least that’s how it should be. Unfortunately they have some big technical problems with their gear resulting in The Ocean playing their first note 25 minutes later than their planned moment to start. When they finally started their set, the bass seems to be a bit loud in the mix, maybe due to those technical problems. The vocals on the other hand are a bit low in the mix during the beginning of their show. Despite those technical problems The Ocean surely crushes with their pounding, intense, heavy music.

While Shining is playing in the Second Hall, Letters From The Colony plays the last Third Hall show of the day. During their show there are some small technical difficulties, one of those being with the drum kit of Jonas Sköld. Letters From The Colony definitely delivers a very brutal and tight show that gets to you in a very intense and heavy way. The only disadvantage in my opinion are the vocals from Alexander Backlund. His vocals regularly didn’t reach above the music in terms of volume. His vocals also sounded a bit too forced, which was a bit distracting from the very brutal show this band delivered.

After these shows it is time for the headliner of Complexity Fest, of course playing on the Main Stage: Zeal & Ardor. During the beginning of this show there are also a few little technical difficulties, but that isn’t something that keeps this very awesome band from playing a very great show. Zeal & Ardor plays their set extremely tight which, just as how extremely good the individual band members are attuned to each other, can only be called phenomenal. This surely is a very strong live-band that seems to get better during each show. The audience is very enthusiastic, which is well deserved for sure. Zeal & Ardor show themselves as a true headliner and the appreciation from the audience to the band as well as the other way around is definitely something special. Zeal & Ardor surely delivers a very nice, extremely intense and tight show.

After Zeal & Ardor’s show, The Armed is closing this edition of Complexity Fest in the Second Hall. Unfortunately I have to go, because otherwise I can’t get home anymore. It was my first time at Complexity Fest, something that was a very nice experience. An amazing day with almost only highlight moments.

Here you can read our live review of Inferum’s aforementioned show in Willemeen, Arnhem. Here and here you can read our parts of Promoting Bands in which we also featured them.

Here you can read our aforementioned interview with MØL. A part of Promoting Bands in which we featured them can be found here.

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Bear Official Website
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Hibakusha Official Website
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Inferum Official Website
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22 Official Website
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Fire Walk With Us Official Website
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Four Stroke Baron Official Website
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Klone Official Website
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MØL Facebook
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The Algorithm Official Website
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The Physics House Band Official Website
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The Ocean Facebook
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Shining Official Website
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Letters From The Colony Official Website
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The Armed Official Website
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