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The Best of Prophecy Fest: Germ

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Now in its second year, Prophecy Fest — hosted by German melting pot label Prophecy Productions — takes place INSIDE OF A FUCKING CAVE.

If images flood your head of dust and mildew floating through the air amidst questionable body odors, bat shit, a poorly lit stage and cacophonous sound, you’re way off the mark: Prophecy Fest — located in the tiny, fairytale-like town of Balve in western Germany — was one of the most civilized metal gatherings I’ve ever attended. The cave, Balver Höhle, from which the remains of both proto-humans and wooly mammoths have been exhumed, is the immaculate metal venue; plenty of room for a full stage, merch, a bar and roughly 2,000 concertgoers, with moody lighting and immaculate sound. Combine that with Prophecy’s diverse roster of artists — flown in from as far away as Australia and Canada, and driven from right down the road — and a die-hard audience with an appreciation for eclectic music, and they’ve struck a winning tone for a festival that’s unlike any other.

I’ll be featuring five of my favorite bands from the festival in this space in the coming days. Read my brief thoughts, check out a tune, and get hip to what Prophecy Productions is doing; after 20 years they’re only just now hitting their stride with big things on the horizon.

View my full coverage of Prophecy Fest 2016 here.

Germ

I expected to experience many things at Prophecy Fest: avant-garde black metal, neo-folk, doom, currywurst and lots of comments about how cool it is to be inside a fucking cave watching metal. Not on that list: (relatively) straight-forward, modern black metal.

That Germ’s performance stuck with me enough to rank amongst my favorites of the weekend should tell you that “straight-forward” is not a bad thing. And, again, it’s all relative; in any other setting Germ probably would’ve been one of the more “out there” bands on the bill. But after a group with a hurdy gurdy player and two trombones, and prior to one with five fucking guitarists on stage? Nah.

Germ’s epic soundscapes and high-pitched black metal scowls straddle the line between modern atmospheric black metal (So Hideous, Alcest, etc) and, through the use of trance-y keyboard parts and more traditional chord progressions, second wave black metal groups like Satyricon and early Cradle of Filth. All those comparisons sell Germ short, though; they’re doing their own thing. Occasional clean vocals? Sure, why not, as long as they make sense in context.

Check out a couple Germ songs from different releases below and see what you think. Their latest album Escape came out earlier this year on Prophecy.

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