The Return of the Darkness and Evil

You have read many posts from places all over the world… now, here is my normal life at home, with my friends and my family! It feels good to be back home…

The trip back to Montreal was a breeze. Our two pairs of parents welcomed us at the airport, and then we went to François’ parents place for dinner (with the jetlag, it was like the 6th meal we ate that day!) It was cool to come back to Canada, but a bit unreal… seeing all those signs written both in French and English, and smelling the pure air (at least more pure than in Paris haha). It was still a shock though, to arrive in a corner store and have to pay taxes on top of the price! Over here, when you buy – let’s say, a 2$ beer in a store, it actually comes up to 2.30$ at the cash. In bars, the tax is included, but you have to tip the bar maid every time you order a beer! So, 4$ beer + 1$ tip. Anyway, I think I will be missing the cheapness (and freshness!) of beer in Germany.

Montreal from the airplane window

Our parents re-united to welcome us!

The next morning, I ate a totally Quebec-style breakfast: Creton with bagels from Fairmount bagels. It sounds really weird, but I was extremely excited to eat those! Creton is a simple pork pâté, but these wood-oven baked round bread things are the best in the world. They are so addictive that they are even imported fresh to New York City!

Bagels with creton

Another typically Canadian breakfast – waffle with maple syrup

We spent the following day at my friend Arnaud’s place, to see a GATES OF SLUMBER show. Arnaud is an amazing cook, and he made us one hell of a treat for dinner. We went to the Jean-Talon market (a famous food market here in town) to find the ingredients.

Arnaud choosing some chunky pork pieces

Garlic flower (?) and colored carrots

Browning the meat

Cooking the veggies

The result! Roasted organic pork on a bed of Quebec-grown veggies. It was absolutely godly!

A steak tartare as an entree, once of my favourite meals ever. Delicious.

After this, we headed to the gig – which was located in a hipster kind of venue, Il Motore. Not my kind of place – weird vibe and 5$ beers, so I ended up drinking outside during the opening band. When GoS came, I was already feeling pretty happy (the blurry photos kind of reflect that) hehe! I missed some parts of the following band, HAMMERS OF MISFORTURE, for been a bit too drunk. I’m not used to the strong Canadian beers yet. Anyway, they played really well, and live they sound a million times heavier than on record (yes, it’s possible!!)

Jason and the drummer

A badass looking Karl

A part of the crowd! Lovely VENOM backpatch!

Karine, Arnaud and Chantal drinking outside the venue

I was extremely hungover the next day. I don’t know if it’s because we drank sweet red beer or because they add chemicals in the beer here, but I felt like total crap! To feel a bit better, Arnaud and myself went to a Mexican restaurant for lunch (that’s the beauty of Montreal, it’s extremely international food-wise). It helped a great deal. Poor François had to get up early to go to work! He adapted pretty well to his job though, even though he’s not a big fan of routine.

Guacamole

Mexican soup (I don’t remember the name, but it was soooo good)

Tamales and refried beans (the tamales were actually really dry. I was disappointed)

Also went for pupusas with my friend France… these are Salvadorian specialties. Corn tortillas stuffed with cheese and refried beans – and then served with cabbage salad and a special tomato sauce!!!!! One of my favorite foods ever!

After the Mexican food, we went to visit some apartments – and actually found one that suited us perfectly! It is incredibly full of light, 30 minutes walking distance from my favourite venue and pretty cheap! We got really lucky to find it so fast!!

On Friday night, I met François after his work, and we took the bus to Ottawa to go to my parent’s place. They live in Orléans, a francophone suburb of the city, where I grew up! My grandparents were there, as well as my pregnant sister, Marjolaine. It was a shock to see her, she was already at 8 months pregnant or something!! My grandmother made me my favourite cake, and we just talked traveling for the evening…

My favourite cake! OK, one of my favourite cakes. Angel food cake with a really really sweet corn syrup icing.

Myself and my grandma!

The packages I sent to myself while traveling were waiting for me at home. I was so excited to open them up… I had like 35 packages – some of them loaded with rare LP’s from exotic places, as well as cool souvenirs (and packaged food) from all over. Arghhh!

Part of my packages waiting for me. I was still waiting for four more European packages actually! It was so exciting to open them up!

The next day for lunch, we had some ritual poutine. Remember during the whole trip, I was always trying to emulate poutine with local ingredients? Well, now we had the real thing. Our first one in a year and a half, with local quality ingredients. It was to die for!

Poutine from Fritomania in all its glory! It is considered one of the best poutineries… and it’s a 5 minute walk from my parent’s place! Check out that mass of squeaky fresh cheese and mysterious brown sauce. So good. So artery clogging.

When the weekend was over, François went back to Montreal to work, and I spent the whole week at my parent’s place. My sister had a baby shower, and I went shopping for some furniture that we needed for our apartment (we gave away half of our stuff before leaving on our trip). The following Friday, François came back to Ottawa and we both headed to my friend Alice’s place in Gatineau (a suburb of Ottawa, but on the Quebec side)… we were to have a welcome party with some friends we haven’t seen  in a long time. It ended up to be really crazy…

Starting the party at 4PM with some nice local micro-brewery beer.

Tootsie, one of Alice’s dogs, secretly hoping that she could drink beer as well

Alice in her backyard! She’s a really good friend of mine – have known her for so long!!

Alice’s boyfriend, Eric. He’s dancing to KISS’ Strutter on this photo! Eric is well known for having played bass in BASTARDATOR and HUMAN GREED, as well as living off a daily diet of beer and pizza. Ahh, I missed those two.

Playing poker. No, it’s not strip poker, they just removed their shirts cause it was extremely hot!

My good friend Emma and her young nephew (who only started drinking three months ago haha)

Four of my five Colombian friends that were at the party! I played “Snowblind” for them!

François and Eduard, the fifth Colombian!! He’s the one we went to visit when we were in Medellin.

Jeff (Bastardator ex-singer) doing a “Melissa” pose

Patrick, our drummer, with Steve Bennett (ex-Inepsy bassist) and his girlfriend. Notice his tattoo, it’s all the name of his ex-girlfriends crossed out! Hahahhaaha

Myself with a record! I was doing my DJ like I do all the time in parties!

Marty (ex-Human Greed, Longing for Dawn drummer) and Eric. Friends since the 80’s!

The party table… notice the bag of Ketchup chips. A North American specialty!

People from out of town brought their tents, and so Alice’s backyard became some sort of party camping ground. It was a lot of fun… kind of like a festival, without bands hehe

Tentville!

The next day, Saturday, we were supposed to move from Ottawa to Montreal, but finally it didn’t happen because the moving truck company rented our van to somebody else… so we had to wait the next day. Lucky for us… I slept one hour and we were hungover as hell haha

The inside of the truck, full of our stuff. We don’t actually own very much as you can see! Haha

We spent a few days doing renovation to our new apartment… it was pretty crusty; the people before us were there for 11 years. I don’t think they ever cleaned in those 11 years… we had to scrape layers of fat and goo from years of cooking around the stove! Nasty stuff. It looks great now though, and we really feel at home. It’s a good feeling for sure – especially after having traveled for so long, in different places!

View of my livingroom (not completely finished yet)!

Another part of my livingroom… feels so good to have access to my records. You guys have no idea how excited I am about it hahaha!

I then hopped on the train and went back to my parent’s place in Orleans for a few more couple of weeks – in order to spent a little bit more time with them. Together, we went to a family reunion in Saint-André-Avellin (Quebec countryside)… my uncles and aunts made a pig roast, as well as some roasted beef and poutine! Yeah!!

Claude, the roast master, with the pig

My mom and the family! You see everyone cutting up the pig in the back

I decided to put some of the beef roast with my poutine… it made a great mix hehe

A few days later, I returned in the countryside at my grandfather’s cottage, and made him some Czech goulash (he wanted to try something different and I was craving that meal!) The same day, I learnt that my uncle, the one that was roasting the pork a few photos earlier, was attacked by a mother bear. Apparently, the really warm summer we had in Canada caused a draught, that generated less food for bears… so they get quite dangerous these days. My uncle was just picking black berries and he saw three cubs coming out of the bush… and the mother followed right after – attacking him three times! She bit his leg, she tried biting his jugular vein – and he countered attacked her by putting his whole front arm into her jaw… and hitting her with his steel-toe caps. After a while, she stopped, looking to protect her cubs, and then he ran for his life – losing alot of blood on the way… crazy. He’s now feeling much better, but he’s incredibly lucky he’s still alive!!!

My grand-father’s cottage in Saint-André-Avellin. I spent all my summers there as a kid.

Swimming, fishing, boating.., many hours were spent here

Goulash, that I made for my grandpa!

Myself and my bear-fighting uncle, the day after it happened!

I came back to Montreal two weeks later, as my friend Johan and his wife were having a kind of south-american party at their place. Eduard made the national Colombian meal (bandeja paisa) and we had tons of beer and metal. So fun!

Eddie making his specialty beans

The result! The yellow things are fried plantains

Our table! From left to right: François, Greicy, Johan and Eduard

Eduard looks like a Colombian Halford, no?

The beautiful river that is right beside Johan’s apartment. We are on the Laval side (a Montreal suburb) – you can see Montreal (other side of river) on the photo

Eddie at the end of the party… hahaha

On Monday, I went to see my friend Aurélie’s new apartment – and meet my friend Guillaume. Aurélie is a French girl who lived in Finland for more than 10 years. She decided to move to Montreal, and arrived just a couple of weeks ago. Guillaume is a metal maniac, and I met him at my metal DJ nights in Montreal.

Aurélie and Guillaume

Her apartment is only something like 15 minutes walking from mine, so I came back home by foot. It was late in the night, and I passed in front of this Montreal institution…

Massage aux 4 mains! It’s actually a really sketchy “massage” parlour opened 24/7. The title translates to “4 hands massage”. There, you can ask for a happy ending at a little extra…

I walked around a lot in Montreal with François, exploring the city which changed just a little bit since we left. We’re really happy to be back here, this city really suits our style of living! Nice green areas, mixed with international flavors and beautiful urbanscapes. I love Montreal!

The financial district of Montreal

Old Montreal

Chinatown

The gay village

François drinking beer at our favourite bar, the Katacombes!

Normal poutine and Italian poutine at “La Belle Province” restaurant (not very good actually)

We went record shopping also, and went to 33 Tours – probably the record shop with the best LP collection in Montreal! To our surprise, it doubled in size since our last visit!!!!!!!

I was totally surprised to see DWARR re-issues there!

On Friday, August 24th, we finally went to see DEAD CAN DANCE at the Bell Centre, a hockey stadium here in Montreal. It’s not the best place to host this kind of show, but luckily we were seated quite close to the stage, so we had a good seat. There were some drunken idiots right next to me though – which kind of soured the beginning of the show (the guy beside me would scream “Liiiiiisa!!! I love you!!!, fall off his chair, sing the melodies, etc…) but then he left. What a relief! I was quite a spiritual experience, and it really ended well our trip – as well as the start of our new life. DCD was a big part of the soundtrack of our trip… but we pretty much only listened to the 80’s and early 90’s albums – which they vastly ignored in their show. Ahh well…!

Dead Can Dance

The next day was the first CAUCHEMAR gig in Canada since 2010! It was organized by my friend Carolina, and featured 4 more incredible bands; METALIAN (local NWOBHM-worship from Montreal), DEMONTAGE (Weird Heavy/Black/Thrash from Toronto), BORROWED TIME (US Heavy Metal, Detroit) and OCCULTATION (Doomy black metal from NYC). It was one hell of a perfect evening, with a large turnout, killer metal, good friends, and no fuck-ups whatsoever! All the bands played flawlessly, and gave all they had. We also played a good set – one of our bests! OCCULTATION really put me in the mood, and I was feeling the magic on stage…

Show flyer

METALIAN! They played only 30 minutes, including a cover of JP’s “Freewheel Burning!!”

BORROWED TIME. What a great band, they songs are catchy as hell, but also really original – in a US HM kind of way! It was an honor to see them live!

Adrian and Paul from DEMONTAGE! They were amazing, a million times tighter than the last time I saw them. They dedicated a cover of SABBAT’s “Satan Bless You” to yours truly… thank you!!

JM, DEMONTAGE’s drummer. The best visually impared drummer I know (and the only one!)

Part of the crowd! The promoter, Caro, is right in the middle of the crowd

OCCULTATION..

…They sounded just like on their records. Dark, evil… great riffs and atmosphere

Cauchemar

Another Cauchemar photo from the gig – taken by Julien Renaud

I spent the next two weeks doing some job searching, house work, as well as cooking (of course). No news from jobs yet, but hopefully the change of season and the return of students to class should open up a few jobs soon. A few days ago, I got an e-mail from my sister, that told me she broke her waters… and about 12 hours later, she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She was 20 days too soon, but she is perfectly healthy!! So we jumped on the bus and went back to Ottawa to see her, and celebrate a little bit. Congrats to the parents, and the grand-parents!!!

Myself with Isabelle, my sister’s first child! She got jaundice after this, but she’s now well and fully recovered!

We took advantage of being in Ottawa again to go visit a part of the downtown area as tourists. Ottawa, which is Canada’s capital, is a beautiful town rich with natural parks and beautiful old British-style buildings. We took a little walk around the capital, and went to the Bytowne market (a food market located right in the middle of town):

Some buildings, as well as theparliament at the back

A totem pole! Usually carved from a single tree, these are usually made by the aboriginal people of the west!

A huge hotel on Rideau street

Maple syrup treats at the downtown market

Huge baskets full of blueberries

Ontario-grown peaches (usually from the Niagara Falls region!)

Summer strawberries… yum

Braided garlic… getting ready for winter already! These apparently last a year!

We also did a bit of shopping at Ottawa’s best independant record shop… Vertigo Records! I found so many good records there, since it opened up, around 9 years ago. I really missed this place!

View of the metal section at Vertigo records!!!

We have done tons of things since… but it’s starting to become a bit repetitive. So, I won’t bore you with that, hehe. The trip is over… now, our new life is starting!

Thanks to all of you for the support throughout those intense months of traveling! Feel free to e-mail us anytime (see contact) if you have any questions or need any tips regarding diy traveling.

Goodbye! Return from the void!


Embrace Cruelty Again

During my 5 days spent at Seb and Nikki’s place in Nuremberg, I didn’t do very much except reply to some e-mails, drink some good local brews and cook good food. These guys have the best kitchen ever, and I totally took advantage of it! I made them a Canadian stew with dumplings, which is something I’ve been eating regularly since I was a kid. It’s basically a carrot/potatoe/beef/onion stew that you cook slowly for a few hours, and at the end, you spoon in some uncooked dough that cooks directly into the stew. The result is this:

Sweet, sweet stew!

We had a good time with Bobby the dog also, he’s so great. I know I have posted photos of him before on this blog, but this one is pretty cute haha:

Count Bobby! He has total natural SARCOFAGO/MAYHEM-style corpse paint!

The whole point of coming back to Germany was because I wanted to go to Hell’s Pleasure, which is a small festival held in Possneck – kind of close to Berlin, but more to the east. I’ve been hearing for years about this extreme metal fest, and finally I was able to go this year before coming back to Montreal. I heard many people complain about the line-up this year, but I sincerely thing it was amazing; MORTUARY DRAPE, ANGEL WITCH, THE SKULL (ex-TROUBLE), MIDNIGHT, PROCESSION, SONNE ADAM, MORBUS CHRON, PROCLAMATION, AURA NOIR, SOLSTICE, MIASMAL, NECROWRETCH, UNHOLY, etc… A perfect mix of Heavy Metal, Doom, Black and Death! Really, I think this festival was created for me. It certainly is a reflection of my tastes!
For the first time this summer I did some camping, with some borrowed equipment from Seb and Nikki. My friend Martin from Canada was there, and also let me crash in his tent! (And so did two Romanian buddies when I couldn’t find Martin the first night, haha.) Thanks to you guys I had a killer experience. I think that camping at a festival is a million times better than sleeping in a hotel room. You can put all your newly bought acquisitions, and you can go take a nap if you need to recharge your batteries. It’s really great!

You know what else is great? You can drink beer in cars in Germany. So, on Thursday (the first day of the festival), I did my pre-drinking in Nikki’s car – and was feeling pretty good by the time I arrived at the festival ground, three hours later.

Drinking in cars rule! On top of it, whenever you stop for gas you can go pee and buy more cold beers. It’s like a traveling bar!

Unfortunately, we arrived pretty late on the first/warm up day of the festival. We got to see only half of the headlining band; MORTUARY DRAPE. We actually got lucky to catch them at all because their drummer left them only a week ago!!! They were doing the gig with a session drummer, and he really sounded good. What luck! Anyway, it was amazing to hear them play songs like “Vengeance from Beyond”, which I never thought I would witness one day. So evil, so cryptic, so Italian! It was just what I needed!

MORTUARY DRAPE in Hell’s Pleasure!

Myself with Nikki, Alex (Nikki’s boyfriend), Romanian guys, Danish and Swedish guys then partied until the sun rose… I don’t know what time we went to bed at, but I do know that I woke up with a massive bangover… pretty stupid huh, the festival is just starting. I was dehydrated as hell and was already looking like a mess. I wasn’t alone, really…

German bangovers! hehe

Cool Army van with a great MASTERS’ HAMMER flag! I still need that one!

Some drunken French dude and her friend trying his pulse haha

The first band on Saturday was Irish Death Metal newcomers ZOM! We were actually supposed to catch them playing a basement show in Dublin’s Into the Void records, but it got cancelled. So, here was my second chance! The played a surprisingly morbid set – playing horror-movie style intros for each of their songs, and incorporating them with their riffs. What I really enjoyed from them is their drummer… he was really inventive in the way he played. They just reeked of freshness! Haha! Really a great band to open the festival. I bought their demo from Iron Bonehead records, can’t wait to listen to it!

ZOM guitarist and drummer

ZOM bassist!

In between each band, I ran to the tent area to drink some cheap warm beer. I ended up doing that pretty much the whole festival! I even had a mini keg full of Czech beer, but I don’t know if we fucked it up or something – it was spraying super fast and had no bubbles! In any case, we still tried drinking a bit from it. It tasted like warm beer juice…

Andrei and Radu, my two kickass Romanian friends trying to drink from the evil Czech keg!

Next band I saw was KETZER from Germany, which play possessed Black/Thrash. They were really good and really did a ripping set, but their riffs and song structures was perhaps not original enough for my liking. Nevertheless, what they played – they played with perfection.

Ketzer! They had a really cool red fire effect going on. FIRE!

Next band was VANDERBUYST from the Netherlands. I had missed them both at KEEP IT TRUE and MUSKELROCK, but was determined not to miss them this time! I later kicked myself because I arrived only half-way through their set… and they played some really incredible JUDAS PRIEST/THIN LIZZY style Heavy Metal!

Totally late 70’s/early 80’s style metal heroes VANDERBUYST!

Coming up next was a band I’ve been looking forward to see for years… PROCESSION!! They have certainly been one of my favourite new doom metal bands in the last years, and I have followed them eagerly since their “Burn” demo (when the band was still 100% Chilean). The vocalist/guitarist and main song writer Felipe Plaza relocated to Sweden a couple years ago, where he now plays with local members. I thought their set was really great – but their bassist (which I later found out was a session bassist for this gig) was totally drunk and acting totally careless… he poured blood all over himself and half the notes he played live were wrong! It did sour the feeling of the whole band live, but I still really enjoyed their set. It was so nice to finally hear them live! Felipe has such great vocals, they totally gave me shivers throughout their gig… They also played a new song, which really kicked my ass. I can’t remember the title, I’m sorry!

PROCESSION!

Their session bassist… notice all the different types of booze he was drinking at the left haha

After them were a relatively new Israeli band called SONNE ADAM. They have actually just signed to Century Media  and set to tour with legendary Death Metal band GRAVE but apparently this was their last show with the present line-up! Their excellent vocalist has decided to quit the band as they were getting too big! It’s really too bad, as they were truly brilliant. Actually, I discovered them only this summer while doing record shopping in Germany, but was instantly hooked on their dark and morbid Black/Doom sound (which is quite similar to NECROS CHRISTOS, but without the oriental ). The set was completely evil, and truly mirrored their studio recording. Check them out if you haven’t yet…

Sonne Adam at Hell’s Pleasure

Martin (my Canadian friend) with a totally serious face! This guy is super awesome, I’ve known him for more than 10 years, and we actually come from the same region. (Outaouais valley!)

Barry from Dublin and Maya from Berlin, both looking extremely happy haha

Sun was starting to set a little… next band are the famous Norwegian Black/Thrashers AURA NOIR! It’s funny, I expected them to look like NIFELHEIM or something, but they looked quite plain for what they play haha! Doesn’t really matter anyway, their set was totally fucking great! They played a lot of earlier stuff, which is their best material in my opinion.

AURA NOIR!

View of the crowd and stage with AURA NOIR playing, and the sun setting…

Some metalheads hanging out! The whole place had such a great atmosphere!

As I walked around inside the beer tent to look at band merchandise, I ended up meeting my good friend Jamie/Athenar from MIDNIGHT! I haven’t seen him for something like two years, so it was fun hanging out with him. It was nice to talk to an American too after months of being in South America, Asia and Europe! Haha! He had to go backstage to grab some MIDNIGHT tapes so I followed him, and we ended up meeting Ron Holzner who plays in THE SKULL (and was the original TROUBLE bassist)… he now plays in Chigaco doom metal band EARTHEN GRAVE. Both Athenar and Ron contributed recipes to my cookbook, so it was really cool meeting them at the same time! Ron was super awesome and down to earth, it felt really good talking to him. We were all extremely EXTREMELY excited to see the next band… ANGEL WITCH!

Athenar, myself and Ron! Two great guys and killer musicians! I look like an idiot here, but I was beyond excited for the next band.

So, together, we went in the crowd to watch ANGEL WITCH. They were absolutely mind fucking blowing, seriously, I never thought I had one day the chance to see them! They started with a song off their new album, and then played the whole S/T… Hearing songs like “Confused”,  “Sorcerers”, “Baphomet” (!!!!!!!), “Atlantis”, “White Witch”, “Devil’s Tower” (!!!) and of course, “Angel Witch” was totally out of this world. They were totally amazing, and sounded just like on old recordings (ok, except for really high notes that Kevin can’t reach anymore!!!) Halfway through the set, Ron pulled me to the back of the crowd and introduced me to the rest of THE SKULL, including Eric Wagner! So, together, we sung ANGEL WITCH lyrics and headbanged our heads off. Arghhh!!

ANGEL WITCH!!!

Solo time! Those evil guitar harmonies pumped the blood in my veins…

Another photo! Myself with Ron and Eric, the voice of TROUBLE!

Afterwards was UFOMAMMUTH from Italy, which I kind of missed by talking to people here and there… they did sound really great from where I was standing though! When they finished playing, there was a big party at the beer tent, and everywhere gathered there. It was really fun, but I was starting to feel pretty tired so I didn’t go to bed too too late. I did have some time to party anyway…

Party tent! Look at all that garbage on the floor, arghh!

A drunken photo of my friend Seb as well as Luke (a funny as hell half Australian/half French bastard!!)

Next day, on Saturday Morning, I woke up fresh as a flower in Martin’s tent. We went record shopping, had some deep-fried vegetarian schnitzels (the only way we could eat vegetables was with that!) and then went off to watch the first band of the day…

MIASMAL! These Swedish bastards have been around for a few years now, and have kicked my ass since the release of their self-titled EP. They were excellent live, and delivered some high-quality old-style Death Metal with tons of nice d-beats and total morbid riffing. I really enjoyed them!

Martin and our vegetable schnitzels and hot beers!

Miasmal guitarists

Miasmal bassist and drummer!

Cool totally ripped up and abused SAXON backpatch

Next band was Swedish Heavy/Rock band HORIZONT, which I missed due to doing a bit of socializing again. It’s hard to be there for every band, all day long! I also went for a little 15-minute power nap, during ASSAULTER, arghhh! I went to hang out with some friends, and among them was Daniel from Norwegian speed metal band DEATH HAMMER. He was so funny and wasted, he kept on listening to his portable tape deck with a mix tape in it. At some point, he dropped it on the floor and it broke, and then he fixed it and was happy as ever.

Daniel, doing as close as possible as a smile! That guy was so happy to see me. He saw CAUCHEMAR twice before our on tour, although he doesn’t speak French, he knows the chorus to “Les Ailes de la Mort” perfectly!

Coming up was Swedish Death Metallers MORBUS CHRON, which I again discovered this summer, through Jerry’s label, DETEST RECORDS. The band was a total revelation, and set me straight through hell and back! They had a very original sound, while still being totally old-style cryptic doomy Death Metal, a bit like AUTOPSY. The vocalist especially was totally fucking twisted, he had a total look of disgust, but at the same time was smiling… he reminded me of Dead (ex-MORBID/MAYHEM) for some reason…

Morbus Chron, one of the best bands of the festival!

Morbus Chron vocalist!!!

Next band I saw after that was PROCLAMATION from Spain. They play total bestial Black/Death Metal, in the vein of Canadian masters BLASPHEMY and REVENGE. They were really great live, I banged my head frenetically to their violent beats and insane chaotic riffing. The band looked very cool as well! So many spikes, arghhh!

PROCLAMATION at Hell’s Pleasure!

Possessed by Black/Death!

Afterwards was NECROWRETCH, a killer Death Metal band from France. In fact, Flo, the vocalist/guitarist of SANCTUAIRE is their bassist! He is the one that had organized our gig in Lyon! They were recently signed on Century Media, and had a really demented, totally sick approach. The vocalist, especially, sounded totally insane! I love the extreme reverb he uses on his vocals. Being from France also adds a little something different to the band, they sound old-school but not necessarily Swedish-sounding or anything. A killer band, and a great performance!

Necrowretch from France!!!

Afterwards was Epic Heavy Metal band SOLSTICE from England. To be honest, I was never a huge SOLSTICE fan but I do really enjoy their 1998 record “Dark New Age”, and they incidentally played quite a few songs from there including the amazing “Cimmerian Codex”… their stage performance was not the best and they were a bit static, but I did enjoy them quite a lot anyway. Not a huge fan of the new vocalist though!

Solstice!

My Swedish friend had a weird ruler that would turn into a star when you hit on it…

The festival toilets! The dude that was in the toilet was totally fucking drunk. It was so funny, poor guy, he fell on the ground and took about five minutes to get up… (he looked like a new born animal trying to walk for the first time) and then fell again! The girls had to help him pee I think. It was quite entertaining to see haha

The night was just getting better and better… up next, is one of my favourite bands in the world, US sleezy rock’n’roll Motörhead/Venom worshippers MIDNIGHT!!!!  They are a band I have been venerating for a long time now, since I discovered their album released by Outlaw Recordings in 2005… This is the third time I see them, and they were by far better than the other times… although their early gig was quite legendary – with girls dancing and a huge inverted cross burning on stage!!! Anyway, they were really amazing, and the crowd was totally, totally wild for them. They did quite a few songs from their new album (released on HHR) as well as off their mini LP and earlier stuff. “Satanic Royalty”, “All Hail Hell”, “Unholy and Rotten”, “I Am Violator”, “Long Live Death”, “Black Rock’n’Roll”, “You Can’t Stop Steel” were played, and they even dedicated “Endless Slut” to me!!! Haha. I think they changed it to “Endless (Married) Slut” while saying the song title though. Ahahaha!!! It was too great. They were definitely the best band of the festival for me.

Athenar and Joel from MIDNIGHT! My friend Joel (ex-RAMMER) is playing guitar for the band now, I had no idea he was in the band permanently now. It was so fun seeing him as well!

Joel!

Like last time I saw them, Athenar lit his bass on fire…

And proceeded to smash it to pieces! YES!!!!!!!

Next band was THE SKULL, who consisted (if you read earlier) of Ron Holzner and Eric Wagner of TROUBLE, as well as back-up members. They were really on fire, and seriously, if you would have closed your eyes – you could think that all three early TROUBLE records were spinning live right in front of you. It sounded EXACTLY the same, the same dual guitars, the same voice (although Eric was chainsmoking the whole time!!!!!!!), the same bass patterns… it was absolutely fantastic to see them live. I definitely became a bigger fan after seeing their show!!! I had shivers throughout my body while watching them. It’s crazy how a band with religious lyrics can sound so goddamn MEAN!!! I’d love to see them again, perhaps in Montreal one day hehe

Eric and one of THE SKULL guitarists

Ron totally rocking out!

Chainsmoking Eric Wagner

Run to the Light!!!

After that, I met my friend Ronald From HORRIBLE EYES zine and we went to have some smoked sausages and beers, then went to see UNHOLY from Finland, the last band of the festival. I wasn’t familiar at all with their music, but was absolutely blown away. They played a really strange and doomy form of Black Metal, total Finnish style. They even wore strange hats, that actually kind of really fitted their sound!  They really sucked me into their trance-like sound… I will be checking out their records for sure. A great way to finish the festival!!!

UNHOLY!

A shitty photo of myself and Ronald

The final after-party was then held at the beer tent, with DJing from DJ HIGH VOLTAGE. The music was pretty good, they played alot of good stuff, but no JUDAS PRIEST – arghhh! It was fun though, everyone was really drunk and excited about the killer weekend of pure metal…

Felipe from PROCESSION, Alex from BLACK OATH and Ustu from DENIAL OF GOD at the after-party! So much fun, arghhh

Some guy and Marcelo (Evil Spirit/Voces of Ultratumba prods) sandwiching a poor drunken Ustu haha

As the night went on, I noticed the crowd was thinning in the tent… until there was only a few of us, maniacs left! We ended up not sleeping at all, as by the time I figured out what time it was, it was already 8AM! The sun was up already, and so I tried to find some friends to have more beers with…

The stage at sunrise with a lone maniac on the right

Some guys that were totally still headbanging at around 8 AM!!!

I finally found the Irish quarters where all my Irish friends were installed with their tents. They were already awake and I think they were still pretty drunk. I offered some peanut butter sandwiches to my friends, but only Lorcan accepted it. He also accepted that I cover him with Seb’s beautiful purple blanket. The result was pretty funny:

Lorcan eating a peanut butter sandwich!

He then made me a sandwich with mayonnaise and something else, I don’t really remember. As you can tell by the following photo, I was pretty screwed up haha

NORTHERN SANDWICH ASSAULT!

I didn’t want to, but the party was definitely over… I just had to go and find Seb (my ride), and head back to Nuremberg with him…

People preparing to leave

Drunken guy still sleeping around 11AM. I found this quite funny because there was a bunch of old steaks that were bbq’ed from the night before, but not eaten yet… hahaha

After finding Seb, we rode back to Nuremberg, I finally took a shower (never had hair that dirty before, they felt like dusty straw!!) and then took a night bus to Paris. Over there, I met François, who came back from his 200 km Compostelle walk (in the South of France), and we had a big, well deserved nap at our friend’s Paulin’s place. In the evening, we went out to a restaurant and both had our last supper…

Our last supper at a downtown Paris bistro. I had Steak Tartare (raw beef!) and François had Daurade (white fish). The tartare was actually not that good, but the fries were absolutely DELICIOUS!!!

We then met up with my good friend Nagawika and had a few beers in the 19ième arrondissement  (a Paris neighbourhood) while watching the moon disappear in a beautiful Paris cityscape…

Paulin, Nagawika, Annick and François!

Paris cityscape…

I am now in the airplane on the way back to Montreal! It’s been one hell of a ride, and although I am a bit sad this is over (and sad to leave all the friends I made in Europe and elsewhere), I am incredibly happy to see my family, friends and country again. Oh yeah, and I can’t wait to go home and listen to all of my records and start my whole life over! François is starting his job TOMORROW (!!), the day after we arrive in Montreal, and I will be off for three weeks to do some job searching, portfolio building and other stuff. To those who have followed us on our wild trip – the blog is not over yet… we will update you in a few of weeks with a little bit about our crazy life back in Canada, and how it is coping with normal life again, haha! You have all seen so many cool places around the world, I have of course to show you where we are from…

Paris to Montreal flight!

Until then, thank you to all that I have met… I will miss you so much. Please come and visit us sometime in Montreal!!!!


Transylvanian Hunger

We flew from Paris to Bucharest on “Wizz Airlines”, which in American English translates to “Piss Airlines”, haha, I just can’t help myself but to smile stupidly every time I see their logo:

Wizz Airlines! Good thing their colors are not piss yellow haha

We got really lucky, because in the plane, we met a nice Romanian metal girl who told us tons about her country! Cristina helped us to basically plan our whole trip. Thanks a lot!! She also told us that it would be very hot in Bucharest. I was quite excited because everything has been so cold in Europe so far… but I take it back now. Bucharest was like 40 degrees celcius, and every meter we walked made us sweat a liter.

Bucharest
20-06-2012

Bucharest is Romania’s capital – where most Romanian metal bands come from. It is also where the bloody dictator Ceauşescu reigned, and destroyed a shitload of medieval buildings (1/6th of the city!) to build a huge, costly monument; the House of the People. The city didn’t strike me as being really beautiful, but it certainly had character!

Some guy fishing in a river in the middle of town. I saw many guys doing that, I guess the water isn’t that polluted?

Unirii square. It was supposed to be butt-ugly according to our guidebook, but it looked pretty cool I though!

The House of the People. When it is fully lit, it consumes the same amount of electricity in four hours as the whole city of Bucharest in a day! It was built when the country was extremely extremely poor…

We went to a restaurant called Caru cu Bere, which is apparently the most famous restaurant in Bucharest. It mostly offers tasty Romanian cuisine, inside a beautiful ancient building. I had Sarmale cu mămăligă, wine leaves stuffed with meat, served with soft polenta (some kind of cornmeal). It was so delicious!!! I haven’t had sarmale OR mămăligă this good for the rest of our Romanian trip.

The front of the restaurant

Inside; pretty fancy huh?

Myself and one of the waitresses. Ok, dressing up in traditional costume is kind of cheesy, but ahh well!

My meal. Looks kind of weird, but it was fucking delicious!!

Romania is one of the most religious countries of Europe, and you can see Orthodox churches pretty much everywhere, and in each neighbourhood. I don’t know much about Orthodox Christianity but I do enjoy byzantine and icon art quite a lot, so I was quite happy to explore their rich history here! We went to the patriarchy, who is the heart of Romanian Orthodox Christianity. The building looked really weird, and a bunch of funny looking priests were walking around. We stepped inside the church, and there was a mass going on! Many women had a veil on their heads, and some were doing prostrations. The choirs also sounded quite evil… it was an unusual experience for us; and we didn’t stay very long. Haha!

Patriarchy of Romania

Painted murals outside the church

We also went to the Buna Vestire church in the old center of Bucharest. The inside was richly decorated with gold and with many icons everywhere. Outside, women were praying and were lighting candles. I always wonder why it’s mostly women you see at churches! Do they sin more than men? Haha

Buna Vestire in Bucharest

Inside of the church. Not supposed to take photos, but what the hell! They were doing a little prayer and then going through a doorway to meet with the priest or something.

Icon art

Woman lighting candles and worshipping an icon

Downtown Bucharest was also the ruins of the Voivode Palace (Palatul Voievodal), which was built by Vlad Ţepeş (the impaler). Ţepeş is also the inspiration for Dracula – and is a national hero for having impaled and massacred many many Ottoman invaders. I guess you could say that Romania has influenced metal quite a lot!

Ruins of the Voivode palace from the 14th century

François standing in front of a Vlad Ţepeş statue! They kind of look similar, don’t you think? Haha

So, that’s what we did in our four days in Bucharest! We also were a bit sick (we were both had pretty flashy-coloured mucus) so we didn’t do much else. Except laughing at this funny mall name; Zizi mall. Zizi means penis in French-Canadian. Usually for small boys haha

Zizi mall!

Sinaia
24-06-2012 (morning)

Getting to Sinaia by was really easy and quick. We were excited to visit our first Transylvanian destination! It was raining outside, so it made everything looking a little bit more horror-movie like!! Sinaia is more like a tourist resort – where people come to do skiing in winter and enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the Carpathian mountains. Many nobles found the place suitable for building summer retreats and castles, so we went to visit one of them – the lush Peleş castle, built by Carol 1st. It was actually the first European castle which had electricity!

Coming out of the train station was a view of the smoky Carpathian mountains

One of the many cool-looking retreats built by nobles

Before we got to the castle, we were quite hungry, and had a Transylvanian speciality; Kurtös Kälaks! It means “chimney cake” and actually, it was imported by Hungarians who lived in the region. It’s basically rising dough that is wrapped around a stick, and baked over hot embers. It is usually dusted with sugar and baked until caramelized! It can then be covered with cinnamon, nuts and all sorts of yummy things.

Kurtös kälak being done

François holding the monster. It was so delicious!!!!

So, we ate the whole thing and started ascending Sinaia on the way to the castle. There was a bunch of Rom people selling juicy-looking berries in cute hand-made baskets. I resisted the temptation, I was full anyway! The scenery was startling… it was nice to see a bit of nature.

Carpathian forest around the Peleş castle

The Peleş castle!! Isn’t it so impressive looking?

A door leading to the inside…

We had to pay 15$ to take photos inside, so I didn’t, unfortunately. I just took two sneaky shots before the guards gave me evil eyes:

The weapon rooms! See that sword in the middle of the photo? This sword was used to cut the head off nobles. It was so nobles could live eternal lives. Fascinating!

More weapons! I thought these looked like they could have inspired Tom G. Warrior for HELLHAMMER and CELTIC FROST artwork.

The castle was really beautiful inside – I never visited such a castle (usually they are in ruins!) and I kind of felt privileged to be able to see its insides. We had to wear some kind of shoe covers so we wouldn’t ruin the carpets. Everything looked so rich inside, it was really crazy! But I wonder, these people probably didn’t have much fun… everything was so proper and well-mannered and all.  They had secret passages in EVERY room so the servants could appear and disappear without the guests knowing!!

Anyway, we had to leave after visiting the castle because we had get to Braşov, which was only a couple of hours away…

Braşov
24-06-2012 (evening)

We arrived in Braşov just in time for dinner. It was Sunday and everything was closed, except for some touristic restaurant near our hostel. We deserved a nice big meal after our day of sightseeing, so we ordered two Romanian specialities:

Tochitură; fried pork, mămăligă (polenta) and fried egg. A really kickass combo.

Sarmale (stuffed cabbage – this time), with pan fried cabbage, grilled ham and mămăligă

The food was much blander than at the restaurant we went to in Bucharest, but it was still very satisfying. We also tried a dark Romanian beer, Ursus Black:

Ursus Black. Pretty tasty and surprisingly refreshing!

The square near where we lived was very pretty; it had historical buildings including the first Romanian school, as well as a really epic-looking church from the 1400’s

The Unirii piaţa with a cool building

Saint-Nicholas church, never seen such architecture before!

Transylvanian cat hanging out around the square

Transylvanian snail

Saint-Nicholas church at another angle, with a cemetery. Photo taken right before a storm at sundown!

Our hostel was really nice in Braşov; our breakfast was huge, we had a free beer every day, and they had a really cute and insanely HUGE sheepdog as a pet. That monster dog breed is named “Mioritic Shepard Dog” and they are ancient ones that came from the Carpathian mountains. It must have been around 33 inches tall, and the biggest dog in the world is 35 inches tall! I was beyond impressed.

Myself with Lord, the hostel sheepdog

François with the doggie. The photos really fail to show how big and impressive he really was.

We did quite a lot of exploring in the city – mostly staying in the heart of the medieval part of town. We went to visit the Piaţa Sfatului (centre of the town), and its gothic-style Black Church. This part of town was actually the last place in Europe to be where witches were judged and burnt down!

The Black Church seen from a little mountain. It’s not really THAT black I know, it was named that way after a fire about 400 years ago.

We were lucky enough to be there for an organ concert in that very church. They only played about 45 minutes, but the organist was on fire!!!! He played four pieces, Andante and Fantasie by Mozart, as well as Choralvorspiel/Preludiu de coral and Praeludium und Fuge by Bach. It was bone-chilling, and totally François and myself goosebumps. Imagine hearing such evil-sounding organ in a gothic Black Church amidst Carpathian mountains in the middle of Transylvania. It couldn’t get cooler than that.

The organ and inside of the Black Church.

We also went to see some medieval towers and fortifications that were built to protect the city against Ottoman invaders. They weren’t that impressive, but it was cool to see anyway:

The Black Tower. Another one that doesn’t look black! I wonder what’s the story behind that one… I just know that it’s really old haha

Part of fortifications around the old part of the city. Notice the “Brasov” Hollywood-style name in the mountain at the back!

This funny toilet was beside the tower. I love how it’s written “Hell” on it haha, I didn’t test if it was really hellish inside… or perhaps it was an obscure gate to hell?

Near Braşov is the small village of Bran, where stands the Bran castle – misleadingly named “Dracula castle”. Vlad Ţepeş never had anything to do with that quite recent castle (he was from the 1400’s!) but it looks so evil that it was named that way. Sadly, we couldn’t really see it because it was shrouded beneath a mini-forest. We knew it was a tourist trap, but we still went because I wanted to buy some cool souvenirs haha

The Bran castle – the only angle we found that we could aptly see the castle architecture

Door entering the Bran castle…

The interior was really disappointing and pretty much useless. It looked like a half-ass attempt on showing the inside of a castle. It seriously looked like it was a school project or something! And yet, we paid something like 8$ to enter. A real rip-off.

The only cool room in the castle. The rest was quite boring, especially after the previous castle we visited!

François climbing the stairs of a not-so-secret secret passage.

On top of that, the souvenirs were not that cool! They were really non-imaginative and 90’s looking Dracula paraphernalia. The t-shirts were ugly, everything was really amateur looking. The only pretty cool thing I found was a Vlad Ţepeş beer and plate set. Haha

Vlad Ţepeş porcelain

Now, onward to our next destination…

Sighişoara
29-06-2012

We took a slow train, and arrived in the Transylvanian medieval town of Sighişoara in early afternoon. The temperature was absolutely hot, and we had to climb the stairs to the citadel with our bags. Not fun! But we arrived to a nice little hotel, which had a beautiful garden and some comfortable beds.

The cheapest train we could find, leading us to Sighişoara. Didn’t smell too good inside with all the heat.

The citadel part of Sighişoara was small and we could visit it in 15 minutes, really. It was nice to walk around to relax and discover colourful medieval houses. This rich historical centre has also been classified Unesco since it is the last inhabited medieval citadel in Europe, and one of the best preserved.

Welcome to Sighişoara!

The clock tower (back) and some houses

More buildings and a bright moon

Sighişoara is Vlad Ţepeş’ birthplace, and his childhood home is still standing. Unfortunately, it’s been turned into a cheesy Dracula-style cafe, with bland overpriced food. Still cool to be able to see it though:

Vlad Ţepeş’ home until he was 4 years old!

Outside the cafe was a totally lame looking Dracula who was posing for tourists. I couldn’t resist the temptation… what a horrible makeup job though! Haha

Vlad the Imposter

Another Vlad Ţepeş statue. They really love him there!

A day before, François got some incredible news from home… he actually got offered a really good job at his old workplace in Montreal – therefore, we are already set for when we come back to Canada. What good news!!!! To celebrate, we went to a semi-fancy restaurant, which served some nice traditional Romanian food:

Mutton on mămăligă – the mutton was really tasty, but the mămăligă was a bit bland

Duck leg served on pan-seared cabbage… yum

A weird thing happened on the second day. A Swedish guy with a sleeve full of morbid tattoos and an Amebix shirt arrived in our dorm room. We were surprised! Not only have we been alone in dorms since we started travelling in Romania, but this was the first time since the beginning of this trip that a total stranger and fellow traveler had exactly the same musical tastes as us!!! He even was in Muskelrock and loves pretty much the same metal and punk that we do. His name was Viktor, and together we had many beers, and we hiked to an ancient oak conservation park.

Myself and Viktor. I’m excited because of the huge cotton candy I’m holding in my hands. I know, not very metal…

Oak park. According to our guide, some oaks there are as old as 800 years!

François and Annick “under the oak”.

Daniel told us something that kind of fucked the rest of our trip in Romania. He told us that SAINT VITUS, one of our favourite bands ever, were playing in a few days in Budapest, the capital of Hungary. We looked at our things, crossed out some cities we wanted to visit, looked at train schedules, booked flight tickets and the next day, we took a bus to the town of Targu Mures, then flew to Budapest…

Budapest, Hungary
03-07-2012

Myself in front of a Dead Can Dance show flyer (going to see them in Montreal at our return!!!)

Budapest felt like a little bit like Prague, which we visited 5 years ago. The buildings are decorated with finely sculpted ornaments, and the food was a bit similar… but more expensive (at least in our neighbourhood). We could easily spent 30$ on a meal, which is a big change from Romania – which cost us 10$ similar food! We really wanted to explore its culinary side, but we simply couldn’t afford to eat out all the time – so we had tons of sandwiches, haha. We did try a their very famous goulash soup and beef stew though!

Goulash soup. Not as good as Czech goulash, but not really comparable either. It’s spicy, greasy and full of paprika goodness! I enjoyed it, even though the 8$ price left me a bit of a sour taste.

Beef stew with “pulled” noodles. This was really good, especially the noodles – when soaked in the stew sauce

Some very funny BATHORY slices we found in a food store!!

The Saint Vitus gig was the day after we arrived in Budapest, and in the afternoon before the show, we relaxed the whole day at the beautiful Gallért baths, which is one of Budapest’s most famous spa (what a way to get ready for a show!!) So, we stayed 5 hours bathing and relaxing in rich thermal water, filled with minerals and other goodies… only to ruin it all by banging our heads like maniacs and drinking like fishes!!

Gallért baths, Budapest

Myself with my bathing hat, in the exfoliating pool

The show was at the A38, which is a boat-venue located on the Danube river. At sun set, we walked there from our hostel, armed with pre-drinking beers and singing Saint Vitus songs. We imagined how the show would be… would they sing Burial at Sea?

François on the side of the Danube, doing some pre-drinking with a cheap Hungarian beer

The boat-venue! It was a really cool place to hold concerts!

We were there pretty early as usual, so we hung out and talked to people around. I noticed SAINT VITUS hot sauce (!), which is hand-made by their roadie. They were selling them for a lot of money, but you could trade them for some amusing stuff:

Saint Vitus hot sauce trade

They were also selling a tom skin, filled with funny drawings and signatures:

Saint Vitus tom skin

But the coolest was a pink (!) “Born Too Late” shirt, which was François’ dream for years! Unfortunately, he tried it on, and it looked really really bad on him, so we didn’t buy it…

Saint Vitus merch table

There were three Hungarian bands that opened the show; WALL OF SLEEP, MAGMA RISE and a third one that I forgot. They were ok, but didn’t really have a stage presence or really insane riffs that made me go crazy. Perhaps they were a bit too influenced by the Southern Rock scene. Baah. no problem, I was keeping all my power for the Vitus anyway! Finally, after a few hours, they started playing. It was unbelievable… I saw them twice before in festival settings, but I never saw them from that close, in a smaller venue like this. The sound was loud, and I basically had the whole band playing right in my face… arghhh! On the left of me was a Spanish couple, which I discovered were the roommates of my friend Dopi of MACHETAZO! What a coincidence! So together with François, we headbanged the hell out of our poor necks.

Henry and Wino

Dave Chandler

Dave Chandler soloing! See how close I was??

Dave Chandler rocking his cry baby pedal

A very possessed Wino and Mark Adams

Henry, beating his drums to death

The band was really on fire, they ripped a really incredible set, playing songs like “Clear Windowpane”, “Born Too Late”, “Dying Inside”, “Saint Vitus”, “White Stallions” (they played it twice as fast, I almost shit my pants haha, it was so good!), “Living Backwards”, “Let Them Fall” (from the new album), as well as two other songs from the last record. But no “Burial at Sea”… the manager later told me that there are certain songs they wouldn’t play in some situations… haha! Chandler was playing with his mouth as usual, and even used the Spanish girl’s hair for soloing. He later thanked her by dropping his guitar pick in her shirt. What a gentleman! Hahahaha

After they played, the band members went inside the crowd and talked with the fans. Dave Chandler actually recognized me from the cover of Hellbent for Cooking (!!) and was so excited, he took a photo with me to show his wife! Apparently, he worked in a herb or natural store or something, that distributes it. It was weird to be taken in photo like this haha! We also talked a bit with Wino, who had a Blue Oyster Cult conversation with François (he was wearing the shirt)… After that, we got together with the Spanish couple and went for some post-drinking! We stopped at some Janis Joplin pub, had a huge beer, then bought some more cans in a convenience store. Let’s just say that I was beyond hungover the next day haha

Drinking at the Janis Joplin pub in Budapest!

Speaking of being beyond hungover, I woke up with a bruise on my eye. I think I accidently knocked my head on an amp or something. It looked pretty cool anyway haha. Battle scars!

Saint Vitus black eye

So, we only had one day left in Budapest before we went back to Romania. We had to do SOME touristic thing at least, so we walked around and discovered the city. We ended up walking something like 10 kilometers, being hangover as hell, and in the extreme heat. It actually helped to walk that much, I was feeling way better at the end of the day! We started by visiting the impressive parliament building, which has been built in a gothic style. It looked really cool from up close – with gargoyles and really realistic looking statues of all sorts of characters:

Budapest parliament building with the Danube river in front

We then walked up the castle hill and saw the dominant neo-gothic church of St-Mathias, which we didn’t enter (it was 5$ – screw that). The outside was nice though, especially the patterns on the roof! Never seen something like that before. Around were some sculptures and statues of kings and even some sort of Viking-looking men…

St-Mathias Church, Budapest

Cool guy on a horse statue

Some Viking-looking men! I don’t know too much about Hungarian history as we were in a hurry in and out of the country, but I was quite surprised to see that. Are they what they call the “magyars”?

We also saw the outside of the palace, but it was pretty uninteresting. It might not seem like alot, but I can say that it was really difficult with our monster hangovers to walk in the heat like that haha. Ahh well.

Cluj Napoca
06-07-2012

The following day, we took an early train over to Cluj Napoca, in Romania, which took about 9 hours to arrive. What really sucked about it was that the air conditioning was broken in second class, so we were in something like 40 degrees for a big part of it. We couldn’t do anything, we were just baking under all that heat. When we crossed the Hungarian border, the staff took pity on us and moved us to the first class, where there was nice air conditioning. Ouf!

Cluj is a modern youthful city with one of Europe’s largest universities. We only had half a day to explore it, but what I’ve seen was pretty cool! I especially enjoyed the large Orthodox cathedral – which had many byzantine-styled mosaics in the inside. We also found a cheap restaurant next to our hostel that served really really nice food for real cheap.

The Cluj Orthodox church. Not that impressive on the outside…

But very cool on the inside! That artwork was actually a mosaic. It was incredible!

Some buildings downtown Cluj

The restaurant made everything totally by hand, including pickles. They are some of the best pickles I’ve ever had, and honestly, it really makes me feel like doing some when I come back home! They also served green tomato pickles, which were particularly delicious.

Lentil soup with smoked ham and green tomato pickles in the background

Schnitzel smothered in cheese and then deep fried!

Infamous pickles. Wish I could have some now…

The hostel we picked in Cluj was not very well laid out. We picked a 8-bed dorm, but there was another 10-bed dorm attached to it. We had a toilet in our dorm, as well as the exit – so you can just imagine the kind of highway our room was the whole night! It was really shitty and I barely slept that night. Anyway, our next destination is the region of Maramureş, which was another good 5 hours in an oven-train. Haha! I never sweated so much in my life!

Maramureş
 07-07-2012

Maramureş is the most northern part of Romania. A little bit more north, and it’s Ukraine! We went there basically to soak in nature, and see the more rural side of Romania. In fact, this region is quite famous for its timeless villages, traditional wooden churches, beautiful mountain landscape and its merry cemetery.

We started by staying in Baia Mare – the biggest city in the region, and then taking a mini-bus to the countryside. We found a guesthouse in a tiny village called Breb, which apparently hasn’t changed very much in hundreds of years. We had to walk two kilometres to reach our guesthouse, since the bus didn’t directly go to it:

For lunch in Baia Mare, had some plačinta; deep-fried cheese and dill stuffed bread.

On the way to Breb, in the Romanian countryside.

The only street in Breb and some little houses

One of the two village churches! The village probably has 100 houses, but it has two churches. So weird.

The church entrance which was fully carved in wood

A little lady transporting some stuff around. All the ladies dressed that way – with the veil on their hair and a medium-length skirt. If the skirt was long and colourful, it’d be a gypsy.

Our guesthouse was absolutely fantastic. Although it was quite expensive (50 euros per night!) we got a gigantic breakfast and a rich dinner every night, as well as never ending alcoholic drinks. It was so peaceful at night, it felt good to be able to have real nights of sleep!

Our guesthouse, made in wood in the local style

François hanging out on the porch

Our room. It was fully decorated with traditional handiwork from the region!

The food was excellent – although very rich (we were craving veggies after staying three days haha). And of course, you always had to take a shot of ţuică (plum moonshine) before each meal. This region is very famous for its extremely strong ţuică. In fact, I think they call it palinca when it reaches a certain degree of alcohol! That was one flammable, so it was pretty fucking strong haha

The drinks! The bottle with reddish liquid in it is actually filled with a mix of ţuică and red berry syrup. The bottle with the ladder in it is the strong as hell ţuică.

Taking a shot! It burns like hell, but it actually tastes really good!

The meals themselves would always start with a soup, a main meal and then a light dessert. The best were always the soups – I think it’s the Romanian specialty. The best soup (which I couldn’t stop eating) was this one:

Ciorba de legume – veggie soup with pieces of beef. I had like 4 bowls.

Other kickass meals were legs of chicken served on chicken pilaf rice, stuffed cabbage and mămăligă stuffed with cheese!

Tender chicken legs

Mămăligă with cheese. The brown things are smoked pieces of lard that have been roasted. Best part of the dish haha

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the epic breakfasts we had every morning. They consisted of veggies with home-made ham, fresh cheese with dill, fresh bread, home-made jam, coffee, tea, fresh milk (straight from the cow haha) and PANCAKES! What a way to wake up in the morning, damn!

Breakfast at our guesthouse

We chose that specific guesthouse because they rented bikes as part of a “friendlier-environment” thing. I don’t know what I was thinking, bus when we saw the mountains, we knew it was not very bike friendly… nevertheless, we still did a day of biking. We walked half the time, and the other half, went down crazy slopes! It was actually quite fun!!!

Myself with my bike in the Romanian countryside. I got a sunburn that day. I’ve never been this dark in my life haha

So we drove our bikes an hour and a half to the village of Deseşti, to see its famous wooden church of the Holy Paraskeva. Built in 1770, and classified Unesco in 1995, it might look small and innocent on the outside, but the inside is really impressive…

Wooden church of Deseşti

A few crosses in its cemetery

The inside is fully painted by an artist called Radu Munteanu, and its colourful iconography includes scenes from the Old and New Testament… It was also decorated with traditional crafts and many ancient icons. It was really awesome to see all of that…

A chandelier, giving the church a sinister lighting…

The ceiling

Icons

Apparently, a quite valuable icon…

A doorway inside the church (and François in the background!)

Representation of Hell

A beheading about to take place

Myself inside of the church

We met a really nice French family who invited me to come with them a little bit further in the north to visit a market as well as the infamous Merry Cemetery. I was beyond stoked – I had kind of given up on going because we either had to rent a car or go with a guide… and both was too expensive for us. So, we woke up early and started with the Sighetu Marmatei market!

We crossed this guy on the way to the market. Half of the people there used horse carriages, it’s really cool to see!

Another dude on a carriage

Veal for sale

Horses for sale

A woman selling home-made cheese. She found it hilarious that I wanted to take a photo of her cheese shack!

Woman making some hand-made rugs and selling them. She was really nice, but we didn’t buy from her. Didn’t really like the style haha

After that, we went to the Merry Cemetery in Săpânta. So, what’s so merry about this cemetery? In 1935, a craftsman and woodcarver had the idea to lay aside the sadness and dark aspects related to death by adding witty poems related to the person’s life on their grave. He died in the late 70′s, but his work was carried on by one of his apprentices. The result is a really colourful cemetery with curious drawings of the deceased! Only one of these cemeteries exist in the world, so it is very unique and was very interesting to visit. I couldn’t read what was written on the tombs, but according to my guidebook, one of them went like “Here lays my step mother/If she wouldn’t have died/It would have been me” – which I found really funny!

Săpânta’s Merry Cemetery

The apprentice painting a tomb

A guy ringing some gigantic bells with his feet

Obviously, this dude has not had a happy ending

This one my friend translated for me… it says “ţuică is pure poison/It brings pain and suffering, So it did to me/Brought me to the grave, Who likes ţuică a lot/Will end up like me, Because I loved ţuică/I died with ţuică in hand” I love how death is reaching out for the deceased one! Haha

Săpânta also apparently has Europe’s tallest wooden church. It’s actually pretty recent (2003 I think?) but its size is very impressive! It’s unbelievable that it’s all been made with wood…

Săpânta’s wooden church

Details of the roof work. Apparently these tiles have to be changed every 20 years or something? What a pain in the ass haha

On the way back, we stopped to do a bit of groceries for the French family. I saw some funny items that I couldn’t help but take a photo of…

Bottled crap! It’s actually fish eggs or something.

Vlad ţuică!!! The slogan was “The spirit of Transylvania…” haha

We came back to Baia Mare for a night, and then took the plane to Bucharest (as it was like 15 hours away and we simply didn’t have time to travel all the way there!)

Our plane heading to Bucharest. The view of the mountains was so beautiful, with the rising sun and all!

Bucharest (part 2!)
13-07-2012

We were hosted by our friend Andrei for our last couple of days in Romania, and we had a really good time together! We listened to music (SLAUGHTER!!! AUTOPSY!!), did some cooking and drinking, and we went to Bucharest’s cemetery. I wanted Andrei to taste poutine, so I made one of the Italian varieties:

François and Andrei eating Italian poutine. That damn thing took like two hours to cook, due to having a stove that did not heat properly!

I also made some sort of mushroom goulash with a full bulb and a half of garlic. It was really good, I will definitely make some again!!

Mushroom goulash with Hungarian-style pulled noodles!

On Friday night, we went to Private Hell, which is apparently the best metal bar in Bucharest. They played really bad songs, but I told them it was my birthday and wrote them a big playlist. It was brilliant when they started playing it!!! But then we got the hell out when it was done haha, all they played was modern metal…

Myself and Andrei fighting after a few beers

On Thursday, Daniel, Andrei’s young 13-year old NWOBHM fanatic brother, came to join us at the apartment, and then we went to visit the city’s biggest cemetery. It was a nice cemetery – just like I like them. Lots of vegetation and worn out tombstones! They even had some traditional graves scattered here and there:

Traditional Romanian-style graves

Another one, with the all-seeing eye!

Contrary to that Merry Cemetery I’ve been to in the north, sadness was represented here. I tried to make this one merry…

Yay! Death!

There’s also a very special tomb of a young girl called Iulia Hasdeu. Andrei told me that this little girl was a real genius – she wrote many poem books, knew seven languages and was incredibly talented. But she left the world too early; she died at 18 of tuberculosis. Apparently, her father got in touch with her through a medium, and she dictated him exactly how he wanted him to build a castle (including decorations and everything) as well as her grave! And that’s the result…

Grave of Iulia Hasdeu. Her skull has been stolen once, but retrieved. Andrei told us that she some sort of Romanian “Melissa”!

We then took a photo of all of us in front of some cool-looking grave thing. A security guard was carefully watching us so we don’t do any desecrations… haha

François, myself, Daniel and Andrei

The next day, I woke up at 3AM, jumped on a plane for Germany, and here I am – in Nuremberg at my friend Seb and Nikki’s place! In a few days, I shall be going to Hell’s Pleasure, then take a bus to Paris and head home back to Canada… only a week is left before the end of our trip, arghhh!!!


Welcome to Hell

We arrived a few days earlier to Nakntes, which is located only a few kilometers away from Clisson (the site where Hellfest festival was going to take place for three days). Consequently, we had some time to visit a little, and do a few touristic things. Actually, we were living quite far from the center (all the cheap hotels in the area were already rented out!) so we only visited two things; the Ducs de Bretagne castle, as well as the huge central cathedral. The castle itself was nicely built in a renaissance style (I think?), but like usual – we didn’t visit the inside because it was too expensive. I still prefer old ruined medieval castles though, they have seen much more action, hehe

The outside of the Ducs de Bretagne castle. I love how they still kept the water around it!

Architecture of the castle

The cathedral itself is really huge, and was partially rebuilt a few decades ago due to a big fire destroying a big chunk of it. Luckily, its most interesting part remained… the tomb of François II, the last duke of Brittany, which features some alchemical symbols and carvings. France is cool for that, you can find symbolism hidden in many large cathedrals – including Notre Dame de Paris…

The tomb of François II

We then walked around a little… all there was really, in the center, were shops and restaurants. I did eat a really nice raspberry flavoured meringue and was tempted by another kouing amann (see previous post!) but that’s it!

The streets of Nantes

On Friday, we went straight to our guesthouse (ran by two lovely people) and then to the festival site. Our hosts were really friendly, and made a killer filling breakfast everyday!

A nice filling breakfast before a day of metal is very appreciated hehe

So anyway, our arrival at the site was pretty crazy. I’ve never experienced such a HUGE festival (112 000 people in three days) and there were metal fans and “metal cars” everywhere. Cars with band logos and graffitis, empty beers everywhere. We even spotted a guy that was completely dead drunk, and that was on the first day – at about 3PM!!!

The entrance to the site! You don’t see it very well, but the middle pillar said “Welcome to Hell” hehe

A dead drunk guy in a very lethargic pose, right in the middle of the afternoon

Right when I stepped in the festival site, I met my friend Seb – who was at our Marseille gig a few weeks earlier. He brought me a copy of SCANDANAVIAN METAL ATTACK 1 compilation, which I’ve been looking for, for a long time! He also gave me some cool old magazines as well as an ENFER mag patch!!! Killer!

Myself and Seb with my new score! Thank you Seb!

Hellfest also had a GIANT metal market, which had two really killer stalls selling cheap second hand vinyl… I went a bit crazy there, and bought almost an entire section of really good and hard to find 80′s French metal LP’s – as well as some other goodies haha

OK, half of these are not that rare, but it is still a really killer haul I think! I just wish I could listen to them arghh

Other Hellfest goodies! I even found Dying Embrace (India)’s 7″!!

First band I saw was Discharge, who I saw from the distance and didn’t pay that much attention sadly, because I was talking to a few friends from Canada that I haven’t seen in a long time. All I remember hearing was “It’s No TV Sketch” and “Society’s Victim”. Ahh well. Next band I saw was GBH, which were really fucking great!!! I never realized that much before, but hearing them live – I couldn’t believe how much VOÏVOD took influence from them for their early material!!! I was really excited when they played “City Baby Attacked By Rats”… I was even able to take a few photos from up close:

Colin Abrahall, GBH vocalist

I then saw Bill from AMULET hanging out, and took a photo of him. Don’t know what he was doing haha… check out his insane KING DIAMOND shirt!!

Bill of Amulet

In the evening, the site of Hellfest really took life. All the structures were randomly spitting fire, and there were cool light effects everywhere…

A part of the Hellfest site. The black containers you see on the right were Hellfest merchandise booths… I never saw so much merch for an event. They were selling everything from belts to glasses! Weird! (And yeah, it was raining pretty bad all day)

We even spotted Obélix!

In the evening, we went to see MEGADETH. It was the second time that I got to see them, and I didn’t really get into their show this time… really, I was just getting warmed up for the day’s ultimate band… KING DIAMOND!!!!!

Megadeth! Check out those amps! Most likely all empty inside hehe

Seeing KING DIAMOND was one hell of an event. He was only playing two gigs – Hellfest and Sweden Rock, so we were incredibly lucky to be able to see this one. It was truly incredible – everything from the stage decorations, to the acting and light effects were perfect. And what can I say about King’s voice… it was absolutely perfect. He quit smoking a few years ago, and he even surprised himself on how well he could sing apparently, haha!

At first, the stage had a big black gate, which eventually opened. At the far right is a girl who was doing really evil harmonies with King Diamond!!

It was raining quite a long during the set, but it just added more to the atmosphere… and it rinsed off the nasty sweat off of our hair hahaha

The rain during King’s set

They played some well known material, but also some very obscure stuff! They only did one MERCYFUL FATE song, “Come to the Sabbat”, but that’s alright. Some of the songs played were “The Family Ghost”, “Sleepless Nights”, “The Candle”, and “Black Horsemen” (as the encore!!)

KING! Isn’t that the coolest and most impressive stage decoration you’ve ever seen???

Hell yes!

We got home at about 4AM that night… all the taxis were taken so we ended up hitchhiking our way back to the village and then walking 3 kilometres to our guesthouse, in pitch black darkness. It felt like a zombie movie or something. I can just assure you that we slept like babies (baby zombies?) hahaha

The following day, we arrived just in time at the site to see one of my favourite recent bands, NECROS CHRISTOS, who right away put me in a trance (and sometimes in a headbanging frenzy!)…

Necros Christos! Check out that huge cross on the ceiling!!

Their set started with some Indian inspired music, which set the mood for the ritual. The sound wasn’t the best (the bass was quite loud from where I was standing) but I still recognized the songs very well. They played “Doom of Kali Ma”, “Impure Burials Prevail” and “Black Mass Desecration” among many others, and cut the set in two with an invigorating oriental-style piece. Really a killer band – I would love to see them in a small stage!

The crowd

Necros Christos, again

Total change of atmosphere… the next band was none other than URIAH HEEP. We were quite excited for them, and they played classics after classics! “Sunrise”, “Gypsy” and “Easy Livin’” were played – as well as newer stuff. In fact, they played a song called “Into the Wild” from their last album – which truly surprised me… it had one hell of a catchy riff in it. It’s so rare that old bands like this are still able to write good songs! I will pick up their record in the future.

Uriah Heep! At first we were very close, but the sound was muddy so we went further away (and it was much better hehe)

After this was a long wait until the next band we wanted to see (Saint Vitus!). I think we had like four hours to kill or something! We were standing beside one of the big stages when out of nowhere, we saw a shitload of people with doom metal shirts. I was wondering what was going on, until somebody told me there was a Saint Vitus signature session. It’s cool to see so many French doomsters, actually, it’s nice to see people with good taste in such a huge crowd! I quickly took a photo of the band:

Saint Vitus signature session. Didn’t get any signature, I’m not too much into that stuff anymore!

After that, we went to take a nap in a forest-y part of the site, where everyone goes to sit down. We met up with a Canadian friend and we talked a little, and then doze off. When we woke up, we were hungry – so we had some shitty “Mexican” food at one of the stalls. It was basically canned beans mixed with canned tomatoes and minced beef, shoved in a flour tortilla. Not good, but at least it filled us up! They had nicer stuff though, but we wanted to keep our money for beer and records haha

The forest-y part of the site

The two main stages with the crowd

Food stalls

Grilling meat… it was like 8 euros for a sandwich with that in it. Too much!

An hour before SAINT VITUS started playing, we parked ourselves in front of the stage with some beer, and waited. François and myself were right in front, and around us were a bunch of other fanatics – it was a really nice atmosphere! Actually, we were surrounded by the guys of FORSAKEN, as well as Charlène, a friend from Rennes (we met her when we played a gig there). Collectively, we sung each word and got shivers during Dave Chandler’s mighty solos… it was the second time I’ve seen them, and they were just as good – if not better (!!!) than last time. I think they were the second best band of the fest for me. They played “Clear Windowpane” (fuck I love that song), “Dying Inside”, “Mystic Lady”, two songs from their last album, and of course “Born Too Late”. Last time I saw the, in 2008, they played “Saint Vitus” and “Burial at Sea” – and I wish they would have played them again, but that’s what you get when you don’t have that much time. I wish they could have played 5 hours!

Wino and Mark

Dave Chandler!

Near the end, Dave jumped into the crowd and kept on playing his possessed solos… really intense guy

About an hour later was a small dilemma… I had to choose between watching ENTOMBED and THE DEVIL’S BLOOD. I chose to see both! Already the tent where ENTOMBED was playing was completely full, and I had to watch them from a distance. There was a strange guy that was probably on ecstasy, dancing weirdly at their songs. I should have filmed him, it was ridiculous! I tried to go past him to take a few photos, and I wasn’t able to go very far as the crowd was thick as hell…

Furious ENTOMBED fans!

Entombed! I wish I could also see them in a smaller, more intimate stage.

I could only catch a few songs, and the only one I recognized was “Revel in Flesh”. The sound was shit and I was tired of that dancing guy, so I went to the valley (the smallest tent on the site), where the Devil’s Blood were playing.

As I wasn’t freezing like at Muskelrock, I was able to concentrate more on the music. I felt they were very good, better than at Muskelrock. Perhaps also because I was getting more familiar with the songs (I am not a big fan of material after Come, Reap)! They played a magical set, full of songs that possessed the crowd… they did “The Time of No Time Evermore”, “Fire Burning” and of course “Christ or Cocaine”!

The Devil’s Blood

Selim Lemouchi, founding member of the cult!

The mouth!

Another view of the band…

The next day (best day of the festival), we arrived early to the festival to see one of my favorite NWOBHM bands… GIRLSCHOOL! And the best thing about it was that they were celebrating their record Hit and Run (I think they re-recorded it or something?) so they played tons of songs from there!!! They started with “Demolition”, and then went on to “C’mon Let’s Go”, “The Hunter” (my favorite GIRLSCHOOL song ever, arghhh I was so excited!!!!!), “Hit and Run”, “Watch your Step”, “Yeah Right”, “Run with the Devil” and finished with “Emergency”. They did a newer song dedicated to Dio, but 98% of the set was pure classics. I was beyond stoked!!!!

GIRLSCHOOL!!!!!

During the set, I spotted one of the coolest patch vests around – an 80′s French metal maniac vest with original patches! Check out that Sortilège back patch – and that beautiful Blasphème one on top of it… wow!!!

Can’t forget the Trust backpatch too! And what the fuck were those cows doing there??

After GIRLSCHOOL, we saw BLUE OYSTER CULT – who I actually don’t like very much…!!! Perhaps I need to spend more time with their records, but for some reason I never got into them. I still watched a few songs, but then I got some beer and went to the front of another stage to wait for PENTAGRAM.

Blue Oyster Cult!

Turns out it was an excellent idea to arrive early at the PENTAGRAM stage. Moments later, it filled up and became almost unbearably tight in there! I was really excited, because althought I’ve seen PENTAGRAM before (in 2008), I’ve never seen them with their mighty guitarist, Victor Griffin. It was beautiful to see them play together, and they played a really killer set. Not as energetic as the last time though (holy fuck was Bobby on fire that time!) but still really excellent. They played “Death Row”, “All Your Sings”, “When the Scream Come”, “Sign of the Wolf”, “Relentless” and some songs from the last album. I was expecting them to play “8″ (the best track off the last record) but finally they didn’t do it. Ahh well, great set anyway! Oh yeah, they did their encore with “Wartime”, which was really a good surprise!

PENTAGRAM frontman Bobby Liebling!

Black figures on stage…

The crowd. There was even crowd surfing in there… who the hell crowd surfs at a doom metal gig??

Bobby and Victor!

Playing next was THE band I wanted to see in this festival… THE OBSESSED!

Wino and Bobby chatting a little before THE OBSESSED went on…

THE OBSESSED are not too well known nowadays, but who those that don’t know, Wino was in that band before he joined SAINT VITUS. Although I love Wino-era SAINT VITUS, I think THE OBSESSED was the best band he was in (and he played guitar too!). Their music is absolutely spiritual, and seeing them was a near-religious experience! It was really HUGE!

Wino!

The line-up was exactly the same as on The Church Within, and of course they played songs from that album (“Streetside”, “Neatz Brigade”) – but also from Lunar Womb (“Brother Blue Steel”, “Kachina”, “Hiding Mask”, “Endless Circles”… and even from the S/T!! (“The Way she Fly”, “River of Soul”) I could had stayed there and watched them play their whole discography. It was that good… and I was really, really, really deeply excited for them! I had some tears for a few songs. The only other time it happened was when I saw …Saint Vitus for the first time! (Black Magic, White Magic)…

Guy, what a great bassist!

Wino and Guy….

THE OBSESSED

After they played, my London friend Alastair (Age of Taurus, session bass for Orange Goblin, etc..) came to see me, and we chatted a little. That guy has the greatest stories, it’s always a laugh to hear him talk. He also has the greatest man hair I’ve seen… check it out!

Alastair’s hair haha

The last band of the festival was a complete joke. Originally, we had booked the tickets because BLACK SABBATH (the one and only!!) were supposed to play. Tony Iommi got cancer so they cancelled most of their dates… including this one. So now, it was OZZY AND FRIENDS instead. The “friends” were actually Geezer Butler (at least I got to see him!!!) and ….Slash and Zakk Wylde. The two guitarists I loathe the most. At the beginning, Ozzy played a bunch of solo stuff, and then went on to play BLACK SABBATH covers… it was atrocious! He kept on singing “ooohhhhhhhh” on top of riffs (you know, those annoying sing-a-long ohhhh’s that big bands always do), the “friends” weren’t even able to do proper Iommi solos. Ozzy had a voice extinction. And on top of it, it was pouring rain! Everything felt like it was rushed together at the last minute, but they had had 6 months to organize themselves!!! As a big band, KING DIAMOND was a trillion times better. At least Geezer was there and was rocking out, but still…

Ozzy and “friends”

At the end of the concert, it was really raining strongly. We were trying to hide under tents, but we kept on getting kicked out. Finally, we took a taxi home to our guesthouse, and fell into a nice, deep, rewarding slumber…

Show’s over!!

Overall, I think the festival was well organized; it had a beautiful site, lots of toilets (so important when you are drinking so much beer!) and of course… some really great bands!!! The only problem for me was that it was way too big… I’m a huge fan of small gigs – where everything is much more intimate. Here, there are people that don’t even care for metal. It was really weird to see all these people in costumes (cows, superman, mummies, etc…) I barely knew anybody and since we were only there to see a handful of bands, the waiting time was very long. We only saw a dozen bands out of more than 150!!! I don’t think I’d come back next year… I’d rather put my money aside and organize gigs closer to home hehe

Anyway, the next day, we hitchhiked our way back to Paris (we got so lucky we got to listen to Lynyrd Skynyrd, King Diamond and Yob in the car!) and stayed two nights at my friend Paulin’s place. Then, we flew to where we are now… ROMANIA! More news soon!!!


Emerald

Coming into Dublin was a really cool experience; everything from the plane was emerald green – as expected. When we hopped on the bus to reach the city centre, we noticed that all the street signs were both in Irish Gaelic (their language), as well as English! Gaelic spelling looks really mystical, a little bit like what would come out of Lord of the Rings.

View from the plane. I swear the green was this strong!

A view of the sunset on a canal, while walking to our friend’s place

We didn’t really know what to expect in Ireland, and really, we just wanted to relax our poor beaten up livers a little bit. We are pretty stupid, it’s not in a place like Ireland that we’d slow down on beer… So it is with that in mind that we arrived at my friend Barry’s house; armed with cans of Irish cider, and ale!! I’ve met Barry 4 years ago, at a PAGAN ALTAR gig at the ULU – and we have since kept in touch on the web. We saw each other again a few weeks ago at the Muskelrock fest, and when he learnt that we had no place to stay in Ireland, he promptly offered a room at his place. Thank you Barry!! Arghhh!!

The whole week was spent partying and eating, with a little bit of sight-seeing. Irish people are really, really fucking nice, it was loads of fun to spend a week there with them! Scobes, a friend, made us a total Dublin speciality; Coddle. It’s a really healthy stew made with onion, bacon, irish pork sausages, potatoes and carrots boiled together for three hours. Honestly, it was so unbelievably delicious that I licked my plate clean!

The ingredients

Everything boiling together in a cauldron

Scobes, the coddle metal chef

Coddle. Yeah, the sausages look like penises or thumbs or something. It looks nasty but I can assure you it tastes absolutely amazing!

Ourselves enjoying our meal in Barry’s living room

After the meal, we took this kind of lame photo of us strangely all wearing Mercyful Fate shirts… of different records! Weird!

Frank, Cat, myself and Barry! From more recent to old Mercyful Fate…

And you cannot go to Ireland and not try the traditional meal of beef and Guinness stew – served with mashed potatoes, young carrots and boiled cabbage! We ate it at a pub called O’Neils, and seriously, it was so good I gulped the gravy down. Irish food is my kind of food! But it would be quite hard to eat that everyday haha

The KILLER beef and Guinness stew. It felt like I was at home, right in the middle of the holidays!

We also tried draft Guinness, of course. It was the cheapest beer on tap, and so different from the cans we have at home! The head was tasty and very creamy, but the body was smooth and velvety, with no bubbles at all. I thought it was quite pleasant, but would only drink it from time to time. François, on the other hand, really enjoyed it and had a few more on several occasions.

Guinness! A bit weird how that pint is glowing haha

What I really enjoyed was Irish red ale, especially the one made by O’Hara’s!  It tasted just perfect, just bitter enough and sweet enough, with the right amount of alcohol. It’s a shame that the beer itself is so expensive…

A nice, fresh pint of O Hara’s red ale!

Anyway, enough about food and beer (for now)! We really enjoyed Dublin as a city. In fact, some streets reminded us of Ottawa (my hometown). I swear, the main street was almost the same as Rideau street, minus the crackheads!

A very beautiful street of Dublin

Dublin’s spikey-thing (in the distance), which is supposed to be their landmark?

Together with Barry and Cat, we visited the Dublin castle, which is located near a huge garden:

A part of Dublin castle and a huge, green garden – which seems perfect for some beer drinking and picnicking! This garden was laid out on the site of the Dubhlinn (‘Black Pool’ in Gaelic), from which Dublin gets its name.

The castle holds the Chester Beatty Library, which is the private collection of a rare manuscrit hunter… You can visit it for free, and honestly, it was the most impressive old book/manuscrit collection I’ve ever seen. You could see things that were over 1700 years old… it was absolutely insane.

Really cool looking religious book

Fancy looking bibles!

Some old bidings

Some manuscript dating from 350 AD…

Around the castle is the Christ Church cathedral, which dates from the medieval times (it was first built in 1028!). It cost like 6 euros to enter, so we didn’t, naturally. Here are photos of the outside anyway:

Christ Church

A cool arch leading to an old part of Dublin

Another very important landmark in Dublin is INTO THE VOID records! A brand new (and absolutely KILLER) underground independant record shop – located right in the center of the city (3A Whitefriar Place). I actually totally forgot to take photos of the inside, but I have plenty of their lovely basement – where they often have gigs and parties!

Barry and Cat entering Into the Void

Darragh (Invictus records), Cat, Barry and other people headbanging in the basement!!

We had to go to the Off Licence, a kind of beer store, to refuel on booze. I was surprised to find some Beerlao, imported straight from Lao!!! And some Moosehead, which is cheap but kind of tasty Canadian beer!!!!

Beerlao and Moosehead! Hail Dublin beer shops!

I of course tried all sorts of local brews. This classy one was called “Galway Hooker”!!

On Friday night, we went to Darragh’s weekly metal night at Bruxelles, the famous bar in central Dublin. For those who doesn’t know, it’s the place that has the Phil Lynnot in front! Darragh graciously offered to share the DJ console with me, so I got to DJ for half of the night. It was really cool, the whole place was wild!!! I just wish it lasted until the sun came up, haha!

François and myself with Phil in person! (Sort of!)

Myself and Darragh, visibly totally possessed! Doesn’t Darragh look like Dio on this photo?

The inside of Bruxelles bar. Can you spot Barry’s familiar mustache?

Another cool pub we visited was The Harbour, which is located a bit outside Dublin. (Thanks to Eavan for bringing us there!) Half of the place is like a traditional country pub, and the other half is decorated with occult paraphernalia. It felt like we were drinking ale in Crowley’s living room:

Crowley’s table!

Myself and François…

On the same night, together with Eavan, we then went to Porterhead to savour their ales. They had a special of 3 different glasses for 5 euros. Pretty cheap for such quality, hand-crafted stuff! No photos though, only our faces hehe

Eavan and myself at Porterhead!

We then went for a small walk on the side of the Irish Sea. It was way too cold to swim, obviously!

François and myself on the side of the Irish Sea…

The last touristic thing we did (not that we did too many haha) was to visit St-Michan’s Church in Dublin. Yeah, we visit quite alot of churches, but this one is morbidly fascinating. Built on an ancient viking foundation dating from 1095, this church is unique because it contains some mummified remains in its crypts. The walls in the vaults are made out of limestone, which naturally kept the air dry – helping the corpses to stay preserved! Inside, there are bodies of a 800-year old man who was believed to be a crusader, a 400-year old nun, and two more people. We were even allowed to shake the hand of the crusader – which is supposed to bring good luck! Not sure if it’ll work… I’ll let you know.

St. Michan’s Church – this structure dates from the 1600′s. The inside is ugly, so I didn’t take photos of it!

The entrance to one of the crypts

Inside the crypts…

The mummy room! The corpses were discovered when the caskets deteriorated and collapsed (from the weight and pressure of caskets stacked on top of caskets).

This visit was really great, and pretty cheap too (3 euros per head)! Apparently, Bram Stoker visited this crypt in his childhood… and that eventually inspired him to write Dracula! Funny, as we have decided to go to Romania as our next destination… (Croatia and Turkey was impossible for us at this time..)

To thank Barry for hosting us and showing us around, we made him something typically… peruvian! We bought the freshest white fish we could find, and made some peruvian ceviche. It didn’t taste quite the same as the ones we had in Peru, but it was still really killer. I think Barry enjoyed it quite alot!

Peruvian-style ceviche, with sweet and yellow potatoes! Habanero peppers were used instead of rocotto peppers. I wish we had more fish also, but it was too expensive to buy more haha

For the whole week, Barry had a flyer of a “hot dog stuffed pizza” from Pizza Hut (a Ireland and UK only specialty!), which was hanging out on his counter. For some reason, it was calling me. It looked so good, and it was always there for me to look at it. And of course, it sounded like the best invention ever:

Hot dog stuffed crust advertisement

On the last night, we couldn’t resist anymore and ordered TWO of them! Turns out it was the nastiest piece of shit pizza I’ve ever tasted. It had so much potential (imagine it with chorizo or toulouse sausages instead of hot dog sausages!), but yet totally failed… it tasted like cheap sausage-stuffed cardboard. And we didn’t even get our free mustard drizzle! What the hell!

The pizza. No, don’t order it!!!! It’s not good, I swear!

Barry taking some of that pizza and just about to be equally dissapointed

Anyway, that’s about it for Ireland! We’ll be back for sure, a week was too short and we barely had time to do more touristy stuff. We already miss all the friends we made there… snif snif!

On Wednesday, June 13th, we took a flight direct from Dublin to Nantes, which was full of metalheads going to Hellfest. It was quite weird to take a plane with so many other headbangers! A full report of Hellfest in the next post…


Rites Lunaires

It’s been a while since the last update! As I thought, we were insanely busy with the tour, and we couldn’t post anything. Even right now, we are on the road all the time with limited access to Internet, but I got some time to write a little bit of our metal adventure…

Berlin
April 12th

We arrived in Berlin from Barcelona, and took the train straight to our friend Maya’s place – who kindly hosted us for a few days before our band members came from Canada. It felt so great to be with somebody just like us! We cooked every day, and Maya brought us to visit a few things, including a squat in Berlin. My cheeks hurt, we were laughing all the time!!

The squat we went to visit! Started in the 70’s, it hosts a night club, art galleries and studios. The government wants to close it down now, but there are alot of people fighting against that!

Myself and Maya inside the squat

A gigantic bretzel… nothing tastes like the bretzels in Germany. They are the best!!!!!!!

Choco hell! Hell means “pale” in German. I had to try it haha

On Saturday night, we went to see the gig of two of my favourite bands, LORD VICAR and ORCHID. I had no idea they were playing that weekend – it was a total surprise when Maya announced it to me! Arghh!! They played at some odd venue called “White Thrash Fast Food”, which had bartenders with huge attitude problems haha

Lord Vigar hahahah

Myself and Maya again! I made her some mehendi (henna), which I brought back from Nepal

Chris and Kimi of Lord Vicar

Vocalist of Orchid

Guitarist of Orchid!

Vocalist and drummer

The bands were really good that night… I think it was one of the last show of the tour or something, and they all sounded very tight. As I have been under a rock for almost a year and a half, I hadn’t heard the new LORD VICAR, but I was very surprised by their new material! I feel it is stronger than their old material. I found myself headbanging hard for their whole set. Really strong material!! ORCHID were also absolutely brilliant. I am a big fan of their EP, and had no idea I would see them one day… haha! I had heard recently their new album – and it is a bit less catchy than the EP, but live, it was very very good. Total early Black Sabbath worship!!! I especially went mad when they played their songs “Eastern Woman” and “Capricorn”…. great vocals, great music, awesome overall band. I am a bigger fan than ever!

After the gig, we kept on drinking a little with the guys of Lord Vicar and some friends. The beer was pretty expensive but I got a bit tipsy anyway hehe

Myself with Arsenij, one of the promoters of our Berlin gig

Kimi with Maya! Kimi is stealing my beer on the head trick!

Kimi got jealous of Maya’s henna so I made him one too haha

After the gig, Arsenij, François and I went for some curry wurst, the most typical dish of Berlin. Basically, it’s a sausage topped with Ketchup and then covered in curry powder. Good stuff, especially after drinking some amounts of beer!

Two plates of curry wursts and mayonnaise fries!

The next day, the Lord Vicar vocalist and bassist went to Maya’s home for some maple syrup French toast, which yours truly prepared! I made a whole loaf haha, it was so good!

Sitting around the table for breakfast

Then, Maya pulled out her crazy Latvian drink, which she prepared with her father. It’s a drink made with pomegranate, booze and loads of garlic, which you drink to boost your immune system. Perfect for hangovers! I thought it tastes really good, but the guys didn’t really think so haha

Chris sniffing the drink… haha

In the evening, we made Maya a nice Poutine Italienne to thank her for her hospitality. It was made using fresh mozzarella (soaking in its own juice!) and it turned out to be the best home-made poutine I’ve made so far!!

Maya, François and myself eating Poutine Italienne

The next day, we went to get Pat and Jo at the Berlin airport. Nothing bad happened haha, so step one accomplished!

Jo (left) and Pat (right) added to Cauchemar! Jo will play bass live, and Pat is our drummer.

We stayed together for a week in an apartment in the area of Kreuzberg in Berlin. It’s located near the old border of East Germany, and every day we had to walk there to go to our rehearsal room.

Jo and Pat walking to the rehearsal room

François and Pat in front of the Berlin Wall

A view of Berlin

Some cool bridge between East and West Germany

CAUCHEMAR Berlin flyer

The first band of the night, SERPENT – an evil NWOBHM worship band was quite good, they totally had the right attitude and good riffs! Perhaps I would drop the corpse paint, but beside that, they ruled!
EVIL SPIRIT, who played second, was our promoter Marcelo’s band where he plays drums and does vocals (at the same time!) They are really cryptic, slow and evil doomy death metal. They had no bassist also, just another guitarist – which was plugged in the bass amp! Their sound was very unique and watching them was like taking a trip to down below… really cool band!

Unfortunately, I don’t have ANY photos of the gig in Berlin because the card I used was corrupted… but I can tell you that it went very very well! We were tight as hell due to rehearsing alot, and the atmosphere was absolutely perfect! About 35 people showed up, but the place (Blackland bar) was small and totally perfect for us. KILLER show!

The next day, we went to Köpi, a punk squat, where ACTIVE MINDS and SATANIC MALFUNCTIONS were playing. The guys hogged the foosball table for a while.. haha

Pat and Marcelo, the second promoter of the Berlin gig

Heavy Metal foosball with Marcelo!

ACTIVE MINDS! Couldn’t take too many photos, it’s prohibited in squats!

We stopped at Fleischerei Domke, a local totally typical German restaurant, where we had kapernklopse and schnitzel (fried battered pork). It was really good, the meatballs were in some kind of vinegar sauce, which tasted very different from anything we’ve had! The schnitzel was paired with some apple-soaked red cabbage. SO GOOD!

Kapernklopse

Schnitzel

Nuremberg
April 24th

Nurnberg CAUCHEMAR flyer

We drove to the promoter of our gig in Nuremberg (Seb Engelhart)’s place in a little village near Nuremberg. He had a huge house and hosted us for three days. It felt good to have a home again!!!

Seb’s village, which looks absolutely totally German

Bobby, Seb’s dog! What a cutie!

Cooking with Seb – I think we are making some Indian food here

Nikki, who is living with Seb, made us a “spatzel” dish, which are some kind of German egg noodles. She put cheese in the middle, and covered the whole thing with caramelized onions!!

Enjoying our spatzels in the warm weather! Nikki is on the left. I love this girl!!!

We went to visit Nuremberg, which is an absolutely charming old medieval town. Seb took us to the castle, as well as the beer vaults in the underbelly of the city…

A downtown market selling white German asparagus

Yummy Nuremberg sausages

The entrance to the fortified city

Jo hanging out with Bobby

The first thing we visited was the beer vaults, which was constructed in the middle ages. It was meant to keep the beer colder (10 celcius) and to help with the fermentation process. I was amazed at how much trouble they went through for their beer! No wonder it is so sacred to Germans! They also had WWII emergency escape passages in there, which were really creepy looking…

Emergency WWII passages

Jo inside the beer vaults

Some liquid used in beer making

Barley

A modern machine to brew beer

Hops!

The city itself was absolutely gorgeous, and had really cool old style buildings. Apparently, most of the buildings were reconstructed due to being bombed in the second world war…

A really cool looking building in Nuremberg

Part of the Nuremberg castle

View of the city from the castle

Cool emblem on a door

CAUCHEMAR in front of the castle

Myself in front of a really cool morbid sculpture

In the evening, we went to the venue, which was located in some sort of cool DIY venue. COSMIC WASTELAND, a band from the next town, opened for us. They were really heavy, and had three guitarists – including a guy from Black Thrashers HELLISH CROSSFIRE. Our own show went pretty good too, some guy in the front was banging his head like crazy the whole time!!! We also never sold as much merch in a smaller show as in Nuremberg. The people there are fucking die-hards!!

A group picture! François was gone for a walk, so he’s not in the photo haha

One of the best beers I’ve drank! And not just because it’s written “Hell” on it!!

CAUCHEMAR!

The next day, we got to tastes some amazing sausages that Seb fetched in his home town. The best were smoked until they became very dark… so good, eaten with beer and dipped in mustard and horseradish sauce!!!!! Ohh man!!! We also had a BBQ with some regular sausages and more stuff!

KILLER sausages. I would kill for more of these!

Goodbye BBQ!

Keep it True festival
April 27th

Keep it True flyer!

For years, it was my dream to go to Keep it True. When I found out we were going to tour Europe with CAUCHEMAR, I contacted Oliver (the organizer) and saw if he was interested in having us play… but thought we were going to have no luck haha. Turns out Oli already knew us and actually had thought about bringing us to Keep it True!!! The line-up was fully booked, but Oli told me if a band cancels, we’d replace them… and so a band DID cancel and we were on the bill! For me, this was absolutely exciting, as not only I’d get to that legendary festival, but I’d play it too!!!!! Wow! Located two hours from Nuremberg, in the German countryside, Keep it True festival can be described in one word… OVERWHELMING!!! Everything was insane; the choice of bands (OZ! WITCH CROSS!), the people, the metal market (imagine seeing tons of records you’d never think of seeing in your life… ) and the beer (sooooo much of it haha). It was really crazy, and I wish it could have lasted a full week because there were so many things going on at the same time!

So we played first band of the festival, at 12:30 exactly… to be honest, it was kind of weird to play so early because it doesn’t really seem fitting with our style of metal, but we did our best and had a good crowd reaction I think!! It was also very strange to play in front of something like 1500 people, on such a big stage!!!

CAUCHEMAR on the Keep it True stage!

The CAUCHEMAR backstage at Keep it True

Right after us came PORTRAIT, a Swedish heavy metal band with an evil vibe. I really love them (especially the first album!!!!), and it was really killer to see them live.

PORTRAIT live at Keep it True

Afterwards was WITCH CROSS, a Danish metal band from the 80’s. Their only album “Fit for Fight” is a total classic, and they really ripped live – even with a new singer! They also did new songs, which sounded really good.

WITCH CROSS

A few bands later was OZ, one of my favourite Swedish metal bands. They played all my favourite songs, like Turn the Cross Upside Down!!!! They were ok, I don’t remember why exactly, but they didn’t impress me as much as WITCH CROSS.

OZ

Myself and Richard, the PORTRAIT guitarist during the OZ set! What a nice guy!

A bit later on was American eccentric doomy heavy metal band THE LORD WEIRD SLOUGH FEG, which I half missed due to too much socializing! I wanted to get a beer outside, and ended up talking to a million people, which really sucks because they were one of the bands I wanted to see the most. That’s what I meant earlier for having too many things to do at the same time! Too many good bands and good people, and not enough time! I still managed to catch a song or two, and it sounded really great. They also played a cover of Diamonds and Rust!!! So good!!!!!!

Lord Weird Slough Feg

The last band I watched that night was Canadian metal band SWORD. They are not that well known in Canada (they used to be pretty big in the 80’s, but not anymore) – but they really kicked ass live! Seems like everyone was there to see them…

SWORD! It felt good to talk to them after the gig

I watched a little bit of PSYCHOTIC WALTZ and didn’t really enjoy them, so I went back to the backstage where the fun was at! I drank and headbanged with Ole from DEADBANGERS fanzine, all the guys from PORTRAIT (I seem to recall fighting the bassist!), SWORD and WITCH CROSS… who were all very nice.

Waking up the next day was difficult, but we made it in time for the first band…

“Filth Hounds of Ottawa”; Jo making a graffiti on Maya’s car in the morning before the gig

…VULTURE! I think this band was my discovery of Keep it True festival. They are from the states and they play really killer metal influenced by HEAVY LOAD and GOTHAM CITY (they even did a cover of them!). Really great band, and great guys all around!

VULTURE

A bit later was SENTINEL BEAST, which had all their original members. They were really really killer as well, and the vocalist (who also sings in DETENTE) did a great job of fronting the band! A really great addition to the fest!

I then took a break and went to do a bit of record shopping. As I said earlier, Keep it True fest is like a record heaven… (or should I say hell? It’s frustrating not to be able to buy everything!) I spent a good 400 euros on records, which I then shipped to Canada. Unfortunately, some prices were quite high, but some others were total deals!

Reiner of metaleros distro – he’s a dedicated German South American metal maniac and distributes tons of metal from all over the world!

Digging through the endless record bins

Then was WHIPLASH, the American Thrash metal band – who I have been fan of for years… I was standing in front the whole time, and they really played well!!!!! I was going totally insane! Unfortunately, the vocalist looked like a total idiot (with skull beads on his goatee, and his red neck hat) but I closed my eyes and let the powerful riffs sink in…

Didn’t take too many photos of ‘em, I wonder why! Haha

During WHIPLASH!

A few bands later was one of my favourite bands – ANVIL!!!!!!! I haven’t seen them since Heavy MTL in 2008, and since then they changed their bassist. I think the new guy is from San Francisco, he played in a pretty well known band but I totally forgot who. Their dynamics did not change at all, and they sounded great as usual! Perhaps they did a few too many solos though, I wish they’d play more songs instead!

ANVIL live at Keep it True

François and myself with Robb Reiner and Lips of ANVIL!!!

Finally, one of the highlights of the festival for me was the NWOBHM special, which had ROXCALIBUR band members with different vocalists (and sometimes band members as well). They played Seven Days of Splendour of JAMESON RAID with Terry Dark & Peter Green, Flying High of HOLLOW GROUND with Glen Coates, Death or Glory AND Heavy Metal Mania of HOLOCAUST with John Mortimer (holy shit did I become insane for that one!), Let it Loose by SAVAGE (with Andy Dawson and Chris Bradley), a couple of SAXON covers and MAIDEN songs with Dennis Stratton and Tom Gattis!) A totally glorious moment for me!!

HOLOCAUST’s John Mortimer!

During the end of the second day, people were getting seriously beaten up. As my first European metal festival experience, I can understand how actually hard it is to get through one of these…

People passing out on a table outside the festival… notice the gigantic beers waiting for them haha

Florian Grill from Germany, myself, Callae from California, Jo, Maya from Germany, and VULTURE members partying!

And then, after a few hours of partying, we went to bed still totally intoxicated… not only by beer, but by a killer weekend of real, pure metal!

The battlefield in the morning…

Leipzig/Halle
April 30th / May 1th

Leipzig CAUCHEMAR flyer

My friends Birger and Paul from BLACK SALVATION organized two gigs in the North of Germany, with their own band for both shows. They play hypnotic, psychedelic doomy heavy rock which totally crushed both nights.

The Leipzig gig was located in a strange venue, which had fur all over the walls. The sound was quite good, and there were quite alot of people that showed up that night! We also had our own beer distributing machine haha… kind of dangerous!

BLACK SALVATION live in Leipzig

There are no pictures of us, because I didn’t give my camera to anyone that night. We also didn’t get to explore the city too much – but that’s ok! We need to rest sometimes hehe

Halle CAUCHEMAR flyer

Next day, we went to Halle, which is about 30 minutes from Leipzig. I thought nobody was going to show up because not only it is a middle of the week concert – we had also played in Leipzig the day before…! But surprisingly, about 40 people showed up… mostly for BLACK SALVATION but many of them stayed for CAUCHEMAR. This gig was really great for us – there was some kind of crazy atmosphere in the air!

Some beautiful German building in Halle. The town was so nice!

Yummy potato salad – part of the catering for the Halle show. I wish I had some more right now!

CAUCHEMAR live in Halle

François in Halle!

The show was weird, as people were sitting down directly on the floor, like a bunch of hippies haha! But it was really cool.

The next day, we flew to Copenagen, Denmark, for our first Scandanavian experience…

On the way there, we met two guys from Quebec that were also going to the same festival! It was pretty unreal! I’ve seen their band, Phosphorus, play before in Montreal.

Copenhagen
May 3rd

Heavy Days in Doomtown flyer

We were lucky enough to get on Heavy Days in Doomtown, a new doom/sludge/stoner festival that was going on in Denmark! The line-up was absolutely crazy, with bands like BLACK OATH, BURNING SAVIORS, COFFINS, DEVIL, GRIFTEGÅRD, JEX THOTH, PILGRIM, SOLSTICE, etc… Unfortunately, we were playing on the opening day, which only had four bands playing. It was such a torture, because we really wanted to see the whole thing – especially GRIFTEGÅRD!!!!! I guess we’ll have to come back another year. Anyway, the whole thing was really cool and well organized. The food was killer, the bands were great, the atmosphere was heavy as hell and the weather was nice and warm. I really didn’t want to leave… but we had to play London the next day.

Preparing the stage for the weekend!

Some amazing vegan food we got served before the gig.

CAUCHEMAR live in Copenhagen – Photo by Thomas Thorgaard Iversen

CAUCHEMAR in Copenhagen – Photo by Brian Berg

Myself! Fronting CAUCHEMAR in Copenhagen (Heavy Days in Doomtown). Photo by Brian Berg.

The two bands that played after us were really great! The following band was called Burning Saviors – and they play nice Swedish style doomy-heavy rock.

Burning Saviors guitarist

But the surprise of the night was Denmark’s own MOONLESS. I had never heard them before and live, they were incredible. They played really powerful doom with some stoner influences…

MOONLESS vocalist, live at Heavy Days in Doomtown. Doesn’t he look like Athenar of MIDNIGHT?

We then went to bed (staying at Ungdomshuset!) at the small hours of the morning, slept three hours, and then got up to fly to London…

London
May 4th

London flyer

The first cool thing we saw in London at our arrival!!

I have been to London before, in 2008, to see PAGAN ALTAR, WARNING and LAMP OF THOTH live. This time, we stayed four full days, and were able to explore many things – as well as play a gig of course!

CAUCHEMAR and AMULET live at the Old Blue Last!

The first band that opened was called VILLAIN. They were really crazy JUDAS PRIEST-style metal with a very entertaining singer that was a cross between Phil Lynott and King Diamond! I think everyone in the venue was surprised about them – they were truly excellent.

VILLAIN at the Old Blue Last in London

Afterwards was the truly mindblowing heavy metal band AMULET – who were doing their debut show in London. One of their guitarists, Marek, is also the promoter of this gig (thank you so much for everything!). I had heard their killer demo, “Cut the Crap”, several months ago, and was totally looking forward to seeing them… I wasn’t dissapointed! These guys CRUSHED!

AMULET! Such a great band!!!!!!

And here is a tiny clip that I got to film… the camera kept on blurring (I think there was too much sweat in the air or something!), so I stopped.

There are no CAUCHEMAR photos this time, but it was absolute magic!!

François and Marek inside the London Underground

The first thing I wanted to do in London was to eat Yorkshire pudding again. As it was Sunday, it was the perfect time to indulge in this greasy tentation. We went to a reputable pub and had a killer meal of Sunday roast and Yorkshire pudding! Unfortunately, I had better before (everything was a bit cold!!) but it was still very satisfying.

Sunday roast!! A very traditional British-style meal…

We then went to visit a few things, among them – the Abney Park cemetery. It’s an old beaten up graveyard like you see in horror movies. A really cool place!

François walking in Abney Park

We also visited the Huntarian Museum – which shows a part of John Hunter (a famous British surgeon who lived from 1728 to 1793)’s personal collection. I had visited it last time when I was in London, but wanted to take François there… beware, it is absolutely morbid and gruesome… but so fascinating!

Inside the museum

A part of a kid’s face

Pickled quintuplet fetuses

A fetus in his amiotic bag… what’s crazy is that it’s from the late 1700′s and it’s still in such good condition!

The foot of a chinese lady that was forced to wear tiny shoes

A snake skeleton!!!!!

The skeleton of the extinct Dodo bird

The amputation tools of the surgeon

We then visited my friends Terry and Alan from PAGAN ALTAR at their home in Gravesend, Kent (about an hour away by train from London).

Terry and Alan at Terry and Lynn’s place

Patrick with Belle, Terry and Lynn’s cute puppy

Lynn with a very oddly-named Ale bottle!

They gave us a visit of their newly built studio, which they will use to record their upcoming album – “Never Quite Dead”:

PAGAN ALTAR’s studio!

Mixing board

Pat testing out the Pagan Altar drums

The guys then took us to a 15th century pub, which was once the favorite drinking place of Charles Dickens!

The Olde Leather Bottle pub! At the beginning, it was a hotel stop for carriages and stuff. It looks like the architect had a few too many beers though, don’t you think?

Inside the pub… it looked so old school!

Myself and François… I’m drinking DOOM BAR beer! Yeah!

Excellent plate of Fish and Chips taken at The Olde Leather Bottle!

On the other side of the pub was… surprise! An old church, as well as a graveyard! This place was so amazing!! I just couldn’t resist wanting to take photos with the guys there…

Myself, Terry and Alan in front of the old church

Rocking the cemetery

Apart from that, we went to visit an old friend of mine, Miya Higashi, whom I haven’t seen in something like 13 years! She stayed at my place in Canada when I was young, to be in a French-speaking environment – and exchange cultural differences with me! She was staying in London with her husband, so they invited us for a nice Japanese-style dinner.

François, myself and Miya – who wore the tour shirt we gave her on top of her dress!

A layered sushi-style salad! Instead of rolling the sushi one by one, you can also serve it that way. It was really good!

Stew made with “Oden”

Serving up Mochi cakes for tea!

It was really cool to see Miya again, after so many years!!! Since she lived very close to the Abbey Road studio, we also went there before leaving for the night…

Crossing the very famous road – like on the Beatles cover!

The entrance to Abbey Road studios!!!! Can you believe PAGAN ALTAR once recorded a 7″ there?

After London, we flew to Leipzig – stayed one night there, and then drove to our next destination…

Bruxelles, Belgium
May 11th

Bruxelles CAUCHEMAR flyer

Organized by Jerry of DETEST records, our only Belgium gig was a total success! Tons of people showed up, and were really into it. OK, the owner of the bar tried to strangle our drummer, and our set was cut a bit short, but the gig was really fun haha.

Nice beers that we tasted at Jerry’s place!

Probably my favorite Belgium brew!!

We also went to visit a little bit the old city (a Unesco heritage site!) before we played…

Myself in front of the “hotel de ville”

Some really cool building

A shop selling chocolates and pastries…

We didn’t have much time, so I had to eat fries while visiting the famous Manneken Pis. Total Belgium cliché photo haha

The local band that opened for us was called TROUBLE AGENCY. Their drummer was one of the promoters of the gig, and they play thrash metal/crossover!

Trouble Agency live in DNA, Belgium

No photos of the band once again, but it doesn’t matter – the show really kicked ass!
Valenciennes, France
May 12th

Long Live Metal! Festival

This gig is the first one that we play in the land of our ancestors, France!! It is also very special as it is partly because of this one that we decided to set up a tour in Europe. Organized annually by the guys of Emanes Metal records, the Long Live Metal!!! festival is a small one-day fest that features only total quality bands. This year, there was GAE BOLGA, BOTTLE DOOM LAZY BAND, WARHAMMER and a bunch of others!! The cool thing about this one is that the gig itself was located… on a boat! It was a really insane feeling to play on the water…

La péniche Igelrock

On the deck with a view of the river

Some highlights for me were the Belgium speed metal band GAE BOLGA, whom I had no idea about! They are on Emanes Metal records, and definately need to be heard if you don’t know them already!

Gae Bolga

Also, The Bottle Doom Lazy band played – whom I’ve known for a long long time. I always wondered why they were called that way – until I saw them live… the vocalist always has a bottle in his hands! It’s almost his instrument! Haha… They were great, probably my favorite band of the fest.

The Bottle Doom Lazy Band!!

Our own set was ok, I feel it wasn’t as solid as the night before (perhaps we were a bit tired) but still, it was cool and people actually sung along!!

CAUCHEMAR! Merci Laurent pour la photo!

And the gig finished with German cult band WARHAMMER, who did a killer set in front of maybe 20 people! Where did everyone go? So weird!!!

WARHAMMER!!!!!


Paris
May 13th

Paris CAUCHEMAR flyer

I was almost certain this gig was not going to be too popular, since it happened on a Sunday… turns out it was the best one! The venue is tiny but it was absolutely packed with doomsters from all over Paris (the event was called “Doom Over Paris!”). What made this show truly special for me is that NORTHWINDS were playing – a French doom metal band who have been around for a long time (and whom François and myself love immensely!).

The first band that saw was FUNERALIUM, which is doomy Black Metal. They were really excellent, I had never heard them before but I was pretty blown away. Good stuff, nice melodies and dark and evil atmosphere…

Funeralium live at Doom Over Paris

After this was NORTHWINDS, who played a nice 1 hour set (or more? I’m not sure!) They were really good, and played some older songs, as well as brand new ones. Killer band, killer guys, I had so much fun with them!!!!

NORTHWINDS

NORTHWINDS guitarist

François, myself and three of the NORTHWIND guys after their gig!

After them was CHILDREN OF DOOM, whom I’ve known for quite a while also! They play doomy punk/metal, which really got the crowd going. I really enjoyed what I could see of their set!!

CHILDREN OF DOOM live in Paris

There are no pictures of CAUCHEMAR but a video someone sent me, with three of our songs. The last one, D’Encre et de Sang, is actually a new one, which has never been recorded before! It will be on our full-length:

We had a day off afterwards, so we went for a nice picnic in Paris’ largest park. We met up with my friend Nagawika, who did the awesome cartoon drawings in Morbid Tales #6 as well as Hellbent for Cooking!

Paulin from “Plus que des Mots” zine, Nagawika and Pat… FRENCH INVASION!!

Chartres/Rennes
May 16th

From Paris, we took a detour to the famous cathedral of Chartres, to be able to see its two mysterious vierges noires (black madonnas). We’ve been wanting to do a small pilgrimage, because as some of you know, we named our EP after them! Also, the cathedral itself was so big that I couldn’t take a proper picture of it…

On the way to Chartres… (btw, Orléans is the name of the Ottawa suburb where I come from!)

A glimpse of the cathedral from outside

The famous labyrinth inside

“Notre-Dame-du-Pilier”, a vierge noire located inside the main church

We got just in time to visit the crypt, where was located “Notre-Dame-Sous-Terre”, a very ancient vierge noire. Unfortunately, the original was burnt down during the French revolution. The original statue is said to be an antique statue of Isis sculpted before the birth of Christ! This crypt is also the largest of all French crypts. You can find there ruins from the foundation, which dates from Gallo-roman times (4th century AD!) There was also a well, which the Romans used to drown and kill people (1st century AD!!!).

Notre-Dame-Sous-Terre copy

Into the crypt…

Old medieval mural

Ceiling of the crypt. Apparently, a dark blue color with stars was often painted on the ceiling of crypts in French churches

Afterwards, we drove to Rennes, where the promoters of our gig were waiting for us… with a killer couscous dinner cooking on the stove for everyone!! We were so hungry, we devoured the thing like we never had eaten before… and it was so good! The next morning, we made some nice Britanny black wheat crêpes  (they call ‘em galettes here!) It took a while to figure out how to make them, but they turned out tasting pretty good.

Pat with the Rhoazon Underground guys trying to figure out the art of making crêpes

I figured it out! More eggs in the batter… and ALOT of patience!

Adding eggs, ham and cheese and letting it cook directly in the crêpes

Afterwards, our friends took us to visit Rennes, which was absolutely beautiful. It kept many old houses, which are surprisingly still standing up!

Pat walking around Rennes

Row of old houses with the particular Britanny architectural style

Myself in front of the old castle walls or something!

I also bought a nice rich Kouing Amann, which is a specialty of the region. You make it by putting as much butter and sugar as possible, until it is completely saturated. The result is a juicy caramel cake, full of fatty goodness!

A Kouing Amann, the master of desserts!

Rennes CAUCHEMAR flyer

The gig was held at a place called “Mondo Bizarro”, which is a cult venue for punk and metal bands. There were only two bands, ourselves and CHILDREN OF DOOM – who I got to watch properly this time! The band ripped through a set of total rock’n’roll doominess and left us wanting for more! Argh! They were really good and have total stage presence, especially Tetard – the vocalist/guitarist! Just look at his face!!!

CHILDREN OF DOOM live at Mondo Bizarro

No photos of us, but instead, this beautiful drunken picture of some of the promoters crew and ourselves! You can see our CD as well as the first issue of our doom metal fanzine, Les Templiers!

Group photo! I wonder what that guy is doing to that poor banana peel…

Afterwards, we had a huge after party, which lasted until the moon faded!
Bonneuil-Matours, Poitou, France
May 17th

Now, we are heading to my friends Shaxul and Nath’s place close to Poitiers, the capital of the Poitou region. This place is very special for us, because not only my direct ancestors from France came from that region, but also because Shaxul and Nath are good friends of us (we had visited them in the past) – and we were very happy to see them again!!

We arrived at their home, dropped our bags, and right away we left to explore the area. They brought us to an insane necropolis in the village of Civaux, which features hundreds of opened sarcophagi. According to a very old legend, after the victorious battle of Clovis’ Franks over the Visigoths of Alaric 1st that took place here, a multitude of sarcophagi rained down to collect the remains of the warriors killed in combat… but actually, the sarcophagi were just part of a giant cemetery, and they date from the 6th and the 8th century.

Some sarcophagi with the foundations of an old church

Myself and Jo at the entrance of the old church

Myself as a corpse

A broken cross

Jo within the sarcophagi… behind is a nuclear reactor!!!

We then went to visit the medieval city of Chauvigny, which has three castles! Everything was closed as it was a public holiday, but we could still enjoy the medieval ruins…

One of the castles

Ruins of another one of the castles

the local Church

It was getting late, so we returned to Shaxul and Nath’s place – where a nice meal was waiting for us… By the way, these guys have a gîte, a kind of bed and breakfast hotel where you can stay and soak in the French countryside, while having some great food and visit interesting places around! Check out information at www.legionofdeathrecords.com. Here are some photos of the beautiful house:

The dinner table

Nath cooking in the kitchen

Our 3-hour-long meal consisted of local specialities; we had mojhettes (white beans who are grown in the region), a ratatouille (vegetable stew) made from vegetables grown in Nath’s garden, as well as a nice heart warming pork stew! She also made a pentagram cake, which had some kind of digestive herb inside. For dessert, we had walnut and raisin stuffed apples. So amazing!

Mojhettes

Pork stew

Pentagram cake

Thank you Shaxul and Nath for the hospitality! You guys are the best, arghhh! We would have stayed longer, but we had to go to our next destination…

Toulouse, France
May 18th

Toulouse CAUCHEMAR flyer

On the way to Toulouse, we saw a little sign that was announcing a Dolmen (a megalithic structure) that was right in the countryside. We decided to stop and explore a little bit…

Ourselves in front of the dolmen

The Dolmen was obviously not touristic, and was just located in the middle of a field. What I found interesting is that there was traces of burnt wood, as well as flower offerings at its step!

Flower offerings at the dolmen…

We arrived in Toulouse in the middle of the day, and went to a store to pick up more tour shirts. We were sold out of larges and x-larges, so we had more made! In the store was a flyer for our gig:

Cauchemar live at Animata Muscaria!

Before the gig, I met my friend Laurent Lignon who took me to visit a few things around the venue:

The old hospital, which hosted the sick from the Plague (Black Death) in the middle ages

The river, which flows through Toulouse…

Back to the gig, we had some awesome food prepared by our dear promoter and friend, J-F Sisquellas (désolée pour la tarte aux oignons!) and then the first band started playing… it was NUIT NOIRE, who first started as total Black Metal, but then started adding pop and punk elements to their songs… quite interesting, and quite creepy really! Their session drummer is from MELKHEBRE.

NUIT NOIRE! Their first show in something like three years!

After them was a band called The Grand Astoria (Russian psychedelic rock), and then we played! The venue itself was so cryptic looking (we were in a cave), and everything around us reflected our lyrics… it really gave another meaning to our songs…

CAUCHEMAR in the Toulouse cave!

The setlist!

CAUCHEMAR again

Some people were actually doing crowd surfing during our set! In that tiny cave!

Magie Rouge!!!!

We slept at J-F Sisquellas’ home that night, in the morning, we went to Notre-Dame-de-la-Daurade, a church which also has a very very ancient vierge noire.

The front of the church

A wall inside the church

Another really cryptic wall

Unfortunately, the vierge noire there was dressed in some designer clothing – which looked totally ridiculous. At least they kept the triangular shape…

Vierge de la Daurade

Thank you J-F for your great help and hospitality!!!!!!
Torreilles, France
May 19th

Torreilles CAUCHEMAR flyer

Torreilles is located in the pyrénées – the mountainous South of France close to Spain. The town itself is quite small (3000 people) but the gig attracted something like 80 people! Of course, some traveled from nearby towns, but it was still really impressive! It was organized by the Pyrenean metalheads crew, particularly by Patrice Rohée. The venue itself was really cool and cozy, it was a small French-style pub located right in the middle of town…

A sign in the middle of town announcing the concert!!!

Metal invasion in Torreilles!

Part of the catering… local ham, and mousse de canard… yummm

Two bands played with us – one was called LOL (for real!) and the other one was OCD. They both are female fronted heavy metal bands! Incredible! And OCD played an extra long set… covering the entire SORTILEGE EP! I was really going insane for that!!!

OCD!

François at the merch table

No photos of us, but you guys know what we look like playing live by now… haha

The next day, we were invited for a killer meal of Catalan-style lentils, and artichoke. The lentils were so good, they were cooked slowly with some smoked fatty pork and ribs (it had a nice smokey flavour, a little bit like French-canadian beans!) and the steamed artichoke was eaten by biting out flesh from every leaf (which was dipped in vinegar and oil). It sounds weird when I try to explain it, but it was an absolute revelation for me! I shall be making those at home!

The plate of lentils and artichoke

The table

Patrice, his wife and his daughter with the CAUCHEMAR guys! We are about to crush a “broyé Poitevin”, which is a souvenir we brought back from Nath and Shaxul.


Barcelona, Spain/Marseille, France
May 20th / May 21th

Barcelona CAUCHEMAR flyer

On Sunday May 20th, we rushed from Toulouse to Barcelona, which took something like 5 hours to reach. Salva, our promoter and friend, welcomed us with a nice meal and some beers! A band called Oniphagus opened for us – I really enjoyed them, they played doomy Death metal which sounded very cryptic! Unfortunately, it was really shitty weather, so it seems that not too many people came to the gig because of that. I also forgot to take photos that night, I don’t understand why! I only have a photo of this:

CAUCHEMAR live in Barcelona flyer, totally soaked by the rain!!

Marseille CAUCHEMAR flyer

The next day, we drove up north to Marseille, the second biggest city in France after Paris. It did smell like that too, haha, as soon as we opened the doors of the car – piss stench crawled into our nostrils! We were so rushed, I wasn’t thinking of taking pictures of that day either. All I took of the city is this one:

The view of the Marseille port, from the car window! Weather was so shitty then haha

Before the gig, I met my good friend Sebastian, who took me record hunting at Saber Tooth records. I found a few LP’s, like the first HIGH POWER… really great shop and great owner too! I took a photo with him!

Stryker and myself with the first pressing of the SORTILÈGE EP! Unfortunately for me, it was 90 euros… and I couldn’t afford that! Argh!

Not that many came out that night (Marseille on a rainy monday night is not very popular for going out) but there was surprisingly enough people to fill up the place, which was really cool! Haha! I wish I took photos once again of the gig, but I didn’t… argh!
Lyon, France
May 22nd

Lyon CAUCHEMAR flyer

We are now driving to the third biggest city of France, Lyon – where we will play our last French gig! Located near beautiful mountains, Lyon is a very cultural city full of music and record shops. I wish we had the time to explore a little bit, but when we arrived – everything was closed! In any case, we played in the basement of a venue called Le Moko, which is located in a cave. It always feels good to play in really cryptic places like that…. it’s the total opposite than playing at Keep it True for example! Anyway, we had the chance to be booked by Flo of SANCTUAIRE/NECROWRETCH (it was the first time he put on a show) and thus we were able to play with his band, SANCTUAIRE!!! It’s old style heavy metal with French vocals. Just the type we love! They were really great, I especially liked what Flo was saying between the songs… You got to see them to understand!

The landscape you see from Flo’s window in the countryside near Lyon

Sanctuaire – Flo and his guitarist

Another view of the band

Sanctuaire guitar attack!

I also met a few friends of mine, Eve and Azmoth (Forgotten Wisdom prods!), and it was really nice talking to them in real life hahaha

Myself with Eve and Azmoth

Now, onward to Switzerland…

Lausanne, Switzerland
May 23nd

Lausanne CAUCHEMAR flyer

We arrived pretty early to Switzerland. Everything went well while driving there, although it cost a fortune to pay to use the highways! Doesn’t matter too much anyway, the sceneries were so beautiful!!! The venue, Base Bar, was actually a place run by a French-Canadian and his Swiss girlfriend. It was a nice and clean bar, and kind of reminded me of some bar that would be in Gatineau (those coming from my region will understand!) They even had Molson Canadian for sale, haha, it was so strange! Apparently, they also sell poutine from time to time. Man, I am craving that dish so much now, I think it will be the first meal I have when I come back home.

Driving through Switzerland

Inside Base Bar

Molson Canadian! Not a good beer, but pretty funny to see on the other side of the world!!!

A Death Metal band called CALCINED opened for us. It’s actually the vocalist, Flo, that helped me get this gig by suggesting me Base Bar. The band was perhaps a bit too brutal death for my taste, but live – they were really cool! And they did a CELTIC FROST – Dethroned Emperor cover!!! It was quite amazing to see Flo sing too, he acted like a demented psychotic killer, which fit perfectly with the music. Haha!

CALCINED!

And we played a great set that night… it did help alot that the sound on stage was fantastic!!!

CAUCHEMAR live in Lausanne, Switzerland!

Genoa/Bologna, Italy
May 24th / May 25th

We finally got a day off, so we decided to do a dream pilgrimage to one of our favourite labels… Black Widow records in Genoa, Italy! But before I start anything, driving from Switzerland to Italy had one hell of a scenery…

The Alps mountains… so incredible. The air was really nice and pure there!!

Arriving in Genoa… I wish we had more than a few hours to explore the city!

Jo in front of a Black Widow sign

Pino and Massimo welcomed us with opened arms, and had us listen to many great records. They were so passionate about the music, and told us many fascinating stories. Massimo sold me his BLACK HOLE LP (original press, totally mint condition!) and I spent about 300 euros of stuff there haha… so many good records. I wish I had a photo to show you! Thank you for everything guys!

Italian Doom Metal section

The album that started it all… and my matching tattoo!

The guys of Black Widow with François and myself… and the Black Hole – Land of Mystery LP! It was my dream for many years to get it… I’m so happy I finally got a copy!!!

We had to leave pretty quickly unfortunately, as we had to drive again many hours to Bologna, Italy, where Marziona (our friend and promoter) was waiting for us with lasagna! Mmmm!

Myself and Marziona! I had met her a few years ago in Montreal. She’s so funny and great, we had an awesome time together!!!!!!

Marziona knows how much I love food, so she brought me to this really typical Italian restaurant. The owners are from the south, so they really make it nice and oily (olive oil, of course!) We had a huge feast that had something like 8 different dishes!

One of the dishes… ravioli with ragu sauce. Actually, ragu is what we call “bolognese” sauce here… it’s the specialty of the city!

Our table after the meal… we were so stuffed, we all wanted to go take a nap haha

Of course, we had to do a little bit of sight-seeing; so we walked around the streets of Bologna. We had some coffee, visited the famous two towers (which were built by rich families…) and looked at windows full of yummy food:

The Bologna two towers! One of them is smaller because the family building it ran out of money!!

Some fresh home-made pasta you could buy in a store

Some happy looking pig head on display!!!

Buffalina, my HUGE Italian food discovery. This is actually mozarella cheese made with buffalo milk! It’s SO GOOD because the outside is kind of hard and the inside melts in your mouth. I would eat some everyday if I could… hope I can find some in Canada!

Some beautiful looking cakes in a shop window

I was especially impressed with this gigantic zucchini, which comes from Sicily (the south). It tasted very good too!!!!

Bologna CAUCHEMAR flyer

The gig itself was located in a squat place called Atlantide. We played with two other bands, Marziona’s BOLT THROWER style band called AXIS OF DESOLATION. They were really killer! My favourite band of the night for sure! Marziona really knows how to kick the shit of her drums haha, I rarely saw any drummer play so hard!!! Yeah!!!

Italian food catering! It doesn’t look like much on this photo, but I can assure you it was absolutely delicious. Especially the olive oil potatoes and the black bean stew!

Axis of Desolation! Sorry, that is the best photo I have, arghh

We then played our full set, in front of something like 15 people! For some reason, everyone was sitting outside. It’s not like it was nice outside or anything. I think people were more there to talk or something. I don’t mind though, I got totally possessed by the music once again…

CAUCHEMAR live in Bologna – Photo by Marziona (thank you!)

CAUCHEMAR live in Bologna – Photo by Marziona

CAUCHEMAR live in Bologna – Photo by Marziona

Then was EMBERS, a Crust band with some black metal elements from the states. They played a good set, which had total a total US black metal vibe – bringing forth images of forests and stuff.. haha, it’s hard to describe, but it was interesting!

EMBERS live in Bologna

Group photo with Paolo/Astofi from CHILDREN OF TECHNOLOGY! Thanks for coming to the gig!!

Bergamo, Italy
May 26th

Bergamo CAUCHEMAR flyer

This is a funny picture of Jo behind a gigantic glue stick. It was taken in a supermarket in Bergamo. Why the hell would kids want to be taken in photo in a glue stick anyway? So weird!

Located very close to Milan, Bergamo is an old medieval town, with lots of interesting history… unfortunately, we played in the lower town, so we didn’t see any of that. Haha! We played at this pizzeria place (how fitting!) with one of my favorite metal bands right now… BLACK OATH! I was beyond excited to be able to see them…

My pre-show meal… a really really tasty pizza made with buffalo mozzarella, as well as a 1-liter beer! Incredible!!!!! I did finish both off, yes!

BLACK OATH getting ready for their gig…

BLACK OATH live in Bergamo

BLACK OATH live in Bergamo

Paul of BLACK OATH!!

They really played a powerful set, easily one of the best bands we’ve played with on this tour. I had goosebumps when they played the song “Black Oath”…. especially the part where Alex sings “In this temple of rituals… darkness is calling my name!” haha. So good. They also played a new song that sounds absolutely promising… this was the last show because their next album. I am really really looking forward to it.

Eve (who travelled all the way from Lyon!!!), Jo as well as Pat after the gig…

Myself with Alex and Paul of BLACK OATH after the gig

The following day, we drove something like 9 hours to Nuremberg, Germany – and crashed at Seb and Nikki’s place once again. They made a bbq and we had a really good time!!! I turned 26 years old at midnight, and Nikki made me some really killer wild berry cupcakes to celebrate. Seb made me a white russian, which was a bit powerful hehe!

Seb!!! Cheers for letting me stay at your place again!

Myself, Nikki and one of the very tasty cupcakes

The cupcakes with killer white chocolate frosting!

The next day, we drove 5 hours to Berlin, and then took the bus to Copenhagen. It was was a pretty crappy birthday, haha, because of the stress of traveling and everything… but I tried my best to enjoy the most of it! And we were on a boat for two hours, which was really cool!

Jo and François on the deck of the ferry going to Copenhagen

Totally impressed by this gigantic jar of Nutella in the ferry’s shop

Some very strange scandanavian candies (??)

Jo as a Swedish viking haha

Myself downing a bottle of nice Italian wine on my birthday, at the sunset on a boat… ok, it wasn’t THAT bad haha


Copenhagen
May 29th – May 31st

So, you wonder why we went to Copenhagen again? It’s because we had a few days off before going to Muskelrock, and it’s only about 3 hours driving from there. We also had free accomodation at the Copenhagen Youth House so it was perfect for us! We finally had time to do sightseeing and we actually did ALOT of things in two days! We visited some nice buildings in the middle of town, we took a walk through a really cool cemetary, ate some patries, did some record shopping, went swimming at the olympic pool, visited the national museum, and the squatted town of Christiania…

Some nice building in the middle of town

Other really cool Danish-style buildings

The Prince’s palace… or something like that

A street in Copenhagen

Outside of Denmark, we call their pastries “danishes”, and I am a huge fan of them. In one day, I think we had three of them! Haha, they were so good. Filled with all kinds of jams and custards… yummy

Some yummy danishes

So perfect! Hey it was also François’ birthday on the 30th, so it was part of his birthday cake hahaha

The Copenhagen cemetary was really cool also, full of Scandanavian tombs and  crosses…

Really nice looking tomb in the Copenhagen cemetary

An old wooden cross

This one had runes on it!!!!!!

This was the most fascinating one… it had a oroboros at the top, and a lamp at the bottom!!

We went to Michael Denner of MERCYFUL FATE’s record shop (Beat-Bop), but unfortunately he wasn’t there! I still bought a few things though… really cool shop!

Beat Bop, Copenhagen

Inside Beat Bop

François with the original sleeve of SCORPIONS’ Virgin Killer! We didn’t buy it, too expensive haha

The visit to the museum was really fascinating also… it was really cool to see the history of vikings and the arrival of Christianity in Denmark. I really enjoyed reading about the old beliefs; sacrifices of swords, the chariot of the sun and the burying of the dead in tree trunks, etc. Really interesting!

Old Viking swords

A really ancient corpse in a tree trunk

An old Viking gravestone! Doesn’t it look like the one from the cemetary up there?

And finally, we went to the squatted town of Christiania. It was an old abandonned military base back in the 60′s or something, until the youngsters jumped the fences and took hold of the houses there. Now, the place is not even considered to be in the European Union! It has its own laws and is totally different from the rest of Copenhagen. It looks like a gigantic garden with markets and stuff. You even see drug dealers selling pot and hash in the open! Really interesting and strange phenomenon… it’s forbidden to take photos, so I could only show you the entrance to that place… it needs to be visited if you are in the area!

The entrance to Christiania, Copenhagen, Denmark

Muskelrock
May 31st – June 2nd

Muskelrock!!!!!!

Sign on the road to Alvesta… the most metal of towns, DIÖ!!!!

Some open sandwiches myself and François made ourselves with “gravlax” salmon!!

Muskelrock has to be one of the best European festivals of the year. As you can see on the flyer, it features incredible bands like GRIM REAPER, HELL, PICTURE, ENFORCER and THE DEVIL’S BLOOD! What an incredible line-up!! And it is located in the middle of nowhere, Sweden, on an old carnival site from the 70’s.

Some kind of festival game where you could win records! Isn’t that awesome?

The festival site at night

On Thursday, the main band I wanted to see was HIGH SPIRITS from the states. They play some upbeat Heavy Metal that has total roots in KISS and early 80’s HM. Their gig was great, and the frontman was very expressive in everything he did!

High Spirits! Don’t you think the background looks like a HEAVY LOAD album cover?

Friday afternoon was the best band of the festival for me… GRIM REAPER! Or should I say Steve Grimmet and friends? Haha, it doesn’t matter, because their set was absolutely amazing. And on top of it, it was raining (and cold as hell) – but as soon as GRIM REAPER started playing, the sun came out and the temperature rose! It was actually the warmest hour of the whole festival. They played so fucking well, and even did a Dio cover – “Don’t Talk to Strangers!” I guess Dio did a deal with the horned one to bring forth that sun… hehe

Grim Reaper! SOOOO GOOD!!!!!!!

It was so hot that people took off their clothes! I noticed two Manilla Road tattoos… these guys were complete die-hards!

My Finnish friend Immu’s new tattoo, which he also wanted to show me. Really nice huh?

A little further on was some… wrestling! Of course, as the festival is called Muskelrock, they have wrestling every year. It was really entertaining… in fact, it was the first time I ever witnessed wrestling live! Almost every wrestler had a punk or a metal edge, which really added to the whole thing. My favourite teams were the clown vs the black metal warrior and the friendly fighters.

Clown guy vs black metal guy. Forgot their real stage names!

The not-so friendly fighters. Nice old-school suits haha

It was getting colder and colder… and it wouldn’t stop raining. In fact, my feet were wet and cold for the whole day. Not fun at all! Anyway, M-PIRE OF EVIL (or should I say VENOM?) came on stage right after the wrestling match. They had a few technical difficulties but really, they were great! Their own songs were not very good – way too nu-metalish for my tastes, but they did many VENOM songs… like Countess Bathory, In League with Satan, Black Metal, Witching Hour, Die Hard… so nice to hear all of that… especially Witching Hour! ARGHHH!!!!!!

M-Pire of Evil… Mantas is on the left

Rain soaked crowd

It’s hard to be 666% metal with umbrellas hahaha!

Myself and Felipe of PROCESSION… he’s representing Chilean wine! …Oh, and notice that beautiful umbrella at the back hahahahaha

A few bands after was the theatrical NWOBHM band HELL, which played a really great set… They were probably the tightest band of the night. To be honest, I’m not a 100% sold yet with their approach, but it certainly a good time!!!!

HELL, with the vocalist whipping himself! It’s only theatre though hehe

Felipe and Barry from Ireland doing air drumming!

Afterwards was The Wounded Kinds, who played hypnotic sounding doom metal. Their female vocalist really sounded like she was underwater, and it gave a really cool atmosphere to their set. I quite enjoyed seeing them… and especially since they were playing indoors! We could finally get warm and dry!

The Wounded Kings

The last band I watched on Friday was RAVEN. Oh man, they were absolutely incredible… and very very very entertaining! They were grinding their guitars together, throwing themselves from one place to another… I’ve never seen an old band being so fucking energetic before. I am really happy I got to see them live! Oh yeah, and their drummer was Joe Hasselvander who played in PENTAGRAM!

RAVEN!!!!!!!

I unfortunately left right after RAVEN. I couldn’t take it anymore, I was really not prepared for that cold, and my toes were about to fall off… so I went to our guest house to rest. We were playing first band the day after anyway, so I had to be in good shape! That night, it took me a good hour to warm up in my bed. I should have taken a hot shower or something… arghhh!

So like I mentioned, we played first – at 2PM on Saturday at Muskelrock. It was the last date of our crazy 20-date European tour! Our set was really good I think, and many people crawled out of their sleeping bag to see us. I think we also had a good reaction from people…! It was hard to get in the mood at such an early time of the day, but I eventually became possessed by the songs like usual… hehe

CAUCHEMAR live at Muskelrock! Thanks for the photos, Emma!

CAUCHEMAR again… check out the laser that François is shooting from his guitar! Hahahaha

Crowd shot… my very tall friend Immu is staring at us!

I watched a little bit of VANDERBUYST as well as BLACK TRIP… both bands were fantastic… and now I can celebrate the end of the tour!!!! Woohoo!! I walked around, and took a few photos of some people:

Swedish metal van. The van itself looks like something to “shag” in with the red carpet and all haha

François and some Italian maniacs (half of Hands of Orlac as well as Josef)

Myself holding some Swedish snus, as well as Marie from Copenhagen

Pat with Laura from Italy

Jo, who is absolutely freezing and looks like he’s going to rob a bank

Barry and Chris from Sweden

Jo and Laura from Spain… they had matching FOAD’s!

Two beautiful Iron Maidens!

Later on in the day was the dutch metal band PICTURE, who were good! I only know “Metal Ears”, and they played many songs from that album… they sounded pretty much exactly like on record. People were really into it.

PICTURE! The guy on the bottom is non other than Tyrant of NIFELHEIM!!!

A few bands later was POKOLGÉP, a speed/thrash metal band from Hungary. It was one of their rare shows outside their country, and they really ripped live! They totally had an eastern European vibe though, clapping their hands together, and playing a ballad (which didn’t get much crowd reaction haha). It was freezing cold, but totally worth seeing!

Gép gép! Pokolgép!

The crowd!!!

My Portuguese friend Luis headbanging for Pokolgép

Maniacs pure!

Another view of the growing crowd…

Right after was ENFORCER, whom I know since their 7”. In fact, that 7” is my favourite material, and they played “Mistress of Evil” from it! It was so fucking good! The whole set was great actually, they were extremely tight and had great stage presence. My friend Ian from CAULDRON was there – and he went absolutely crazy during their set. He ran backstage, and threw himself right on the crowd from the stage! It’s a pretty huge leap to not fall on the metal gate!!!

ENFORCER!!!!

A little bit later was MANILLA ROAD… I was looking forward to see them for years actually, and they played totally classic songs like Open the Gates, Flaming Metal System, Mystification, Necropolis, Witches’ Brew, etc… arghhhh!!!! But yeah, the vocalist had a really bad stage presence, and it was really too bad that Mark Shelton wasn’t doing more vocals. He sounded so great and magical!!! I still enjoyed their set tremendously. People around me as well, wow, there was one hell of an ambiance during their set!

MANILLA ROAD

Last band I saw was THE DEVIL’S BLOOD, whom I last saw in 2008, opening for PENTAGRAM in NYC. I was sick as hell back then, on heavy sinus pills, but I remember their show to be absolutely mind blowing! My expectations were thus very high – too high I think. Their show was very good, and got me into a trance for a while, and, perhaps it was because of the insane cold, but my mind was drifting to other places. I am not a big fan of their newer material either, which didn’t help! But at the end of the set, they played some stuff from Come Reap and the demo, which really got me going! They also played tons of 15-minute+ solos, which sounded really crazy live with the three guitarists…

THE DEVILS BLOOD

We then rode to the guesthouse, really happy about the whole festival. If I wouldn’t live on the other side of the planet, it’s for sure that I would come back here. It was a really great event, ran by amazing people!!!

The damage on the camping grounds, the following morning…

So overall, the tour went very well… but we are tired as hell haha, and we are glad to be back with just the backpacks! Thank you to everyone that came out, and especially to the promoters and bands that we played with… cheers!!!!

A map of our tour around Europe!!

Right now, we have actually arrived in Dublin, Ireland, where we will spend a full week! It is really nice so far, and Irish people are insanely friendly. Can’t wait to explore the city and metal scene… arghhh! Afterwards, we will be attending the Hell fest in France. The line-up is beyond amazing this year! See you around!!!


Las Puertas de la Catedral

Barcelona
27-03-2012

Hot water anywhere! 1 euro wines! 24-hour electricity! No stray dogs! We finally arrived in Europe, after visiting four airports (Kathmandu, New Delhi, Doha, Barcelona) and taken three flights. We’ve been in Europe before, but not in Spain… it was interesting to visit this country after being in South America for so long – and seeing where many customs and dishes came from. It was also very useful to be able to speak to people in Spanish, even though they have a totally different accent from what we were used to.

François and myself stayed in a hostel for three days, and then we were joined by my parents who flew from Montreal. We then moved to a beautiful (but tiny!) apartment very near Gaudì (modernist architect who lived in the late nineteenth century/early twentieth century)’s chef d’oeuvre, Sagrada Familia Templo. It was my parents’ first time in the old continent, and they were really awed by everything!!! They also brought me my dear Panasonic Lumix GF1 which I had lost in India (I ordered a new one and had it delivered to their home in Canada). I am stoked to be able to take nice photos again!!

So, in Barcelona, we had a fully equipped kitchen and we made many yummy lunches and dinners… after being in Asia for so long, and in countries where cheese and cold cuts are a huge luxury, it was nice to be able to indulge in such unhealthy delights. And we did, almost every day, haha.

One of our decadent dinners. You can see here some nice Spanish olives, a plate of brie and Catalan cheeses (including one hell of a yummy goat cheese), as well as a plate of Iberian ham and chorizo. SO GOOD

Like I mentioned earlier, our apartment was very close to the Sagrada Familia, so naturally, we visited it first. We got up early to enter – and it’s a good thing we did, because the line-ups to get in were disastrous a few hours later…

The Sagrada Familia templo. Our apartment was just a street away from here!!

Details of the “melting” facade

Other details of more modern “Gaudì” style sculptures. Notice the magic triangle, with each lines calculating 33 – the age of Christ at his death!

In this basilica, everything is highly symbolic. I haven’t read too deeply about it, but you certainly feel the magic when setting foot inside.

Heart of the Sagrada Familia with a parachuting Jesus

Other side, with a big rosette stained glass

The insane geometrical designs on the ceiling

You are bewitched!!!!

A huge seashell as a holy water stand

A choir... it sounded super awesome! The guy controlled the voices like he was playing notes on a guitar neck!

We took an elevator that went up one of the towers, where we had an amazing view of the city and different details of the church. You could parts that were still being constructed… apparently, the project should be completed in 2026!

François and my mom, Ginette, looking at the city from the basilica’s tower

The view!

Close-up of the workers tools and stuff

Our neighborhood

We got the chance to see the church bells, or should I say, the speakers! I don’t understand why such a cool looking church has fake bells. Come on Gaudì! He’s probably rolling in his tomb right now.

The Sagrada Familia “bells”

We came back in the evening and took a few photos. The church totally took a different look in the night… it looked like it came from outer space or something:

My favourite model, François, in front of Sagrada Familia

The basilica from far, with all its nightly colors. Beautiful isn’t it?

Like good foodies, we also tried some yummy tapas, which are a Spanish speciality. Tapas are little “snack”-like portions of food, which you take in large quantities for a full meal. We had many, many, many of ‘em:

Patatas bravas! Some of our favourite tapas, and probably the most common dish you’ll see on restaurant menus. They are potatoes with a cayenne pepper sauce + aioli (olive oil/garlic sauce). These ones were to die for...

Goose foie with shrimp and papaya salad

Iberic ham with tomato bread (another one of my favourites!)

Tortilla de patatas, a Spanish omelette filled with potatoes

Meatballs and local tiny peppers

Seafood salad

Fried squid

Myself and my mom also went for a cooking course, where we learned to make fried spring onion with romanesco sauce, salmonrejo soup, pan con tomate, seafood and artichoke paella and Catalan cream. It was really fun, but confusing at times because a few recipes had to be done at the same time… ok, I admit we also drank quite alot of wine, hehe.

Yummy Spanish wine

Mixing bread with grated tomates to make Salmonrejo soup (kind of like a thick gaspacho)

The result; you serve it with ham and hard boiled eggs

Making Catalan cream

Burning the sinners

My mom making pan con tomates – you need to take some nice sliced bread, toast it, slightly rub garlic, then rub a tomato half until all the flesh is on the bread... and then finally, you drip extra-virgin olive oil. The result is heavenly, holy shit!

Spring onion with romanesco sauce

Our gigantic paella

We also visited the famous touristy street Las Ramblas… the street itself is quite boring but what’s interesting is the beautiful boqueria St-Josep, a huge market with nice exotic fruits, charcuterie, cheeses, wines, olive oil, olives, and tons more. It’s a paradise for food maniacs like me, but also a hell when you are as broke as myself! Haha!

Las Ramblas

The market

You can taste some food on site, or take some home to cook in the kitchen:

A taste of Catalunya on a stick!

A leg of cured Iberic ham... that stuff is expensive as hell

A display of Catalan cheeses! We tried the “queso cabra cabretes” and it was soooooo delicious

Creepy fish head

Creepy sheep heads... check out the teeth!

Exciting fruit display

Emu and ostrich eggs

You want chiles? You’ve got chiles!

Around was a Palace that Gaudì constructed… I think it was one of his earliest projects. We didn’t visit inside unfortunately, but I did take a photo of the really cool facade:

Palau Guëll

We also walked near Plaza Catalunya and relaxed near some nice fountains and sculptures.

My parents in Barcelona

A few days later, we went to the gothic neighbourhood (barri Gòtic) – the old side of Barcelona. It was quite beautiful, but I was expecting everything to look much older. Perhaps I was awaiting for too much, or everything was renovated or something. Anyway, it still had some really cool things – like the gothic cathedral for example – which was started in 1298.

Gothic Cathedral in Barcelona

Heart of the Cathedral

St-Eulalie torture scenes!

Ceiling

Black Virgin

Totally epic church Organ

Crypt of St-Eulalie

Another view of the crypt, with more torture scenes on the casket! This crypt looked so awesome, imagine doing a metal show in there hahaha

Some cute ducks in the court of the Cathedral

Cool ancient calligraphy set in stone

Around the cathedral was some kind of bridge that lead to another religious building. It looked super awesome:

Some kind of bridge

Under the bridge. Check out the skull pierced with a sword! Hell yes!

A few steps further is an old Roman temple that was discovered a hundred years ago while doing renovations. Only a few Corinthian columns were left, but it was still cool to see such old architectural remains:

An old Roman stone

The Corinthian columns

We of course went to the famous Casa Batlló, which are weird apartments designed by Gaudì. They were super cool and organic looking, but I also enjoyed the one right next to it, which was done by another architect:

Casa Batlló (side view)

Other apartment. Apparently, this was a chocolatier a hundred years ago!

A cool sculpture of a St-George fighting his infamous dragon!

Another view of the cracked out looking Casa Batlló

On the Saturday evening, myself and François went to join my friend Salva (arghh don’t have photos of us!!) at a metal bar called Hell Awaits. The bar itself was really metal looking with a bunch of 3D sculptures of known metal albums on the walls, but unfortunately the music they played was 90% mediocre. I was totally expecting European bars to be slightly better in terms of the quality of metal played, but I was wrong! OK, at least they played a 70’s JUDAS PRIEST song at the end, which made me order another beer. Haha.

The friendly looking beer pourers. These huge beers cost 4.5 euros. So much more expensive than Asia, arghhhh

Some Spanish metal chicks in front of a huge metal CD collection. The red stuff the girl on the right is drinking is a local drink... red wine mixed with coca cola!! I forgot the name of it. I thought it was Sangria at first!

Inside the bar. Notice the “Painkiller” artwork on the left

Snaggletooth!!

Piece of Mind with Eddie!! Doesn’t that look much better than the original?

On our last day, our friend Carlos Flores (who we met in Valdivia, Chile more than a year ago on the same trip!!) was also in vacation in Barcelona, so we met up and went to visit Parc Guëll (another of Gaudì’s works), do some metal record shopping and eat some tapas. It was raining as hell in the morning so our visit to the parc was quite fast, but I still enjoyed it. The parc itself was supposed to be something for the high-class residents of the Gràcia neighbourhood but was eventually turned into some kind of touristy place. Carlos, who read much more about Gaudi than ourselves, told us that Gaudi was often under the influence of a type of fungi who made him hallucinate and think “outside the box”. All of his work is made with symbols that all mean something as a whole… it is quite fascinating when you read more about it:

Lions with decorations of the zodiac on the top

Representation of the Sun

Myself with Carlos in front of Gaudi’s infamous houses. Notice the tip of the houses... they are the magic mushrooms that Gaudi loved so much hehe

The infamous lizard

Rainy-sky view of Barcelona from a mountain in the Gràcia neighbourhood

We then went for some “pincho” tapas (baguette bread with stuff on top), to warm up a bit:

Pinchos! At the very back is melted goat cheese, iberic ham, and on the right, cream cheese and bits of smoked salmon

And then off to do some record shopping! Most of the shops are located on the Calle de Talleres, and they are not very good except for PENTAGRAM records where I scored some seriously awesome 7”’es.

Revolver – a so-so place with some second hand CD’s and a “national metal” section. Got some OBUS and MURO CD’s there

Inside Revolver

ANVIL the movie in Spanish! Wow!

Carlos browsing the metal section of Revolver records

Castello records. Tiny and quite uninteresting metal section but cool picture discs!

Classic VENOM Picture Disc

PENTAGRAM records! The place was closed but we were there before haha, but no photos of the inside. All the good new releases are to be found here, but unfortunately at quite high prices. You can deal with the guy though, make him lower his prices when you buy alot hehe

My record scores! SANTA singles, first ABIGAIL EP, NECROMANTIA demo on 7"

Finally, Carlos took us to a really popular but obscure local place (Champanones or something? I really don’t remember) to drink some Cava (Spanish champagne!) and indulge in sweet, sweet, pig flesh:

Inside the place. SO many people stuffed into this small place!!

Serving glasses of pink Cava

Carlos feasting on sausages

A plate of very good ham

Pig legs hanging! YUM!

The next day, we quickly packed up our stuff and headed north for a few days in the wild South of France…

Pays Cathare / Languedoc-Roussillon/Midi-Pyrénées
France

05-07-2012

We rented a little countryside house in the middle of Aude, in the midi-Pyrenees area of France. Our goal was to soak up fresh mountain air, visit old castles, drink wine and eat cheese… We didn’t know THAT much about the area we were getting into, but we soon learnt that it was extremely rich in history – more than we could ever hope for! While driving to our home (which was located in a cute 12th century village), we saw tons of ruined medieval castles nested on top of gorgeous mountains, and passed through tons of really ancient stone villages. Of course, we also saw many wineyards and wineries…

A view of the pyrénées orientales which separates France from Spain (this is the French side)

Cucugnan village, located near the Quéribus castle

Arques castle

Wineyard! Unfortunately, we were too early to see any grapes

The beautiful medieval town of Lagrasse

So we rented a house in a tiny village called Termes, which is in the middle of a bunch of castles (actually, there is a castle right in our backyard!!). It was quite creepy for the first few days we were there, because there were no people in the streets, only cats – who slept lazily in alleys. Somebody later told me that there was only 50 people living in the village!! We stayed in a really old house made out of stones, and it was absolutely peaceful…

Arriving in our village

The facade of our home

The village church (it was really tiny and primitive inside)

An alley with a super French-looking car

A really glorious looking cat

A “chatte d’espagne”

Entrance to a forgotten garden...

More buildings in our village

Every two days, a baker from a nearby village would come and deliver some fresh wood-oven baked bread – and once a week, a cheese maker came and sold delicious artisanal goat cheeses. It felt like we were transported a hundred years ago…

The baker with his van full of bread

The villagers buying baguettes and croissants

The beloved fromagère

The cheeses were completely out of this world, we tried some “Écu” – a local speciality, as well as some fresh goat cheese and a less fresh one, haha. Actually, it’s the same cheese but dried a little. It was the best of the lot!

Écu fermier from Les Chamoises fromagerie

A dried goat cheese and two fresh ones. SO GOOD

Of course, as we had a castle within walking distance, we went to visit it. The totally ruined Termes castle dates from 1200 and was once home to the Cathar Raymond de Termes. In 1210, the castle fell after a siege lasting four months… which was really long for back then. The castle eventually was taken over by a band of brigands who used it as a base from which to terrorise and pillage the surrounding country… and then it was blown up with gunpowder in the 1600′s.

Oh yeah, and for your information, Cathares are a heretic branch of Christians… they followed what they thought was the “pure and right way”, and did now follow what the pope and Catholic church said. They weren’t baptised or married, and they would restrain from carnal pleasures. They would stay poor by choice, as they thought Jesus was. Since they were in a mountainous region – they were separated from the normal Christians and Catholics and got to grow to a substiancial number, but eventually they got discovered by the ruling church of the time. In a large inquisition, they were eventually killed or burnt alive one by one (unless they changed religion).

Termes castle wall

My dad in what used to be a doorway

The view of the Termes village from the castle

A latrine, which is in fact a medieval toilet! (For real!)

A window in shape of a cross

In the same day, we went to visit the Villerouge-Termenès Cathare castle, which was where the last surviving Cathare was burnt. The village itself was really beautiful and the castle was quite simple but incredibly picturesque.

Villerouge-Termenès Cathare castle with the village on the left

My dad in the dungeon haha

La madre! My mom in the super steep and dangerous stairs

Another view of the castle. ARGH, it just looked so damn cool!

A day later, we went to Narbonne, which is a medium sized port city – about an hour and a half from where we lived. Compared to the villages surrounding us, it was HUGE!!! (Sometimes villages would have only two or three houses…) Narbonne was founded in Gaul in 118 BC, and was colonized by the Roman legion – who built the Via Domitia, the first Roman road in the area.

Narbonne bridge and houses

An old Roman road that was discovered a few years ago

Narbonne has one huge cathedral, which was very hard to capture on film, haha. The church itself had huge power over the region, and its archevêque helped getting rid of the Cathare heretics.

The roman part of the cathedral

Gothic part of the cathedral

A photo of the inside terrasse

Tomb of a dead priest and cool hermit sculptures

In Narbonne we went to our first typical French restaurants, where I had a wonderful magret de canard (duck steak with thick skin). It was sooo good!! And for dessert, a crispy and creamy crème brûlée:

Magret de canard

Crème brûléee

On Sunday (Easter day), we went to visit a French couple that we had met previously when we were in Kampot, Cambodia. They invited us to the Hotel Restaurant du Midi, a restaurant in Revel which had a wonderful chef who made us his speciality – cassoulet (white beans cooked in duck fat with confit de canard and Toulouse sausage)! We also had some local typical dishes, like a salad with dried liver and radish, ris d’agneau, as well as an Easter special: lamb! Unfortunately, I was so excited about the cassoulet that I forgot to take pictures of it. It sucks because it was the best cassoulet I ever had… but you can still see it on a few photos (from far hehe). We also had some amazing desserts… good thing I am staying in France only a week, or else I think I would die of a heart attack haha

Myself, Bernard (the chef) and François... I am holding Bernard’s cassoulet masterpiece

Chef's Bernard's Cassoulet certificate!!

François, Jacqui and Mik with my glorious cassoulet plat

Some truly epic local wine... if you can find this bottle, your taste buds will explode of joy!

Ris d’agneau

Salade de foie sèché et de radis

Easter lamb... check out the killer pink caramelised garlic.

Lemon pie with hard meringue

Baba au rhum (and the rum was really strong!)

Macaron de chocolat et sa soupe de fraises (chocolate macaron and a strawberry soup! Arghhh)

Mik and Jacqui are really intriguing people. They specialize in everything that smells (!) and own a lab where they extract essential oils from organic objects – as well as do smell-related research. They also do really wild things like odorize events and concerts… so, imagine if they would odorize a CAUCHEMAR gig… it could smell like a Canadian forest if we would want to! Or if they did WATAIN… they could truly capture the essence of fear and spread it among the crowd. Anyway, Mik gave us a visit of his lab and it was truly fascinating.

Mik in his “smell” laboratory

Cool smelly stuff laying around

Some mixes of essential oils... “étable” means horse stables!

The lab

On Monday we went to Rennes-le-Château, which is a small hilltop village known for various conspiracies and where a Templars treasure was supposedly discovered by a priest in the 19th-century. The location has been populated since the pre-historic times and has been colonized by the Romans, Visigoths, Franks and eventually the Occitans. Because of the legendary treasure, many hunters started digging all over town and doing excavations in the local church and its cemetary. Nothing was found, only a skull bearing an incision…

A sign in the village saying that it is prohibited to do any searches and digs in the village

The priest, Bérenger Saunière, apparently found his treasure while renovating his church (who is dedicated to Mary Magdalene). Out of nowhere, he had a great fortune and put a lot of money into the church, as well as building a luxurious tower overlooking the mountains. He also lived like a prince, spending huge amounts of money every day… The church itself has been built and rebuild many times, and has a strange sculpture of the devil holding the holy water!

The renovated Church of Mary Magdalena

"Awesome is this place" says the latin on the door. Saunières added that sentence after renovating the church. Notice the Mary Magdalena sculpture!

The devil sculpture inside the church! Odd isn't it?

More Mary Magdalena worship... with a skull at her feet!

The church altar... notice the triangular candle holder on the left. It is a tenebrarium - to use in celebrations before the holy week

The gate leading to the cemetary

Peeking through the cemetary gates! This area was restricted to families of the deceased. Some treasures are apparently hidden in some graves...

La Tour Magdala, built with the fortune found from the treasure...

The breathtaking scenery from the hilltop

Oh – also, Rennes-le-Château has been in the center of theories that say it contains  the treasures of the Temple of Solomon that was the booty of the Visigoths (it included the Ark of the Covenant and the Menorah), that it is the place where the Holy Grail and the Priory of Sion are hidden, and that is has sacred geometry aligments… people even say that it is the only place that will not be affected during the end of the world in 2012! Haha! All of these mysteries bring at least 100 000 tourists per year to this tiny hilltop village… I can assure you that it has one hell of a strange vibe…

On our last day, we visited the treasure of the south of France… the fortified castle of Carcassonne! The fortress of Carcassonne, the biggest fortress of Europe, is a Unesco site (yet another one…). Protected by two layers of extra-sturdy fortified walls with 52 towers, it has 2500 years of history, and has been populated by Gauls, Romans, Visigoths, Saracens and Franks!! It has been renovated by an architect in 1853, and now about 100 people live within its fortified walls. The city was a stronghold of Occitan Cathars, and was located on the border of Aragon (Spain).

La porte d'Aude, the entrance of Carcassonne

Walking around the city at 8:30AM... no tourists in sight!

The ramparts of Carcassonne and some towers... this place was so magical!

A view of the lower city of Carcassonne from the top of the fortress

The fortress also has a church, the Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse. It was the main cathedral of the place until 1801. The original church was Romanesque and built in 1096 but it was expanded in the gothic style.

The Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse in the very background, as well as some other buildings

Another view of the Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse

The beautiful stained glass inside the basilica

A statue of the holy trinity... it's weird to actually see a sculpture of "god". I thought nobody could represent him in a human form? Not sure about that...

Inside there was some kind of exhibition with several war-related objects and other things. A guide told us that they used huge round rocks that weighted around 200 kg and more, and dropped them straight on the people trying to climb the walls of the fortress! It would crush their heads and a part of their body… pretty gory stuff.

The kind of stone rocks that would be dropped on ennemies

Templar crosses and stuff, inside Carcassonne

Since my parents also brought my CAUCHEMAR cape for our tour, François took a photo with myself in it and the fortress as a background. It came out looking pretty cool!

Myself in Carcassonne

After visiting everything, we found a little restaurant that was recommended by our Michelin guide. We went to Dame Carcass and had some delicious Southern French food:

Hypocras - some kind of medieval wine made with spices and other stuff. It tasted ok, kind of like as if Jagermeister made wine or something. It was quite strong though, and made me feel a bit tipsy after finishing it!

Foie gras en feuilleté avec petits fruits rouges! Translation: roasted fattened duck liver with berries jam, served on pastry. MIND BLOWING stuff

Cassoulet, the last one of our trip! Snif

Porcelet (baby pork) with caramelized potatoes

While coming back home, we stopped by a few wineyards and did some tastings. One of the places was Château Villemagne – which was located in another beautiful 12th century house! The land itself was once inhabited by Romans, and the owners found all sorts of treasures including an old amphor and stuff like that. The winemakers living there have been passing down their profession for 5 generations, and they sell their wine bottles at their home only. Apparently, they sell about 10 000 bottles a year! It was truly excellent wine, and we kind of all got drunk at the tasting haha

The wineyard

Some baby grapes!!!

The really ancient 12th century home! On the top you see some kind of watchtower. I can imagine their grandma watching everything in sight from there... hahaha! The dude on the bike on the right is the winemaker on his bike going back home.

The cellar

Oak barrels for aging wine

My mom looking a little bit tipsy

Et c’est fini!… That’s pretty much it for our trip in Spain and France! Now, we just just arrived in Berlin, Germany. It’s the first time we are in Germany and we are really excited about it… in exactly a week, we will play our first gig and then start the tour. Now, I don’t know really what will happen with the blog… it might take a long time for me to update it, or perhaps I will do brief posts, but we will be very busy (or too hungover) while being on tour! Wish us luck, and come say hello if you catch us at one of our gigs!!!!! (See previous post for dates). Cheers!!!!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 41 other followers