INFEST – Death Metal · Thrash Metal
KADAVAR – Hard Rock
Known as Europe’s unstoppable force in the rock and roll circus, KADAVAR is the latest name added to the already amazing lineup of Rockstadt Extreme Fest 2023.
Steeped in the bluesy, brooding, bottom-heavy traditions of bands like Black Sabbath, Hawkwind, and Led Zeppelin, German psych-rock trio Kadavar unapologetically spin ’70s-era hard rock tropes into contemporary stoner metal gold. Known for explosive live shows, the band play hundreds of dates a year, and have done so since issuing their 2010 self-titled debut. That hard work paid off as each album sold better than its predecessor. Their third album, 2017’s Rough Times, entered the German album charts at 18.
2019’s For the Dead Travel Fast registered inside the U.S. metal Top 20 by celebrating all things fuzzy, trippy, and creepy. 2020 saw the band move to Berlin’s Robotor Records and release the uncharacteristically moody The Isolation Tapes during the pandemic. At the end of 2021, Kadavar teamed with American ex-pats Elder to release the conceptual, six song, prog-psych tome Eldovar: A Story of Darkness & Light.
Their style has been categorized to have a „riffed psych rock and doom-like sound” with influences from Black Sabbath, The Doors, Hawkwind and Led Zeppelin.
KNOCKED LOOSE – Hardcore Punk
Bruised and bloodied, Knocked Loose open up the pit with a brutal sound that falls between hardcore punk and metalcore. The Kentucky-based group issued a pair of EPs before inking a deal with Pure Noise ahead of the release of their first full-length effort, 2016’s uncompromising Laugh Tracks. The band continued to hone their beatdown hardcore sound on subsequent efforts like 2019’s A Different Shade of Blue and 2021’s A Tear in the Fabric of Life EP.
Led by screaming frontman Bryan Garris, the Oldham County, Kentucky quintet is also composed of guitarists Isaac Hale and Cole Crutchfield, bassist Kevin Otten, and drummer Dylan Isaacs. In 2011, Garris, Otten, and Hale joined drummer Jared Barron (Concealer, Greyhaven) for an early incarnation of the band (a teenaged Garris honed his early vocal skills by practicing in various area bands with Barron). Later, they enlisted Isaacs as their permanent drummer. Their first EP, Pop Culture, was released on Little Heart in 2014, quickly followed by a split EP with Louisville quintet Damaged Goods. Knocked Loose’s debut LP arrived in 2016. Laugh Tracks (Pure Noise) debuted on the Billboard 200 and in the Top 50 on six separate side charts. The band teamed up with prolific engineer Will Putney for their sophomore effort, 2019’s punishing A Different Shade of Blue, which introduced elements of thrash and melodic death metal into their already punitive sound. In 2021 the band released the potent Tear in the Fabric of Life, a conceptual six-song EP about grief and isolation that was accompanied by a short animated film created by Swedish filmmaker Magnus Jonsson.
LEGION OF THE DAMNED – Death Metal · Thrash Metal
Prepare yourself for a brutal onslaught of Dutch thrash metal and death metal as Legion of the Damned joins the lineup for Rockstadt Extreme Fest, taking place near Râșnov Fortress in Transylvania from 2-6 August 2023. This phenomenal band is ready to bring their unique blend of horror motifs, dark occult and religious themes, and apocalyptic events to the stage, and the Rockstadt Extreme Festival team couldn’t be more thrilled to have them on board.
Formed in 1992 as Occult and later renamed to Legion of the Damned in 2006, the band hails from Limburg, The Netherlands. The current lineup consists of Maurice Swinkels on vocals, Erik Fleuren on drums, Harold Gielen on bass, Twan van Geel on guitars, and Fabian Verweij on guitars. The band is known for their aggressive style and relentless energy, and they have shared the stage with legendary acts such as Cannibal Corpse, Kataklysm, and Sodom.
Their debut album, „Malevolent Rapture,” was released in 2006, followed by „Sons of the Jackal” in 2007. Throughout their career, Legion of the Damned has consistently released powerful albums, including „Feel the Blade” (2008), „Cult of the Dead” (2009), „Descent Into Chaos” (2011), „Ravenous Plague” (2014), and „Slaves of the Shadow Realm” (2019). Their music showcases a blend of thrash metal madness and death metal brutality that has won them fans across the globe.
Legion of the Damned’s live performances are a testament to their ferocious intensity and dedication to their craft. They have appeared at numerous festivals, including the renowned Wacken Festival, and their shows are known for their high energy and crushing sound. As they bring their unstoppable force to the Rockstadt Extreme Fest stage, fans can expect a performance that will leave them breathless and begging for more.
LIONHEART – Beatdown Hardcore
Formed in 2004 in Oakland, California, Lionheart consists out of vocalist Rob Watson, guitarists Evan Krejci and Rob McCarthy, as well of bassist Chad Hall (currently in „Wear the Crown” – a heavy metal / hardcore band formed in 2017) and drummer Jay Scott after several line-up changes.
The band released their debut record The Will to Survive on September 2, 2007, via Stillborn Records and I Scream Records which got re-released with bonus materials two years later. After signing a record deal with Mediaskare Records Lionheart released their second studio album Built on Struggle on January 8, 2011. A year and a half later, on May 8, 2012, the follow-up album Undisputed was released again on Mediaskare. An EP Welcome to the West Coast was released on January 14, 2014, via Fast Break Entertainment.
Between July and September 2011 Lionheart toured together with I Declare War. Between January 20–31, 2012 the band toured Europe during the Persistence Tour alongside Biohazard and Suicidal Tendencies.In July the same year a Northern American tour followed with Thick as Blood. The band should have played Europe during that time but the concert tour got cancelled. The band drew criticism from some fans after they confirmed playing a show with Motionless in White in Hawaii. The band stated that it was only one concert. In the beginning of 2015 the band toured Europa as participant of the Taste of Anarchy Tour with Nasty and German Beatdown band Coldburn.The band played some mid-sized festivals in summer 2005 including Ieperfest in Belgium, Traffic Jam Open Air and Summerblast Festival, both located in Germany. The festival appearances were part of a second Europe tour in Europe in 2015 where the band shared stage with bands like Death by Stereo, H2O, Born from Pain, 7 Seconds and First Blood.
In the beginning of 2016 the band released their fourth studio album called Love Don’t Live Here via German-based label Beatdown Hardwear Records. On May 26, 2016, the band announced their break-up. Five days after that announcement Lionheart announced the dates of their Farewell Tour in Europe, which included appearances on festivals like With Full Force, Vainstream Rockfest and the Free & Easy Festival all located in Germany. Even so, Lionheart played shows in Serbia and Greece for the first time. On August 12, 2016, it was announced that the Farewell Tour will be expanded so the band will play their last concert in Germany on November 5, 2016, in Chemnitz.
After about a year disbanding, on Facebook the band announced that they had reunited.
LOST IN KIEV – Post-Rock
Post rock has ever since its beginnings shown an affinity to the use of speech samples, and has borrowed voices from movies or speeches by celebrities like Iggy Pop as in Mogwai’s „Punk Rock“ or random lost souls as in GY!BE’s „Blaise Bailey Finnegan III“. LOST IN KIEV take this tradition to the next level, by writing their own genuine storyline, and making their own movie to their album.
Ever since 2016’s Nuit noir, the band has recorded their own spoken words, as opposed to plagiarizing from movies. During their live performances, these voiceovers are synchronized with video projections showing actors who interprete the different voices on screen. An inverted soundtrack of sorts, or musical fiction, always tinged with realism in a striking and emotionally intense way.
From the first notes, Lost in Kiev brings an epic and massive post rock, driven by the energy of rock mixed with some electronic sounds. The 4 members of Lost in Kiev like to tell stories with their music, they writes and records their own words proposing for samples and create their own visuals stuff, like video projections, to creating a consistency between the graphics and the emotions, giving the listeners a coherent experience.
Persona, the latest album released under the french moniker, sees the band further expand their own idiosyncratic take on cinematic, contemporary post rock. „The main challenge with this record was how to write more direct and shorter post rock tracks with the same intensity as our previous, longer compositions“, guitarist Maxime Ingrand explains, „and also finding the right balance between traditonal post rock, the addition of synths and machines and the texts for the film“.
MARDUK – Black Metal
An unswerving commitment to blasphemy and extremity combined with a relentless touring schedule and a steady stream of recordings has helped establish Sweden’s Marduk as one of the better-known bands on the Scandinavian black metal scene. They began as more of a standard death metal band with a black metal influence, but have come to be known for their style of extreme black metal, which tends to focus on themes of warfare and anti-Christian sentiment and is characterized by relentlessly fast drumming and blurred walls of guitar. The group formed under the leadership of guitarist Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson in 1990, with vocalist Andreas Axelsson, bassist Richard Kalm, and drummer Joakim Grave rounding out the lineup.
They released their controversially titled demo tape Fuck Me Jesus in 1991. Soon after, a second guitarist was added in Devo Andersson, while Bogge Svensson replaced Kalm on bass. Using this lineup, Marduk recorded their first official album, Dark Endless, which came out the following year on No Fashion Records. Unhappy with No Fashion, the band made the jump to the French Osmose Productions imprint, releasing Those of the Unlight in 1993, this time with Grave on drums as well as vocals and a new bassist in B. War. For their following release, 1994’s Opus Nocturne, Fredrik Andersson was brought in on drums, Devo Andersson was dropped, and Grave was resigned to vocals. (Meanwhile, Osmose set about releasing the Fuck Me Jesus demo in 1995, at which time it was banned in seven countries.)
In 2002, Emil Dragutinovic replaced Andersson on drums, and the following year the band released the more midtempo World Funeral, which was seen by some fans as an attempt to break into the mainstream. Devo returned to the band in 2004, this time on bass, and later that year Marduk released the more religiously themed Plague Angel, a theme the band would continue on their 2007 follow-up, Rom 5:12. Their 11th album, Wormwood, appeared in 2009, followed shortly by Serpent Sermon, which arrived in 2012. The overtly military-themed Frontschwein, harking back to Panzer Division, arrived in 2015. The following year, the band had to postpone their U.S. tour after being denied entry visas; when the tour finally went ahead in 2017, their Oakland, California show was cancelled after the venue was targeted by Antifa protestors. Undeterred as usual by controversy, they soldiered on, going back in the studio for 2018’s Viktoria, a raw, back-to-basics black metal album that saw them going even more old-school than ever.
MAYHEM – Black Metal
Founding fathers of the Norwegian black metal scene, Mayhem emerged in the mid-’80s and went on to influence countless bands with their uncompromisingly abrasive music and sordid history. The group courted controversy from their inception with their blood-soaked live performances, occult imagery, and ghoulish corpse paint. Their legend grew in the ’90s with their connection to a spate of Norwegian church burnings, the suicide of vocalist Per Yngve Ohlin („Dead”), and the murder of guitarist Øystein Aarseth („Euronymous”) by ex-member Varg Vikernes („Count Grishnackh”). Though the band continued to perform and record well into the next century – they issued their sixth LP, Daemon, in 2019 – they remain infamous for their non-musical history and their 1994 debut, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, which is considered a classic of the genre.
Inspired by bands like Bathory, Motörhead, Black Sabbath, Slayer, Celtic Frost, and Venom – they took their name from the latter group’s song „Mayhem and Mercy” – Mayhem came together in 1984 around bassist Necrobutcher (Jørn Stubberud), guitarist Euronymous (Oystein Aarseth), and drummer Kjetil Manheim. After releasing the demo Pure Fucking Armageddon, the trio recruited vocalist Maniac (Sven Erik Kristiansen), who made his studio debut on the band’s 1987 debut EP Deathcrush. Manheim and Maniac left the fold the following year and were replaced by drummer Hellhammer (Jan Axel Blomberg) and vocalist Dead (Per Yngve Ohlin), the latter of whom became notorious for his commitment to his chosen moniker: depressed and introverted, Dead was known to hoard deceased animals, bury his clothes in the ground the night before a show, and cut himself extensively on-stage. Congruent with their lead singer’s death obsession, Mayhem’s live shows became a lurid spectacle, a swirling mosh pit/meat grinder awash in human blood and dead animal parts. The band moved to a house in Oslo in 1990 to begin working on material for their first full-length effort.
During this time, Euronymous opened his own record store, Helvete, which served as a hub for the burgeoning Norwegian black metal scene. On April 8, 1991, Dead slit both of his wrists and then finished the job with a shotgun. Euronymous, upon finding his bandmate’s body, discovered a suicide note that commenced with „Excuse the blood,” and included lyrics for the song „Life Eternal,” which, many years later, would appear on the group’s debut album. He then left the scene to buy a disposable camera, and after returning, rearranged some items and took photographs of the corpse, one of which was used as the front cover of the 1995 bootleg live LP The Dawn of the Black Hearts. Shaken by the death of his friend and bandmate, bassist and co-founder Necrobutcher left the group, leaving just Hellhammer and Euronymous, the latter of whom had taken to wearing a necklace he had made with pieces of Dead’s skull.
In 1992, the duo recruited a trio of session musicians (Burzum’s Varg Vikernes on bass, Thorn’s Snorre Ruch on guitar, and Tormentor’s Attila Csihar on vocals) and began laying down tracks for their debut full-length effort. The following year, Euronymous was forced to close Helvete due to an increasing media and police presence brought about by Dead’s suicide, a string of high-profile church burnings, and other associated acts of violence: Euronymous and Vikernes had been conspiring to blow up Nidaros Cathedral ahead of the release of the album. The plan never came to fruition, however, as Vikernes murdered Euronymous on August 10, 1993, stabbing him 23 times outside of Euronymous’ Oslo apartment. Vikernes was arrested and later convicted of both murder and arson and went on to spend 15 years in prison. Ruch (aka Blackthorn), who had made the 518-kilometer drive from Bergen with Vikernes to confront Euronymous but waited downstairs, received an eight-year sentence for complicity in murder, leaving Csihar and Hellhammer as the sole remaining members of the group.
MESHUGGAH – Extreme Metal
Mavericks. Pioneers. Unique. Immutable.
Meshuggah stand alone. The most inventive and creative metal band of the last 30 years and one of the most widely revered, Meshuggah have been standard bearers for forwardthinking creativity in heavy music throughout their illustrious careers.
First conjured from the ether in Umeå, Sweden, by guitarist Fredrik Thordendal, frontman Jens Kidman in 1987 and bassist Peter Nordin, early incarnations of the band took a blowtorch to established rules for modern metal, warping the essence of Bay Area thrash to their own ends, and hurling countless seemingly disparate influences into the resultant brew. Signing with Nuclear Blast Records as the ‘90s clicked into gear, Meshuggah released their debut album Contradictions Collapse in 1991, garnering solid reviews but limited
It was when the band coalesced around a settled line-up of Thordendal, Kidman and Nordin,alongside rhythm guitarist Mårten Hagström and powerhouse drummer Tomas Haake, that their true artistic mission became apparent. Tentatively showcased on 1994 EP None, Meshuggah’s sound was undergoing a complete overhaul. The end result was Destroy Erase Improve. Brutal, complex, perverse and relentless, D.E.I. noisily rejected the early ‘90s metal status quo, jettisoning all old school influences and dragging heavy music glitching and shrieking into a far more interesting and challenging future. The recruitment of a new bassist, Gustaf Hielm, only strengthened the band’s momentum and resolve.
A subsequent tour of Europe as main support to Machine Head introduced the Swedes’ genre-shattering music to an ever-growing audience, and by the time Meshuggah released their third full-length album, Chaosphere, in November ’98, they were firmly established as contemporary legends. Far more vicious and unhinged than its predecessor, Chaosphere heralded the finally shrugging off of any elements recognisable from metal’s past or present, via visceral but clinical waves of polyrhythmic destruction like the now immortal New Millennium Cyanide Christ. Now universally acknowledged as a unique and potent musical force, Meshuggah toured extensively alongside both Slayer (in 1999) and Tool (in 2001), demonstrating an uncanny ability to fit in everywhere and nowhere along the way.
A new century became the perfect springboard for Meshuggah’s most significant evolutionary leap. Eschewing the frantic bedlam of Chaosphere for something more dynamic, powerful, hypnotic and heavy, the band rebuilt their sound from the ground up for2002’s Nothing. Once again widely hailed as a masterpiece, the album’s densely psychedelic take on futuristic brutality enabled Meshuggah to inject vastly more atmosphere and drama into their much-praised live shows. Meanwhile, both 2004’s one-track brain-blitz I and the following year’s conceptual/experimental splurge CatchThirtyThree suggested that the band were still in a state of perpetual flux, with an identity still yet to be fully determined.
Aptly, the recruitment of a new bassist, Dick Lövgren, in 2004, turned out to be an essential final piece in the band’s enduring and confounding jigsaw. With renewed focus and ferocity,
Meshuggah have been an unstoppable force ever since. From the gleaming savagery of 2008’s ObZen and the imperious menace of 2012’s Koloss, to the cudgelling career peak and insane riff armoury of 2016’s The Violent Sleep Of Reason, their status as metal’s most inspired and inspiring band has remained unassailable and beyond dispute.
Commercial impact and critical acclaim have both followed accordingly, too. Koloss and The Violent Sleep Of Reason burst onto the Billboard Top 200 chart at #17, Meshuggah’s highest
US chart entries to date. TVSOR also conquered Australia’s Top 10 Album chart, while the album’s crushing opening track Clockworks was nominated for a Grammy for Best Metal
Performance in 2018. That same year, Meshuggah walked away from Metal Hammer’s Golden Gods awards ceremony with the much-coveted “Inspiration” trophy: a fitting tribute to three decades of mercurial creativity. Meanwhile, as showcased on their celebrated live documents Alive (2010) and The Ophidian Trek (2014), Meshuggah have become ever more devastating and otherworldly as a live act, too. 2022 brings the release of the Swedish icons’ ninth and most fearlessly creative studio album yet. Full of surprises and yet instantly recognisable as the work of metal’s most idiosyncratic force, Immutable redefines and redesigns the Meshuggah sound, across more than an hour of the most stimulating and absorbing music the band have ever made.
Despite the challenges of the last couple of years, the progressive principles that have always informed their artistic efforts remain as cherished as ever. As we spiral towards a dystopian future, Meshuggah still stand alone.