Dinkelsbühl, Germany, 17-20 August 2016
How many idiots could actually be at the same time on the A6, and not even looking like to go to Summer Breeze festival? Oh how nice that Grand Magus grand me patience, via CD player. Eventually I get there just in time to the first tunes of Mantar’s “Era Borealis” at a jam-packed T-Stage. My own tent has to wait for a while. Mantar deliver pure demolition, singer Hanno pukes his soul out and Drum Animal Erinc basically does the same, just by drumming . Definitely a very interesting perspective for the audience, as the drums are placed on the right edge of the stage and singer Hanno a few meters across. In “White Nights” Hanno even climbs the drums. Minimalistic, but a show with maximum energy. A must-see.
Not much less energy later with Grand Magus, the Conan Theme heralds the first title “I, the Jury” and for the next hour fists are raised. Usually Grand Magus do not offer too much action on stage – no need, that would actually disturb the pathos-driven music. Striking how many metalheads can sing along. They play from the current, unfortunately somewhat weaker album “Varangian” only one song, otherwise it’s hits like “On Hooves of Gold”, “Steel vs. Steel”, “Triumph and Power”, “Like the Oar Strikes The Water” and of course the now indispensable “Hammer of the North” which is still hummed / shouted for minutes after the show ended.
Vader deliver full power later, unfortunately I don’t know song titles. “Sothis” and “Wings” I could identify, otherwise I was rather too busy banging along. Vader live are amazing, yet not too exciting in CD form, in my opinion. Late in the evening on the main Camel Stage then German Black Thrash with avant-garde influences – Ketzer! The band from Bergisch Gladbach draws masses of people to the small stage. They start with “Starless” from the eponymous new album; some people say Starless is a bit too much for their old fans. Since I heard Ketzer’s new stuff first and then the older material, I have to admit they might be right. Does not matter, nice avant-garde touch and an energetic show.
Thursday begins for me with Excrementory Grindfuckers via recorder, from my camping neighbor’s van speakers at full volume. I want to kill him! But that’s not a real option, and in the end he turns out to be a great guy, with a penchant for beards; he photographed beards only at the festival. Tough dude!
Exodus I have seen at PartySan in Karlsruhe already, but whatever. They are always fun! Just a pity that Gary Holt is not present, because on Friday he’s with Slayer on the same stage. Nevertheless Exodus put out an admittedly routine, but no less ambitious show. The song selection speaks for itself: “Blood in, blood out”, “And then there were none”, “Exodus” – which no longer belongs to the Live repertoire for several years, “A Lesson in Violence” with dedication to Lemmy, ” blacklist ” and of course” Bonded by Blood ” and ” Strike of the Beast “. Similarly At the Gates a little later on the same stage: Tomas Lindberg, Jensen and colleagues put on a very respectable and fairly tight show, they know how to inspire the audience. With a perfect sound, the focus was on the current album “At War with Reality” with six songs plus numerous hits like “Slaughter of the Soul”, “Under a Serpent Sun”, ” nausea “and of course ” Blinded by Fear “.
Then Swedish Tribulation enter the T-stage, their performances are always delightful, same here again. A revelation, I have always assumed this guitar ballerina on speed is a she, turns out a he. Forgive me this faux pas, with reference to the picture gallery… Tribulation have emerged from the underdog level by intensive presence at Central European festivals, which can be seen easily by the number of visitors in front of the stage. Airbourne on the main stage are not to be missed, of course. The Aussies come with a new album “Breakin ‘outta Hell” due to be published on 23/09. Joel O’Keeffe does his reputation more than justice when he climbes trusses with his axe at the beginning of the show. First class entertainers and generous with beer – six to eight cans of beer are opened by Joel, fingertip or Rock’n Roll style on the forehead, and thrown into the thirsty crowd. Songwise Airbourne focused on the debut album, there was a song from the new album as well. At the end of Airbourne Set suddenly water falls from the sky. What the hell is that? But as I intendet to watch Entombed A.D. on the T-Stage now anyway, that’s not a problem, although I’m already properly wet when I get there. LG Petrov should have rejoiced over the downpour as it flushes a few extra viewers into the tent. The visibly cheerful Entombed A.D. fronter unwillingly competes with Joel Airbourne in terms of a desire to move. The difference is – besides the music – that Petrov distributes water instead of beer. The song selection is solid, new stuff like “The Winner has lost” and the well-known pearls “Revel in Flesh”, “Stranger Aeons”, “Wolverine Blues” and of course “Left Hand Path”.
Check this interactive gallery, or the full size photos at Flickr:
Testament at half past twelve are the highlight for me today, absolutely tight, comparable to none. Whether it’s because of Chuck Billy – it seems he won’t need a microphone to project his voice volume, or Skolnick / Peterson who sweep across the stage, while delivering a solo after another. And no reason to complain about the setlist: “Over the Wall” is, “Practice what you preach”, “Into the Pit”, “Disciples of the Watch”, and “The Formation of Damnation” marks the end. Yeah, good. I still wanted to have “Sins of Omission” and “Trial by Fire” back in the setlist.
Friday starts almost exactly as Thursday. Excrementory Grindfuckers in a deafening volume. No shit! This time I’ve taken precautions and put on my customized hearing protection. At least not slept until the afternoon program. Breakfast? – Undertow? – Breakfast? – Undertow …… breakfast! Fuck! I should have picked Undertow, according to an acquaintance they were pretty good. My festival day starts a few hours later with Bombus who rock the T-Stage in front of not too few people. Although it’s not really full, but still quite respectable for this time. With a menacing “Let her die” the Swedes start their … what actually is not so clear, their sound cannot really be placed into a genre in my opinion. Just listen to them yourself, it was definitely well done.
On the T-Stage Soilwork play and I’m almost a bit shocked how little of the – yes again – Swedes (they’re everywhere!) I actually know. In any case powerful action on stage, Björn “Speed” Strid has grown into a world-class singer and gets the crowd easily under control. The Circle Pit contiues almost troughout the show and stands as evidence of first-class quality on stage, with “Nerve”, “Rejection Role” or late “The Ride Majestic”.
Impressive likewise: Queensryche, however I only get to hear the first three songs.
Afterwards Mastodon crush the Pain Stage into their subnuclear components. The four prog Sludge- hard rockers put out an intense gig that leaves me soon running out of superlatives. Initially still very concerned about the current album “Once more Round the Sun”, they then move to songs from the top album “Blood Mountain” and at the end of the show “Blade Catcher”, “the wolf is loose” and ” Crystal Skull ” are provided to the enthusiastic crowd, plus “Blood and thunder” of the Leviathan album on top of it. Massive reason for head banging.
Carcass‘ turn then on the main stage, and I would have expected more people. Perhaps the audience is somewhat oversaturated, it’s just two years since Jeff Walker and Bill Steer stood on the same stage. Nevertheless, the veterans bring a grandiose Death Metal show on to the stage.
The Ramblings of Eisbrecher Checker Wesselsky I get to hear during a short trip to the campground. Entertaining between songs but not without the music. Eisbrecher’s NDW sound is quite exotic in the billing anyway.
Actually it would have been Lemmy with Motörhead today on the main stage, had his heart not stopped last year. Lemmy leaves a gap in the metal community, which is never to refill. With Slayer the festival offers a technically more or less – depends on the personal opinion – good replacement.
Somewhat unusual is the intro, AC / DC’s Thunderstruck – really? The four Thrash Titans enter the stage and start their show with “Repentless” from the current album. Well, what to write about Slayer anyway? Most of you have probably already watched Slayer live somewhere. There is not so much change, especially during a tour, maybe they changed or replaced a song. Kerry King is usually on the right, Gary Holt on the left. Yet every Slayer concert is an experience because just simply SLAYEEER! On the current tour you have for example “Fight til Death” from the first album 1983. How cool! Even “Born of Fire” you have not heard live for quite a while. Finally, after a long time again “Hell awaits”. Only “Chemical Warfare” is not played, and for “Hardening of the Arteries”, “Piece by Piece” and “Kill again” I shall probably have to wait forever.
In the meantime it’s pretty trendy to play an album in “its entirety” at their anniversary, or for some other reason. Last year at the same place Amorphis played the full Tales album for a 21 year anniversary, and this year Sigurd “Satyr” Wongraven with – you guessed right – Satyricon give “Nemesis Divina ” to full extent. And it was indeed among the best shows I have seen at this festival, although I’m not even a particularly devoted Satyricon fan. Never found them more than OK, but this here was marvellous. Presence, professionalism and impact walked hand in hand, and the arrogance of Satyr on stage being rumored in the past there was nothing to be seen. The songs were played not quite in the same order as on the album, but this does not matter. Toward the end, there were three more recent songs of which I only knew “Black Crow on a Tombstone”. But a great gig. Satyr can count me in as a fan in the future.
At a four-day festival there is always the same problem: At some point, because of being exhausted, too much alcohol, too little sleep and so on, you just want it to end. This time is also not much different to me, the last day has to be endured. Moreover, my car is stuck in the parking lot, I could not get away even if I wanted. So let’s go on. Goitzsche Front and then Coppelius wake me relatively rudely from my sleep, today at least no Fräsgeficke – that could be a step forward. To escape further insult to my ears, I enjoy the flow of some hectoliters of lukewarm water over my battered body, before I rise up to the infield, where I listen to the last songs of Psychopunch, belonging to festival inventory by now. They definitely cheer me up, those – yes, again – Swedes, and with their final Motörhead Cover R.A.M.O.N.E.S. they have my full affection. Then I walk to the T-stage to The Other. Their mix of horror punk, Metallica and probably and partially Schlager hits draws at this time and on the last day a respectable number of visitors to the tent. However, the presentation of the band is much more interesting than the music (see photo gallery). Still, their penultimate album “The Devils you know” was great. Live I find them a bit too cheesy sometimes. When talking and drinking with friends and acquaintances we listen to D.A.D. from a little further away, a solid gig just like Illdisposed a little later on the T-stage. Those three songs I heard were really good, “Weak is your God” was one of them, a massive sound. On the main stage meanwhile, shallow humor and much more bare skin are offered. Steel Panther grace the festival with their presence, and who has ever seen a Steel Panther show, knows that you will be entertained. The concept of the show is rather a comedy from the start, but what happens here and now on the airfield has never been seen before. Towards the end of the show, no less than thirty rather scantily clad ladies with impressive busts enter the stage, some even completely naked right from the start. Axis and the song selection was a gas too: “Fat Girl”, “Party like tomorrow is the End of the World”, “17 Girls in a row”, “Gloryhole”, “Community Property” usw.
The absolute contrast later on the T-stage, where My Dying Bride celebrate their legendary tragedy. A grief-stricken Wall of Sound, the last glimmer of hope is sucked from your body and it is suddenly very cold. Aaron Stainthorpe and his colleagues understand to transform the very well attended tent stage to an intimate club gig with their gothic doom / death-doom.
Primordial are currently the best and most intense live band – no doubt. I’ve probably seen this Irish band so many times in the past three years, more than any other band. Just this year alone I’ve seen Alan & Co. 3 times, and it tears me up every time anew. I have this slight fear that there might be a day when Primordial no longer touch my heart. The mere presence that Mr. Averill radiates on stage hits me, and actually every Primordial concert is too short, because they could have played so many songs more. Certainly every metalhead has at least one band, probably rather more from time to time changing favorite bands that touch him, and when I look at a full T-Stage pit, then I hope that at least yet twenty to thirty other people feel exactly how I feel. The much too short setlist speaks for itself: “Where greater Men have fallen”, “No Grave deep enough”, “Babel Tower”, “As Rome burns”, “Wield lightning to split the sun”, “The Coffin Ships” and of course, “Empire Falls”.
A buddy recommended Batushka , and I have listened to them via Youtube a few weeks ago, found them pretty ok but I was no longer in the mood. Or something. Somehow I wrestle up the strength to check out this Orthodox Black Metal, and I should not regret it. The stage is bathed in atmospheric red light, an icon depicted on the backdrop and a masked high priest catches the eye, when he sings an unholy mass behind a tilted book desk. Three altar boys support the singer as a choir, while the rest of the musicians keep in the background. Initially only a little impressed, my enthusiasm increases with every song, all of which titled Yekteniya and only distinguished by numbers. Batushka move skillfully between slavering frenzy and hypnotic slowness, but always at a high level. You should definitely watch them when the occasion arises, in the coming festival season this band will certainly be featured at one or the other festival.
(photos: B. Schmiterlöw)