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Metalfest Open Air Helvetia 2012

7.-10.6.2012 , Z7 Konzertfabrik, Pratteln, CH

The METALFEST takes place in seven countries (Italy, Kroatien, Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, East+West Germany and in Switzerland) and eight locations nowadays, with a pretty similar program – there fore the STALKER report about MetalFest Helvetia represents them all.

Interactive photo gallery at the bottom

Thursday, June 7, 2012
The first day program started at 19.30h. In the camping area people were almost drowning while setting up their tents in the pouring rain, the commuters and 1-day guests arrived. And we all had to wait for 1h in the rain, because obviously the organizers had not expected so many people – only 1 checkpoint was open that exchanged tickets for wristbands. Therefore we missed the first band Emergency Gate unfortunately, although we had arrived 30min before doors opened. When the second band Gurd was on, we had finally entered the festival area, but it looked like many others would be missing that one, too. The Thrashers Gurd alias Z7 sound guy Franky and his gang played a 45min set that put us all in the right festival mood.

As there was only one stage, the re-setting took a while, up to 40 min are still a bit too much. The Polish act did not impress me too much this time,so we inspected the merchandise stand, which was also better of if it had been built on a boat – having one of those to get from A to B would have been nice on this day anyway.

It was obvious that many had come for this band, as the concert hall was full when Blackie Lawless & Co entered stage. They played a selection of their biggest hits including Crazy, Wild Child, L.O.V.E Machine, and even a medley of their most popular 80s songs. The band – which celebrated their 30th anniversary this year – gave it all, and even without rockstar attitude that you usually expect from Mr. Lawless. W.A.S.P again on Z7 stage, that was something, as this is also one of the best Swiss clubs – they were for me THE festival highlight, as no other band impressed me as much in the upcoming days.

The final act of this evening were those Polish Lords of sinister sounds. Singer Nergal still shows signs of the disease he had to overcome last year. The stage show was therefore re-arranged and seemed less energetic than before. Still a great performance, and those new microphone stands are definite eye-catchers. (SM)

Friday, June 8, 2012
As the weather forecast didn´t promise any improvement, we decided to drop by later and missed therefore the bands Arcturon, Fearce, Curse Of Society and Bang Bus Project. In the area the audience was also catered to with a variety of meals, Vegetarian and meat or fast-food, at moderate prices – and plenty.
None of us had ever heard of this band, but we were positively surprised. Blus from German Freiburg cheered up the crowd at the indoor stage, with Metal, or Emotronic as they call it. Musically quite good, the vocals could still be worked on. The facial expression of the singer reminded me of Soilwork front man Bjorn Strid. (SM)

Outside the Dutch band Heidevolk continued the partying. Although their songs sound pretty similar, it´s a welcome alternative to all those Death& Thrash Bands of this day. (SM)

These Polish warriors were unknown to me before. Somewhere in between the lands of Behemoth and Watain, they crushed their dark tunes. I have to say they were definitely the biggest surprise (in a positive sense) of the whole Friday, leaving even their country men in their shadow. Even though their material is not the most orginal sounding, this band is definitely worth seeing live. (MH)

Death Angel
Definitely the highlight of the day. It´s always fun to see those US boyz live. Those guys almost exploded with energy and their music is pretty much always a special treat. This is how Thrash Metal should sound like, in my opinion. Singer Mark Osegueda is quite a character, so it´s simply a blast to watch him on stage and to take pictures. I´d preferred Death Angel to play a little bit longer. (SM)

Oh how I long for more bands like this one at festivals – as I´m not too much into Death and Thrash Metal. No problem to listen to one or the other band, but 4 days of festival with the same sound is a bit too much. Steelwing with their Leggins Heavy Metal were like a revelation, and singer Riley hit incredible high notes. The Swedes entertained with a great show, the audience was thrillend – and I am sure they won´t have been angry if Steelwing had played a bit longer. (SM)

seem to be stalking me, because the Finns appear in the line-up of every festival that I attend. Sure, Ensiferum are always fun, but even the best band becomes boring when seen to often. Therefore we used the chance to relax on the few Z7 seating accomodations while the crowd gathred in front of the stage to sing along with Ensiferum all those songs we know by heart already. (SM)

The Power Metal band Brainstorm didn´t seem to have their best day, to be honest. Those guys were not bad, but somehow their sound didn´t quite fit to the other bands. (SM)

Kyuss Lives!
was the odd bird of the day. Completely different style of music was represented while these Californian lads pulled out their desert rock performance. I had my doubts in the beginning, but the more they played, it seemed to work well in the darkening night and a hippie dance pit was formed within the audience. Kyuss lives! was undoubtedly a delightful zest in the line up.(MH)

Dark Tranquillity
In my opinion the festival days lasted way too long when the last band of the line-up starts way after midnight and plays until 1:30h. But we wanted to listen to a few songs of Dark Tranquillity, at least. Singer Stanne was in a fantastic mood and got on stage with a smile I haven´t seen from any musician on that day. The band radiated so much joy of making and playing music, so that you wanted to be on stage with them. A real great finale of the second evening. (SM)


Saturday, June 9, 2012
A short night, but at least it´s not raining like hell. Still we decided to skip the first bands Alestorm, Fueled By Fire, Gonoreas, Zatokrev and Silent Circus.
Fleshgod Apocalypse
was our first band of this day, their Death Metal isn´t that bad and seemed to entertain the huge crowd in the hall too. With the exception of the high-pitched vocal contributions of the guitar player, the Italians left nothing to complain about. (SM)

The Dutch Legion Of The Damned could enjoy a huge crowd as they are indeed welcome in Switzerland. I have to say that they are not quite my cup of tea, but their Metalfest gig was indeed a blast. (SM)

The Canadians Skull Fist seemed to have partied a bit too much, the arms of all musicians bore blue, burn and edding marks. Musically not that bad but somehow they didn´t quite convince. (SM)

You cannot expect anything less from Hypocrisy than a great show, at least regarding the songs. As always, there is not much action on stage – with the exception of Mr. Tägtgren´s grimaces – but the band takes over the crowd in a split second. Clearly, those Swedes rock any festival and cheer up the audience. (SM)

These portuguese warriors have never let me down. And they didn’t let me down this time either. Wearing a steel helmet and black vinyl trousers Fernando Ribeiro and his army marched in front of the fully packed Z7 and offered a set full of old hits spiced up with some new energy. Full moon madness lifted the sealing in Z7 and lit up the swizz audience. I was expecting a little bit more new material, but a gig with this kind of intensity, you really cannot complain about anything. (MH)

hasn’t done too many shows in their home country, and was righteously selected to headline the fest on saturday. Z7 was packed again and the slowly warming up swizz audience was ready for them. And Triptykon fulfilled all expectations. Massive sound, T.G. Fisher’s personal touch to perform and the cute Vanja with her bass got everyone’s attention. But most of all, the music spoke to itself. A great ending for my first Metalfest Helvetia experience! (MH)

Sunday, June 10, 2012
Sometimes I wonder how people can possibly keep partying for 4 days and even watch all the bands at a festival – alcohol, drugs? No matter how, they deserve my respect. The first bands For Dawn and Abinchova were skipped also on this day, because Triptykon had kept us awake until 3 o´clock in the morning.
I had been looking forward to this band the most, as they are one of the best Swiss Deathmetallers. Tom, Ralph, Adrian and Drummer Deniz played a good show that cheered up tired spirits – although you could see how nervous singer Tom really was. Unfortunately Disparaged don´t play that often. I would have enjoyed some more of their old songs, but they played a lot from the upcoming album, and I can hardly wait. (SM)

had been introduced by Disparaged as the visual highlight of the day, and I was curous if Jill Janus can sing live as well as on the record and the video. Huntress have gained a status as THE newcomers, a portion of bare skin and silicon enhancements might have helped too. I would have enjoyed to be convinced otherwise, but unfortunately Jill live cannot keep the promises of the album, she can just screech and blurt a frew growls. Also visually, the photos of this ex-Playgirl had promised much more. Jill and her guys might be likeable persons, but it´s sad that one girl destroys the hard work of many others, who have struggled to be accepted in the Metal scene because of their vocal skill and their music, not their looks. Therefore please get some live vocal coaching next time. (SM)

Nexus Inferis
Future Extreme Metal, this is what they call this organised noise. The costumes are original but not the music. All I can say is – quick escape to the outside area to relax my ears. (SM)

were a real highlight. This Symphonic Death Metal band from Greece convinced with a great show, and also visually – even though they didn´t move around too much, they seemed very dynamic. First I thought that this band cannot impress that much in plain daylight, but I have never seen those guys in such good shape. Simply great! (SM)

Swallow the Sun
“Don’t Fall asleep”, quite a fitting motto at this time of day; most people appeared quite exhausted already, only a few still partied in the area. Swallow the Sun seemed a bit tired as well, but they still gave their best. Keyboarder Aleksi didn´t quite rock as much behind his instrument as usual, but that wasn´t a big problem. Maybe they should have put some faster tracks on their set list. (SM)

Grand Magus
Besides Septicflesh one of the highlights of this festival day, they even blew some life into the tired fans and inspired them to party once again. Even the Death Metal fans seemed to enjoy this band as a welcome contrast. What those 3 guys do on stage is simply unbelievable – this is definitely one of the bands I want to see live again, and hopefully soon. Well, the Swedes simply know how to rock. (SM)

The festival finale was crowned by performances of Powerwolf and Kreator, but we decided to call it a day a bit earlier.
Summing up, the Swiss Metalfest is a bit smaller in comparison to the others and has a familial atmosphere. Many fans are regulars at Z7, as the club hosts many concerts. Thus you see many familiar faces; one of the disadvantages is the lack of seating accomodations – and unfortunately I also don´t know how to change that in such a small festival area. What was missing this year were trash containers – the floors were simply a mess. One positive aspect is the indoor stage where you could watch bands and keep dry, the other the catering – a nice and tasty alternative to the usual festival food.Therefore 8 Elks for Metalfest Open Air Helvetia.
Thanks to Z7 Crew & Bar Staff, Gad, Nobby, Dane, Melanie and the Security Crew, who all work really hard to host such a festival every year. (SM)

text & photos: Sandy Mahrer, Mari E. Haapala



Sandy Mahrer

Fresh Act editor, reports, reviews, photos - - - Favorite genres? - Hard Rock, Heavy Metal and Pop-Rock etc. Less Death, Black, Grind Core

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