16. – 18.07.2015, Balingen, Germany
What a fantastic Billing Odermatt & Co. have compiled for the 20th anniversary show! It would have been a hard-metallic sin not to join in. All bands had been BYH guests in the past, so the motto of the anniversary show, which has been extended this year one day forward. Anyone who has gone through the full distance incl. The warm-up show, so could be four days pour the ears in metal.
The British thrashers Onslaught will be the first official band of BYH, expected by an at least reasonable number of festival-hungry bangers. They start with “Killing Peace”, for me the highlight the eponymous 2007 album, and for this time of day the gentlemen are surprisingly powerful. From origin occupation Sy Keeler and Nige Rockett are only remained, but this only in passing and for the statisticians among you. The first match will be completed course with “Power from Hell”.
Shortly before half past four in this bright and beautiful and at the same time brutally hot Thursday – we should actually only get a Friday as hot as 38 ° C, but somebody must have got something messed up – gathered an unusually large amount battle-hardened longhaired (as well as some short-haired, and even womenfolk are said to have been present) to pay homage to the currently truest Swedish steel, for the Joey maybe once would be willing to sacrifice his life. We’re talking of course of Grand Magus, who give with “Ravens Guide Our Way” from the Hammer of the North Album a bold statement right away. J. B. freshly balded again, apologizes during the gig for the fabulous weather, as Grand Magus usually bring lousy weather to open airs. And actually the weather troubles many metalheads already, the first alcohol and heat inflicted have to be attended to by the emergency medical team. Due to the heat, raising fists and beer mugs is indeed the maximum of exertion. With a divine “On Hooves of Gold,” “Sword of the Ocean”, “Triumph and Power”, “Like The Oar Strikes the Water” and the final “Hammer of the North” this hot hour passes in a flash.
With “Left for Dead” are now Death Angel on the main stage as next in line and the rows in front of the stage condense rapidly. Oh my God!! Do I see some clouds in the sky? Since actually a shadow falls down on us. Only briefly. Does not matter. More Thrash. The remaining original members Rob Cavestany and Mark Osegueda sweep the stage in Manga Kung Fu Syle, losing thereby surely one or two liters of water and refresh us with new as well as old, “Buried Alive” (No, not a Venom Cover) “Voracious Souls” and “Seemingly Endless Time” and left a satisfied audience, despite a not quite stable sound.
From the Bay Area Thrash back to Swedish steel, this time not so hot for the audience, because the hall opens now and Enforcer celebrate their latest release “From Beyond” with an energetic show, which also leaves no one indifferent. Olof and colleagues rock the stage with surprisingly good sound no less stormy than Death Angel yet with more of Maiden touch.
After that W.A.S.P. unfortunately looks a bit poor. Sure, the exhibition center is full in the front and it is also moving the crowd, but what Blackie and crew deliver there … So nooo! Sort-of playback Best of. Well, if you’re good-natured and do not eye Blackie’s lose-hanging skin flaps and simply stay aware the legendary status of the band, then you just enjoy the show and party. In this case also the best solution. With the old the Who cover “The Real Me”, the Californians take over the crow quickly and at the latest with “Love Machine” and “Wild Child” the entire field jumps and of course dances. Then in the end the mandatory program with “I wanna be sombody” and a bonus “Blind in Texas” before Blackie Lawless leaves the stage.
Sabaton follow and I skip …. again. Sorry, but no go. Enough that I have to listen to bullshit like “Panzer Battalion”, “Screaming Eagles” or “Panzerkampf” from the beer tent. Then at a later hour in the tent the Crazy Lixxx play their quite amusing Sleaze Glam WhoknowswhatMetal. I would like to have taken a few pictures, but I’ve forgotten how the camera works, somehow.
Early in the morning at half past eleven Tank wake me from sleeping. Basically a pleasant way to wake up you would think, but somehow Tank do not sound like Tank at all. Although I was not at all displeased with with Doogie White’s vocals, but this has hardly anything in common with the original Tank.
Much better, as expected: Jag Panzer. The probably best singer of the festival, and you can feel the fun even when you are standing in the farthest corner of the field. The Tyrant is quite impressive performing classics like “Generally Hostile”, “Licensed to Kill”, “Chain of Command” and the two cover versions of UFO and Queen. Clearly, this display of classic Heavy Metal fills the place, and the fans know how to sing along, and not just those in front.
Then for the Tygers of Pan Tang it’s almost a bit hard to keep the mood. The venerable NWoBHM veterans make every effort to inspire, but it unfortunately only works a few times. Could be, among other things, that except for the guitarist Rob Weir none is of the original cast. “Rock Candy”, “Paris by Air”, “Euthanasia”, “Do not touch me there” – the focus of the show is clearly on the album Wildcat of 1980.
The Japanese Loudness are afterwards celebrated as prodigal sons who arrive back home. I myself see Loudness here for the first time, and if I had not bought the Thunder in the East some weeks earlier, I’d completely cluelessly stumbled into a fantastic show, kicked off by “Crazy Nights”. The setlist focuses largely on the “Thunder in the East” album from 1985, plus two tracks from the album Disillusion. Remarkable furthermore the pretty unorthodox gown of singer Minoru Niihara and numerous Loudness shirts in the audience. Finally, there was SDI, also one of the most famous title of the Nippon quartet. Very cool!
Alissa White-Gluz apparently does not want that the photographers take pictures from the photo pit, and so must be photographed from the audience. But that’s why you have a tele lens – I’ll get you! Arch Enemy joined the festival ranks late and rock the house, of course, or rather the field. Whether it was now necessary to hire the Melodic Death Swedes is another question, as there seems to be an oversaturation of Amott & Co. As there would have been other bands, for example Armored Saint, who are not playing the day at every festival and who released a great album not long ago. You cannot have everything.
Of Queensryche I don’t see too much but rather prefer Portrait in the hall. And the band takes off as if there’s no tomorrow. In atmospheric light with the opener from the Crimen album “Beast of Fire”, topped up with “We were not alone” from their latest album, the Swedes reap exactly what they deserve: euphoric reactions of an enthusiastic audience. With “Black Easter” and “In Time” from the same album, Per Lengstedt and associates keep the high level, and the initially mushy sound is improving remarkably. You could have put Portrait in the afternoon program on the main stage without further ado, but the band still works a lot better inside, and at every moment you feel the vibe of Mercyful Fate. More please.
Kreator always stand out! Which should be demonstrated again impressively. Actually Kreator were booked “only” for the co-headlining slot. But since the JudasMaidentallicaDC were not available, or had already exclusive commitments, Mille, Speesy, Ventnor and Sami slip into the main position. Whether this is good or bad for BYH with its more traditional orientation, everyone should decide for themselves. The fact is that Kreator rocked the fairgrounds into the ground. At least for those who have seen Kreator for the first time. Admittedly – I think Accept attracted more people on Saturday. Although the show is always bombastic, this time they had a semicircle LED wall to show the cover to the played tracks, and they started again with a bang, a confetti cannon. Not quite necessary in my opinion, but those LED walls look great! The setlist was pretty much the same like at the Rock Hard Festival, everything important was played, and with Terrible Certainty and Renewal they also unpacked two songs that were getting a bit dusty. What bothers me with Kreator something to (and other thrash metal bands) is that Mille requests a mosh pit or circle pit after the second or third track. Come on! This is a reward for your work, and not self-evident! Play! Kill! Thrash! Then the pit is born all by itself. Even the dreaded war cry “Are you ready you kill each other?” is left out. Which means, there was a fair amount of thrashing, but much of killing today.
One of the probably best frontmen in metal starts with his band right after Kreator in the hall. And that’s a good thing – that Primordial play in the hall and not as in 2012 in the afternoon in bright sunlight on the main stage. In any case, the Irish are currently one of those bands who are easily recognized. On the one hand due to the idiosyncratic driving song structures and the probably most charismatic singer, Alan Averill. “Where greater Men have fallen”, the title of their latest album and the opener of this memorable show is massively powerful, which hundreds of raised fists and text secure singalongs – less at the current, rather with older titles – have repeatedly confirmed.
Exciter with original members – what an experience! The Canadians with the microphone at the drum kit destroy everything in their way already with “Stand up and fight”. Dozens of Die Hard fans go nuts in front of the stage to pay homage to the trio Dan Beehler, Alan Johnson and John Ricci.
Amazingly, the double burden for the singing drummer Dan Beehler goes seemingly slight of hand, hits like “Heavy Metal Maniac”, “Iron Dogs”, “Victims of Sacrifice,” Long live the Loud “and” Pounding Metal “are not only shouted along in the first rows. Unfortunately, the fun reaches a far too quick end with “Beyond the Gates of Doom”.
Besides Hirax also Omen play this festival in two consecutive years. While bands like Exciter, Loudness or Jag Panzer fit in nicely, Omen somehow seem completely fallen out of time, but increase the Underground factor and the silent statement of BYH of being beyond the mainstream within the festival culture.
The visibly aged crew around Kenny Powell together with current singer Kevin Goocher manage to mobilize their fans despite the still-lasting heat on the third day of the festival. No wonder with hits like “Die by the Blade,” “Warning of Danger”, “Ruby Eyes (of the Serpent) and” Die by the Blade “. Just the piked chest and shoulder armour – pressed-plastic, or is it plush – delivers (presumably) unintentional entertainment.
Although several Prog Metal Fanatics might not like me any more – I’ve never been the biggest fan of Dream Theater, for me their extremely expansive and totally heady compositions seem strenuous and aimless. Here Petrucci, Myung Co. attract a lot of fans who to a large extent seem to dwell blessedly in other spheres. I meanwhile check out the area again and finally discover the sprinkling device for cooling the overheated metallers. A fine idea.
Accept – about them probably everything written there is to write already. The Solingers and Americans-by-choice apparently own a subscription to the headline slot in Balingen for every second year. Nevertheless, also applies here: Accept always stand out! So Wolf Hoffman, Peter Baltes and the new members on the drums and the second guitar, fire off a stomping “Stampede”; smiley Hoffmann and bassist Baltes pose for the photographers and singer Mark Tornillo flexes time and again his back to heaven. The opener of the current album “Blind Rage” is followed by “Stalingrad” from the previous album and “London Leather Boys” as the only classic I should hear, as I am drawn to the hall to Asphyx.
While others outside listen to the aesthetes the heroic fables of war, in the hall the true Inferno is ignited, and Asphyx do not even need Pyros. Unfortunately, the war starts here in the form of a guitar amp billowing smoke during the first track “Vermin”. The replacing of the same also takes a lot of time to complete, which frontman Martin van Drunen fills with diverse jokes, thanks to the public and other more or less entertaining speeches. For example, a little growling contest with the audience is considered not loud enough by the Death Metal master. “If you Germans plan again an Operation Barbarossa … that won’t work.” “Death, the brutal way” “Eisenbahnmörser”, “MS Bismarck” to name just a few, the Operation Bang Your Head 2015 gets into a Death Metal Inferno finale. A divine “The Rack”, “We doom you to Death” and “Last one on Earth” conclude this year’s destruction of Balingen for me.
Thus the 20-year Bang your Head anniversary on Balingen fairgrounds come at a great end. Even if experienced festival-goers feel slightly oversaturated by the headliners this year, it was just the afternoon program and the performances in the hall, which could more than inspire this year. This cannot be said about the ever-rising prices here. The coupon system has been one of the negative points of the festival, this year also the situation with weather / water is added, which caused a lot of disgruntled visitors. You could buy only a particular brand of water only at the festival site, which was expensive and only came in half-liter or liter bottles. Water brought along had to be finished off at the entrance or been thrown away. Those regulations at such temperatures did not inspire understanding and you could hear the phrase “rip off” quite often, which is of course understandable. High prices for food did not meet the quality you expect for it. Ticket prices had increased because of the extra day, and what was just a guess before the festival is now confirmed for BYH 2016, namely that the additional day would not remain a one time thing. Yet the BYH has always been the pleasant brief exception to all those other three and four-day festivals.
photos: Björn Schmiterlöw