Rétrospective 2011

Wednesday, 08/17/2011

Thursday, 08/18/2011

Friday, 08/19/2011

Saturday, 08/20/2011

(MS) = Main Stage (PS) = Pain Stage (PAS) = Party Stage (CS) = Camel Stage

Wednesday, 08/17/2011

Rituals are important in life. And for many people who go to Summer Breeze every year, the inauguration by Musikverein Illenschwang is an important part of the experience. From the very start, conductor and singer Harich Günther had a big audience and, therefore, an easy game. Right away there were some circle pits, the conga line drew happy circles in the crowd and, during the one-hour show, there were as many as three walls of death! The jolly musicians have even gone as far as offering their own merchandise for sale at the festival, and this year they had shirts and caps as well as their current CD. As the professionals they are, playing countless gigs each year, they took requests as well, and standards like the Zillertal Wedding March were obviously played too. Ozapft is!


With wonderful weather, DAVIDIAN had the honor to open the NEW BLOOD AWARD show and the festival itself. It was easy to tell by the number of attendants the importance the contest has gained by now. With a bigger tent this year it was a perfect start for the Swabians. Despite the impressive setting, the guys didn't show any nerves. From the first minute it was full speed ahead, and the heads were soon banging to the beat. It seemed like the band wasn't completely unknown to the audience. So it didn't surprise that tracks like “Fake Society” and “Manmade Hell” gained excellent reactions. Visibly motivated by the wildly moshing crowd, DAVIDIAN rose to top form. So it was just a logical consequence that a circle pit formed to the band's straight thrash salvos. After 30 minutes and a convincing performance, DAVIDIAN said goodbye, having marked a strong start for Summer Breeze 2011.

Next it was time for some contrast with STEVE FROM ENGLAND's hardcore punk, and the second band of the afternoon was practically forced on stage by the screaming. Unfortunately the gentlemen didn't have the best start, as they had to struggle with some sound problems right away, but luckily these didn't last long. Fired up by a rather condescending audience, the quintet rose to its absolute best form. Going full throttle, STEVE FROM ENGLAND sped from song to song on their very own aural Autobahn, leaving a raging audience behind. The initial difficulties were soon forgotten. With a professional attitude and a lot of fire up their arses, the five-piece delivered a fireworks display of hardcore, setting a first climax for the day. Even the audience had embraced the boys by now and started calling for an encore.

16.40 (PZ) SHEAR
With an over 2,000 kilometer and 30 hour bus ride, SHEAR certainly had the longest and most stressful journey to the festival out of all the NEW BLOOD bands. Two thumbs up and much respect for their dedication! Visibly motivated, the five guys and frontlady Alexa hit the stage with the powerful opener “Someone Else's Eyes”, which was rewarded with appreciative applause by the audience. Unfortunately, Alexa seemed to try too hard at times and didn't seem to have endured the hard journey as well as her band mates. However, the cute blonde recovered over the course of the set, gradually approaching her usual vocal strength. Stylistically rooted in melodic death metal, towards the end of the set the Finns left no doubt that the long journey had been well worth it. So it didn't surprise that the audience was quick to excuse the initial vocal lapse, getting a solid performance in return.

17.30 (PZ) KILT
Kiel's KILT were up next and had the biggest crowd so far – probably due to the fact that most festivalgoers had set up their tents by now and could dedicate time to the bands. KILT were totally going to fulfill their fans' expectations, we'll tell you that much. From the beginning they didn't leave the shadow of a doubt that they were determined to take the audience by storm, and they succeeded brilliantly with their tightly played death metal bombs. “From The Abyss”, “Worlds Collide” and “Enslaved By A Slave” fired up the audience so much the mosh pit expanded up to the edges of the tent. The five band members were visibly enjoying themselves and didn't leave much doubt that they were a hot candidate for the NEW BLOOD AWARD next to STEVE FROM ENGLAND. Well done, boys!

While KILT left a great impression and were even asked for an encore, the fifth participating band ARCTURON had to struggle with the audience a bit more. Only slowly did the punters enter the tent when the young Swiss started their set with “Pleasures Of The Earth”. However, undeterred by the sparse crowd, the band delivered a solid show with a crystal clear sound that made the solos stand out wonderfully. Especially frontman Aljosha Gasser was constantly seeking interaction with the audience, who became more and more happy to oblige as time went by. The small dance pit that formed to “Gryfius” soon mutated into a considerable mosh pit, and by the time they played their fastest song, “The Dissenter”, you couldn't count the number of banging heads with both hands. Even though it wasn't enough to win the contest, the long journey from Switzerland definitely paid off for ARCTURON.

Heidelberg's outlaws took the Camel Stage dressed appropriately for the occasion, and the stage had been decorated as well. Cowboy hats and boots, leather trousers and coats, as well as a fitting backdrop, were what everyone would have expected. But singer Alex Kraft's rifle-shaped mic stand, the cow skull on the bassist's mic stand, the hangman's rope on the guitar cab and the horns on the awesome metallic-sunlight-yellow Ludwig drum kit were really something for the eye. The start was obviously made with an Ennio-Morricone-like harmonica intro, before they spurred their horses and galloped away with the aptly titled “Wild Times”. The band was well received from the start, but kept gaining the audience's favor with every song that went by. They were smart enough to end each segment with a cover version, and the banjo provided some variation to their sound.

The frenetic greeting by a small group of fans right at the beginning of the set indicated a certain popularity of FAREWELL TO ARMS, but holy shit: the four songs this metalcore five-piece delivered went down like a keg of cold beer on a hot day! The band had the crowd firmly in their grip for the whole 25-minute set. Technically tight, each one of the band members moved a lot on their individual positions, and there was a lot of movement among the numerous fans as well. “Stick To Nothing” and “Waiting Till The Sky Falls” were received with circle pits almost all the way through, during “From Init To Exit” half the audience kept jumping, and the wall of death announced by frontman Dominik Martin before “Between The Walls Of Ruins” just wouldn't recede, ending in a hopeless mosh chaos. A salute to the young guard and certainly a highlight on this still young Summer Breeze day.

It was the first Summer Breeze appearance by MELECHESH, a truly extraordinary band with Israeli roots and a very own style which differed significantly from all the other bands on the bill. And the numerous fans in the Party Tent can attest to that, as the group led by front warrior Ashmedi played almost progressive black/thrash with oriental-tinged scales, which give the technical yet wild black metal storm a special mystical charm. Darkly magical songs such as “Rebirth Of The Nemesis” convinced with mighty and precise percussion work, a powerful wall of aggressive buzzsaw guitars, catchy, detailed melodies and expressive vocals. The band's anthems transported an oriental flair, as if the Party Tent was somewhere in the Middle East. In face of the difficult situation over there, all attendants were probably happy to be able to experience the Sumerian black metallers' interesting, gripping and exotic performance right here in Dinkelsbühl. MELECHESH earned fantastic reactions, at least in the front half of the tent there were big mosh pits, the first crowd surfers were spotted, and every song was applauded loudly. Fitting the band's special flair, Ashmedi had even laid out a Persian rug on the stage. Oriental (alternative) culture in Occident!

After MELECHESH had left the stage, truly frenetic cheers arose as Swedish sextet SCAR SYMMETRY took to the stage after the obligatory soundcheck. The tent was almost full and absolutely every one of the musicians' commands was followed consequently and immediately (even to the last rows!) - be it clapping hands or banging fists and horns. Both singers, as well as the rest of the band, did their best to keep the crowd excited, and they succeeded rather effortlessly. Finishing almost every song with a polite “Dankeschön”, they delivered track after track. Enjoying a great sound, a wall of death formed in the audience, making a pretty abrupt contrast to the plush bunny that was thrown on stage. Thrown to the stage were also a few crowd surfers, who were received by the band with open arms. After quickly advertising their signing session at the metal.de stand just before finishing their gig, the band left the stage among frenetic applause.

The pioneers of German thrash metal were up next and already during sound check loads of “DESTRUCTION” chants could be heard. As the intro started there were no holds barred, and many a throat went dry from screaming. As soon as the intro was finished, DESTRUCTION launched into “Curse The Gods”. Where there had been walls of death and circle pits just before, there now was a giant mosh pit that didn't stop until the end of the set. Schmier, who could easily be the father of many of the audience members, said SUMMER BREEZE was the festival of the youth, as opposed to Wacken, where there's more old farts. We shall not comment on that. As old as the protagonists may have been, they didn't let it show. Mike was headbanging from the first second and Schmier kept posing like a madman. They revisited all their creative periods and, even though the crowd was always with them, Schmier didn't stop firing up the mosh pit. Beer showers were given away and once more DESTRUCTION made their fans happy with a professional yet never predictable gig.

23.45 (PZ) VADER
At 23.45 sharp, the Imperial March from Star Wars started playing through the PA, announcing the arrival of VADER. In a Party Tent that was bursting at the seams the death metal veterans were greeted by a sea of raised horns, and they proceeded to open the second half of the Nuclear Blast Label Night with the opening duo from “Necropolis”, “Devilizer” and “Rise Of The Undead”. The crowd, which was hungry for noise from the get-go, had to cope with a rather thin sound at first, but this didn't affect the celebratory atmosphere. By the time the band revisited the year 1994 with “Sothis”, the Polish death metal machine was firing on all cylinders: with dust-dry riffs from the six stringers and a constantly precise and unrelenting artillery from the drum kit. Band leader Piotr “Peter” Wiwczarek used his foreign language skills during his announcements, without forgetting to put on a great show. Despite the energy-draining temperatures and the high speed, the crowd remained loyal until the third half of the set, when things got a bit slower with “Impure” and “The Wrath”. Speaking of slow: for the encore, which was announced as a tribute to the beginnings of heavy metal, VADER doomed through “Black Sabbath” for a tent that was still three quarters full, before “Reign In Blood” marked the appropriate ending to an extremely tight show.

01.10 (PZ) HELL
The “newcomers” HELL may have released their debut album only in 2011, but the band was already around in the early 80s! This true cult band hit the stage in a highly motivated fashion, with their age visible yet unnoticeable due to their enthusiasm and agility. The singer was the obvious center of attention with his silver laurel wreath and mic headset, but especially due to his extroversion and theatricality – no wonder, as he used to play in musicals. The big audience didn't exactly fall into ecstasy, but still clapped along here and there, and the people in the front rows even seemed to know the lyrics quite well. The band harmonized perfectly, in between songs the tension was maintained with keyboard sounds, and the singer provided additional entertainment with a few wardrobe changes. Unnoticed by many, a true metal legend was up there on stage, too – guitarist Mr. Andy Sneap, who has produced or mixed pretty much every band with a name in the business. Hats off to him!

02.20 (PZ) SYLOSIS
When SYLOSIS started their set just past half two, the high temperature and BPM count of the preceding bands had already taken their toll. Only a small circle of diehards persevered in the tent when the young Britons began their dynamic show with 'Empyreal'. And the band showed some signs of tiredness too. According to singer and guitarist Josh Middleton, SYLOSIS were still knackered from the show they had played the night before, so their stage acting wasn't as energetic as one might expect from them. The fans burnt their last energy reserves with a few circle pits, and SYLOSIS played a 40-minute (including encore) cross-section of their two albums in a professional and tight manner and with a powerful sound. It was especially exhilarating to watch Josh Middleton shred his solos with absolute precision. The Nuclear Blast Label Night had a worthy conclusion with this cross-section of their two albums.

Thursday, 08/18/2011

As is already tradition, again this year the festival started on the main area with the presentation of the NEW BLOOD AWARD, which was deservedly won by the five gentlemen in STEVE FROM ENGLAND. Visibly excited and with charming reticence the guys accepted the awards and then proceeded to play with such enthusiasm more and more people were drawn out of the shade. The area facing the stage kept filling up and STEVE FROM ENGLAND had easy game. The band stuck closely to the setlist they had played the night before, which proved a wise decision. This way the recognition value was given and the crowd enjoyed the driving performance. Thanks to their great show there were calls for an encore, and the band was happy to oblige. With these two shows and the winning of the NEW BLOOD AWARD, STEVE FROM ENGLAND have made a big statement, and we will definitely hear from them again in the future.

It's the unusual bands, those who haven't played everywhere yet, that prove this festival's good hand for fresh, relatively unknown, yet fantastic new bands. This also applies to A PALE HORSE NAMED DEATH, the new band by ex-TYPE O NEGATIVE, ex-LIFE OF AGONY skinsman Sal Abruscato and SEVENTH VOID guitarist Matt Brown. There was a considerable crowd in front of the stage, which means the names of the musicians involved had already made the rounds, or maybe the debut album “And Hell Will Follow Me” had already sold a few copies – after this show, it will definitely be much more. Because musically, A PALE HORSE NAMED DEATH sound like a mix of – surprise, surprise! – TYPE O NEGATIVE and LIFE OF AGONY, but spice up things with a shot of ALICE IN CHAINS and a healthy dose of BLACK SABBATH, creating their own blend of alternative/grunge/metal. Songs like “To Die In Your Arms” – not exactly of the happy kind – were played with such enthusiasm and vigour by the super-tight band despite all their self-destructiveness and negativity, there was already a lot of movement in the front rows. Especially drummer John Kelly mistreated his kit with total abandon and like in a trance, but also his cohorts on the three (!!!) guitars and bass flourished in the dust-dry, grooving sound. The level of acceptance A PALE HORSE NAMED DEATH enjoyed was underlined by the fact they got loud calls for an encore, being only the second band on the bill. Their energetic show made it clear the band are even more gripping in a live situation than on record. Maybe we have to revise that old saying about flogging a dead horse...

In 2009 they enjoyed great success, so it didn't surprise THE SORROW were happy to be back in Dinkelsbühl. After A PALE HORSE NAMED DEATH the Austrians went for it with an added dose of aggression and brutality, which was perfect to shake the last remaining tiredness from one's bones. Their vehemently played, catchy metalcore with melodic guitar lines and huge mosh parts was perfect for this time of the day, and the first big wild circle pits started forming in the huge crowd – much to the enjoyment of the enthusiastic lads from Voralberg, who loved the interaction with their fans and kept firing them up. When they asked the fans to blow some air towards their stage with their t-shirts, thousands obliged and you could see a sea of shirts waving over the heads of the fans, who also gave their best in four massive walls of death. The first few crowdsurfers were also carried towards the stage in the 30° heat. The firehose used by the security was a welcome refreshment. THE SORROW were in top form, every note and every break were extremely tight, the change between brutal shouts and clear singing was perfect, and the massive sound rounded up a great performance. No question, this band has become a force to be reckoned with!

Doom metal and sunshine? Does that work together? Yes, it does! However, New York's SEVENTH VOID had a significantly smaller audience than THE SORROW just before them on the Pain Stage. It seems like it has got around yet that Kenny Hickey and Johnny Kelly, both ex-TYPE O NEGATIVE members, are the ones who call the shots in SEVENTH VOID. Those who were there, however, got to see a very enthusiastic band who presented a great set consisting of almost all of the tracks on their 2009 debut album “Heaven Is Gone” plus a new, as-yet-unreleased song. Of course there were a few “green” riffs here and there, but Hickey's voice, which was slightly reminiscent of Chris Cornell's, and the earthy riffs made the mix lean more towards the hard rock side of things. And when a band is able to use the good old cowbell in such a cool way we can say we have a a winner. The fans seemed to think the same as they gave the heroes many rounds of enthusiastic applause. All in all, a very appealing show.

15.00 (PZ) CRIPPER
Party Tent, a new day, new luck and especially the same old heat. Even before the first band started, the extreme temperature was making people sweat even without moving. And when CRIPPER came on stage the afternoon became extremely sweaty. Proper thrash to start the party on Thursday – right in your face. Frontwoman Britta kept firing up the audience and all the energy came back to the Hannover band in the form of positive energy. The allotted 35 minutes were used to fire one thrash salvo after another right into the crowd. The crowd was happy to be taken higher, faster, louder, and enjoyed it a lot when a second female singer, Lucie from SUBORNED, came on stage for the final “FAQU”. All in all, a tidy performance with loads of energy and power thanks to the band's consequent stage acting.

The band didn't have their own backdrop on stage, but the Camel Stage motto “We Are Inspired By Music” fit them like a glove. And they really went for it, trying to summon up the glory times of hair metal, using loads of fur and spandex in the trouser department and cowboy boots as well (one of the guitarists was wearing trainers that had been pimped to boots with impressive handcraft), plus porno sunglasses and loads of fake hair on top. It may sound a lot like a piss-take, and there is admittedly a lot of humor involved, but at the core it's just a lot of love and passion for the music many in the audience grew up with. RANZ BOELLNER and his warriors seemed to speak from the audience's hearts as there was a great atmosphere and people enjoyed the show a lot. Which didn't really come as a surprise, since the band – ridiculous or not – played really tight and the singer did a great Axl Rose impersonation. Even the real Axl Rose can't always do that nowadays. Horns up!

Following SEVENT VOID, next on the Pain Stage there was a huge contrast: tough-guy hardcore by DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR. Boston's finest have never been known to make many prisoners, and again this time there was only one direction: no compromise and full speed ahead. “Count Me In” opened the set as is already tradition, being received by probably the most brutal pit of the festival so far. No breakdown missed its aim, just like Boris Becker's aces in Wimbledon back in 1985. No singalong went ignored by the crowd, who knew most of the lyrics as well. There's probably no other frontman who can shout “Fuck it all” with more conviction and seem so honest and likeable at the same time than Bryan Harris. The fact that he had just changed the whole backing band made no difference when hits like “Curl Up And Die” and the anxiously awaited “Friends, Family, Forever” came blasting through the PA. But the best, as always, was saved for last. THE street punk anthem about the band's home town: “Boston Belongs To Me”. Everything that need to be said had been said, so the band left ten minutes before the scheduled end of their stage time.

Before their show, the funny guys in 9MM ASSI ROCK'N'ROLL were relaxing behind the stage under black parasols, which fit the rest of their outfit ideally. The heat in the tent mentioned earlier obviously hadn't receded, so the intro music of “Pirates Of The Caribbean” fit the tropical temperatures. The first few smiles in the audience were also secured. The band started with a part of the JUDAS PRIEST classic “Living After Midnight”. Pilot shades, leather jackets and fitting trousers, the band had a real rowdy attitude. Those who had been skeptical about their appearance were soon taught better. Led by singer Rock Rotten, the band set out to eradicate any shadow of doubt about their qualities. Their mix of dirty rock'n'roll, punk influences and loads of fun weren't enough to make people forget about the heat, but helped make it a lot more bearable. To show solidarity with the audience, the singer first dropped his trousers and later also his leather jacket. With the stage rap “Nice Boys Don't Play Rock'n'Roll” and the song title “Respektlos Bis Zum Letzten Schuss”, their intentions were pretty clear. One fan even managed to climb up to the stage, and even the cover of “Marmor, Stein Und Eisen Bricht” was received enthusiastically. A solid show which we wouldn't mind revisiting in the future.

After DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR, THE HAUNTED didn't exactly have easy game, as the Bostonians had really gone for it next door. After the band, led by a bearded Peter Dolving, stepped on stage, you could tell the audience was curious to hear the new material and to see if it would work together with the old smashers. The first thing to notice was the clear sound, which immediately raised the band's credit. THE HAUNTED focused on the middle part of their career (unfortunately they completely left out their debut album). There was obviously also brand new stuff played, namely “Never Better” and “Unseen”, but the reactions were still a bit reserved. Actually, the crowd didn't really get into it at first, only marginally appreciating the melodic parts and quite obviously longing for the heavier moments. Henceforth, the pit only came alive during the faster, heavier songs from the band's early phase. With a little help from Mr Dolving, who kept encouraging the crowd to party and go crazy, there was finally a circle pit and a proper wall of death. Another convincing THE HAUNTED show, which was honored with much-deserved applause after the last tone had faded.

DER WEG EINER FREIHEIT are one of the most promising German underground black metal bands,and they were out to conquer Summer Breeze today. Up to now the Würzburg band (whose members were also involved in the hardcore band FUCK YOUR SHADOW FROM BEHIND) had been able to raise some eyebrows in the scene with their two albums, which comes as no surprise considering their driving black metal full of detailed melodies and reflective lyrics in German language. And it was in this live situation where the brilliant lead melodies with a slight post-rock tinge came across as especially fascinating, not least due to the perfect instrumental performance and the crystal-clear sound. The nordic clattering of the guitars, the precise blast beat drumfire almost throughout the set, the hysterically raspy vocals and the atmospheric light show held mostly in blue and white cast a cold spell on the tent. One goosebump moment followed the next. With their unorthodox take on black metal DER WEG EINER FREIHEIT truly awoke the wolf in man!

There couldn't really be much talk of a comeback in this case as it was the band's first appearance at Summer Breeze. However, considering the crowd reactions, it will hopefully not remain their last. The Canadians spell energy with a capital E, and, even though it wasn't possible for them to get in direct contact with their fans due to the massive photo pit, they managed to get the crowd going, with band and crowd drawing each other into the highest level of ecstasy. Watching singer Andrew Neufeld's head getting redder and redder, one could but fear it would actually explode, that's how intense his performance was. The band obviously upholds the traditional hardcore values as they kept thanking the crowd again and again and even praised the band they were on tour with, who couldn't play at Summer Breeze. COMEBACK KID also took the award for the most innovative band on the festival – instead of rehashing standards like circle pits and walls of death, they encouraged the audience to do “the biggest hug ever“, and the crowd obliged! From the stage they could see a big flock of spectators hugging each other, with a radius of at least five meters. Cool idea and a fantastic performance!

17.45 (PZ) VREID
Just like the waft of mist blowing through the top of the Party Tent, there is still a hint of WINDIR in VREID's songs. Maybe now more than ever, since guitarist Stian Bakketeig's return to the band last year, which reinforces the connection to the legend from Sóknaldar. The four-piece had just redefined themselves with their new album “V” last February, so it came as no surprise they started their set with “Arche”. The wailing of sirens and haunting keyboard sounds shrouded the tent in an almost morbid, sacral atmosphere. Bassist Hváll, guitarist Stian and guitarist/singer Sture Dingsøyr stepped on stage one after another, and it was time for melodic black'n'roll! Even KAMPFAR leader Dolk himself didn't want to miss this song. While the first crowd reactions were approving yet timid, the energy level rose significantly as “Raped By Light” from the debut album was played. The whole string section, especially Hváll, kept firing up the crowd like some sort of unholy trinity. Horns and fists waved through the flickering strobe light to the massive mid-tempo beat. “Speak Goddamnit” from the “Milorg” album followed, an incredible track that made the crowd bang their heads. It was especially in the middle part of this song where the band's past became visible, or rather audible, again. Another new song followed with “Wolverine Bastards” before the band took a step back in their history with “Jarnbyrd”. Apart from the extremely well-balanced mix of styles VREID presented, the complexity and variety of their musical evolution became clear once again. Epic melodies, harsh riffs, grooving mid-tempo rhythms, the blues fighting black metal, it all sums up to such a characteristic mix that it is actually impossible to do it justice with such a simple label as “black'n'roll'. And especially due to the marked dynamics of their music, there wasn't one weak spot in the Norwegians' performance, and the crowd honored this accordingly. The band ended up calling to attack with full force again with the closing “Pitch Black”, the undisputed VREID classic. In the audience, hundreds of raised hands and the flag of the United States of VREID. One of the day's highlights ended to the sounds of the intro to “The Red Smell”. Enter the Pitch Black Brigade!

After a major hiatus, the band led by cult frontman Mike Muir has been resurrected like the proverbial Phoenix out of the ashes. There isn't much left from the original line-up, but the crew up on stage was first class in terms of technical abilities and passionate performance. No wonder each of the musicians, except the rhythm guitarist, got a small solo part during the show. The spotlight was obviously on Mike Muir, who took loads of time again for his philosophical rants in between songs – which unfortunately caused the setlist to be shortened by three songs. The human mountain on the drumkit was a real feast for the eyes, and it was actually Eric Moore, who enjoys a lot of respect in the drum scene. Loads of musicians were following the show from the sides of the stage and the balcony on the Main Stage, and at some point the audience went completely crazy. This went so far that, during the closing “Pledge Your Allegiance”, Muir invited the people in the front rows up on stage (much to the disgust of the stage crew!), which obviously caused a massive stage invasion! In the bands own words: Still cyco after all these years!

Just before 19:00 the time had finally come for shooting stars KVELERTAK. With their eccentric mix of rock'n'roll, punk and a shot of black metal, they certainly made the Party Tent live up to its name. Since the release of their acclaimed debut album about a year ago, the Norwegians have been playing pretty much on every stage that has a power socket. But they are far from worn-out or going through the motions. On the contrary, the opener "Sjøhyenar (Havets Herrer)" immediately took the crowd in a stranglehold (the English translation of the band name), and they didn't let go from there on. The band immediately transmitted its stirring energy and enthusiasm to the audience, and you could see the excitement written on every single face. Bare-chested singer Erlend Hjelvik was in constant movement on stage and even in the photo pit to get in close contact with the crowd. Meanwhile, the three guitarists delivered a powerful sound, playing the great harmonies almost exactly like on record. Almost 40 minutes of sweat, blood and dirt. That's the way it's gotta be! The extremely good impression the band left makes us look forward to their European headlining tour in November with WOLVES LIKE US, TRAP THEM and TOXIC HOLOCAUST. It is rumoured they'll be playing new material as well!

19.20 (CS) AC/DX
When the PA in the Party Tent goes silent for the twenty-minute changeovers, when the crowd gets out of the tent to get ready for the following gigs, what makes more sense than offering people something during that time, something everyone can agree on? With a band name like AC/DX there is not much guessing which rock dinosaurs the five guys on the Camel Stage pay tribute to. Dressed just like the originals, complete with beret and school uniform, every one of the four times AC/DX went on stage they were able to gather a big enough audience to get a cool rock'n'roll party going. Obviously, they only played songs everyone would be able to sing in their sleep. But that was exactly the foundation for four solid shows where people could rock out to the old classics, and there was as much light and pyro effects as the “big” bands had as well. Nice way to pass the time!

19.35 (PS) IGNITE
Besides SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, IGNITE were probably the most veteran hardcore band on Summer Breeze 2011. And the crowd reactions also showed they were one of the most popular. Deservedly so. Even though their last album, “Our Darkest Days”, is already five years old, its compact, melodic hardcore slammers like “Poverty For All”, “Let It Burn” and “Bleeding” haven't lost any of their urgency. Same as the social and political evils the lyrics deal with, as singer Zoli Téglás didn't tire to point out in between songs. A welcome change in a time when the political aspect of hardcore is being pushed more and more in the background, and the original ideals of a once politically-conscious counterculture are being reduced to mere fun. The bottom line is, one can always count on IGNITE, both musically and from a human point of view. The only downer was that, apart from their last album, they only played songs from their 2000 release “A Place Called Home”, as they've been usually doing lately. Here in 2011 we are still waiting in vain for old hits such as “Embrace”. Whatever, IGNITE's show was still awesome. Period.

19.40 (PZ) KAMPFAR
Led by frontman Dolk, norsemen KAMPFAR entered the stage to present their original take on pagan black metal. One of the first bands of this genre on the bill, the Norwegians know like no others how to deliver a mix of pagan and black metal as well as folk elements in an authentic, primordial, uncompromising fashion. And it was in this live situation where KAMPFAR's sublime, driving anthems unfolded an especially hateful, brutal effect. Together with the band's enthusiastic performance, this fired up the front rows, turning the tent into a boiling pot. Especially Dolk, bare-chested and armed with studded wristbands, spurred on the fans with his gripping black metal poses and commands. And, despite the raw savagery of the pagan Norwegians, it was the grand, folk-tinged melodies that caught the ear as an elementary part of the soundscape on display, without seeming shallow in the slightest. Attack successful!

In 2008 ARCH ENEMY were already present on the Summer Breeze Main Stage, this time it was their turn to get the audience up to speed in the slot just before IN EXTREMO. And one truly couldn't have wished for a better co-headliner for this Thursday evening. Even though the Main Stage wasn't always that well-attended during the day due to the glaring sun, at 21:30 sharp it was full to the last square meter. And during the following hour, the numerous, mostly young audience witnessed a show that was almost as exhausting and intense as the day heat. There's no use to ponder about the technical qualities of the musicians on stage, with the Amott brothers on guitars, Sharlee D'Angelo on bass and Daniel Erlandsson on drums, as they all did a perfect job and showed great enthusiasm. Dressed in a studded, glittering jacket, Angela Gossow also had the fans firmly in her grip and reacted to the countless shouts of “Ausziehen!” (“undress!”) with humour and charm. Despite having one visibly swollen cheek due to a wisdom tooth operation, she whipped up the crowd with her growls, screams and the waving of the “Khaos Legions” flag, and the legions reacted accordingly. At times there were as many as five circle pits going simultaneously, but calls for a wall of death remained unanswered. But either way the crowd gave it their all during a show that wasn't short on pyro effects, already making many fans look forward to a future ARCH ENEMY appearance at Summer Breeze.

As a rather small prog-tinged post-hardcore band like DEVIL SOLD HIS SOUL it is obviously hard to compete with metal greats such as ARCH ENEMY, who were setting the Main Stage alight with meter-high flames at the same time. Therefore there wasn't really a huge crowd on hand in the Party Tent. But definitely not due to the young Britons' performance, which was definitely tight and exciting. The band weaved a dense sound which created a gripping atmosphere, delivering more than just one big moment per song. The few, yet cleverly-placed, quiet parts were like islands of peace, before walls of guitars came down crashing on the audience again. But it wasn't only an impressive instrumental performance, as singer Ed Gibbs' pipes made you wonder how he did it, considering his rather fragile appearance. In a much too short 45-minute show the band played material from all of their albums, and the last song, “Like It's Your Last” from the demo “Darkness Prevails”, which is rather unknown in this country, even pleased the die-hard fans.

After a dramatic intro, SONIC SYNDICATE quickly made it clear they were out for a winner tonight. Already in his very first announcement, singer Nathan James Biggs turned on the audience so much, the fantastic atmosphere didn't only last throughout the set, but actually even increased towards the end, culminating in loud singalong parts and a final wall of death. During their set, the band shone with tight interplay, a clear sound and an altogether cool, gripping performance, which proved the musicians' professionalism. The songs were drawn from all of the band's albums, although the focus was clearly on their most recent one, “We Rule The Night”. They couldn't have done better, as the crowd reactions confirmed. The whole thing was underlined by a fantastic light show, which covered the whole spectrum between slightly psychedelic blue and wildly flashing strobes. To sum it all up: a deserved triumph for SONIC SYNDICATE. The raging crowd's roar confirmed it. From an atmosphere point of view, this was surely one of the highlights of the festival so far. This band still have big things ahead of them, especially if they continue on at this pace.

October 29th, 2007 was a stigma in the history of DECAPITATED, one of the biggest Polish death metal bands ever. The tragic accident that happened in Belarus that day seemed like the end of the band, but later Vogg stated in several interviews that the band must survive. With their new album “Carnival Is Forever” the band returned to the Party Stage as part of a European tour which had just begun. And the show they delivered can only be described as a total win. Without much fuss they launched into “Day 69” from the “Organic Hallucinosis” album. The drums seemed to massage the ground while Vogg played the incredible riff. A new song followed with “404”, and the band impressively proved they are still in the premier league of technical death metal. The DECAPITATED machine is a real clockwork, incredibly precise and tight. While Vogg sawed away on his strings, singer Rafal ran around tirelessly on stage. And the need to move seemed contagious as the action started in the tent, which was pretty full by now. The warmth of the lights engulfed the crowd as they raised their arms in the air. “Are you ready for war?” asked Rafal, as “Mother War” started. Hundreds of bodies twitched and convulsed, dozens of hands carried metalheads over the heads. While outside the air started to cool down, there was nothing of that in the tent. DECAPITATED rather made the temperature rise even more. The crowd was cheering the band on so much, Rafal didn't even need to talk any more. What could they have done on one of the main stages? Take a song like “Carnival Is Forever” from the new album: The slowly growing intro and the following storm of riffs is just brutality with a majestic elegance – sounds weird, but it's the way it is. And if there were 80 million managers in Germany during the last Football World Cup, now there's a few dozen new DECAPITATED guitarists playing their air instruments with almost as much dexterity as Vogg himself. Goodbye DECAPITATED, it's difficult to part – after the band left the stage after 45 minutes, the calls for an encore lasted for long. This is how a completely perfect show should end.

After four years, medieval rockers IN EXTREMO made it to Dinkelsbühl again. Much too long, judging by the huge crowd gathered by the Main Stage. Under frenetic applause the gentlemen took the stage and proceeded to deliver a fireworks display of hits from all of their creative periods. Always known for a spectacular stage show, this time the guys outdid themselves. Fitting the theme of their latest album, IN EXTREMO took the raging mob on a journey to the stars. As if in a trance, the band reached out to the hearts of their fans, firing them up as usual with a hit rate that has no match. After the celebrated “Sterneneisen” from the eponymous new album they jumped right into “Zigeunerskat” and “Sängerkrieg”, which was accompanied by impressive fire effects. Despite the convincing pyro and light show, tonight IN EXTREMO concentrated more on their musical abilities. Apart from some fitting stage props there were only few things that could have distracted from the seven bards. The obligatory “Spielmannsfluch” made the crowd go crazy, slowly but surely leading to the day's climax. IN EXTREMO were visibly enjoying the show and the crowd reactions, before all dams broke with “Rasend Herz” and “Omnia Sol Temperat”, closing a worthy headlining show. Tonight IN EXTREMO proved once again there's only few bands who come close to their intensity in a live situation. The only minor downer was the absence of “Erdbeermund” in an otherwise perfect show that left their followers completely satisfied.

Once only referred to as youngsters, by now HACKNEYED have matured in age as well as musically. It was already quite late when they took the stage in the Party Tent to deliver a mix of death metal and grind. Their gig at Summer Breeze was kind of a home match as the musicians all reside relatively close to Dinkelsbühl. In a professional and experienced manner they smashed one song after the other into the audience in their alotted 45 minutes of stage time. They played stuff from their first album to the newly released “Carnival Cadavre”, which was going to be available for purchase for the first time at the band's signing session later that evening. The crowd celebrated every song on offer, and it was pretty impressive to see how many people had come to see the show and how they got into it. The band really ignited a spark in the audience, not least because of their tireless stage acting. Especially guitarist Devin was quite acrobatic, but singer Phil also ran around a lot.

00.00 (PS) MARDUK
Driving a tank at Summer Breeze – at midnight on the Pain Stage it was possible. Swedish black metal institution MARDUK had come to freeze the summerly ambience for at least one dark hour, shrouding the shining half moon in fog. And from this very fog the black metallers emerged. One short moment of quiet during the menacing intro, one bloodcurdling scream from Mortuus, and the Swedes went straight for the throat. No mercy, no clemency, the well-oiled tank tracks of the MARDUK panzer completely crushed the audience. However, with the speed-loving Swedes' live shows it is like this: If they don't want to completely annihilate the audience within the first minutes of the set, they need to slow things down every now and then. The short breaks in between songs served as a means to this end. Fresh fog, a quick check of the tuning, and then the next song announcement, which often seemed more like a warning. But it was the very well-balanced choice of songs from the last 15 years of their career, including brand new songs such as “Headhunter Halfmoon”, which provided the set with the right dynamics. Unleashed outbreaks of speed were always followed by headbanger-friendly mid-tempo tracks such as “Bleached Bones”. The crowd reactions spoke for themselves. While during the blastbeats only the toughest necks were rotating, the slower songs (if you can even use the word slow in conjunction with MARDUK) took over the whole audience. There was one thing everyone could agree on though: If it's got to be a panzer, it's got to be MARDUK! The anthem “Panzerdivison Marduk” stirred things up once more. The crowd wouldn't let the band go, so they returned once more to close the festival day on the Pain Stage in style with “Azrael”.

No other band fits on the Party Stage better than the EXCREMENTORY GRINDFUCKERS. Before starting their set, the guys warmed up the audience with old pop songs and Mallorca-style music. Then they launched into their insane mix of grindcore, hardcore and chart songs. From the very first minute the drunken crowd participated in the band's stupidity. David Hasselhoff, Roberto Blanco, you name it, the EXCREMENTORY GRINDFUCKERS blurred “classics” of all genres with their brutal grindcore. After an hour of songs like “Schnaps”, “Heimscheisser”, “Veganerweibchen”, “Taschengeld” or “Vater Morgana”, there was no dry eye – and probably no dry armpit – in the house. People laughed, danced, partied and got up to all kinds of shenanigans. No one followed the band's invitation to get naked, but it is the idea that counts. When at the end it was the turn of EUROPE's “The Final Countdown” it was all over. This is definitely not music to enjoy at home, but it's perfectly suitable to drive away uninvited guests. The risible muscle working full time. Pure party.


WITCHERY didn't start quite on time, leaving people to wait for a few moments. During this time the fans had the chance to take a good look at the simple but stylish threepart backdrop, until the band, entirely dressed in black, stepped on stage to the jolly sounds of the theme music of 70s TV show The Persuaders. But that's about as jolly as it got, because the first track “Witchkrieg” was already a kick in the face. Especially the singer looked darkly impressive with his corpsepaint and leather armour. To those who thought he looked familiar he soon removed all doubt when he mentioned he had played his last show with DARK FUNERAL here last year. Ladies and gentleman, on vocals, Masse Broberg. On drums there was also a surprise guest, as it wasn't OPETH drummer Martin Axenrot working the kit, but a stand-in drummer who made a great job. After the show's highlight “Omens”, which was introduced with the atmospheric sound of bells chiming, the band had to stop for a second for a small argument between guitarist Jensen (THE HAUNTED) and bassist Sharlee D'Angelo (also in ARCH ENEMY), before they finished things off with “Awaiting The Exorcist” and “The Reaper”.

02.20 (PZ) ABORTED
The later it gets, the wilder it gets. When ABORTED stepped on stage late at night, they were faced with the difficult task to give metalheads, who had been suffering from the heat all day, the final adrenalin kick. Already during soundcheck, when drummer Dirk Verbeuren delivered a quick ear massage, the Belgians made clear what to expect from them: Goremageddon! After the infamous sound clip “... I think you should know that I killed a lot of people”, ABORTED went for it with “Dead Wreckoning”, and they couldn't have had a better start. Technically brilliant and brutally heavy, they proceeded to level the stage completely. Like many other bands on the festival, ABORTED also relied on tried-and-tested classics, mercilessly thundering through the highlights of their career. With tracks such as “Meticulous Invagination”, “Necro-Eroticism”, “The Saw And The Carnage Done” and “Sanguine Verses”, ABORTED gave their fans nothing but the best, and the crowd responded accordingly. The tent may only have been half full, but the crowd didn't show any signs of tiredness or exhaustion. Banging heads as far as the eye could see, and on stage a band that was virtually exploding. Svencho and his buddies' acrobatics during “Threading On Vermillion Deception” alone were a real feast for the eye. And they even had a surprise prepared for the audience. Since their last album had already accumulated a bit of dust, Svencho asked the fans if they wanted to hear something new. The loud roar was a straight answer, so ABORTED played “Flatline”, a brand new track from their new album scheduled for early next year. And one thing is for sure: If this song is anything to go by, in January 2012 we will get an ultra-brutal death metal album, which will definitely make us forget the weaknesses of the last EP. This gig won't be forgotten so soon though – ABORTED were at the top of their game, and the sound was extremely powerful, except for maybe the kick drum. Top!

Death thrashers POST MORTEM had the daunting task to conclude the first official festival day, which so far had been absolutely awesome. It didn't seem like an easy task, since many festivalgoers were already snoring in their tents. But the diehards clearly wanted to see the band and were more than rewarded. POST MORTEM delivered a massive metal attack, making sure even the last few energy reserves were sucked out of the audience. With slightly salacious stage raps and plays on words the band kept up the surprisingly good atmosphere in the crowd. Since the band has been around from 1987, they had a lot to choose from in terms of repertoire, and they took the chance to give the last survivors of the day the full POST MORTEM treatment. With “Bleeding”, “Lobotomy”, “Ghost Of The Warship” and “Hate, Kill, Destroy” they finished the day in brutal style. After the show, most of the attendants went quietly into their tents to enjoy a well-deserved rest.

Friday, 08/19/2011

Early in the morning, after the nocturnal thunderstorm, it was up to TRIGGER THE BLOODSHED to blast the hangover out of the rather small crowd of music-hungry fans. And it wasn't a problem for the English merchants of brutality. With their raging brutal death metal, which was mostly delivered at full speed, and their aggressive stage performance, they managed to draw everyone's attention on the festival ground. A few mosh pits and even a small circle pit were the first climaxes of the third festival day. Respect! Paired with modern-sounding mosh parts, massive double kick grooves and loads of blast beats, the mighty racket didn't only sound merciless, but also quite varied. Only the growls tended to become a bit tedious after a while. With their mercilessly precise delivery, TRIGGER THE BLOODSHED kicked the arses of all the morning grouches.

Hailing from the United Arab Emirates, NERVECELL had the challenge to fire up the ever-growing audience after TRIGGER THE BLOODSHED and beat the residual fatigue out of their bones. And the transition was pretty smooth as the band delivered technically challenging, uncompromising old school death metal. Sometimes brutally blasting ahead without frills, then again annihilating with tight complexity, and always enriched by wonderful melodies, and with massive growls on top. NERVECELL were helped out by BENIGHTED skinsman Kikou, who, as usual, mistreated his kit with the utmost perfection and unrelenting energy. A nice appetizer for the following day, when he was due to play with his full-time band. The awesome musical performance of this powerful death metal machine gained very positive reactions in the audience, and the number of headbangers in the tent kept growing song after song. With this impeccable show NERVECEEL proved they have a lot of potential and that they are probably the most important death metal export from their country.

YOUR DEMISE were another highlight for the numerous hardcore fans at the festival. The Britons virtually forced themselves into a slot on the Pain Stage, steadily climbing positions on the many tours they have played and therefore widening their fan base more and more. And the fans lived up to the situation and cheered on their heroes despite the early hour (just after high noon). There was one circle pit after another, a respectable wall of death and loads of wild moshing – often using virtually all body parts. This is proper early morning exercise! The mix of catchy melodies and “look-at-me-with-my-wide-stance-and-extra-tough-looks” mosh parts was just perfect for it too. (Not so) new singer Ed McRae didn't need to mince words in order to get people going. The set was obviously closed with “Burnt Tongues”, the massive hit from their debut album “Ignorance Never Dies”. One look at the faces in the crowd made it clear: Great show by YOUR DEMISE!

The second band on the Main Stage today were SKELETONWITCH, four yankees from Ohio dedicated with their hearts and souls to blackened thrash metal. The guys had been at the festival for days already – in a more or less sober state – until their time had come to darken the early afternoon with “Upon Wings Of Black”. Wind, clouds and banging heads everywhere, both on and off the stage. During the first few seconds the microphone wasn't working properly, but the problem was soon fixed and SKELETONWITCH could dive right into their 40-minute set. Although the band members had been around for a while (or maybe because of this fact), they gave their all from the very first minute. Led by charismatic frontman Chance Garnett, whose brother plays one of the guitars, the band faced a respectable crowd, which received songs like “Beyond The Permafrost” enthusiastically. The question addressed at the audience if they wanted another two songs was merely rhetoric, as Chance admitted they would have played them anyway. Just to illustrate the sense of humour of this likeable bunch, despite their musical grimness.

13.35 (PS) KALMAH
After a haunting intro, KALMAH clearly had easy game, as a great atmosphere immediately spread in the audience. This motivated the band visibly, spurring its members on to great performances. Even though the keyboards used to bridge the gap in between songs didn't always fit the soundscape on offer, they are still an important part of KALMAH's music. Most people in the crowd didn't mind when not all of the notes were perfectly in tune and kept cheering the band on. The pit in front of the stage was raging, giving singer Pekko Kokko additional confidence, which in turn led him to some cool stage raps that fired up the crowd even more. Especially during the fast parts the crowd was virtually boiling. Heads were banging, the sound was powerful and the choice of songs was also smart and totally convincing. The sound was nice and clear and, putting aside the petty criticism of the keyboard sound, their show was a successful piece in the festival's jigsaw puzzle.

Each time the Munich band gets confirmed for the festival, complaints start to run rampant on the forum about them supposedly not fitting on a metal festival and so on – but already with the intro, MANOWAR's “The Crown And The Ring”, they removed all doubt. Immediately during opener “Here Comes The Fire” the first circle pit kicked off, and – nomen est omen – the temperature rose by a few degrees in the audience. Leader of the pack was obviously the man with the rough yet tender voice, singer Christ. He proved to be an agile frontman, moving up and down the stage incessantly and bustling around his little riser at the front of the stage. Even himself hadn't probably expected such euphoric reactions. The band concentrated on their more recent albums and it became clear that they have become quite a bit heavier lately – without neglecting their most important asset: the great, catchy melodies! The band didn't play anything from their upcoming album, which is due in October, but it was still game, set, match for the EMIL BULLS!

15.00 (PZ) REV 16:8
There's always got to be a first time. Today Swedish black metallers REV 16:8 had the task to open proceedings in the Party Tent. Grim black metal under a blazing sun and with tropical temperatures? Not an easy task, but it was an exciting opportunity for the band, as this appearance at Summer Breeze was their first festival show whatsoever. And somehow it must have made the rounds that REV 16:8 recently released a really hot slab of metal, as a pretty big crowd – especially considering the time of day – had gathered in front of the Party Stage. The setlist was made up mostly of songs from the new album “Ashlands”. Singer Talon stood in a priest-like pose at the mic, which was adorned with spikes, but at first his distinctive raspy vocals couldn't quite compete with the string instruments. During the show there were a few short breaks, although they didn't really affect the flow. On the contrary, the combination of typically Swedish black metal, catchy melodies and furious blasts was quickly taken in by the audience. And what already had worked on record was also applied on stage – atmospheric intermezzi, a short break before REV 16:8 charged ahead at full speed. Nice touch they also played “Flame Salvation” from the debut album, as the song really has the potential to become an all-time live favourite. After 35 minutes it became clear the band had endured their baptism in fire. More of this please!

Talk about bad timing. Since BOLT THROWER had set the beginning of their merch sale (as usual in a separate tent) for 14:00 and actually started selling about a half hour late, HAIL OF BULLETS had to start playing to a smaller number of fans one would have expected. So, while the battle for the coveted souvenirs began at the merch stand, HAIL OF BULLETS started their own war – albeit with slightly decimated troops – with “Operation Z”. And what a bitter struggle it was! Although the strong winds interfered slightly with the massive down-tuned old-school death metal sound, songs like “Red Wolves Of Stalin”, “Guadalcanal” and “On Coral Shores” (a song they hardly ever play live) hit the crowd like a sledgehammer. Heads were banging in the front row, and frontman Martin van Drunen was in a great mood and kept explaining the historical background to the different songs in between them. Drunen even dedicated “Tokyo Napalm Holocaust” to their “rivals” BOLT THROWER. HAIL OF BULLETS said goodbye with “Ordered Eastward” to their thirst Summer Breeze appearance, which surely gained them quite a few new recruits.

The trio led by charismatic frontman August Paulsen a.k.a. Paul presented some Danish-style rock'n'roll to the crowd (which was rather small during the first block) at the Camel Stage. The year before the guys had participated in the New Blood Award contest and, even though they didn't make the first place, by now they can look back on the signing of a record deal and the release of their debut CD “In Dynamite We Trust”. Furthermore, they will soon be supporting the Emil Bulls on an extensive tour, so they got quite a lot going for themselves. On the Camel Stage the guys really went for it. The mic stands were adorned with a US flag and a Union Jack, and the frontman probably made an old dream come true with his “Summer Breeze” stage rap. The sound was a bit rough at first due to the recent line-up changes (today was the bassist's second gig with the band), but in the course of the set things started to pick up for GUNS OF MOROPOLIS. Even though they were not allowed to hang up their backdrop due to a fire hazard, it must still have been quite hot for a few people in front of the stage.

Can you do anything wrong playing old-school death metal on this festival? Obviously not. The only thing a band can do wrong is to play music for years without producing an album. Luckily, the Swedes got it all together in the end, finally completing their debut album “Into The Crypts Of Blasphemy” after 20 years. The effect of such an extremely long wait showed during the band's set. As if time had just stood still for 20 years, the band destroyed everything in their path. Unfortunately the crowd wasn't really warmed up yet, and it was only maybe a hundred people in the Party Tent at first. However, the drone of the bass and the powerful drum sound seemed to attract a few more metalheads. “Morbid Death” was one of the new songs the band played. And quite a few people must have realized by then it was one of the oldest bands from up north right there on stage, playing a formidable set.

For the fourth time at Summer Breeze and always welcome guests were the bards from SALTATIO MORTIS. No wonder, as the gleemen always make for a great atmosphere on and off the stage. And again today the chart breakers drew a massive crowd, a considerable feat considering the early hour of the day. The warm welcome of thousands of clapping heads was gigantic, and no matter what SALTATIO MORTIS played, their contagious energy had the fans eating out of the musicans' hands. Happiness and celebration everywhere, and the bouncers had lots of work receiving the great flood of crowd surfers. Their medieval rock is still hugely popular so that songs like “Uns Gehört Die Welt” were sung by hundreds of throats. One climax followed the next, and the seven-piece band seemed as motivated as ever, especially freshly married singer Alea der Bescheidene (Alea the Humble), whose wedding ceremony had just been filmed by the Pro7 TV channel. Alea ran around the stage like a Tasmanian Devil, his energy seemed almost limitless. Of course he didn't waste the chance to go crowd sufring himself during “Falsche Freunde”, and the crowd carried him on their hands for the whole song. “Spielmannsschwur” closed another true higlight of this year's Summer Breeze.

If INTERMENT had played for a little bit longer, the metal (paint) would have started chipping off of STAHLMANN, a relatively young star on the German rock firmament. Wearing elegant clothes with black ties and silver paint on their skin they took the stage, where a sizeable crowd was already waiting. The Göttingen-based band started with the song “Willkommen”. Drawing from bands like EISBRECHER, UNHEILIG, MEGAHERZ and obviously RAMMSTEIN, the band focuses on refreshingly straight-forward rock songs with a distinct industrial influence. Their stomping beats, driving rhythms and heavy riffs proved to be contagious to the crowd. Singer Mart turned out to be a real entertainer and animator, proving a good knowledge of crowd interaction. No generic stage raps, but real interaction – and it worked perfectly. The crowd clapped their hands and jumped up and down to the rhythm in excitement. And the band managed to fit in a couple of slower, ballad-like songs (“Göttin” and “Herzschlag”), followed by Mart asking laughingly if the crowd wanted some faster stuff afterwards. They wanted it, they got it! A very entertaining show by a band which has their audience firmly in their grip.

It seemed a bit like playing with fire, because ENSLAVED's music is best listened to at dusk or even at night, so the atmosphere it conveys can truly unfold. But after the first song it was already clear that ENSLAVED work by sunlight as well, even though the music doesn't have the same magic effect and seems more fit to lay back and listen. Singer/bassist Grutle had the crowd completely on his side, as they followed each of his demands to clap and participate, supporting the Norwegians very vocally. It was especially the long-winded, playful, slightly psychedelic, even progressive parts that captivated the crowd, the ones you could really revel in. There were pretty big puddles of mud that had formed due to the rain a few hours earlier, and the die-hard ENSLAVED fans wallowed in them to their hearts' content. Due to the bright sunlight, the light show didn't really come across very well, but this didn't affect the perfect flow of the set. ENSLAVED also made a point out of playing "Allfádr Odinn“, a track from their 1993 debut EP “Hordanes Land”. A successful balancing act between modernity and nostalgia. A total triumph for ENSLAVED.

Even though it was FACEBREAKER's first-ever appearance at Summer Breeze, it was by no means strangers up on stage at a quarter to six. Especially frontman Roberth “Robban” Karlsson had already earned his stripes with SCAR SYMMETRY and EDGE OF SANITY, among others. Yet there was only a small crowd at hand when the sounds of “Cannibalistic” and “Torn To Shreds” started making the Party Tent quake. But there was a lot to offer for fans of guttural death metal: a well-rehearsed band, a brutal sound, songs that destroyed everything in their path and, above it all, Robban's mean growls. Guitarist Mika Lagrén was also in the mood and convinced with his brilliant solos. A good gig by a good band. Should they come back in the years to come, one can only wish them a bigger audience.

18.05 (MS) J.B.O.
Believe it or not, but this year's first headliner already hit the stage at 18:00. At least you could call Franconia's J.B.O. a headliner judging by the crowd reactions. True to the motto of their set opener “I Don't Like Metal (I Love It!)”, the following 65 minutes were a celebration of our favourite style of music – obviously complete with loads of fun and crazy shenanigans. Starting with the festival's coolest backdrop, which was completely pink! For the song “Dr. Met” Vito wore a doctor's overall in pink, for “Glaubensbekenntnis” he played a pink priest accompanied by three crew members dressed as (pink/white) altar boys, and during “Bimber Bumber” a totally weird couple in traditional Bavarian costumes sweeped the stage. There were thousands of little pink flags in the crowd, which the band had handed out for the release of their new “Killeralbum”, and it was sight to behold. The four giant balloons that we thrown to the crowd unfortunately didn't make it to their assigned target in the middle of the audience due to the wind, but otherwise everything worked perfect for J.B.O.! They may come back any time! Interesting side note: A few rather confused members of BOLT THROWER watched the J.B.O. show from the side of the Main Stage. It was probably the language barrier, and a little too much pink on stage.

Without a proper banner on stage, HELRUNAR started their set in a professional manner with “Kollapsar” from their recent double album “Sol”. The sound was surprisingly good. Every instrument could be heard clearly, a lot of energy was freed and the crowd got moving pretty quickly, turning the gig into a small black metal party. The guitar riffs whipped through the air, the drums hammered the beats down and the vocals shrieked and screamed off any shadow of doubt anyone might have had about this band. HELRUNAR transmitted self-confidence and kept the crowd in a tight grip, which became stronger song after song, culminating in the band hit “Älter Als Das Kreuz” from the “Frostnacht” album. And singer Skald Draugir made the crowd sing the line “Älter Als Das Kreuz” every time, which conveyed a feeling of communion between band and audience. A few people were probably flabbergasted when the gig was already over after five songs, but, considering the duration of each song, there just wasn't time for more. A pity really, since the crowd's reactions showed they would happily have listened for longer to what is probably the best black metal band in Germany today. A perfect show that left everyone hungry for more HELRUNAR.

19.15 (PS) TURISAS
It's just past seven, and a respectable crowd has gathered in front of the Pain Stage. Looking closely, you can even spot a few with red and black warpaint, a clear sign it's time for TURISAS. After the stage is decorated with a huge backdrop and side banners, the warriors from Finnland don't waste time. Red and black is the new black, and only the girl with the accordion stays naked – I mean her face! TURISAS get up to a fulminant start with “To Holmgard And Beyond”, quickly followed by “One More”. Singer Mathias “Warlord” Nygård keeps firing up the crowd, seeming slightly reminiscent of TWISTED SISTER's Dee Snider during his “speeches”. The F word is used quite frequently, but this doesn't bother the “Herrings”, as Nygård affectionately calls the fans. The band is technically impeccable, even though a second guitar wouldn't hurt. The band's math abilities won't win them any prizes though, as the setlist is much too short. However, the band carries on improvising, true to the motto “live is live”, and everyone walks away satisfied with their performance.

With their cleverly-devised setlist of RAMMSTEIN covers, WEISSGLUT quickly managed to captivate everyone who had either come to the Camel Stage to watch them or who were just passing by. RAMMSTEIN simply moves people, and WEISSGLUT have made an art form out of copying their brothers in spirit. At a festival like Summer Breeze tracks like “Asche Zu Asche”, “Du Riechst So Gut”, “Mein Teil”, “Du Hast”, “Sonne”, “Rammstein” and the hit “Engel” simply work, and so it was easy for WEISSGLUT to have a successful show. Even though the Camel Stage is only small, it was really crowded every time WEISSGLUT played. The crowd obviously sang along too, confirming the rightness of WEISSGLUT's choice of songs. Very good.

19.40 (PZ) MAD SIN
MAD SIN were probably one of the bands with the longest tradition to play today. After 25 years and with 13 albums under their belts, the band led by singer Köfte proved their professionalism once more. And this professionalism manifested itself in perfectly arranged songs this evening. Carried by Köfte's characteristic voice, their psychobilly anthems were virtually absorbed by the crowd. From left to right and from front to back, everyone in the tent was dancing and jumping. Stand-up bassist Valle was a real feast for the eyes, twisting and turning his instrument with breathtaking precision, which a simple mortal couldn't even have achieved with a ukelele, let alone a massive contrabass. After HELRUNAR, MAD SIN were admittedly a stark contrast, but they used this exotic vibe to their advantage. However, they didn't leave out the typical heavy metal crowd participation games. So towards the end of the set Köfte prompted the crowd to do a proper wall of death, which was accompanied with a cool pyro effect on the bass. Even though they had already exceeded their allotted show time, the billies indulged in an encore with “Psychic Night”, giving the stage crew cold sweat. The audience, however, got the real deal and enjoyed this very special show.

When the British death metal flagship took the stage after a majestic intro and the first song started, it was immediately clear: BOLT THROWER were going to totally rule. After the opening track “The IVth Crusade” Karl Willets greeted the audience with few but well-chosen words. The crowd responded with a huge ovation after each song. With tracks such as “When Glory Beckons”, “Where Next To Conquer”, the dragging “Silent Demise” and “No Guts, No Glory”, BOLT THROWER knew exactly what they were doing every single second, and the cheering crowd acknowledged this happily. Not even the rather static stage acting of the band members bothered the crowd, but rather made an impression of grandeur. If the band can manage to just stand on the same spot most of the time and still get applauded for it, they must be truly grand. Moreover, the performance never seemed boring, but almost majestic. The whole area in front of the Main Stage was absolutely full, confirming once more the status of the band, who rarely play live at all (especially not on festivals). BOLT THROWER are the kaisers of old-school death metal, no matter if they haven't released any new material in six years. The closing “When Cannons Fade” finished a perfect show, and one can only hope the cannons won't fade for good and the band will hopefully release another album sometime soon. Absolutely awesome show by a true cult band.

It was a tough, almost vital decision – to watch death metal legends BOLT THROWER or Sweden's new rock sensation? Those who went to the Party Stage certainly didn't regret their decision, as GRAVEYARD delivered a show which can easily be counted as one of the top ten of the whole festival. Retro hard rock with elements of doom and stoner rock is what the playful Swedes served their audience. Their latest album “Hisingen Blues”, which was just recently re-released by Nuclear Blast, must have found a number of adepts already, because the crowd reactions spoke for themselves. Excited cheers, clapping hands and a big flock in front of the stage, filling almost two thirds of the tent. But the fascinating thing about the band wasn't just the warm, analogue sound, but the ease with which GRAVEYARD pulled it off. Nothing is planned, anything goes. It was totally awesome the way the musicians wallowed in “The Line”, extending it to a 10-minute long jam. Can you really get mad at them for overrunning the schedule? If it was up to me, they could have played for another two hours!

Despite all the forecasts announcing the opposite, it remained dry this evening, and the concert area filled up to the very back after the fantastic BOLT THROWER gig. In a live situation, AMORPHIS are always guarantee for technically and musically perfect shows. You simply know what you will get. The Finns had a great start and easy game with the audience. They took the crowd on a journey through their extensive back catalogue, pleasing the fans of all their different creative periods, but the focus laid on their acclaimed last release “The Beginning Of Times”. But still it seemed like the fans enjoyed the older songs more. However, this didn't affect the show at all. Charismatic frontman Tomi Joutsen is just too good to let the atmosphere fade. It was a sight to behold the way he spun his dreadlocks, drawing bizarre shapes in the back light. Only his cohorts seemed a tad too quiet, staying mostly in the background. “Black Winter Day” would have been the ultimate high point of an already grandiose show, but, as so often lately, the band didn't play it. Still the closing “House Of Sleep” was a great way to finish the set, making the already busy security crew work extra hard. With this show AMORPHIS underlined their greatness once more, especially Tomi Joutsen, who sounded absolutely convincing in every pitch.

21.45 (PZ) NEAERA
The award for the most destructive show in the Party Tent on Friday clearly went to melodic death metallers NEAERA. Even before the show started, the huge crowd – the tent was bursting at the seams – was already screaming for their heroes. And when the intro faded and the first sounds of “Heaven's Descent” started, all hell broke loose. Anywhere you watched there were pits raging and people destroying their neck muscles. The first wall of death didn't take long to happen either. But the true climax was frontman Benny Hilleke directing a massive circle pit around the wave breakers and the FOH tower. There hasn't been anything like this at Summer Breeze! The singer's abilities as an entertainer were pretty impressive anyway. From the first to the last song he had the crowd willingly eating out of his hand – but he also corresponded giving all he got, and even let the crowd carry him on their hands. Towards the end of the set, the crowd was deservedly rewarded with a few band shirts, which were shot into the audience with a compressed air cannon. NEAERA came, saw and conquered, leaving nothing but scorched earth and a devastated party tent behind. Incredible!

After the triumph of the BOLT THROWER war machine it was now time to let the hammer fall. Any doubts about the headliner position being taken up by HAMMERFALL instead of the Coventry death metallers were soon forgotten. Even though the sound level was a bit below BOLT THROWER's, HAMMERFALL had the crowd firmly in their grip from the very first rain of sparks during the opening track “Patient Zero”. The instrumental section led by Oskar Dronjak captivated the fans with their metal poses, HAMMERFALL chants and singalong parts followed, and altogether the Swedes presented a well-balanced cross-section of all their creative periods supported by numerous pyro effects. Joacim Cans, dressed in a saucy denim and leather outfit, not only showed off his vocal abilities, but also proved to be a great tale-teller. Again and again, in between songs he told stories from back in the day, when HAMMERFALL wrote this or that track, and about how he had never dreamed of playing for such a huge audience. The whole deal was obviously drenched in heavy metal cliché, but those who criticize that shouldn't watch HAMMERFALL in the first place. After close to an hour the first round was already over, before the band returned for the encore with “One More Time”, the singalong hit “Hearts On Fire” and the unavoidable “Let The Hammer Fall”. HAMMERFALL came with the goal to turn the whole place into one big party, and one has to admit their mission was successful!

After the circle pit had been declared finished and the masses left the Party Tent, it was time for changeover and the next band. Originally Florida's ATHEIST were next, but, as they say, the only constant is change, and the band cancelled at short notice. However, their replacement was soon found in the shape of VICIOUS RUMOURS. Stylistically, the US power metallers formed in 1979 might not have necessarily been a compensation for ATHEIST, but they still gave it all to win over as many people as possible. Since HAMMERFALL were playing simultaneously, not a lot of people were on hand at the Party Stage, and a few people seemed surprised about the amount of room there was. But it's metal to just play on anyway, so Geoff Thorpe and his cohorts started their set with the classic “Digital Dictator”. There was lots of posing, leather and denim on stage, and the guys played stuff from all of their back catalogue, getting the party going. Singer Brian Allen didn't mind stagediving into the sparse crowd, and the band used their 45 minutes stage time fully.

Tonight, the zero hour was going to be special. Because, 20 years ago to this day, a bunch of “fucking retards” (in Maurizio Iacono's own words) had nothing better to do than forming a band called KATAKLYSM. So what could be better than celebrating their birthday with loads of fans at Summer Breeze? The framework conditions for a special party were all given: the area in front of the Party Stage was cram-full, the air was placid and the audience was loudly calling for the band. And KATAKLYSM had a few aces up their sleeves. For this special occasion they presented a setlist they had never done before, playing at least one song from each album, from their early beginnings with “Feeling The Neverworld” from the “Sorcery” album to the title track of their most recent release, “Push The Venom”. Even though some of the usual standards had to be omitted because of this, and some of the fans didn't seem quite familiar with the old stuff, the atmosphere stayed heated not only due to the pyro effects, but because KATAKLYSM really managed to set everyone's arses on fire. And when Iacono called for the security stress test, all hell broke loose. On his command, one crowdsurfer after another swam to the front, providing the security crew with a busy evening. During the closing “Push The Venom”, the backdrop was swapped for a giant 20, which was set alight with white and red sparklers during the final chords. At the end they took a photo in front of thousands of raised horns. Congratulations! And saving the good news for last, the gig was filmed for an upcoming DVD, so this memorable show was properly documented for posterity.

Slowly but surely, the crowd in front of the Party Stage kept getting bigger, and also the changeover took a bit longer (which had more to do with MAD SIN finishing late though). Pyros were set up, cameras rolling, altar and chalice ready: time for POWERWOLF. One look around confirmed that the wolves had once again managed to attract loads of prey, as the tent was filled up to the very back. There were “Attila” signs in the crowd, and there was a big roar when the mass started right at midnight. Attila Dorn himself quickly changed the name of the Party Stage to Ronnie James Dio Stage and blessed it with incense. POWERWOLF are well-known for their catchy songs and choruses, so it's no wonder everyone, even those not familiar with the band, were singing along at the top of their voices by the second song, “Prayer In The Dark”, at the latest. At one point new drummer Roel van Helden completely demolished his kit, being booed loudly y the audience upon Attila's prompt. It's a well-known fact POWERWOLF don't take themselves too seriously. So once again it was a pleasure to watch the ease and musical chops with which they captured their fans. There was something for everyone, such as “We Drink Your Blood”, and, according to Attila Dorn, some songs for men only, for example, “Resurrection By Erection”. At the end of the day it didn't really matter which song was for whom, as everyone had a jolly good time. That was nice!

It's undeniable that EINHERJER enjoy a certain cult status among scene insiders. It was great to hear they got back together in 2009, and having them at Summer Breeze tonight was even better. It was just past 1am, the power metal fans had all gone to bed, and things were about to get nordic. Although there were no viking helmets in sight, with eyes closed one could almost see the longboats on the horizon. One of them kept drawing closer, manned by fallen warriors. The intro had barely faded and there they were up on stage, without chain armour or similar gadgets, just EINHERJER doing what they do best. After the vocal and guitar levels had been evened out, the band took the audience on a journey through distant worlds, legends and myths. There wasn't much stage acting, but the band rather focused on the music itself, and their songs were received by a grateful audience. "Norrøn Kraft" and "Balladen Om Bifrost" were first appetizers of the new album "Nørrøn", which will finally be released in September 2011 after an eight-year (!) wait. The Norwegians managed to captivate the crowd with their songs, with band and fans whipping each other into a frenzy. The announcement of “Ironbound” as their last song was wistfully received, but with the reaffirming knowledge of this being far from EINHERJER's last show.

It all started with black metal, and so it ended. After the day on the Party Stage had begun with REV 16:8, it was up to SECRETS OF THE MOON to draw all black metallers back into the tent. And, despite the late time, they came in good numbers. However, the band themselves made the fans wait at first. A full 15 minutes behind schedule the Osnabrück band finally hit the stage, seamlessly and unannounced, the silence turned into a gig. And although the band seemed fairly tight, the right atmosphere didn't quite arise. With a rather muddy sound it took quite long for the crowd to catch on, and due to the initial delay the band had to shorten their set by 15 minutes, meaning they left after a half hour already with only a brief apology.

After SECRETS OF THE MOON's rather failed show, it was now up to IMPERIUM DEKADENZ to save the day for the black metal fans. Surprisingly, only a few left the tent, so the head count in front of the stage wasn't affected in a major way. The last band of the day started their set with “Ocean, Mountain's Mirror”, a set that focused exclusively on the last two albums, “Procella Vadens” and “Dämmerung Der Szenarien”. The session musicians playing the string instruments celebrated the late hour with synchronic headbanging, and frontman Horaz enriched their atmospheric black metal with vocals that varied between growls and shrieks, and altogether the band seemed very enthusiastic. The highlight of the show was a ten-minute rendition of “A Million Moons”, although towards the end Horaz' mic cut off, so the song had to be finished as an instrumental. A reconciliatory black closure of the third day at Summer Breeze.

Saturday, 08/20/2011

Who says rock'n'roll is dead? On Saturday morning MOTORJESUS did their best to refute this all-too-familiar cliché. Without exaggeration, there's probably never been an opener on the Party Stage to captivate this many people so early in the day. Even though vocalist Chris Birx admitted to be super nervous because of this, their first Summer Breeze appearance ever, no one could even notice their jimjams. No way, the guy is really a first-class entertainer. He almost single-handedly won over the cheering crowd by handing out beers and cheese-and-salami sandwiches, and his vocals were great too. He dedicated “Fist Of The Dragon” to his idols Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris, so during that song he demanded to see the claw of death instead of banging fists and raised horns. As if the fans weren't already eating out of his hand, the true climax came during the closing “A New War”: right in the middle of the song the band switched into a medley of the SCORPIONS' “Rock You Like A Hurricane” and AC/DC's “TNT”, the latter being growled by the audience like the SIX FEET UNDER version on Birx's demand. An absolutely great start into the Saturday. This band is definitely ready for bigger things!

While the day before TRIGGER THE BLOODSHED and NERVECELL had delivered some brutal death metal early on, on this last festival day it was time for BENIGHTED to follow suit. Their mission: to wake all brutal death metal followers up with their extreme sound. The Frenchmen pounded the numerous fans in such a vehement and aggressive manner it was a real joy to watch. Perfectly rehearsed, BENIGHTED delivered blast beats that were as precise as they were insane, as well as massive grooving mosh bits. Some catchy melodies were thrown in for good measure, and singer Julien Truchan provided some extra dynamics switching between extremely deep growls and high-pitched screams. From the very beginning there were pretty large circle pits going, and a massive wall of death provided additional entertainment. The popularity BENIGHTED enjoy by now was not only documented by the huge crowd at hand, but also by the fact that during every single announcement the song titles were shouted out by thousands of throats, and every single song turned the crowd into a sea of banging heads. Bassist Eric Lombard fired up the audience even more by jumping in the photo pit to rock out enthusiastically, before returning on stage right in time for a short bass solo. Unfortunately the loud calls for an encore couldn't be fulfilled. The crowd bid farewell to the visibly moved BENIGHTED with a loud rendition of the French national anthem, the “Marseillaise”.

They were wild, they were energetic, but still completely different from the previous band BENIGHTED. California's TOTAL CHAOS provided the absolute contrast, not only visually with super tight jeans, plenty of studs and spiky mohicans, but also in terms of the sound they delivered. With a lot of enthusiasm and fun, despite the rather sparse crowd, the band spit their uncompromisingly driving hardcore punk from the stage – even after a nightly 8-hour drive from Poland. The crowd were grateful for the band's fast songs and cheered their heroes on, and slowly but surely TOTAL CHAOS started attracting more and more people to the stage. The band led by raspy-voiced singer Rob Chaos were in top form, delivering the full hardcore treatment with their heavy groove, tight interplay, catchy singalong choruses and dirty punk charm. The highlight of the show was the song “Kill The Nazis”, which they announced as “Du Siehst Scheisse Aus” (“You Look Like Shit”).

12.50 (MS) ENGEL
ENGEL have struck a perfect balance. The band led by Niclas Engelin, who might ring a bell from his stand-in gig with IN FLAMES or his involvement with other similar sounding bands such as GARDENIAN and PASSENGER, perfectly managed the balancing act between heavily grooving mid-tempo mosh parts and huge choruses with almost pop-like melodies. The mix proved extremely popular, and therefore ENGEL looked down on a respectable crowd, moshpits included, despite the early time, when most festivalgoers would normally only be lighting their barbecues. Under their belts ENGEL had a well-balanced mix of tracks from their two albums, “Absolut Design” and “Threnody”, which cause a lot of pressure in the gut area if played as tight as the band did. Especially singer Magnus “Mangan” Klavborn made a lasting impression. With his exceptional voice he managed to change between shouts, growls and clean vocals effortlessly, and during the melodic songs in particular he convinced with an extraordinary vocal tone. The fans responded with a lot of action and singing along to the songs word by word. Gothenburg metal is simply a class of its own.

On Saturday there were hardly any remnants of the previous day's storm. And if there were any clouds left to be removed, DEADLOCK provided the necessary heat on the Pain Stage. No ice needed breaking between band and crowd, instead, the water coming out of the fire hose quickly evaporated on the bodies of the partying fans. The Schwarzenfeld band had their awesome new album “Bizarro World” under their belts, with its songs clearly dominating today's setlist. However, right at the beginning the band provided a stark contrast in the form of electronic beats, which is exactly the element they dumped on their latest release. The crowd knew what they were up to, so as soon as their heroes took the stage, the party started in the extreme heat. There was clapping, singing along and crowdsurfing. The bouncers had a lot of work, and generally speaking it was all against all: DEADLOCK delivered hit after hit, the front duo Johannes and Sabine kept firing up the crowd, which returned the boundless energy to the band. The circle pit soon became a circle eight, and the atmosphere was similarly relaxed as with ENGEL just before. One look at the crowd allowed a clear verdict: three days of festival and still no signs of slowing down. Nothing bizarro, everything great!

Stop! It's hammer time! Just as DEADLOCK had finished rocking the Pain Stage, the Swedish wolves took the Main Stage. Was the festival ready? The air stood still as the grand magicians proceeded to slow down the general pace of the festival. This is primal heavy doom that makes Satan pull in his tail in fear. BATHORY, WITCHFINDER GENERAL, SAINT VITUS and GOATSNAKE, as well as the usual NWOBHM suspects – the Swedes have a little bit of everything in their songs. Their natural sound, which actually should have turned the festival site into a snow-covered winter landscape, quickly infected the metalheads. Despite struggling with the blazing sun, nothing was going to stop them from banging their heads. With such a heavy show it's OK to let oneself be fried. GRAND MAGUS rewarded the diehards' “Iron Will” with a medley made out of classics from their whole discography, but then obviously focused on tracks from their latest album “Hammer Of The North”, which is a lot more heavy metal than it is doom rock. Not for nothing the album was highly acclaimed everywhere, and songs like “I, The Jury”, “Ravens Guide Our Way” or the title track enjoyed a great reception. Guitarists Janne and Fox completely avoided any kind of audience banter, but pampered the crowd with some nice solos instead. As experience has often shown on this festival, it doesn't take more than three musicians to create an awesome sound. And if it's a cult band like this, all the better.

Without wanting to sound overly dramatic, life is just not fair. If it was, CRIMINAL would enjoy a completely different status and probably play Summer Breeze at a completely different time as well. Originally formed in Chile in the mid-nineties and currently based in England, the band have been tirelessly playing their arses off and releasing consistently strong albums. When they started this year's Summer Breeze appearance at 15:00 with “21st Century Paranoia” from the 2009 “White Hell” album, there wasn't really a very big crowd at hand yet. However, the audience received them with loud cheers. In the back of the stage they had a backdrop with the design of their new album “Akelarre”, which probably summed up the band's lyrical content pretty well. The three biggest criminals on earth were depicted, church, economy and military. Frontman Anton was visibly taken up with the songs as he moved around the stage and barked his lyrics fervently into the mic. Guitarist Olmo Cascallar also gave a passionate performance. To sum it all up, the band was really in top form and would have deserved a much bigger audience.

With their hardcore punk of the dirty kind, SMOKE BLOW were probably one of the more exotic bands at Summer Breeze this year. However, in their 12-year history the Kiel band have been able to gain a few followers in southern Germany too, who appeared in big numbers at the Party Stage under the blazing afternoon sun. Moving around on stage a lot, the northerners went through their whole back catalogue. Always the center of attention were the two vocalists with the characteristic names Letten and MC Straßenköter (MC Street Dog). The two entertainers led the way through the show with a good portion of northern charm and a lot of funny banter. The Billy Idol cover “Rebel Yell” towards the end showed that the band don't take themselves too seriously and are always up for a good joke. During this song, the two frontmen showed their feelings for each other by dropping their trousers and practicing same-sex love publicly. There can only be true love between (punk) men! In the pit, on the other hand, there wasn't any room for love. Here good old slam dancing ruled, while the rest of the audience were singing along at the top of their lungs. All in all, this was probably one of the most entertaining parties of the whole weekend.

The Camel Stage is a little bit like a bargain bin, like a shop window full of special offers one turns out to be grateful for, as the “buyer” effect is not to be dismissed. Four separate 20-minute sets are more than just background music to fill the gap, but a great chance for curious festivalgoers to check out interesting bands such as VOGELFREY – live and in the flesh, which works a hundred times better than a multicoloured ad in a magazine. The Hamburg band, who had released a surprisingly strong debut album a year before, belong to those medieval bands who favour a more traditional rock instrumentation. Quickly they proved their music does not only work on record. The sextet played with contagious enthusiasm, the band members were in a great mood during all of their four sets, and frontman Jannik showed his abilities as an entertainer as well as playing several different instruments. His dramatic tale-telling was as gripping on stage as it is on record. VOGELFREY mix traditional and modern sounds in such a convincing manner one should really remember their name. Four times in a row they showed they don't need to fear comparison with any of their better-known counterparts. Great job!

15.55 (PZ) ADEPT
With ADEPT the crowd in the tent grew a bit more. Especially the front half participated from the very beginning, getting into the Swedes' powerful mix of melodic death metal and hardcore. In a brilliant mood, the musicians showed a lot of enthusiasm, charisma and energy, especially singer Robert Ljung, who drew everyone's attention with his incredible stage presence, taking the fans firmly into his grip. The crowd started some decent mosh pits and were also encouraged to jump up and down and form a massive circle pit. Obviously this was also due to the great music with awesome double kick attacks, powerful breakdowns and the typical Gothenburg melodies. All in all, the show was more than worthwhile with really heavy music and a lot of fun, both on and off the stage!

Welcome to the farm 2011! After the band had virtually disbanded and almost three years had passed since their last show, the Swabians' appearance was a pretty exclusive deal. So, despite the relentlessly burning star in the sky, a big crowd had gathered in anticipation of what the guys were still capable of. The band was greeted with loud applause and started fittingly with “When Pigs Fly”, as for a long time a FARMER BOYS show or even a new album seemed as likely as the event described in the title. The third song on offer was “Like Jesus Wept”, one of the many smashers from the “The Other Side” album. Singer Matze announced the track as one from their current album, and when he realized what he'd just said he couldn't help but laughing – as no less then seven years have passed since the album's release. The crowd in the front were happy about the firehose being used again as it was a welcome refreshment for all the sweaty movement. With the exception of a rather absent looking keyboardist, all of the musicians were visibly having fun on stage, and this fun was turned into energy and transmitted directly to the audience. It was basically all like in the old days, a fantastic band with their very own style and a singer with a tendency for emotionalism, both in his melodies and gestures. And also with a tendency to talking bollocks... what was that again about living on the dark side of the moon? It didn't matter anyway. The front rows kept chanting “Neues Album! Neues Album!” (new album). Where can I click “Like” please?

Next up were DEMONICAL with a considerably more traditional sound, unfortunately with a smaller audience than ADEPT had had just before them. In return, the people in attendance got an especially good show. DEMONICAL are a force to be reckoned with, not only on their albums, but especially at the live front. Few bands manage to celebrate pure old-school Swedish death metal like they do. The band members were as chilled out as always, only frontman Sverker Widgren had a pretty manic look in his eyes, and his ultra evil growls sounded nice and powerful. DEMONICAL took no prisoners with their driving groove and those deep, simple, awesomely creaking riffs. The Swedes vehemently battered their way through their set with deadly precision. Together with their fans, the band were headbanging to oblivion, further adding to their raw, likeable stage presence. One death metal hit followed the next, and the norsemen's show was loudly celebrated by their fans!

Jugglers, bards and gleemen, that was CORVUS CORAX's totally un-metal motto. There were no guitars or traditional (metal) instruments, but medieval sounds – mostly festive and boozy, but sometimes also dragging and heavy. It was a bit of a risk to try and succeed with this kind of music in between all those bands trying to outdo each other in terms of speed and heaviness. However, despite all prophecies of doom, the band captivated their audience with their very first (damn loud) sounds, spreading a fantastic atmosphere many other bands could only wish for. There were people dancing, “schunkeling” and going crazy, many of them dressed in goth or other obscure outfits. The band created a very special atmosphere with their announcements in medieval language, and it lasted for the whole show. Seldom has such a stark contrast to all the metal stuff worked as well as the music of CORVUS CORAX. It was absolutely fantastic the way they built an atmosphere with their bagpipes, shawms, drums and tymbals. Surprisingly, many metallers enjoyed the band's music, which goes to show metal people are anything but narrow-minded. And with great music such as this you really shouldn't be.

17.45 (PZ) WOLF
Suddenly, the denim cutoff count went up, more and more fans in the traditional metal uniform came to the stage, the intro was playing, and WOLF were up on stage tuning their instruments. However, the number of fans wasn't overwhelming, which is a shame considering the band delivered a perfect set of Swedish heavy metal. Despite the Party Stage being in the shade, the drummer chose to leave his sunglasses on. WOLF refer to Germany as “Metal Country”, and the crowd celebrated each song in return, from “The Bite” to the brand-new “Skull Crusher”. Bassist Anders “Tornado” Modd lived up to his nickname as he ran around the stage, before going into the photo pit to play “Hail Caesar” in close proximity to his fans. The Swedes delivered a great show, which unfortunately ended much too soon.

Up next there was a metalcore double whammy. AS I LAY DYING took the Main Stage first, before CALIBAN followed on the Pain Stage straight afterwards. Shoulder to shoulder with KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, AS I LAY DYING belong to the forefront of this subgenre, which still enjoys a lot of popularity. And the massive crowd underlined this fact impressively. The band had a brutal start with “Within Destruction”, quickly followed by “Upside Down Kingdom”, the opening track from their latest album “The Powerless Rise”. The band was in total control at all times. Just maybe their hair was burnt here and there by the pyros, as the wind kept changing direction sometimes blowing the fire dangerously towards the band. Totally on fire, singer Tim Lambesis is an impressive phenomenon. Tall, tattooed and with such anger in his voice it actually made you afraid. You can tell he lives through his songs and lyrics. He jumped around, banged his head like crazy and sometimes threw his arms around him, without losing a single bit of power. In a professional manner he directed one of the biggest walls of death at SUMMER BREEZE 2011, whipping up the crowd again and again, to the point of exhaustion. So it's not surprising some fans had to leave the battlefield early in order to get taken care of in the first aid tent. However, there weren't any serious injuries. At the end of the show, AS I LAY DYING stepped things up a notch with three of their biggest hits: “Forever”, “Confined” and obviously the one song that can't be missing from their set, “94 Hours”. A perfect closure for a fantastic show, it was going to be a difficult task for CALIBAN to top this. The only complaint would be that the band wasted 10 minutes of show time that were still left after “94 Hours”.

It might seem like an anachronism, but nowadays seeing a pirate on stage with a camera in his hand is totally possible. Especially when talking about SWASHBUCKLE, and those who know the US band were expecting a great mix of thrash and loads of fun. An intro with a Nintendo sound had the band members dancing on stage, announcing what was in store for the tent audience. Admiral Nobeard declared fervently he loved every single person in front of him. The first few circle pits formed spontaneously, but it was obviously his desire to make them bigger and bigger, so to give the security crew some work to do. As a small intermezzo, the band played the beginning of “Black No. 1” by the legendary TYPE O NEGATIVE, which was received enthusiastically, much like all the rest of the set. During “Cruise Ship Terror” a few friends (from the band DEADLOCK) came on stage dressed as a parrot, a crab and a shark, making the crowd lose it completely. Crowdsurfers everywhere, moshpits here, circle pits there, the pirates achieved their goal: thrash and fun to the max!

19.15 (PS) CALIBAN
The band was actually in the studio, but they were probably happy to halt the recordings for a bit in order to play SUMMER BREEZE. It was clear from the beginning this was going to be awesome. The stage boasted an impressive decoration, there were two big sidedrops covering the backline, and four massive backdrops covering the whole extension behind the stage with the letters C,L,B and N. This way people could spend the changeover time guessing vowels! After the opening track “Love Song” they already pulled the first ace from their sleeves with an impressive wall of smoke at the front of the stage. The band members were visibly enjoying themselves, although maybe not so much Andy, who tripped over something, hitting his head and injuring an ankle. So for the rest of the show he had to play a metal flamingo, jumping around the stage on one foot and sporting a bag of ice instead of a shoe on the other. The next gag was to send Manuel from Augsburg, a brave contest winner, right into the pit with a helmetcam. It was obvious the camera wasn't going to survive the ensuing wall of death, but Manuel survived it unscathed. Respect! Respect also goes to CALIBAN's FOH engineer, as there probably hadn't been a better sound all these days. After COMEBACK KID had already set the bar high in terms of unconventional crowd participation, during “Helter Skelter” (the BEATLES don't deserve this!) from the new CALIBAN cover EP most of the fans sat down and showed their appreciation for the band by raising their arms. Never seen anything like this either. Standards such as walls of death and crowd surfing don't really need to be mentioned. During one of Andy's announcements the people in the front weren't really paying much attention as a scantily dressed lady was sitting on someone's shoulders drawing all attention towards her. Andy decided to take the surprised girl up on stage so at least everyone was looking in the same direction again. Towards the end, the band pulled all the stops. There was a rain of sparks before the RAMMSTEIN cover “Sonne”, then it was the turn of the wall of smoke again, and after the closing “It's Our Burden To Bleed” three cannons shot red, white and green confetti in the air. Everything was very impressive, the fans went totally apeshit, and the band didn't seem dissatisfied either. A few hours earlier DEADLOCK had had a similar success without any of this stuff though.

With a name like this there wasn't much guessing as to what to expect from the band in their five show blocks. And it's actually strange no one has had the idea before to mix metal with traditional drinking music, as it could become really popular. Because heavy metal fans, beer and a big singalong factor obviously work together perfectly. The band's dressing room was also a motley mix of costumes and metal shirts and accessories. In terms of instruments, the tuba and squeezebox were probably the most exotic in the context of a normal rock line-up. The band ruled the Camel Stage, and the singer was so involved he kept getting more and more hoarse with every show block. The covers they played throughout the set of Hubert von Goisern, STS and the EAV were cool too. As if all of this wasn't good enough, a couple in traditional costumes were handing out beers and pretzels to the front rows. One, two, bottoms up!

19.40 (PZ) OBSCURA
Obscure, obscurer, OBSCURA! This was an abrupt change of styles, from wild pirate thrash to technical death metal with black metal overtones. Ironically, singer Steffen Kummerer was surprised about the crowd reactions himself, as he certainly didn't expect such a big audience. And this was an added incentive for the band to try and make their technically demanding sound better than ever. The crowd was on their side from the get-go, headbanging til oblivion to the heavy sounds and super precise solos. The way the positive feedback motivated the band to give their best could really be felt. MORBID ANGEL fans got their money's worth as much as fans of more blackened sounds. Steffen invited everyone to meet up for a beer after the show.

20.20 (MS) TARJA
Slowly the air started cooling down and there was an impressive sunset to admire. Ideal conditions for a show by Finnland's golden voice. And the precious metal would play a main role later on in the set. But let's save that for later. The first thing to stand out was the all-star formation's unusual stage set-up. Mike Terrana's massive white drum kit was placed on the right side of the stage while the cello player was on Tarja's left side. In the back, and impressive collection of keyboards had been set up behind the guitarists. The show started with full power, and during the opener “Dark Star” it already became evident Tarja was in a great mood. Dressed with a discreet black outfit, she let the music take the spotlight. Tarja delivered a collection of hits that made the huge audience go crazy. Again and again, the crowd started chanting the singer's name, which she seemed quite pleased about. It was obvious Mike Terrana wasn't going to miss the chance to play a solo here and there. However, this evening's show was more than ever tailored towards the charismatic frontwoman. Those waiting for NIGHTWISH songs were satisified at least to an extent with the cover version “Over The Hills And Far Away”, which the lady had often sung with her former employers. Cello player Max Lilja (ex-APOCALYPTICA, HEVEIN) stayed pretty much out of the spotlight. The reason became obvious when the show was interrupted for a special ceremony. The band's long-time friend and confident Gunnar Sauermann presented Tarja Turunen with a gold record for her latest album “My Winter Storm”. Visibly moved, Tarja addressed the fans and subsequently played the closing “Until My Last Breath” a s thank-you to them. One can only hope that Tarja and her cohorts keep it up for a long time so we can enjoy many more shows like this.

20.40 (PZ) THE OCEAN
There are shows where the crowd goes absolutely wild, and then there's shows like THE OCEAN's, where the musicians do their best to absolutely destroy the stage. What a crazy show! The German-Swiss collective celebrated their gig like a battle, with the guitarists wielding their instruments like axes. Anyone who has already witnessed this band knows that they don't only give your ears a good battering with their experimental/progressive/extreme metal. The five-piece is also a feast for the eye. As if stung by a Summer Breeze wasp, as if their bodies were electrified instead of their instruments, they spun tirelessly around the stage, using the monitors as trampolines and the rigs as a climbing frame – and all of this while playing technically demanding songs. They even outdid their fans as bassist Louis surfed the crowd and singer Loïc dove right into the first row to get in close contact with the fans, who in turn were partying as if there was no tomorrow. Even before the show had started you could cut the atmosphere with knife, but when the intro came blasting through the PA it seemed as if they were struck by lightning. The final climax came during the epic “The Origin Of The Species” and “The Origin Of God”. These are the two tracks that round up the “Heliocentric” album, and a sea of raised hands and loud cheers made it clear that we were witnessing something big. Incredible, what energy and passion! One of the very big highlights of Summer Breeze 2011. Those who missed it will at least be able to watch it on DVD at home – however, not until the autumn 2012 at the earliest.

21.35 (PS) SODOM
The Summer Breeze congregation obviously didn't want to miss the show of thrash veterans SODOM, so a huge crowd gathered in front of the Pain Stage covering the whole ground all the way to the back. After the powerful start with “The Vice Of Killing” from the “Code Red” album it was already clear SODOM weren't going to take it easy today, and the crowd reacted with loud cheers. Classics like “Outbreak Of Evil”, “The Saw Is The Law”, “Agent Orange” (played extremely fast and heavy) and “Blasphemer” (from their debut EP “In The Sign Of Evil”) followed, the latter being dedicated by Onkel Tom to his late friend, ex-SODOM drummer Chris Witchhunter. At this point of the placid evening it was already clear that SODOM are not only immensely popular, but that they wouldn't let anyone take away this real triumph from them. The band completely fucked up the end of “Ausgebombt”, which made them look all the more likeable and human. However, this song and the following “Remember The Fallen” and “Bombenhagel” (played at almost blastbeat speed, but without the part with the German national anthem), were just the confirmation that this superb old-school thrash band deserved every single bit of applause after all the long years of hard work. The Ruhrpott legends proved “old farts” can still rock. SODOM simply delivered, not only celebrating the good old German thrash metal, but also delivering a perfect version of a MOTÖRHEAD rock'n'roll classic.

21.45 (PZ) TÝR
As the TÝR show was drawing closer, the tent was bursting at the seams. The band from the Faroe Islands were warmly received by a huge crowd as they took the stage. Focused, yet gripping, TÝR presented their very own take on the pagan/viking metal genre with elements of nordic folk, with trademarks being their distinctive guitar harmonies and some traces of classic heavy metal. Thousand of voices sang along to their catchy anthems, especially the classic “Hail To The Hammer”, which everybody seemed to know by heart. Each one of their songs enjoyed a great reception, and the numerous crowdsurfers provided lots of work to the bouncers in the photo pit. Led by Heri Joensen, who offered a toast to the audience after every song, the band were dedicated and in top form. The likeable musicians proved that TÝR are an excellent live band, spreading loads of happiness and fun in the Party Tent.

After almost four days of excessive partying, in which the fans were battered by the bands and also destroyed themselves, there was an extremely tough nut to crack at the Main Stage closing the Saturday proceedings. HATEBREED were inviting to a pit and everybody came. It was their first Summer Breeze appearance, and the poster boys of hardcore even had the honour to headline the Main Stage. Led by energy bundle Jamey Jasta, the band responded with a perfect set. After a short pack of three songs from their recent self-titled album ("Everyone Bleeds Now", "Hands Of A Dying Man" and "Merciless Tide"), a real fireworks display of hits from all of the band's creative periods followed. The band played at least two songs from each of their albums, and it was possibly the ones off “Perseverance” that got the best response. The crowd used up their last energy reserves, obeying MC Jasta's every word. The guy is so professional and experienced he knows exactly what to do in order to get the desired reaction. As soon as the fans were on the ropes like a badly beaten-up fighter, he immediately got them back on their feet with all kinds of singalong parts and jumping games. Fancy an example? Jasta: “Let me hear you scream: Hate!”, crowd: “Breed!” Accompanied by an excessive display of pyro effects, the band did what they do best: take no prisoners. However, the band never forgets who they owe all this to, so they thanked all of those present, as well as the festival itself and all the other bands, over and over again. And with his tribute to SODOM Jasta also proved he is a real fan of the German thrash heroes. After “This Is Now” HATEBREED left the stage, but didn't need to be asked long before coming back for seconds. The encore obviously finished with “Destroy Everything”, a singalong song par excellence. Two words that made everybody scream their lungs out, and a groove that wouldn't let anyone stand still. A more than worthy ending for Summer Breeze 2011. At least on the Main Stage, as PRIMORDIAL were gearing up for the grand finale on the Pain Stage next door...

GOD DETHRONED couldn't have wished for a better venue than the Party Tent. After a haunting intro the Dutch commando started blasting away in such a brutal manner one could have thought they were playing faster on purpose in order to be able to fit more songs into their set. The band delivered tracks like “Boiling Blood”, “Storm Of Steel” and “Under The Sign Of The Iron Cross” at breakneck speed, ruling the tent in a superior way. The crowd reacted to the energy unleashed by the band, responding with loud applause. GOD DETHRONED had made a great choice with the songs they played, interspersing the set with various slower songs. And it was the heavier parts that allowed the fans to take a breather before the next blastbeat attack. However, there was little time to breathe, as the band showed and enthusiasm many wouldn't have believed them to be capable of, as their last few albums all included some rather mid-tempo heavy songs. But this could only be noticed marginally. The band levelled the Party Tent like a deadly steamroller, sweeping away any shadow of doubt about the fact they are going to leave a big gaping hole when they step aside to make room for the new blood in the near future.

Last time PRIMORDIAL had played the festival they had a memorable show, but in a rather negative sense, as the drummer wasn't in the best shape. But the guy has obviously learnt his lesson, as this time he was absolutely focused, same as the rest of the band, paving the way for singer Alan's stage performance. The latter appeared with a bloodstained face and torn clothes again, spreading the charisma of a perfect master of ceremony. The dramatic song material was almost frighteningly fitting for the last slot on the Pain Stage. The dim lightshow held mostly in red and the beginning works to dismantle the Main Stage provided an eerie experience with PRIMORDIAL as its soundtrack. Despite all the heat, sweat and heavy partying of the last few days, the Irishmen managed to summon up the audience's last energy reserves, infecting them with their sound up to the FOH tower. Before playing “Bloodied Yet Unbowed”, Alan mentioned the band's 20th anniversary and dedicated the song to their friends in ROTTING CHRIST who were going to play in the Party Tent after them. Thank you PRIMORDIAL!

Swedish death metal for dinner – before starting their carnage in the tent, guitarist Urban wanted to make sure the blood-thirsty crowd was in the appropriate state: “Are you still drunk?” Without question, the audience was still in a great mood on this Saturday evening, and what better than the Swedish chainsaw inferno to refresh the tired brain cells? The band started with “Regorge In The Morgue” off of their new album “Opus Mortis VIII”, but with a few problems. First it was the sound, then the guitars. However, after the initial trouble had been bridged, the rest of the set was perfect. In a professional manner VOMITORY played mostly songs from their new album, but also older stuff like “Terrorize Brutalize Sodomize” and “Under Clouds Of Blood”. Razor-sharp high-speed tracks alternated with slower attacks, so Urban asked the crowd: “Do you want it fast or faster?” In short, a perfect set, brutal and crunchy. Shame there wasn't time at the end for the encore “Chaos Fury”.

Finnland's MOONSORROW couldn't have asked for a better time to play than the middle of the night. Their atmospheric take on black metal meets folk meets pagan was perfect for this time, and the fans were more than grateful for it. A nocturnal atmosphere unfolded, with some people swaying from side to side, others shaking their heads with their eyes closed, and others enjoying a good crowdsurfing. The band kept the banter to a minimum but still could “only” play four songs, however, all of them extra long and in-depth. Even though at times the keyboard sound bordered on kitsch, the band still managed to create and maintain a nice atmosphere, which they kept infusing with heaviness and speed. The band played two songs from their new album and two older ones, making all MOONSORROW fans walk away satisfied. A good beginning to the end of the festival.

Despite the late hour and some serious symptoms of tiredness in most festivalgoers, ROTTING CHRIST could still look down on a respectably-sized crowd. Well, the Greeks have been in the business for a good while, being able to look back on a strong back catalogue which has garnered them a big fanbase. Therefore the band blasted out one song after another without major interruptions. This is what you call optimum time management. The band was in an excellent mood and even had a few funny stage raps, which seemed all the more charming with that Greek accent of theirs. Visibly moved by the good reactions, ROTTING CHRIST played themselves into a trance, constantly headbanging and soon drenched in sweat. The show was fittingly ended with “Noctis Era”, and ROTTING CHRIST got a well-deserved ovation.

For the last few insatiable metallers out there, Kassel's melodic death metal heroes BURDEN OF GRIEF were the very last band of the festival to plow through the tent. Despite their position in the bill, BURDEN OF GRIEF were in a good mood and went straight for it with the title track of their latest album, “Follow The Flames”. The remaining crowd activated the head rotors one last time and enjoyed the set to the full. And the band gave it their all. “Swallow The Sun”, “Burn In Fire” and “Nightmare” all kept the same aggressive level, without ever losing any of their melodies and catchiness. The IRON MAIDEN cover “Aces High” really got the crowd going, before “Rise Like A Phoenix” marked the end of the set with one of the biggest riffs ever. Certainly a worthy closure for the Summer Breeze festival!