Looks like it’s going to be a beautiful day in Dinkelsbühl. The sun fights its way through the clouds, warming the backs of the fans waiting at the Main Stage. Meanwhile, Poland’s UNSUN enter the stage to sweeten the attendees’ “hair of the dog” beer with some gothic pop. No worries, the music on offer is easily digestible and surely won’t make you gain weight. At least judging by frontwoman Aya, who can easily rival someone like Sharon den Adel (WITHIN TEMPTATION) in the vocal department despite still wearing children-size clothes. The band obviously didn’t want to overtax the audience at such an early hour, looking quite contained in terms of stage acting and communication. At least guitarist Mauser used to be a lot more agile back in his VADER days, but then again the material on offer isn’t really too complex. UNSUN may be good for a musical morning pint, but they’re still missing a bit of nutritional value to qualify for a main meal.
THE NEW BLACK, a relatively new band, inaugurated the Pain Stage to the sounds of the “Fall Guy”intro.The band had received lots of – admittedly justified – advance praise for their debut album released early in the year. Apparently quite a few people in the audience were ready to rock despite the early hour. THE NEW BLACK celebrated their American-influences rock somewhere in between BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, CORROSION OF CONFORMITY and NICKELBACK and were clearly having fun in the process.One could also make out some decent PANTERA influences due to the raw approach and massive riffs. The boys from northern Germany sounded a little rough and unpolished, but always catchy and seriously heavy, proving their live qualities. By the way, lead guitarist Christof Leim knows all the Angus Young poses by heart, which makes him a real eye-catcher. The singer’s harmonica part was also really cool!
After THE NEW BLACK it was time for some heavier stuff, although one couldn’t have known by the Elvis Presley intro. THE CUMSHOTS play an extremely cool and straightforward mix of rock with a big chunk of metal, the perfect soundtrack to a party with lots of beer, whiskey, cigarettes and lightly-clothed young women, even though the latter were nowhere to be seen. Visually the Norwegians were a real eye-opener, looking more like an authentic American rock band, and the attitude didn’t end there, judging by the frequent use of ther F-word. What about the music? A grandiose, dirty and brutal mix of MOTÖRHEAD, THE HELLACOPTERS, SLAYER, AC/DC, ENTOMBED and ELVIS. Particularly the genuine performance with regards to visuals, attitude and music combined with the killer grooves caused immediate movement in the front rows. In any case, THE CUMSHOTS earned their candidacy for having the biggest balls of the whole festival, and not only because singer Max Cargo waved his in front of the photographers’ lenses before carrying on singing while walking through the crowd, visibly enjoying the close contact to the audience.
Total contrast: After some dirty and even dirtier rock, now it was time for some entirely different sounds and subject matter. Time for Middle Earth, the world of Tolkien and the symphonic gothic metal of BATTLELORE. Armed with costumes, warpaint and weapons, the “Lord Of The Rings” fans came on stage to take the audience on a trip to Tolkien’s, and their own, exciting world of fantasy. The Finns delivered epic, melodic and catchy anthems, providing the musical soundtrack to a big battle against the dark lord Sauron. In a live situation their songs sounded slightly less ethereal, but a lot more aggressive, thanks to the heavy guitar riffs on offer. BATTLELORE, with a rather theatrical stage presence, played really tight, their numerous fans quickly developed an intense urge to move, and the half-hour set unfortunately went by far too quickly.
After an intro the band, and, shortly after, their singer Basti, stormed the stage in a highly motivated manner. Surprisingly, no backdrop had been put up, a pity considering the singer is also a talented visual artist. But whatever, at the end of the day it was the music that mattered. After the drummer had allegedly broken his wrist at With Full Force he must have made a miraculous recovery, because he played as if nothing had ever happened. The young audience got behind the band as one from the very start and celebrated their heroes – even chanting the song announcements – providing for extra motivation in the band and loads of action in the pit. Obviously people were again seen happily dancing in circles and building walls of death. Besides his excellent singing, Basti was also in charge of whipping up the audience and doing his funny stage raps (“The next song is about small lusty dwarves who live under the earth!” – the song in question was “Zombiefied”). Set closer “Porn From Spain” became a true crowdsurfing orgy, during which as many as 10 bodies were held up at the same time. The bouncers had certainly not expected something like that at this time of the day, when all of a sudden things got extremely busy.
It was pretty clear in advance that the Canadians would have a hard time in front of a mainly metal audience with their pop-punk rock’n’roll. However, they briskly launched into their set – under a brand new backdrop – and played their hit “Killing Saturday Night” second, which gained them some timid applause. As better reactions failed to appear during the course of the set, at some point singer/guitarist uttered the – rather justified – question if people were even alive: “How are you doing out there? You’re dead, or what?” When, on top of that, the band started playing more and more old material, it caused the crowd to become even more uninterested. Unfortunately the trio’s live mix was not very well balanced either, making the harmony vocals barely audible and the guitar quite muddy. At least “21st Century Teenage” from the last album was a fairly reconciliatory ending to the show.
Well done Boys! After playing the festival three years ago, when they were still rather unknown, the four horror punks had another shot on this bright afternoon. While their first appearance was only witnessed by relatively few people, this time there was a noticeably larger crowd in attendance. Proof of their growing fan community was also the fact that almost every one of the MISFITS lookalikes’ choruses was loudly responded by the crowd. No wonder that, when frontman Rod Usher proposed celebrating the first pit of the day, the audience happily obliged. Inspired by the flawless performance, more and more people joined the headbanging crowd. THE OTHER were certainly a small surprise, more than justifying their slot on the Main Stage and making the best out of it. Let’s wait and see, but in this shape and form the band will certainly be a welcome – and colorful – guest on any festival bill.
Just by reading the song titles on their setlist, anyone unfamiliar with the leather and bullet belt gang from Southern Germany will have known what to expect of the band, because song titles such as “Heavy Metal To The End”, “Wargods Of Metal” and “Blood On My Steel” don’t leave much room for speculation; it was true metal time! Also fitting were the sidedrops showing axes and swords. And, although the “true” metal sound isn’t exactly the focus of the SUMMER BREEZE festival, the tent was already well attended and the atmosphere really good. “We didn’t expect anything but received a lot!” was singer Gerrit P. Mutz’s happy conclusion later on. The first 5 to 10 rows were even busy headbanging all the way through the set. The vocals were mostly high – even painfully high at times – as this style requires, but “Slaughter Prophecy” provided some refreshing variety with its additional growls.
After NIM VIND and THE OTHER, PSYCHOPUNCH completed the horror punk / sleaze rock trio on the Pain Stage. Having played the festival a few times in the past, the Swedes were no strangers to the BREEZE and felt visibly at home. The crowd greeted the band the way it should be, giving new members Lindell and Jocke – who recently replaced Peppe and Mumbles on bass and drums – a sweaty and warm welcome. “Hush Now Baby”, from the penultimate album “Moonlight City”, opened the show, the focus of which was clearly the recently released “Death By Misadventure” album. But even with the lesser known songs the band scored points with the audience, creating a great party atmosphere. However, the music is and always will be only a part of a PSYCHOPUNCH show. Their funny stage raps, during which the three band members at the front constantly interrupt each other, not only show how close the band is to their fans, it also makes clear that it’s all just supposed to be fun. Right on!
Latvia’s SKYFORGER have devoted their music to their country’s folklore. Their songs tell tales of long forgotten gods, heroic battles and old sagas. Musically, the folk influence is also evident, as they mix flutes and bagpipes into their stomping pagan metal. Visually, however, the band seemed a little irresolute, with the whole band, except the flutist, wearing normal clothes, namely jeans and t-shirts. Said flutist had dressed in old fashion, according with the band theme – maybe the luggage with the rest of the stage clothes went missing? At least the bearded men agreed on their will to make a strong impression on the audience, and really went for it. At times one of the guitarists was even seen playing on his knees. The crowd in the absolutely packed tent thanked the band with frenetic reactions. In any case, the long journey was certainly worth the band’s while!
This was already THE HAUNTED’s second appearance at SUMMER BREEZE, and the first thing people noticed was frontman Peter Dolving’s visual transformation, as he was now sporting a big bushy beard. But that quickly became irrelevant when the band furiously launched into “Little Cage” from their latest album “Versus”. From the get-go the band spread an intensity, power and aggression rarely seen among their peers. The fact that Dolving didn’t announce any of the first few songs didn’t matter either, as he relied entirely on his charisma to get the audience going, which he easily accomplished. The crowd reactions kept growing from song to song until the point of euphoria. During the further course of the set, Dolving actually showed his humorous side, as he communicated with tongue-in-cheek stage raps (“I feel stupid today!”), uttered his honest opinion about metalcore and lectured about money and music. During the songs it was an entirely different picture, as he mutated into a berserker and one had to fear a vein would burst in is head while he screamed his lungs out. While other bands tried their best to get a wall of death going from the stage, Dolving didn’t waste much time and got into the audience through the security pit, made his way to the wave breaker, watched his band from afar and started to chase people to both sides. And the result was amazing, as THE HAUNTED probably had the biggest wall of death of the whole day! The band members were clearly having a great time and could be seen grimacing at each other. This show will probably be talked about for a long time, and the band was certainly among the winners of this year’s festival. It really wouldn’t have been necessary to point a gun at people’s faces – as depicted on the backdrop – to get these reactions.
The Ruhr Vikings BLACK MESSIAH were the third band to do the honors on the tent stage. It was quite clear that the audience had come to get its first warm-up before the mighty AMON AMARTH, and accordingly the tent was quite full. The BLACK MESSIAH boys embraced this unique opportunity and more than lived up to the crowd’s expectations, delivering their pathos as if they wanted to apply for a potential position as tour support for the Swedish headliners. Driven by the audience’s collective headbanging, BLACK MESSIAH delivered a unique performance. Each of the Vikings’ songs made a huge impact in the crowd, and the temperature started to rise to almost critical levels. Even metalheads who were only there by chance were soon captured by BLACK MESSIAH’s spell. Despite the early hour, the guys set a new attendance record for the tent, which would probably be hard to break. Great gig with no unnecessary fuss, but with loads of enthusiasm.
The points for coolest intro of the day went to ENTOMBED, with THE NEW BLACK coming a close second. In it, a preacher could be heard talking about God and reaching the conclusion that Satan exists, too, making this strikingly clear – a notion that fitted the Swedish legend’s show like a glove. The band launched right into “Serpent Saints”, the title track of their current album, followed by a solid best-of set spanning the entire band history. New songs alternated with material from “Wolverine Blues”, “To Ride, Shoot Straight And Speak The Truth” and “Morning Star”, with the only downer being the glaring absence of “Left Hand Path”. The show was a no-frills display of dirty death’n’roll in its purest dorm, frontman L.G. Petrov’s stage raps in German (“Alles gut meine Damen und Headbanger? Keine Lahmen hier, das ist fein!”) providing some extra entertainment. His slightly retarded stage presence was somehow reminiscent of Ozzy, but – unlike the latter – his vocal performance was top-notch as he growled into the mic. Guitarist Alex Hellid’s cool riffs were also beyond any reasonable criticism. The hired gun replacing the original bassist, who was becoming a father, had had to learn the set in one day, but this didn’t dampen the band’s tight playing in any way. Cool show.
Bavaria’s OBSCURA delivered a stark contrast, at least musically, to the preceding party band BLACK MESSIAH. Time for some highly technical death metal. It was also interesting to see how quickly almost the whole audience changed, which made it easier for OBSCURA to address their complex compositions. Inspired by genre greats such as CYNIC and ATHEIST, the band played so tight any aspiring musician in the audience must have been slackjawed. And the reactions in the crowd actually covered a wide range, from appreciative astonishment to extatic headbanging. With their energetic performance OBSCURA cemented their position as leaders of the German tech-death metal fraction, which was also proved by the frenetic reactions from the audience – more of this, please!
A band like SCHANDMAUL could easily play on any children’s birthday party, which isn’t meant as criticism, but to underline their catchy sound and their impossibly cool character. Even before the band hit the stage there were nothing but happy faces in the audience, and when the time had finally come, the following hour turned into one joyful celebration. Some stairs had been placed on each side of the stage, on which the two ladies in the band stood during the opener “Vor Der Schlacht”, left and right of the drums there were slightly smaller risers for the guitarist and the bassist, and above it all there was a huge logo backdrop spanning the entire stage – not to mention the fancy clothes, especially the ladies in their precious, figure-hugging brocade dresses. Looks like the band did their homework in terms of visuals. To announce the passionately delivered songs, frontman Thomas Lindner often told entertaining little stories (for example, introducing the song “Missgeschick”), which helped keep the atmosphere lively at all times. It could be easily seen how much fun the band were having as they smiled and joked around, and you could tell they – and especially their fans – enjoyed one of the last chances of a live show before going into hibernation (for about a year and a half!) to focus on the creation of new material. The enthusiastically received encores “Frei” and “Dein Anblick” rounded up one of the highlights of this Friday.
The Norwegians had already played in Dinkelsbühl two years earlier, although that time they had to struggle with a rather early stage time and, consequently, a pretty low attendance. Not this year, as KOLDBRANN made the best out of the assigned half hour of stage time in the nicely full Party Tent, delivering the expected aural devastation. With their merciless sound they belonged to the most extreme bands of the day along with URGEHAL. Despite its brutality, KOLDBRANN’s sound also contains a big portion of rock’n’roll, which makes their material sound close to CARPATHIAN FOREST or latter-day SATYRICON. The band has got two albums, “Moribund” and “Nekrotisk Inqvisition”, and a few bits and pieces (meaning Eps and splits) under their belt, which may not sound like much, but was perfectly enough to groove their way into the hearts of the audience. Beer tent music of a different kind!
SABATON are a damn ambitious band. By now, the Swedes release their albums on a yearly basis, making sure there is no way around them. It is with this kind of drive that they have been able to work their way up quite a few festivals’ bills, and also at SUMMER BREEZE they are slowly but surely reaching prime time. Those who saw their show know that this is not quite unjustified. Vocalist Joakim may not be one of the most gifted singers on earth, but he’s surely among the most talented entertainers. With their catchy anthems, which sometimes draw influences from Primal Fear, sometimes from Hammerfall, and often from Manowar, SABATON were able to electrify the audience. Despite the omnipresent war theme, all of their songs are a bit tongue-in-cheek, which is made especially clear on “Metal Machine”, a lyrical salute to their role models, from AC/DC to Judas Priest. Visually, vocalist Joakim obviously fell for the solar-cell suit Hammerfall’s Oskar Dronjak liked to wear a few years ago. The inspiration for his checker plate harness was definitely Dronjak’s ecologically-correct garment. The songs from their albums – especially the ones from their latest offering “The Art Of War” – really made a huge impact. Even when the band had already left the stage after the closing medley of “Metal Machine” and “Metal Crüe” (another homage to our favorite music, by the way), the audience kept chanting “SABATON” for minutes. Did somebody just deliver proof they are destined for even bigger things?
URGEHAL are definitely a “love ’em or hate ’em” kind of band. On this day, the audience was at their feet, otherwise it would be impossible to explain why the tent was full of grimly looking black metal fanatics. But it was exactly this circumstance which made the gig a very special experience. From the very first grunt, the chemistry between band and audience was perfect. No matter what pinhead/vocalist Trondr Nefas started, it was wildly celebrated by the fans. You can think what you want of these Norwegians, but today theirs was a clear victory and they left no doubt as to who deserved the black metal crown of thorns at this edition of SUMMER BREEZE. Mean and powerful, the songs came crashing through the P.A. creating a truly nightmarish atmosphere. The members of URGEHAL will probably hold equally euphoric memories of this gig as the audience in the chock-full tent. A grandiose revelation for every fan of Norwegian black metal.
Question: What does a hippy do on a metal festival? Answer: He and his band deliver one of the greatest shows of the whole festival! We’re talking about LIFE OF AGONY frontman Keith Caputo, who actually came across like a bit of a flower child with his linen shirt, his oversized sunglasses, his long hair and his “Peace, love, universe!” stage raps. The New Yorkers played an absolutely convincing gig (something that many would probably have doubted after a 20-year career), which began with the classic “River Runs Red” right away. The classics – namely songs from their first album – defined the set anyway. Center point of the show was the small guy with the big voice. Caputo put a lot of soul into the songs and really flourished with the material. His live takes on the songs, which mostly varied from the recorded versions, really went under people’s skins. You could actually tell his lyrics still mean as much to him as they did back in the day. And obviously hits like “Weeds” or “Other Side Of The River” couldn’t be absent from the set. Bassist Alan Robert and guitarist Joey Z. were jumping around the stage like bouncy balls, while drummer Sal Abruscato laid the rhythmic foundation, poised and clearly having fun. Polite as he is, Caputo thanked the fans, the organizers, the crew, the heavens and the universe, sticking up for love. The audience was more than willing to be electrified by the band. There was a lot of jumping, running in circles and cheering. Unfortunately the band finished this great show before the end of their official stage time, as there would easily have been enough time for one more hit, like “Pretend” or “Tangerine”!
Progressive death metal with ethereal parts and a big dose of jazz. For some, the definition alone may sound unenjoyable, for connoisseurs it is the apex of enjoyment. In insiders’ circles 1993’s “Focus” album enjoys absolute cult status, and many of those in attendance must have been happy that, after a very long absence, the band came back in 2007 and even released a new album last year, of which the first three songs opened tonight’s show. Chances to see this outstanding band from Florida are few and far between, which explains some extremely expectant faces in the crowd. The band expressed their exotic character through their appearance and stage plot, as the drums were set-up at stage left, diagonally facing the band and the audience, instead of using the provided drumriser. The guitarists also played headless guitars, which are usually frowned upon in the metal scene, and completely avoided the standard poses used by most of their colleagues. While lanky guitarist/vocalist Paul Masvidal didn’t really come across as a star with his short hair and humble character, the fans would probably have liked to carry him on their shoulders and the band to stay a lot longer than their assigned 40 minutes of stage time. Despite the complexity of the material, the band effortlessly created a near-magical atmosphere in the tent, with people clapping and cheerfully interacting with them, while others just stood watching in awe.
Finland’s AMORPHIS are and always will be guarantee for an amazing live atmosphere, especially since the inclusion of singer Tomi Joutsen, who has proven to be a great asset for the band. Those who have witnessed one of their live performances in recent years will surely agree that the frontman has brought a lot of energy and presence to the fold. Also thanks to him in no small part, a few old classics have found their way onto the setlist again, as on this beautiful summer evening at SUMMER BREEZE. AMORPHIS were in great form and presented a collection of hits that didn’t leave much to be desired, although the main focus of the set undoubtedly lay on the last three albums, as well as “Tales From A Thousand Lakes”. There were no weak points at all. Surprisingly though, one of the most important songs in their career, “Black Winter Day”, was missing from the set, but the band probably wanted to break away from the standard and avoid looking predictable. The band seemed to be in high spirits, as especially Tomi sweeped the stage like a dervish, his long dreadlocks turning into a dangerous propeller during the instrumental parts. But the rest of the band were visibly enjoying the gig as well. The Finns seemed like a fountain of youth with their precise, energetic and passionate performance. Both old and new songs were delivered with the utmost precision, and one had to really be familiar with the band’s material to tell their different creative periods apart. The atmosphere was visually enhanced by an accomplished light show which perfectly suited each song on offer. Through the display of their bundled strengths the band obviously didn’t have a hard time captivating the huge crowd gathered in front of the stage, and while the songs emanated a certain melancholy, the musicians’ – as well as the fans’ – faces were alight with uphoria. The celebrated performance ended with the nostalgic “Magic And Mayhem”.
After the playful complexity of CYNIC, Norway’s VREID delivered a stark contrast, and during the changeover the audience changed accordingly. The band, born of the ashes of WINDIR, brought grim black metal sounds back into the tent, but instead of wearing the standard black-and-white corpse paint, the quartet opted for a kind of uniform, which was obviously black. The sidedrops on stage, sporting a black and red mix of their current album design with the Norwegian flag, made for additional atmosphere, and when a siren began to sound signalling the beginning of the show, the band had the crowd’s undivided attention. Lyrics alternated between English and Norwegian, making things even more interesting. From the opener “Jarnbyrd” the band had a tight grip on the audience, which lasted to the very end of the set. Their dark and surprisingly groovy songs and their impressive stage presence made this into a very successful show, which finished with “Pitch Black”, from the almost equally titled album.
What had already been presaged by the numerous AMON AMARTH shirts at the festival site was confirmed this evening. The area in front of the stage was packed just as tightly as the flying Jägermeister Bar and every other little place providing a full view of the stage. It was the call of AMON AMARTH. And to make it clear right away, the vikings undoubtedly broke all existing attendance records, both in numbers and reactions, despite the fact they didn’t use their viking longboat stage set or any other superfluous props. The huge stage with its many levels, however, provided them with various ways to present themselves. Any additional fuss would have been unnecessary anyway, as again the Swedes ruled thanks to their mere stage presence. AMON AMARTH sent one classic after another crashing through the P.A. this memorable evening. No matter which songs the Norsemen led by front giant Johan Hegg played, the crowd reactions were just extatic. From the thunderous opener “Twilight Of The Thunder God” to the menacing “Guardians Of Asgaard” to the crushing “Fate Of Norns”, the band demanded the audience to give their all. It almost seemed like their was a special relationship between festival and band, as they gave everything, regrouping on stage again and again and enjoying the energy and near-magic that was in the air. The amazing light and pyro show provided the songs with an extra impact. Surrounded by cascades of fire, the guitar players joined together again and again to bang their heads in synchronicity. The show stopped after the grandiose “Pursuit Of Vikings”, but it was far from over, although some completely exhausted fans might have been grateful if it had been. After a short intro frontman Johan Hegg mobilized the last reserves, pushing the audience to its ultimate limit. After “Cry Of The Blackbirds”, which, due to technical problems, was played without bassist Ted Lundström for the most part, the unavoidable hit “Death In Fire” followed in the light of the fire. AMON AMARTH left behind a completely burnt-out yet euphoric audience, once more cementing their already unrivaled status.
Austria’s THE SORROW were certainly one of the hottest bands in the tent this evening – at least judging by the crowd reactions and the temperature. In the course of their set they almost turned the tent into a sauna with energy-draining activities like several walls of death. The band might only have two albums under their belt, but they have toured a lot and delivered an accomplished performance. The songs from both albums were evenly spread across the set and were received with open arms and ears by the audience. The catchier tracks provided many oportunities to sing along and bang fists. The band itself had lots of fun and visibly enjoyed the interaction with their fans. In a live situation, THE SORROW have turned into a force to be reckoned with. The hit “Death From A lovers Hand” was the crowning finale of a more than convincing show.
The medieval metal orchestra (sounds weird, but it’s a pretty accurate description!) should originally have started exactly at midnight, but things not always turn out the way you expect them to… As usual, it was quite difficult to accommodate the multitudinous ensemble on stage despite the extended changeover time, which resulted in a – by now – almost traditional delay. When the band had finally found their place on stage, an intro consisting of a dramatic narration was played, until finally the show started with “Tales Of Irithia”. It was actually amazing how the collective managed to fit all their instruments, musicians and singers on the “small” Pain Stage. The (approximately) 10-piece orchestra was sat in the middle of the stage in front of music stands lit by candles, with the drum set left of them and the timpani and percussion on the right. It was a bit of a novelty to see the two female opera singers not dressed in medieval fashion as usual but in plain black, fitting the occasion. The band itself is already not everyone’s cup of tea, but the ladies’ vocal performance, which sounded extremely pitchy at times, was actually a bit too much. Their flexible dance numbers, however, were followed by the audience as if hypnotized. Singer Asis Nasseri led the way through the set in his own special way, playing additional guitar and interspersing some growls during the heavier parts. For the numerous fans in attendance, who watched the performance in glee, it was probably the climax of the festival season.
Fans of melodic guitar shredding were in the 7th heaven with Greece’s FIREWIND, as they delivered an outstanding power metal performance. One of the guitarists regularly switched between the guitar and the keyboard, proving his proficiency on both instruments alike. With their Mediterranean charme and the poses typical for power metal the band created some grat vibes. The band lived up to their name with the ventilators that made a lot of (Fire-)Wind on stage. Also interesting to see were some cross-shaped cymbals on the drumkit. Frontman Apollo Papathanasio sang in the highest-pitched power metal regions but managed to hit every note perfectly. One of the highlights of the show in terms of atmosphere was surely the cover of “Maniac”. Although the band might have seemed quite exotic within the tent stage billing, FIREWIND delivered a convincing show.
PROTEST THE HERO were certainly one of the most exceptional bands of the whole festival. The band combines progressive metal with super complex chaoscore and a little taste of punk attitude. Those unfamiliar with the band are often overwhelmed with its music, because each part seldom lasts longer than a few seconds – words like “hyperactive” and “hysterical” spring to mind.At first listen, the partly quite high-pitched vocals also come as a bit of a surprise. However, many of the attendees seemed to know exactly what they were in for. The guitarists’ fingers frantically racing over the fretboards were often difficult to follow. After the intricate, almost confusing riffs there was always room for catchy and highly recognizable melodies to make up fo it. Visually, besides the bassist playing in flip-flops, the band members’ colorful T-shirts looked quite interesting. Vocalist Rody Walker even pointed it out himself: “We are the most colorful band of the festival”, and this was only one of many funny stage raps. While his drummer was readjusting his kit, he used the time to point out that the band is from Canada and NOT from the States, and one song was introduced with “This next song is about Satan! … No, it’s not!” He also learned the German word “Ficken” [fuck], which he immediately adapted in the phrase “Ficken you!” This, and of course the band’s breathtaking musical performance, made PROTEST THE HERO a true highlight.
The proceedings on Friday started drawing to a close with RAUNCHY, the penultimate band on stage and a real highlight. Agile, super tight and blessed with highly melodic, modern metal songs to bow down to, RAUNCHY lit up the night. The Danes started with “Rememberance” from the 2006 album “Death Pop Romance”, and their catchy sound could hardly be better described than with that album title. They set themselves apart from the modern metal / metalcore pablum by refusing to take part in the ridiculous heavier/faster/meaner contest, having the balls to weave some great melodies into their songs, which were often even played on the keyboards. Did it affect their impact? By no means. “Summer Of Overload” and especially the cover of “Somebody’s Watching Me”, which was originally recorded by Michael Jackson and Rockwell, make it clear: These guys think out of the box and don’t feel they have anything to prove. No compromise, just their own thing. The audience showed their gratitude with calls for an encore that lasted for minutes. Massive show!
The sound check gave it away already: It was fiddle time! Italy’s ELVENKING obviously like it extremely melodic, unfortunately crossing the line between art and kitsch (in the wrong direction) a bit too often with their sticky-sweet sound. Happy little songs with cutely trilling twin guitars, an omnipresent violin and the semi-in-tune vocals of singer Damna, whose moves and gestures looked like they were inspires by the recently deceased King of Pop, made for a great atmosphere in the audience. A part of it obviously found the band quite amusing, the other part apparently thought it was actually good. Yet the communication with the crowd couldn’t really be described as a dialogue, because the repeated calls for a wall of death from one part of the crowd were completely ignored by the band. After all, there was also a little bit of message to be heard: The song “Infection” deals with suicide. Nice to be able to wrap such a delicate subject in such ludicrous music. Around four o’clock in the morning the King of Elves finally packed up and left, dismissing the smiling audience after a boring solo finale of Manowar proportions.