It was impossible to tell if it was due to their good reputation or because of their enthusiastic performance, but there were a lot of people at the Pain Stage, especially considering it was the first band on at 11am and that it was pouring down with rain. Their modern death/dark metal went over great, and the five band members were visibly motivated and enthusiastic despite the adverse weather conditions. Especially the red-headed keyboardist seemed to be having fun as he threw t-shirts into the crowd. The melodic vocal parts weren’t always perfect, but hey, it was pretty much still at night, and the dedication was definitely there. The gripping mid tempo stomper “Suicide Crew” put an end to a great show, which could easily be described as a triumph for the band.
The singer in HEIDEVOLK set the pace to the first song “Krijgsvolk” by beating on his raised shield with his sword. The band members were all dressed in loose, antique-looking shirts and equipped with authentic accessories like drinking horns. This is proof that the pagan/folk movement has also reached the Netherlands, where it is attractively interpreted. Neither the band on stage nor the masses of early risers in front of it let the cold, rainy weather spoil the fun they were having with each other. The band had come to SUMMER BREEZE with only one singer, as the second one couldn’t make it, but those unfamiliar with the band shouldn’t have noticed, and if they did, it shouldn’t have bothered them. During one of the songs on offer, the singer blew a horn. Thanks to the wireless systems the band members could move around the stage. For songs such as “Het Gelders Volkslied” the band was joined by violinist Irma, who also happily took part in the synchronized headbanging.
Now it was time for bombastic, symphonic nordic folk metal. MIDANTTSOL came on stage to fight against the cold and humidity with their heart-warming sound. At least the male part of the audience must have felt the heat at the sight of the two blonde beauties, vocalist Carmen Elise Espenæs and bassist Birgit Öllbrunner. MIDNATTSOL used the services of session guitarist Fabian Pospiech (Respawn Inc./ R:I:P) as they hadn’t yet found a replacement for the departed Christian Hector. The gig started with “En Natt I Nord”, followed by “Open Your Eyes“, “Northern Light“, “Lament“, “River Of Virgin Soil“ and “Skogens Lengsel“, with the focus clearly on the current album “Nordlys”. The necessary punch was provided not only by the massive riffs, but also by an intensive use of the double kickdrums. Folk-tinged melodies were otherwise predominant. Carmen tiptoed over the stage to the sounds of the band, while the rest of the line-up headbanged in unison. One fan even managed to reach the stage, where he knelt down in front of Carmen and kissed her hand. And there’s still people who say metalheads are no gentlemen!
One of Canada’s hottest metal exports is certainly 3 INCHES OF BLOOD, whose turn it was now to heat up the shivering audience. As expected, the cult band managed to do so easily. The lumberjacks entered the stage waving flags and went straight for it. They offered a powerful mix of Mercyful Fate / King Diamond, Iron Maiden and old Metallica with the attitude of Manowar and a lot of trueness, authenticity and energy. No wonder there was a lot of movement in front of the stage, with fans young and old partying together. But there’s really nothing that can be done wrong with songs like the rocking “Trial Of Champions” or “Forest King”. The extremely heavy songs are crowned by beautiful twin leads, making it all sound fierce and innovative at the same time.
SCHELMISH offered a mix of rock and medieval music, with the focus at SUMMER BREEZE clearly lying on the guitar-oriented rock songs. The bards were enthusiastically received by the waiting audience. They described themselves as “fat, ugly and antisocial”, but they’re not really that bad. During songs such as the celebrated “Das Moor” the fans were jumping up and down, and SCHELMISH were also constantly in motion. To general cheerfulness, Luzi das L. did some poledancing dressed only with a thong. The group showed itself in its usual, likeable stage presence. Highlights were the heavy “Wir Werden Sehen”, which was a bit reminiscent of Rammstein, and the Johnny Cash cover “Ring Of Fire”, which was loudly demanded and subsequently sung along by the crowd in a totally cult version.
With a big jump from medieval to psychobilly, MAD SIN entered the Main Stage and lit a fireworks display of punk rock, hardcore and rockabilly. Formed as far back as 1987, Berlin’s MAD SIN are among the real veterans of the genre, and they obviously had not only the experience, but also the power to captivate their fans and to make at least every second crowd audience member smile. And the fans obviously didn’t need to be asked twice for a dance. Especially contrabass player Valle’s performance was absolutely brilliant, showing that he is a true master in his field. Despite his big stature, the brawny frontman Koefte DeVille jumped around the stage like a young pony. Among the songs played were “Syndicate Deluxe”, “Nothing’s Alright” and “Point Of No Return”.
It had been a long, long time since MEGAHERZ had last been seen on stage in this country; almost too long to be present in the heads of the fans. But whoever entertained these thoughts was soon taught otherwise at SUMMER BREEZE. MEGAHERZ are back in a form that probably no one had expected. It seems like the band drew strength from last years’ quarrels rather than break over them. The fans honoured the comeback with pretty effusive reactions and large numbers in attendance. One reason for this is probably the last album, which entered the German charts at number 31, the band’s highest chart entry ever. The new album was also the main focus of the show. Besides “Mann Von Welt”, “Fauler Zauber” and the title track of the new album, “Heuchler”, as many as three songs found their place in the quintet’s setlist and garnered loud applause from the audience. The club hit “Miststück” obviously couldn’t be left out either. MEGAHERZ are more than back, and the frenetic reactions were surely soothing for the band’s tortured souls. MEGAHERZ impressively underlined the fact that they can be counted on in the future, and the upcoming tour will probably see sold-out venues. Welcome back!
The flying has begun. KORPIKLAANI are something like heroes of the current metal scene, completely packing the area in front of the Main Stage pretty early on. Already during changeover there were some quiet KORPIKLAANI chants that slowly but surely built up to an awesome speaking choir to welcome the band. Visibly impressed by the formidable crowd, the Finns started with their mix of traditional folk and Finnish folk metal, playing classics as well as new songs, which were all equally applauded by the audience. In the course of the set more and more crowdsurfers went into the pit. The crowd was partying, dancing and loudly singing along, and after only a few songs there was already an atmosphere of merry drunkenness. KORPIKLAANI easily managed to leave their mark early in the afternoon, leaving behind an ecstatic crowd.
ENEMY OF THE SUN is the new brainchild of Waldemar Sorychta (ex-Despair, Grip Inc., Voodoocult, etc.). Although lately Sorychta has mainly made a name for himself as a producer, ENEMY OF THE SUN is proof that he hasn’t forgotten a damn thing about playing music. The band’s riffs are razor sharp, and the stylistic direction leaves nothing to be desired. Deeply rooted in traditional thrash metal, yet enriched with modern, melodic elements, the songs sound varied and fresh. The Finnish singer, Joules Näveri, is also a great asset, his vocal spectrum covering everything from clean melodies to brutal shouts. Surprisingly, halfway through the set ex-Grip Inc. frontman Gus Chambers stepped on stage to perform the Grip Inc. tracks “Ostracized” and “Hostage To Heaven”. Not only because of this surprise the show was a great success, but it certainly helped.
Their band name alone is obviously reason enough to place PRO-PAIN on the Pain Stage. And pain is literally what the New York band delivered, as many an attempted crowd surfing went painfully wrong. Even after 16 years of band history the band led by Gary Meskil hasn’t lost any of its intensity, driving the audience crazy. The group delivered an explosive mix of new songs and classics from the early days. Even a brand new, pretty melodic song titled “No End In Sight” from the upcoming album was played. PRO-PAIN proved that sometimes less is more as they presented their songs with full power despite the usual minimalist stage acting. “All For King George” was the show’s climax, and towards the end of the show there was even a short guest appearance by Grip Inc.’s Gus Chambers. Great show by this likeable band, another Friday highlight. It couldn’t even be noticed that long-time guitarist Eric Klinger had been replaced by Marshall Stephens. The PRO-PAIN machine chugged along as usual, proving that the band is a real authority in a live situation.
Along with Destruction and Onslaught, Exodus formed the thrash triumvirate of the festival. And the veterans more than lived up to their reputation. From the first to the last minute, the Bay Area thrashers were firing on all cylinders, which shouldn’t really be surprising considering the amount of hits in their back catalogue. The setlist on offer was a well-balanced mix of old classics and new songs. One neckbreaker followed the next. The band played the songs in an experienced fashion and especially front animal Rob Dukes was raging like a berserker and demanding circle pit after circle pit from the crowd – who were happy to obligue. Other than that, he kept the stage raps short, as if saying “less talk, more rock!” The highlight of the show was definitely “Bonded By Blood”, which was euphorically received by the audience. Fans will probably be happy that the legendary “Bonded By Blood” album will be re-recorded and re-released. This show was a bit of a preview of the killer album we can expect!
14 centuries have passed since the Christianization of Thuringia, the band’s home state. In the eyes of the band, that’s when the dark centuries began, as it meant the end of the Germanic religions, which provide their thematic backdrop. Accordingly, the band appeared at SUMMER BREEZE in medieval linen clothing, complete with authentic little sacks and cutting tools. Musically, it was Germanic folklore wrapped in a pagan/black metal costume. The sound was altogether very epic, yet rough and dark, and it even provided for enough space for a flutist’s participation here and there. The crowd’s reaction was very positive as it even provided some backing choirs. All in all it was a successful show.
The wild bunch had already played SUMMER BREEZE last year to great reactions and was welcome into the label’s prominent roster only weeks later – just a coincidence? The band is dedicated to celtic folk combined with death and black metal, using all kinds of unusual instruments such as a mandola, a hurdy-gurdy, violins and different types of flutes. Especially the dreadlocked frontman Christian “Chrigel” Glanzmann showed a good command of the different instruments, constantly changing between them. His singing was equally varied, ranging from malevolent screams to brutal growls to clear singing. Some of the lyrics are written in Helvetic Gaelic, a dead language, and deal with subjects that were probably important to the old Celts. One of them, for example, translates into something like “Woman, bring me a beer!” Unlike most of their peers, ELUVEITIE’s (which in Gaelic means “I am a Helvetic”) image doesn’t seem contrived or excessively dark. Quite the contrary, as the band visibly had fun with the show. Violinist Meri and flutist Päde even went on stage barefoot, dancing frolicsomely, which came over well and had the band enjoy headliner treatment. No wonder, as the songs sounded absolutely modern despite the medieval touch, and had a high degree of catchiness.
Formed as recently as 2006, the band can already boast a few achievements. Essentially a gothic metal band, they always incorporate a few other things, such as a big dose of rock, and, judging by the crowd reactions, it is a good choice. Former FIDDLERS GREEN guitarist Peter Pathos was feeling visibly comfortable with his musical sidekick and frontman Ski-Ring. The latter is not only tattooed up to his hair, he also knows how to move the masses. The Germans, who many consider to be a better version of THE 69 EYES, had it easy with fans going off in front of the stage. Songs like “Fuck Me Back To Life” and “The Other Side” became highlights of the show. It looks like their debut album “Enemy Mine” was only the beginning. We will definitely hear fromt hem again!
AS I LAY DYING were probably the only explicitly Christian band of the festival, but apparently their religious views were not a problem for the festival audience – and why should they have been? Anyway, the area facing the stage was already full long before the show started and the crowd was definitely hungry for the things to come. Early in the set the crowd started demanding a wall of death, but frontman Tim Lambesis made them wait until later, demanding circle pits in return. The crowd was raging incessantly. The band itself didn’t stand still for a second either, but still played with the precision of a Swiss clock. They have a power that his hard to put into words, and the choice of songs didn’t leave anything to be desired either. There were songs from all the periods of the band history, and pretty early in the set the band presented the über-hit “Forever”. But tracks like “Confined”, “Through Struggle” and “Nothing Left” weren’t missing obviously. Later on the audience’s wish was finally granted, with an impressive wall of death that could easily rival the one SOILWORK had a day earlier. A great show!
Norway’s SWORN released their debut album “The Allevation“ last year, their style being what made the country infamous in the early 90s: frost-cold black metal. In the case of SWORN it was the rather melodic kind with a touch of folk, comparable to MÖRKER, WINDIR, LANDVAETTIR or MYRKGRAV. It was pretty dark in the tent anyway by the time the band started to spread its musical darkness on the audience. Their harsh, driving, yet still melodic sounds, the buzzsaw guitars, the changes between raging speed and stomping mid-tempo and the raspy screams made for the perfect atmosphere, and there were quite a few heads rotating in the audience. The closing, very varied and epic “The Beauty Of My Funeral” offered the whole spectrum of the band’s style one last time. Horns up for a successful, entertaining trip to hell!
About eight hours after the official release of their new smasher “The Sick’s Sense” the band led by front icon Michelle Darkness had the honor to present it to a truly big audience. What could already be sensed the night before during the album sale and autograph session was multiplied on the big stage. Last year END OF GREEN had surprisingly replaced CREMATORY on the bill, which led to the area in front of the stage only filling up slowly. This year, on the other hand, it was packed way before show start, the fans eagerly awaiting the new material. In the dusk, the initial nerves were quickly shed. END OF GREEN were in absolute top form. The last few weeks with their stressful promotional activities were soon forgotten. END OF GREEN over SUMMER BREEZE – probably the best way to describe Michalle Darkness and his cohorts’ appearance. And during the first few notes it already became clear that the band would have it easy. New songs like “Dead City Lights” and “Die Lover Die” were skillfully intertwined with the band’s classics, being received with the same enthusiasm by the crowd. A highlight of the show was the fantastic “I Hate”. With this new album and show END OF GREEN have set another career milestone.
Finland’s ROTTEN SOUND were the first pure grindcore band to hit the festival stage. The band played their songs at an incredible speed, but always interspersed with dark slow-motion grooves. These dynamics are probably what makes this band so ultra brutal. The guitars were extremely tuned down, reminiscing of Swedish old-school death metal such as Entombed and Dismember. Besides a few classics, the band mainly concentrated on new material. Frontman Keijo Niinimaa delivered short explanations of the songs’ lyrical content, which mostly dealt with several grievances and difficulties of daily life and society in general. Due to the short songs the setlist was rather long. The pretty full tent was testimony to the fact that the band is quite popular, and not only in their home country, where after all they reached position 22 in the charts. Over here ROTTEN SOUND are a hot underground insider’s tip too.
Florida’s grand masters of death metal were doing the honor at SUMMER BREEZE for the second time already. The area in front of the stage was pretty full, and Chris Barnes, whose dreadlocks have already reached humungous proportions, greeted the audience with a friendly “Scream motherfuckers!”, and the crowd was happy to oblige. The band delivered a merciless best-of selection of their career, with surprisingly many songs from the first album on offer. The sound was massive as a wall and the groove spread implacably over the festival site. Barnes’ voice is always something special. With surprising ease he delivered ultra deep growls, pig squeals and evil screams. The band was pretty motionless as usual. The band members almost didn’t leave their spots and limited themselves to headbanging, which was a sight to behold in the case of Barnes. However, it looks a bit painful with that amount of hair. Early in the set the crowd started demanding the AC/DC cover “TNT”, but it was only played last. By that time the crowd went completely nuts, and their “hey, hey” shouts were even louder than the band itself.
MÅNEGARM were up next with their wild and original mix of death, black and pagan metal. The tent was completely packed and the audience went insane within minutes, even a metaller dressed as a sumo wrestler was seen headbanging. The Swedes had an easy game with their driving, heavy, yet always happy folk-tinged sounds. The powerful hymns sung in their native tongue with massive riffs, folk parts, a prominent violin, gravelly vocals and small acoustic intermezzi were gratefully received, and the band had true bursts of applause after each song. On stage, the band gave it all, moving around and posing a hell of a lot. Both their music and their performance made MÅNEGARM an absolute winner.
It is always fascinating to witness the magic the Canadians led by front giant Maurizio spread. As soon as they stepped on stage they had the Pain Stage firmly in the sweatbox of their extreme death metal hymns. And this although their airline had lost all their equipment including backdrop. With help from their colleagues in ELUVEITIE and ABORTED they could still play their show on schedule, and growler Maurizio had some energy built up that he discharged on the audience in the form of brutal growls. With their usual impressive stage presence the band ruled over the crowd. This evening’s setlist was like a sweeping blow through the band’s creative history, with a few suprises here and there. “Chronicles Of The Damned” from the hit album “Shadows And Dust” had actually never been played live before. One smasher followed the next, barely giving the crowd enough time to gasp for air. Again, the clear favorite was “Shadows And Dust”. KATAKLYSM absolutely laid waste to the festival and proved their live qualities, leaving an exhausted but exhilarated audience behind.
Horror punk is a rather underrepresented genre at SUMMER BREEZE, which has the positive effect that the few bands of this style that play the festival get a lot of attention. Part of the genre is the visual aspect, and these Texans obviously know that, judging by their martial uniforms including armbands. As a warm-up for their fulminant gig at SUMMER BREEZE, which included a gas mask, a spiked helmet and other props, the band had played a short UK tour, so they were quite relaxed when presenting the crowd with their take on horror punk, which they flavor with some extra elements from rock, hardcore and 80s new wave. It was nice to see that there is room for band like this at the festival and that the crowd is open-minded enough to accept them.
Before even the first note was played, the crowd already had a massive party going, warming up their vocal cords. Most people were probably at the festival to see SUBWAY TO SALLY, and the simple logo backdrop was actually unnecessary – everyone must have known who were on next. Three of the protagonists entered the stage to huge applause, launching an a capella version of “Canticum Satanae”. Singer Eric Fish cut right to the chase with the rhetoric question: “We are hot for you – are you hot for us?” Besides the backdrop and the lower risers for the guitarist and bassist at each side of the drum kit the band largely let the music do the talking, only using a few visuals like pyro effects here and there. During one song, Fish was waving a pair of torches, using them as drumsticks and then sticking them to his mic stand. In addition to the many different instruments in use, it was the musicians’ arduous stage acting that provided the entertainment. The singer could have taken it real easy, as the crowd was permanently singing along. During the last few songs like “Sag Dem Teufel” and “Sieben” the band gave their all. As expected, the show was the highlight of the day, and the band was absolutely convincing.
Formed in 2003, TEXTURES had made it all the way from Holland to present their musical vision at SUMMER BREEZE, which is nothing but polyrhythmic metal madness. What is meant is extreme metal between death and thrash combined with pathos, ambient, exhilarating song structures and complex rhythms, the way Meshuggah also do it, albeit in a slightly different form. The basis for it all consists of massive riff walls and melodies in between harmony and dissonance. The intricate rhythms alternate with incidental blast beats and vocals which vary between shouts and wailing clear singing, yet the songs always retain a certain hit potential. TEXTURES delivered their brutal audio assaults and spherical soundscapes not only with high technical competence, but also with passion and full physical exertion. An amazing feat considering the level of technicality, even though not too many people had made their way into the tent, probably due to the high profile bands on the other stages. The setlist was comprised of “One Eye For A Thousand“, “Swandive“, “Storm Warning“, “Polars“, “Transgression“, “Stream Of Consciousness“, “The Sun’s Architect“ and “Regenesis“.
Late in the evening ASP called for a dance at SUMMER BREEZE. Their electro-metal with strong gothic touch was ideal for this enterprise, and the area facing the stage was accordingly quite full. At the beginning the fans seemed a bit tired and reserved. The charismatic and energetic front giant, singer, songwriter and namesake ASP (Alexander Spreng) was highly motivated and mastered the dramatic performance with big gestures and penetrating vocals as he jumped up and down the stage and eventually captivated the audience with his wild appearance. A huge backdrop and a massive pyro show covered the visual aspect. At the end everyone was dancing and singing to the Anglo-German classics and club hits such as “Sing Child”, “Und Wir Tanzten” and “Ich Will Brennen”. A successful show by a band that convinced in all departments.
After their second album “With Vilest Of Worms To Dwell” (2001) it had been relatively silent in the HOLLENTHON camp. Late last year it finally transpired that the band was working on a new album titled “Opus Magnum”, which was released in May. The band’s live appearances had therefore been rather seldom, which was possibly the reason why the tent was absolutely packed. Their classic/epic/death/black metal, a symbiosis between dark, powerful metal and classical elements, wa warmly received, as one could expect. Gloomy riffs, impressive choirs and opulent keyboard sounds delivered a threataening, mystical atmosphere the crowd was all too happy to dive into. Highlights of this energetic performance were the driving – you could almost call it a hit – “Once We Were Kings” and “Fire Upon The Blade”.
After Empyrium, mastermind Markus Stock started the band THE VISION BLEAK.They have already released three albums, this was their second appearance at SUMMER BREEZE; and they obviously enjoy a big popularity judging by the huge crowd in the tent. The stage decoration with it two sidedrops made a big impression. The core of the band appeared in elegant suits and ghostly make-up, while the rest of the band were dressed in everyday clothes. After a gloomy intro the band started with its dark rock, a mix between Fields Of the Nephilim and Type O Negative, and soon had the audience firmly in their grip. The powerful riffs were accompanied with eerie sound collages. Frontman Markus Stock’s appearance was grand and somewhat reminiscent of Rammstein singer Till Lindemann. The audience, especially the front rows, showed a positive reaction, and the fact that most people knew the lyrics proved that they were real fans.
Despite the late hour, the BREEZE community still didn’t have enough, which could be easily noticed with one look into the tent. JESUS ON EXTASY had a full house and enjoyed the crowd’s undivided attention, which may have been due to the two charming ladies on stage. Yes, besides the two main men Dorian Devereaux and Chai Trippen, ex-Pain guitarist Alicia Vayne and Leandra’s Ophelia Dax on keyboards were part of the show. Especially the latter was a real eyecatcher with her lascivious dancing and headbanging, but the band’s gothic/industrial rock seemed like made for that kind of movements. Not uncommon with bands with a large electronic input, the bass was sequenced so there wasn’t anyone on stage playing the four strings. It was quite surprising that, despite the favorable conditions, there was hardly any enthusiasm in the crowd. The front rows were obviously full of fans, but towards the back there was less and less movement when the band played their most popular songs such as “My Beloved Enemy”. Later on, the cute singer, who almost looked under age, announced an old-school track, which proved to have an even stronger electronic influence, and the crowd seemed to have been waiting for this, because things finally started moving a little more. But soon it was all over and a DJ stayed in charge for the following hour.