Proceedings on the Newcomer Stage were started at 16:00 sharp by the bloodworkers from Paderborn, and the allegedly negative opening slot was in no way detrimental for the powerful quintet. Singer David Hambach was even successful in mobilizing the masses in the tent during soundcheck, willingly raising his hands to the air. Be it due to the big numbers of fans that had arrived right on time or the fact that they just couldn’t wait for things to get moving, the band’s massive sound was welcomed with open arms. Openeing track ‘Demonic’ was also a smart choice with its powerful attack and its insistent snare, so soon there was a lot of movement in the audience. Not long ago the band had already played another big festival, and their album was obviously voted ‘Demo of the Month’ in Metal Hammer magazine for a reason – the gentlemen on stage definitely knew what they were doing, and drummer Moritz was even wearing shades to protect himself from the direct sunlight inside the tent, ahem… A big plus with this band are the shared vocals: frontman David provided the brutal shouts while lead guitarist Nikko Schaffranek was responsible for the excellent melodic backing vocals – other bands would be happy to have such a talented singer within their ranks. Stylistically they didn’t play just metalcore but navigated through related styles, with the song ‘Deadlocked’ for example almost bordering on power metal. A gig that didn’t leave anything to be desired, excellent band.
The following band began its set with a film intro. Pretty soon it was clear that they were headed in quite a different direction from the openers, even visually it was pretty obvious. Female singer Samira Dahl provided a little variation in the color department with her red trousers. Stylistically it’s difficult to pinpoint this band. Metalcore meets hardcore with elements from 70s and 80s rock. The frontwoman’s uninhibited performance, complete with lots of gesticulation and jumping around, stood in contrast with her cohorts’ music. One of the guitarists had a cool John Sinclair style ‘Ghostbusters’ sticker on his guitar and provided some harmony vocals here and there. But the audience seemed to have a bit of a problem with the mix on hand as the tent emptied a little compared to the previous act.
Due to the traffic jams on the way to the festival it was unclear until the last minute if the band was going to make it on stage with its complete line-up, but they managed just in time. The band from Düren started with a quiet intro but quickly switched into metalcore mode – with core being the main ingredient, as there were loads of classic hardcore shouting in addition to the usual screams. Guitarist Markus was a real eyecatcher with his super long dreadlocks and his tasteful Kylesa shirt, becoming the main focus of the show along with frontman Dominik Szelinski. It was cool how they pepped up the popular metalcore sound with one or two surprises. Once they slammed on the brakes and slowed down to almost doom metal speed, elsewhere they incorporated some Deftones influences. Thanks to their modern sound the audience also returned to the tent and celebrated the band’s solid show. Attentive audience members may have noticed that the guy behind the drumkit wasn’t playing Summer Breeze for the first time as he had appeared with his former band Koroded on the main stage a few years earlier.
The Swabians also started with a film sample and subsequently ignited a fireworks display of metal. It was clear that a lot of people had come this early because of them, and so band and audience pushed each other to maximum performances. Their sound was brutal death metal, sometimes tending toward metalcore. The band kept headbanging in sinchronicity while the audience formed the largest pit of the festival so far. There was enough room for humour too; when the instrumentalists changed into a surprisingly quiet part, the singer held up a lighter in the air. The singalong section of ‘Horsecock In Tiny Mouth’ was a risky bet, but it was deservedly successful with the whole audience responding with an impressive ‘That’s what I’m talking about!’ The band received loud calls for an encore as a farewell, which they thanked politely with the hope for a second show the day after.
This year all of the bands cultivated more or less the same style, the popular metalcore, and (unfortunately) MY ELEGY were no exception. They too made the best out of their stage time and started energetically, the singer delivered brutal shouts and growls and received the sporadic support of bassist Christoph Becker with his melodic vocal parts. Most of the time it was precise high-speed riffing, which was completed by a stomping rhythm here and there as well as the obvious breakdowns. Technically it was all pretty tight and the guitarists also dared to wear other colours than black, with one of them dressed entirely in white and the other wearing a light green shirt. Only towards the end of the set the band used the whole stage surface, standing close to the monitors for most of the gig despite having wireless systems. Only the singer was active throughout. One pretty melodic song toward the end of the set was strongly reminiscent of Killswitch Engage, where the guitarist started moving their instruments in synchronicity. Solid show and a good introduction for the band.
What followed was – visually and sonically – a real challenge. A motley band of youngsters entered the stage and in no time turned it into an inferno of scurrying, jumping and screaming persons which all together make up FUCK YOUR SHADOW FROM BEHIND. The band had two singers, but there were hardly any differences in style (both growled and screamed and sometimes even used pig squeals), but visually they were quite different, one of them with ‘heavy bones’, meaning quite chubby, and the other almost haggard and with heavily tattooed arms. Apparently their lyrics were sung in German, but nobody could understand them anyway. The band was so enthusiastic it seemd like an adrenalin infested load of rubber balls. And the band infected the audience too, which motivated the skinny singer to dive into the crowd towards the end of the opening song. Technically it was the drummer who drew the most attention as he fired ultra fast snare rounds without batting an eyelid. Fans of The Black Dahlia Murder got the full treatment, the only minus being the bassist and hisn shorts, the ugliest in a long time.
After some deliberation, the jury, consisting of the Party Tent stage manager, collaborators of Metal Hammer, Rockalarm, Metal.de and Helldriver, as well as members of staff from Metal Blade and Nuclear Blast, had reached a decision regarding the winner of the Newcomer Stage Contest 08. The winner was announced by END OF GREEN singer Michelle Darkness, who was also part of the jury. In the fierce competition with some very strong candidates, it was FUCK YOUR SHADOW FROM BEHIND who finally made it to number 1, earning the right to open the actual festival the following day on the Main Stage!
The tent was half full by the time ANIMA, a band from Thuringia formed in 2005, who had signed a contract with Metal Blade early in the year, stepped on stage, at first a little reluctantly. Much like the band members (all of them still in their teens), the audience was quite young… and enthusiastic. Their powerful modern deathcore anthems were exactly what the fans wanted, not surprisingly considering their monster grooves, rapid blasts and massive breeakdowns. While still a little static at the beginning, ANIMA quickly picked up energy from the crowd. By the time a wall of death was constructed – as loudly demanded by the crowd – there were no holds barred. The band presented itself in perfect form, also making a tight unit in the visual aspect. Their fresh melodic leads set ANIMA apart from the trendy metalcore masses. However, despite all harmony, the Thruingians are just extreme and brutal. This band has got a bright future ahead!
LAY DOWN ROTTEN is brutal violence in its most direct and unadulterated – yet somehow harmonic – form. By the time Germany’s death metal hopefuls hit the stage the tent was already packed. Compared with the preceding ANIMA, things picked up quite a bit in the speed department. The godly snare sound – trademark: tin drum – fitted the pretty old-school sound really well. On and off stage all hell broke loose, the band was extremely active and left the impression of a well-rehearsed, tight unit. Seriously, there are very few German bands in this genre that could even remotely compete with the precision and power of LAY DOWN ROTTEN. This is simply where the years of experience show. The band just played one brutal yet melodic killer after another in a very professional fashion while the audience seemed to consist exclusively of wildly headbanging fans. Singer Jost’s question if the audience was with them was more rhetoric than anything, as hundreds of horns and loud screams were the fitting – and expected – response. And when the Carcass cover ‘Heartwork’ followed, the tent definitely went bonkers. ‘House Of Insanity’ was a sneak preview of the next album, starting slowly and harmonically, but quickly picking up speed. A very catchy song with loads of melody and guitar leads, which could easily have been penned by Bolt Thrower. It was quite obvious that the band was having a great time on stage, as they even played a bit of the famous ‘Doug And Carrie’ theme from ‘King Of Queens’. Cult-like!
Things got even more extreme with the UK’s THE ROTTED, who provided perfect food for all friends of the violent and the brutal. Fierce, aggressive and highly motivated, the rowdies presented a mixture of grind, death metal, black metal, punk and hardcore. By now the band seems to draw from every extreme music genre, creating an original blend, where there’s also room for some melody. Led by singer Ben – wearing a hat tonight – the band filled the stage like a horde of wild animals. The whole band semed highly motivated, thanks in big part to the raging mob in the front rows. You can make what you will of their name change, not only are THE ROTTED still extreme in every aspect, they are also a damn fine live band. If you missed this, you can check them out on their tour in September.
Although Holland’s HAIL OF BULLETS had only just released their debut album in mid May, they are by no means new to the scene. Actually, quite the opposite! Their entire line-up consists of veterans of Euro death metal, especially the former Pestilence and Asphyx vocalist Martin van Drunen. Not only the massive crowd in the tent, but also the band itself were obviously eager to get things going, as they launched into their set even before their programmed stage time. Just before 11pm the intro started, and what followed was a master class in old school death metal. It could be argued that in this genre everything has been done, but it is obviously possible to make a great recipe using known ingredients. With a perfectly rehearsed band, whose backbone was clearly the mighty Ed Warby from GOREFEST on the drums, van Drunen led through the show in perfectly pronounced German. The band kept every promise made on CD. And it has to be said, the audience was literally at their feet, even though the band didn’t use any kind of gimmicks (costumes, effects and the likes), not even a backdrop! ‘Ordered Eastward’ ended the show much too soon.
HAIL OF BULLETS passed the torch directly to their fellow countrymen BORN FROM PAIN, who had Captain Jack Sparrow – and the music from ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean’ – introduce their set before they started with ‘Relentless’, and the title said it all. Although in a different stylistic niche, the crowd’s response to the band’s hardcore-infested metal sound was equally euphoric, and the first few pits started to form. ‘Here Lies Civilization’, an older song from the ‘Sands Of Time’ album, followed, being greeted with the same enthusiasm. In the audience things became a lot more violent than during the preceeding band, which has the simple reason that hardcore fans express themselves differently from the average death metal fan. The tall bassist Rob Franssen walked the stage like a tiger and kept telling the audience that it doesn’t matter if you are a metal, hardcore or whatever fan, as they play extreme music and people are supposed to enjoy it and have fun. The following ‘Crusader’, which was introduced with an explicit anti-war message, was one of the highlights of the show, and the gripping song achieved the desired effect, motivating the masses to give their all. Speaking of which: If headbanging was an olympic sport, the band members – despite their short hair – would have had to go to Beijing to get a medal for Holland! The bouncers were also in high demand, permanently picking up bodies from the top of the crowd, which also took the chance to celebrate a massive wall of death. ‘State Of Mind’ even gave the fans a preview of the new album. In a live situation BORN FROM PAIN are just killer!
Last band on the first day were Southern Germany’s ‘flesh crowlers’. The crowd was still in an excellent mood and didn’t want the day to end, demanding brutal death metal, which was promptly delivered by the band. Without any kind of warning in the form of an intro, the band started the attack pretty much in a blitzkrieg fashion. Despite the late hour the audience activated their last energy reserves and greeted tracks like ‘As Blood Rains From The Sky’ and ‘Made Of Flesh’ euphorically. The crowd surfers hadn’t had enough either, keeping things interesting down in the pit. The band members made their hair rotate, providing some variation to the dominating high-speed material with mid-tempo tracks like ‘Into The Fire Of Hell’. Stand-in drummer Thomas (Karkadan) played a great set, and hardly anyone should have noticed that the band wasn’t playing with their usual line-up. Then it was all over and time to get some sleep to catch FUCK YOUR SHADOW FROM BEHIND on the Main Stage a few hours later.