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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.