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Brutal Assault 2016 – Days 0 & 1 (10th August 2016)

Laszlo and Vivien report from one of the most prestigious metal festivals in Europe.

Day 0 – 10th August (Wednesday)

The gods didn’t favour us at the very beginning of the 21st edition of Brutal Assault festival as they sent considerable amount of rain and also dropped the temperature. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the only issue we had to deal with. The ticket barcode scanning system seemed to have failed (just like last year), hence hundreds of people queued down the road waiting for their turn in the rain to exchange tickets for wristbands.

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Photo by Vivien Varga.

Due to this cumbersome ’check-in process’ I missed two important bands of the day, namely Tribulation and Goatwhore. This caused a few unpleasant moments and I can say I wasn’t the only one who felt disappointed. Later on when I got inside the festival I saw Dez Fafara literally being driven by the devil. He acted like a maniac when leading his band Devildriver. Despite the endless rain they performed proper American metal madness and managed to keep the flickering flame in the heart of the audience. During Dying Fetus’ show I was already a bit annoyed by the clapping sound of triggered kick drums, however, I know sometimes it happens well after sound check but still. It sounded as if no one had been behind the sound desk at all.

The one and only dry gig of today was Shining at the Metalgate stage as it was the only stage that was under a tent. Mr Kvarforth and his band were in their best form. When they played everyone’s favourite ’Låt Oss Ta Allt Från Varandra’  it was as if it was a funeral audience and everyone stood silent till the end of the song. It was a mesmerizing, calmed and depressing moment in a strange way.

As we all expected, Abbath performed all his jokes and good songs as well. He divorced from his fellow immortals and gave birth to his very own baby but he hasn’t changed a lot. Even if he is a bit too much sometimes and acting like a clown rather than a black metal legend at the end of the day he is still a living guitar hero. Surprisingly the set tonight consisted of more Immortal songs than new Abbath material, which probably made a lot of people to be over the moon.

The last freezing show for tonight was Thaw. The band remained invisible as the stage and everyone on it was smothered with impenetrable haze. I intended to make an interview with them but unfortunately they had to leave earlier than planned due to health conditions of their guitarist. I hope he feels better now.

Day 0 was meant to be a warm-up day but this time it didn’t work out. It was cold and wet and strangely I found the most disgusting place to be the warmest. Despite the sickening stench, the huge amount of human waste under my feet, it radiated enough heat to turn a mobile toilet facility into the warmest place that you could find at the festival. It wasn’t ideal but it provided a shelter from the rain and cold. 

Day 1 – 11th August (Thursday)

The first morning of the festival was spent discovering what changed from the previous edition. Despite the tight boundaries of the fortress the festival still grows slowly around the walls and even under the ground.

Today was less cloudy and dry by the time Aborted hit the stage. It was more enjoyable than most of the bands yesterday. Although I enjoy their shows every time I see them, I still didn’t like the drum triggers. The Metalgate stage had the best sound, which actually had a smaller PA system than the mainstages. Czech act Antigod absolutely ruled this stage. I never heard about them before but I can honestly recommend them to fans of death and thrash. They are a very dynamic and creative horde.

The Black Dalia Murder not only performed well but so did the crowd.  They managed to create an incredible and most likely the biggest circle pit of the weekend as they were running around the sound tech tent. It was an amazing sight and a very good gig as well. Even if metalcore is not your cup of tea, the atmosphere in the crowd will get you involved.

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Ihsahn. Photo by Vivien Varga.

There is no need for any introduction when it comes to Ihsahn and his work. He is one of the most talented guitarists, musicians and composers of our age. If he had lived a few centuries ago today we would have mention his name along with Beethoven and Mozart. No surprise if thousands of people want to see him and his band whenever they play live. And yet today they performed with absolute dedication. Five songs from his most recent album Arktis, two songs from the previous release and the one-track EP titled Mass Destruction. It was a perfect choice to close their set with the epic ’Celestial Violence’ accompanied with the singer from Leprous. It was a proper finale.

NOTE: Ihsahn will be back for the next Brutal Assault in 2017 with Emperor to perform the entire Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk album. Don’t you dare miss it!

As I was passing by the mainstages old-school death metal caught my ears. This is how I ’bumped’ into Immolation. It was so intense and brutal I had no choice but to stop for a while and join the nodding crowd. Since 1988 Immolation have written a ton of killer tracks and every single one of them is sharp enough to literally behead the audience. In a nutshell that’s exactly what I witnessed now.

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Gojira. Photo by Vivien Varga.

Progressive genres are not my favourite but the more I see of Gojira the more I enjoy their show. I just love the atmosphere of their performances and I can flow with the music. With several festivals and hundreds of gigs under my belt it is a big thing and that’s why I appreciate them. However, I’m still not familiar with their releases, titles and songs but it doesn’t really matter. Gojira will always be a great live band for me.

Mono from Japan was a real rarity on the bill. I was eagerly waiting for their set and I expected to have some relaxed moments during their show. That’s exactly what they provided for those who managed to get anywhere near to the Oriental stage, hidden within the walls of the fortress.

The unmeasurable aggression, hatred and power that 1349 represents and performed blew my mind My expectations were based on former 1349 gigs and they did not let me down. Beside their overall performance I always take the opportunity to highlight Frost and his work from behind the drums. If we had only him on stage and we listened to him destroying his drumkit that would already be worth every single second. It is inhuman how thunderously fast and accurately he could play everything to the absolute highest standards.

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1349. Photo by Vivien Varga.

There is not much to analyse when a death metal gig takes place at 2am. Embrional simply took everything out that was left in you after a full day at a festival. Technically, their set covered almost entirely their latest album The Devil Inside and they even followed the exact track order on the album. If you ask me it’s a bit weird there was no variety in their set but at the end of the day it’s always the performer’s choice what they play.

It was nearly 3am and time to get some sleep for the next round.

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All live photography by Vivien Varga.

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