With memories of mud and great times at Wacken Open Air still fresh in my mind, I set off for Josefov, Czech Republic in the morning of the 8th August. I was going into unfamiliar territory with unfamiliar company. This was going to be my first time at the Brutal Assault festival; and I did not know much about it apart from the fact that it had an awesome line-up and a reputation for theft in the camping area. Therefore, this was more of an adventure… and a metal mission.
Unfortunately, my team and our Volkswagen hippie-type van got to the festival a little bit later than expected. For this reason, we missed most of the bands on stage that day including Anaal Nathrakh. Even worse, I did not make it for my scheduled interview with Czech metal legends Root – thankfully though, I just made it on time to see them on stage. More of that later though.
As we drove into Jaromer and Josefov, I could spot tents being set up everywhere – and by everywhere, I literally mean everywhere. On the hills, by the river, along the footpaths: everywhere! The scary thing was that this was not some specially designated capming place. The “free” camping which is advertised on the website is the one I just have described. Luckily enough, as I was a bit scared from other peoples’ descriptions, I bought myself a “VIP” camping spot (€16), which is guarded 24/7 and has close access to toilets, showers and water sources. I survived the three and a half days without being robbed. However, I heard that people in the “free” camping had some tough experiences… Therefore, “VIP” camping, definitely recommended.
Upon arrival in the festival area, once I got my wristband, I hurried to find the press area or backstage area with the hope that I can still catch Root for that interview. Unfortunately, the fact that the security guards did not speak English did not help in finding my way around… Nevertheless, I found myself watching Alcest from backstage. Apparently, I wasn’t supposed to be there…
Anyways, the festival atmosphere, in general, is pretty awesome. The best thing about the area is the food court – everything can be found there. Being vegetarian I was worried that the only thing I would find would be sausages or some kind of goulash… thankfully, that was not the case. There were many stands with veggie friendly stuff and even a stand which had vegetarian/vegan food only! The metal market is also satisfactory. To be found are various merchants with your favourite band merchandise. There is also a room, which is in a building which looks like an old stable or an arsenal, with a screen showing horror films throughout the duration of the festival. Another huge plus of the fest is the hill right in front of the main stages. There you can relax and sit down with your beer while still being able to watch and listen to the bands performing.
I did not mention the best thing atmosphere wise. The fest is located in an old army fortress and, thus, the stages are surrounded by walls of this fortress. There are also pubs and even a “brutal tea” place inside of these fortress walls which make you feel like you are in some kind of army barrack celebrating a victory. How much more metal can it get?!
A few negatives now… The language barrier which I mentioned before was a small problem. More annoying was that the fest area was crowded; apparently this year was the record attendance. However, it was too many people for this location. It was especially a pain getting somewhere (for a beer) during the late hours when the headliners were playing (or in-between for that matter). The most annoying were the bloody coupons. I cannot stress enough how much I hate going to a designated place to exchange my money into a piece of paper so that I can buy a beer or food…
Anyway, overall the fest was pretty awesome, loud, heavy and… brutal!
Everyone’s in party mood…
Now, let’s get analysing the shows a bit… The first act I saw was the aforementioned legendary Czech act, Root. I was really impressed that I could spot non-Czech people wearing Root T-shirts and enjoying the show. These guys play black or dark metal in an old-fashioned way in the vein of Venom or Celtic Frost but much more theatrical. It was an impressive show; the vocalist obviously had make-up and some kind of cloak. The darkness which was surrounding us, obviously, helped Root pass on the Satanic notes just as if it was done by Satan himself. They did not have many props on stage but they were not necessary; the music and their performance were very effective.
The ext act was Alcest, which I saw little of because I was wondering about hoping to get Root for an interview… unsuccessfully. Nevertheless, the French act’s show was very atmospheric and a great soundtrack for a midnight show. Apparently, they were supposed to play before Root but their late arrival caused them to switch with the Czech act. One thing is sure: they had a larger audience.
After Alcest it was time to walk around the food and merchandise stalls before heading back to camp to sleep like a log… in anticipation of the busy day that would be tomorrow!
Stay tuned for more Brutal Assault reviews and interviews!