Day 2 – 12th August (Friday)
There is no escape from the addictive vortex of the festival flow. Even if it crosses your mind to give up, burn your tent to the ground and catch the first available train for some pathetic reasons such as tiredness, no money, broken ribs, etc. the festival won’t let you go. I saw many injuries, exhausted faces and lost souls but the line-up ahead is always stronger than our weaknesses and forces us to stay.
Right after lunch Iron Reagan turned the place upside down with an ass-kicking thrash party. The members are just as crazy as in their videos. Singer Tony Foresta summed up their point of view about music in general: ’Thrash, heavy, stoner or death metal, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about music…’ and then they played a cover of “Skull Full of Maggots” from Cannibal Corpse. Now that’s what I call a proper surprise and they truly made my day. After the lovely Corpse tunes, the Swedish Grave carried on with summoning the old-school spirit of death metal. From the mainstage they were moved to the Metalgate tent which turned out to be a good decision. I always like to mention if a band reached the ’legendary’ status; Grave can be easily considered death metal legends with circa 30 years of existence without any inactivity.
I was curious what In The Woods… would deliver for us. The band has a short black metal period in their past but now it’s all history. Unfortunately, after the short soundcheck and the first few riffs I had to realize this show will never fit to my actual mood so I waved goodbye to them and politely wished the crowd a good time. I hope they enjoyed the performance.
This review might sound a bit monotonous as I keep mentioning the same raw genres but there wasn’t a wide selection in terms of musical directions. The only choice I could make was based on the level of brutality. Obituary as an old time favourite is always mandatory. From their very first album Slowly We Rot ’till the last one, Inked In Blood, Obituary is one of the best live death metal bands ever, it doesn’t matter which era’s songs they perform. Traditionally they kicked off with a short nodding intro and then they didn’t spare us even for a second. Moshing during an Obituary gig is always relaxing especially during the closing track, “Slowly We Rot”. Amazing.
Satyricon were responsible for the annual “let’s play one album entirely” duty. They performed one of their classic releases, Nemesis Divina, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. I’m not sure this concept show is always a good decision especially in Satyricon’s case because in my opinion the only really good song from this album is “Mother North”. That particular song always gives me goosebumps and it’s also great to sing along to it while the band play their asses off. The encore consisted four of their biggest hits so the ending couldn’t have been more majestic. Thank you Norway for being the soil that delivers great black metal for us.
When it comes to the term “True Norwegian Black Metal” Taake always has to be mentioned and highlighted. Not because they are so evil but their music and shows are one of the most intense and dynamic within this genre. Every Taake gig has a rock ‘n’ roll atmosphere as we barely could stand still. All these factors accompanied with a really good frontman called Hoest give us an aggressive and hard-hitting band. Note for those who couldn’t make it this time: you should be jealous because they covered GG Allin‘s “Die When You Die”. They rarely play that song live. Almost never. Now you can imagine how it felt at the gig.
The rain returned when Dark Funeral were about to step on stage and, thus, created a real funeral atmosphere. Unfortunately, this didn’t help to raise the mood and the mud wasn’t in favour of the crowd either. The sound was also awful so there was nothing really that could have saved the show. I feel sorry to say this but no matter how hard Heljarmadr (singer since 2014) tried to scream his lungs out his voice wasn’t strong enough to move mountains. I can only hope in the future he will grow up to fulfill this role. We will see.
Day 3 – 13th August (Saturday)
I couldn’t have imagined a better ’warm-up’ gig than what Ektomorf performed. Not because they were the only band that came from my home country, Hungary, but from the first second till the moment they left the stage the band managed to constantly maintain the insane mood within the audience. The band visibly enjoyed playing for us and the crowd was very grateful for the honest and aggressive show.
I do remember somewhere back in the early 90s somebody gave me a Stuck Mojo tape and that album was kind of all right for the ears of a teen. I can’t recall the title of that album but that childhood memory made me curious to check them out today. On the other hand, I was really surprised that I would see a frontman performing worse than Heljarmadr from Dark Funeral the night before.
“I wanna see some chaos, I wanna see some crazy f*ckers tonight, We wanna see violence, We wanna see Mayhem, We wanna see carnage and death…” With these kind words we were invited by Angelcorpse to join them in the madness. Although we haven’t heard any significant news from them in the last ten years, surprisingly they are still here and they can still kill with their massive sound. During their set there was a high risk of hearing loss.
The organizers gathered the most interesting black metal acts into one bunch to perform on the last night and apart from some exceptions the last few hours of the festival were the blackest of most of the weekend.
Usually I don’t listen to Behemoth but I do like their shows and grandiose, theatrical performances. Fortunately, the quality of the show and the music were in perfect balance. The entire Behemoth phenomenon is breathtaking regardless of what the critics and narrow-minded fans state. If you don’t like the music that’s your problem. Just think about the incredible work and effort that is needed for such a performance to be put on stage.
I know Archgoat is a much favoured band within the proper underground scene but despite their reputation I still don’t get it. For some people the ultra primitive and simple approach can be entertaining but I have to confess, after the first 20 minutes of the set I was already bored. The tempo was drowsy and even the faster bits were monotonous enough to make me yawn. The only thing that made me smile was when singer/bassist Lord Angelslayer introduced each tracks they played. Those titles are hilarious. They have been around since 1989 but musically they should have evolved more and tried to create something different. I know what it means to keep the traditional approach but if they want to build a bigger fan base and want to get more positive feedback they should move on at least a little bit. But I’m not sure they even want to.
The Polish Mgła was on the bill of several European festivals this summer. Although they already played the sh*t out of their latest release Exercises in Futility they are still pretty much in demand. I know some of you would burn me straight away but I never really understood why average bands are over hyped. Just like Mgła. Such an average band might be signed to a relatively good label and they may also be considered as a cult band for a reason but I just can’t see why they can be headliners. For Mgła, being a headline act, wasn’t enough to raise them up from the depths of boredom. Once I will understand what’s going on here I will confess and be contrite in public.
Here we are again. That last night and the last band to see at this year’s Brutal Assault. Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult worthily had their stage slot as there is no other act that would have been a better closer than the ritual of the German horde. I need to note here the band’s philosophy, which they take very seriously: they can play live but they don’t have to. According to this statement every single DNS performance is a rare occasion so if you ever have the chance to see them, please consider yourself incredibly lucky. Onielar (singer/guitarist) was possessed and frightening as usual and the entire band behaved like rabid demons unleashed from hell. Shivers ran down my spine when they played tracks from the old era such as “Nocturnal March” and “Follow the Calls for Battle”. The ongoing pyro show gave a bit of an extra to their performance and created an absolute infernal atmosphere that made the gig even more memorable.
In this late hour the entire weekend seemed to be summed up as I was watching DNS raising hell on stage. I remembered the cold beginning of the festival, the few sunny hours during the festival as I was witnessing the dark ending. That’s it for now. I hope these words made you curious enough to join us next year for another round with the already confirmed Eluveitie, Ulcerate, the mighty Emperor and with more promising acts to be confirmed. We can carve it in stone: the new line-up will be irresistible again. Until next time…
All photography by Vivien Varga.