I’ve been attending Brutal Assault for a few years now and I can confidently say that this festival exceeds every expectation year after year. If you are a metalhead and someone who likes attending festivals you have more than likely checked out this gem in the Czech Republic. If you haven’t, or you are just contemplating about it, well, I hope I can be of service.
This August will see the 22nd edition of Brutal Assault. The festival has grown a lot and improved a lot but always remained true to its roots. With your weekend ticket you can spend four days in the surroundings of Fortress Josefov in a small town Jaroměř. Organisers are opening more and more parts of the fortress and turn it into a bar or a chill-out zone for us.
On 3 stages – well, practically 4 – there will be some of the best names in metal and some less-known names, but excellent representatives of metal, which will surely cater for everyone’s taste.
There will be some legendary performances you wouldn’t want to miss. Emperor will be definitely one of the highlights. Once more they are sweeping the globe in celebration of their pinnacle album and its 20th anniversary Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk. It will be performed by the band’s original line-up with Ihsahn, Samoth and Trym. The second wave of black metal will be represented by Mayhem, who will perform their classic album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas in its entirety. If you have not already witnessed this album being performed live it will be definitely a highlight. Another classic band that will make an appearance is Morbid Angel. Florida based death metal legends have gone through their fair share of line-up changes but with the departure of original singer David Vincent, Steve Tucker is back in the ranks so expect some classics from Gateways of Annihiliation, Heretic and Formulas Fatal to the Flesh.
I mentioned earlier that there is a fourth stage where only a few bands will perform. It is a secluded stage set up in one of the inner yards of the fortress. Despite being an outdoor stage it can create an atmosphere that can only be experienced indoors. Phurpa from Russia will be one of these bands who will perform their traditional meditative music using ritual instruments and special tantric singing technique. Polish Batushka will be conjuring up a lot of sonic chaos but at the same time engulf you with the peace and harmony of a church mass. If this is your thing, make sure you are there in the front.
As the festival grows we can see a great influx of US bands on the line-up this year, which is a true victory to the festival itself and a treat to the healthy metal hordes dedicated to Brutal Assault. Sludge fans will get to see Cough. Crowbar will kick you square in the face. Havok has been rising fast from the underground with their old-school infused thrash metal madness. Incantation will bring their cacophonous death metal. One of the pioneering bands of the death metal scene, Possessed will be on your bands-to-see list if you like your death metal done in the true and old ways. Sacred Reich celebrates the 30th anniversary of their album ‘Ignorance’ and Brutal Assault will be one of the stops of their ’30 Years of Ignorance’ European tour. Metal Church are still ploughing the road after all these years. A band that one time caused chaos with legends like Metallica, now they grace the stage at Brutal Assault. Overkill is best summed up as straight-up balls to the wall thrash metal and they always guarantee to put up a good show whatever the weather. The Dillinger Escape Plan had no time to catch their breath after the horrific bus crash accident in February, which also put a severe halt to their European dates. But they have managed to quickly regroup, hit the road again and shrug off any unseen difficulties ahead of them and rightly so.
Crawling out from the grave Master’s Hammer finally return and bring their blend of first wave infused blackened metal. Hopefully their set will include songs from their first album ‘Ritual’ album and a bland of newer songs from their 2016 album ‘Formulæ’. Some other highlights crawling out of the woodwork after all those years, too. If you are into black metal infused with gothic tendencies then check out Graveworm, Wolves in the Throne Room and Tiamat.
British supergroup Vallenfyre are an absolute must see if you are into a small dose of crust punk mixed with doom on the brink of savagery. Another supergroup, The Lurking Fear, off the back of their newly released first EP ‘Winged Death’ they are jumping in the deep end of Brutal Assault with members from At the Gates and Cradle of Filth filling their ranks with such a history and experience it will be walk in the park.
Now, I would like to quickly mention some other household names, who will make sure this edition of Brutal Assault is as memorable as the amount of beer will allow. For all the marihuana enthusiast Electric Wizard is the perfect ingredient to sit back, relax and take in some slow soothing stoner doom. Igorr is more of an experimental performance and a project by a French producer, Gautier Serre. The fusion of breakcore, death metal and Baroque-inspired classical music pushes the boundaries in creative art and music. Samael have been changing drastically over the years from their dungeonous black metal beginnings to their newer dark wave gothic sound. They celebrate their 30 years and these changes with a special show at Brutal Assault. From their days of ‘Black Water Park’ to the present of ‘Sorceress’, Opeth will guarantee to deliver a whirlwind concoction of progressive doom gothic metal and everything in between. Rotting Christ, tribal anthemic black metal from Greece, might play their ‘Lucifer Over Athens’ set for us. But whatever set they decide on, it will be surely an overwhelming experience. Decapitated is releasing ‘Anticult’ on 7th July so their set is expected to be a very fresh set. Protector is a German straight up metal in your face, if all you want is savage riffs and beer guzzling drums then they are right up your alley. Tsjuder is straight down to the bone old school black metal. Expect their set to drag all the elitist to the stage. It will be not the first time for Nile to play at Brutal Assault but they will have a lot to prove to the legions of their death metal fans with the departure of long time front man Dallas Toler-Wade and the new arrival of Brian Kingsland. Let’s hope all goes well as there are some big boots to fill.
Of course, this is just a tiny part of the full line-up. Fortunately, the selection of bands are way more varied and everyone will find a band close to their heart as well as a band they have never heard of but get to see and eventually become an all-time favourite. The means of this preview is simply not sufficient to list and introduce all the bands on the line-up but hopefully help you to grab a ticket, book a week off and head to the best underground metal festival this August in the Czech Republic. The full line-up can be found on Brutal Assault’s website with some more useful information on tickets, accommodation and other useful information.
Unfortunately the running order has not been announced yet. It’ll be published only before the festival. However, the organisers did release a small teaser:
Wednesday (August 9th) – The Dillinger Escape Plan, Wintersun, Master’s Hammer, Metal Church
Thursday (Aug 10th) – Emperor, Opeth, Hatebreed, Suffocation
Friday (Aug 11th) – Electric Wizard, Clawfinger, Trivium, Morbid Angel
Saturday (Aug 12th) – Architects, Eluveitie, Devin Townsend, Mayhem