Brutal Assault – Days 3 & 4

The third day of Brutal Assault brought some more great bands. Surprisingly we should have been hit by tiredness but that didn’t seem to happen. I suspect our bodies finally switched to festival-mode. After having my morning beer in a cool bar in town it was difficult to make ourselves get on the move again. Eventually we made it to the festival and discovered it a little bit more. We visited the Altar of Lemmy, which is hidden place of worship in the caverns. After making your way through a little maze you would find a life-size stained glass piece with Lemmy on it. Several candles were lit in front, it was really a very atmospheric place of rememberance. An interesting and cool exhibition called Extended Dark with weird and curious pieces of art. The Keep or Ambient Lodge is a cosy chill-out place with settees, live ambient music and an absinth bar. Wolfheart’s set provided background music for drinking beer and wandering around.

Crowbar really smashed it and Kirk Windstein’s voice is massive just like the sound of the band. They brought a genuine New Orleans vibe and they were unstoppable. Excellent set is all I can say to that. We caught the first couple of tracks of Graveworm and as much as we wanted to stay we had to make a move to the Metalgate stage where Ulcerate was playing. We missed them but we were close enough to be able to escape from the apocalypse that was approaching very fast. A massive storm supercell arrived and the thunderstorm stroke. Electricity was gone at the main stages and in the catacombs while the tents were trying to survive the massive gusts of wind. The thunderstorm lasted for a good hour and resulted in the schedule being 30 minutes late for the main stages. We decided to stay at the Metalgate stage to see The Crown and what a good decision it was. This Swedish death metal band is not new to the scene but I missed them throughout the years. Brutal set. Full stop.

Now we simply couldn’t miss a piece of death metal history. Possessed took the stage and gave us a pretty damn good set. Jeff Becerra’s voice hasn’t faded and the others didn’t forget how to play old-school death metal either. We stayed to see Igorrr and their take on the French metal theatre never ceases to amaze I still couldn’t grasp their music.

The rain really had an effect on everyone’s mood but it was a bit difficult to walk in the slipper mud without falling into it with face first. This year the organisers put TV screens in the main bars where everyone could watch bands performing on the main stages. It was really convenient and we ended up watching Trivium and Carcass in one of the bars. Decent crowd for both of them and there was plenty of sing along with Trivium. I’m sure many people was disappointed when it turned out Morbid Angel had to cancel their European tour but hopefully those people were consoled by Carcass filling in. We also went to check out Phurpa. Phurpa is from Russia and their performance is rather out of this world. They describe their music as tantric ritual. It is very difficult to write about a ritual which works with ambiance and sounds that resonate through your whole body while you are experiencing something you might not be able to explain. Writing about Phurpa’s performance is rather pointless so I encourage all of you to experience it live yourself when you have a chance.

We had a nice and relaxed close to the third day, which we all needed as the last day had some serious metal acts under its sleeve for us.

The last day had the perfect festival weather. No rain, sunshine and reasonable temperatures. Svart Crown opened Saturday for us. This four-piece French army showed us their take on blackened death metal. They definitely managed to pump up the crowd quickly and shortly after their set I already started to some soreness in my neck muscles. Prong dictated a breakneck pace during their set and there was no time to stop to catch our breath. Decapitated was as fast and tight as usual. Their latest piece Anticult just came out so they built their set around it. One of the highlights was definitely Demolition Hammer. The cult New York thrash formation is back and it looks like they didn’t forget how to play at all. Their performance made other bands run for their money. I’m very happy they returned and I hope I will be able to catch them again live. Tiamat played a set but as far as I heard it they didn’t manage to finish it. The singer didn’t feel up for it but I couldn’t find a video proof on the Internet yet.

If you are following Paradise Lost and Vallenfyre you may have seen that lead guitarist and vocalist (respectively) Greg Macintosh has changed his hairstyle. It wouldn’t have been newsworthy if he hadn’t looked like Dexter Holland from Offspring. I have to admit that regarding this similarity there was some mockery involved but he decided to have a Mohawk instead so the jokes became not so funny after. They played an excellent but very hazy set and we had no reason to complain. Once they managed to sort out their bass difficulties they carried on with their set in the usual style: savage. Shortly after Tsjuder took the stage we tasted another dose of true Norwegian black metal. Tsjuder means business on stage. Also, their cover of Bathory’s ‘Sacrifice’ satisfied many of us in the crowd.

Nowadays you don’t have to go too far North to find some decent black metal which doesn’t only follow the good old recipe but adds something new to it. Poland has a lot to offer and bands like Furia proves this beautifully. They describe themselves experimental black metal but their music has a lot more in it to be discovered. Thick smoke, intimate atmosphere and darkness turned the place something out of this world. Nihil, Sars, A. and Namtar played a great set which featured songs mostly from their latest full-length Księżyc milczy luty and Nocel. They are a great live band and Nihil is not afraid of shortening the bridge between the band and the audience to bring the crowd closer to their music.

Unfortunately I had to leave Furia for Mayhem who were about to play on the main stage. Mayhem was another legendary band the festival managed to put on as a headliner their performance on the other hand wasn’t legendary. The sound was dreadful and Attila’s one-man stage show wasn’t enough to capture the atmosphere they were trying to portray. De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is an album that has to be an essential part of a black metal album collection and as much as we were looking forward to listen to this masterpiece live I think the time has come to move on to something else.

Yet again Brutal Assault’s flawless organisation, speedy service at the bars and brilliant atmosphere all enclosed in the fortress walls and that’s where it should stay. Keep your eyes peeled for next year’s line-up which surely won’t disappoint. All I can say is now Brutal Assault, thank you!

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All photography by Vivien Varga.

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