(Andy Synn delivers this review of the second day at the recently completed Summer Breeze festival in Germany, and again provides video of the performances. To see his review of the festival’s first day, go here. We’ll have Part 3 of his review tomorrow.)
Day 2 of the festival kicked off (for me at least) with some pure blackened misanthropy courtesy of France’s Merrimack who proceeded to shake the cobwebs out of everyone’s brains with an esoteric take on panzerfaust black metal blasting that recalls Deathspell Omega in places (though considerably more focussed and violent).
The band’s frontman Vestal was a particularly difficult figure to look away from, screeching his savage hymns of depravity whilst physically flagellating himself with both his mic and his bare fists. Combine this with the band’s relentless delivery – all jagged edges and harsh, ecliptic angles, and you get one singularly uncomfortable, yet incredibly compelling, live experience.
Similarly compelling, and similarly annihilating, Rotten Sound were my next port of call, and if I wasn’t awake before then, I certainly was by the end of their set!
The band pummelled the audience from start to finish with 16 tracks of brutish, caustic grind, rarely pausing between songs for more than a minute, never allowing the assembled crowd to catch their breath. It was a truly intense experience, melding truly venomous nihilism and scorched-earth blasting with moments of sick, grimy groove.
After a short ramble it was off to the Second (Pain) Stage to see US hardcore bruisers Walls Of Jericho bring their punishing mix of high-energy thrash riffage and precise, pugilistic beatdowns to a truly massive crowd of the German faithful.
I’ve not seen the band for quite a few years now, but it was as if time hadn’t touched them at all. Each member was still a bouncing ball of energy, particularly always energetic frontwoman Candace, who’s a veritable spitfire of furious venom and hardcore heart, and capable of some truly brutal vocalisations. Just a fantastic performance, through and through.
(FYI – due to my position to the left of the stage, the footage I got was… all glare. So I’ve substituted in a rather nifty video shot from backstage instead)
A quick skip to one side found Anthrax bringing the noise over on the Main Stage, albeit to a much smaller crowd than I expected.
The band have certainly lost some prestige over the years of “he said, she said” bickering and in-fighting (not helped by Scott Ian’s repeated hypocrisy in the media), but the songs have lost none of their vim and vigour. Leaning heavily on the classic era, the band demonstrated well why they’re still a force to be reckoned with on the live circuit, with particular credit going to session lead guitarist Jon Donais, who is always a pleasure to watch.
There were a couple of minor complaints – Joey’s voice and antics will always (to me at least) tar the band with an over-cheesy 80’s stigma, while the cover of T.N.T. only reinforced the feeling of plodding nostalgia – but otherwise… hat’s off boys.
Back over to the Party Stage, and it was time for Whitechapel to bring their brutal grooves to the ravenous crowd. Unfortunately, it was at this point that my camera took a nose-dive, so the video below isn’t one of mine. Still, I think it captures things pretty well!
The band are most definitely a tightly wound and crushing live act, and the crowd – a mix of mesh-short wearing deathcore kids and Devourment-shirt wearing proto death metallers – went suitably apeshit for each and every number (personal highlight for me was the menacing, Decapitated-esque “Make It Bleed”). However, one thing that definitely surprised me was the general lack of stage presence of frontman Phil Bozeman. Perhaps he was just having an off night.
Still, he has a truly monstrous voice, and when the band all locked into gear… goosebumps.
(These last three videos aren’t mine I’m afraid, my camera went man down for the rest of the evening. Apologies.)
Following this it was time to see if Lamb of God could up their game to headline a major European festival… and they most certainly did!
The crowd was positively fanatical, and stretched well beyond the mainstage boundaries, with nearly every fist raised in a gesture of solidarity with these titans of American metal.
This was also my first chance to hear the band’s newest material (still having not heard Resolution yet), and to my ears it all sounded pretty fantastic. The true high point of the night, though, was the phenomenal 1-2-3 of “Ruin”, “Now You’ve Got Something To Die For”, and “11th Hour”.
Achievement unlocked – Headliner Status Cemented
There was a short break to take stock after this, allowing me to catch my breath and prepare for the unrelenting onslaught known as… Marduk.
The fearsome foursome are certainly a brutal proposition live, with a well-worn combo of slithering, insidious bass, hacking guitars, and blast-beat driven drum work, but they augment this with a truly palpable sense of atmosphere and menace, such that by the end of the first song the band had the packed tent eating out of their hands.
Highlights of the set are difficult to determine. Certainly “Serpent Sermon” and “Slay The Nazarene” stick out in my mind – in fact, the latter began a flawless run of classics, leading into “Imago Mortis”, “Christraping Black Metal” (always fun to hear a crowd screaming that one), “Temple of Decay”, and “With Satan and Victorious Weapons”. Stunning stuff.
One other thing that sticks out in my mind is the way that one irritating repeat stage-diver, after tangling himself up with Morgan’s guitar, was booted – quite literally – from the stage by Mortuus. You could almost feel impact as the guy flew offstage.
You don’t fuck with a Marduk show son. Not if you know what’s good for you!