The report: Brutal Assault # 18, 2013
Once again we packed the front of the car with CDs and mp3 sticks, put some crazy people in the back of the car and we rode to Czech Republic’s very own Jaromer. It was the 3rd time for me to attend Brutal Assault, and 5th or even 6th time for some of the other guys.
Jaromer is a small city with old buildings, smiling people and fantastic beer, a city reminding me the epic/comic novels of BOGUMIL HRABAL.
The fest is inside the medieval walls of Josefov army fortress, the perfect place for a metal festival.
The whole town for almost a week is non-stop full of yelling idiots and pissing drunks, some of them you can bet they escaped from the zoo, but hey, this is a festival, you can ignore it or you can have quality fun looking at the weirdoes of the universe.
The schedule is quite good, mixing all kinds of styles, and there are sufficient uninteresting bands for me, so I always can have a relaxing time eating, drinking a beer or hunting for vinyls.
0 day – Wednesday
Wednesday is pretty much the zero day of the festival with only a few bands, most of them Czech ones.
MALIGNANT TUMOUR is a quite old Czech - once grind - band, now they mix the old days grind with more rock elements, like AC/DC and Motörhead. There were large amounts of people attending it, I just watched a few songs, not my thing, but it seems they have enough fans anyway.
TESTAMENT made an intensive show, they attacked very heavily, too bad they had a poor sound. Some good old songs in the program and a few from the new album too, but somehow this band didn’t impress me, however I am trying to listen to them for 20 years now. Best ones were from The Gathering album, best one for me, however something is fucking missing from this band. The feeling?
1st day – Thursday
COFFINS was the first band I watched on the first “real” day of the festival. I heard the name previously but this was my first meeting with gang. These sushi-eater criminals combine slow death metal with doom. A thick wall of sound with the scent of an autumnal graveyard, think of a heretic mix between AUTOPSY, CROWBAR, NECROPHAGIA, BOLT THROWER, ASPHYX and you already know if you want to check them or not and I bet your answer is yes. I was slightly jaded at the ending part of the show, but a band worth to watch. I still have to check out their albums.
DR. LIVING DEAD! were the first cheerful surprise. Four pieces of Swedish fellows with skull-masks and a bandana on their skulls, an image nostalgic and fresh at the same time. Crossover/HC/metal at its best, influenced by S.O.D., Suicidal Tendencies, D.R.I. and only they know what else. Very intensive show, catchy short songs and a receptive dynamic audience. A good band with two strong albums already out.
I saw a few songs of DEVILDRIVER just to see what is all this fuss about? Dez Fafara after his nu-metal history tries here something groovy, something metalcore, but I am not buying this stuff, nice try Dez.
DYING FETUS is an insanely intensive live band. Of course they played the most known songs, with ferocious vitality, a short lesson of death metal.
We hopped the fancy GOJIRA “metal” and gone for some food.
ANTHRAX made a fucking food show. I never was into this band, not their early years nor into their “modern” 90s years. Even if at a few times I tried to listen to their discography, I never became addicted to their music. Being this said, I was surprised by these Americans, it was good to hear these songs. Even if Joey Belladonna is not the biggest singer and he is getting really old, it was a good routine show.
FEAR FACTORY sounded very poor, the triggered drums started to be boring after 15 minutes, the singer forgot how to sing, but I saw a lot of people who weren’t bothered. A desperate band who lives from the past. From one album actually.
I wanted to write that is strange to see living legends VOIVOD playing in front of few hundred people while such skunks like Devildriver are playing for many thousands. But if you already learned that most people are idiots, there’s your solution. VOIVOD, even without Piggy is the real deal. No technicians, no roadies for this band after three decades of constant activism and a long row of classic albums. They just walked in friendly, tuned their instruments in 2 minutes and they made a memorable show. Blacky with his Daft Punk t-shirt and Away with his comical blameless face were the funny men in this band. They played mostly from the early albums, playing also the classical “Voivod” from the 1984 debut, the song which could be easily on a Darkthrone release. One of the best shows for Brutal Assault 2013.
ENTOMBED played an curious and decent show. They played songs from the first 2 death metal albums and from the later death’n’roll period too. It was weird to see the two different musical eras of the band in the same show, but strangely it worked. They had a massive sound live, like fucking old school professionals as it suits them.
I went for sleep after Entombed, Mr. Mirgilus watched MARDUK 1 hour later and he said they totally sucked, too bad, I started to appreciate them more and more lately.
2nd day - Friday
I started the day with accidentally crashing my phone, so from that moment I had more time for bands, vinyls. I love the feeling of digging through hundreds of vinyls, I can lost myself for an hour or more haunting treasures, and vinyl hunting is one of the best things to do when you’re at Brutal Assault. You can find classic stuff like Sabbath, Priest, Maiden, doom treasures, cult black metal albums, punk classics, old Voivod LPs, jewels like Reverend Bizarre, or Witchfinder General for most of the time pretty fair prices. And you need nothing more for that day, believe me.
I shoot a glance to the performances of ANTROPOFAGUS , it was technically OK, but not my heart-throb.
HYPNOS had a great number of audience, despite to the early beginning (14:35). They are a legendary Czech death metal artillery. Crushing music played with skills, following the old canons of death metal. I promised myself to check out this band on records also later, a promise I didn’t fulfill so far.
I remember I liked MISANTHROPE’s mid-‘90s albums, I have two of their records on CD also, I enjoy especially the album “Visionnaire”. I was disappointed to see a boring band with cheap music. The tag “symphonic extreme metal” on the schedule list carried already a worrying factor in it, which later turned into disappointing reality. The grandiose music disappeared, giving room for total average metal with annoying symphonic elements. One of the letdowns of this festival.
PRO-PAIN was brutal as I was expecting. Somebody stole a PRO-PAIN tape from me 20 years ago on a festival, this is what comes to my mind always when I heard of PRO-PAIN, it must have been a trauma, something I never could skipped, haha! A powerful combination of hardcore and metal from well-aging guys, all of them baldheaded if I remember well. Not my cup of tea, but very strong stage presence from these Americans.
The truth is that I skipped a lot of bands (Loudblast, Hate, Malevolent Creation) to go out, eat something healthy and get back with new powers for FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM, who cancelled their show a year before, in 2012. I saw a few songs from ALCEST before the FOTN show, and to be honest they were quite OK comparing it to their awful show from 2012. OK, still too pink and poppy but I expected something worse.
Gladfully we did see The Fields from the front-row. What an ensemble! I care less and less that Carl McCoy is the only old member. He was/is the song-writer and front man of the band, he is the voice, he is the real deal! The voice! I wasn’t disappointed, the same extremely low and melancholic vocals, with discrete stage presence. Only 1 hour of playing, after the first notes of Mourning’s Sun’s “Shroud (Exordium)” everybody was under the spell. “From the Fire” put you into trance then followed by other songs from new era’s Mourning Sun album: “Straight to the Light”, “New Gold Dawn”. There were songs like “Penetrator” and “Zoon III” from the Zoon album, but who the fuck cares, they could only play the last album and it was still perfect. A few classics like “Moonchild”, the immortal “Dawnrazor” and “Trees Come Down” from the “Burning the Fields” EP, 1985.
All their discography is classic, so they can play anything and neglect albums like the self-titled or Elizium and they still give a fantastic performance. A night to remember, it was worth coming to Czech Republic only for this already!
I watched a few songs from IN FLAMES, I did like somwhow their early years back in the 90s, but they have grown to a metalcore band. It’s a shame the founder and song-writer Jesper Stormblad was thrown out his band and the other chaps are touring with the name, but that’s showbiz boys! Tunes borrowed from At the Gates with the blunt “weight” of metalcore, and an untalented singer. Really, somebody please tell Anders that he can’t sing. They will not starve to death, as a good part of the “new generation” seems to dig these entertainers.
In this time, my friend Mr. Mirgilus attended the Norwegian black/death act AETERNUS, a very good old school band from Bergen. Mr. Mirgilus was pretty impressed by the guys, he even managed to get an interview with them. Mr. Mirgilus: “Yes, it is true, on the Club stage Aeternus performed a real old school show with strength and power, with a very wild audience, lots of old classic songs from the golden age mixed with new tracks, for more info, please check our interview with Ares: http://mirgilus.com/aeternus
I didn’t expect anything from AMORPHIS, or maybe I expected something shitty, but I was somehow positively surprised. I don’t sympathize the rastaman from the band and their later albums were only weaker and weaker. They played a best of, starting with songs from Elegy, a tape I listened a lot around 1996. Then came songs from the Thousand Lakes-era and even from the first album. Their songs from the later-era are easy-forgettable, but gladly they didn’t force the new songs on us. An enjoyable nostalgic show, nothing more though.
CARCASS made a big come-back in 2013. Seems it was a very successful come-back with blazing reviews and big festival shows, etc, but for me the best thing in the new album was the album cover. Amazing cover, too bad the music doesn’t rises to the quality level of the cover. I always thought than 1994’s “Heartwork” is an over-estimated record and “Swansong” was even a bigger question mark in the Carcass puzzle for me. I prefer the early putrid Carcass, it’s good they didn’t neglect their early period, this is what is good after all in festivals, most of the bands are coming to play their best songs in 1 – 1,5 hours, it’s a not a “let’s play some new songs for you”. The guys aged pretty good, too bad I don’t get Jeff Walker’s Liverpool humor, but it could be that I am the problem. Carcass falls in the category of “classic early albums, a few weaker later, disbanded in the 90s, then reformed with an average album, which does not interest me, but it’s okay to see them live because I was a teenager in the 90s”. Amen!
OVERKILL. I am ashamed to confess I did not listen more than 5 hours of Overkill in my life. Just like Anthrax, it was the Thrash band from the 80s I kind of always neglected. Again, just like in the case of ANTHRAX it was a fucking great positive surprise this band, but if ANTHRAX made a good show, OVERKILL really executed me. Overkill never quit, never changed vocalists, never had to make come-backs, never made hip-hop tracks, didn’t had to reinvent their style…They were always here, they are making albums and touring consistently for more than 3 decades now! D.D. Verni is the propulsive power behind this monster engine. D.D. Verni looks like he plays in Misfits with this trimmed denim jacket and the goth B.C Rich bass guitar. Overkill comes from New Jersey, where Misfits were born also. In the thrash metal of Overkill – with the help of superior Czech beer - I discovered the layers of early punk like Misfits and The Ramones behind the hair of D.D. Verni! They mixed this punk energy with the high-pitched “like it or hate it” vocals of Bobby Blitz resulting a distinct thrash music. I became a fan instantly. Not just a fan of Czech beer, but also a fan of Overkill. As I said it’s not a “let’s do it for the cash” re-union, Overkill is a way of life for D.D. Verni and Bobby Blitz. You could feel it there. The best show together with FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM and the band discovery of the festival for me.
I was tired and sleepy, so I just watched 10 minutes of CULT OF LUNA. I did like their “Somewhere on the Highway” album back then, one of the better sludge/post metal bands, not my thing, but still not bad, but again time to go to sleep….
3rd day – Saturday
Saturday promised to be a busy day. There were a lot of bands I was interested to see plus it’s the last day/opportunity to buy some good merch stuff.
WE BUTTER THE BREAD WITH BREAD what a fucking name? I must see it just to meet my expectations: horrible math core for guys with ear tunnels. In few years this band will be forgotten and the kids who listen to this will be tired middle-aged people with big holes in their sagging ears.
“We are PRIMORDIAL from the Republic of Ireland, and I have one question for you: are you with us?” PRIMORDIAL made a respectable performance in the heating 30+ Celsius. Their strong Celtic metal is where the epic Viking era of Bathory meets with the 2nd wave black metal movement + throw in some doom metal inspired by Candlemass, a good deal of Irish whiskey, folk and tragedy and the wailing vocal recital of Alan Averill Nemtheanga. Anyway, it’s not for a hot sunny afternoon, but they happen to have only 7 fantastic albums and nothing trendy here… One of the best metal bands these days and Alan is one of the best singers in the metal realm. They have no weak point yet in their discography, a band you can always count on. 2 songs from the latest album, the powerful opener “No Grave Deep Enough” and the hymn-like “Bloodied yet Unbowed”, which is a kind of ars poetica for the band if you read the lyrics. Other monumental songs like “Empires Fall”, “Gallows Hymn”, the incredible energic “The Song of the Tomb” and the tragic “The Coffin Ships”. Maybe 1 or 2 more tracks, or not, one of the best shows from BA 2013. Primordial is one of the best bands around, it was cool to bump into Alan later, he is a normal metalguy, didn’t change at all, unlike pretentious stars Ihsahn or Erik from that over-estimated Dissection rip-off Swedish band.
VOMITORY is a good band, both live and on albums, though I am not their biggest fan, they have nothing to be ashamed of.
BIOHAZARD, a band I listened to almost 20 years ago in high-school years, time fucking flies, Bobby Hambel is back on guitars, though Evan is gone, porn is the new rock’n’roll these day. Bobby is getting uglier with age, it was fun to find out he is not the biggest gentleman in the neighborhood, but life is harsh in NY goddamit! Danny Schuler got scaringly old too but he can still smash the drums. Bobby is the man behind the guitars, he even played a 15 seconds guitar solo and made a proud grimace, like he was Johnny Winter or something. Entertaining as hell. I don’t know if Billy’s guitars were plugged in, because for the biggest part he jumped, walked and surfed all the time, handliftings, talking, etc, less playing. I dunno who replaced Evan on bass, he was OK. Of course the core of their show were the best songs from the first 2 albums…A very funny performance, really entertaining with quite tight playing, but as I see all American bands are playing fucking tight in playing and have the best sound also.
LEPROUS + IHSAHN is a mystery to me how people love shit like this. Pretentious boring crap with an intelligent hipster-look Ihsahn. Really, I can find 3 better post-rock/whatever bands than Leprous in every Romanian town, I can’t get it why people think this is avant-garde? No wonder Ihsahn had to re-activate Emperor, you cannot make a living from boring Ihsahn albums…
TRIVIUM is metalcore (?) band with certain heavy metal influence, which means they steal from 80s metal bands and trying to re-sell it as modern metal for the kids. Not my thing.
CLAWFINGER is always disbanding, re-activating, disbanding, re-activating. This was a goodbye show! Good for us!
HATEBREED is a brutal experience live, again not my cup of tea, but they tried really hard, only I can’t see that magical spark in them.
I skipped BEHEMOTH and watched 10 minutes of OPETH, where 8 minutes was some guitar-buzzing-kind-of-guitar solo semi-acoustical from AKERFELDT. Wearing a thick hipster jumper in the summer heat shows that they want to look and they look artsy, too bad, this is not anymore the Opeth we knew back in the 90s, it’s just like a boring Steven Wilson side-project.
I used to listen to BORKNAGAR back around 1997 – 2000, I somehow lost contact with the band. To my surprise it was a very good appearance, both singers Simen and Vintersorg were there, singing songs from different eras of the band. Borknagar is apparently some pagan metal withvery slightly 2nd wave Black Metal influence, maybe too melodic for the old school guys, and I will probably not invest in Borknagar vinyls, but I was surprised by the quality they revealed.
MADBALL is a fucking heavy HC band and they are also very entertaining. Good stage action, nu bullshit, no excuses, only good songs, they grew to be one of the leading HC bands of the present. Even if you are not a HC fan, if you can, go and watch this vigorous band, you’ll won’t regret and won’t forget.
CARPATHIAN FOREST had a cool necro sound, it’s weird they are back – or did they never leave? Nattefrost’s “true to the bone” attitude makes him somehow credible. Kobro is still fucking great and an precise drummer, together with the colossal bass-player Vrangsinn building a solid base for this depraved horrid music. They are what they are and they certainly don’t give a fuck.
I was too tired to see SATURNUS, I had almost 1000 kms to drive next day.
Mr. Mirgilus: “I saw 3 bands which Rob was not seen because of vinyl hunting or other beer related duties, so: ABORYM on Club Stage was totally mind blowing, I’m not expected nothing from this band, but their performance was one of the best on BA 2013, massive electro-industrial wall mixed with black metal on top with a singer who’s looks like Axel Rose in the 90s. Black electro disco is the best description for their concert!
SOLEFALD is a band which I listened very often in the end of 90’s, the first 2 albums are absolutely classic releases when we are talking about real avant-garde Norwegian metal, the rest is boring shit. They played my 2 favourite songs from the 1st album (Countryside Bohemians & Tequila Sunrise) so I was totally possessed!
I can’t remember exactly why Rob skipped the MASTER show early in the morning (maybe, ‘cause the show was early in the morning eh-arggh), his fault, because Master did one of the best concert on BA, totally old school attitude, great songs and Mr. Speckmann is a real gentleman a true death metal warrior, respect and have a long life! Worth of every minute in hot sunshine!"
What is good in Brutal Assault that I don’t enjoy all the bands, so I always have time eat, drink a good Czech beer, grab a vinyl, chat with people. It’s a good organized fest with a good amount of quality and classic bands, a lot of good food in the food-courts and an enchanting little Czech town. I hope I can catch lot of other editions of it. The preparation for the fest, the road, the company, the jokes and the fest itself melted into a ritual for me already.
Written by Rob