So this brings us to Saturday, where another breakfast and another trip into the village led directly into the day's music, via camping the front row for Metal Church.
Metal Church - 7/7
Despite going on early in the day and on a smaller stage than they played last year, they delivered a top-quality, tremendously kickass set, probably driven on by the huge crowd for so early in the day. The material was a mix of the real old stuff as well as newer cuts from the stuff they've done since Vanderhoof came back, weighted as of course old, with the three classics from their self-titled closing the set. After this, they did "Mirror of Lies" again as an encore to film a video, and the crowd was strongly up for it again. We won't know for probably another month or so, but I may have gotten into this video, as I was standing in the front row and did a psycho Gene Simmons grimace right into the camera as the camera dude was running it by. As Quentin Tarantino says about Robert Rodriguez' films, all you have to do is be "the dog"; stay on your mark, look cool, and you'll get in the picture when the editor needs to fill a gap.
30 - Metal Church doing "Watch The Children Pray".
Caliban - 5/7
Pretty good, but they'd rather have been on the Party Stage (saying exactly as much), and while they recovered well from the power going out in the middle of their set, they never came off as much more than average, perhaps intimidated by the size of the audience. Also, even at a festival like this, you really shouldn't have to feel the need to explain what a 'wall of death' or a 'circle pit' is. People who show up to watch a metalcore band will know what this shit is.
31 - Caliban before the power went off.
Arch Enemy - 4/7
The electrical problems continued with Arch Enemy on the other main stage; the performance was pretty good, but the sound was totally fucked up, very trebled out to the point that the guitars sounded like junk. Angela had a couple problems with her mic as well that brought back memories of Metalfest, but that wasn't the dominant issue here -- the intermittent failures of the right PA tower to function were. Not a fun time for those trying to listen back in the audience.
32 - Arch Enemy, fortunately with only visuals and not their fucked-up sound.
Fear Factory - 5/7
I was doing much more sitting around and waiting for Orphaned Land to go on, but they seemed to put on a good show, even going back to their first disc to do "Martyr". Pretty cool overall, but this isn't a band I'm hugely into, and where I was sitting made the True Metal stage sound a little flat.
Orphaned Land - 6/7
These guys definitely did not disappoint, either musically or in the showmanship department. However, as good as they were, they weren't quite good enough to justify the huge media circus that formed up around them due largely to their national origin. Great music, but that wasn't all that the photographers hogging the front rail were interested in, which is a shame.
33 - Orphaned Land blasting and grooving.
34 - A crop showing the #2 and #3 reasons Europe is getting into Orphaned Land; being AWESOME is definitely primary, but the bandmembers having SCREAMING HOT girlfriends/wives definitely helps.
Gamma Ray - 7/7
I was much more listening to Orphaned Land's soundcheck, but the parts that I did hear of Kai et al did make me thoroughly regret missing the set. Even standing in front of another stage the sound and feeling of this were purely awesome, going through newer stuff as well as the classics, and blending everything together into a smooth and unbeatable whole.
35 - One of the robotic guitar units of the machine known as ATHEIS~2 gets some of its circuitry tightened up.
Atheist - 8/7
O. M. F. G. Atheist pounded the crowd into a fine powder with a nonstop barrage of ultimate brutal and technical death metal that was only intensified for me by being stapled to the front row, directly in front of the left-side PA cab. There's no band like this anywhere, and the crowd realized this as well, never giving a down moment and continuing to shout for an encore long after the crew started to take down their gear.
36 - Atheist crushing the audience.
37 - Three instrumentalists, three independent and totally sick riff lines wrapping around each other. Fuckin' A-theist!
38 - Tony "The Man" Choy laying down a totally sweet solo in "Mother Man". Suitable for screen background use.
Here are some fun facts about Tony Choy that you may not know:
- When Tony Choy fell through the stage in Italy, he did not stop himself by breaking his bass' neck. Tony Choy stopped himself by projecting a wave of pure AWESOME from his face, and the bass broke its own neck out of repsect.
- Tony Choy does not sleep. He plays Stu Hamm and Victor Wooten lines.
- Tony Choy's bassplaying can make women spontaneously give birth at a range of 50 yards. This may increase to 100 yards if the woman in question is already pregnant.
- Tony Choy was going to use his powers to resurrect Roger Patterson and Chuck Schuldiner for this year's Wacken, but Kelly Schaefer reminded him that Lemmy was going to be there as well, and that much concentrated AWESOME might blow a hole in the planet. So Tony Choy decided not to, even though he probably could've handled it.
- There is no endangered species list. There is merely a list of creatures that Tony Choy has not thumbslapped into oblivion yet.
- Tony Choy missed a note once. When he realized his mistake, though, he went back in time and played a totally sick syncopated-64th-note fill in its place instead.
- Tony Choy does not use the dials on his bass or his amp. He controls his sound directly with his mind.
- Tony Choy once met Chuck Norris. Chuck tried to roundhouse-kick him, but Tony was able to block the kick with a wall of totally sick notes. They have since agreed not to blow up any more galaxies fighting each other.
- Tony Choy's day job is playing bass on a cruise ship. His totally sick bass lines propel the boat through the water, and additionally destroy the zombie shark people who would otherwise take over the Caribbean.
- When Atheist was flying over to Europe, there were motherfuckin snakes on the motherfuckin plane. So Tony Choy grabbed like 8 of them and made them into a bass and played a totally fucking sick solo that made the rest of them all die. The airplane additionally spontaneously shat itself and dumped all their gear into the ocean, that solo was so awesome.
1. Tony Choy is a mammal.
2. Tony Choy plays totally sick bass lines all the time.
3. The purpose of Tony Choy is to flip out and play awesome bass solos.
Tony Choy can outplay anyone he wants. Tony Choy plays insanely sick bass licks all the time and doesn't even think twice about it. I heard that there was this one time Tony Choy was eating at a diner. And when some dude said something bad about Roger Patterson Tony Choy flipped out and played this sick solo that blew up the whole town. My friend Mark said that he saw Tony Choy totally uppercut some kid just because the kid said that Soulfly was technical.
And that is some Real Fucking Ultimate Power!
Q and A:
Q: Why is everyone so obsessed about Tony Choy?
A: Tony Choy is the ultimate paradox. On the one hand he plays the world's most massively sick death metal bass lines, but on the other hand, he gets paid for playing on a cruise ship.
Q: I heard that Tony Choy isn't as good as Roger Patterson. What's his deal?
A: Whoever told you that is a total liar. Just like other mammals, Tony Choy can be as good as Roger Patterson AND not better than Roger Patterson.
Q: What does Tony Choy do when he's not touring with Atheist or playing on the cruise ship?
A: Most of his free time is spent at his house in Florida, but sometimes he smokes weed. (Ask Kelly or Rand if you don't believe me.)
Ok, silliness aside, back to the festival.
Emperor - 7/7
The set was a little short, but little short of perfect. There were some problems with the sound early, and Ihsahn forgot which album "...Nightspirit" was off of when he called it out, but they played about everything you could possibly want (I had to rack my brains to come up with "Ye Entrancemperium" to yell for the encore, since they had already done "Wordless Chamber" and "With Strength I Burn", my personal favorites), and Ihsahn even busted out the old shoulder armor for "The Loss and Curse of Reverence", even though no one was in corpsepaint. This is how a reunion ought to be, and I was hella glad that I got to see and take part in it.
39 - Ihsahn leading the Emperors' Return.
40 - The titanic crowd for Emperor.
41 - Ihsahn again, with better lighting.
With Emperor over and me thoroughly tired out, I headed up to the beergarden for some food, a few more drinks, and the chance to check out absolute gone lunacy while Motorhead and Finntroll threw down. Both bands did kickass sets, though I was concentrating a little more on the colorful terrain, as such:
- A dude who looked like Japanese cult TV personality Hard Gay/Razor Ramon standing on (and often falling off) tables, giving security a Fuehrerbefehl (literally, 'direct order from a superior', but it's got all the connotations you think it would) when they came to remove him. (Hard Gay in a rare sane and not-standing-on-tables moment.)
- A kid standing brain-frozen, a beer in one hand and his cellphone ringing in the other, not knowing what the hell to do.
- Fat people playing Surfin' USA when the person sitting on the other end of their bench gets up, popping it up into the air.
- A guy who stepped on someone's Holsten can and now for the life of him can't shake it off his foot.
- A guy so wide he can wear 3 backpatches side by side on his vest.
- Someone raising money for "alcohol research".
If you want to know what it's like, it's like lunch in junior high, except that everyone has been drinking, many heavily. Eventually, though, it had to end, and I had to go back to my tent and get some sleep.