8 August 2009
Bad Berka - Thüringen - Germany
669. Red sky at morning, thrashers take warning?
Regardless (and yes, it did rain later), I'm changing shirts today. I pimped Bone Ritual the first two, but my upper arms are too badly burned to continue. Embryonic Devourment today, then Dysentery tomorrow for the walk out.
Maybe it's the smaller Gelände, but people are much less filthy here than in Wacken - I mean, people piss in flush urinals. What's with that? Even if you're going to be clean and not abuse the fences, there's still portajohns and troughs and stuff. They also wash a whole lot more. Who knew that the grotty gore fans were the fastidious ones? Personally, I've got a good layer of baked-in dirt and oil going; I'll be glad to get in the shower when I hit Dresden tomorrow afternoon, but I'm ok till then.
There was a minor crisis this morning at breakfast when the tent for some reason ran out of rolls. Since this is mainly what Germans eat in the morning, this was kind of a big problem. Wait, beer, wait, wait, and when the brötchen get in, the entire tent pigpiles up to the counter.
<-- Actual color of the water dripping off my hat right now. That's a lot of beaten- and soaked-in dirt and sweat. More and heavier clouds stacking up to the west. Hope this passes and the rain hits elsewhere. The burns and lack of sleep are starting to tell; if it cools off without raining, I may just go sleep somewhere. I'd like to see Shining, but the big draw is Sadus-Moonsorrow-Brujeria...and after that I'm definitely sacking. How Eluveitie comes in after these bands I have no idea, and I'd pass up seeing Dark Funeral and Six Feet Under even in the US.
670. Parasailer floating by as we waited for doors. I thought this guy was going to come crash the festival, but he went on by over the hills towards town.
Shit got fucked up with the Einlass, as alluded to above, so it was like 1:30 before we got in. Still waiting for Hellsaw to start this shit, still listening to Rock in Rio, still on the point of falling asleep.
671. Fun with perspective. The stakes should be getting shorter going away from the camera, but not this much; the stage is on a hill and needs to be built level so the lighting rigs don't tip it over.
Not the most original 45 minutes of black metal ever, nor the most distinctive, but it was still good stuff for an opener.
672. The drummer meditating.
673. Guitarist and banner.
674. The band calls out for hype.
675. In action.
676. The organizers blow out the gas jets from last night.
677. The vocalist on the stalk.
678. Thrashing it up.
679. The two-shot I was going for before.
Beneath The Massacre [5/7]
They didn't run their whole time, but they didn't overstay their welcome, either, and they did club the everliving fuck out of the audience while they were out there. A lot of breakdowns for this early in the day, but they got a nice response and were well-pleased with it; probably just as they hoped this set would go.
680. Beneath The Massacre, above the fray.
681. Unleashing some more devastation.
I don't think there's any Goratory dudes in this band (that's Despised Icon, right?), but you never can tell with Quebecois deathcore, so I went forward to get some better shots just in case.
682. Some things are universal. And yes, that brim is as flat as it looks.
683. Doods get rowdy for BtM.
Making their German debut, this Swedish outfit laid out a crunchy barrage of first-wave death comparable to Evocation and Unleashed yesterday, but a bit more brutal. Nothing but good material throughout, even to ending with "Troops of Doom", which is seldom the first Sepultura song off the shelf as covers go. They don't play live much, so this was a treat, but the US would also dig them for sure.
684. Paganizer waits for the word go.
685. ...and they get it.
686. Roger with a balls-out custom.
687. Andreas ripping it.
688. Pedal bass pounding.
689. If I see a hero shot, I'm gonna take it.
690. Battering riffage.
691. There's a drummer back in here somewhere....
692. The grindcore brigade waits for Rotten Sound...and hides from the blazing midday sun.
With no cloud cover, rail places could be highly contended. Have I mentioned that it was wicked hot as balls almost this entire festival?
Rotten Sound [5.5/7]
With as black-metal a bill as this turned out to be, in Germany besides, a little skepticism about the reception of this band was warranted. However, they blasted out a top-rate grind set, and the audience proved themselves mostly equal to the challenge, keeping a decent pit going most of the way through. This band would really fit better to Obscene Extreme, but they made this appearance work.
693. Taking a council before kicking off.
694. Violent bass, loaded.
695. Keijo starts working the crowd.
696. Full band, full bore.
697. A crane in the full band again.
698. Keijo calls for more pit action.
699. Condemnation of society.
700. The pit gets riotous.
Though things got started a little slow, Shining definitely lived up to their legends, providing excellent suicidal black metal, and a truly unique stage presence, as can be seen in the pics.
701. Shining step out.
702. Screams of primal hate.
703. The band channels the dark.
704. Not actually spitting fire, but spitting at the crowd, yes.
705. Rage in the dying light.
706. Guitar invocation.
707. No heroin, but a Seven Oaks bottle is in full evidence.
Last year at Wacken, I met a Danish guy who used to work in Norway and hung out with a bunch of the more famous black metal dudes; in addition to confirming that Abbath works for the post office, he also told me about when Niklas was working (or, more accurately, "working") in the local metal pub in Oslo, and how he would just sit behind the bar and shoot up and glare at customers until they went away. Selfdestructive behavior from one of the leading lights of suicidal black metal? Can't be.
708. Niklas doing something unnatural to his guitarist's leg.
I have no idea what is going on here. Unfortunately, this is barely the half of it; I got no shots of him spending much of several songs rolling around on the stage screeching out vocals, or doing the second half of "Claws of Perdition" with one hand jammed down the front of his pants, grabbing himself. Black fuckin metal.
709. Pure hatred and despair.
710. The infield only got this full this early when they were playing.
711. Sucking bassist face.
712. A laid-back, bluesy solo - this may have been more offensive, in the context of this festival, than Kvarforth shoving his tongue down Andreas' throat.
Lost in the commercial success of the last 15 years is that people are not supposed to actually like black metal. It's supposed to annoy and disgust all but the very smallest fraction, and if blastbeats and pig heads don't piss people off, it's apparently time to play blues and tongue-kiss other dudes. Shining gets what black metal is, at the core, and if the gay stuff pisses you off, well, that just means that it's working. (And that you're probably insecure about your sexuality, but it's 2009, so you had to know that part was coming.)
The weather's coming in raw; here's hoping it holds till Las Brujas wrap up.
Brutal Truth [7/7]
It takes a special grindcore band to fill out a 45-minute set and still end up sounding fresh. And yet Brutal Truth did just that, driving a pit that was almost to American standard for most of their runtime. And this on a German festival where they followed Shining. Fun fuckin times.
713. Brutal Truth gets shit lit up.
714. Dan and Rich laying the groundwork.
715. Manic NYGC attack.
716. Full band.
717. Dan Lilker, glad to be out of Anthrax and playing shows while they cancel.
718. Dan, hero shot.
719. Again, thrashing out.
720. The security was always gut drauf, but didn't have much to do...
721. ...because no crowdsurfers tried to cross the crazy pit.
The blur in a lot of these is because I was losing light; as alluded to above, rain was coming in from the west.
In many ways, this was the Steve DiGiorgio show...and as a bassist and Steve fan, this was just ok. There was a fair bit of old material (understandable given the prominence of the old records over the newer stuff), but this was technically brightened up a bit as well, at least as I can recall. A hell of a performance, but better was coming.
722. Heroes on heroes - first Dan, now Steve.
723. Steve continues checking. Due to the coming rain, I was running out of light.
724. Sadus jamming as the crowd yells for them to start.
725. Steve chunking out the bassline of "Certain Death".
726. Sadus in action.
727. The band rips on behind a flash bomb.
728. Steve D being generally awesome.
729. Darren crushes a solo.
730. Frenetic thrash attack.
731. Steve takes command.
732. The band continues to outbang the lens.
733. Steve DiGiorgio, hero shot.
Why we go to Europe: because nowhere else can you
734. - slug mulled mead
735. - see Moonsorrow outdoors
736. - in Wikingerwetter amid the pagan hills of Thuringia, the heartland of the German Wotan cult.
I saw Moonsorrow back in May like everyone else, but this was a better set amid better conditions.
I've already explained the setup; the rain came dripping through the set and enhanced the experience rather than sending anyone running for cover. The five songs in their 45 minutes included one from their demo (sounding a lot like what Finntroll was doing at the time, which is not surprising) and one off the first record; not the same as their Paganfest set, and thus an extra treat. Moonsorrow has a hard time being other than awesome, as a quick listen at really any point in their catalog will demonstrate, but this set took it up an extra notch, as much as it's possible to say.
737. The otherworldly glow of setup.
738. Moonsorrow infiltrates through the gloom.
739. The band, victims of low light and no tripod.
740. A better view, already packed with the epic.
741. Calling the crowd to rise.
742. Skaldic thunder.
743. Shadows and immaterial forms.
744. The band catches the stage lights just right.
745. Cosmic nebula.
746. The band taking the fest elsewhere.
747. Blinded by the light.
748. The opening to "Jotunheim", the closer.
749. Going the other way up the Rainbow Bridge....
750. Even penguin hand puppets get brutal to inter-band Sabbath cuts. (Not a slate, for real.)
The rain was starting to mount, but this didn't slow the band down any. Assisted by Shane Embury in the worst narcotrafico disguise ever (srsly, get a trucker cap or something to cover up that bald monk mop), they smashed out a simplistic but uniformly well-received set of nu-death that got bodies moving and Germans yelling in Spanish. They benefitted from people waiting for SFU, which is approximately the same, minus the fun factor, but that fun factor, from "Pito Wilson" to "Marijuana" (on playback at the end), is what makes this band. Now that people know who they are, they've become a Palo-Mayombe-cult/sorreño-thug theme ride, and they do it well and people are fine with it. We know that they're not real gangsters any more than Running Wild are real pirates or GWAR are real Antarctican space monsters, but they execute the gimmick and the music behind it well enough that people will suspend disbelief, which is the critical sign that they're doing it right.
751. Spots over Brujeria's set. The light here was pretty much impossible, as the following shots will show.
752. Shane Embury, fooling no one.
753. Jeff Walker in a better disguise, aided by frame shake.
754. The band in a psychedelic haze.
755. After this I decided that further pics would be just impossible.
756. ....except for this invocation at the start of "La Ley De Plomo".
Bands I cared about concluded, I hit the tent, and fell asleep before getting any concrete impression of Eluveitie.
757. Bootcondoms! I should have used another trash bag, but I didn't have one that didn't have trash or the foot of a sleeping bag in it already. Fortunately, these did work, and I had dry boot innards in the morning.