Brutal Assault 2018

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After a twelve hour trip through a Germany that was traditionally tormented by road maintenance works, we finally arrived at our destination: the picturesque village of Jaromer, Chech Republic. Situated within the inner walls of the impressive Fortress Josefov, many of its inhabitants had fled the scene of the barbaric invasion that was about to take place by Brutal Assault Festival, whereas the stores had stocked up on ridiculously cheap beer, rum and any other liquor you could think of.

Overall Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4

Day one: Wednesday August 8th

The first band we went to see was Obscure Sphinx (****1/2) on the main stage. What a show! Under a murdering sun, the Poles unleashed their devastating doomsludge upon a largely Polish audience, wich automatically resulted in a killer party. Kudoos to the bass player, as the main carrier of the music with a sophisticated touch of technical death metal and sometimes even djent. While the melancholic guitar and female screams dragged us down into a deep depression, trippy samples and guitar touches lifted us up along with equally well executed clean vocals. This definitely raised expectations for the exclusive show on the oriental stage!

Another band to remember was Steve ‘n Seagulls (***1/2) from Finland. They entered the main stage like true hillbillies, with denim overcoats, rolled up trouser legs, straw hats and even the classical raccoon-fur trapper hat. This was no surprise, as the Fins play bluegrass covers of big metal hits. Armed with multiple banjos, a double bass, an accordion, a hillbilly drumkit and a mandolin, Steve ‘n Seagulls managed to sell us hits like You could be mine, Give me all your love, Thunderstruck, You shook me all night long and even Nightwish’s Wishmaster (to which not even the singer could stop himself from breaking up in laughter) as if they were traditional songs from local folklore. Maybe that’s why the circlepits looked more like a cozy magic circle dance than anything else… They went from hillbilly over Balkan to pure humppa and it was a very entertaining show, but after a while you kind of get the point, so we went off to see Brujeria.

Dressed with caps from their own merchandize and scarfs over their mouths, the Mexican purebred cabrones from Brujeria (***) offered us some brutal violence. To me personally, it sounded just as useless as the actual brutal violence that haunts Mexico, but judging from the enthusiastic moshing and circlepitting by the crowd, I pretty much stand alone in this opinion. The band did earn my massive respect by making the entire audience chant “fuck Donald Trump” for a couple of minutes and for their infamous “Macarena”-adaptation: “èèèèèè marihuana!”. The almost exclusively Spanish lingo in between songs was nice too, because it gave everyone who has seen Narcos the feeling they were being riled up by none else that Escobar himself! Too bad the machete show they usually have in smaller venues, was impossible on the main stage…

Next up at the infamous Oriental stage: some less famous British post-metal by Kurokuma (****1/2)! Their instant energy took us all by storm and into the music. Bonecrushing sludge with some groovy stoner influences through nice guitar slides and spacy shredding (albeit sometimes a bit much). Kurokuma might consist of only one guitarist/singer, one bassist and one drummer, but they sure know how to destroy a stage! Especially when you get that Cavalera-tribal feeling when you let your bassist smash a cowbell and a drum tom into pieces at the show’s finale. Expect to hear more from them!

After Kurokuma, we stayed tuned at the Oriental stage, as their brethren of Lvmen (***1/2) were scheduled next. Whereas the former conquered the stage by only three men, this latter quintet didn’t convince us half as much. Granted, they offer a nice projection of melancholic images from obscure movies, but as a result, the audience got a little hypnotized and got lost in the images instead of the music and its creators. On the other hand: they did manage to fill up the square right up to the back wall and the first rows went all the way. Many pieces were actually quite good, varying gentle post-rock with devastating sludge. Towards the end, we got treated to some nice repetitive pounding (keep your dirty thoughts to yourself), which made up for a lot of the initial disappointment. But based on this show, I’m inclined to say I like Lvmen better on record than live…

Then, we hopped by the mainstage real quick to catch the first half of Gojira (****). The French progressive metal formation is still immensely popular and minutes before the show their name was chanted all over the square. A good opportunity to experiment with the pyrotechnics at this point: throughout the show, clouds of fire filled all holes and corners of the fortress. Best proof that Gojira did it again: although there is no water in the immediate surrounding of the festival, three enormous inflatable sharks were having the time of their lives crowdsurfing and moshing! But unfortunately, we had to leave in order to see Whoredom Rife (****) at the Metalgate stage. Ahh, straightforward black metal the way it’s supposed to be played, corpsepaint included! Too bad nobody could really see that, because the entire stage was submerged in an thick, icy mist. It was fun to see their shadows emerge from it every once in a while, but it was simply too much. I only knew they had a live drummer – must be the strongest man alive with all these non-stop blastbeats – by the end of the show and what’s the point of having a backdrop? But musically it was a very rewarding show. And by the sight of all the sheep lining up on top of the wall and marching towards the backstage, these sheep eighter had a very good musical taste or were about to become Whoredom Rife’s reward…

Back to the main stages for the last two bands of the first day: Paradise Lost (**) and Tormentor. As usual, we liked the music but fell asleep to the tones of singer Nick Holmes… Luckily, the fans spiced it up a little. A big shout-out to the two Nazgul (swords included) headbanging together, so into the music that they didn’t even notice all the people who wanted to take a selfie with them! The real party was at closing act Tormentor (****) though. Dressed sooo overwhelmingly cliché (red cape, allover stud jacket, corpsepaint and a ridiculously enormous inverted cross necklace), Tormentor and their strong man Attila immediately proved that black metal doesn’t always have to be so serious. Party black metal is a thing! Attila is such an entertainer, he knows how to rile up a crowd like no-one else (well, maybe he took his entertainment classes together with Primoridal’s Alan Averill). People were chanting “Tor men tor! Tor men tor!” in between all the songs, which is striking for a band that hasn’t published new material in 17 years. Once awesome, always awesome I presume. The show became a high mass of black metal classics, predominantly everything vaguely linked to vampirism. We couldn’t expect anything else, with a backdrop flanked by portraits of Vlad Tepes and Erzsebet Bathory and Attila’s red cape and Bathory shirt. By the end of the show, Attila even decided that the inverted cross necklace still wasn’t big enough, so he had it replaced by a chin-to-testicles version! Tired but satisfied, we returned to our tents to chase the gypsies away and catch some sleep.