Friday, July 8th

Getting up in the morning was tough since my neck was very sore from the night before but I managed to work out the tightness during my run, although I think next time I better do some practice headbanging before my next festival. 😀 We slowly worked our way to the festival grounds, found parking and settled down to eat lunch and have some beers before opener MITHRIL hit the stage. Each year the organizers of the festival have a “Battle Of The Bands” show to pick a local band to open the festival and this time MITHRIL were the lucky ones. They played straightforward, crunch laden Heavy / Thrash Metal hinting towards the Bay Area sound but also with some slight Swedish influences. There was a lot of headbanging going on as the frontman worked on igniting the rather sizeable crowd. I liked them enough to set BlackGoat on the trail of their second demo, “Dare The Heavens” which he managed to bag later on in the day thanks to the help of our newfound friend, Michaela. [BlackGoat: MITHRIL obviously brought their fanclub and also very funny shirts with part of a periodic table (remember chemistry class ?) on the back that displayed all kinds of Metal(s) and on top was Mithril with an atom weight of 666. Their music was less original but a good wake-up call at 3 pm and I enjoyed their show.]

– Mithril –

Next up were MAVERICK, a Japanese Heavy / Power Metal band. The first few songs were pretty decent but after awhile I found that the songs just started blending into one another without much that stood out. I do have to give them credit for being active on stage but I wasn’t overly impressed with them. They were so-so. I got pretty much the same kind of feeling from Australia’s BLACK MAJESTY. They played Power Metal often borrowing from IRON MAIDEN and although that sounds good (I’m a huge MAIDEN fan) they came across as just average and so-so. It’s not that they were bad or anything, I just couldn’t get into what they were doing. Greece’s INNER WISH were slightly better and intrigued me more than the previous two bands but they too fell a little short of what I was in the mood for. They had a lot more regular Heavy Metal in their songs which made them sound heavier and stronger than the others though. [BlackGoat: I spent the entire afternoon roasting in the parking lot with only short visits to the stage. I heard there very well and we had better beer in the trunk of my car :-D. MAVERICK, BLACK MAJESTY and INNER WISH were all ok (as Thrash Attack wrote) but not good enough to make me brave the scorching sun.]



– Black Majesty –

– Inner Wish –

Around 19:00 things would head into my preferred realm of Metal with the excellent Italian Thrash masters NECRODEATH taking the stage and kicking ass! These guys have been around for a long time (since 1985 I think) but this is the first time I get to see them. They sure knew how to set the stage on fire with some intense, fast paced European style Thrash to get the adrenaline rushing and hair flying ! They were one of the more extreme bands of the festival and that’s what I like most about H:O:A, they always manage to get a good mixture of different Metal styles so there’s something for everyone. NECRODEATH were one of the highlights of Friday with an insane frontman that screamed his lungs out and provided that aggressive kick I needed after the previous, “lighter” bands. The set included a lot of their best songs like ‘The Creature’, ‘Perseverance Pays’, ‘At The Roots Of Evil’ and they also threw in a very cool cover of VENOM’s ‘Countess Bathory’! Excellent show! Following NECRODEATH were NWOBHM band WEAPON who I consider one of the “surprise” bands for me. I was not familiar with them but by the time their set was finished I knew I had to pick up their album. They played rocking song after rocking song, only slowing things down for a few ballady kind of songs that the vocalist mentioned as “one for the ladies”. I didn’t care much for these songs (‘Olivia’ to name one) but at least they provided a good moment to grab another beer. They had a really good attitude and that was evident through their show. I especially liked ‘Set The Stage Alight’, ‘Take That Bottle Away’ and ‘Mad Mad World’. [BlackGoat: I wasn’t really that fond of NECRODEATH (who DID make me get up), I guess I expected them to be as brilliantly bizarre as BULLDOZER for instance, I dunno. For my taste they were just too close to old KREATOR (not that that’s a bad thing of course) and I had expected more. Or maybe I was in the wrong mood because WEAPON who followed right after sent me into total headbanging frenzy. I could’ve done without the ballads but I guess they didn’t have any more songs, hehehe.]

– Weapon –

– Weapon –

My neck was already quite sore thanks to NECRODEATH and WEAPON but it would get no rest with RAVENSTHORN from the US taking the stage by storm. They were absolutely BRILLIANT, playing a fine mixture of Classic Metal, Thrash and regular Heavy Metal with frontman Bill Jannusch, wearing a cape and donning black eye colour, stalking around the small stage like Alice Cooper ! They played a lot of songs from their excellent album, “Hauntings And Possessions”, as was to be expected since I believe this was their first gig in Europe. I am especially glad to have been able to hear (and see) one of my favourite songs, ‘Possessed By Evil’. Totally great live band with lots of enthusiasm. Highly recommended!

– Ravensthorn –

– Ravensthorn –

By the time the next US band called RIVAL came on, I was starting to feel very exhausted but they helped perk me right up with great, OMENesque vocals (think J.D. Kimball) courtesy of muscleman / bassist John Johnson, fast paced songs and lots of energy. I´m not familiar with them at all before this but the performance has made me aware that I need any RIVAL albums I can find in my collection. [BlackGoat: I wasn’t familiar with RIVAL and thought they were very good. Unfortunately, we still haven’t been able to track down their CDs. If you can find them (or see RIVAL live), do yourself a favour and do so.]

– Rival –

No matter how impressive previous bands had been, HEATHEN, being one of my favourite bands EVER, were totally brilliant and my favourite band of the entire day. They played so many of the classics that I was literally drooling from the total headbanging frenzy I was in. These songs in particular broke my neck: ‘Opiate Of The Masses’, ‘Death By Hanging’, ‘Breaking The Silence’ and the great ‘Prisoners Of Fate’. The entire band had great enthusiasm and really got the crowd to go completely nuts. The front of the stage looked like a swirling sea of hair and upraised fists ! It was INSANE ! They also played 2 very impressive and promising new songs, one entitled ‘Arrows Of Agony’ and the other titled ‘Dying Season’. As a special treat they played a cover of THIN LIZZY’s ‘The Holy War’ which was marred slightly by the out of tune vocals of Rock Hard editor Götz. He may be a nice guy but damn, he cannot sing to save his life! Stick to the mag, Götz. ;-D. Anyway, a great band to end a great day. We made our way back to the hotel for a night of much needed sleep since Saturday was going to be the longest day with 12 bands, known and unknown. [BlackGoat: Seeing that my Witch is a much bigger HEATHEN fan than I am, I let her go wild while I made sure she doesn’t run out of beer :-D. Judging from her intake (and her complaints about her neck the next morning) HEATHEN were phenomenal. Personally I enjoyed them much more than in Wacken. Playing on this small stage did them very well.]

– Heathen –



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