BRUTAL ASSAULT 2013: INFERNO JOSEFOV
Wednesday – Saturday August 07-10, 2013
JAROMEŘ – Old Army Fortress JOSEFOV / Czech Republic (130km east of Prague)
by Ryan Bartek
Brutal Assault is one of those festivals that the random American or Canadian may have glimpsed in the advertisements of Terrorizer or Metal Hammer. From afar it always looks epic, but the reality of it is beyond words. Of course I’d never met anyone that had attended it from our side of the Atlantic. Indeed, when I was there this summer, I met maybe four Canadian guys and two Americans who were only there because they worked in Germany. Otherwise, I was nearly the lone dweller of North America, minus the bands themselves. It is a shame too, because apart from Obscene Extreme (which also takes place in Czech Republic), I found Brutal Assault 2013 to be one of the greatest metal fests I’d ever attended.
The kicker here is the location – Fortress Josefov, an old world military foritfication that stretches for kilometers. The fest takes place in its dug out trenches, and it’s almost like being transported to Mayan ruins. The town Hradec Kralove onlz has a population of 11,000 normally, and every year they are overrun by 10,000 metal freaks whom rush in like barbarian hordes popping tents everywhere like an invading army. The entire town caters to it though, and every slice of commerce affixes itself to the mythology. The town pub becomes Brutal Bar, the local taco hut becomes Extreme Mexican food– I think even the taxis might rename themselves the Urungus service because as we all know Mad Max is universal.
The tickets were comparatively cheap at 85 euro (about $110 usa). While that might sound pricey, considering the talent on this thing and that everyone reading this would probably pay full admission to see most the bands there on single gigs, I found myself saving around 600 euro in the long run. However, I was able to manage a media pass of sorts, got in for free, although I didn’t have authority to take pictures which is one of the great no-no’s of the event staff. Yes, I smuggled a few shots (below) though I wish I could have done more. Yet when 7 foot tall Czech security guards give you the death stare like they are going to smash your camera, you learn to keep it in your pocket!
The fest raged straight through the massive summer heat wave. At every turn clothing was soaked and people looked like melting snowmen. So many sunburns were apparent by Day 3 you would think we were all boiled lobsters. But would we have it any other way? And just like Obscene Extreme, any dead air or moment of silence was battered by drunken Czech howling. Damned if I knew what they were shouting, but everyone was plenty happy…
Brutal Assault began on Wednseday, and in true form, I will not pretend to recall the more drunken, hazy moments of this experience. I also won’t pretend to name all the songs people played, because I’m terrible with this info. So sue me – album titles I memorize, songs I can barely remember… But it is no lie to say that fairly much every band I’d never seen live and always wanted to were al stacked on this bill in rapid fire succession….
Wedensday began with Beast Within The Sound, a middle of the road ‘heard it before’ metalcore thing, followed by Dying Passion, which were a typical female fronted Lacuna Coil type gothy slow modern rock thing. I was getting sleepy. And then, without further fucking around, JUNGLE ROT stomped on, cranked it up, and the pit exploded. They were so on it! No pissing around – just thrashing death metal and an immediate circle pit. E.N.D. came next which were very Meshuggah goes thrashy death mixed with Gojira but they were so tight you couldn’t help but salute them. Malignant Tumor marched out next with their crusty death punk sound and lots of pyrotechnics, followed by the almighty TESTAMENT who delivered premium thrash as always. And Hentai Corporation… like I said, I won’t lie. I was too damn drunk, and fell asleep.
Ok, mental reset – Day 2…
First act I caught was Proximity, this In Flames meets Sylosis stuff. Not my thing, but they sounded good for what they were. I guess. Coffins sludge-deathed it next properly before Decrepit Birth crushed it with pure chugging death metal. Magrudergrind took us back to grindcore land, and everyone ate it up like nachos caked in ground beef… After a brief sabbatical involving Czech Langoose, I wandered into the blackened death paganism of Belphegor. I had waited so long for this moment, and there was no disappointment. Covered in blood and rumbling the gravel from their bestial echo, Belphegor stole the show for their particular vibe. It was like the ultimate black-death butchery, and they were at the top of their game.
Devildriver were next, rolling out the usual Americano modern metal shit I try to avoid but I couldn’t help but like them anyway. Dez did the usual generic metal vocalist shout-outs and the sexist ‘show us your tits’ crap which would be fine if they were Manowar, but they aren’t, so shut the fuck up before I hand out Chamber Music cd burns to every audience member on your next tour.
Dying Fetus brought us back from California idiocracy quickly! Show us your tits was replaced with kill your mother, rape your dog, which is totally more sexy anyway. No complaints! Up next was Ensiferum who were ultra Finnish and ultra tech and so wonderfully fantasy. Killer!! Gojira rumbled up next with plenty of tracks from what Jon from Dying Fetus calls their Elephant Sausage album. Man they were good – best metal band of their kind in France!!
Soon as Anthrax came out, opening with Caught In A Mosh (well of course I know that one), it began raining heavy. Most people ran away to the tents, but I braved the downpour. One of the tightest performances of the fest! So much better live then I thought possible! And then came Fear Factory which took me right back to high school. They played all their hits from Demanufacture, which was great, but Burton please abandon Digimortal. Pleeeeease…. I loved them anyway, even if so many of those bloops and bleeps seem dated and cheesy… And then came Voivod, ratcheting up the prog-ugliness. I made it partially into Entombed, but at this point I was drained of energy and headed for the tent. Sorry Marduk, I didn’t make it to you, but rest assured I already saw you last Feburary in Portland, Oregon!
Friday began for me with Hypnos from Czech, a slick death metal act followed by prog-death-thrash cultists Misanthrope from France. Pro-Pain, who I had never quite taken seriously because I thought they were bad hardcore Ohio guys that all looked like Stone Cold Steve Austin, were one of the real stand outs of the day. Rock and roll! They had a Melvins sort of vibe at times which I never saw coming. LOUDBLAST were exactly as their name entails, and HATE brought down the blasphemic death metal hammer. Malevolent Creation summoned classic Florida DM completely and ALCEST weaved their black magic post-BM spell. Ok, now Fields of The Nephilim – I really expected some corny shit here, and the undertaker get-ups you know… But they sounded like classic Killing Joke but thrice as dirgy! Youtube what you can folks!
And thus came Meshuggah, stealing the show, transporting us all to that bizarre alien planet they come from. They never get old and just keep getting better. Immediately after Meshuggah I ran as fast as I could from In Flames to see Atari Teenage riot at the backstage who delievered the concert I’d been waiting to see from them since I was 16 years old. Alec Empire was giving some great diatribes during the performance – ‘Ok so we are Atari Teenage riot, you know, we started Digital Hardcore, you know, and we keep trying for years now to play these electronic gigs and, you know, they keep saying stop this noise you’re runing our party so, you know, we said fuck all this we’re coming to Brutal Assault, you know.’ Man they were hammering! Total sonic anarcho destruction!! I soon made it back to Carcass, that bulldozed their way through tons of classic material. No complaints! I was able to catch half of Overkill‘s thrashing majesty but exhaustion soon found me and zzzzzzzz…..
Czech’s pig-squealing, death stomping, fecal-obsessed champs Gutalax began the day with toilet paper a flying! Master came next, the old school USA thrash act which was supreme and later came VREID, the Norwegian death-black multi-genre squadron. Sylosis did the usual modern metal melodic death thing and Rotten Sound grinded us to oblivion. Primordial lapsed us into a Irish heathen frenzy before Vomitory went straight to the vein of classic death.
Biohazard went the usual before Leprous performed their bizarre Ulver-like material with a guest appearance by Emperor’s Ishashn who in a curious way looked slightly like Ringo Starr with his circular sunglasses. Yes, it is true that his fingers move faster then Bruce Lee’s karate kicks! I napped on the grass through Trivium because what else do they do but make you sleep? Clawfinger sucked it harder then a vacuum cleaner on the fritz and Hatebreed for once actually had crusty raw sound because the engineers actually decided to make them bearable. Thankfully Behemoth took us away from macho tough guy into galloping satan hordes and Opeth – well, they are Opeth, the ‘Pink Floyd of Swedish Metal.’ Outstanding!
The next day as I was stumbling about the grounds I ran into a bus of Serbian metalheads on their way to Belgrade. What better a way to end an apocalyptic fest then to go to what many Europeans consider the apocalpytic Balkans? So I took the ride, but that, my friends, is another story all together…
Don’t miss your chance!! Go next year!! If you live in Europe you have no excuse!! Hail Fortress Josefov!!! Visit www.Obscure.cz for all future information!!! Cheers!!!
— Dr. Ryan Bartek —
…in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Sunday September 1st 2013…
Festival Website: brutalassault.cz/en/info/