by Herr Nabel
HEADBANGERS OPEN AIR 2007
12.7. - 14.7.2007,
Thanks to Spanish origin of Silver Fist, sun started to shine for the first time in few days during their set. They play very enertic, almost speed metal like heavy metal, sugared with keyboards. Not completly traditional heavy metal, there were loads of more modern riffs also in the songs. They played a fine set, but did not do anything special that you would tell to your grandchildren about. And please, stick with the Spanish lyrics, those songs were much better than the ones english.
SG Grim Reaper
SG Grim Reaper? Yes, it's Steve Grimmet (Onslaught, Chateux, Medusa) and boys playing those classic nwobhm-anthems performed by Grim Reaper in the eighties. I did not have high hopes for it but bloody hell, it was good! Grimmet has a very "large" presence on stage, he still has air left to put out from he's pipes and rest of the lads played a great, intense set! Some of the songs in setlist were Wrath Of The Ripper, Rock You To Hell, Dead On Arrival, Fear No Evil, Liar and of course See You In Hell wich was actually played two times! Great gig, a good way to boost your beer consumption...
The last band of the warmup show was the swedish group Wolf. Basic heavy metal, twin guitar action and lots of catchy songs. That's about it, this band has never done anything special in my books. They are solid, good at what they do but something is missing. Maybe I should just give them one more change as people were really really excited about them before the gig and happy after the gig...
Eternal Legacy from the USA kickstarted friday at 2 p.m.. In some place authorities would ask id's from members of Eternal Legacy but when they are on stage, who cares? No surprise is that they play little more modern stuff than bands usually at this festival. Kind of melodic, thrashy and symphonic (those keyboards) stuff of this millenium. It's not the kind of stuff I would listen at home but in sunshine at a festival with a cold beer in hand, why not? The last few songs (Metal Anvil and Shadow Of Revolution) guitarist/vocalist Jason Vanek gave his guitar to keyboardist Spencer Phillips and concentrated only on vocals. Good move I would say as their music became instantly more aggressive and in-your-face heavy metal. These guys should have good future ahead of them if only lady fortune watches over them!
If someone thought that Eternal Legacy had energy in their stageshow, Kaos put them to shame! The ultra fast hc-thrash is the name of the game with Kaos, hard hitting mosh parts, furious solos and old school twin guitar attacks! Aggressive perfection is a good word as the guys from Kaos blew the roof off.
Raven Black Night
And after the high speed thrashcore, it was time for the doomier side of life (metal). Raven Black Night comes from the land down under, Australia, to be exact. Songs ranged from 70's influenced hard rocking doom metal with high pitched vocals and long guitar jams courtesy of White Knight Jimi to brutal death metal songs with growls from Black Knight (Paul Hodgey). This kind of mixture would normally make me say no, nein and ei but Raven Black Night is a top class act. Songs like Morbid Gladiator, If You Choose The Dark and Gothic Black from their debut album "Choose The Dark" (2004) took total control of audience. Problems with technics, guitars etc could not stop these happy fellows! One of the best gigs of the weekend (they also slayed at afterparty in Hamburg).
Fire In Your Eyes
If you choose the dark
my love is holy
The only note about Beyond Fallen's gig on my papers is big + and "bald singer". But they are much more than that. Beyond Fallen come from Scranton, Pennsylvania (USA) and deliver classic US metal in the vein of Jag Panzer, Painkiller-era Judas Priest etc. After three very good gigs already Beyond Fallen did not fail to impress me and others. Vocalist Joe Karavis with his raw voice and stage presence combined with good songwriting and excellent playing makes Beyond Fallen a band that should be checked out.
The veterans of bay area metal, Warning SF started their set after Pragon wich I (not so sadly) missed. Warning SF released their first demo in 1985 and one and only full lenght, "Aftermath" in 2002. Warning SF's music is strongly based on the single most important thing in heavy metal: riffs. Guitar duo Jon Torres&Aaren Jellum lead the way with backup from bass player Joe Jimenez and drummer Will Carrol. Vocalist Torre Carstensen who has replaced original vocalist Robert Halverson divides opinions with his style, which has always been the stepping stone also for me with Warning SF. But seeing them for the first time live on stage, my opinions changed. Carstensen has strong but not so classic heavy metal voice and it really fits the music. Mission accomplished by Warning SF and I think that they opened up few others eyes also in audience! Happy celebration of doomsday all the way!
Sounds Of Armageddon
City Beneath The Surface
Fall Upon Your Knees
Not A Chance In Hell
You could think that a band wich has four different best-of collections released can't just go wrong. But Vengeance from Netherlands did not move me a bit. Hard rocking heavy metal with all those lovely cliches! I bet these guys had enermous hairs and tight pants in good old eighties! They did their thing fine but their thing does not win having cold beer somewhere else and having classic argument about wich is better, first demo or seven inch...
Sinner should be a familiar name to all who dig up vinyls from secondhand stores. My luck with Sinner LP's has been bad as their set was much heavier than I expected. Infact it was good fun, Mr. Sinner himself got the audience to bang their heads and maybe even shake their asses (ladies hopefully). The sound was really good during Sinner set, everything was clear and as already said, really heavy. Good gig, nice warmpup for Halloween...
Setlist (thank to some mysterius metalhead):
Comin´ Out Fighting
The Other Side
When Silence Falls
Born To Rock You
Diary Of Evil
Knife In My Heart
Higher Level Of Violence
Rage Of A Hurricane
Friday headliners were Detroit's real cultband Halloween! And a real heavy metal horror show we got! Especially from vocalist Brian Thomas and original member (with bass player George Neal), from the 1984 classic DON'T METAL WITH EVIL,had his bag full of tricks and treats. Different hats, masks, clothes etc in different songs. Thomas proved himself to be a real showmen. Their music is classic heavy metal, few verses, then catchy chorus, a solo and do it again few times. Nothing special in that way but it works! Some new songs were also played, wich were ok with little more modern touch. Overall they played best set of friday night and as expected, on stage their music works much better than on records as all of them basicly suffer from poor production.
Setlist (not complete):
Trick Or Treat
What A Nice Place
The Wicked Witch
Crawl To The Altar
Tales From The Crypt
No One Gets Out
The Thing That Creeps
Coming To Life
Don't Metal With Evil
Wake Up Screaming
Deceptive Silence had the place to make a hit or a miss as they were first band of saturday. And it was quite a miss. Boring gothic-doom metal with no special hooks in musics. Biggest hooks in air at this hour were in biergarden...
I don't have any experience at all in Turkish heavy metal so Knight Errant had to be checked out. Their music is normal power/heavy metal of this millenium with small exception wich is a fiddle player in lineup. Having little problems in technics (sounds) they played quite a good gig. I would not go and bu their cd's but by judging growing audience in front of stage they made new friends during their set.
Hollow Ground may not be as famous as other NWOBHM bands of HOA 2007 (SG Grim Reaper and Avenger) with only one EP, demo and few compilation tracks on their belt. And also they played in their original, one and only lineup which is quite rare for old NWOBHM bands nowdays. Anyway, their little more hard rocking brand of NWOBHM was well received by the audience and the band was also in top form. You could easily see that they really wanted to play, not just for sake of few euros... Some songs that were played:
Fight With The Devil
Don't Chase The Dragon (encore)
Long guitar solos, instrumental parts and haunting atmosphere? That is what Italian The Black is all about. Somehow this progressive heavy doom metal worked out finely in hot sunshine despite all the problems they had with their equipment. I really enjoyed seeing them play, Mario DiDonato (g+voc), Enio Nicolini (b) and Gianluca Bracciale are real wizards of their instruments. These guys have something same in their music as all those classis italian horror movies. Brilliant stuff!
Their first demo came out in 1992 and full length in 2006. That is the story of this speed thrashing band from San Jose, CA (USA). They don't have anything new to add in to their genre, headbanging riffs, slow parts, furious solos and frontman with raw voice. That's Taunted good but nothing to get crazy about. Not maybe best band to play at big festival stage as they were much better in small and sweaty club (aftershow).
Yes, it's not Avenger anymore it's Avenger UK now. From "original" Avenger they still have drummer Gary Young and singer of their both albums (Blood Sports 1984 and Killer Elite 1985), legendary Ian Swift. Guitars and bass were handled by young guys from who I don't have slightest clue who they were. Despite of Swifts problem with flu (he was taking medicine between songs) it was killer gig. From twelwe songs played, five were new ones. To my surprise some of them sounded really good (and some not). Quite modern heavy metal like was expected. Some titles were "Hard Times", "Fate" and "Midnight Mass". But on to the point, the classics worked out as good as they should and mr. Swift was in fire. Joking between songs and even jumping out of stage to sing and mosh in middle of audience! Again, one of the highlights of the weekend!
Death Race 2000
Brand of Torture
Run for your Life
You'll never take me alive
Young swedish boys playing hard rocking heavy metal (Accept, AC/DC etc), complete with tight trousers, posing, smiling and having fun. That's sure combination to take audience in grip. Swedish as meatballs. You just can't go wrong with Bullet if you wan't to have fun, bang your head and raises those fists high up in the air. These guys are going to have future ahead of them, maybe they won't be remembered by inventing something new but their live shows are worth seeing. Bullet had one the biggest audience of whole weekend wich tells also something about their reputation already.
Hailing from Cleveleand Wretch's history dates back to early eighties though their only full lenght was recorded and released in 2006. Aggressive heavy metal is what you get, in vein of early Accept, Metal Church etc. Frontman Colin Watson has charisma and voice to fill up the stage and get audience wild! Sometimes songs repeat each other little bit too much but I don't think Wretch is here to make somekind on of progressive opus? Good gig, if aggressive real heavy metal is your thing, check them out!
Looking at lineup of HOA, Moosorrow seemed to be little out the place. But after getting their equipment together after some problems they really stormed the garden. Their paganic black metal did not gather up biggest audience of the festival but those who attented, seemed to be pleased. Moonsorrow's lenghty songs worked in live situation much better than I expected so overall their gig was a nice surprise for me (and maybe for few others). Extra points for energetic liveshow.
After nightfall came on Candlemass. Masters of epic doom metal were greeted by a fanatic audience and Candlemass did not fail to play an excellent gig. Their playing is always top quality and their new frontman, Robert Lowe has a great voice and extremly charismatic stage presence. Few times he missed some lyrics but it did not matter, as the whole performance was top quality. Between classics few new songs were also played, and they blended into the set much better than I expected. Overall good Candlemass gig and their good is great for many other bands. Maybe little more practice together with the new lineup, a club gig and then heads would definetely roll.
The Well Of Souls/At The Gallows End/Solitude
Emperor Of The Void
The Bells of Acheron
Under the Oak
A Sorcerer's Pledge
Their set was not full of rage but professionalism. Excellent sound, excellent musicians (especially ball busting guitarist Victor Smolsky) and legendary bass player/vocalist Peavey Wagner. To me Rage is one of those bands that have the riffs, nice songs etc but something is missing. Only thing that they have rage in my ears is their name. It was again a good gig, but not something wich makes cold sweat run down your spine.
Great Old Ones
Paint The Devil
Black In Mind
Waiting For The Moon
Don't Fear The Winter
War Of Worlds
Higher Than The Sky
Straight To Hell
Overall HOA 2007 was like always good way to spend your holiday savings. Roll on 2008!
The official HEADBANGERS OPEN AIR site