Headbangers Open Air Vol 9
14-15 th July 2006
The worlds largest garden party (at least we were told so) was held for the ninth time in Brande-Hörnerkirchen, Germany. The two day festival (there was also a warm up party and afterparty) was nothing like the big commercial festivals which have thousands of fans and camping grounds where you get lost. Here we had an audience of maybe one thousand drinking beer in a farm's backyard. The lineup was metal, simple as that. A few disappointing cancellations happened (Candlemass, October 31, Hobb's Angel Of Death and Goat Horn) but still we headed over the seas to Deutchland.
The audience consisted of the elder fans of our beloved music and now want to just relax without any pressure of bigger fests. There you can meet people who've seen Exodus with Baloff, Slayer circa -85 etc. Cool. the area was like a paradise on earth, at least for a Metalist. The atmosphere, people and alcohol got me so charmed that I unfortunately missed many bands but some of them were seen so here we go
(Ed Note *=saku and -=Herr Nabel)
"Strike your idols down, and wear the Masters crown".
*Too much of everything and I sadly missed the first two bands, Metal Law and Viron (about which I've received good comments). But I did reach the stage when the NWOBHM-legend Overdrive were starting their set. They played cozy Heavy Metal/Hard Rock with the good ol' British style. The keyboards that they used gave the music some progressive feelings. All in all, an enjoyable moment to witness.
- Briann Ross and Friends playing Satan was the first band I saw at HOA '06. What you got was Brian Ross and the other guys from Blitzkrieg blasting out immortal heavy metal classics from the mighty Satan! Only five Satan songs were played which was quite disappointment, but to hear and see legendary Brian Ross sing songs like "Trial By Fire", "Blades Of Steel", "Hunt You Down", "Alone in The Dock" and the almighty "Pull The Trigger" it makes your trip wortwhile! They also played Judas Priest medley (Breaking The Law, Electric Eye, Hell Bent For Leather) in the end. Good set, classic metal anthems but a few more tunes would have been appreciated.
*Nothing to add here. Mr. Ross was radiating pure Metal and the show was what the audience had been waiting for. Classical Metal that'll never die. Brian (and the other guys from the band) seemed to be a great guy and was hanging in the main area and chatting with people, an attitude most appreciated on- and off stage.
The last band in warmup was the legendary Master from Chicago (or from Czech rep.) Anyway, Paul Speckmann and the rest of Master played one hour of their death metal and the did not disappoint me. Maybe too much of new songs which I did not recognise but even those new songs were easily recognised as classic Master styled death metal. Simple and crushing songs. And Speckmanns voice is still brutal, one of the best in death metal!
*Oh yes, Paul Speckman is Master! The drummer and the guitar player did their jobs well but it wasn't a surprise, but instead it was that people were watching the whole hour. A very brutal outfit if you compare them to the other bands here but the deadly art this legend showed was something you're not seeing every year. They played many new songs and a few legendary classics and everything was perfect. Probably even the highlight of the whole festival for me. There were two (or was it even three) mike stands on stage and when one of them wasn't acting loud enough, Paul automatically changed to the other one with some funny words to get everything coming out with the full force. Speeches he made were very furious and some targets were old record company officers. Before the show Paul was busy in his merchandise desk while trying to eat his steak: everywhere there were fans taking pics with them with the Master, some buing records and the rest asking autographs. I hope mr. Speckman was able to eat his meal while it was still warm.
-The first band I witnessed was Powervice. Their heavy metal is strongly influenced by the NWOBHM movement which could be heard the best in those godly twin guitar attacks! Great band indeed and the biggest surprise of the whole festival! Lemouchi/Verbuyst guitar duo showed some great axe battles and the rest of the band were also in a top form. It puzzles me why these guys don't have a record deal yet? Everybody who loves real heavy metal should check Powervice out! They also played immortal "Die Young" (Black Sabbath) as their cover choice.
- After a few beers it was time for Sheavy. Stoner rock from Canada was the name of the game (they replaced their native Goat Horn who broke up just before HOA). I aint the biggest stoner fan but Sheavy was a positive surprise. The sun was shinning, cold beer, the band having fun on the stage and nice songs. There are some better ways to spend your time but I don't regret watching these guys play.
*I missed the first bands and gained only sleep, food, drinks etc. Sheavy was the first group I went to see and it was an enjoyable gig they played. Nice Rock'n'Roll where I found touches of Trouble at some points and Cathedral in others. Cathedral singer Lee Dorrian also came to my mind while seeing the vocalist Steve Hennessey moving. Little by little the people were getting into the mood while watching Sheavy, and for me also the festival was fully opening.
- After that, the reformed dutch outfit Martyr was on fire! What really made them stood out the festival lineup besides music was stage show put up by their vocalist Robert ‘Rop’ Van Haren! That guy was crazy, jumping and joking around, making faces, stealing part of drums etc. Great gig, made my fist rise up in the air and my head bang!
*Martyr were great. The 80's Euro Metal in the purest way indeed. I have to get their LP's, so pounding stuff they offered. And the singer was truly a character.
- The last band I checked out on Friday was Holy Moses. More than 10 records under their belt but still band is mostly remembered because of Sabina Claasen. I really like their three first albums but to be honest their new material is just simply boring and watered down modern thrash. Sabina Classens vocals are also very monotonous but still festival area was packed. Oh, we all probably wonder why? Occasionally old numbers got my interest but then the new stuff was played and I was off to beer stand to get too drunk to fuck.
* A few missings while filling my stomach but back near the front row before Holy Moses.The night started to come at this point and the area get crowded with people with their pints. Sabina and co. did their thrashing very well and in the live situation the newer songs sounded ok to my ears. Good gig and so nice to watch.
*The last band was Powerslave and they only played covers of a certain british band. This band was there to get international drunken metalheads into the good mood with the classic tunes from almost every Maiden album. A cheerful end to the Friday night and time to pass out.
- Tales Of Horror opened up the second "real" festival day. Nothing special to my ears so it was a good time to go through the record sellers and drink beer to cure your hangover. The highlight was a cover version of "Princess Of The Night" originally by Saxon. But to be honest a quite lame version was heard.
- Next up on the stage was Chain Reaction, a band which had won some kind competion and had gotten their place in the lineup of the festival in that way. They did not seem to have their own style, some of the songs were very bluesy and some little more metal. A few songs were enough for me to get back to the tents to get more alcohol into my veins.
- The first band after coffee, many beers and some sangria I checked out was Trinakrius, an Italian doom outfit from Palermo. Their music is in vein of Candlemass, Forsaken etc. Entertaining at it's best, nothing special though. I'd rather put Candlemass or Forsaken record on my turntable.
- Next on the stage was Metal Inquisitor and it was worth the wait. It also seemed to be one of the most popular bands in festival and I have no questions why! Strong heavy metal with riffs (those funny things that have almost completly disappeared from heavy metal) and excellent vocals. Again, is there a better way to spend an afternoon than drinking cold beer, banging your head and singing along with songs like "Daze Of Avalon"?
- Then it was time for something really "cult". Ulysses Siren (USA) have only recorded two demo tapes ('85 and '87) and have activated their thrashing forces in the past few years with a little bit of fresh blood in their ranks. Their brand of metal is thrash in the highest order, the real Bay Area madness in the vein of Exodus in their prime (Bonded By Blood).
And their gig? It was perfection, wild headbanging, stagediving and even somersaults of some degree at stage by vocalist Manni. This band surely knows how to make audience move... Songs like "Lake Of Fire", "The Reich", "No Trace Of Shame" etc are thrash classics! Also blasting version of "The Ritual by Destruction" was heard. For me, maybe the highlight of whole festival!
*Besides Master, Ulysses Siren totally ruled the festival. For sure one of the best bands without a proper record deal in the whole universe. I was expecting something better than your average Bay Area-band 'cause in their ranks were a guitar witch Jon Torres (Warning S.F., Lääz Rockit, Angel Witch, Heathen, Slough Feg...) but this was something even more, an energetic real Thrash Metal show that left a smile to your lips.
*After a lesson in raw Metal it was time to mellow down. A once promising NWOBHM-act Praying Mantis were to play next. In some circles this group is a real cult act and I think many of the audience were waiting for them to play. I only know their first LP TIME TELLS NO LIES and was happy to hear songs from that very album. Their music isn't that Heavy but the guys are professionals of what they do and it was very enjoyable to follow them and also notice that many people in the audience were taken away to cloud nine by the Mantis. Especially some of the older fans who had most likely been waiting to see the band for ages.
- Replacing Candlemass was Metal Church and they started a little slowly but when all the classics came blasting out of the speakers goosepumps began to appear on my skin. "Ton Of Bricks", "Date With Poverty", "Watch The Children Pray", "Start The Fire", "The Dark" and especially the ending: "Beyond The Black-Metal Church-God Of Wrath" straight was something to destroy your neck! Encore was "Highway Star". During the song the vocalist Ronny Munroe went crowdsurfing for a while! Great gig, Metal Church never disappoints you on the stage!
*The new boy, vocalist Munroe fits perfectly into this Church with his presence and what's more important in this case: his voice that is in the same category as the master David Wayne as well as his old replacement Mike Howe. A long set of old, new, borrowed and maybe there was something blue there also. I took a thrash can and used that as a monitor like Steve Harris. Other people also went wild when they played, Germans seem to love them more than everybody else. All in all, great show from old speedsters.
- The education in Girlschool started after the mass in Metal Church. Enid Williams had some problems with her throat so she could not give 100 percent singing but that did not matter. Classic after classic were played, everyone on the stage and in the audience seemed to have a had good time, beer was cold, sun had gone into hiding so it was not too hot anymore. In one word: perfect. "Take It All Away", "Race With The Devil", "C'Mon Lets Go", "Hit And Run", lots of others and my personal favorite "Screaming Blue Murder" were played. Like Metal Church, Girlschool just don't let you down!
*I was waiting for Girlschool a lot because last time I saw them they were totally killer. It is easy to guess that they were as good as ever this time also. It was getting dark and the atmosphere started to rise, as well as the level of drunkeness. The girls are so nice and the magic of their hits were so present that it made the show very memorable.
- The last band to play in HOA '06 was almighty Blitzkrieg! A band that everyone should know and if you dont, just pull the trigger please. Starting with Armageddon from A Time Of Changes, Brian Ross wearing leather and chains commanded his stormtroopers to do their very best. Songs were played from almost all records (except MIST OF AVALON), heavy metal anthems like "Dark City", "Hell Express", "The Wraith" and of course "Blitzkrieg" are so classic that if your head does not bang there is just something wrong with you. Also those Satan songs from thursday were played and same Judas Priest medley ended HOA '06. All hail Blitzkrieg, a true metal force!
*Again, my friend, you said it all so right. There were/are some similarities between Brian Ross and Rob "Metal God" Halford . All these spikes and leather and this die hard-attitude towards the true Heavy Metal. The perfect ending to this wonderful little festival. All the people, old and new, seemed to enjoy the party, meeting each other, purchasing records etc. Nothing like fighting, stealing etc. appeared. A very positive moment in my festival summer and I'll be there next year as well. Some confirmed bands 2007: Sinner, Hollow Ground, Avenger...
- After that all the bands had finished their gig, it was just time to get totally wasted on vodka, beer or whatever. Overall great fest, not too many people and all of them I met were really into the music and were not there just for the camping and getting drunk. Cheap beer (at least for Finns), vodka and food were also a positive surprise. There is no question If l I will be there next year, I could not imagine any other open air fest to be better than HOA!
The official site of Headbangers Open Air festival :