1st – 2nd June 2019
Review & Photography by Ya Cheng
This year marks my 3rd year attending FortaRock at Nijmegen in the Netherlands. It’s one of these festivals that’s not too big or too small, it’s packed with diverse bands and you always have a good time.
It’s 12:30 on a very hot Saturday (32 degrees to be precise) inside a very sweaty tent, and Swedish hardcore band God Mother has been given the honour of kicking off this two day festival and they certainly did not disappoint. It’s not easy to get people going at this early when everyone is still sober but front man Sebastian pulled all sort of stunts; he was full of energy and spent the full set running around the stage, jumping into the crowd and he even climbed onto the tent pole at some point. the band gave everything they had and finished their set with loud applause. It’s nice to see people participating and the atmosphere was getting happier, a great start to FortaRock 2019.
From the tent, I ran to the main stage to catch up with Ne Obliviscaris, cause I am a bit of a fan and I didn’t want to miss a thing. The Australian six-piece progressive metal band always put on a fantastic show and today is no exception, they blasted through their 45 minutes set with perfection; the band were on point as each band member combined and bounce off each other harmonically,
Xenoyr’s harsh vocals and Tim’s clean vocals especially worked like a dream, not to even mention the special moments when Tim beautifully played his violin. I thoroughly enjoyed every second of their set.
The second band in the tent happened to be another Swedish band, no wonder why people have started to call this the Swedish stage. I came to check them out because one of my friends had highly recommended them to me. The atmosphere was very different from when God Mother played earlier, in a way very quiet. I started their set thinking it rather repetitive but ended their set thinking I wanted more, I need to go home to listen to more of their music and decide what I really think. Another band to look out for sure.
A band I don’t really know much about, so much so that I had no idea that the singer on the day is actually normally the drummer: Brandon stepped in due to front man Alex undergoing a serious back surgery the day before the show.
Well, I must say Brandon did a fantastic job being the singer and entertaining the crowd, I would have never guessed that this is not his daytime job.
I was really looking forward to seeing Enslaved again since it has been 3 years since I last saw these prog Vikings! People always trying to tell me how good they used to be. It’s hard for me to compare since I only discovered them about 5 years ago and that is nothing compared to their almost 3 decades of history, but it is safe for me to say that I found their set strong and the sound fantastic. The setlist was really diverse, especially songs like ‘Havenless’, which is a very risky choice but received a phenomenal response.
The set finished with an amazing rendition of ‘Allfoðr Oðinn’, which apparently is older than their keyboard player. Great music, amazing atmosphere and some Nordic sense of humour, who wouldn’t enjoy such a show?
What can I say about Myrkur? Her singing is forever mesmerising and their stage set up is always so unique, it is almost like they want to bring some Scandinavian nature with them. Hella started their set with some almost Enya-like singing but don’t let that fool you: at some point, this powerful woman would bring out her bass and blow your mind. The set was beautiful and the band did a great job.
Another band that I have been really looking forward to seeing and Amorphis delivered, big time! Frontman Tomi has such a great voice and the quality of sound the whole band managed to produce for a live gig was just outstanding. The atmosphere was happy and with the sun starting to set just a little bit, everyone seemed to enjoy the set as much as I did.
In my opinion, Amorphis deserves a much longer and later set, but that’s just me enjoying their performance so much that I could watch them all day long. Definitely the highlight of the whole festival.
Cult of Luna
Cult of Luna’s music might be a bit too much for such an intensely hot day but I adore them, so into the tent I went. The band consists of a keyboard player, a bass player, two drummers (yes, two full sets of drums!) and three guitar players, no wonder their music is extremely complex. Just as expected, the set consisted of long, heavy songs with beautifully long instrumental parts which made me extremely happy. Unfortunately, with so many instruments to take care of, they did have quite a few technical issues for almost half of the set, which sort of messed with the rhythm a bit, but nonetheless I am glad I had a chance to see them live and I will catch up with them again if they play anywhere near me.
Children of Bodom
A band that needs no introduction, it seems like they had a lot of fun playing the set and audience seemed to enjoy it too. I took a chance to hide under a tree and hydrate myself while enjoying the music.
With members of Opeth, Katatonia and Paradise Lost, no wonder they have been referred to as a superband! With talented musicians like this, the band should sound great, and they do, there is nothing bad I could say about the whole set apart from maybe requesting a bit more light so I can take some usable photos. And, of course, they had to tease the audience by leaving their most popular song ‘Eaten’ at the very end, I had to risk not making it to photograph Behemoth for that song. Was it worth it though? Hell yes!
The band opened the set with ‘Wolves ov Siberia’ accompanied by a spectacular fire show which continued for almost the whole set, and that was rather impressive. Nergal’s distinctive snake microphone was of course present, but it was a bit far from the edge of the stage, so most of the time I could only see the heads of the band, which was a shame.
It’s clear that they have put in a lot of effort to make their headliner position justified, from their stage set up to the quality of their performance. In my opinion, Behemoth has gone a lot more mainstream in the last few years, but that doesn’t mean they don’t put on a good show, in fact, they put on a fantastic show. They did a great job closing day one of Fortarock 2019, all in all a headliner worthy performance.
Apparently today is going to be even hotter, with enough tokens exchanged for a day’s worth of ice lollies and plenty of sunscreen, here I go again for day 2 of FortaRock 2019.
I had no choice but to check out Gloryhammer since they are from our local city, Dundee, and apparently they are really fun.
I knew exactly what people meant when the band entered the stage all dressed up like they are going to a school play but at the same time taking it extremely seriously; it’s so over the top that you almost want to hate them but somehow end up loving them, and it obviously helps that their music is not half bad either .
The German stoner trio had a very strong stage appearance with drums set right in the middle, close to the front, which gave the audience a great opportunity to witness their movement, and oh man, don’t they have some groovy moves?
I think a band like Kadaver would fit much better in a dark tent rather than open air, as it would help provide the much better atmosphere that this band is capable of. Nonetheless, they gave everything they had and put on a fantastic show, it was just a shame that not enough people made an effort to come out and enjoy.
I love Batushka for the atmosphere and mystery on stage, but even so, I think the over 10 minutes of slowly lighting up the candles was a bit too slow for my taste. Just when my patience was running low they finally started to perform, and that, my friend, was very much worth waiting for. The stage set up and their black metal works like a dream, and I have to respect the band for wearing hoods and masks when it must have been over 40 degrees in the tent. Despite a very slow start, a worthy performance.
Katatonia was my biggest reason for attending this year’s festival, so I was very much excited. The guys are on a special tour where they play their 2009 album ‘Night is the New Day’ from front to back, so you know exactly what to expect. I just love the doom sound of Katatonia, it’s sad yet uplifting, and front man Jonas, what a voice he has. It’s hard to believe that it’s the same guy who was covered in blood playing bass with Bloodbath yesterday; what a talented man he is.
For an hour you almost forget how hot the weather is and how shit life can be, you just calm down and are washed over by the beauty of Katatonia. What an experience, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Another power metal on the bill and I am not one to complain.
Their performance was excellent and very well rehearsed with certain movements at certain points of songs, you could say that was cliche but I think it worked very well for this band, and the audience certainly agreed. Especially with Oscar and his custom made hammer-shaped guitar.
Animals As Leaders
I was pretty drained by the time Hammerfall finished their set, so I almost gave a miss to this band, but I am so glad that I went instead; man, what a good decision that was.
Musically, the band sounded so awesome that you almost forgot that it’s all produced without any vocals at all, guitarist Tosin Abasi plays his 8 string guitar like a god. It’s hard not to be impressed by this band, their ability to master their instruments and their passion to deliver music. I want to see them again, now!
The last but not the least, it was time for our Viking friends Amon Amarth to close the festival. The band entered the stage while ‘Pursuit of the Vikings’ was playing, and they wasted no time kicking off their set by playing hits like ‘Deceiver of the Gods’ and ‘First Kill’, and the crowd went wild for it.
It was clear that the band saved no money on stage productions, from gigantic horn-shaped boat to endless fire shows, it was one spectacular show for sure. They went on to play a very diverse selection of songs from very old ones to some really new ones, and the atmosphere was really fun.
Unfortunately, I had to leave early due to train times. I would have loved to have seen how they ended their fantastic set. I only found out the day after that due to thunderstorms they had to finish their set prematurely, which is a shame, although safety first always, the organisation did a fantastic job dealing with the situation and everyone was safe .
Despite the fact that the organiser faced difficulty in organising FortaRock 2019 and Amon Amarth had to end it prematurely due to bad weather, I personally had a fantastic time. There were a diverse selection of bands and there were no clashes, the atmosphere was very chill and friendly, the festival was so well organised that everything just went smoothly. Everyone I have met seems to agree, so I would say FortaRock 2019 was another success.