Festival Report 2012

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

June drew nigh, and Metalfest was once again upon us.
Actually, for various reasons (time being one factor, economy being another (yes, this is a free site, but that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to send some beer money once in a while, you know)) we had been discussing maybe letting this one pass, but after seeing the line-up just grow and grow through the year, it was quickly decided that there would be a 2012 trip as well, to hell the arguments!

And the line-up was disgustingly hot, quite possibly the strongest one for the whole year! I mean, just listen to some of the names we were looking forward to; Fear Factory, Moonspell, Hypocrisy, Powerwolf, Kyuss Lives!, Death Angel, I could go on (no, that last one wasn’t a band name, even though stranger titles have been seen)!
Actually, looking at the major line-up Metalfest was offering, I was almost getting exhausted just from the thought of it; with all those amazing bands playing, how in Sam’s hell would we have time to do anything else but just stand there, nailed to the stage? It was as if Metalfest had thrown the gauntlet to see if I was man enough to rise to the challenge. Packing the car with a minimum amount of equipment and a maximum amount of beer, I was confident I knew what I was getting myself into...

In the first round, Metalfest threw me quite a sucker-punch at an early stage though; warmth and sunshine had reigned supreme as we were setting up camp and I had managed to work up a sweat, so a nice trunk-cold beer was at the top of the schedule before heading over to the festival area for a musical injection.
The delicious beer seemed to cool me down a tad better than expected though, and soon enough I understood why; after letting my guard down for a second as I stuck my head in the back of the car, clouds had begun to take over the sky and as a sneaky ninja the temperature was slowly creeping away to hide in the other end of Dessau. Of course, the blame could be placed in one place and one place only; Alestorm!
Even though the first band we saw claimed they had just arrived on a flight from sunny California, they had somehow managed to smuggle some lovely British weather with them to feel at home in, something I had not counted on in my short-sleeved outfit for the day.
To counter-weigh the rising humidity on the outside I saw no other way than to equally let rise the humidity on the inside, and this in combination with amazing shows from both Moonspell and Hypocrisy got me not only back in the game, but into a slightly leading position if I may be so bold!
There was one wild-card left that day though, which experience has shown could easily tip the balance in either direction. Either way, a status quo was out of the question when headliner of the day, Megadeth, took the stage...
At first I admit I felt I was playing a losing game here, but circumstances changed ever so slightly in my direction through the concert, and upon heading back to camp, looking ever so much like a drowned rat I’m sure, I still felt like a winner.

That the largest amount of energy had been blown already in round one could easily be felt during the Friday, a day which certainly wasn’t the warmest one in the year, but apart from that the weather gods were behaving nicely, and had a steady ‘cloud-filled with the occasional sun visit’ as the main course on the menu.
This was also the day which held the most concerts for us, but even so, they wouldn’t begin until Vader hit the main-stage at about half past three in the afternoon, so we figured a fresh walk around the camping ground would be a good warm-up, catching a short view of an uninteresting Huntress on our way out there and a much more amusing view of Feuerschwans as we came back. With the aid of these quasi-medieval musicians we even got to dust off our dancing shoes for a moment before the day headed back in the direction of certain death with Poland’s premium duo of destruction, Vader and Behemoth. Only that the two were intersected by the heap of fun that is known as Powerwolf. Honestly, things were certainly looking bright already, and even though the day didn’t hold any of the over-the-top favourites of the line-up like the day before had offered, we were still having an extremely solid line of quality music, going from the ones I have already mentioned and to a back to back marathon of Edguy, Kreator and our first and only concert on the 2nd stage which was played by our new friends in Swallow The Sun.
In the short break while moving from one stage to the other, Metalmoments also made the merry acquaintance of the skull-on-a-stick Captain Lort (there was actually a much longer set of names attached reminding me of the sketch about the famous German composer Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern Schplenden Schlitter Crasscrenbon Fried Digger Dangle Dungle Burstein von Knacker Thrasher Apple Banger Horowitz Ticolensic Grander Knotty Spelltinkle Grandlich Grumblemeyer Spelterwasser Kürstlich Himbleeisen Bahnwagen Gutenabend Bitte Eine Nürnburger Bratwustle Gerspurten mit Zweimache Luber Hundsfut Gumberaber Shönendanker Kalbsfleisch Mittler Raucher von Hautkopft of Ulm, ending with a 666, but because I wanted to keep it short I decided not to print the whole name) and his handler of the evening who introduced us to the wonderful expression “Nur ein schlurk!”.
Yup, the second round was a clear win, no doubt about that!

But as you know, it ain’t over till the fat lady sings.
Metalfest did not have an overweight and elderly female vocalist (to my knowledge at least, couldn’t imagine which band she would be in), but it did have something which was nearly the end of me; a night of polar winter temperatures between Friday and Saturday! I kid you not, I was nearly freezing to death, and I was even in exceptionally good conditions what with an air mattress and a thick duvet, so I dare not think how less fortunate people were coping with this situation...
After the nights sneak attack, and by a fair amount of crapulence during the two prior days, I confess it was not with a head held exceedingly high that I entered the ring for the third time around, in the fight about who would master who with this German festival...
Things didn’t improve when one of my safe-cards of the day, Heidevolk, turned its back on me, leaving me a little further down in a hole. It didn’t go long before I landed a heavy right hand punch in the solar plexus of the festival, with awesome aid by Death Angel and their special Ultra Violence show.
If ultra violence was the game, then I was sure to get some of that coming my way as well, as one more of the supreme safe-cards turned out to be booby trapped. This time I’m talking about the band that up till this point have never done anything wrong in my eyes when it comes to playing live – Dark Tranquillity. This lazy afternoon show could at best be described with a single ‘meh’ after which we should swiftly forget the whole deal and move on forward.
Which was exactly what we did, into an underwhelming Ensiferum show. True, my past history has been filled with more downs than ups when dealing with this band, but recently they had begun to strike a nice upswing which had raised my expectations. Indeed this was far from the worst they have ever done, but it didn’t bring anything new to the table either...

In my darkest hour, I now turned my head to face the light. Sure, it was a cold and mechanical light, but that’s how it should be when coming from the band I was looking the most forward to on the entire festival, Fear Factory.
Thankfully, the much needed uppercut in the face of my opponent finally landed without fail, and with an organic crunch, Kyuss Lives! only helped drive the knuckles further home.
By this time though, we were getting seriously exhausted, and a walk back to the camp for a coolly canned energy refill seemed the only viable course of action.
After a cool-down in the after-party area, I shook hands with my opponent and thanked Metalfest for another well-played match, from which I dare say everyone walked away from quite content with their own effort.

Yes, Metalfest really pulled the rug from under our feet this year with its sheer quality, but in this case it was alright, as it only furthered the fun I had, and (at least for a while) all talk of cut-backs have been wiped from the table. Germany, and in extension Europe, simply is the place to live a metal festival, and the Dessau flughafen is one of the great locations where you can do this.

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