DOOM SHALL RISE festival - confirmed to be the worlds biggest event of its kind. Taking place in Göppingen, a small town in southern Germany with about 500 to 600 paying guests, it seems to be quite obvious that doom hasnīt risen yet, since its decay in the late 80ies or so. But the festival crew does its best, bringing old legends of doom back on stage as well es giving younger bands a chance to promote their modern style of doom metal. With the festival getting better each year and more and more other doom metal gigs emerging, since the festival first took place in 2003 it is proofed that they are on the right way. Doom is on the rise again! Rembember, other well-known festivals had to start as small as well.
----- Friday -----
Low Manīs Tune
At 7 p.m. - when the festival was expected to start off - noone knew anything about what happened to LOW MANīS TUNE, which were to play first. They hadnīt arrived at the festival site, nor had they checked in at their local hotel. In the aftermath it was told, that their bass player suffered from pneumonia and the band couldnīt play that weekend. The e-mail they sent just didnīt reach the organizers of the DOOM SHALL RISE in time. If all works well, LOW MANīS TUNE will play their gig on next yearīs festival.
Supposed to be the second band that evening, the Chapel was almost filled when IRON HEARSE entered the stage. They now had to act in opening position and they did their job well, as their very traditional sound put a great start to the fourth DOOM SHALL RISE festival. Playing mainly slow and heavy stoner-riffs as well as classical heavy-metal- and hard-rock-soli the trio from Wiltshire could hide its british heritage for not one single song. Since one fan claimed for "Ruins Of Doom" to be played during the whole gig, IRON HEARSE finished their set with just that song from their third demo, which can be regarded as their best piece thus far.
By AHAB, a completly different style - best referred to as funeral doom - was represented. Slow, heavy riffing, accompanied by catchy guitar melodies and the grunted vocals of frontman Daniel, characterized the sound of the german combo. Regarding the fact that the performance at the DOOM SHALL RISE was only their second gig, they did a great show. The good response of the audience proofed just that. Only the drumwork seemed to be a little bit extemporized, maybe because AHAB only play with a session-drummer. As some might already have guessed by the bandīs name, AHAB told Herman Melvilleīs story of Moby Dick in a fascinating dark and gloomy way, as it is banned on their demo tape which was released at the DSR the year ago. Furthermore, they played some additional songs to promote their upcoming, yet untitled debut album on Napalm Records.
With the Puerto-Ricans DANTESCO next on stage, things got faster at the DOOM SHALL RISE. Wearing Monkīs and Priestīs clothes they performed a nice show of epic doom metal with Spanish Lyrics. Playing the songs from their debut - and so far only release - "De La Mano De La Muerte" it became quite clear, that this band is live much stronger than on CD. DANTESCO came up with a powerful guitar sound and especially vocalist Eric did a great job in both, voice and show. He used to sing as a tenor before, which can still be heard in the bands songs, and his stage acting reminded of Messiah Marcolin Candlemass) a lot. The driving rythm-parts that dominated the DANTESCO-sound were livened up by nice soli and clean guitar-passages. The band had a great impact on the audience and they provided a nice alternative to the melancholic sound heard before. Unfortuntely, the festival was already behind schedule, so there was no time for the additional song which was demanded. Anyway, it was visible and audible, that these guys had a lot of fun on stage. And the fans, they had as well.
Dawn Of Winter
Afterwards, tunes got more melancholic and depressive again, when DAWN OF WINTER hit the stage. The band, which was initialized by frontman Gerrit Mutz and later joined by guitarist Jörg Knittel, was founded at about the same time as their probably better known band SACRED STEEL. Not without reason did SACRED STEEL become more famous! Gerritīs live vocal performance didnīt seem to fit into the slow and mid-tempo doom songs that well and his statement about "pussy metal" might be okay for a poser-true-metal-gig but is somewhat inappropriate at a doom metal event. Although there were quite a few people in the audience that seemed to have liked the sound, DAWN OF WINTER were not as celebrated as DANTESCO before and their live-performance was way behind their studio works.
Fridayīs Headliner - SOLITUDE AETURNUS - is somewhat difficult to review. The US doom metal legend had to make the trip to Göppingen without their vocalist, as Robert Lowe encountered problems with his passport and was not allowed to leave Texas. However, they decided to not cancel the gig but face the difficulties. With various guest vocalists SOLITUDE AETURNUS played a best-of set of all their releases. As the problems were known some days ago, Timmy from DOOMSHINE prepared to do some of the vocals. Other songs were performed by John, the guitarist, Eric from DANTESCO and, later in the set, by Gerrit Mutz as well. A unique voice like Robīs is hard to replace, but especially the latter did a surprisingly great job performing for SOLITUDE AETURNUS, much better than for DAWN OF WINTER before. Timmy had problems with the right timing every now and then, Eric could hit even the highest tones but his voice was not as soft as to fit perfectly into the songs and John didnīt seem to be used to playing guitar and singing at the same time. Anyway, regarding the short time they had to prepare for the gig, all vocalists did a good job. Trying to get opinions after the gig I heard everything from disasterous to utterly brilliant but the consensus was more or less that SOLITUDE AETURNUS made the best out of the bad situation, which is my opinion as well. On the one hand, itīs a pity for those - including me - that would have liked to see the gig as it was supposed to be and it cannot be compared to any other of the bandīs gigs. But on the other hand, the audience at the DOOM SHALL RISE could witness a very unique and even funny gig of the US doomsters which will probably never be repeated in a similiar form. Those who want to see the real thing can still travel to this years KEEP IT TRUE festival where the band will compete in full line-up.
Versus The Stillborn-Minded
The final gig on the first eve was left to VERSUS THE STILLBORN-MINDED. The strange sound surely wasnīt everyones matter and so a lot of people left during the first couple of minutes. Those who stayed and liked the music, however, witnessed what later was called one of their best gigs this far. Their style is characterized by slow, sluggish and very heavy guitar tunes, which disintegrate into nothing more than just feedback noise and low bass frequencies from time to time. The show perfectly represented that sound: Red, static light, slow movements and frontman Boris playing the dying swan, crawling across the stage and breaking down every now and then. At the end of a strange but worthwhile perfomance VERSUS THE STILLBORN-MINDED dropped their pants to reveal their nude bottoms to the leftover audience, then left the stage.
The break until Saturday afternoon leaves some room to drop a few lines on the surroundings of this unique little festival. The gigs take place in the so called CHAPEL, the church of a former US military base. This provides both, nice acoustics and a great atmosphere, that is absolutely suitable for a doom event. There are a couple of merchants selling doom records and stuff in the main hall and in the rooms below the Chapel. Besides, there are two bars - one in the main hall, one below - and you can get something warm to eat outside. Thereīs basically everything you would expect from a great festival... Unfortunately, the festival itself cannot provide any overnight accomodations but the webpage contains a list of motels where the DOOM SHALL RISE fans can find a bed and a couple of people just preferred to spend a cold night in the tent or in the car.
Another thing thatīs probably special for a festival of this size is the international aspect. Bands from all over the world like DANTESCO coming to play in Germany in front of a crowd from at least all over Europe, ranging from Ireland and the Netherlands to Spain. The DOOM SHALL RISE is just something really, really special every year.
----- Saturday -----
On Saturday, a few minutes after 3 p.m. the Doom-fest continued with DOOMRAISER from Italy on stage. What can you expect from such a bandname? Denim, Leather and a traditional, heavy 80ies Doom sound. Nothing special at all, but the audience that had already gathered at the Chapel didnīt hesitate to show the band, that they had fun, anyway.
Probably the biggest surprise that weekend was next: The German Doom-Duo BEEHOOVER. It left a little bit a feeling of a solo entertainer, when bass player Ingmar Petersen - with his hat on - took place on a chair behind the microphone right after the soundcheck. With only him and his Drummer Claus-Peter Hamisch the stage looked pretty empty and everybody was curious if there was still more to come, some guitars or a vocalist. However, when both started to play, all doubts immediatelly disappeared as the gig was utterly brilliant! With a large battery of effect pedals Ingmar managed to get an increadibly variable sound out of his instrument, ranging from clean bass parts and nice soli to distorted riffs - as one is usually used to hear from rythm guitars - and overdriven leads. Itīs hard to discribe and even hader to belive what this guy can do with just his five strings! Claus-Peter did a convincing performance as well, supplying excellent drumwork and background vocals. Ingmarīs melodic lead vocals sounded a lot clearer and fuller than on their release "A Mirror Is A Windows End" and completed the acoustic experience. BEEHOOVER really do something different and with their very unique style and the socio-critic lyrics, they had a great impact on the DOOM SHALL RISE. If you wanna try something new, you should definitely risk an ear on this extraordinary German band, as their sound is convincing on CD as well.
More conservative music was played by HEAVY LORD afterwards. With a lot of posing and an astonishing versatile sound they had the audience on their side and can sureley be considered one of the highlights of this years DOOM SHALL RISE. The quartet from the Netherlands relied mainly on slow, ultra heavy Sabbath-like riffing and the typical doom vocals but greatly livend up their songs with guitar- and bass-soli, high-pitched screams and really thrashy parts. Thereīs not much more to say about this great young band, except one thing: If theyīre coming to your town, go see them!
GLOW from Spain had to face a smaller audience as many took a break and went out for dinner at 6 oīclock. However, they tried their best to play a good show for the remaining ones. They did well, what they did, but with their pretty typical rock sound and the slight stoner touch, they can hardly be regarded as something special on this festival. But we mustnīt forget that the DOOM SHALL RISE lives not only from itīs very unique acts, but from the traditional sound - presented from bands like GLOW - as well. Not a highlight, but a band thatīs worth playing at the DOOM SHALL RISE, anyway.
Something entirely different was presented by another dutch band called BUNKUR. The audience was about as small as the band before, but their style of music seemed to be something for a minority, anyway. Using two four-strings and no guitars, they sounded even more sluggish and monotonous than VERSUS THE STILLBORN-MINDED the other day. A lot of breaks, feedback noise and disjointed vocals were the basic characterisitcs of BUNKURS music. Only the last song was compeletely different from the rest of the set - which consisted only of two very long songs. One of the bass players took up a guitar, they got an extra vocalist on stage and rocked the Chapel with a Burzum-cover.
Another highlight of the festival were JACK FROST. Their great mixture of slow, melodic doom and a good portion of rockīnīroll-feeling - especially the vocals - sounded a lot dirtier than on their records. The audience just loved that sound and so the four guys from Austria could in fact have been Saturdays main event. 50 minutes of great rockīnīroll, with one of the best and dynamic stage acting seen that weekend, simply were not enough for the fans and due to the great success JACK FROST were allowed to play an additional song, although they had already started behind shedule. After the band went off the stage and half of the audience had left the Chapel for a break the applause still held on and on. Therefore, it was decided to even let the guys play another song. And although there were only half of the people left, the atmosphere was still as great as it had been before. What an impact they really had on the audience is shown by the fact, that soon after the gig all JACK FROST records at the festival were sold out! They are just a great band and they just played an increadibly great show.
Known as Revelation, back in the 80ies, some of the musicians now continue - after 13 years of abscence - as AGAINST NATURE. Therefore, it was a show of very traditional US Doom Rock. Optically, however, they didnīt quite fit in, as guitarist John might have come out of any B-Class irish folk-rock band and Bert reminded more of a big band blues bass player. And they really had some feeling of blues in there music, which is not untypical, regarding where the modern rock sound originally comes from. They played a good show, however, they were not as celebrated, as JACK FROST were before.
When I think of Sweden and Heavy Music, one of the first things that come to my mind is... Power Metal! Well, and thatīs what VENI DOMINE actually played. With all the posing and fast riffing there were only few moments that really reminded, that this was a doom metal festival. Therefore, it was no real surprise that the biggest part of the audience wasnīt too enthusiastic about them. They played their set for 75 minutes, they left the stage and no additional songs were demanded, which might be really bitter for a headlining act. With five records out, VENI DOMINE is with no doubt a good band, it was just a case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. They just didnīt fit in the DOOM SHALL RISE billing!
With DEBRIS INC. two real doom legends hit the stage. Dave Chandler (ex Saint Vitus) on guitar and microphone and Ron Holzner (ex Trouble) on bass. So itīs not too difficult to guess what kind of sound was in store for the audience. I didnīt grow up with all that Pentragram, Vitus or Sabbath stuff, but it was a great journey back in time! US Doom Rock at itīs best, with everything it is know for. Slow drumwork, effective powerchords, a little bit of a hardcore influence and, yes, Dave Chandler still plays these great, damn weird solos we all know and love from his time with Saint Vitus. Ron contributed to the great success they had at the DOOM SHALL RISE as well, not only as he did nice solo-improvisation while Dave had problems with the battery of his effect pedal two times. DEBRIS INC. had the whole audience on their side, there was a lot of movement and even the first and only crowdsurfer of the festival. With a really great show, they set a perfect finish to a weekend, that most fans will not forget that soon.
So, to sum it up, this years edition of the DOOM SHALL RISE was great! A lot of different bands, a lot of different styles, some can be considered more doom, some less. Of course you can hardly like them all but there were actually no acts that were really bad or messed up their show or something. To add a personal opinion in the end, my highlights that weekend were, without particular order, the young band AHAB, the weird gig of SOLITUDE AETURNUS, the big surprise BEEHOOVER, JACK FROST and the "grande finale" DEBRIS INC. Iīm already looking forward to next years festival...