In the beautiful Lake Rappenau/Heilbronn region, the fever for Building A Force festival had spread rampantly, a fever that afflicts mostly 30-year-old power/trad metallers. This particular average age added its own certain vibe: this was certainly a specialist festival.
The first band, Destination´s Calling, won us over with solid and catchy melodic metal à la Stratovarius, while also managing to entice the more-than-sparse crowd to come forward and headbang with them. Along with the older material, they also spiced the set up with some new tracks, one of which was dedicated to the madness occurring all around. Ahem, I mean, of course there was no madness of any kind! In any case you have to grant the guys that, despite various fiddly parts of the songs, they were quite accessible and easy on the ear. Thumbs up!
Staying in southern Germany, there was Swabian thrash in the form of The Prophecy 23. The boys from Heilbronn created a Venn diagram between old Metallica and Slayer, Machine Head and Testament. Bay Area thrash from Swabia may hardly be original but it was nonetheless pleasant, hardly greeted with any euphoric reaction from the crowd, but neatly executed with plenty of life onstage.
Rough Silk and Thy Bleeding Skies made it difficult for the crowd to fully get into their sound – theirs was a cumbersome and breakdown-heavy various sound that certainly worked better on CD than in a club show. A handful of people seemed to be familiar with the material and were kicking up a racket in front of the stage, but the majority by far kept their distance and watched passively, although giving the band a fair bit of applause.
Lanfear, the band of organisers Kai Schindelar and Richie Seibel, brought everyone back into the room quickly. Right from the start, singer Nuno had the crowd in the palm of his hand and egged them on, encouraging the first crowdsurfers to go flying. These guys also were playing to a home crowd and so had the audience quickly on their side. A couple of songs from the new album were also played (as far as I recall), which seamlessly integrated into the sound and reasserted that Lanfear are one of the finest bands that Germany can offer in power-prog metal.
Serenity were next up and took a staggeringly long time for their sound check, but that made them all the more motivated to get going, and they had no problem getting the kids onboard as Lanfear did before them. Considering the instant catchiness of their songs, particularly of their latest album Fallen Sanctuary, this was also no surprise, and given the show they put on, they fully earned it. It´s always fascinating, when watching Serenity, just how much power the lanky Georg Neuhauser has in his voice when pouring out the lyrics into the room. One can only look with an expression of amazement.
Brainstorm divided the crowd; some love the kitschy charm of the Swabian power metallers, the others just can´t get into the straight-forward and simple songs. The band´s outfit and stage presence were just as polarising as their music, which resulted in half of the visitors having a massive party with the band, and the other half restocking at the beer stand. Or alternatively having a quick snooze.