Hamburg has Reeperbahn festival fever and for all those, who like their music a bit harder, the city offered the Hamburg Metal Dayz for the third time. As in the previous years, there was a whole variety of activities including the unavoidable Mambo Kurt, a tattooist inking Wacken logos as well as all of the bands and authors, like fantasy novelist, Wolfgang Hohlbein giving autographs and posing for photos.
Friday, 19th of September 2014 On the first evening there was new blood in the form of newcomer Beyond the Black and the metalcore band from the Ruhr, Any Given Day; from the more experienced bands there was Dark Tranquility, Edguy and the Indian thrash metallers, Kryptos. The day was rounded up with a questionnaire to the Wacken organizers, a discussion to the theme State of Metal, a reading by Wolfgang Hohlbein from his latest novel and a guitar and drum workshop. Sadly we missed the Wacken questionnaire and Mambo Kurt.
Beyond The Black (Saal) The originally planned Estonian alternative metal band, Defrage, canceled their show with short notice due to their bass player leaving the band. Beyond the Black from Saarbrücken and Mannheim replaced them. Don´t let the name misguide you -they are not the 80´s metal band from New Jersey and whether they took the name as homage to Metal Church is questionable. The band doesn´t even have a debut album and yet they made it to play in the W.E.T stage in Wacken this year and later to the morning show of MDR -a pretty incredible break. The band plays under Label Airforce1 Records, a daughter company of Universal, which also has the “seamen” of Santiago under their flag. The band consists of the incredibly young and pretty front woman, Jennifer Haben (who was also in the German children´s tv channel, Kika´s casting show), Christopher Hummels is responsible for the shouts and guitar, Niklas Lesser also on guitar, Tobias Derer on drums (you might know Tobias and Nils from UMC), Erwin Schmidt on bass and Michael Hauser plays keyboards. But enough of the introductions and research. Their show was a fitting opener for the Hamburg Metal Dayz. Jennifer´s voice is softer that what one is used to when it comes to female metal ladies; furthermore, it wasn´t as pompous as the most opera-like gothic performers. Her voice has a nice sound to it, but personally, I can´t see myself recalling it in times to come. The rest of the band know their way around their instruments, but despite their trial by fire at W.O.A., they seemed nervous on stage. They are fit themselves in the female-fronted metal category, but I find it more gothic with a lot of heart troubles and longing. Beyond the Black is definitely an interesting, new band.
Panel – State of Metal 2014 (Saal) The panel of experts and moderators consisted of Leif Jensen (A&R, Century Media Records & Clandestine Music), Carl Begai (journalist, Bravewords.com), Manouchehr Shamsrizi (culture sociologist), with comments on the side from Thomas Jensen (ICS and W.O.A.-boss) and Christof Leim (Journalist, event manager and guitarist in The New Black). They discussed the changes within the music scene in comparison the good old times and whether or not this is necessarily bad. There were not that many questions from the audience during the 15 minutes that I managed to see before I had to make my way to Kryptos, rather there was a heated discussion consisting of contrasting opinions within the panel of experts.
Kryptos (Saal) The old school metallers from Bangalore have been around for more than 15 years and are currently under contract by AMF. Guitarist Nolan Lewis started off the band as a cover band until they made their own album 10 years ago. As a random bit of info, Niklas Sundin from Dark Tranquility coughed up the cover for the album back then. It was obvious to see that they are veterans in this business with a performance at W.O.A under their belt, as they didn´t show the least bit of nervousness on stage. They clearly enjoyed their show and played the half full Markthalle their thrash, which reminds one of the beginnings of Kreator. The first attempt of getting a moshpit going happened in the middle of the set and remained a bit shy. Unfortunately, I missed the last 15 minutes as I had to head off to Wolfgang Hohlbein´s reading.
Reading of Wolfgang Hohlbein (Marx) Whether or not the fantasy author did himself and his family a favor with the RTL documentary soap is questionable. However, an unquestionable fact is that he is one of the most successful German authors. He managed to amaze new readers in the last two years with books like „Midgard“ and „Necropolis“. At the Metal Dayz he read from his latest creation, „Irondead“ to a small group of interested bookworms. Unfortunately, the passage he chose to read was very detailed -which can be enjoyable when one reads by him or herself, but within a reading, it turns quite tedious pretty fast. The private detective, Devlin Quinn, gets the job of investigating the disappearance of some of the construction material of the Titanic and if you know the author it´s clear that this is no normal crime story. Unfortunately I missed the last 20 minutes as Dark Tranquility was just about to kick off and I could only describe you the main protagonist´s view on trains and the looks of the specific train he was in. I have to give it to Hohlbein and say that just when I left, it was getting interesting. Whoever is into lots of details and crime stories with fantasy elements should look into Hohlbein´s work.
Dark Tranquillity (Saal) Dark Tranquillity was good as ever. The only evident difference to their acts in previous years is that guitarist Niklas Sundin has aged a bit; his graying beard was testament to the fact that even rockers age. During the third song, they experienced what singer Mikael Stanne called a “mechanical issue” with their second bass drum. As usual, Mikael did his routine of going to the crowd shaking hands and taking sips from their beers. They spawned a moshpit pretty quickly and there was a general feeling that the crowd as a whole was enthusiastic to have them perform.
For more Dark-Tranqullity-photos have a look here!
Guitar and drum workshop (Marx) Guitarist Marco Wriedt (Axxis) and drummer Alex Landenburg (Rhapsody, Mekong Delta, Annihilator) stood in front of the pretty thinly packed ranks of their audience for the Q & A. At least Marco Wriedt was not exactly bombarded by questions. More specifically, when I was there during the break between Dark Tranquility and Edguy, no one had any questions. Marco himself asked the two guitarists from the audience what instruments they played, but it didn´t take the transition into becoming a discussion. In the end, he just played songs from one of his own bands, 21 Octayne. Whether Alex Landenburg had it any better, is not known as I didn´t make it to his workshop.
Intermezzo (Foyer): Waltari´s front man, Kärtsy Hatakka was also there as a guest and used the opportunity to look for new label possibilities for the release of their oncoming new album. In may we will see how the deal works out.
Edguy (Saal) The first day ended with Germany´s Iron Maiden, Edguy. The show kicked off with technical difficulties as vocalist Tobias Sammet´s earplugs and monitor failed to work. Sadly, he lost his nerve, turned his back to the crowd, went towards the drummer and stuck his fingers in his mouth in a vomiting gesture. He then proceeded to go to the stage technicians and screamed his head off. Luckily his hissy fit didn´t go on throughout the whole show and towards the end he managed to brush it off by saying that when technology fails, one has to feed off the crowd. Truly the Hamburg audience fed them so much positive energy that he and the rest of the band enjoyed the show.
Two comical and strange incidents are definitely worth mentioning: Firstly, it was hilarious to see how one of the stage techs was half crouched running after Tobias, trying to switch his defective receiver. Every time he stayed put for a moment and the stage tech almost got the equipment fixed, Tobias was on the move again and at the end, the technician just walked away and one could read his mind that went “fuck it”. Secondly, Mr. Sammet made a remark of something fitting into his ass; sadly, I missed out on what it exactly was -that puzzles me and will probably remain a mystery. If someone happens to find out what it was, please let us know -not that we will have sleepless nights about it, mind you.
But enough of mysterious rectal objects! The show was very well received by the crowd, who filled the room to the brim. Their set list proved to be well chosen as the crowd screamed their lungs out just about every time the upcoming song was announced –especially “Superheroes” and “Defenders of the Crown” got some of the people jumping to the ceiling. Only once did the audience stop moving and that was at the cover of Falco´s “Rock me Amadeus”. All in all, the people loved the show, despite the technical mishaps and the vocalists remark about the Hamburg audience being better than their footballers -this remark did get quite a booing.
Any Given Day (Marx) The metalcore band from Gelsenkirchen had quite a few fans with them in the overflowing Marx, where the crowd went apeshit already at the first tones. After getting such a welcome, it was no wonder, that singer, Dennis Diehl and his troops were in high spirits; furthermore, the fact that their debut album made it to the top 50 album charts was definitely reason enough for their good mood. Before I saw Any Given Day, I was unaware that there were exclusively female moshpits. It was great to see that the gals were just as enthralled and took no prisoners, just like the guys. It remains a question as to if it was just because of the music or the singer´s looks. The Rihanna cover „Diamonds“ did not really lower the estrogen level either. At the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is that the mood in Marx reached it ´s high point with Any given Day´s great show and thus it was a worthy ending to the first day.
Saturday, 20th of September 2013
The second round started really early. The day consisted of Mambo Kurt (again), the panels, the power metallers from Alpha Tiger, the Finnish Profane Omen, a funny questionnaire to the new Tankard book as well as them playing, Hatesphere from Denmark, a comedian from Bavaria called Bembers Hard Rock from Motorjesus, and last, but not least, Finntroll. Well, let´s get it on!
Profane Omen (Saal) Before Profane Omen kicked off, the crowd looked pretty meager, but after the first three songs, the room was two thirds full. As their singer, Jules Näveri stated, it was their first time in Hamburg and they are surely welcome to come again as they were well accepted by the crowd. There were a few things that really stuck out: Firstly, their sound was not quite there. The back-up vocals could not be heard at all and the guitars were pretty unclear. Furthermore, Jules´ vocals could only be heard when he really screamed full blast.
On the sunny side, their drummer, Samuli Mikkonen was brilliant. Not only is he pretty damn talented, but he was incredibly animated and had a huge grin on the whole time. The rest of the band was also having a pretty good time on stage. As expected, they mostly played tracks, like the vibrant “Sonic Waves” from their latest album, Reset. As a final note, it was clear that Jules was unable to take things too seriously -which is not bad at all- and he showed this by doing his humppa dance every once in a while.
Tankard book presentation (Marx) “Tankard: Life in Beermuda. The Somewhat different Biography” is the name of the book that Andreas „Gerre“ Geremia, Andreas Gutjahr, Olaf Zissel and Frank Thorwarth presented in Marx. It was written by music scientist and Tankard fan Michael Schumacher for the 30th anniversary of the band. The reading was more of a fun interview with the band done by Christof Leim and the fans. “Tankard: Life in Beermuda” consists apart from lots of anecdotes as well as statements from colleagues from Kreator and Sodom and photos and facts. The band was asked what comes after 2014 and Gerre answered 2015. If the book is half as funny as the witty answers were and one likes to smicker while reading, the book is a must.
Hatesphere (Saal) Singer Esben „Esse“ Hansen wrapped the crowd around his pinky and the rest of the band went on with the pedal the metal. The sound was one of the best of the evening and there wasn´t really anything to complain about. The set included some old material, but also a lot from the latest album, „Murderlust“ and this lifted the spirits to the ceiling. The wall of death conjured by Esse was a bit small, but, hey, there was a wall of death in Markthalle -a seldom seen creature in the venue. The band is really sympathetic and Esse made it jut that much better. It was a highlight of the evening, despite having had a film camera fall on my shoulder.
Tankard (Saal) Right after the first song, the air was stuffy to the point where it could be cut with a knife and one could see a sizable mosh pit go on. Peppered with a lot of funny intermissions by front man Andreas „Gerre“ Geremia, the high-spirited band played songs from their latest album, „R.I.B“ as well as classics, like „Zombie Attack“ and „Chemical Invasion“. A particularly pretty female fan from the audience (yes, Tankard has also such fans) from the first row petitioned the song „A Girl Called Cerveza“. It was truly a successful performance. The thrashers from Frankfurt truly gave everything and Gerre gave us a bit too much to see when he ecclesiastically ventilated his shirt.
Bembers (Marx) The stand-up comedian, Bembers worked up the audience partially with old dirty jokes, like „One more lifting and she has an asshole on the forehead” and anecdotes, spiced up with a heavy, but understandable, accent. He got the people laughing. It is really nothing for friends of intelligent humor, but as we are in Germany, this kind of folk is a dime in a dozen.
Finntroll (Saal) The trolls played Nattfödd from beginning to end in celebration of its 10th anniversary. Armed with a new drummer, Heikki “Mörkö” Saari as well as new stage outfits, they rocked the venue and leaved none disappointed. The show experienced a small hiccup in the form of the bass guitar´s plug refusing to hold on; this was, however quickly rectified and laughed off. They were quite energetic on stage and this was probably because they were right in the beginning of the tour. The only real problem was the slightly too quiet vocals -other than that they had no sound or other problems whatsoever. As a whole, their show had a lot of oomph and had yours truly head banging like a maniac. There really isn´t much more one can say to the show other than that it was pretty damn good.
Motorjesus (Marx) The hard rockers from Motorjesus from Mönchengladbach had the privilege to play the closing set simultaneously with Finntroll and they did this well. A surprising amount of people squeezed into the Marx and celebrated every song of the quintet, which has been around for an amazing 24 years. Motorjupp -as they are also known- had a blast on the stage. Okay, having lyrics from Eurhythmics being sang to AC/DC´s TNT is seldom, but at these wee hours everybody was so wasted that they even partied and sang along right to the end. Christoph Brix and his men had so much fun on stage that they didn´t want to get off and this they played their closing track extra long Motorjesus rocked with their cocks out -not literally, mind you- and were a worthy closer.
Conclusion: A black metal band would have been nice so that there would have been something for everyone; other than that, the mix was very good. The sound was a bit off with some of the bands. It is regrettable that the bands overlap sometimes at festivals, but the intriguing panels and workshops at the Hamburg Metal Dayz make the decisions easy most of the time. Stalker.cd is definitely happy to come again next year.