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Where to start a conversation if you donīt really know what to talk about first? All right, letīs start with the weather. There was a devastating heat on the air field in Roitzschjora. And when there was a light breeze from time to time, it was the dry and dusty ground that that caused a feeling of uneasiness.
The camping ground was no better and one could hardly avoid starting sweating - even right after taking a shower - which made the dust in the air stick even better. At least a nearby see that was frequented by quite a lot of the people could be used for cooling down and getting clean.
The ground on the festival site was sprayed with water from time to time to keep the dust down. However, sometimes without being considerate of the fans standing there. Some seemed to like it or just didnīt care but others were displeased which lead to some smaller conflicts with the security guards.
The Bands that had to play on Fridays afternoon had a difficult position, as the German soccer team played their quarterfinal against Argentina at the same time. The soccer fans could witness all the matches of the weekend on a video screen. A lot of people were standing around there, while others just put up their sofa outside of the festival site and watched the games from there. Anyway, there also were enough people that were not interested in the World Cup matches, so that the gigs of the bands playing at the same time - such as the really good one from STONE SOUR - were not played in vain.
The German success evoked a lot of different comments of the bands playing subsequently. The Swedish Guys from DISMEMBER stated: "You might be able to play soccer, but we can play Death Play!" And the Canadians from DANKO JONES told the crowd how glad they were that the German did win, however they admitted, that it was just because they didnīt to play for a bunch of "pissed off" and disappointed people.
Anyway, for most visitors, the weekend was about music and if you had a look on the billing before, the WITH FULL FORCE seemed to be a promising festival. For the Metalheads, as well as for the fans that were mainly interested in the HARDBOWL, the Hardcore- and Punk event on the tent stage.
----- Friday -----
"Fuck those who listen to Kreator" shouted DANKO JONES after the first couple of songs. They had to play at the same time as the German Thrash Metal legend. They were right, indeed. While the three guys from Canada played a really great Hardrock- and RockīnīRoll-Show, the fans in front of the main stage had to be satisfied with a rather lukewarm KREATOR-gig.
They played raw and aggressive, as usual, but Milleīs voice sounded a bit too croaking and squawking. The green, sulphurous smoke they used from time to time seemed to be a problem for the band, too as it could still be smelled in the first rows of the audience. Anyway, they did their best and played their 50 minutes set, that contained mainly songs from the newer albums. Unfortunately they had to leave out some real classics like "Flag Of Hate", therefore.
The highlight of the eve was SOULFLY. With Hits like "Primitive" or the Sepultura-classic "Roots, Bloody Roots" the guys around Max Cavalera hat the audience on their side. Great sound and a strong show made their gig really worthwhile. The fans returned the favour with a big a moshpit and sang along when "An Eye For An Eye" blasted out of the Brazilian-flagged Amplifiers on the stage.
"The gig has to be witnessed, kneeling in the front row." Thatīs what the description of CELTIC FROST on the festivalīs homepage said and their gig at the Sweden Rock had gotten quite good critics. The Swiss Black-Metal legend was burdened with great anticipation therefore. For most, however, the gig was rather disappointing. "Cataclysmal Headliner", they were called by some fans afterwards. I wouldnīt be so harsh, but I had expected a better show as well. Of course, they are still musically brilliant, the main problem was the interpretation of the songs: CELTIC FROST tried to play even the old songs in the style of the new record "Monotheist" - which is not a bad album - but can you imagine old hits such as "Morbid Tales" played as a doom-song? It simply doesnīt work. Their show was rather static, although Bassist Martin Eric Ain and their second guitarist dared to move a little more during the heavier parts. Therefore the atmosphere of the slower, doomy passages was quite impressive. So what to say about them? The Band of Tom Gabriel Fischer has reached the 21st century and itīs ok to let them play on the big stages of this summer, but the true fans of the CELTIC FROST of the 80ies and 90ies might probably not be satisfied.
With the last tunes of CELTIC FROST, the KNÜPPELNACHT - the Black and Death Metal night on the tent stage - already started and DISMEMBER were the first to play their Swedish Death Metal. The tent was full of fans who hadnīt got enough yet and even outside a lot of people stood listening.
Afterwards it was time for a band that had played a gig at the very first WITH FULL FORCE. Weīre talking about NAPALM DEATH. Front man Barney - who used the whole stage for posing - convinced with his unique voice, as well as with his stage acting, while his band members left a more static impression. But not only the four guys from Birmingham showed how much fun they had during their 40 minutes. There was a lot of action in the crowd, too. At the end of the gig Barney made the crowd cheer at some prolate, politic statements like "Fuck NPD", his bare middle finger and the Dead-Kennedys-Cover "Nazi Punks Fuck Off". The fans seemed to like it.
Most of the people left after the gig and from 3000 spectators about 500 remained to watch another three and a half hour of hard music. MYSTIC CIRCLE offered 40 minutes of simple, yet well-played Black Metal. The audience was still fit and front man Beelzebub managed to get some applause by phrases like "Letīs Go To Hell".
One saw always the same faces in the first row in front of the tent stage. Therefore DARK FORTRESS were welcomed as enthusiastic as the bands before. They had more presence then their predecessors - which was not surprising with three more band members - but used as many stereotypes anyway. The Black Metal fans were impressed by the gig - everyone else had already gotten to bed, anyway, as three oī clock had passed, even before the six guys from Landshut had started.
Unfortunately most of the spectators were too tired to really celebrate a worthwhile gig. Thatīs why I have to admit that Iīve already seen better DARK FORTRESS gigs, yet. But donīt get me wrong, it was for sure not a bad show.
When DISBELIEF started off, the leftover crowd had awaken, again. They seemed to enjoy the fact, that the band used much less stereotypes than the bands before and that they used - compared to the others - a fresh and modern sound. There was action again in the first rows and front man Jagger managed to animate some fans to start crowd surfing.
It started to get brighter again, outside, when ENDSTILLE finally hit the stage to present their 40 minutes set that was crowned by two additional songs ("Ripping Angelīs Flesh" und "Der Hetzer". After some difficulties with different cables and the black, red and golden colour suspenders of the bass players they played a really nice gig. Nothing innovative of course, but no one would expect that. The fans were completely satisfied and were rewarded with the first live performance of "Instinkt", ever. Five oī clock had passed yet and most fans were really glad that they could go to sleep after this last, brilliant gig.
----- Saturday -----
The second day started at 2 pm. Most visitors still looked tired at that time. It usually are your tent neighbours that wonīt let you sleep on a festival but at the WITH FULL FORCE the nightly performances on the tent stage can practically be heared heard all over the camping ground which makes it difficult to rest.
The year before, the crowd at the WITH FULL FORCE celebrated the resurrection of American DEATH METAL together with OBITUARY. Therefore, the fans expected a lot when the four guys from Florida entered the stage again on Saturday afternoon. And the fans that waited in devasting heat were not disappointed as OBITUARY presented precise and heavy riffing in the best way possible. For 45 minutes, the band travelled through 20 years of band history playing new tracks like "Redneck Stomp" and the obligatory grande finale "Slowly We Rot". And they were celebrated for every minute of their gig. Great sound and unbelievable live-presence made OBITUARY be one of the real highlights of this yearīs WITH FULL FORCE. At the end of August the band plays the last gig of their European tour, headling the UP FROM THE GROUND. We are looking forward to another worthwhile gig.
IN FLAMES - the headliner of day two - were not afraid of hits and presented a bombastic show as usual. The Swedish band was the only one that really legitimated itīs headlining-position on stage. Musically brilliant, the great gig was completed by a complex lightshow and lots of pyros. Only front man Jesper talked a little bit too much trash when he tried to animate the crowd to join the action. With less words and one more song the overall impression of the gig would have been even better. For all those who had already seen IN FLAMES on the last tour, it was basically nothing new. The same songs, the same show... the standard program. But where else do you find a band with such a high standard?
----- Sunday -----
ARCH ENEMY were one of the highlights of Sundayīs afternoon. The band played a convincing show and Angela Gossow proved, that she can really howl with the (male) wolves one more time. Although it might look a little bit strange to watch the small and pretty blonde grunting for a Death Metal band she did a great job performing new hits like "Ravenous", as well as the songs that were recorded with the previous vocalist. ARCH ENEMY were rewarded with lots of applause and a big moshpit.
Right after SICK OF IT ALL - who played instead of KORN - it was finally time for MOTÖRHEAD, which were anticipated by a lot of fans. But if Lemmy is not in the mood, then there only is a half-assed MOTÖRHEAD gig. Thatīs why the show at the WITH FULL FORCE had barely anything to do with the brilliant gig that I saw somewhere, some years ago. It was a rather disappointing presentation of a lot of old hits and Lemmy and his guitarist left a quite bored impression.
The most other "big names" of the weekend disappointed me as well. There was not the right audience present for bands like IN EXTREMO or BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE, which of course had an effect on the quality of their gigs. And I am not quite sure if it is really necessary to let a band like IN EXTREMO - after the developments on their latest records - on a metal festival between CLAWFINGER and AGNOSTIC FRONT.
But of course there were also a couple of nice and positive surprises on the festival. One of those were LUMSK from Norway, who were the opener for the last special night on the tent stage. Usually, Iīm quite critical concerning mixtures of Metal and (Nordic) folk, as there has been a lot of tacky stuff around, lately. But LUMSK proved, that they can do it better. They presented their music and the content of their songs at least as good as FINNTROLL for example, but they told their stories and legends in a more serious manner. Vocalist Stine Langstrand tried to explain all the stories in German which she did quite well - at least with the help of some notes she had on a small sheet. The atmosphere was great and the audience really loved LUMSK.
Unfortunately we couldnīt watch OPETH and the following bands of the LAST SUPPER as we already were on our way back home there. Thatīs another point I would criticize. Having such two brilliant bands as OPETH and AMORPHIS play late at night on Sunday is a problem for many of those who have to go to work, school or university the next day and have a longer way home. Ok, if there are no more good bands there would be even more people leaving after the last headliner, however itīs a pity for those who have to miss their favourite band.
All in all, most spectators seemed to be satisfied with the weekend, despite the disappointing headliners and the HARDBOWL - the Hardcore- and Punk-Event, that took place on the tent stage every afternoon was frequented well, too. This sort of combination from typical metal sounds on the main stage and the punky, rocky tunes in the tent is something that makes the WITH FULL FORCE something unique.
The funny part of the weekend was covered by A.O.K. and MAMBO KURT who started the festival on Saturday and Sunday. The latter one played his interpretations of rock classics on a small organ. He started his set with "The Final Countdown" and continued with Rammsteinīs song "Engel" for which he got the BOSSA BABES - a guitarist and a drummer - on stage. However, he made clear that his organ is the only real instrument and that he can cover any kind of sound with it. There was only one song, he admitted, where he would let other instruments count as well, and that was the drum solo. Anyway, before one of the BOSSA BABES played the real drum solo he proved that he can get similar sound out of his instrument, too. Then he continued with "Highway To Hell" and a waltz-version of Metallicaīs "Enter Sandman" before he finished his gig with two more songs. The first of them was called "Musik ist Trumpf" which was the song with which he had one the contest "Youth makes music" on his instrument for under 12-year-olds "some time ago". The second one was his tribute to the soccer world cup that he had played in front of some German stadiums before.
THE REAL MCKENZIES provided even more party like atmosphere on Sunday.
The Canadian punk rockers with Scottish origins were in a great mood - so were the fans - and with Songs like "Get Lost" the even made fun of themselves and punk-culture in general. In the moshpit one could see as many metal heads and punks and front man Paul McKenzie proved - during a bagpipe solo - that he was a real Scotsman... and wore nothing under his kilt.