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Ultima Ratio Festival

Stadt / City Oberhausen 
Land / Country GER 
Datum / Date03.11.2007 
Bildergalerie / Picturegalerie Ultimaratio_2007 
Photos: Cornelia Wickel 

For the second time, Viking and Pagan hordes assaulted a town; this time not Krefeld, but Oberhausen. Since the start of the festival was postponed (due to the paramedics, who weren´t there - and without them they weren´t allowed to open the doors..), because of the damn long queue and other delays, at least half of the festival visitors made it into Turbinenhalle when Minas Morgul were already playing their last three songs. The gig of the first band Wolfchant had been postponed for 20 minutes, but of course many people missed them.

Minas Morgul
According to Minas Morgul, I can say that the crowd seemed to be in a great mood, especially for the early hour and the hall was filled pretty well already. (CW)


After that it was time for one of my favourite bands at the festival, Waylander from Ireland, and they definitely didn´t disappoint me. They entered stage with blue war-paint and different traditional instruments like the Irish framedrum bodhrán and convinced the audience with some wonderful celtic metal music. Optically (thanks to blue war-paint) and musically already the first highlight of the day! (CW)

had quite a difficult "problem" to solve, since they had to fill the gap Equilibrium had left, due to their cancellation just two days before the festival. Soon it was clear that they were a worthy replacement and surely surprised quite a lot of people, including me, since I went to the photopit without any bigger expectations. The music was quite different from what Equilibrium would´ve played, but since they play nearly everywhere it was nice to see an "unknown" band for a change. (CW)


One of the winners of the festival were Heidevolk, in my opinion. Some of the guys had given me a flyer somewhen, somewhere in Wacken and since I didn´t know them before I checked them out, but it didn´t convince me. But wow, the music had a totally different impact on me live. I was impressed by all the (positive) energy and enthusiasm with which they were presenting their songs. No wonder that the audience was going crazy as well. And just on the margin it was the second time for Thronar´s vocalist to go on stage, since he´s also guitarist at Heidevolk. Definitely a wonderful entertaining gig that got the audience in a festive mood. I´d surely go to another live gig again! (CW)

Helrunar´s gig started a bit restrained compared with the other bands. The music was different and I have to say that I was even a bit disappointed in the beginning. After a few songs it should change - all over a sudden the audience was put into good humour and soon you could see way more horns in the air and people headbanging. (CW)


For Suidakra the show is nearly a home match. The guys from some 30 km away Düsseldorf play a solid gig and keep bagpipes with themselves. These and the bass are the best heard instruments. Regrettably the sound is quite muddy and many details of the songs disappear somewhere in the humming noise. Though their are good vibes, mainly in the front and there are many people in the hall. (AS)


The eight musicians, who came with instruments like violins and flutes, are really one mighty stage force. The Swiss have proved that during the summer festivals and so the hall is full of people from the back to the front and already during the soundcheck some enthusiastic screams arise. Again the sound quality is regrettably bad. But the crowd is in party mood and there´s an extra Swiss-lesson for beginners. The mainly German audience may repeat the words: „Käse“ (cheese), „Fondue“, „Schoki“ (chocolate) and finally „TegernakÓ, one of Eluveitie´s asskicking songs. (AS)

Skyforger come with a harder kind of music with some blackmetal influences, though the folk melodies aren´t missing. Particularly the instrument, which looks like a big wooden board, is impressing. During the show of the Latvian band the sound is much clearer then before. However they don´t gather as many bang-willing people in front of the stage, as the two bands before. But they make it to prove that this music is capable for a liveshow and so there are finally good vibes. (AS)


Now it´s time for the first Finns to play. Of course they could not be missing in the line up of a festival of this genre. But the audience from the first rows discusses after the gig that Ville probably was wasted. However only the people in the front rows seems to notice this. Besides that the sound is quite clear and the hall full to the back. The melancholic Folk/blackmetal fits very well to the atmosphere and already the first song Kirvenkantaja intoxicates the audience. But then there are problems with the double bass, and during a melodic guitar part there´s a deafening whisteling noise, so that many people grimace. These sound problems and maybe Ville´s state are maybe the reason that the Finns leave the stage like on the flight without any last words. (AS)


During the intro of the Humppa-guys one gets the feeling that the sound system will now finally go completely down. Slizzling and clicking noises come out of the boxes. Then the first song begins, or let´s say the violin beginns with the first song. All the other musicians start to play, too, but unfortunately nobody can hear them. „Shit happens“, comments vocalist Jonne with Finnish coolness, when the guys have to leave the stage again before they can really start. He probably isn´t that cool anymore, when there are still many soundproblems when they finally can start their set. „Seems like we still have a problem“, he says and it´s true: The guitars just have no power at all, you hardly can hear them. But Korpiklaani professional rock the stage and make the audience at least feel a little pit of Humppa-party-fun. They make the best of the bad situation. (AS)

Kivimetsä Druidi

The last band of the evening are still unknown here in Germany and therefore I was quite amazed and a bit angry as well, that those poor guys had to play after the party band Korpiklaani. Needless to say, that quite a lot of people had already left, since it was damn late. Those who stayed had the chance to see a nice gig, despite the bad sound (once again), you could hardly hear the female vocalist. Well, maybe that was not that worse, since the voice didn´t seem to fit that perfectly - at least not live. (CW)

Summary: Turbinenhalle proved to be boon and bane for the event. On one hand it´s a perfect venue for a metal festival: gloomy, melancholic, with style and much space for relaxing, as well as for partying in front of the stage. This circumstances make Ultima Ratio be a indoor festival with stunningly cool atmosphere. But on the other hand the Turbinenhalle involved some organisation problems: Drinks were too expensive, which the presenters admit afterwards. They didn´t made the prices, they were arranged by the hall owners. Water costed – ironically as well as beer – 3 euros without deposit. But to the presenter´s credit they sold Met for 2 euros and even poured it out for free from the photopit. There are some more flaws concerning the catering: The hungry people had to go to Mac, because inside there´s no food for a long time, let alone assortment. The organiser wants to work on that for next year´s Ultima Ratio as well as on airconditioning, problems at the entrance and so on.

And the bad sound quality tarnished festivalfun. During some shows it´s only one sound-mush. Sometimes the boxes hummed, whistled or cracked. You simply can´t have fun when one of your favourite bands is playing with a bad sound. If this bad sound hadn´t been, maybe quite a lot of people could´ve forgotten about some other stuff that didn´t work that well. Apart from that kudos to the security, who did a good job and were always up for some fun (like dancing in the photopit during Korpiklaani) despite all the stress. (AS& CW)

Cornelia Wickel (CW), Aziza Schwenke (AS)

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