Once again the gates of Brutal Assault Festival located at the Josefov Fortress of Jaroměř and within the heart of Europe, Czech Republic, has opened. The festival took date from August 6th to 10th with the line up of 130 bands. The place and time is kind of sacred to me. Usually, I would be looking forward to about two or three bands. But during the festival I discovered another ten more favourites that I enjoyed and additionally more that I started to like. This is not even mentioning some other stuff that was happening. One starts to think about cosmos games.
Few words for the ones who do not have any experience with BA and have not visited the place yet. The festival is inside an old military fortress, so there are many walls which isolate sound waves nicely and many stages where the bands can be playing at the same time. There are two very large main stages next to each other. When one band is finishing the set, another band is preparing sound and can start immediately as the previous one ends. There is the obligatory big place for standing people in front of where the main stages are. There were also new special tribunes direcly above sound engineers which were available for those that pay extra. The purpose of those tribunes is clear, to hear the best sound possible. In addition, at the end of the open field, there are the open tribunes on hills for people who prefer to sit and enjoy the music with possiblity to watch the bands play on gigantic LCD screens placed between the main stage from afar.
There is another and smaller state called the Obscure Stage at the far end of fortress. It can hold about five hundred people packed to each other, but with quite a lot of space outside the tent and also with big LCD screen just outside of the tent. It is convenient and people outside could see what is going on inside. If you go through main entrance gates of the festival, it’ll take about ten to fiveteen minutes of brisk walking to get there.
Cool fans roaming around
The Octagon Stage is located in the middle of the fortress. The name describes the stage pretty well and it has walls in octagon shape. This area is of smaller character compared to the rest of the stages. Brutal Assault scheduled some obscure metal bands for this stage specifically. Those bands were much anticipated by fans so most of the time Octagon was packed with people. Sometimes it was really hard to move there or pass through to other parts of festival grounds, but it was usually worthy as there were bands I was highly looked forward to.
The Keep Ambient Lodge, aka KAL, is really special. While there is mostly metal music played at the festival, this area was open to other pretty edgy genres. KAL is dedicated to extreme forms of electronic music. You can expect some brutal derivations of noise, techno and similar stuff. Also, you can find here lots of sofas and couches to lay down/rest/chill on. After all the main stages had ended in the early morning hours of the day, KAL was open for a few more hours.
View into the Keep Ambient Lodge
Lets head to the actual music now. The gates were open on Tuesday, the warmup day. I arrived to the festival grounds late and only fully watched the last band, FROG LEAP from Norway. The pop songs revered to metal are not my thing at all, but many people were really happy and cheered up by the guys. The band VICTIMS also played that day and opened the whole festival. This deathcore commando is from my home town Chomutov in the Czech Republic, and while I have not seen them at BA, I have seen them about month ago at local concert. It is good modern deathcore with keyboard elements and two singers whom are also big showmen. I am sure they delivered their dose of energy and entertainment even at BA. Another Czech band, FLESHLESS, played the zero day. This band is a Czech death metal/grindcore legend. I could actually hear some songs when I was preparing myself in my car. Legendary songs such as Scream of Decapitated were played for example. That was all for the warm up day, next up was day 1.
I have considered the first day kinda mediocre for myself as I did not have any main band I planned to be here for… Big mistake! I discovered some new stuff, especially in prime time in the evening. But before we could witness energetic Ensiferum or Solwork which were nice to listen to.
Later on, I will start by mentioning of WOE UNTO ME from Belarus. These guys delivered a nice dose of funeral doom metal at the Octagon Stage. In my opinion, better doom metal bands played here in Czech, but it was not bad at all. Maybe the only one thing I did not like was the clean singing of main singer, the deep growling of a guitarist was actually very, very fine. But, take my critics with a bit of salt, as a taste is a personal thing. The Octagon was packed quite a bit with all the fans but the real traffic jam folowed after when dopeworshippers BELZEBONG started their ritual full of heavy downtuned sound with slow dark stoned doomy riffage. The guys from Poland were totally awesome and the crowd noticed that. What a pain it was to go through the ten, fiveteen meter place to get to the other part of fortress. Yeah, those guys were damn good!
Woe Unto Me
Another band at the same stage was the French band DÉLUGE. Their post-hardcore sound sounded melancholical, yet energetic and urgent. If you ask me, I do not see a big difference between post-HC, post-rock, post black metal. Lots of elements are just blending the same kind of musical coctail. I am pretty sure, someone could teach me a lesson about that though. There were not many lights for this concert but atmosphere was thick as fog in a dark forest.
Quite later on, a band with similar style soothed me nicely, THE OCEAN. These guys neither played at the Octagon, nor main stages, but at the Obscure tent. It was another mix of aggression and melancholy but with added a bigger dose of technical skills (not that the previous band would lack that much). Many fans of progressive metal were looking forward mainly for this band that day. It was very late night and fans started to fade slowly. There was still a nice sized crowd by the end of their set.
The day was closed by Czech misanthropic hardcore/crust band DECULTIVATE at the Obscure tent and it was a bomb! These guys were moving on the stage with crazy style, they even broke the microphone stand and were just like little imps. I loved the image of the frontman with style of dudes like the Beastie Boys during their Sabotage video. Also, I liked the bassist and mighty gesture with his four string friend.
There were also bands playing on the mainstages too. From the Ukraine, JINJER got big attention of the fans. BATUSHKA played later on and most of the people were happy too, although you could hear the different musical direction of the band after the “known issue” and existence of two projects… HYPOCRISY also played the first day and they delivered their gold standard. Some fans had the feeling that some added value is missing, though. Many fans were blown away by CULT OF LUNA from Sweden with their performance. It was great indeed. Not often you see two drum sets on the same stage. What I am sad for a bit is, I did not get to watch legendary psychedelics/stoners COVEN and KADAVAR. I did watch a little bit of KADAVAR but it was only the end of their set, but it was still a blast. More days shall follow soon. Stay tuned. Also check some oher pics below. 😉
Cult of Luna