Festival tours like the No Mercy Festival tour are not my cup of tea, coz there are too many bands and often they musically differ too much. Beside that they are forced to start early and so - like today in Eindhoven - I missed the first bands.
When we got in Agent Steel were already on stage. The Americans are here to promote their latest album Order Of The Illuminati. Most fans are still into their early albums like Skeptic's Apocalypse. From the original line-up only guitarists Juan Garcia and Bernie Versailles are still in the band, but singer Bruce Hall isn't a newby to the Agent Steel fans. Hall is in the band for awhile now. Unfortunately I had an interview with Will Rahmer of Mortician scheduled and so I couldn't watch their show. Btw, thanks to John Connelly of Nuclear Assault who helped me finding Will. The parts I saw / heard while we were looking for the Mortician singer / bassist sounded quite good. Also the show - the glimpses I could catch - looked good. Luckily I'll see them doing a headlining show in Arnhem (Netherlands) at the end of this month! More about them later!
After a short break God Dethroned entered the stage, but I was still busy and missed them. Perhaps next time...
Then it was time for Nuclear Assault! One of the thrash metal bands who came up with the first wave of Bay Area bands. In the mid- / late 80's they released several albums and then kinda disappeared. Now they are back and they still sound like in the 80's! During the 50 min. long set the band of singer / guitarist John Connelly and bassist Dan Lilker presented songs like: Rise From The Ashes, Brain Washed, New Song, Trail Of Tears, Critical Mass, Game Over and at least Wake Up. The thrash songs were presented with a lot power and the instruments sounded good, only John's vocals were a little thin... During one song - I think it was Brain Washed - singer / guitarist John Connelly was standing in the first row between fans! One of the roadies was holding the microphone stand for him. It was strange to watch, but I think special to the fans who were standing around John. At least Nuclear Assault were the first - from what I saw - who turned the first rows into a mosh pit.
When Nuclear Assault left the stage the fans started shouting for Exodus. The call for the kings of thrash got louder every minute. And then it was time for Exodus! After the tragically death of frontman Paul Baloff the band is now back with Steve 'Zetro' Souza (ex-Legacy, ex-Exodus). The band of guitarist Gary Holt played a almost 80 min. long best of set including classics like Bonded By Blood and their anthem Exodus. Beside old tunes they presented a new track which is called Scar-Spangled Banner. A real heavy and fast track, a break leads into a middle part where the bass takes over the lead and with another break they return to the main theme. Cool one! Hell broke loose after the first note of Exodus and the mosh pit expanded from the first rows all the way to the sound board. Amazing who these guys move the metalheads. A nice surprise was the AC/DC cover version Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. It sounded like the original, just way heavier and with a modern touch. Resume of this show: Fantastic! Come back soon!!!!!
Exhausted many fans left the venue to catch some fresh air. Others went home, coz they saw what they wanted to see. For me and my companion it was time for late-night dinner, both of us aren't into the music of Occult and Grave. Beside that we wanted to be back for the Darkest Day Of Horror with Mortician.
Last band in the billing were the New Yorkers Mortician. Earlier this year the band of singer / bassist Will Rahmer and guitarist Roger Beaujard presented their latest grindcore attack - Darkest Day Of Horror. Live the duo has a drummer while in the studio a drum computer is keeping the time. Due to the hyper-fast tracks and the partly very complex structure the band is visually not very attractive. Static. While on disc the grunts vary slightly, live it don't differ. During the 30 min. long set the dynamic duo - plus the tour drummer - presented about a dozen tracks. They are out to promote Darkest Day Of Horror live and so they played mostly the stuff of that release, but didn't forget to present some old tunes.
Resume of the festival: I think it would be in the interest of most fans to have less bands and to split up the genres. I think most fans would have preferred a thrash package with Agent Steel, Nuclear Assault and Exodus - perhaps one more act - and another package with Grave, Occult, God Dethroned and Mortician. It was obvious that about 1/3, perhaps almost 50% of the audience left after Exodus. So, it seems that many metalheads would agree....