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- BYH 2000 - June 2000 - Balingen  (D) -
- BYH 2000 - June 2004 - Balingen (D) -
- BYH 2000 - June 2007 - Balingen (D) -
- BYH 2000 - June 2008 - Balingen (D) -

- Bang-Your-Head 2008 - June 20th & 21st - Balingen -

Queensrÿche, Iced Earth, Great White, White Lion, Rage, Ensiferum, Forbidden, Judas Priest, Saxon, Yngwie Malmsteen, Grave Digger, Lizzy Borden

Another trip to Balingen for the legendary Bang-Your-Head festival and again Horst Odermatt and his crew got together a nice billing.
As usual I missed the first bands, through the years it became a kind of tradition... ;-)
So the first band I saw - at least partly - was Korpiklaani. The Finnish woodsmen played with fun and their folk metal was heating up the audience - even if it was already quite hot...
But then one of the bands I really waited for, coz I hadn't seen them before - Forbidden! The Bay Area thrashers had played late last night at the club, but came to kick ass! Guitarist Craig Locicero and his gang play songs like Forbidden Evil, Off The Edge, Through Eyes Of Glass and Chalice Of Blood! Some said that singer Russ Anderson wasn't as good as usual... Well, I can't tell, but I can tell you that I really loved the Forbidden thrash attack!
Fans of Korpiklaani and Týr gathered in front of the stage for Ensiferum, but not just their fans. The intro started and nothing happened! They played the intro another time and towards the end the guys finally entered the stage, but not in time to smoothly lead over into the set. Almost the whole band entered the stage without shirts, if you are Finnish you use any chance to catch the sun. ;-) But their music works in dark clubs as well as at a sunny festival. They rocked the house!
Every summer Rage is playing a couple of festivals and this year they returned to the stage in Balingen. And when they entered the stage the huge screens flanking the stage were switched on - a nice new feature. Peavy and his mates offered again a kind of best-of-set including songs like Under Control. Carved In Stone, Going Down, Soundchaser and Don't Fear The Winter. Drummer André Hilgers is accepted by the fans and most won't miss his predecessor as he delivers the beat precisely. Guitar wiz Victor Smolski showed again his skills and it's still a miracle to me why he isn't more widely know...
Even if Mike Tramp is now playing again as White Lion, it's not the same! They released a new album Return Of The Pride awhile ago, but the fans want to hear the old classics. So the opened up with Hungry and during their set some more classics been played like Little Fighter. The new songs were presented well, but somehow it didn't worked with the classics, but many fans were singing along.
After the White Lion it was time for Great White! Singer Jack Russell is in a great shape again and they rocked the house with tracks like Face The Day, On Your Knees and Back To The Rhythm. But Mark Kendell & co. also played Rock Me and Once Bitten - without these songs there is no Great White show! Hope they come back to play some more club shows later this year!
While Destruction played I left for some food, coz I didn't want to miss a minute of Iced Earth! Matt Barlow is back and Iced Earth returned to Balingen. By now they played a few more shows with this line-up and so I had high hopes for the show - and they didn't disappoint me!
Mainman Jon Schaffer did good to bring back Matt Barlow and I think they should have headlined the festival... But well, it was great to hear songs like Pure Evil, Violate, Vengeance Is Mine and Melancholy again. The guys delivered a perfect playground for Matt's performance. This guy has charisma and so he took the audience by storm. Even songs like 10,000 Strong and Declaration Day could shine. I don't miss Ripper Owens at all. With I Walk Alone they played a new song and I can't wait to hear their coming album! Iced Earth is back!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Friday nights headliner was Queensrÿche, but after Iced Earth I wasn't really in the mood for Geoff Tate and the guys from Emerald city. I really love their early stuff, but since Empire I never really got into their albums. And even if Mike Stone is a great guitarist, he doesn't fit into the band and make me miss Chris deGarmo even more. Anyway, they kicked off a little later as planned and a group with marching drums lead into the show. Unfortunately the light show couldn't shine as it wasn't dark enough... Opening up with Anarchy X they started into their Mindcrime rock opera. This time they presented Operation Mindcrime with actors, but when they took a break after Eyes Of A Stranger the first fans left. When they returned for the second part of the Mindcrime story the light show could fully shine, but it was too late. The story is great, but doesn't fit for a festival where you want to have a good time. Even if for the encore they returned with their best non-Mindcrime songs.
Well, it was a great show and played on a very high level, but... I hope they will come back without the Mindcrime circus and play a best-of set - and it would be a dream come true, if it would be with deGarmo! But that's just a dream... Good night!

Saturday morning... And again I arrived at the end of the second band... Today Breaker had that spot. Thrash fans got their dose of thrash with Onslaught who last year played the club the night before the festival. Sy Keeler and his mates had split their set between songs from the days without and with Keeler. Sure, they focused on last years album Killing Peace, but also played some old tunes like Metal Forces.
Time for shock rockers Lizzy Borden! As usual Mr. Lizzy Borden used different masks and with an axe or baseball bat he was acting to the songs. They delivered some tunes from Appointment Of Death, but a lot old stuff made it into their set. With guitarist Ira Black (ex-Heathen, ex-Vicious Rumors) they had a six-stringer posing and playing like hell. Songs from Love You To Pieces were mostly welcome by the fans. And they played one of my favorites - Me Against The World!
Next in line were Tankard, a band I never got into and so I decided to skip them and get some food! And also Obituary, not my cup of tea. When I was back I heard that Hardcore Superstars won't play, some problems with their flights... Anyway, Lizzy Borden came back to play a few more songs like Give 'Em The Axe and American Metal. They got joined by Age Of Evil and some frenzy took place on stage and covered Long Live Rock'n'Roll and Born To Be Wild.
With Thilo Herrmann as second guitarist Grave Digger entered the stage to present a best-of set. The German true metalheads are known for delivering a solid performance and so the fans went crazy when they played Excalibur and Rebellion. But the absolute highlight of every show is the closer Heavy Metal Breakdown.
Yngwie Malmsteen was next and his new singer is Tim 'Ripper' Owens. What to expect? Well, a lot of guitar solos, I guess. Sure, songs like the opener Rising Force or I'll Never Forget and I'll See The Light Tonight are welcome, but as usual it was a Yngwie ego-show! During the first song he started bombarding the audience with his picks and luckily the first 2 tracks went by without a solo. But then his ego-show launched fully. Ripper Owens did a good job, but isn't charismatic and couldn't really leave an impression, beside that Mr. Malmsteen's backings were louder then the leads! After 70 min. of neo-classical metal it was time for Yngwie Malmsteen and his band to leave the stage. And it seems that only a minority really enjoyed the whole set. For most a shorter set would have done... Even if it was one of the rare shows.
Saxon is playing a lot live and it's not their first time at the BYH and so the fans knew what to expect - a set full of highlights and musicians who obviously enjoy being on stage! Frontman Biff Byford soon controlled the audience and they welcomed every single song! Many classics from the early to mid-80's they played including Wheels Of Steel, Motorcycle Man and Crusader. This time they had to keep to a schedule, but when they headline and there is no curfew they often play more then 2 hrs. Anyway, tonight they co-headlined and so with And The Bands Played On they finished their set. Thanks again for a great show!
Then the highlight of the festival - Judas Priest! But wait, the new album was dividing the fans and the last time I saw Halford it was far from good. They changed the set list and added 3 tracks of Nostradameus, but it was songs like Devil's Child, Between The Hammer AND The Anvil, Hell Patrol, Breaking The Law (early in the st) and Hellion / The Electric Eye. The guitar duo Tipton / Downing is still giving me shivers, but Rob Halford should consider to retire. He needs a teleprompter a lot and has problems with the high notes. I would have need some pain killer for his Painkiller performance. The fans stayed to see Judas Priest, for some it was probably the first time... for others it was the last time - like for me. Sure, it's great to hear the old classics and Tipton / Downing are still fantastic, but their time is over. I can't imagine Judas Priest with a different singer - it didn't worked that well with Ripper Owens - and with him their future don't look bright... It's a pity, especially when you saw in 2007 Heaven & Hell headlining, coz that oldsters can still do it!
And so another Bang-Your-Head is history. The weather was good, most of the bands, too. Friendly people everywhere, no problems for the security and so the party ended with fireworks as usual. Let's see what they offer us next year, but I'm sure that most of the crowd will be there when it's time for BYH 2009! See then!

MetalMatt (guest writer)


- Bang-Your-Head 2007 - June 22nd & 23rd - Balingen -

Heaven & Hell, Edguy, Amon Amarth, Hammerfall, W.A.S.P.,Thunder, Nazareth, Dark Tranquillity, Brainstorm, Evergrey, Finntroll, Vicious Rumors, Amorphis, Mercenary
In 1996 they started with a one day in-door festival, in 1997 / 1998 it was already 2 days and in 1999 they moved from Tübingen's Stefan-Hartmann-Halle to Balingen. Meanwhile they are one of the most successful metal festivals in Germany and people come from everywhere to be part of it.

Friday's first band - Adramelch - entered the stage at 10 AM, but due to traffic jams we didn't arrive before 1 PM and then we had to que at the press point... Finally we get on the festival ground at 2 PM and heard the last 2 tracks of Lethal. And they sounded great, but I can't tell you more about them. Sorry.
Vicious Rumors: Geoff ThorpeThe first band we got the chance to see from the first note were the Americans Vicious Rumors. Starting off with Digital Dictator - a classic tune - they had the fans on their side. Singer James Rivera did a very good job and fits into the band very well. With Larry Howe Geoff Thorpe got their old drummer back in the band and the line-up was completed by touring bassist Stephan Goodwin and guitarist Thaen Rasmussen. Songs like Soldiers Of The Night and Abandoned are what fans want to hear and so they played a mixture of old and new tunes like Sonic Rebellion of their latest studio album Warball. Shouter James Rivera talked to the fans and told them that their luggage got lost and that they have to thanks their friends of Courageous for helping them out. With March Or Die they continued and too soon their stage time was over.
Evergrey: Tom S.EnglundNext band to play were the Swedish Evergrey. And fans of them were curious who would be playing bass as Michael Hakonsson's replacement Fredrik Larsson joined HammerFall.... They started into their set with Blinded and Solitude Dominance Tragedy. They straight got through their set and didn't waste time with talking. No idea who was playing the bass, but he did a good job, even if he looked like being from a band like Mando Diao... Anyway, Falling then Still In The Waters with a guitar solo of Henrik Danhage. With Nosferatu they made their old fans happy. But the highlights of their set were Recreation Day and the final song Masterplan. Hopefully Tom S. Englund and his mates made some new friends, so that they can play a few more shows later this year... When their new album comes out.
Another Swedish band should follow... And also from Gothenborg - Dark Tranquillity. The band of singer Mikael Stanne was going full speed ahead from the first moment. For us it was time for some coffee, but even if we don't see them, we could hear them. They played songs like Terminus, Blind At Heart and Focus Shift - all from their latest album Fiction.
Then it was time to slow down a bit with some bluesy hard rock...Time for Thunder! And luckily only the British band and no more rain or even thunder. ;) Just a few months ago they successfully toured the clubs and no they returned for BYH. They kicked off their set with Higher Ground and songs like Low Life In High Places and Love Walked In they played some of their classics from their early releases, but also songs from the current album Robert Johnson's Tombstone they fitted into the set. Singer Danny Bowes never been a man of big gestures, but with British understatement he lead the band through the set. Good show and hopefully they will continue touring!
After the British hard rockers the Swedish Viking death metallers of Amon Amarth entered the stage. For us time to get food, coz we wanted to be back for Heaven & Hell. But we heard that they did a great show including songs like Death In Fire, Fate Of Norns, Pursuit Of Vikings and With Odin On Ourside. Don't shoot me, if they didn't play one of these songs, coz this is hearsay...
Heaven And Hell: Ronnie James DioDuring the longer change-over people gathered in front of the stage, waiting for Heaven & Hell. Drummer Vinnie Appice had to walk through a door to get to his drum kit and then Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler walked onto the stage and they started with The Mob Rules! In the back of the stage 3 gothic-shaped windows seems be which were used as screens. They showed the cover of Heaven & Hell... or some other images. Then Ronnie James Dio entered the stage and enthralled the people with his voice. The quartet is presenting a great collection of songs incl. Children Of The Sea, Sign Of The Southern Cross and Voodoo. As usual for bands from the 70's and early 80's they played long versions with jam parts. And it was fun! I'm not generally against drum solos, but in that case it was pretty boring. And I think most people in the audience would have preferred one more song.... Some more songs and then it was time to Die Young! The crowed went crazy again. The final song of the set was Heaven & Hell where Tony Iommi played a long, sensitively played solo. The front floor cans lighted up the stage in red and the fog made it look like flames! In the middle of the 'wall of flames' Ronnie James Dio. What a show! Then they left the stage... Just walked off... The crowd was screaming for more and they returned for Neon Knights!
The band left and so the fans. It started raining during the set, but nobody seemed to care. Only the guy in the 3rd or 4th row who used an umbrella! It's a miracle that nobody thrashed the umbrella... Guess it shows that metal fans aren't aggressive and tolerate a lot... ;)

Saturday morning... Even if it don't get that late at the BYH we didn't arrive at the festival site before noon... And missed Archer and Mystic Prophecy. Both shows should have been good - I heard. Mystic Prophecy played some new tracks, I got told...
We arrived when Powermad started playing Slaughterhouse. A powerful performance - and then they played their final song. No idea what's it title.
Mercenary: Mikkel SandagerNext one of my personal highlights of day no. 2 - Mercenary! The Danish always deliver a great show, very energetic. The songs of 11 Dreams and The Hour That Remain shook up the grounds. Singer Mikkel Sandager didn't talk much with the audience, but he tried to speak German with them. He used the platform a lot to get closer to the fans. It was obvious that the guys enjoyed being on stage. With Redefine Me, My Secret Window and Eleven Dreams their set ended. Too short! I hope they come back soon!
From Denmark to Finland... Time for Amorphis. The Finnish have recorded a new album which will be out late summer and so it could be expected that they play some new songs. Shouter Tomi Joutsen was in the focus and did a decent performance. But when it started raining we decided to get some coffee. With Alone (of Am Universe), My Kantele (Elegy) and the new song House Of Sleep they presented a mixture of songs of the last decade. Not bad, but after the great performance of Mercenary they can't keep up the level.
< Finntroll: Mathias 'Vreth' LillmånsMore Finnish music... These time even more unique with Finntroll! This band is pure fun! Shouter Mathias 'Vreth' Lillmåns is doing a great job, but isn't a performer. The other band members try to make up for their singer. Songs from Nattfödd like Fiskarens Fiende and new ones from Ur Jordens Djup like Ormhäxan and En Mäktig Här entertained with their mixture of humppa, joik and black / folk metal. And with Det Iskalla Trollblodet of Nattfödd they played their final song.
Brainstorm: Andy B. FranckNext on stage the German power metal band Brainstorm and so the audience in front of the stage changed... Fans of bands like Mercenary and Finntroll left to take a break and other replaced them. Not too long ago I saw singer Andy B. Franck with his other band Symphorce and they haven't had a good day... So I hoped he does better this time with Brainstorm... Actually Andy B. Franck is one of Germany's best singers and performers. Their current album is Liquid Monster and so they played a few songs from this CD - like Worlds Are Coming Through as opening track. Singer Andy was always in motion and even jumped into the photo pit to get closer to the fans! Highlights of their set were Inside The Monster, Blind Suffering and the last one - All Those Words. This year they aren't playing many shows, but for the ones who want more they just released a DVD called Honey From The B's.
With the oldsters of Nazareth it slowed down a bit. Scottish hard rock and a best-of-set. Singer Dan McCafferty and bassist Pete Agnew are the last original members of Nazareth, but the band started back in 1968 and so it's amazing that they are still alive and kicking! Opening with Razamanaz (title track of their 1973 release) and with This Flight Tonight they played early in the set one of their hits. At Hair Of The Dog they used some effects on the guitar and with Love Hurts their biggest hit followed. And with Morning Dew they finished their set. Resume: Old men who still can rock!
After we saw W.A.S.P. the last time we didn't had high hopes... And it started with a delay... It took them 10 minutes longer to fix the sound - at least they tried - and get the lights set up the way Mr. Lawless wants it. Finally The Doors song The End started as their intro and then they got right into On Your Knees. For this festival show they had no show effects with them, not even the swinging micro stand. And so it got even more obvious that backing vocals - and more - were played from tape. Actually I prefer some wrong notes in a real live performance to this! Their set included songs like L.O.V.E. Machine, Wild Child, Blind In Texas and I Wanna Be Somebody as well as 2 tracks from their new album Dominator.. - one was Take Me Up. It seems that many been disappointed, coz a lot people left the area in front of the stage and walked the ground looking what was on sale at the different merchandise booths. Looks like W.A.S.P.'s time it over... at least regarding their live shows.
Some more Swedish metal, even if HammerFall were the only Swedish today. On their tour drummer Anders Johansson had 10 bass drums with letters to form the band name - and he brought them even for the festival. The band is used to the big festival stages and had no problem to use the space and enterain the fans. Their old and new bassist Fredrik Larsson seemed to feel comfortable on stage and fit better to HammerFall then to Evergrey. For the 75 minute long festival show they put up a set list including their his like Renegade, Glory To The Brave (with band introduction), Let The Hammer Fall (pyro effects), Crimson Thunder, Hammerfall and Hearts On Fire. A good show, but without any surprises.
When Edguy were announced as Saturday's headliner, there been quite different opinions. Fans of the band were happy and think they deserve it. Others can't understand why they get this position. And so not just a few fans left before or after a few songs. After the intro the band kicked off their set with Mysteria. The set list was almost as at their shows in Wartenberg in February and didn't hold much surprises. After Tears Of A Mandrake Tobi started talking - and as always tried to make some jokes. Too much talking for me, coz after one more song - The Piper Never Dies - he gave us the next speech. And even if his band mates have a lot of fun on stage, it looks like they are getting bored by Tobi's jokes, too. The drum solo after Superheroes was presented again with the Darth Vader music and like the day before the drum solo didn't get much attention... For many time to get another beer.... And so again there is the question, why they include a drum solo at a festival show? Perhaps one day someone will have a good answer to that. Three songs and one speech later the regular set was over. But they returned for Out Of Control, Avantasia and King Of Fools. A decent show, but nothing new. Sometime during the 2nd half of the set they throw some big balloons into the audience... And at one point it looked like Tobi slipped and fell down, but I couldn't really see it... Perhaps it just looked that...
BYH 2007 is history now. About 15,000 people came to be part of the festival and so see the different bands. A good mixture from hard rock to melodic death metal. Our highlights were: Heaven & Hell (no doubt they were the winners!), Evergrey, Vicious Rumors, Thunder, Mercenary and Finntroll. Good performances of HammerFall and Edguy, but too much the same as on their last shows.
Anyway, BYH is on our schedule for 2008 and is together with the Czech Masters Of Rock our festival highlight. See you again in Balingen!

Claudia Ehrhardt
All photos: Copyright Claudia Ehrhardt


- Bang-Your-Head 2004 - June 25th & 26th - Balingen -

Cage, Ruffians, Shok Paris, Kingdom Come, Blaze, Primal Fear, Anthrax, Children Of Bodom, Gotthard, Queensrÿche, Alice Cooper, Ballistic, Angel, Omen, Lillian Axe, Death Angel, Magnum, U.F.O., Sebastian Bach, Testament, Iced Earth 

This is the 9th year Heavy, oder was?! is presenting the Bang-Your-Head festival. For me and my colleague it's the first time, but we had a good time. Some said that last year the billing was better, but well... For us it was great. There were almost 20,000 fans to party at that sunny weekend. Everybody was in a good mood. As usual there was a warm-up show on Thursday night, but we arrived early Friday. I came Thursday down to Hamburg and late that night we started our trip down to Balingen... A long drive!

When we got on the festival site to see the American band Cage we both were tired, but online I found a few very good live reviews from their US shows, so I wanted to see them. I like power metal with a lot of melody and that's what they offer. My favorite album of Cage is still Astrology, but unfortunately they didn't play much of it. And only one song - Shoot To Kill - from their debut Unveiled. But due to the short set I expected that they will focus on their last release Darker Than Black. The band of singer Sean Peck did a good job and the few hundred metal fans saw their set. Singer Sean Peck seemed to be not in best shape vocally... And the guitars were not loud enough... But that's what happens on festival quite often. Their performance at BYH didn't match the reviews from the US I saw, but they did good. (AP)
Ruffians came next. In 1985 the band released their now legendary EP, now 19 years later they came over to Europe for the first time. Many might know the band name coz their first singer - on the EP - was Carl Albert who got known through his work with Vicious Rumors later and died much too young in a car crash almost 10 years ago. Singer Rich Wilde like he came straight from 1985 to BYH with his spandex pants, old Dio shirt and hand-cuffs. Songs like Fight For Your Life, Run For Cover and Eyes Of Fire sounded very good and still fresh after all this years. Something special was Do Or Die from their 1987 demo tape. Guitarist Chris Atchinson was amazing and pretty happy about the fan reaction. The band was very authentic, only the bassist seemed to be from a NU metal band with his dreadlocks and baggy pants. Ruffians been a positive surprise to me. And I think to many others as well. (AP)
Another 'old' band - Shock Paris. Frontman Vic Hix had a few pounds too much, but was always in motion. Entertaining and talking with the people. Unfortunately they never become known here in Europe, just in the underground the melodic US power metal band make themselves known. Classic albums like Steel And Starlight should have got more attention. During the short stage time they had no time to play all their classics, but all the songs they played were great incl. Go Down Fighting, Steel And Starlight, Go Down The Throat and Chosen Ones to name just a few. Never thought that I'll get the chance to see them. Great show, just too short. Please come back. (AP)
The first band I really wanted to see were Kingdom Come. I still think - like most others - that the first 3 albums been the best. Newer albums aren't bad, but can't keep the class of their early work. Unfortunately mastermind Lenny Wolf decided to play mainly new stuff and only Should I and Living Out Of Touch represented the early days. Beside that Mr. Wolf was suffering from a cold and had obviously problems to sing. He was very unhappy about that and showed that he was sorry for the fans, but it was not in his hands. The band looked good... musically - everyone seemed to be a from a different world outfit-wise. Perhaps they should think about a more homogenous outfit for the show... Well, I saw better shows of Kingdom Come. For someone who never so them live it must be even more disappointing. Hope next time Lenny is in better shape. (SB)
Then it was time for heavy metal - Blaze. The former Iron Maiden singer Blaze Bayley came with new band member - ex-Pitchshifter drummer Dave 'Kite' Knight and bassist Wayne Banks (also ex-Pitchshifter) - and guitarist Steve Wary got supported by Oliver Palotai (Doro). Even if the songs of their debut Sillicon Messiah are most welcome the fans appreciated Ten Seconds and other songs. The last track was the Iron Maiden song Man On The Edge and it seemed that every metal fan was singing along. Good as ever. (SB)
The last German band of today were Primal Fear. The opening song of their last album Devil's Ground is called Metal Is Forever and that seemed to be the motto of the festival. Surely they played this one, but they started with Angel In Black and Chainbreaker. Even if there are still fans who call them Judas Priest clones, but they had developed their own style. Singer Ralf Scheepers was one of the last four candidates when Judas Priest were looking for a replacement for Rob Halford years ago. As all the other bands Primal Fear had some sound problems, but that doesn't do them any harm. Mat Sinner and companions played mainly songs from Devil's Ground and added with Nuclear Fire and Final Embrace some older tunes. I should mention that former Annihilator drummer Randy Black gave the band a more heavy and kick ass sound. (AP)
Time for some thrash. With the New Yorker band Anthrax another 'old' band were on the billing. I know that they are around for almost 20 years and that their last album was quite successful, but I never been a big fan of them. Anyway, they played a lot of classics including Caught In A Mosh, Got The Time, Madhouse and the Trust cover Anti-Social. I heard that a few weeks before the festival bassist Frank Bello left the band. He was replaced by Joey Vera of Fates Warning / Armored Saint. Family business in a way, coz singer John Bush is also the frontman of Armored Saint. The thrashers ended their set with Indians, one of their biggest hits. Okay, I'm still not a big fan, but live it seems that I shouldn't miss them again. (AP)
Another harder act came on next - Children Of Bodom. The Finnish band started as a melodic death band and is now playing some death'n'roll. Their latest album I like, but the early stuff is to hard for me. Even if they played a kind of best-of set they were focused on Hate Crew Deathroll - their current album. Songs like Sixpounder and Needled 24/7 were not just welcome by their fans. They have a new guitarist - Rope Latvala - but he was already integrated and it seemed that he was playing with the band for much longer. Singer / guitarist Alexi Laiho is a great frontman who entertains the fans, sings and plays. He's a power pack. Amazing show. I hope they continue the way they chose with Hate Crew Deathroll, coz more people will be open for that sound. Highlight of the set was Silent Night, Bodom Night - even if this is an old one, it seems that everybody loves that one. (AP)
Finally another band of my taste! Gotthard! This year the billing had more heavy bands and 'old' bands, for me as a melodic metal / hard rock fan the festival was interesting because of Kingdom Come, Gotthard, Queensrÿche and Alice Cooper - talking about the first day. The Swiss rockers are known for their ballads, but have a lot heavier songs as well. And today they came to play the harder ones like Firedance, Human Zoo and Top Of The World. With Let It Be they played a ballad, but did good to chose their hardest songs. During the cover version Hush the fans got really loud, but with this Deep Purple song you can't do any wrong. Singer Steve Lee's voice was great, but it seems that the band wasn't in the best mood... Only guitarist Leo Leoni was always in motion and seemed to be happy to play. Oh, I should mention that new guitarist Freddy Scherer - known as Freddy Laurence for their time with China - fit into the band quite well. (SB)
I was curious to see Queensrÿche again. I saw them on their first tours and I was also one of the fans who wasn't pleased with everything they released after Empire. Okay, there have been decent albums and a few good songs, but nothing in comparison with Empire! Also I have to confess that I was always a big fan of Chris DeGarmo and miss him since he left. Beside that the line-up was stable. The rumors that the Seattle progsters will play almost every tune of Operation: Mindcrime become true. The band play only songs from that album and singer Geoff Tate got joined by singer Pamela Moore. Songs like I Don't Believe In Love and Breaking The Silence sounded almost as on the album. But Mr. Tate had problems with the high notes here and there. Beside that it seemed that the band was tired of playing the classics... New guitarist Mike Stone didn't really fit into the band - I'm not talking about his outfit. And so I was a little disappointed. I saw them at the Operation: Livecrime tour and they weren't as good as in the old days. The encore was Take Hold Of The Flame, but also sounded weaker then usual. For metal fans who never so the band live this was a great experience, for me as a long time fan it was disappointing. Is this legendary band close to their end? (SB)
Tonight's headliner was the legendary Alice Cooper. Mr. Furnier is currently on tour in Europe and agreed on crowning the BYH on night with his performance. On a festival I don't expect the same show as on a tour, but the guillotine was missed. Alice Cooper concentrated on songs from the early days like No More Mr. Nice Guy, Billion Dollar Babies and School's Out. Even with this young backing band the master didn't look old, even if he pretended that during I'm Eighteen. The 80's he almost left forgotten - Poison was the reminiscence to the 80's - and choose songs from his latest releases like Dragontown and Brutal Planet. This time he hadn't a big show to present, but little show effects here and there made the 90 minutes go by too fast. Perhaps not his best show, but more then decent. The master of shock rock is still alive and kicking. (SB)

Day no. 2 started for us with the 2nd band - with Ballistic. Another US metal band on the billing. Tom Gattis is well-known in the metal community for his work with Deuce, Tension and Wardog. The album did well, only the changed line-up made me doubt. Especially that I didn't know who would be in the line-up. When I heard that Jag Panzer drummer Rikard Stjernquist would deliver the drum rhythm I felt a little better. Twisted Tower Dire singer Tony Taylor had took over the microphone. I'm not that familiar with his main band, but I had my doubts... Soon it was obvious that Mr. Gattis did right to hire these guys, coz songs like Collision Course and Call Me Evil sounded as good as on CD. For the Tension classic Wrecking Crew Tom Gattis took over the microphone again - amazing! Soon the 40 minutes were over and Ballistic had to leave the stage for Angel. (AP)
I would bet that 90% of the people in the audience never heard of Angel before. The band started in the 70's and was partly seen on the same level as Kiss, just that Kiss had more luck... Perhaps also the better songs... Anyway, Angel died - more or less - when their record label went bankrupt. This is AOR / hard rock. Perhaps not heavy enough for the majority. From the original line-up only frontman Frank DiMino and drummer Barry Brandt are in the 2004 line-up. Their former keyboarder Greg Guiffria some might remember from his work with House Of Lords. The Angels entered the stage all dressed in white. They are hard rockers knights in white satin and they offered songs like Broken Dreams, Fortune and Feelin' Right before they ended their set with Angels Theme. It was interesting to see this band, but I think that most of the headbangers would have preferred another act instead of them. A decent show, but probably the wrong festival. They fit more to Sweden Rock festival, Arrow Festival and Earthshaker festival.... (SB)
Again it was time for US metal. This time Omen were the one to play. Their first albums been classics and the re-release as a box-set last year was a gift to all the fans of US metal. Unfortunately their reunion album - late 90's - couldn't keep the high level of Battle Cry. Mastermind Kenny Powell promised the fans weeks ago to play mainly old songs and he kept his promise! The band played only the title track Eternal Black Dawn and 1000 Year Reign from their current album. But songs like Battle Cry, The Axeman, Death Rider and In The Arena made the fans go wild! Singer Kevin Goocher did an amazing job, but still J.D. Kimball isn't forgotten and so the band paid tribute to the legendary singer who died last year. Great show! Hope you come back soon! (AP)
It's been 11 years since Lillian Axe toured Europe the last time. They opened up for Judas Priest in that days. Unfortunately I never had the chance to see them, so I was really curious. Well, they looked much older then I expected, but musically nothing had changed. They played classics like The World Stopped Turning and All's Fair In Love And War. Guitarist Steve Blaze smiled all the time, he was happy about the reaction of the audience. And more and more fans came to see the Americans. Their die-hard fans were there from the first second, coz they didn't want to miss a moment of the last show with singer Ron Taylor. The band sounded pretty tight and acted quite professional, I hope they continue, even if they never really made it big... (AP)
Then it was time for Death Angel! It's been about a year since they returned to the stages. Late last year their 4th album - The Art Of Dying - was released and now they came to play in front of some more metal maniacs. They opened with Thrown To The Wolves from their latest release. Live the band is an unstoppable force. Singer Mark Osegueda and his Death Angels offered songs like Evil Priest, Disturbing The Piece, Stagnant, Bored and Seemingly Endless Time. Another new track they offered was Thicker Than Blood and finally Kill As One. The San Francisco thrashers made the crowd go wild and so the fans shouted for more when the band left the stage. Due to the tight schedule they couldn't return for some more, but I would bet that many of the fans who saw that show will go to see them next time they hit the clubs. Phenomenal! (AP)
Time to relax for fans of thrash and US metal, now it was time for some hard rock! Magnum came to rock the place. The British quintet started with All Englands Eyes. Singer Bob Catley sounded good as ever and haven't changed much during the last 2 decades. The band played a kind of best-of show including Les Mortes Dansant, Wild Swan, How Far Jerusalem and ended with Kingdom Of Madness. They also played 2 new tracks from their coming album. I guess that they will come on tour later this year... If you like hard rock, then you shouldn't hesitate to go and see them live. (SB)
Time for a travel back in time. The U.F.O. has landed at BYH. After 35 years the mainmen Phil Moog and Pete Way still have fun playing live. On drums Jason Bonham - the son of the legendary Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham - and on guitar the original U.F.O. members got help from Vinnie Moore who musically stayed in the back. Only keyboarder Paul Raymond seemed to be less motivated... With Daylight Comes To Town they played a new track, but this was a best-of setlist. People want to hear songs like Rock Bottom, Only You Can Rock Me, Lights Out, Too Hot To Handle and Doctor, Doctor. I saw them before and they never disappointed me. This was another great show from Moog, Way and companions. Great! Hope to see soon more then just an hour long set! (SB)
This was the band I was waiting for. For some reason I never saw Skid Row live and now I got the chance to see Sebastian Bach live! He started the set with Slave To The Grind. The years Bach was at the Broadway did him good, his voice is better, stronger these days and so Skid Row classics like Youth Gone Wild, 18 And Life, Monkey Business, Piece Of Me and I Remember You sounded better then ever. Wow! With Always & Never The Same they presented a new song and then they covered Rocky Horror Picture Show classic Time Wrap. Something nobody expected. And nobody expected such a great performance! Hopefully Sebastian Bach will find a line-up which lasts and that he'll come back on tour soon. (AP)
This year the BYH offered a lot for thrash and US metal fans. The Bay Area thrash legend Testament were the co-headliner tonight. For some reasons the break took much longer then scheduled and due to the strict curfew - 23:00 they have to be finished - the band of singer Chuck Billy had to cut down the set. But it seemed that nobody told them! The sound was so bad, you could hardly identify the songs. A few songs they added to the old Testament classics. After 45 minutes it was time to leave, but the band didn't want to leave. The organization had to turn off the power, but Chuck Billy & co. stayed for some unplugged stuff. Finally they left. Well, I saw some good shows of the band, but this definitely wasn't one of them. (AP)
Last, but not least - Iced Earth. For the first time Iced Earth play in Germany with Tim 'Ripper' Owens and so people were hot to hear the new Iced Earth. A huge backdrop and 3 canons on every side of the stage should create a special atmosphere. No intro. The band entered the stage and started off with Declaration Day. Not bad, but is Owens able to sing the Barlow hits? He did a good job singing Vengeance Is Mine, Melancholy, My Own Savior and the Something Wicked trilogy. I have to confess that he is doing an amazing job, but I miss Matt Barlow. As the encore they chose Gettysburg. This musical piece takes almost 20 minutes and not everybody is happy about that pick. Jon Schaffer and guitarist Ralph Santolla entered the stage in the different uniforms of the civil war. And the back was decorated with the 2 old American flags... This will start another discussion, I guess. And the performance as good as it's been will split the fans even more. It'll take time - probably years - until the Iced Earth fans will be united again. (AP)

And so the BYH 2004 was over. Many interesting bands, lot's of music and many fans who will come back next year to celebrate 10 years of BYH. See you then! (AP)

Anika Peterson
Sandra Bucher


Bang-Your-Head 2000
- June 30th& July, 1st - Balingen, Germany -

Destiny's End, Jacob's Dream, Exciter, Axxis, U.D.O., Rage, Saxon, Demons & Wizards, Scorpions, Lefay, Edguy, Primal Fear, Watchtower, Krokus, Virgin Steele, Jag Panzer, Doro, Running Wild

During the last months more and more acts got named for the event and a few weeks before the festival took place a few had to cancel. The reasons been different, but Horst Odermatt and his crew published their statements and organised bands for replacement. Personally I have to confess that I wasn’t totally satisfied with the replacements, but.... That's life!

On Friday morning the band Chinchilla opened the event around 10:00 a.m.!
Unfortunately I was too late. I also missed Evergrey, but I saw the Swedish about 2 months ago and they were pretty cool! As far as I got told they managed to be better than on tour!!! Later I had the chance to talk to the band and they were really satisfied with the show...
When I arrived at the festival site Destiny's End were already playing... The band of former Helstar singer James Rivera offered a decent 40 min. long set which incl. songs like Breathe Deep The Dark and new material like Transition, Stormclouds and The Watcher. It would be interesting to see the Metal Blade signing on tour!
Next on stage another Metal Blade band.... Jacob's Dream! The power metal sextet entered the stage and surprised the audience with 3 guitarists. Unfortunately sound problems made always one guitar missing in the sound and sometimes drums or vocals got kinda lost...... A pity, coz the sound of the sextet is based on the triple guitar attack. Songs like Scapegoat or Theater Of War couldn’t be presented the way it should be... Actually the band had to work on their stage acting, but they are newcomers and so they need time to learn. I guess that on the coming tour with Brainstorm and Armored Saint they will have the chance to proof their talent!
The trash legend Exciter entered the stage at 13:25 to take the people into a 45 min. long trash metal thunder storm! The 80ies legend haven't forgot their past and played a kind of best of set with War Cry from their current release. John Ricci and his mates played most of their highlights, even if someone missed this or that song... Jacques Belanger did a perfect job performing old and new songs godlike. Only the sound was not perfect.... One of the highlights and sad for the ones who missed them due to the early stage time on Friday! We can just hope that the Canadians return to the European stages soon!
After a 15 min. long break the German melodic metallers Axxis came to make the fans sing and dance. I have to confess that singer Bernhard Weiss and his mates been a lot better than a week ago in Pratteln! Their show at the Z7 Metal Dayz was disappointing, but it seems that it was their dog’s day.... The set incl. the same songs, classics like Stay Don't Leave Me, Touch The Rainbow, Heaven In Black as well as new ones like Flashback Radio. As a replacement of Axel Rudi Pell and his band Bernhard Weiss and his mates they hadn’t an easy job to do. But it seems that the pressure, they probably felt, made them even better!
Also U.D.O. played at the Metal Dayz, so I stayed somewhere in the back and had a coffee... Udo Dirkschneider is a living legend of German metal, perhaps the living legend.... Again they played the same stuff as at the Holy tour which included Accept classics like Midnight Mover, London Leatherboys, Cold Winter Nights, Restless & Wild, Son Of A Bitch, Metal Heart, Balls To The Wall and as encores Princess Of The Dawn and I'm A Rebel. He also presented some songs from Holy and older U.D.O. stuff. The audience loved the oldster and his mates. The old man still rocks!!!
Personally my first real highlight of the day came next... Rage! The powerful trio which started an almost perfect show with From The Cradle To The Grave. From the first second the fans went crazy and started banging and singing. Not just during the new stuff like Back In Time or Wash My Sins, also old songs been welcome. No easy job to top a set like U.D.O.’s!!! Peavy and his mates had to cut down the setlist, coz they had just 60 min. which was a pity! Last Saturday at the Z7 festival they played on headlining position and took the chance to travel back in time... The Swiss fans (and the ones who came over from Germany or France) got the chance to listen to some old classics which we missed at the festival due to the limited time.... I hope to see Peavy, Victor and Mike soon on a headlining tour with a new album!
The Saxonian metal eagle landed and the powerful sound conquered the fans within minutes. Biff Byford's gang seemed to be as fresh and powerful than in the early days. Biff and his mates rocked the crowd!!!! The set included old and new songs like Motorcycle Men, Dogs Of War, Wheels Of Steel, Princess Of The Night, Song Of Evil and A Thin Red Line make the crowd screaming and singing along. It's unbelievable that after all these years his band know to entertain not just their old fans, also youngsters love the band! NWoBHM is still alive and as long as Biff and his boys will release albums like MetalHeads the fans will be there to listen to. A lot of NWoBHM heroes returned from the ashes of their past, but SAXON is still alive and kicking!
About 3 weeks ago the project of Iced Earth's Jon Schaffer and Blind Guardian's Hansi Kürsch played their premier show and now Demons & Wizards were at Balingen to play the only festival in Germany.... The expectations for the album been pretty high and so are the expectations for their live performance. Live Jon and Hansi got support by the German bass player Oliver Holzwarth (Paradox), guitarist Richard and drummer Richard Christy (Iced Earth, Death, Control Denied). At the Bang-Your-Head the band presented a different set which incl. also some Iced Earth stuff! It is obvious that Hansi enjoys his position as the singer and frontman, but the whole band seemed to have a lot of fun on stage. Even is Jon Schaffer, the perfectionist, worried about sound problems and that the stage acting could be better.... The fans went crazy and proofed him wrong!
The last spot on Friday night took the German hard rock legend from Hannover.... The Scorpions! For many this was a disappointing headliner and so quite a few left. The band of singer Klaus Meine and guitarist Rudolf Schenker made a good decision to concentrate on the old classics and not to play almost new stuff. It was good to hear songs like Loving You Sunday Morning again live after all those years! Their stage acting was always great and so it is now, even after 30 years in the biz they don’t seem to be tired! During one song Matthias Jabs and Rudolf Schenker got joined by Klaus Meine on guitar. Classic tunes like The Zoo, Dynamite and Big City Nights sounded pretty good after all these years... Probably the powerful drumming of James Kottak gave the SCORPS the drive which I missed the last time they toured... Sometimes Klaus Meines voice was kinda drowning due to technical problems in the instrumental sounds..... A surprise was when James Rivera of Destiny's End came on stage and joined the legend during He's A Woman, She's A Man. At the end of the set Rock You Like A Hurricane was the highlight before the band finished their set with When The Smoke Is Going Down...... And the band left......

Saturday morning I missed the opener again... Shame on me, but 10:00 a.m. is too early! But I was there in time for my Swedish friends Lefay! The quintet always been a superb live act and even if this early hour is usually not their best time of the day.... Charles, Tony and their mates tried to see the positive side of playing early. Even if technical problems handicapped the Swedish, they offered a powerful set incl. songs like S.O.S. or When Gargoyles Fly from their latest release S.O.S. as well as stuff from The Seventh Seal and Symphony Of The Damned. Only 40 min. and it was over.... Good to know that the Swedish power metal heads will be back on stage in late August to tour with Angel Dust, Steel Prophet and Stormhammer. Anyway, the band had fun on stage and so do I in the audience.
Edguy been the next on the billing. Tobi and his mates offered a decent set which presented also some songs of The Savage Poetry which been released by AFM Records. The melodic power metal musically entertained the people as well as Tobi who was running around on stage to be close to the fans on the right as well as on the left side of the stage. Musically there is no doubt that the German youngsters know how to play, but with their image/attitude they are not everybody's darling... Anyway, a great live band which knew how to entertain the fans at that early time of the day... Okay, Tobi's jokes not everybody got due to the language barrier, but songs like Until We Rise Again and Vain Glory Opera everybody understood. Music is still an universal language!
Shame on me again, but Manilla Road I missed, I needed a break and a coffee after this power metal fireworks! But from the catering tend I could listen and.... I have to confess that I'm not into Manilla Road and so I can't tell much about them..... A bus of Greek fans came just to see these band and they loved it.... I guess they did a good job.... Sorry, but it's impossible to know and / or like every band... Please forgive me!
Another highlight for me Primal Fear! When I saw them last fall on tour Mat and his friends had just been left by Tom Naumann, so his spot was filled by Alex Beyrodt (Sinner, Silent Force). Now the German masters of power metal been back with a new guitarist! Henny Wolter who some will know from his days in Thunderhead. Henny not just replaced Tom in Primal Fear, also in Sinner and at Z7's Metal Dayz he did an excellent job with Sinner! They had just 50 min. and so they started with power and Silver & Gold. A mix of songs from their self-titled debut and Jaws Of Death drove the fans crazy. Tracks like Church Of Blood, Battalions Of Hate and Final Embrace proofed the class of the German power metal heads. Ralf Scheepers was in an excellent condition and sounded very powerful. With Mat and drummer Klaus Sperling the band has a superb rhythm section which build the playground for the guitars. Stephan Leibing and Henny Wolter seemed to play together for a long time. An excellent set which got crowned by their version of Judas Priest Another Thing Coming which was presented in a kind of duet with Joacim Cans of Hammerfall! Well done! Please come back soon!!!!!
Watchtower entered the stage and personally I'm not into them and the strange outfit of band couldn’t convince me at all.... I listened to the first songs, but.... They did a good job, just not my cup of tea and so I don't know their songs. Some friends who are into Watchtower said that they played an amazing set incl. all their hits!
New York's melodic power metal export Virgin Steele entered the stage and the fans been puzzled... Where was the bassist? David DeFeis explain that he was arrested and so it was impossible to come to Germany with them, but the band didn't want to disappoint the fans and decided to play this show as a trio! Mainman David didn't regret! They offered a good show incl. songs from all times, but focused on the last album The House Of Atreus Pt.1 and also presented some new stuff from the Magick Fire Music EP which is an appitizer for the coming The House Of Atreus Pt. 2 later this year. Due to the fact that they had to play as a trio David DeFeis recorded all bass tracks and so the bass lines came from tape. Very unusual to do it that way, but it worked! Unfortunately that also meant that they had to concentrate on 'new' material and the old classic didn't made it to Balingen.... But I think on the next tour we will hear them again.....
After a long time the Swiss hard rockers returned. Krokus are back on stage and soon it was obvious that the hard rock veterans enchated the audience. Songs like Screaming In The Night, Heat Stroke and Bedside Radio are classics. There is no doubt that they can rock! From the original members is only Fernando von Arb still in the band, but with Carl Sentance they found a great singer and frontman. During the first song Long Stick Goes Boom the Swiss rockers proofed all the sceptics wrong! Don't miss them!
For just one show Jag Panzer came over from the States, the only show in Europe in the year 2000! Their latest release Thane To Throne is out which is for me definitely one of the highlights this year! I had my doubts about the way to transport the theme of MacBeth, but the band made it! Now I was curious to see what they present live! Harry 'The Tyrant' Conklin and his mates always been in motion and offered a decent stage acting. From the songs they pick, the fans been divided into two main groups, I guess. Many missed the old classical tunes and seems to dislike or probably don't know the new material. Others seems to wait for new material and weren't pleases my the older stuff. Personally I think that Jag Panzer offered a good mixture incl. Chain Of Command, Iron Eagle, Shadow Thief, The Moors and Licence To Kill! I'm looking forward to see them on tour sometimes in 2001!
After a short break Germany's female metal export No. 1 entered the stage. Nick Douglas and his band mates did a perfect job again and gave Doro the possibility to concentrate on her stage acting. Okay, the show wasn't perfect and when Doro introduced a new song the drummer started a different song, but she explain that their long-time drummer Johnny Dee had an engagement and wasn’t able to come over with the band. But they got a helping hand from the drummer who's playing with Nick Douglas in a band. For the short time (3 days) of rehearsing, it was amazing how tight he was. Doro offered a mixture of old and new tunes incl. All We Are, Burning The Witches, Metal Tango and Burning Up, the single release of the coming album Calling The Wild and the hymn of the Düsseldorf American Football team Rheinfire. After 50 min. the band left the stage and soon returned for an encore, but didn't played the scheduled 70 min. due to the short time of rehearsing. That was the only negative point or more correctly the only thing which was a little disappointing. See you at Wacken!
The festival was almost over when the German pirates of Running Wild entered the stage as the last act of the Bang-Your-Head 2000! And they started with a big bang and a lot of pyros as usual. Long time since Running Wild played at an open-air. Rock’n’Rolf and his squad returned to the open-air stage with the program of the Victory tour and it was a victory for the Hanseatic!

Last, but not least I want to say thank Horst Odermatt and his crew! You all did an incredible job! It's a pleasure to be at the BYH, coz the organization is pretty good and the local crew is friendly and always giving a helping hand. Beside that it's relaxing to have just one stage and to have the possibility to see all bands! Keep on rocking and I'm looking forward to be at Bang-Your-Head 2001!!!! CU in Balingen!!!

Claudia Ehrhardt


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