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- FortaRock 2010 - July 2010 - Nijmegen (NL) -


FortaRock 2010
- July 3rd 2010 - Nijmegen (NL), Park Brakkenstein -

After last year's successful first edition Nijmegen hosted the metal festival FortaRock for the second time, once again with a line-up that couldn't be more diverse. The inevitable queue at the entrance - still sunny - Park Brakkenstein at noon looks impressive, but thankfully resolves rather quickly.

FortaRock audience

That's why Textures can play on front of a small crowd, but that doesn't make the first gig for Textures' new singer Daniël de Jongh much easier. Compared to his predecessor De Jongh's looks and sound are much rougher. It definitely adds to the band's sound, that the last few years has only become cleaner. The stage presence of the new front man isn't always very dynamic, but despite that his introduction goes down smoothly - this however can't be said of the musicians - unlike usual Textures make quite a few mistakes here and there. (RvE)

Ex Deo at FortaRock

Ex Deo [picture above] were the first to enter the main stage, but not just the players suffered from the merciless sun shines - the audience did too. The stage design and the field are rather modest, not to say cramped this year, but because of the slightly disappointing attendance of the festival it doesn't cause any problems. The mid-tempo death metal with Roman Empire-themes of Ex Deo are boring, monotone or hypnotising: this all depending on the taste and heat-resistant nature of the listener. After 30 minutes of this we can conclude that the sound at the field, which last year had often been much too low, is more than okay now. (TG)

Still some complaints about the tent stage. The prodigious sound of Hail Of Bullets [picture below] transports the concept of war to music is an indispensable part of the band's concept. Due to the overwhelming drum sound however this is rather hard to notice. The guitar sound of Stephan Gebedi sounds like a swarm of bees, where one would wish a bomber to kill it. Therefore it's good that Martin van Drunen leads the show with a big grin. He introduces for instance the song Warsaw Rising – a heavy song about the battle of Warsaw – quite lightly with comments about the nice sunshine.

Hail Of Bullets at FortaRock

Surprisingly, Decapitated – not the most clear sounding music in the world – proves on the big stage what a difference good sound can make. No matter how fast new drummer Kerim 'Krimh' Lechner blasts on his drums, the sound stays very crisp. The Poles play horribly fast and fixed, but above all manage to give their music a human groove. That's a big difference with their fellow countrymen of Behemoth, who, a little while later, try to sound as mechanically as possible on the tent stage. From the first few seconds the band waltzes the audience down. An effective, but hardly a dynamic modus operandi with which the group manages to impress audiences more and more. (RvE)

Watain [picture below] provides – with sardonic pleasure - the much needed counterweight to the summer fun in Brakkenstein. "The fun ends here!", screams singer Erik Danielsson, when throwing a well aimed liter of blood in the direction of the audience, which acts as the introduction to the song Devil's Blood. The band, expanded to a quintet when playing live, rises to great heights especially during the intense second part of the show; they manage for example to conjure a classic Mayhem vibe with the ghastly beautiful Total Funeral from the last album, despite the unnatural setting. But not everyone's of course willing or able to go along with all the squared cliches of the Swedish black metal which are presented by Watain, who, like a good rock'n'roll band, balance ably on the slack rope between crafty circus act and the black magic act of being (sincerely) possessed by the devil.

Watain at FortaRock

The other misfit on the festival, the in Roadburn & indie rock popular band Baroness [picture below], also stands its ground excellently with a sizzling set of classic rock jams, whereby they even cite Jimi Hendrix' Machine Gun to clarify their intentions. There can hardly be any complaints about the singing of John Baizley and Peter Adams, who can occasionally be a little weak live, today, even though the two of them also battle it out on their guitars as if their life depended on it at the same time. The scorching heat does wonders for the muggy, intense and slightly psychedelic sludge. The quartet from Georgia, which makes sure that the seventies are also represented on this festival for all ages, will probably have gained some new fans.

Baroness at FortaRock

Ensiferum on the other hand doesn't deliver as well. The Viking metal of the Finnish is stamped full with busy folk- and death metal riedels and the national delicatessen of cheesy keyboards, and is therefore hardly dynamic. The band looks rather serious despite the fine attire and that's why Ensiferum doesn't really succeed in giving a good, over-the-top Viking show. At the tent stage however there is a party going on in front of the World Cup screen: the German visitors present can celebrate the victory on Argentina. They've thought about everything at FortaRock. (TG)

Fear Factory showed recently in the Melkweg that the new band members can easily uphold their industrial sound. It turns out that it was a smart move to attract drum phenomenon Gene Hoglan. It's a feast for the eyes to see how the colossus fires his salvos away, seemingly heedlessly. The set saves the best for last. Fear Factory opens with new songs, goes a bit further with Edge Crusher and finally triumphs with Replica, the hit song everyone was waiting for.

The scorching heat gives way for overcast as the day goes on, which eventually results in a refreshing shower during Kreator. It's hard to catch the kings of the German thrash metal on a bad day. Flag Of Hate, Pleasure To Kill, Enemy Of God and Phobia are venomously fired away at the crowd, which eagerly takes the downpour. The oldsters give away a spectacular show - even in the rain. (RvE)

Killswitch Engage at FortaRock

The melodious metalcore of Killswitch Engage [picture above] on CD here and there slits into post grunge. Live, however, it sounds very good and it immediately becomes clear why the five from Massachusetts are such a big name in their home country. With a star role for guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz, a hybrid of sorts between Angus and a fitness guru, 'KSE' gives a great, thoroughly American show with not just exceptional playing, but also fun, self-mockery and a lot of energy. The expected final song is the cool groove metal cover of Holy Diver, especially fitting now as a tribute to the recently deceased Ronnie James Dio. (TG)

The crowd, now fulfilled with a new portion of energy, can immediately continue jumping in front of the main stage. The mercenaries that nowadays make up Suicidal Tendencies [picture below] give the band a fat Infectious Groove sound. Especially the rhythm section excels in funky improvisations due to which Possessed To Skate, We Are Family and the invariable opener You Can't Bring Me Down differ considerably from the originals. They make up for it by playing formidably. Suicidal Tendencies easily fills its playtime with hits, while Mike Muir preaches between running for his own parish. (RvE)

Suicidal Tendencies at FortaRock

The first edition of FortaRock had an atmospheric ending with Moonspell, with Suicidal Tendencies as final act the festival ends (in daylight) with a nice nostalgic chaos. The annoying, distant Metallica-meets-Nickelback metalcore of the actual last band of the day, Bullet For My Valentine, is actually a downright anticlimax, which can only entertain a few young fans in the half empty tent. What's still left of the old guard amuses themselves with the band members of Watain, who at that point have already been at it for quite a time with a match of binge drinking.

That's how the quality and the large range of the musical variation and the cozy small scale of the festival make the second edition of FortaRock without a doubt to a successful metal party for the broadly interested metal lover. On the other hand, the bet of a festival without real headliner wasn't the best choice, because quite a few visitors ended up leaving early. The highlights can be found in the margin (Decapitated, Watain, Baroness) and with the easily scoring groove acts (Fear Factory, Killswitch Engage, Suicidal Tendencies). The headbanging Dutchies will have to get used to this considering there are no big metal festivals on the horizon here in the Netherlands, even though we can hardly blame that on the extremely likeable FortaRock. (TG)

Text: Ruud van Esch & Thijs Gouwerok - (Originally published in Dutch at KindaMuzik.net)
Images: Niels Vinck - More photos? Click here!

Translation: Solyndra


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