Angel Dust, Savage Grace, Exumer, Living Death, Omen, Flotsam & Jetsam and Exciter
Many metal fans been to concerts at the Matrix in Bochum, now Essen is the cultural capital of Europe in 2010 and it's not just Essen, it's the area. Unfortunately the communities don't regard metal as culture, so there aren't any events planned. Even if Kreator were invited by German TV as part of the kick-off - only got time to play one song and a very short interview with Mille -, but that's better then nothing. Anyway, Matrix organizers thought it's necessary to have such an event and so Metropole Ruhr Festival got on the way.
Unfortunately I can't tell you anything about the first bands, coz my colleague who wanted to be there early, got sick and I found out too late...
As for me the first real highlight on the billing was Angel Dust, I made sure to be there in time. It's been awhile since I have seen Angel Dust live, now with singer Dirk Thurisch back in the band I was really looking forward to their show. The place wasn't packed, but it was obvious that more then just a few metal fans came to see them. Diving into their set with Let Me Live - if memory serves... For the next one Unreal Soul singer Dirk Thurisch picked up his guitar, but songs like Border Of Reality and Nightmare they pleased the fans. It seemed like they play together for a long time, Dirk Thurisch was always in action and trying to get as close to the audience as possible. Unfortunately the lights were set up badly, so that whenever someone was close the edge of the stage he was standing in the dark! The guys even presented a new song from their upcoming CD and it fitted into the set perfectly. If I got it right the song's called Out Of Fantasy, but don't shoot me, if I got this wrong. First In Line let into Cross Of Hatred where Dirk picked up a megaphone to deliver some distorted vocals. Unfortunately they ran out of time too soon and with Bleed they closed their set. Hopefully we'll see more of Angel Dust soon!
The change over time was pretty short, usually only 20 minutes. Next in line were Savage Grace! The band of singer Chris Logue was on hiatus for a long time. Last year Savage Grace returned, but it's only mainman Chris Logue and the guys of Roxxcalibur as his backing band. In the early / mid-80's Savage Grace released 2 EPs and 2 full-length albums, so the set would be a travel back in time. They kicked off with Bound To Be Free off Masters Of Disguise. Dressed in black Chris Logue concentrated on his vocals, in the past he also played guitar, but with two guitarists in his live band there is no need to. "Let me hear you Oberhausen!" Mr. Savage Grace shouted - and the fans answered loudly. After Into The Fire another one song from Masters Of Disguise should follow. One of the highlights of their set was the title track Masters Of Disguise and We Came, We Saw, We Conquered. After The Dominatress they had to come to an end, and as a surprise the closer was a cover! "We gonna do something crazy! I didn't write it, but I love it!" And the band played the first notes of Judas Priest's Exciter! The fans sang along even louder then before!
After a break it was time for Exumer, but more fans gathered in the foyer... Seems that not everybody was into them. Actually I'm not very familiar with them - same about Living Death - and my colleague should have covered them... They had a Latin chant which was used as an intro and then the band entered the stage to start their set with Winds Of Death. The band released only 2 albums in the mid-80's - with different singers. Now both singers are in the band, but Paul Arakari these days only plays guitar. Mem von Stein announced "Possessed By Fire, a trip, a journey - a Journey To Oblivion!" Time for a circle pit! And even if Mem von Stein asked everybody to join in, most didn't. While Exumer were still on stage others speculated about the show of Living Death who were next in line. Rumors spread that they won't play anything off their first 2 albums - and that their performance at KIT was so-so... Then it was time for the band from Velbert to enter the stage. First they played Grippin' A Heart and as a closer they choose Eisbein (mit Sauerkraut). Some old Living Death fans left for the foyer and were quite disappointed that again they didn't play anything off their first albums. Singer Thorsten 'Toto' Bergmann doing his best, but his stage and vocal performance weren't convincing... Heard someone saying that he looks like he's trying a bad impersonation of Freddie Mercury... The band's performance was quite good, but I doubt that they made some new fans... Guess they lost some of their's with this performance. Sorry.
At least the following bands were quite promising! Last September Omen played at Swordbrothers VIII - and a lot more shows meanwhile. So singer George Call and his mates played like a well-oiled machine - and presented very early in the set - after the opener Termination - Death Rider, one of their classics! "How do you feeling tonight?" Mr. Call asked. The place was on fire! And with Dragon's Breath and Ruby Eyes they continued. With Die By The Blade it was time for some more off Battle Cry! Guitarist Kenny Powell had to play with a broken finger, Call explained and that he wanted to play, to continue this tour. This guy is metal! He was always in action and it seemed that he wasn't limited in his playing at all. The band even presented a new song, something off the upcoming album and the title is either Blood & Water or Blood On Water... At least it sounded like that... With The Axeman they played another classic and the fans loudly sang along. Songs like The Curse and Teeth Of The Hydra sounded fresh and the band vivid. Can't wait to hear more of the awesome foursome!
Just before Flotsam & Jetsam entered the stage one of the organizers, Martin, used the chance to talk to the people and explained why it wasn't possible to leave and re-enter the venue earlier that day and that he's sorry about that, but understands that some were really pissed about it. They will try to improve that next time.
The Americans started their tour on April 1st in the Netherlands, so tonights show was their 4th in a row and everything worked out perfectly - okay, at one point the mic dropped out for a moment. With the opener Doomsday For The Deceiver they started, and the crows went crazy! A little later singer Eric A.K. asked the audience "Did Omen kick some ass? Now some real old stuff!" And they headed into N.E. Terror from their No Place For Disgrace album, and more should follow! The guys offered a great performance! "Yeeha! Waiting for Exciter tonight? Ready for some Flotsam & Jetsam?" With Me and Hammerhead they continued. Eric A.K. was walking around and seemed kinda restless... Lost in his own sonic world. But songs like Escape From Within and Hard On You sounded just great. "Last time we had a different line-up... on bass Shane Martinez!" Eric enlightened the audience. And Shane let us into I Live You Die! As Flotsam & Jetsam had just an hour they had to skip a few songs of the current set list, at headliner shows they have a few more to offer. They came towards the end of their set, "The singer from Exciter want to hear that one, so check it out!" Eric shouted and they played Look In His Eyes off Dreams Of Death. Great one, thanks to Kenny Winter for requesting it! One more to go and it was over. During the set the fans started a mosh pit and it was partly impossible for me to take notes. Band and fans were ready for a break. Great set!
One more time Martin came on stage and this time he announced that there will be a Metropole Ruhr Festival in 2011! So far they could only announce two bands - Desaster from Koblenz and Accusser! No headliner's could be named yet, but soon they will announce more bands of next year's installment.
The last change over took a bit longer, but then the Canadian force stormed the stage! Guitarist John Ricci and his mates offered with songs from all stages of their 3 decades long career. Right from the start John Ricci and bassist 'Clammy' posed while Rik Charron on drums forced them ahead. Songs like Metal Crusaders - off their Blood Of Tyrants album - and In Mortal Fear from their latest album Thrash, Speed, Burn warmed up the fans. After Victims Of Sacrifice it was time for the bands anthem - Heavy Metal Maniac! And the place was on fire! A huge mosh pit and crowd surfers showed that Exciter were offering exactly what their fans wanted. Exciter isn't a band which is constantly touring, but on stage it didn't show! Singer Kenny Winter was trying to get close to the fans - and so was most of the time standing in the dark. Between the songs he talked a bit to the audience, but never wasted time and so songs like The Dark Command, Violator, Massacre Mountain and Thrash Speed Burn were hitting the fans like rapid-fire. With Reign Of Terror and Long Live The Loud more neckbreakers were offered and John Ricci showed his skills in a solo. Too soon they came to an end and left the stage, the fans were shouting for more and so the foursome returned for a few more songs incl. Pounding Metal. It was close to midnight when the band finally left the stage and Metropole Ruhr Festival was over.
A long day full of thrash metal ended and I think that most of the thrash fans were satisfied with MRF, even if there are a few things to improve.... Let's see what MRF 2011 will offer, but I bet that the majority of fans will be back. And if the billing is as good as this time the fans from Belgium and the Netherlands will be back and bring some more thrash metalheads, and perhaps even the Swedish fan will make the trip one more time.... See you next year!