Headbanger's Open-Air 2002
- June 21st & 22nd 2002 -
- Brande-Hörnerkirchen, Germany -
Gorgon, Holy Moses, Iron Cross, Lord Weired Slough Fed, Majesty, Ritual Steel, Rival, Shadow Keep, Skylark, Solemnity, Squealer, Twisted Tower Dire, Vortex
Does anybody know Brande-Hörnerkirchen? No? I have to confess I didn't know it as well until June, 21st 2002, but then I was there to take part of the H.O.A. which is located in this small town 25 km far from Itzehoe. After a five hrs. long drive we arrived at the hotel which we had booked awhile ago. After we watched the soccer game Germany vs. USA we took a cab to the festival area. "Wow, great!" was my first thought when I arrived with 3 friends of mine, all are real metal heads, at the festival area. As a underground journalist I brought my ticket, coz I think that what the people of Headbanger's Ballroom from Hamburg are doing here for years is worth to support. Just to mention it, I haven't seen any journalist from one of the big magazines. When we entered the festival area just in time to see the Judas Priest cover band Electric Eye it started raining and our faces fell. Actually the next day the weather wasn't much better, more about later!
Unfortunately we missed Skull Harvest and the Judas Priest cover band wasn't a revelation. Afterwards The Barrocks came on stage who offered cover version of several metal heroes and did quite well.
The first highlight of today came on stage at 9 p.m., it was the obscure American band Lord Weired Slough Feg who offered an unusual mixture of Manilla Road and Omen. Many parts were very complicated and complex, but never really crossed the boarder to chaos. The performance of mastermind Mike Scalzi and his mates played brilliant U.S. metal. Songs like Marauder or Heavy Metal Monk did quite well. They had a good sound and so the trip to Brande-Hörnerkirchen was worth doing!
But that wasn't the highlight, coz next were the American band Twisted Tower Dire on stage to present underground metal to their fans. In with the first note they played, I had goose-bumps. Singer Tony Taylor, a sympathetic frontman with a brilliant voice, and his mates offered U.S. underground metal at it's best. Fucking Hell, what a performance! Most of the songs the band played are from their latest release The Isle Of Hydra, but the limited time didn't allowed to show more. So they finished their set with The Witch's Eyes and it was the fucking best show I saw this year! Long live the king, long live Twisted Tower Dire!
Then it was time for Holy Moses who presented their new album at the H.O.A. I never was a fan of Sabrina's voice and so their show wasn't really motivating for me. But I have to confess that I really liked the killer guitar riffs of Holy Moses, if only the croaking vocals wouldn't be added... That ruined everything for me and also the song. So, the fire Twisted Tower Dire started, was gone and I preferred to chit-chat with Bruder Cle and some of the Paragon members.
I was very curious to see the British metal band Shadow Keep. There album Corruption Within which was released in 2000 and speeded up my heartbeat. The band was impressing, especially shouter Rough M. (remind me of Martin Walkyier and wasn't pretty tall as well) with his high vocal range enchanted the fans around midnight and was excellent. Even if the contrast between the short shouter and the gigantic guitarist Nicki Robson looked quite funny (rumors say that they have a relation...) the performance of the British power / prog metal band was more then decent which the song Dark Tower proofed again and was also the end of their set.
Last, but not least the German band Solemnity of frontman Sven 'The Axe' and his mates know how to impress the fans, even if it was long after midnight. They presented their new album Reign In Hell. Metal at it's best! Let's see what tomorrow holds for us! Want to head a funny anecdote? While Stefan W. (who I share the room with) and I took the chance to get a lift to the hotel from Ritual Steel singer Sascha Maurer (thanks again, man!), our companions decided to stay a little longer and have a few more beers. They haven't thought about the way home, coz even if the distance to the hotel should just be 1,2 km (air distance) was almost 6 km away. Hahahaha, the blisters at your feet will remind you, guys!!!
And so they were not that happy when I entered their room around noon to be back in time on the festival. This time we took the car, so that they don't have to walk again by night. Meanwhile I learnt that some people from town have been very nice and prevent them from a long and rainy walk to the hotel, so the taxi driver they called, told them that he won't get up again for a 2 km drive. Thanks man, that's service!!!
Whatever, Ritual Steel were waiting for us and it was worth to be there in time! When frontman Sascha Maurer entered the stage armed with two plastic swords for kids - I first thought this was a late joke for Fools day - the most obscure music of a German band followed. Cool, Ritual Steel are different, can't be compared with any other German act! No lalala metal, they were playing epic power metal which sounds due to Sascha's unnatural vocals very unique. Next month their debut will be released and I guess it'll give them some headlines in the genre magazines. Musically Ritual Steel left no doubt about their abilities, but this childish sword swinging was ridiculous.
Something which can't be said about the punk metal heads of Erosion. They played two doomy mid-tempo songs which I liked, but the rest was not my cup of tea. Just a matter of
But Majesty from Lauda are really what I like! The band is aware of the popularity their self-produced album Keep It True got them and many bangers in front of the stage seemed to agree. And so Germany's Manowar gave the banging fans what they were looking for... True heavy metal!!! Metal to the metal heads!!! I'm really looking forward to see them live in October!
I missed Dark Age coz I had some interviews and some business talk to do, but what I heard afterwards the band showed a performance which lacks highlights....
Then the Japanese Gorgon. Hahaha, only watching the Asians on stage was a lot of fun. Musically the offered tracks with a lot of cliché and 80's metal which made the crowd happy. Even if the Japanese wasn't musically perfect, it's real metal to work a whole year just to play one show in Germany! That's enthusiasm! That's something many bands these days lack...
Not Fragile was also not my cup of tea... Not bad, but for Saturday a band like Paragon would have been better, coz today's billing had one or the other band which wasn't musically satisfying or fitting.
The Dutch band Vortex fit into the billing. They had a lot of fun on stage and so do the fans in front of the stage. They also had a lot of fun the day before in the camping area. The band who's getting slightly old proofed during the 2 days that they can drink and that they are really funny guys.
I should mention that 3 bands had to cancel their show at the H.O.A. before the event which is really sad, coz this 3 bands where the reason to go to Brande-Hörnerkirchen for me. The bands who cancelled were the American band Premonition, the Dutch Angus and the German-Finnish band Wizzard.
Anyway..... It was about 8 p.m. when the German band Mob Rules enter the stage. The band of Hammer editor Matthias Mineur offered melodic songs, but haven't be the top of today's billing...
But the Italian band Skylark were one of the highlights. Rumors said that the Italians of Skylark were the only band which got paid rooms.... Musically they are playing in the vain of Stratovarius and Rhapsody. That kind of music and their set wasn't inspiring for the audience. The only thing which was thrilling was their short-haired singer with the sunglasses who's high-pitched vocals reached the highest dimensions. And so I welcome the end of their show. My ears felt like they were bleeding... This clowns seems to be on the wrong event, we don't need them on H.O.A.! It seems that the group of mid-40's who were slightly drunken and had Nuclear Blast plastic bags on their heads had the same opinion, coz during the whole set they sand funny stuff while the band was doing the chorus. And their funny vocal lines always fit to the music of the Italians. Resume, Italian noodles are eatable, but Skylark weren't pleasurable.
Squealer who were next were much better. The band of AFM label boss Henner played a decent set and the fact that the drummer was using a click-track made me think that he is new in the band.... The quintet offered only their hyper-fast songs.
Now a highlight of this rainy Saturday: Rival! Wow, that's metal! Technically complex U.S. metal with a lot of breaks and tempi changes. The band of singer and bassist John Johnson (Wrestler, or what?) seemed to be very surprised about the euphoric reactions of the audience. They were so impressed by the fan reaction that it caused a slip of the tongue during the song introduction. They didn't expect this enthusiastic reactions. Seems that they didn't know this kind of reaction from their American shows... Anyway, Modern World, Death Stalker or Evil Within are gems of versed U.S. metal and the guys of Rival seems to enjoy the show. I think that their trip to Europe was rewarding for them.
I guess it was the same for the epic and slightly obscure Iron Cross who were the last band to play at H.O.A. 2002. Even if most of the fans were on their way back home or lying drunken in their tent or somewhere on the festival ground, the guys of Iron Cross called for the last battle. The fans who were still their had a very good time and so the rainy festival ended. A small, but excellent metal meeting for fans of traditional metal which I can just recommend to include in your festival schedule 2003!
At least I have to praise the sound engineers who gave their best and tried to do a decent sound for every band. Also the people from Headbanger's Ballroom I have to praise, coz the enthusiasm they have should be the basis for more events. They support the underground which is as important, perhaps more important than organizing commercial events like Bang-Your-Head, Wacken Open-Air and With Full Force. If the guys shall be able to book a similar billing next year, I guess I have to go again to Brande-Hörnerkirchen next summer. Last, but not least... Raise the metal fist!