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February 25, 2020

Brutal Assault 2019: Festival report

I don’t want to write typical day by day report so enjoy non-typical one.

Everybody is attending the festival in aim to see some certain, favourite bands, so today I’ll tell you about my personal favourites.

Emperor. I like this band so much since from their very first album and it was something like a big dream see them live on stage because their gigs weren’t scheduled for my country. Two years ago they toured with Anthem to the Welking at Dusk, the album, which is something like one of the best albums in metal music. So it was very sad because I could not visit any of their gigs that time, but this year Emperor played this masterpiece again so I was very happy! That’s amazing music with the filigree work of musicians, charisma and great performance of Ihsahn with his awesome vocals, and just amazing Trym on drums! Just like a cherry for a cake were songs like “I am the Black Wizard” and “Inno a Satana”. Thus even if Emperor were just one band on the festival this year I would never regret for coming there! Definitely number one band for me on Brutal Assault!

Destruction, Sodom and Tankard. I won’t write about each one of these bands separately because these bands (including Kreator of course) are the godfathers of Teutonic thrash metal and they haven’t lose their crazy energy for 35 years! Each of these bands influenced on several generations of metal musicians so is was unbelievable great to listen to their classic songs (including some new songs). I enjoyed “Agent Orange”, “The Morning After”, “Zombie Attack”, “Empty Tankard” and other killer songs. Just incredible bands! Each with its own attitude! Total Destruction!

Therion. I knew their set will consist of songs from Theli album. In spite I have listened to some of these songs live already it was fantastic to listen to the full album! Incredible! The best symphonic album of all times, awesome performance and production! Admiration!

Next old-school bands I was waiting for were Voivod, Testament, Anthrax and Hellhammer.

Voivod, perhaps, became the first disappointment of the festival: their performance was not interesting, without doze of “fire” and “energy” and musicians looked tired… Anyway it was great to hear some classics from the ’80s, but I expected much more.

Testament played pretty powerful, but from my point of view, something has been missed; probably it worth to visit their solo gig in aim to feel all the energy that musicians has. For now, it’s OK, but without some admiration. Anyway, I’m happy I was there while their performance.

Anthrax. I was excited to see them and I hoped to hear the songs from their golden times, from 80s albums. I was rewarded: “I am the Law”, “Madhouse”, “Antisocial”, “Indians” and other hits of all times made me crazy and bang by my head! I still remember the old days when my friends and I had great parties with these songs and musicians just throw me 25 years back! Awesome!

Hellhammer. From my personal point of view, Hellhammer were the kings of the festival! Hellhammer, along with Bathory and Venom built an image of all extreme metal, that’s true. To see the legend and die! Those who do not know this band do not have a right to call themselves “metalhead”. I don’t want to describe their performance, it is just must see and hear personally. Luckily, they are touring across Europe now, so if somebody still haven’t seen then – hurry up to buy tickets and rush in front of the stage!!! Such thing will not happen anymore, tour ends and epoch will go…

Now, after I did recall Hellhammer performance, I do not know how to continue with the report, but I have to. Moreover, there are more bands which I waited and enjoyed. Bands like Kampfar, Hypocrisy, Immolation, Incantation. Basically, I saw all the bands before except of Incantation, but all of them played top quality, with great shows. Immolation was especially powerful with their satanic death metal and “mad” vocalist, whose vocals were probably made in hell! By the way, Incantation was the same killer, but unfortunately I haven’t seen their entire show because I left to see Jinjer, I’ll tell more about them.

So, Jinjer. Of course, I was more than interested to see their performance, moreover, their ex-drummer previously played in my band.

As far as I know, Jinjer is one of the most active touring bands in Europe now, they are working hard, with huge ambitions; that’s good and they are just awesome! I like their performance in spite I do not like such kind of music at all. Musically it’s a mix of groove, mathcore and metalcore played by good musicians and sung by charismatic vocalist Tanya. The band is truly cool, they are able to turn people into madness from the very start and they are known in the world thanks to Napalm Records. I’m proud of them because they are bringing Ukrainian metal into the masses.

I also would like to write about bands, which I didn’t schedule to see but I was glad to see them. First of them – Metal Church. The old band playing for a while (since early of the ’80s) and I like them, but I’m far not a real fan of them. I did expect nothing from their show but nevertheless the band played pretty good, and even reminded me Overkill by parts. As a friend of mine said – Metal Church plays American Metal.

The next band was Combichrist. Basically I was curious to see them but their performance was scheduled for late night and I was afraid that I will not be able to survive until the late night. But, luckily for me, their performance has been swapped with Anaal Nathrakh (they were just late). So what is Combichrist at all? Combichrist is an interesting mix of EBM with some metal and two(!) live drummers with powerful beats! Huge drive, some kind of dancing music for metalheads. Everybody had a great time, including me!

One more band I have been never heard about and got know about them just on the festival was Parkway Drive. Later I got the info that they are pretty famous but I didn’t hear about them at all then, because they are into metalcore, the genre I’m not into. All in all their music is good, so I was charged with energy from time to time, but the main thing was cool show with pyrotechnics. It was worth to see! The band is from far Australia by the way.

I couldn’t miss the Iron Reagan, the band which helped me to wait for Hellhammer show and woke up my mind after Electric Wizard (which was too boring). Just in 20 minutes these Americans filled me with a huge dose of adrenaline and made my blood hot with their crossover-thrash! I woke up and was able to wait for Hellhammer. Thanks so much to Iron Reagan! =)


The disappointment of the first day was Batushka. I never liked their music even on albums, so I do not know if it was “true” Batushka or not, and I do not care. Honestly, I can’t still understand why do people like them so much: they did a boring show for me personally, just an impression like I was in some church and priests screaming something! Totally not my cup of beer.

Next disappointment was the post-metal band Cult Of Luna: absolutely boring music, all the songs were something unidentifiable. Electric Wizard were probably more boring than Cult Of Luna, like I have mentioned before.

All that hardcore a-la Sick of It All and etc was about “nothing”, but gave a chance to have some time to walk and to speak with friends. I also didn’t like Napalm Death at all. From my point of view it was not even grindcore (to the fact – I like grindcore) but there were some crazy screams with a noise; crazy nonsense. I like all their albums from early of the ’90s but now this band quit my mind absolutely.

The next revalued band for me was Mgla. I can’t understand what do they have such interesting and unusual. I have listened to their albums and found nothing special so I wasn’t happy while their show, all the time just bum-bum-bum bum-bum-bum, total shit.

Now I must write about Ved Buens Ende: I was very interested to see them and their show was good but this is not a band for live shows from my point of view, they are just pretty avant-garde, that’s why their music is more for albums.

Now I’m finishing with the musical side of the festival. Carcass was the last band for me at the festival and it was very worth ending! The kings of British death metal played their main songs/hits from the ’91 and ’93non-stop. Yep, I think such bands should close festivals!

And now let’s speak about the non-musical part of the festival. The wonderful thing is there were many places to have a rest and relax in the festival area when you are not in front of the stage. For example, we have visited Fear House and it was funny! There was also gaming zone with the vintage slot machines from the ’80s but unluckily I haven’t visited that area, cinema with horror movies and several Lounge Zones where you can have a rest, listen to some relaxing music, and drink something or even smoke cannabis (legal in Czech). On the other side of festival area was located a place where you could try yourself as a blacksmith; a separate small scene where you could take an instrument and play something (and then to tell everybody “I played at Brutal Assault!” :)). Of course there was a lot of merch! Fans were able to find anything: t-shirts, CDs, vinyls, some toys, some funny things and everything they could need 😉 Huge range!

Festival food also wide scale! Really lots of foods! Vegans food, meat, some oriental kitchens: Czech, Polish, Indian, Thai and more but my soul asked for Ukrainian borsch with a fat :))) Many different beers, cider, alco and non-alco drinks (Jager, lemonades). To make a long story short there was anything you want. In spite of many different alcohols I didn’t see too much drunk as hell people, which was great too.

So, critics’ time has come: we must do it in aim festival become better and better.

First of all: I’m a non-smoking man and I was suffering because of passive smoking. Smokers are everywhere: under the tents, inside, outside, everywhere! It was impossible to stay under the stage and not to be smoked from all the sides. It was really hard for me. And when you can hide somewhere outside of tents, it’s impossible to do it under the tents. For example, Obscure scene: it was impossible for me to stay there, everything was smoked. I was able to watch only four songs during Tankard set, I just felt a lack of air and gone. People are smoking even in tents for foods! Dear organizers, if you can to do something with this, please fix this problem.

Next problem is overcrowding! Why sell so many tickets and get the whole fortress absolutely full… Sometimes you even can’t take a step. One more problem was the new area on top of sound-engineers. There were around 200 “happy” people but thousands of people were suffering because of that because the sound becomes worse and you can’t watch the show even from Natural Stand area; seems like you are watching not a gig but to the heads of other people, that’s awful. Why? Take it off.

Showers: people who used to live in tents told me it was impossible to get a shower – huge lines and volunteers who do not speak English at all. Please choose people with minimal English and put more cabins. I don’t know, maybe there is a lack of space or whatever but please try to solve this topic, far not all the people rent rooms or hotels because it’s impossible, but people must have access to the showers.

Next thing is the problem of each festival – rain. I do understand nobody able to change the weather but when it’s raining, the whole festival area turns to mud. And this is easy to fix, just bring some sand to the most difficult places to walk. You probably can’t do because you want to preserve the historical integrity of the fortress but I think some sand would not be a problem. You just walk knee-deep in mud, and then there’s nowhere even to wash your shoes.

These are the moments I wanted to highlight in terms of criticism but everything else is wonderful: the festival atmosphere, the music and the entertainment! In general, everything is gorgeous and the festival is wonderful. I will continue to come here. Thanks to all who make this festival reality!

Text and impressions by Denys Ivanov

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