Review by OFFICER NICE
METAL TO INFINITY
almost every summer I travelled again to the North of Germany for another
edition of the best garden party on earth, at least the heaviest one. I was
obliged to voyage alone but it, next to the traditional traffic problems,
didn’t stop me to reach my goal; the mighty HEADBANGERS
OPEN AIR FESTIVAL.
Just as last year there were plenty of traffic troubles between Bremen and
Hamburg; will these works never stop? Did these guys ever see the Belgian roads?
But I made it and was in for three more unforgettable days in my Metal career.
and Jurgen are always able to invite bands that either never played in Europe,
either hardly visit the lowlands. JAG
sadly cancelled, which was a big misfortune and ASKA
didn’t make it either. Nevertheless there were enough goodies to look forward
to like ANVIL
to name a few. Time to make the garden burn!!!!
The biggest difference between last year and now is that there were less Metal heads present, as far as I know there were about 2000 visitors. Nevertheless this edition was sold out and Thomas explained me they sold 10% less tickets by purpose because too many HOA die-hards complained about the overcrowded 2009 edition. In my opinion the problems of the 2009 edition weren’t actually in the garden itself, where the festival took place, but on the meadows next to the garden. There were back than too many non-visitors of the festival, camping nearby and only out to drink… and too much alcohol causes often fights. And to be honest… violence doesn’t belong in the Metal scène! This year only people who are interested in the festival seem to be allowed and that was to me the biggest improvement.
The familial atmosphere that made this festival so
unique, as in the old days, will never come back again but the organization is
in my point of view good as it is right now. Anyway I didn’t witness any
fights now, neither have I heard about thefts this year (I only hope that one
girl found back her camera). It proves that the organization listens to their
visitors and that money isn’t their most important source of inspiration! Hail
Thomas and Jurgen for it! The weather wasn’t always with us but once more that
didn’t stop the crowd being enthusiast from the beginning until the end!
As I’ve told you before I was forced to travel alone but no one is on his self out here. Belgian and Dutch friends were present, I had a few drinks with German people I know or talked with strangers who were, just as I was, searching for some rest on the benches. It doesn’t matter who you are in real life, Metal bonds us all here! People from around the world were present, even from far away (Japan, India…). I had a great time and I’m already looking forward to the next edition!
one was promising because of the fact KILLING
was on the bill. I missed the band at the Graspop Metal Meeting because I knew
they were scheduled for the HOA Fest. Unfortunately the band couldn’t make it
at last, damn!
festival took off with the Spanish Heavy Metal band STEEL
These guys just released an album on Stormspell Records. I did write a review
about it and this really is a band to check out. Not only did they release a
decent album, onstage they were pretty good too. To warm up the crowd this was a
perfect band and this kind of Metal never misses its effect on me and the other
True Metal fans in the garden. Great start!
is a band I’m not exactly familiar with. I know that these guys are from
Sweden but I didn’t have any clue how they would sound. I was told it was a
mixture between Doom and Stoner Rock, that their last album was good Power Metal.
Anyhow I witnessed an enthusiastic band that didn’t have any trouble
entertaining the growing crowd.
you believe SHOK
still alive? I couldn’t… Not that I have ever been their biggest fan but
their three albums were decent enough. Isn’t this the band that still lives in
Aftershok nowadays? I suppose so… I know Stefan of MTI is a big fan of them
and asked me for a T-shirt, unfortunately there weren’t any available. Even
harder is to say to him that Shok
delivered a fine show and I can tell you I regret the fact I didn’t dig their
music before heading to this festival, I will do it now!
of the first day was DESTRUCTION.
I am a big fan of US Thrash but I have always respected Destruction
as icon of the German Thrash Metal. “Curse the gods” is my favorite song of
them and of course this was the opening track for a Thrash Metal party! Germans
are fond of their own bands and I suppose Destruction
felt how popular they still are. They played at home, used their most famous
songs and could count on a fanatic public… could this go wrong? Of course not!
second day took off with a shower and coffee! Not that I drank too much beers
the day before but it’s ideal to wake up! The shower is ideal to make it
through the day I thank God I don’t have to stay at the camping. I admit I’m
becoming too God damn old for it…
wise the day started with JAMESON
This NWOBHM band isn’t famous in our community but I’m sure that oldies
amongst us have heard about them anyway. Their compilation album “Just as the
dust had settled” is available on CD and NWOBHM fanatics should try to
purchase this one. Jameson
Raid was in fact another perfect band to start the day; their music is
actually a mixture between Hard Rock and the first Heavy Metal. The slow tempi
and less heavy notes were what we needed to face this day so early in the
afternoon. These oldies still know how to play good songs and believe me the
public took them in their arms.
was hard to read ASKA
didn’t play on HOA but don’t ask me for any reasons; it’s
between the band and the organization. STORMZONE
them but I missed them, hanging out with friends around the beer tent… That
was the reason that I also missed ROXXCALIBUR,
hearing them play lots of classic Metal songs.
The next band I really saw was
At the last edition of the KIT festival these guys were fantastic and to be
honest they did it once again. Time doesn’t seem to get grip on these guys;
they were as energetic as youngsters. Of course “Slave to freedom” and
“Wild cat” were enough to make the crowd sing along but also newer songs
didn’t miss their effect. TOPT
is still alive and kicking and proved once more being a perfect band for a
festival. They should visit Belgium as soon as possible…
band I traveled 666 kilometers for was without any doubt AMULANCE.
As a big fan of US Power Metal I couldn’t miss their first gig on European
ground. At the end of the eighties they released the “Feel the pain” album,
a masterpiece if you would ask me. Also their release at Stormspell Records,
“The rage within…” is worth checking out. The band kept their promise
bringing along their latest release on this festival, an EP called – what did
you expect – “Deutschland”. Talking about the show I can tell you Amulance delivered some first class technical US Power Metal but
they suffered a bad sound, especially in the beginning. It didn’t stop me
enjoying tracks like “The alpha one”, “Black moon rising” and of course
“7th son”. No disappointment at all but a better sound was needed
to blow me away. I’ve heard that good sound was present at the after party in
the Headbangers Ballroom in Hamburg. Amulance
was, as far as I’ve heard, excellent and mind blowing over there and I pity
the fact I missed that show. I really hope these friendly Americans will come
German metallers STORMWARRIOR
delivers plenty of clichés but the Germans seem to be fond of them. It has
never been my kind of Metal. I was actually waiting for MEKONG
to me one of the best German Metal bands ever. I adore this kind of technical
Thrash Metal and they blew me away! Nevertheless I am aware their music is often
too difficult to play for a public like this one. It didn’t stop me enjoying
every minute of this gig, it even made me buy their very first album again –
on CD this time. These guys never disappointed on CD and their last album will
probably end in my personal top 20 of this year. These are ultra professional
musicians, delivering an exclusive virtuosic performance!
wasn’t actually time for any rest because ANGEL
showed up. Also these guys delivered several fantastic albums and even a few
classic ones. As far as I know I never saw the band on stage but afterwards it
seems I never missed anything. This was a big letdown and Angel Dust
wasn’t able to please me at all. The vocals were at some points really false
and no matter how good these musicians are, they weren’t convincible. I
didn’t see this one coming, stayed disappointed behind.
appeared at the last KIT festival and also there this NWOBHM band could
convince the crowd. Germans are fond of Demon
and the classics “Night of the demon” and especially “Don’t break the
circle” made easily the garden burn. It’s a God’s gift that the NWOBHM
lives again and everyone who lived in the eighties should try to see bands like
and Tygers Of Pan Tang
again, they’re worth it. On the next edition of the Ages Of Metal Festival
(Belgium) you can witness Jaguar, I’m curious to see them too! Next to Picture
and Ostrogoth they’re another good reason to visit this Belgian festival band
witness some good old NWOBHM. Anyway Demon
delivered once more a good concert!
of today was CULPRIT.
The same story as Shok
Paris; who could imagine this band would ever come back again? I own
their CD “Guilty as charged” and although I’m not their biggest fan I’ve
talked with several people who worship this release. I didn’t see the entire
show but what I saw was pretty impressive. Great musicians, a good singer and a
very dynamic band! Especially their bass player was eye catching, obliging every
person in the garden to watch the show. I still pity I missed their tribute to
Ronnie James Dio by performing “Heaven and hell”. At least a good band to
end the second day…
Headbangers Open Air there isn’t really a Metal market and that’s a pity.
Although you can find merchandise of the most bands on the bill I missed
spending time spitting CD’s and the Hellion Records shop is far too little.
Good point is that I saved lots of money because of it, money I have to spend on
the next German festival I will go to.
the third day started I had some talks with a few French youngsters. They
travelled from the South West of France to support
French Thrashers were invited to start. The garden was not overcrowded but these
French guys did a good job. One after another Metal Thrashing song was played
and these youngsters are ultra dynamic. I enjoyed their gig, their music made me
awake at once!
band I saw on stage was BATTLEAXE.
These English lads made two albums in the eighties and took a flight to Germany
to perform another old school NWOBHM show. Be sure the Germans know their stuff
and so it wasn’t that difficult for Battleaxe
to please the crowd.
an American, pretty extreme, thrash Metal band that kicked major ass on this HOA
festival. Their singer joined the mosh pit and this dynamic and aggressive set
was really awesome. One after another sharp riff was blown in our direction and Blood
Feast delivered a more than enjoyable concert.
I was waiting for the first highlight of the day, OMEN.
Since George Call (ASKA) joined the band we saw them several times in Europe.
They appeared two times at the KIT festival and toured in Belgium as well.
George really lifts the band up to a higher level with his fantastic voice and
classics like “In the arena”, “The teeth of Hydra” and “The axemen”
sounds terrific with him behind the microphone. Also the new song “Blood on
the water” sounds promising for the new CD. Omen
made the garden burn again!
Next up was ANVIL CHORUS, a rather strange band if you would ask me. This band was formed in the early eighties but their debut album, “The killing sun”, was released in 2009. Believe me this is an album you really should purchase. Strange to see not any label ever picked these guys up, especially because they were so innovating 25 years ago; mixing slight Progressive and melodic tunes. Their melodic and yet slight Progressive music was innovating 30 years ago but some kind of misfortune must have take part of them. It’s great to see the HOA organization were able to invite them for this festival! I know a Belgian guy who travelled to this festival for this band only, arriving a few hours before this gig and to drive back when the show was done. Just as he did I witnessed superb tracks, fantastic guitar solos, outstanding double leads… Anvil Chorus contains two fantastic guitar players; Thaen Rasmussen (stage guitarist of Vicious Rumors and wasn’t he a guest musician on Heathen’s “Victim of deception”?) and Carlos Hernandez (I also saw this guy on stage before but don’t ask me with whom…). It was a pity that it started to rain while Anvil Chorus played and so many people, who searched a roof above their heads, missed this fantastic show! This was without any doubts, musical wise, one of the highlights of this edition of the HOA fest!
appeared at the Graspop Metal Meeting, where they delivered a decent concert
and is scheduled for the next ALCATRAZ festival. These oldies still know how to
please a crowd and with their old school set it wasn’t that difficult to set
the place on fire again. Tracks like “Rock until you drop”, “All for one”
and “Mind over Metal” could be heard and were appreciated by this middle
know people who would sell their soul to see SOLITUDE
on stage. This band, fronted by Candlemass singer Robert Lowe (to be exactly I
should say Candlemass is fronted by the Solitude
Aeturnus singer) rarely plays in Europe. I know they appeared at one of the
former KIT festivals but I missed that one. Anyhow the atmosphere was perfect
this evening and a dark clouded moon could be witnessed behind the stage. I was
really in for this concert. Solitude
Aeturnus contains fantastic musicians and Robert Lowe owns a godlike voice!
Doom Metal isn’t always the easiest music to please a public with but what Solitude
Aeturnus did was extraordinary! I really enjoyed this concert!
for German festivals is that the headliners play pretty late. After three days
this isn’t the most comfortable way to watch another band but I didn’t want
to miss VIRGIN
The band started with bad luck because there were troubles with the light show
and with the sound. The microphone of David Defeis didn’t work in the
beginning and it was clear he wasn’t at all happy about it. It didn’t stop
him to use his typical howls. The band was energetic and I didn’t notice
anything negative about them. I’ve heard they were bad at the Rock Hard
festival but what I saw right here was good. Classic ones like “Noble savage”
were really appreciated by the public and Virgin
Seele was a worth fully headliner.
I didn’t stay until the end because I had to wake up early but I’m
looking back to another great concert.
So another edition of the HOA festival ended. I had a great time, talking and drinking with friends about Metal, watching awesome gigs. It was a bit bizarre to me to travel so far without my lovely wife but I survived! I’m already looking forward to the next Keep It True festival and even the next HOA festival looks promising with POWERMAD, TORCH and MELIAH RAGE but I’m sure more great names will be on...
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