It is an unspoken tradition at the Brutal Assault, but a tradition nonetheless, to put a goregrind band at 10:30 on the last day of the festival. This year, it was Rectal Smegma‘s turn and people had brought their toilet brush as a symbol representative of the genre. In the case of this band, giant dildos would maybe have worked better since their misogynistic lyrics made them sound like a bunch of dicks. The music is still enjoyable if you forget the song titles (since the lyrics are impossible to decipher) but I wish there was more diversity in those than a litany of references to « bitches ».
Next up was Blood Red Throne and even if they do know how to play brutal death metal well, they didn’t do much else to catch my attention. All Out War on the other hand were a band I was impatience to see considering how much a legend this guys are in hardcore. With their Slayerific riffs and their windmill inducing mosh part, All Out War are veterans of the metallic hardcore genre and proved it well with an excellent selection of tunes. None of their new songs sound different from the formulas they have developed over the years and it’s completely fine with me. Not many people were here to see them but the few moshed happily for a good half an hour. Brutal Assault is definitely not a hardcore festival, but when they bring bands from this world, they bring the best of them.
Back to some death metal with Defeated Sanity but i’m not in the mood for technical brutal death metal. Still, it’s impossible to deny that these guys are excellent at what they’re doing so I probably will investigate later. Rosetta, on the other hand, offer a perfect set for a Saturday morning. Their space themed postcore has grown along the years and gone are the days when they sounded like an Isis cover band. Nowadays the quartet mixes post rock melodies with some technical mastery to make it less atmospheric and more dynamic. However, the heaviness is still here and Michael Armine‘s screamed vocals don’t sound out of place. From the bits of conversation we could hear, some fans were actually very devoted to the band and one fan even suggested a wedding between him/her and the singer.
I then a break to come back to the hardcore of Ratos de Porao. The Brazilian legends have quite a lot of fans here despite how metal this whole fest. Despite the sun, most heads are nodding in approval to the sound of these crusty beats but I would like to check another band over at the Metalgate stage (located far away from the main two). Sadly, it proves to be a bad move as the promising name of Outre (who share their name with one of Portal‘s album) just play some decent, but basic, black metal. I end up turning back after two song to watch the end of the Holy Grail at the movie theater.
Cryptopsy is next and the absence of a noteworthy album since And then you’ll beg came out in 2000 does not change the fact that the crowd here adores them. Among all technical brutal death metal, the Canadian legends are still gods and continue to prove it with a setlist of songs taken from their first four essential albums. However, the new song played that day proved that there will still some creativity left in them and they might finally put out a noteworthy disc later this year, or earlier next year.
It’s now time for Demilich and they did not disappoint the slightest. Back when I first heard them, almost a decade ago, I could not get into their take on death metal because of the vocals and how complex their music sounded. But, now that I have caught on with the program, I understand how forward thinking they were, and still are, as they go through nine songs, seven taken out of their only full length, Nespithe, and two from their second demo, The four instructive tale… of decomposition. Everything here was recorded in 1992/1993 but it all sounds fresh through the hands of those extremely talented musicians. The drummer stands out in particular not only because of his playing but because he does not rely on any trigger on his double bass. Apart from the singer, no other speak to the crowd and they all keep a very stoic face in front of the adoring crowd. Still, towards the end of the set, you could see them smile a bit, finally warming up to the fact that years after they first broke up, people finally understand and love what they do.
The Haunted are finishing their set when I come back and they seem to be doing ok despite losing a lot of the original line up and reverting back to a thrash machine. However, it’s for Suicide Silence that the kids, and a lot of older fans, are waiting for. Once they start playing, it’s easy to understand why they are so successful. Their nu metal meets brutal death sound is huge and overproduced as hell but very tightly played. New frontman Hernan Hermida (ex. All Shall Perish) lacks a bit of the charisma of his predecessor but pulls out some effective (if completely stupid) speech in between songs to keep the crowd in the mood. With lyrics about « parents not letting you be who you want to be » it’s obvious who the target audience is here but they lap it up and it’s easy to understand why. Suicide Silence is the over processed and pre-digested version of what extreme metal is about. A gateway to extreme sound if you will. Forgettable after you’ve become an adult but effective enough to make you want to continue to listen to more extreme sounding music.
It’s now time to go back to Metalgate stage for some Victims and their swedish crust. Much like everything else that comes out of this country, Victims are great at writing catchy melodies and these guys are no exception. On the side of the stage, Tomas Lindberg (At the Gates, Disfear…) is nodding approvingly despite having a trio of annoying and talkative persons in front of him. Proof that you can’t go anywhere without having assholes ruining the show you’re trying to watch. Victims still sound awesome and the crowd goes nuts for them, rightfully so.
At 21:00, the night is starting to fall and it’s a good time for Dead Congregation to come onstage. Coming out all guns blazing in 2008 with the excellent debut Graves of the archangel, the Greek death metallers took their damn time to release a second album but they are now in their way to become the new heroes of the scene. There is nothing wrong with worshiping Immolation, especially when it’s done so well, but these guys have grown into their own sound with the mastery of true experts. The sound is a bit muddy under the Metalgate tent but it suits them better than the clinical sound Suicide Silence had on the Metalshop stage. Their set list pulls all of the best songs from their two full length for forty five minute of pleasure, finishing with the title track of their first album.
Back on the biggest stage, At the Gates are getting ready to destroy and destroy they do. Their show at the Brutal Assault in 2012 felt a bit stale because of the lack of involvement displayed by the band, apart from the ever enthusiastic Lindberg. After that, their show in December of last year in London was a good return to form but not the devastating performance I was waiting for. However, this night they finally show what they can be capable of with a fantastic setlist filled with all of the classics from Slaughter of the soul, Kingdom gone and Terminal spirit disease, and a lot of songs from last year’s At war with reality. Even among all these classics, Death and the labyrinth, The circular ruins or closing number the Night eternal did not sound out of place. As Lindberg said jokingly on stage, At the Gates does not like death metal, they love it, and this setlist was definitely a love letter to the genre and its fans.
After such a triumph, it was almost time to call it a success but there was one last band to see. It had been seven years since I had seen Wisdom in Chains and I could not miss an occasion to enjoy their mix of hardcore and punk rock melodies and neither could the large crowd that was already in front of the stage when I arrived. Playing with a large gap between the band and the crowd is not very convenient for hardcore but the big choruses sung by Mad Joe Black can grab the heart and vocals chords of anyone at any distance. Despite his voice being tired, according to him, he sung with his heart out some excellent tunes like When we were young, My friends and Chasing the dragon. With smiles all around, this show had a nice family atmosphere that brought this new edition of the Brutal Assault to a fitting end as far as I was concerned.
Another year with a fantastic line up and a great organisation. Brutal Assault keep on being an inevitable destination for me every year and will remain this way as long as it stays true to its valor of diversity and openness. Even if most attendees don’t seem to be too bothered with subjects like sexism or homophobia, the organizers seem to be care about making this place more inclusive with a diversity of bands from various country and some diversity of gender, as far as it is possible in metal. As I write this live report, only Exodus and Birdflesh have been announced (+ 98 bands) for the 2016 but I have little doubt that I will get another ticket and end up walking in Jaromer once again.