[Festival] Brutal Assault 2016 – The good and the bad

Despite still being the festival i will immediately consider going to every year, this edition of the Brutal Assault was probably the one I enjoyed the least out of my seven-time at Jaromer. Unlike most of the people who arrived on Wednesday I didn’t experience too many problems getting in but I have heard the testimony of people waiting three or even five hours to get in, a fault I am sure the organisation of the festival will make sure it doesn’t happen next year. The implementation of a cashless system seems to have successful with refund now being offered for the coupons that have not been spent and a very easy method of payment widely available all over the festival ground.

What really made this edition of the festival was how bands I wanted to see where spread across the festival. A problem I know will be nearly impossible to solve for the following edition. However, having many headliners play on Wednesday when people are just arriving at the festival was very frustrating. Previous years had a shorter day of the festival on the Wednesday with mainly local bands as warm up and some headliners. I remember Nuclear Assault and Melechesh playing last year. This year however it was Neurosis, Dying Fetus and Mastodon who played back to back, transforming the Wednesday into a very important first day which I mostly missed because I didn’t know plan my trip with an early arrival on Wednesday. I also assume that a lot of people who were at the festival missed these bands because they had to wait outside. Therefore, it would be wise next year to ensure a system to allow people to get in as fast as possible. The information on the website was also slightly misleading since Mastodon was put in bold with Behemoth and Ministry, implying they were not booked for the first day but for one of the main three days.

Now that the frustrating bits are out of the way, let’s talk about the music.

Most notable acts

Despite only seeing seven songs and Brent Hinds‘ voice being a bit off, Mastodon‘s performance was one of the best of the weekend. Even without a consistent sound for all vocals, the musicianship of the band managed to win me over in no time and erase all the tiredness of the trip with The wolf is loose, Crystal skulls and closing tune Blood and thunder being highlights of the show. I can’t wait to jump on any occasion to see live them again and will be waiting for the new album by finding every album on wax (i already got Remission and The hunter for a total of 33 Euros at the festival).

Mutoid Man followed with another fantastic jokes full of smashing memorable tunes and excellent jokes provided by the power trio/stand up act misters Brodsky, Cageao and Koller provided. I was born too late to really enjoy their cover of Castlevania‘s and Contra‘s theme but the musicianship was rocking nonetheless.

Chelsea Wolfe still managed to pull an hypnotic performance in the cold on the first day after 23:00. Some didn’t appreciate as much as myself the noisier sound coming out of the PA but it added an edge to her songs that warmed me up as the night was falling down on us all. Her soft voice pulled herself effortlessly through the cold and droning songs during a gorgeous hour of haunting music. Another artist I will make sure to never miss again next time she and her band are around.

The Black Dahlia Murder provided the best performance of the day on Tuesday. Never surprising but always reliable, it’s a delight to witness a performance from these over enthusiastic Americans as their communicative joyfulness takes over every face and brings smiles all around the place. Their performance also proved how much eastern Europe loves circle pits. The crowd didn’t need to be asked twice to extend more and more the width of the circle and continued to do so throughout the festival.

Iron Reagan managed to make a crowd of metalheads go crazy and to spark more circle pitting for some hardcore. A notable feat in a festival still mostly populated by Death metal fans from the numerous tee-shirts of the sort found on people’s chest and the choice of records in the distros. The rocking solos of Land Phil (also of Cannabis Corpse and now of Municipal Waste) also provided a welcome change from the metallic harmonies of the weekend.

Later during the same third day of Brutal assaulting, Obituary showed everyone that Death metal is not all about blasting mechanical double bass drums at breakneck speed. It’s about the dirge and the creepy tone of the guitars. Too bad the wait between each break was a bit too long and silent but otherwise the Floridian reminded to everyone in attendance where Death metal comes from with songs as catchy and deadly as the teeth of a Floridian crocodile.

Sigh concluded my experience of the third day with their mix of schlock rock and old school Heavy metal in the vein of Venom. I will always miss the early days of the band but I’m not sure a Black metal side of their discography would be as entertaining in a live setting. Singer, flutist and songwriter Mirai Kawashima and vocalist and saxophonist Dr. Mikannibal form an excellent duo of ring leaders while the trio behind them plays every tune expertly. After six years since their last appearance at the Brutal Assault, it was a pleasure to hear again Introitus – Kyrie and Midnight sun but I still hope to see them incorporate songs from Imaginery soniscapes.

Biggest disappointment

I should almost have skipped Antigama‘s set since drummer Krzysztof « Sivy » Bentkowski had exited the band but I still had picked up their last two release, both quite disappointing compared to the madness of Warning, Resonance and Zeroland, and expected to hear some tunes from these albums. Sadly, the subtleties of the drums were covered by a wall of mechanic double bass where once stood a precise and almost clinical attack. After trying to decipher some of the insanity of old I had to walk away disappointed.

Immolation offered an excellent performance in London at the Incineration fest but I expected a repeat of the monstrous show they had offered the Brutal Assault previously. However, with one guitarist down, their sound was much less impressive and left a gaping hole that even the smile of guitarist Robert Vigna could not fill.

Finally, the local heroes of Jig Ai performed a satisfying set for all fans of gore grind but while people were headbanging joyfully I could not help but hear all the nu metal riffs in their repertoire. Groovy grindcore and groove oriented Metal share this love as part of their DNA and although it doesn’t make them bedfellows, it still makes them annoying to my ears.

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