The 19th edition of the already well known European metal festival Brutal Assault took place between 6th and 9th of August 2014. Location was same as in the previous editions since 2007: Old Military Fortress Josefov in Czech Republic (around 130 km from Prague). During 4 festival days more than 90 bands from various parts of the world joined to deliver a unique metal atmosphere.
Inside the fortress there were two main stages (MetalShop and Jagermeister) which were situated one next to another so while a band is performing on one stage on the other stage next band is getting prepared and a third small stage (Metalgate). The main stages are quite a good thing as festival visitors do not have to commute between different locations but some bands should be reminded to keep the noise level while preparing (and other band is performing next stage) bit more decent. The Metalgate stage was situated in the merchandise area in a closed tent. Visitors could enjoy a free sauna and quite a creepy sound on some bands that were “lucky” to perform there.
Accommodation was pretty much same as in the previous years: regular camping site and the VIP one which was paid, fenced, guarded, had access to toilets, showers, water resources and a safe depository for use. Another alternative was hotel accommodation in Hradec Kralove or private camp sites or pensions which you have to manage finding. There was a 40 mins shuttle bus from the festival to Hradec Kralove. Parking is generally a bit more problematic as you either have it arranged together with a separate accommodation, either park on the nearby streets in the city or in the guarded parking near the river (aprox. 500 m from the camping site).
Tickets were sold for prices between 1600 CZK (aprox 64 Euro) in presale and 1950 CZK (aprox 78 Euro) at the festival gate. Between the highlights we have to mention the Greenfield area, the Metal Market, the food area and the refreshment kiosks, the Natural Stand, the newly opened Octagon, the Horror Cinema, the Marshall City area and the Party Village area. The Greenfiled area was a place close to the main stages on a hill with benches where you could relax and take a little break when you felt tired or when your ears had enough of the noise level. The Metal Market had over 50 shops selling various merchandise from clothing to music (CDs, DVDs, vinyls), masks, accessories, jewelry and a kiosk where you could get a nice corpse paint (during a hot summer day). The food area and refreshment kiosks offered food for meat eaters, vegans and vegetarians, 4 big beer tents (with Budvar as main beer, 5 brands of draught beer), several kiosks and bars with various offer of alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages. The food offer was more or less same as in the previous editions but more expensive (especially considering the city prices). Black beer was again finished Sunday morning (same as in previous years but nobody learns from experience). The Horror cinema was situated in the merchandise area in a tent and had projections of horror movies and documentaries. The Natural stand was in front of the main stages, up on the hill and had a separate sound coverage. VIP camping guests had free entrance to the Natural stand where you could relax and drink your beer while watching and listening the bands from the main stages. The newly open area Octagon was awesome, cool, chill and quiet. It had screens where you could see what is happening on the stages and was a perfect place to hide from heat and sun. In the Octagon area were two nice exhibitions of Godothor from Prague (original art for sale) and Axel Hemann from Germany (prints and copies of his book for sale). We also have to mention the odd dolls hanged everywhere, the much better arranged meet&greet area and of course the Octagon pub. Party village was a fun area where you could buy smokes and win presents or jump on air beds; it contained DJ sets as Manes. Marshall City area was also very nice, cool, it had nice facilities as free wifi and free phone charging. In the Marshall City were autographs sessions with Alexi Laiho (Children of Bodom), Gary Holt (Slayer), Lee Malia (Bring Me The Horizon), workshops and Marshall and Schecter showroom and shop.
19th edition debuted with an awesome start: the campground and the festival place for bracelets opened on Tuesday. This way the crowded rows were reduced and even the second festival entrance was opened from Wednesday (not as in the previous years when you always had to make a city trip to use the main entrance on the first day).
Other mentions regarding the festival organization: BA application for mobile phones (iOS and Android) which is a great way to keep yourself informed on the changes and updates, ATM and currency exchange - great for visitors coming from abroad needing local currency cash, separated trash and people cleaning the festival area, free allowance for photo cameras of all kinds, coupons for beer and food which could be purchased both in CZK and Euro (which expired on 10th Aug 10 AM and could not be exchanged back for cash), refundable cups which generated less waste and cost 1.5 coupon advance deposit (plus drink cost). To return the refundable cups you had to have the round return cup coupon which you should have received when buying the first drink and then you had to wait in an infernal row.
The festival booklet was wrongly printed (the info about the stages) and the regular toilets were stinky (not cleaned often enough to cope with the festival number of visitors). The open toilets ensured a pee smell everywhere around and the platform for disabled was situated between the open toilets (“great” smell for disabled visitors). The entrance to the pit and backstage area was not very brightly situated (especially at the Metalshop stage with the gate opening in the wrong direction). It was annoying for both visitors watching their favorite bands from the first rows and for the photographers and backstage members who had to squeeze to get in and out each time. The security guys were generally nice but bit ruder than in the previous years (the supervisors were swearing most time) so would be nice to remind them the general festival motto “against violence and intolerance”. Even if printed in the booklet as a rule following the exclusion from the festival grounds the throwing cups sport did not cease to exist. Yet the ones practicing the cup throwing sport continued to enjoy the festival grounds.
Wednesday 6th August 2014: Suburban Terrorist, Keep On Rotting, Flotsam&Jetsam, The Agonist, High On Fire, Chthonic, Terrorizer, Venom, Modern Day Babylon. The first band of the festival Suburban Terrorist started playing at half past 4 and did not have too much crowd to watch them as most people were still busy either camping or getting their festival bracelets or grabbing some beverages. Chthonic celebrated their 20 years anniversary and delivered a good live performance demonstrating metal has no geographical boundaries. Venom started late due to technical problems and despite the nicely framed and well structured show they managed to deliver the sound was not good. It was hard to distinguish between the instruments and all sounded rather like a ball of sound. They performed classical “Black Metal” and newer songs as “Rise” which will be included on the new upcoming album.
Thursday 7th August 2014: Panychida, Havok, Ringworm, Texas In July, Pentagram Chile, Iwrestledabearonce, Church Of Misery, Onslaught, Misery Index, Manegram, Ignite, Crowbar, Obituary, Red Fang, Suffocation, Bring Me The Horizon, Slayer, Children Of Bodom, Architects, Katatonia, Khold. The Japanese squad Church Of Misery nicely delivered an intoxicating doom metal while Misery Index awoke the audience with a death/grind mix with aggressive riffs playing also songs from the new album “The Killing Gods”. Crowbar ensured to keep a high number of audiences with a tight professional show. Their latest album “Symmetry In Black” sold almost 4,000 copies in the US in the first week of release. Obituary continued to maintain the audience close to the stage and they included a song from the upcoming album. Red Fang was a thrilling mix of energy and Suffocation was one of the best performances in the death metal area with great instrumentation. The trash veterans from Slayer were the undisputed highlight of the day and of the festival. It was extremely crowded. Their set list was pretty old school as most songs were from their discography before 1990 (“Hell Awaits”, “The Antichrist”, “Necrophiliac”, “Mandatory Suicide”, “Hate Worldwide”, “War Ensemble”, “Postmortem”, “Captor Of Sin”, “Disciple”, “Black Magic”). What more to say about Slayer than experienced and professional!!! Gary Holt did best to overcome the death of Jeff Hanneman. After Slayer the place got to be dramatically empty for next band Children Of Bodom. Older but yet not mature, spitting all time, with middle fingers in the air Children Of Bodom delivered a solid show played with precision and with a good sound. Their set list was shorter due to Slayer and their song “Are you dead Yet” made the audience go mental. Architects were somehow groovy and not quite appreciated by majority of the Czech crowd. Katatonia had a long delay (around half hour) due to tech problems (faulty cable on laptop). Finally they decided to play without any sound samples and they delivered a very dense atmosphere with a very clean voice and no errors on the vocals. Maybe they should consider such experiments more often. Norwegians from Khold came again to Brutal Assault and closed the festival “day” with late night show nicely delivered including some insights from their upcoming album.
Friday 8th August 2014: Isacaarum, Rise Of Surya, Cripper, Fleshless, Grandexit, Obscure Sphinx, Heiden, Mors Principium Est, Skeletonwitch, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Unleashed, H2O, Six Feet Under, Blindead, The Devin Townsend Project, Amon Amarth, Shining, Broken Hope, Combichrist, Nightfall. Skeletonwitch delighted with an energetic trash show. The Italian symphonic death metal Fleshgod Apocalypse had a very nice appearance and proved to have a large number of fans even at Brutal Assault (fans came by dressed in classic “broken” outfits and corpse paint). They delivered an opera and classical music mix with metal which seemed to catch a lot of attention. The Devin Townsend Project was safer than the previous time they performed at the festival (when a sudden rain came by). The Canadian music magician was funny and had lots of jokes. They performed their easy and nerdy heavy metal show with high precision and professional musical approach. Amon Amarth - same as always just add Viking boats with dragons that spit smoke and can be used for climbing on. An amazing full of energy show, definitely one of the best festival performances. The set list included songs as “Pursuit Of Vikings”, “Cry Of The Black Bird” plus some from the new materials as “Father Of The Wolf”, “Deceiver Of The Gods”. It was a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm and the moshpit was getting bigger and bigger towards the end. The whole fortress stood watching the Viking legends. Shining was not the band some were expecting to see (not the Swedish band) but cannot say it necessarily brought disappointment. Combichrist could be seen as outsiders as they do not 100% fit in the festival metal music genre. Even though suspicious they were surprisingly good even for the metalheads who were dancing and jumping around. Combichrist had an amazing full of energy performance, the drums were jumping in the air, the bass player was eating up his towel, the guitar player was stage diving and all band was shaking hands with the audience. They were one of the bands who got a lot of new fans and were asked to play more. Nightfall were not that impressive after the explosive show of Combichrist and at the late hour in the night.
Saturday 9th August 2014: Spasm, Liveevil, Nervecell, Martyrdod, Insania, Severe Torture, Hacktivist, Dew Scented, Manes, Impaled Nazarene, Cruachan, August Burns Red, Sodom, Soilwork, Sick Of It All, Krabathor, Down, Satyricon, Converge, My Dying Bride, Hail Of Bullets. Spasm woke up everybody with a classic grind set, gas masks and show making objects. Martyrdod did not have a bad show and included a lot of new material. Insania delivered a perfect instrumental performance and Cruachan were very good and stood up from the line up with their easy to digest Irish folk. Sodom are always the same, technical and high performance. They gave just the right trash metal with a heavy and powerful sound and many moshpits. Sick Of It All were back on Brutal Assault after the nice appearance from 2012. The quartet delivered a thrilling show filling the NYC fans hearts. Krabathor are a local underground Czech legend band who got together after 11 years. Their old school death metal made them be very popular in the area. Their performance was crisp and clear and the older fans were speechless. The groove metal project of ex Pantera singer Phil Anselmo Down had a good show ending up with “Burry Me In Smoke” and making space for Satyricon who started to play while Down were still on stage speaking. Phil Anselmo came on stage while “Now, Diabolical”. Satyricon were one of the best performances, very professional as usually and fans were kept close by songs as “Mother North” and “King”. My Dying Bride had to use a temporary guitar player and had quite a short performance (they could have played more). The lights were odd but the band delivered their perfect magic with songs as “From The Darkest Skies” and “She Is The Dark” which were simply breathtaking. Hail Of Bullets had the honor of closing the festival. They were missing one guitar player and had to improvise a lot. The singer appeared to be quite drunk and kept on speaking and speaking all over the same things. They were rehearsing very loud while on the next stage My Dying Bride where performing (My Dying Bride were looking at the other stage during the song breaks).
Overall the 19th edition was awesome and came with a lot of great new advantages and changes. But this is just the start as we all need to prepare for next year’s anniversary edition which already looks very promising.
The full gallery is available here.