Josefov, Czech Republic, 05. - 08. August 2015
The 20th anniversary Brutal Assault edition took place between 5th to 8th August in the well-known unique location: the historical army fortress of Josefov, in Czech Republic. Festival tickets were 69 euro in presale (till April 2015), 80 euro on spot for all festival 4 days’ period and approximately 48 euro for one-day ticket (sold only on spot). The festival is rapidly increasing year by year and can no longer be considered a small or local event as it once used to be. Visitors attending the festival are between all age categories (bit surprising comparing to other European festivals) and the music…so many choices, so many musical styles…one of the best and variate playlist ever seen. Starting this year can be said Wednesday is no longer just an opening day but a regular festival day (even if on Wednesday the stage program started at 3 pm while the other days it started roughly before 11 am). Therefore, Brutal Assault can now be considered a 4-day festival. It was probably the most crowded edition; on Wednesday afternoon you could hardly move around, everybody was curious to make their entry to the 4 days of metal and good mood (even you had to wait in a long que the first day in order to get your coupons). Estimated number of visitors was around 18 000 and the number of foreign visitors continued to raise (more than half of the festival visitors being from abroad).
There were the two main stages (Jagermeister Stage and Metalshop Stage) one next to another, then the smaller open tent stage (Metalgate stage) and a 4th stage between the fortress walls (Oriental stage). Metalgate stage hosted various performances, not only small bands but also names where a huge crowd gathered. Then it was quite impossible to see anything…not to mention the baking in the oven feel you had in the tent and the pee smell from nearby urinals and toi tois. Oriental stage was arranged to host 2 live performances during the last day: Cult of Fire and Phurpa. It ensured a nice private atmosphere but was not sufficient space for the visitors. During the 2 mentioned performances traffic jams and stuck ques were created.
Compared to previous editions the areal was extended and the space was so much better used (could even find ping pong and table tennis). Were more bars, more places to relax and chill. In the Octagon area (indoors down in the fortress) you could find bars, seating places, screens transmitting live from the main stages and very important: shade and a very cool temperature. Especially when considering it was an extremely hot summer…around 36 degrees, dusty, hot and dry. Daily (several times a day even) you could meet the fire truck watering the crowd with the hose. Would have been great to have a bit more sitting places (benches) but that as a general – not only valid for Octagon space. There was a very nice smokers zone with a much bigger offer then in the previous years. The hygienic conditions improved considerably but there was often missing the water for washing hands (was obviously not filled in often enough and yes, metalheads do wash hands: P). There were plenty of toi tois (regularly emptied and cleaned) and paid toilets for the fancier visitors. As about accommodation it was the same story as before: VIP camping (this time 2 VIP camps), regular festival camping, private camps and accommodation, hotels and pensions near-by. More and more people were camping outside the designated camping areas… almost all city was looking like a big camp site. Heard that the VIP camp was in worse condition than the previous year and would use a bit better management (not many covered areas, huge hill to climb in order to get to the festival). Parking was possible only on the city streets (and you had to mind the signs).
One of the best surprises was to find so many types of Budvar beer (different types sold in different bars) and to see the beer booklet specially printed for Brutal Assault 20th anniversary edition. Would have been a great idea to have merchandise also with the Budvar logo/posters (the artwork done for the festival was awesome…and so was the beer let’s be honest). As about the rest of the beverages: plenty of choices (cocktails, wine cellar, non-alcoholic drinks, coffee, tea). Only complaint here would be that in the last day some bars closed while there were still bands to play on the main stages and there were no non-alcoholic drinks available except warm water. The food was ok, could feed vegans, vegetarians and carnivores. On Saturday afternoon the stalls were running out of some foods and then the variety started to considerably decrease. There were 2 special plastic cups available for Brutal Assault 20. The merchandise was as usually- clothes, music, accessories. It would use a bit more variety as each year you find the same merchandise… The official one was awesome but it quickly run out of certain sizes and models. A better stock management would be advisable. Between other attractions can be mentioned the crypt tours, Brutal TV broadcasting, Brutal Assault logo on the wall and fire shows, addition of some Wi-Fi spots, a plane show on Friday (Kataklysm had to suffer as fans got distracted), Batmans dressed in black capes having walks on the fortress walls and around in the crowd. There were also two exhibitions with purchase possibilities: David Glomba - painter and artist behind Cult of Fire imagery and Peter Beste - well known photographer.
Since it was an anniversary edition organizers published an unique book containing the entire festival history (from 1996 till present). A massive and heavy book (442 pages) both in English and Czech describing in details each edition, containing army of pictures, a summary and an index with all performing festival bands over the years (even the countries they are from). The book named “Brutal Assault: 20 years (1996-2015)” was available with two cover options. Was a must to take it home (and so we did). There was also a book exhibition where everybody could document themselves and of course, decide to purchase it.
Would be maybe worth to consider placing a coupon box close to the Metalgate stage and merchandise area as this is a spot to relax and there are bars around. The day after the festival on Sunday the 9th of August there was an official after party. This time only in Prague at a pretty nice venue (half outside and half inside, one stage on each place) with five bands in the paly list.
Wednesday 5th August: Obliterate, Diphteria, Postcards from Arkham, Minority Sound, Tortharry, Mallephyr, Monuments, Mortifilia, Drom, Nuclear Assault, Melechesh, Suffocate with your Fame, Triptykon, Carnifex, Ad Nauseam, Soulfly, Katatonia, Touche Amore, Mayhem, Mortally Infected, Perturbator, Ador Dorath, Trap.
The Czechs from Diphteria were between the first ones giving the festival start. After the canon shots, with an insane energy they took over imposing their grindish groovy metal over the crowd. US trash band Nuclear Assault started the stage diving rage and delivered a solid show. Melechesh encountered sound problems, the singer got pissed and left the stage at a certain point. Besides the problems they performed good new songs and the atmosphere was great. Tom G. Warrior and his band colleagues from Triptykon started their performance with a dark version of Celtic Frost's classic tune “Procreation (Of The Wicked)”. There were more songs from the past as “Circle of the Tyrants” and “Messiah”. Almost like during the old times… Very impressive and powerful show. It was interesting and bit weird to have both Sepultura and Soulfly on the same festival (even they played in different days). Max Cavaelera is a legend but somehow over the years his voice became weaker and in general there is not much new happening. The show was ok, the crowd started to move on the well-known songs. Ashmedi from Melechesh joined Soulfly on stage and together performed the classic Sepultura “Territory”. Katatonia were given a second chance as during last year’s performance at Brutal Assault 2014 they encountered massive sound problems and delays. This time all went smooth, clean and they delivered a good, solid and high quality show. They are always nice to see live. The crowd gathered in high number to watch a change from the usual festival musical brutal line. The Swedish quartet started with a few slow songs and continued with some of their classics as “Ghost of the Sun” and “July”. There was a nice involvement from the public. Their set ended with newer songs as “Forsaker”. Black metal legends from Mayhem made from the stage a true theatrical act: bones, skulls, crosses, a box in the centre (probably wanted to be an altar… of madness: D). The sound was fairly clean, cold and morbid as expected. Singer Attila managed to prove multi-tasking is possible: singing and playing with all his toys in the same time and drummer Hellhammer made sure none can escape his musical rage and precision. Petrturbator was definitely something off topic and bit out from the festival usual menu. Synth, dark, electro music made a true disco from the Metalgate tent.
Thursday 6th August: Gutslit, Acid Force, The Tower, Nervosa, Ramming Speed, Nuclear, Be’lakor, Squash Bowels, Neglected Fields, Vildhjarta, Dr. Living Dead, Excrementory Grindfuckers, Horse the Band, Benighted, Hour of Penance, Arcturus, Headcrash, Atari Teenage Riot, Enslaved, Asphyx, Amenra, Biohazard, Bloodbath, Agalloch, Kreator, Cannibal Corpse, Sarke, Sun O))), Annihilator, Svartidaudi.
There is nice brutal death metal made in India. Gutslit had a lot of energy especially considering the early hour they played at and seemed very thrilled to be at Brutal Assault. The three Brazilian ladies from Nervosa proved thrash metal can be served anytime. Be’lakor came for the second time on Brutal Assault and had a really nice day crowd. The Australians performed also new songs that will be heard on the next release. Good show and awesome approach. Squash Bowels offered a Polish gore grind portion and Vildhjarta (Swedish Djent band)were quite odd. Doctor Living Dead were second time on Brutal Assault and had second time sound problems during the first song. German funny Grindcore Excrementory Grindfuckers started earlier. No need to say more with such a band name… just loud, fast, quick and squeak. Horse the Band… hmm… don’t know… ok, horse masks, some having fun but overall failing to understand. Arcturus (as usually) had a nice interactive and intense show. Vortex is a good entertainer and has a great voice. Steampunk out of space outfits and songs from their classic albums as “Nightmare Heaven” and from their latest release “Arcturian”. Enslaved played really old songs towards everybody’s surprise and enchantment. Double vocals by Kjellson and Larsen took us through their endless discography. The crowd was thrilled and responsive. Is hard not to recognize an excellent band with such an energy. Death metal Asphyx made sure to continue with the excellent approach and delivered a classic pure show which was closed with “Last One on Earth”. Biohazzard gave security guys lots of work as the stage diving madness arose. Bloodbath had technical issues from start and delayed the show (microphone, pedals, drums) but when they managed to get it rolling they killed everything. The 5 death metal old school band members made publics ears shiver with “Breeding Death”, “Grand Morbid Funeral”, “Nightmares Made Flesh”. Their last song was “Eaten”. Portland quartet Agalloch performed songs from 2006 till present times as: “Limbs”, “The Astral Dialogue”, “Into The Painted Grey”. A very nice visual and musical show was delivered by Kreator. Confetti, special effects, excellent set list (“Enemy of God”, “Violent Revolution”) and a great atmosphere. Everybody jumping, singing along and going crazy. Full till the last lines. To keep it in style Cannibal Corpse were as expected: professional, strong and powerful. The singer was in a very chatty mood: he saw a teddy bear (was a ladies bag in fact) in the first row and was asking if is for him. Bit disappointed as he did not get it. Old school Norwegian black metal was back on Brutal Assault with Sarke. Nice show to see, very dynamic. Sun O))) made a lot of people curious. The four hooded members put the accent on appearance (tunic covered with broken mirror parts, crown of thorns) and atmosphere (silence breaks, smoke). Many complained of the sound intensity and the volume (well… twelve huge amplifiers do their magic). Icelandic Svartidaudi played a solid black metal show.
Friday 7th August: Endless, Antropomorphia, Maximum Penalty, Demonic Resurrection, Blood Eagle, Sebkha-Chott, Pro-pain, Hed Pe, Winterfylleth, Krisiun, Ill Nino, Lantlos, Decapitated, Walls of Jericho, Kypck, Brujeria, Kataklysm, God Dethroned, Primordial, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Candlemass, Napalm Death, Killing Joke, Skepticism, Sepultura, Death DTA, Toxic Holocaust, Godflesh, Marduk, Dodheimsgard.
Another Indian band at Brutal Assault for the second time. Demonic Resurrection had a good show despite the very early hour, strong sun and proved death black metal has no limits. Danish Blood Eagle played an old school death metal with a lot of energy during the craziest moments of the day when the heat was unbearable for someone just sitting and watching (not to mention how would feel to be on stage and constantly move). Krisiun kept the same charismatic line-up. Their death metal show was strong and accurate. Ill Nino started with the microphone down but luckily it got fixed during the first song. Decapitated proved they have a huge number of fans both Polish and internationals. They show was quick, impressive and furious. Finnish band Kypck has a true passion for the Soviet history, even their lyrics are in Russian. The quintet played songs from all their albums, added a new one and closed the show with “Stalingrad”. The death grind muchacos from Brujeria sure know how to have fun. Despite the fact that most band members have Mexican origins and that they always speak Spanish on their gigs the band was formed in L.A. USA and is an American band. Rush and speed, Mexican pride, drugs, politics and a good portion of witchy good mood. They even had a guest (or maybe new band member): a lady weirdly dressed with a strong voice and attitude. “Colas De Rata”, “Matando Güeros” and the classy “Marijuana”. Very good show as always. Time to pass to something more serious with Kataklysm. Good, solid and powerful show. Old school Dutch death metal God Dethroned played in the tent stage so had a quite bad sound. Otherwise their set was good containing songs we all wanted to hear. Primordial… sucha great band at such a bad timing in the schedule. Would have been great to see the Irish somewhere later in the evening, they are not a bad to play during daylight (and the reason behind is not that their makeup would melt but their music and all that comes with it). Catchy and spectacular as each time. Between their set list: “Where Greater Men Have Fallen”, As Rome Burns”, “No Grave Is Deep Enough”, “The Coffin Ships” and “Empire Falls”. And again sound problems. This time for The Dillinger Escape Plan. Honestly a bit hard to spot since all the focus is on the public appearance rather than on the music. Everything was jumping and spinning. Killing Joke cancelled in the last moment due to family drummer reasons and were replaced by Candlemass (supposed to play on small tent stage). With Mats Leven who is an awesome and charismatic singer (Therion can go cry now) the band started to raise again. Was interesting to see Jörgen Sandström remaining behind his bass guitar. Their set list included: “Mirror Mirror”, “Black Dwarf”, “Under The Oak”, “At The Gallows End”, “Solitude”. Good show, very well done. Poor Shane Embury had to keep 2 shows during the same day: with Brujeria and with Napalm Death. Not a thing to be jealous on in that heat and temperature. Old school grindcore was well kept at a very nice level though not escaping the sound issues. On the last song you could hear only the singer and the drummer. Skepticism Finnish quintet are quite a special band. They delivered an unique atmosphere and did not use any bass. Time for Sepultura and for a more alive version of Soulfly. They celebrated 30 years as a band this year. Their performance was really good and included a lot of old songs. So much energy and crowd involvement. Death DTA did an excellent job. Really solid set with material from the period between “Leprosy” and “Human”. Great musicians (Gene Hoglan, Steve DiGiorgio, Max Phelps) and great opportunity to appreciate Chuck Schuldiner’s music even today… live on Brutal Assault. More US intense thrash music was served by Toxic Holocaust.
Saturday 8th August: Blood Red Throne, Rectal Smegma, Ne Obliviscaris, All Out War, Psycroptic, Carach Angren, Rosetta, Defeated Sanity, Demilich, Skalmold, Procession, Rome, Modern Day Babylon, Ratos de Porao, Victims, The Haunted, Cryptopsy, Dead Congregation, Solstafir, Suicide Silence, Lvcifyre, Phurpa, Cradle of Filth, Heaven Shall Burn, Wisdom in Chains, Einherjer, At the Gates, Cult of Fire, Anaal Nathrakh, Esoteric, Vader, Outre.
A considerable crowd gathered before the stage to see Blood Red Throne’s death metal act. Another band that needs no more mentions (since the name says it all) is Rectal Smegma. Grindcore, grindcore and again gridncore. Australians Psycroptic performed a classic death metal brutal set but managed to add some melody…not bad. Skálmöld from Iceland did try to conquer all with their viking metal… not sure if they managed though. Procession amazed the public with their well-balanced show, interesting Chile/Sweden band. Modern Day Babylon playing Djent progressive style are great musicians. They had a lot of tech issues and problems (broken big drum) and seemed to be a bit too monotonous. Then another funny act and again Latin people. The Brazilians from Ratos de Porao made sure everybody is having fun. All in the name of music. The Haunted had a nice songs selection and a clean show. Cryptopsy delighted us with a brutal and technical set. Lately Greece started to produce more and more good bands (at a more intense level than it used to in the past). Dead Congregation is amongst such bands. Pure death metal, solid show. Solstafir prepared for us a five track set list including “Svartir Sandar”, “Fjara”, “Náttmál”. Singer Aðalbjörn Tryggvason was in a very chatty mood and when there is public interaction the whole performance feel is changing. The Icelandic quartet proved once more they are the main name in the post-scene and performed flawlessly. Perfect voice and perfect sound, almost like on the album. British death metal Lvcifyre had a good show though bit more brutal than most expected. When the first performance was announced on the Oriental stage crowd went crazy. Many got curious to see what the Russians from Phurpa will perform. Due to the stage location between the fortress walls inside the Octagon and the access points to it all got completely stuck for quite a while. Everybody pushing to see a bit from their concert at the start…but it all lasted almost 3 hours. After first hour the traffic was no longer an issue and who was curious could participate to the Buddhist monks’ meditation. Very special atmosphere, throat singing, meditation chants and rituals approach based on Tibetan Buddhism. Not quite sure why at Brutal Assault as they would so much better fit in a different context but definitely interesting act to see. Cradle of Filth…so many people used to listen to them, so many people stopped listening to them and some still do. Hard to say how and why but the crowd gathered in very high number to watch them. Same old story, good technical gig from one end to another but something new or something else would be appreciated. Dani was full of energy, small and nervous and their performance was accompanied by a female keyboard player. Heaven Shall Burn created a massive circle pit, two massive walls of fans staring at each other, a huge crowd, total chaos, musical violence and destruction. Songs as “Awoken” and “Endzeit” made everyone go mental. Norwegian vikings from Einherjer reunited and offered a session of Nordic inspired music. Very nice and clean vocals. At the Gates had a set list full of classic songs from “Slaughter of the Soul” but also new ones from “At War with Reality”. True death metal and a really demanding and professional show. Second act on the Oriental stage brought with it same extreme crowd and madness. Everybody trying to sneak in and see Cult of Fire. Tons of candles, incense sticks, fire effects, a delay of around 30 minutes, many people waiting squeezed in such a small space. The four hooded and masked Czechs performed their show in a very static and intense way. At about half of the set a bonfire is lit on the wall behind the stage and after around 50 minutes they quietly left the stage without saying a word. Demanding and interesting show indeed. Anaal Nathrakh have nice music but seemed to have a bit of a struggle to perform it live. Same cannot be said about Vader who are true death metal professionals. They never play wrong, never bad. Their energy and positive attitude is contagious. One last portion of exploding energy and rage. And so the festival ended with a truly depressive and deep set performed by the five British from Esoteric. Melancholy, grieve, deep growls, suffering and existential struggles pierced the audience ears who was still standing with the last efforts to properly say good bye to Brutal Assault 20th anniversary edition.
As a conclusion we have to admit it was a greatly organised edition with a great line up. Circle pits, headbanging, stage diving, tons of dust, sun baking, plenty of good beer… are from the Brutal Assault 2015 memories. Next edition is awaiting with already promising names announced as Exodus. See you next year and special thanks to the organisers, really appreciated :-)
The full gallery is available here.