Masters of Rock Festival 2011

This year it was the ninth edition of the biggest metal festival from Czech Republic. The focus of the festival is mainly traditional heavy metal but every year there is a variety of bands and metal styles for every metalhead. This year´s line-up was very promising, many bands being a must-see.

I personally was looking forward a lot since last year I could not attend any festival due to birth of my twins. Because they produce almost black metal noise and their voices remind me of Dani Filth mostly I had a feeling that I need to relax from growling, screaming, distorted sounds from diapers, atmospherically farts, shits that come with a blast-beat speed, vomits from drinking too much (milk), hangovers from lack of sleep at night – so I entered the venue with a big smile on my face, knowing that it´s time to relax in a much quieter environment than currently found in my house.

Thursday

My first impression was actually very good – everything running smoothly at the entrance gate, a feature not seen very often at festivals. Even later on I saw many signs of really good organisation work. I can really say it was all executed by a team of professionals.

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Virgin Steele @ Masters of Rock Festival 2011
Photo: Silvanus / StudioRock

The first band of the festival for me was Alestorm – even at that time I was solving the issue of terrible thirst and I was thanking God for his nectar: the lovely cold Pilsener. The pirates from Britain played a 50 minutes long set full of thundering metal and catchy sailor melodies. They also brought rum on stage and the crowd responded to them very enthusiastically. Virgin Steele, despite of their effort, had sound problems and the singer David Defeise didn´t have his best day. Especially his falsetto was sometimes really false and the bass could not be heard. Hits of their 30 years career were played to the Czech audience in a bad sound quality.

The older but cheerful guys from Bonfire were a bit different – very pleasant hard rock songs with a good performance; the band seemed to enjoy the set and so did the audience. This is how the good mood should be spread. I sang „too hot to rock“ with them. One of the biggest names of the day was Amorphis. Sound of a CD quality, they entered the stage with the new song „My enemy“. Tomi started with impressive windmills. I thought he is going to fly away like a helicopter. The crowd in front of the stage was really huge when they played you could clearly see how popular this band is in Czech republic. Exelent performance from all band members – a lot of energy. They played some new songs: „Crack in the Stone“, „You I Need“, „Then from Skyforger Silver Bride“ and many of their hits. Beautiful melodies, growling, Finnish metal in its best.

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Bonfire @ Masters of Rock Festival 2011
Photo: Silvanus / StudioRock

Do you like folk metal? And you haven´t seen Eluveitie and Finntroll playing together? You missed a lot. Their show was something like 2 hours long but wasn´t boring at all. Again, great sound. You could hear all instruments clearly. Each band played their mixture of folk and metal and it was excellent. Most of the fans I talked with had a very positive impression. So did I.

Hammerfall was the main act of the day and Joacim Cans and his mates were aware of if. A really good frontman knows how to lead a show and with songs like „Blood Bound“ they received excellent reactions. They probably had the biggest crowd of the day. Another very good show. I tried hard to find some negative things, but couldn´t. Mmmm, yes, there is a bad point – when 20 000 people gather around stage, you see the band in a size of an ant. Moonspell´s singer Fernando Ribeiro promised a very special set during our interview, so I was curious. For people who like their early albums – they played the whole „Wolfheart“ and most of „Irreligious“. Performance? Amazing, full moon on the night sky – isn´t it the best atmosphere for Moonspell´s music? Full moon madness, really. Beautiful ending of the day.

Friday

Waking up into the second festival day was OK. To find a silent place in the camp is a good mission but I managed. Note from yesterday: all the bands seemed to try really hard, 25 000 visitors, that´s a big crowd. Musicians knew about the importance of having a good gig and our advantage (the people from MOR festival) was that we were an significant big audience and the bands tried their best to be good.

Because of my interview with Ektomorf I started my show day with Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy. The Czech band now playing under Season of Mist flag sang their songs from their new album „Návaz“ in Czech language. Doomy tempos, violin, cello, male and female vocals, heavy riffing – beautiful songs. I loved it. Sirenia could not play, their drummer did not come so Ektomorf started earlier. Reaching high in charts with their song „The one“ I was curios to see their thrash metal set. Well, I think they satisfied all their fans. Jumping and moshpit don´t work for classic heavy metal, but do work for hardcore – thrash music like they play. They also played the Johny Cash cover „Rusty Cage“. Zolly is a very nice person and during the interview he was sympathetic so I came close to stage and their energy made me jump with younger kids.

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Ektomorf @ Masters of Rock Festival 2011
Photo: Silvanus / StudioRock

To be honest, Rhapsody of Fire was like a Champions league musically compared to Ektomorf. Maybe sometimes the orchestration went over the top and it was too much opera – like but the fans had all they expected – major hits, good show, sound, everything went really well for the band. The legend Twisted Sister - what can I say? Well, I can say that they were one of the best bands in the history of Masters of rock. Setlist? „Burn in Hell“, „I Wanna Rock“, „The Price“… Should I name more of their hits? Performance? I had my jaw open, they were unbelievable and energetic. Personally I expected a bunch of older guys not moving much and playing songs with difficulties. I mean things that normally happen to old legends. Dee Snider sang and ran without any problems, he for sure lost weight after such a show. Another energetic show was Airborne. It was already quite cold but they definitely warmed people up. How can someone play, headbang and run at the same time? And almost all the time? They also climbed the top of the stage construction. Their rock&roll was played with ferocious activity, another excellent show. Watain as the last act of the day had a difficult task after two great shows but they played their unholy blackmetal with crosses in flames on stage without fear. It had its qualities and people who remained were satisfied. So was I. I have seen them for the first time, cool show. But also cold show, the temperature dropped and I was glad to jump in my sleeping bag after.

Saturday

Satuday was the day when I saw my biggest and worst surprise from the whole festival. Finally we had heat and I felt pretty well almost accommodated at a table, sipping the cold Pilsener. A bunch of people wearing organizer´s vests were cleaning the area so it never got too dirty and full of beer cans. Those poor guys were working all the time. Good point for organizers. Another thing – plenty of opportunities where to eat. At some festivals you simply learn new things about hunger and ability of your body to work without food, but here? You could easily gain weight. And no queues for beer. At any time you did not have to wait more than couple of minutes. The most pleasant surprise of the whole festival was Powerwolf!!! The corpse paint on their faces and the long outfits promised something special. The Romanian singer Attila Dorn was amazing as a frontman cheering up the crowd. The band played an energetic set full of headbanging and just great metal songs like „Lupus Dei“, „Sanctified with Dynamite“, „We Drink your Blood“ mostly promoting their new „Blood of Saints“ album. The audience was theirs, people made these wolfs feel very welcome so they played excellent set for them. And someone says that there are no exciting new metal bands. They definitely are.

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Powerwolf @ Masters of Rock Festival 2011
Photo: Silvanus / StudioRock

And what was the worst surprise? One of the biggest names – Guano Apes. Terrible sound and Sandra played with no enthusiasm. Their music made feel like going to sleep. I missed their energy which was on their first album, even they played „Open your eyes“- this live version closed my eyes. I just wonder what happened to Sandra, she used to sound like sharp chainsaw but this time definitely not, behaving like the most important person there. I simply could not stand that, especially when you see other stars that were really down-to-earth and friendly. On Friday we saw a really good Czech band- Seven. Not only that the main composer and leader Kirk Behunek auditioned for Limp Bizkit and out of hundreds he got among the last 50 guitar players when they announced Wes Borlands comeback but he also got other big names to play with him – Viktor Smolski, Blaze Bayley, Schmier. Maybe there is finally the Czech band that can be successful in the whole Europe not only in home territorry. Legion of the Damned pleased fans of more extreme metal and gave them a good show full of growling and heavy riffs.U.D.O. entered the stage and when I looked close, I saw bunch of grandpas with almost no hair and bigger bellies – but the way they played blown away slim and young Sandra Nasic and Guanos. Songs like „Dominator“, „Rev Raptor“, „Animal House“ brought me back to my early teenage years and these granddads ruled! U.D.O. had a voice like sharp chainsaw and persuaded me that he still has a metal heart. He effectively communicated with the fans and communicated a lot. Very good show, one of the best at Masters.

Sunday

Three days of music took its toll so I had to wind down a bit to see the main acts of the day. Sauna like weather made many people hide in the shade of the tent with beer. I saw only three bands and my first metal band that I ´ve listened when I was 12 years old – Helloween. But first was OOMPH – typical german electro – metal, good to make you march. This style is probably popular here, because people sang along really a lot. They are often compared to Rammstein, but OOmph proves that this music works well live even without fireworks. Overkill were really heavy tonight, their thrash metal forced people to headbang with them. Where is the bass……player? Oh my God, there he is but his long hair and ponytail of really long lenghth is gone! I hardly recognized him but he and all the band were amazing. „Skullcrusher“, „Hammerhead“ – this band has a lot to offer. I feel sad that instead of Helloween we had Helloween revival otherwise I cannot understand what happened. Andi Derris had a really bad day. Maybe the worst set of festival and at the beginning I was so happy to see my first metal band hoping to hear anything from „Walls of Jericho“ album. Big disappointment. Andy could not catch his breath, hoped that the audience is going to do his job, false tones, terrible. Anyways, this year I think everyone can say that this festival could compete with any of the festivals from Western Europe and be among the ones on the top. Organisation – very good, weather – except some showers very good, bands – except some disappointments they all were doing their best to impress 25 000 metal fans that gathered here. Yeah, next year I will be here again. I had a blast and seemingly was not the only one. Festival area was full of satisfied fans and I think also musicians. So see you next year!

Silvanus

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Visions of Atlantis @ Masters of Rock Festival 2011
Photo: Silvanus / StudioRock