The relative small Brainstorm Festival 2015 took place in Apeldoorn for the eight time already. Each and every year they put a festival together with a lot of new bands and some known bands. This two day edition is again an example of the immense spectrum of what is called metal. On one end there is electro-dance-metal, at the other end there is black metal and somewhere in between there is religious metal. Marc was there both days to take pictures and write about this festival at Gigant.
These German youngsters have the ungrateful honour to start as first band, but their enthusiasm is quite infectious. This band is fun to watch and it’s a bit pity that all their energy they put in, doesn’t pay off in quality. The in-place-running, bouncing, jumping takes their toll on the accuracy of the playing and singing. Halfway through the set I thought it started to sound familiar, but the last part of their set had some interesting, yet messy at some points, variations in songs. During the set the crowd files in and it’s getting busier, which is favourable for the atmosphere and the band! All in all not a bad performance and when they work a bit on their stage performance it could be a solid perfomance from start till end.
When it is time for Mortgarten to climb the stage, the keyboard fails to start-up correctly and at one time it even start to play some build-in disco tune. It only takes a few minutes and a few tries to get the keyboard function properly again. This time is professionally filled by one of the band members by telling something about the band. One of the guitarplayers straps a huge sword to his back and then they are on their way. The music of Mortgarten is something between black metal and folk metal and it is noticeable that they have quit some stage experience. The performance is solid an well varied; some songs are brushing black metal and other songs are true folk metal. To be honest, when I saw the entourage I expected some show, especially with the huge sword. Sadly it stayed on the back of the guitar player. I’m not saying it was boring: not at all! I just expected a bit more.
This Dutch band didn’t made it to the festival booklet, because the were the last moment replacement of Sacrety. This is the second performance of Startled on the Brainstorm festival. Two years ago the were there too. The front man makes it very clear they are grateful to be on this stage en it’s noticeable too. Although this band plays metalcore like the first band of this evening, the difference is clear. This performance is solid and the set is well balanced. Grunts and screams fits nicely in the melody and are alternated by clean singing. From start to end the set is tight and loud. Startled doesn’t get rewarded for their performance by the crowd and that is a shame. Of the three bands that played until know, they were the best by a mile.
Cat O’ Nine Tails (FIN)
After experiencing Alestorm at Dynamo Metal Fest I got a bit sceptic towards pirate metal, so when Cat O’ Nine Tails entered the stage in full Pirate battle dress, complete with chests filled with gold and juwelry scattered around the stage, I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow. After two songs it was obvious this was no Alestorm, this was serious business musically. It was fun to see the frontman stay in it’s role between song, talking to the audience in his pirate voice. The crowd enjoyed this band a lot! There were even quite a few dressed up as pirates, but that could have to do with the free CD that was promised to everyone who came dressed as a pirate ;-)!
Signum Regis (SK)
Closing act of the first night is the power metal band Signum Regis from Slovakia. Although too little people stayed to watch this superb band, the band did not held back. Older songs and some brand new songs were played and this band was a worthy closing band for the first day of the Brainstorm festival. Characteristic for power metal there were some pretty decent ‘sing-a-longs’, which a lot o people sang a long. Of course the guitar solo’s were flying of the stage regularly and were enthusiastic received by the crowd.
After the first night I went for a beer in Apeldoorn and talked to some festival visitors. Everyone of them was quite enthusiastic, although not everybody could agree with all the genres. Probably that was the reason al lot of people stayed in the bar of the venue when the act on the stage didn’t agree with their taste. After a successful first day of Brainstorm, there was a short night and then for round 2! Saturday
Desolate Fields (NL)
The first band of today is Desolate Fields and is programmed at 14:00 and lo and behold! There is quite a crowd! Personally not a big suprise, because the last time I saw these guys was at the OccultFest in Hoogeveen, where they kicked ass. So I am curious if the are still that good. Although it’s the second day, Desolate Fields is, again, openings act and they prove that they should way up on the bill. The raw and dark voice of the frontman fits really well within the music, which is perfectly varied. Although the doom metal influences, it’s changes just enough in all directions to make it interesting to keep listening. At Brainstorm Desolate Fields gave a stellar performance. It would not surprise me, that this could be one of the biggest Dutch metal bands in the near future. And I’ll be frontrow!
Brainstorm is held in the venue Gigant and has a stage, a bar, a cinema and a small theatre. The organisation of Brainstorm Festival, came up with the idea of using the theatre for some more intimate performances. The first band to take the stage is Árstíðir; a indie-folk band with classical and progressive rock influences. Of the progressive rock is not much to be seen, but still their music sends shivers up and down your spine. It’s a very nice break from the guitar violence next door. Fun fact: the violin player has his own rug underneath his chair and is on bare foot. First it looks like a gimmick, but later on in the set, he is altering the sound of his violin on a kind of XY MIDI Pad with his toes!
Despicable Heroes (NL)
Next up is metalcore band Despicable Heroes from Barneveld. Right from the first song the energy is exploding of the stage. It looks like these guys have it all; mature stage presence, talent and the bravado to have fun on the stage while doing what you love and it totally convinces! It wouldn’t suprise me if in a few years they will be supporting the bigger names of metalcore. The songs never get dull or sound alike and keep coming at you like a machine gun. They entertain the crowd while keeping it tight and loud. Superb!
Sleeping Romance (ITA)
Still spinning from the mighty sound of Despicable heroes, I walk in the theatre where there is an acoustic set of Sleeping Romance who are also playing their normal amplified set later on. On the stage is the small lead singer of Sleeping Romance and beside her is the guitarist on a chair with a acoustic guitar. A very minimal setup, but boy is this deceitful. When this duo start to play and sing, it blows me away. This little lady sings has a brilliant voice and the incredible sound of the guitar fills the well filled theatre, leaving the audience in awe. The audience listens breathlessly and at the end of the set they are treated with a song the band wrote on their way to Apeldoorn for their new album. Nice first for Apeldoorn!
Brainstorm Festival did a good job in alternating music genres and settings. After the beautifull acoustic set of Sleeping Romance, their fellow country men of Nightland, will kick some ass with their epic metal or symphonic death metal as they call it themselves. The costumes of Nightland are sight at their own. Beautifully made with lots of details, but where not here to discuss the art of sewing, although not unimportant for the complete picture in this case. It’s great to see the frontman living his role to the brink, which makes it totally believable. The songs are powerful and full of details. The only little drawback is, that a lot of the backing vocals, the orchestra and atmospheric sounds are coming from a computer. Understandable perhaps, but still… leaving it out is no option, so we have to deal with it’s Only on thing left to say: Great performance of these Italians!
Empire 21 (SWE)
This band from Sweden starts their set with a prayer in Swedish before going to their business. Empire 21 isn’t metal, but classic hard rock, which a large part of the crowd appreciates really well. The front man is a merry bloke and jokes around a lot. Although he’s by far not the tallest on the stage, his voice is a jaw dropper. Magnificent! Musically it’s all very solid and the guitarsolo’s are sweet. Great set of these Swedes.
Again quite a contrast with the previous band, Bloodwork pumps out brutal death metal. No frills, no show elements, just death metal. At this point the venue gets filled up nicely, so these Britons play for, relatively, quite a crowd. After the performance of Bloowork, the director of the venue, Guido de Vries, enters the stage and gives a short speech on the attacks the day before in Paris. After his impressive speech, there is 1 minute of silence and it’s a goose bump experience to hear absolutely nothing an a venue with a dozens and dozens of people.
The Algorithm (F)
When I saw the genre of this band (electronic music with features of progressive metal and djent), I thought to my self: This is the odd one out of this festival. In some ways The Algorithm is the odd one out, but in many ways it isn’t. Yes they dare to play electronic dance music on a metal festival, but not 1 song is composed of just 1 genre. It moves from dance to metal and back via all kinds of other genres. The whole band consists of 2 persons; a drummer and the computer operator/guitar player. By using a digital drum machine and a live drummer, the sound gets extra heavy which blew me away. When the computer is left alone and the guitar is put to use, there is a complete new dimension. This band totally surprised me in the most positive way possible. I don’t compare bands very often, but this one is like Jean Michel Jarre on steroids…. LOTS of steroids!
And we’re back in the theatre where La-Ventura is having a acoustic performance. Well, semi-acoustic, because the bass player is using his amplified bass and the drummer is using his full kit. Nonetheless it’s minimalistic and the first song is nice. Different than Sleeping Romance; more power, a bit like the first female fronted metal bands. This is not only caused by the drums and bass, but especially by the incredible voice of the female singer! My god! Even when she moves the microphone away from her mouth, she is filling the entire theatre with her stellar, beautiful and powerful voice. Talking about shock an awe… This performance is way, way, way to short and I think it is a brilliant move of Brainstorm festival to add this kind of low key / acoustic bands to the line up.
Sleeping Romance (ITA)
Back at the stage, Sleeping Romance is getting ready for their amplified set. I’m very curious of the difference between the acoustic set and the amplified set. Of course there is a lot more power, but the voice is still very bright and the timid shy guitar player at the acoustic set is now an animal on the stage. There are little similarities between the two sets, except for one; they a both amazing. This gothic metal is what a lot of people came for and they are in for a treat. With an impressive set, Sleeping Romance is putting the pressure on Ancient Bards who are headlining this festival. This is the first band who’s giving an encore, which is greatly appreciated by the audience
Ancient Bards (ITA)
Right from the first song, this bands makes it clear that they are the headliner of this festival. Ancient Bards is a very professional band and they know how to involve the crowd. The beautiful female singer looks her audience right in the eye. This works, of course, but not without the great band supporting her and playing their role in the performance. They act out parts of the lyrics and stirring up the crowd. The set is very well varied and heavy, but some songs are tuned down and are perfect in simplicity. After one of those songs, the band leaves the stage to much surprise of the audience. One look at my watch learned me, that they have been playing for an hour already. Naturally the crowd is calling for an encore and the band doesn’t need much persuasion. The encore is fast and loud the band enjoys it as much as the people in Apeldoorn. I think the concept of the Brainstorm festival is great! Especially with the performances in the theatre. This gives bands an opportunity to show a different side of themselves and show off their skills. But the best part is, the immense broad spectrum of metal. If you think it’s fun to see bands you don’t know yet, you’re in for a treat with this festival. It’s a pity the amount of people in front of the stage varies a lot, It’s more fun to play in a packed venue, than in an half filled venue, knowing the rest is upstairs having a beer or two. This wouldn’t be a problem, if just more people bought a ticket. So next year, get this venue packed!