After a week of heavy rain and thunderstorms, the 4th of June had lots of blue sky and a blistering sun! Like last year is was hot, but with one difference this year: This year Fortarock would be 2 days of heavy metal en heavy rock! Adding the Sunday to the festival, seems a little odd. Most people have to work or study on Monday, but it turned out that lots of festival goers took the Monday off.
Wanting a good parking spot, I took off early and was the first to arrive at the press tent. After a little wait I got my wristbands en photo pass and went off to explore the ground.The festival ground seemed a bit bigger than last year and was filling up quite quick! That had something to do with the time; doors were at 15:00h.Due to the schedule, it was not possible to listen to al the bands and write a review about all of them. We did manage to make pictures of (almost) all of them.We didn’t had to wait long for the festival opener to seduce the audience.
Evra is a Danish band and earned this spot by an exchange program with “Buma Rocks!” and “When Copenhell Freezes Over”. It’s clear this band hasn’t much experience on big festivals and with large crowds. At times it sounds interesting, but mostly it is quite chaotic and not very well timed. The bass player draws the most attention, by only wearing shorts while showing his heavily tattooed body. After 3 songs no one is watching him any more, because 2 bare chested ladies enter the stage with velvet hoods over their heads, a large knife held in both hands, pointed upwards at face height and a tiny g-string. It’s a bit illustrative that most people talked about the bare chested ladies and not about their music.
A bit of a surprise to see Mark Tremonti and his band at this time of day, but no one is complaining. Tremonti performs in the tent and it is quit filled up. The difference with the previous act couldn’t be bigger; Mark Tremonti and his band ooze professionalism and handle the crowd with ease. The sound quality at the beginning of the show wasn’t great, but it took the technicians just a few minutes to correct it. Musically there is not 1 bad word with can be said; it’s superb! The only down side is, that there is not much happening on the stage to look at, but with the heat building up in the tent it might have been a wise choice do move as little as possible.
Hibakusha has won this spot on Fortarock’s small outdoor stage and is given the change to present themselves for a large crowd. The look a bit nervous and it’s a pity this doesn’t stop when they start to play. It doesn’t sound bad at all, but it quite nervous to look at. Maybe that is the reason for some of the little mistakes that are made. All in all not a bad performance. I hope to see them again with lower stress levels.
Now this is a performance! The tent is quite packed and the crowd knows what is coming. When the band enters the stage, it is getting loud! The band plays some songs of their new album, and a lot older songs which are all sung along. Front man Johannes is sweating profoundly and his make-up is flushing of his face. For a photographer like me, this this band is real eye candy! No one seems to mind Johannes isn’t reaching the high notes every single time or him being a little off key on occasion. Their performance generously makes up for all those minor details. The sheer joy this band is having on stage is contagious and when Avatar is done, no one has a dry stitch on their back! Again a super performance of Avatar.
On thing is clear; Heidevolk had probably the shortest driving distance to Fortarock. Their folk metal is based on myths and legends of the Veluwe; the biggest nature reserve of the Netherlands. It’s a bit different than other metal bands, because almost all songs are two-part-songs, sung by 2 male singers. Although they are a regional band whom sings songs of regional myths and legends, Heidevolk travels the world with songs about the Veluwe. They’re quite successful at it! Even though on the small outdoor stage, the attending crow is mind blowing. It looks like the chaps enjoying the show too, but the heat building up in their leather vests from being right in the sun makes them wipe their brows and foreheads lot. Great show!
For many metal heads present at Fortarock, Gojira was the band to go and see. Gojira played in the tent which filled up quite nicely. The performance of Gojira was flawless and was very, very well put together but although the crowd was very enthusiastic, the band members remained rather stoic. There was little movement on the stage an hardly any interaction with the crowd, except the occasional shout to the crowd between songs. Worth mentioning is the light show of Gojira. It was varied, supportive of the music and even outside the tent in broad daylight it was very visible!
Legion of the damned (NL)
When Twan van Geel enters the stage, he takes his stand and is staring angrily into the crowd. I hear a young lady behind me say: “I think he’s very good looking, but when he’s looking like that it always give me the creeps”. Twan gets to stare quite a bit at the massive crowd in front of the outdoor stage before the Legion of the Damned starts off. The thrash metal of this band excites the crowd a lot and maybe because of the setting sun and a slight drop in temperature there is some action in front of the stage and a lot of heads were banging. Personally I enjoyed the hell out of this act!
Within Temptation (NL)
Just days before their performance on Fortarock, it was announced that Within Temptation won the Dutch Export award and they even appeared on national television. This was not the first time Within Temptation won this award. It was their fifth! Talking about an achievement and making the Netherlands know for it’s music! Within Temptation is headlining this day and that is noticeably. The stage is build in the tent and has a high riser on which Sharon spends quite some time. This is perfect for the audience in the back to get to see her on the stage too. There are a lot of LED screens, which projects flames and other applicable images and videos. The show is smooth as silk and well put together. The sound is perfect and the band is having fun on stage. This normally guarantees a top notch show and it did. The crowd got their moneys worth.
Today we had an “early” start because the first band climbed the stage at noon. The weather should be perfect; even a tad warmer than yesterday, so sunscreen and water were as important on this festival as was beer! From the moment the gates went open, it was clear that this was going to be one busy day! With approximately 20.000 visitors is was!Fortarock out did themselves with the line-up of this day. They got so much great bands, they had to program some of them at the same time on a different stage. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to see all bands to review. That is why you won’t find all the names of the line-up in this review. Fortarock did it’s best to accommodate their visitors by genre and I heard less than a handful of complaints of people who struggled to choose between two bands. Fortarock’s planning did a job well done!
Now this is a band to wake the up the sleepy heads. From the first second to the last, this band is spitting out their thrash metal. De audience is welcoming this solid wall of sound and despite the heat, there is quit some movement in the crowd. Havok is a band which is born to play live and if you get the chance to see them live… Go! Their show is probably not the most spectacular, but damn… the energy! This band put a smile on my face.
The first band to play at the big stage is Architects from Brighton (England). Their metal core is a bit political inspired as the band is promoter of ‘Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’ and all members veganists. Front man Sam Carter is energetic and throws in a lot of screams, which sometimes weakens the performance. It’s good to have a metal core band on this festival and Architects was a good band to start this habit with.
Fleshgod Apocalypse (ITA)
I looked forward to this band. Their combination of metal with baroque influences, are know for having a great show. When the intro starts, a lady in true classic opera outfit enters the stage, followed by the band in classical baroque clothing… In this heat, they deserve some bonus points for that! The lady singer is joining in too with her opera voice, although I doubt she is singing live. She has an important role and is living it to the max! The show is great and musically it is pretty good too! A lot to see and good music in a tent which became a sauna.
Monster truck (CA)
I left Fleshgod Apocalypse a bit early to checkout the remainder of Monster Truck’s show. Well, this band isn’t playing anything like metal. What they play is a bit like the early days of hard rock when blues had a massive influence. I really enjoyed of what was left of the show of Monster Truck as it brought back a lot of good memories.
Suicidal Tendencies (USA)
Even I can’t remember a time when Suicidal Tendencies was not around and I was curious if they still had it after some 35 years(!). Well let me tell you, within the first minute on the large stage it was obvious they did. God damn what a set did Suicidal Tendencies play! Fast, loud en typical American. Front man Mike Muir gained a few pounds, but who didn’t? It didn’t made him less energetic. The gig is fast and the crowd is singing along with every song. What a great performance!
Dark Funeral (SE)
Corpse paint galore! In the heat of the tent, Dark Funeral is playing their Satanic music in full leather outfits. I must give it to them, I’m in shorts and a shirt and I am sweating profoundly. This is the first time I see front man Masse Broberg and his band live and it is a very nice encounter. The atmosphere, temperature and humidity sure felt like we were in hell!
Amon Amarth (SE)
Another mythology based band on Fortarock. This time it is Nordic mythology brought by the Vikings of Amon Amarth! On the main stage there are two live size dragon heads whom belch smoke from their throats and a band that is having a fun time. Singer Johan Hegg talks a lot to the crowd and interacts with them during songs and they react enthusiastic. The melodic death metal is catchy and has a lot of details. Way, way, way to soon this performance is over. This is one hell of a band! Tight drums and frivolous guitar play at times.
This was another performance I was looking for and what a performance it turned out to be! During the opening tune Abbath enters the stage with a torch and a horn with flammable liquid… soon the flames flew through the air and the crowd went beside themselves. Unfortunately there was something wrong with the guitar of Abbath and he got extremely angry during the first two songs. When that problem was over he relaxed and laid down a stellar show.
On the main stage Megadeth made their appearance. When Dave Mustaine walks on stage the crow of at least 15.000 people in front of the stage cheer loudly. All the know songs pass by and the typical sound of Dave Mustaine still fascinates people. His gestures are small, so not everybody is seeing what he does, but like me, the most of them just want to hear this legend perform. This show is A-grade and although there is not a lot of action on the stage, every move Dave Mustaine makes gets the crowd cheering. If you’re a metal head, this was the performance you had to see and hear today.
There was a lot to do about Babymetal performing on Fortarock. Some were ecstatic and some were grumpy and said J-Pop/Rock has nothing to do with metal. The latter may have some trouble to listen a bit beyond the 3 girls voices. The band behind these girls is quite spectacular and has some great musicians. Of course this band is put together in the J-Pop style, but outgrew it. At Fortarock it was not allowed to take pictures of Babymetal by the press. I read that this was because of some sick pervert who took some indecent pictures of the girls on stage and published those. So no pictures of Babymetal thanks to an idiot. Musically it is overwhelming; these musicians know their profession! The solo’s are complicated en fun to see. The only thing that quizzed my mind was, did Yuimetal and Moametal sing live. Su metal performance was no discussion, because of the heat and effort she put in, you could hear the strain in her voice and the fact that she was more than once off key. The other girls however… I did kinda like this new kind of metal, but “live” it did not bring the energy I expected. It looked too engineered and at the start of their set, the girls looked a kind of bored.
Does this band need an introduction? On the sunny smaller stage Obituary gathered quite a crowd. While at the main stage Dave Mustaine thanked his audience extensively and throwing his guitar picks and (heavily used) sweatbands in to the crowd. Obituary kicked off. Right from the start it is a metal galore and Their awesome set is played to perfection. In front of the stage there was quite some movement even though the sun is still quite merciless. I had to leave early to catch a bite to eat and get in time back at the main stage for the next band, but ultimately I came back for the last minutes of Obituary…
Frankly this band was a bit of a let down. Although the band played vigorously, front man David Draiman looked uninspired and uninterested. It doesn’t take long before it looks like the crowd is getting bored. Instead of leaving they decide to stay and get “treated” by some pop-covers. Luckily Obituary is still playing…
King Diamond (DK)
Time to get really excited! Since Mercyful Fate, King Diamond had my interest, but with the release Abigail I was really hooked… for life! The tent was filled “only” about three-quaters filled, but with fanatic fans! The performance was said to be the integral performance of the Abigail album, but there was more time planned than the length of the album, so a treat was eminent! The stage was hidden behind a simple black cloth, which was removed when the intro started. It had 2 stairways with between them the drums. Above and behind the drums was a walkway where King could stand. I had seen some footage of recent years where King wasn’t that good and his falsetto voice had abandoned him, but today there was no problem whatsoever! From the first minute till the last King kept me in awe. Abigail is not the start of the show. The first two songs are from the album “Them” (there is a granny in a wheelchair on the stage too!), followed by a few songs from other albums. One of them is “Melissa” and despite is hot and humid in the tent, the performance of this song sends shivers down my spine. What an incredible voice does King have, even at pushing sixty! Not only King is stellar, his band is too. There is a female singer tucked away besides one of the stairs, who is singing quite a bit too. A lot of the songs are acted out on stage which makes it a great spectacle to watch. When “Abigail” starts almost everyone is singing along. I got the impression that King had a blast too. His glances and gestures towards the audience showed a lot of joy. Best of band of the weekend? In my book it was… hands down.
This years headline of Fortarock is the Danish band Volbeat. This is no pure metal band according to some, but judging by the crowed that is still present, metal heads like a lot of genre’s as long as there are distorted guitars and fast drums in it 😉 Volbeat has a large curtain in front of the stage too, but with the logo of Volbeat on it. When the band starts playing the curtain falls down and fireworks go off. A startling start! The first song is “born to raise hell” and one thing strikes immediately; the crowd sings along every song and know every word and they keep singing until the last encore. The set is professional and there is lots of interaction with the audience. The band members even joke around. The mix of punk, metal and rockabilly is quite catchy and is typically festival material. There are even camera’s in front of the stage, which broadcast on large screens in the back of the stage, so the audience in the back can see what is going on. Smart thinking!
Fortarock did a splendid job this year to organise a festival like this. There was a lot to choose from and there was enough to choose for everyone. Luckily the weather changed right on time, which helped a lot! In my opinion there was even less hassle with pickpockets and the like compared to last year. Looking forward to next year’s edition!