June 1st& 2nd, 2018 | Nijmegen – The first outdoor festival for me this year and during the week before the first of June, I was afraid I had to search for some rain gear in the attic. Luckily the forecasts got progressively better and closer to the weekend it was said it was going to be hot. And hot it was!
This tenth anniversary of this festal had quite some set backs. Ticket sales were below par because of the lack of big names. And when there were no big names to be announced (Slayer could not or would), it was by then simply too late to get another ticket selling band. The possibility of Ajax playing the Champions League finale could caused some more damage, but that one went astray. Still, there were a lot of tickets unsold, so the organization decided that with one ticket, two people would be admitted. On social media this was not received very well either by some… It seemed everything they tried slipped out of their hands and critics took cheap shots at the organization. Luckily the majority called, phoned or texted their friends and shared their tickets with them or even with total strangers.
Due to the smaller crowd expected, the site layout was smaller and that was not a bad move. With sunscreen, a water bottle and my camera gear I went to Nijmegen for two days of sun, metal and beer… and sun and even more sun…
God Mother (S)
It is half past twelve and it is hot already. In the tent, where the smaller stage is, it is hot and sticky. The band kicks off and halfway the first song, the singer jumps of the stage and jumps the barrier to join the crowd. Not much had anticipated that and a lot of surprised faces were to be seen in the crowd of about a hundred men and women.
The powerful hardcore of God Mother wakes up the mellow crowd. With the singer still running around or sitting on the barrier, there is quite something to see for the people present in tent.
There is some movement, but those who move more than strictly necessary are sweating profoundly.
Sweat does not stop the bass player. He is hyper actively moving around, this in contrast to the guitarist. He is standing stoic on the stage playing his part.
The singer pulls all kinds of stunts like limbo dancing with the audience and climbing in the tent poles. This makes the atmosphere rather rampageous.
Ne Obliviscaris (AU)
There are not a lot of Australian metal bands touring Europe, but Ne Obliviscaris is one of them and what a band it is! Not all band members come from Down Under by the way. Martino Garattoni plays bass and I have seen him before with Ancient Bards and Ludovico Cioffi on guitar can be known from Nightland.
Musically Ne Obliviscaris is just great! Long tracks with complex guitarplaying, but the bass of Martino produces some pretty complex sounds too.
Singer Tim plays the violin on a few songs and those moments are amazing. I’ve listened to most of the set of Ne Obliviscaris and was very impressed by their performance.
Another Swedish band in the tent and this bands genre is stoner metal. Personally it is a bit to slow and repetitive for me to really enjoy it. With just three persons on the stage, the sound is a bit thin, even though bass player Mika Häkki hammers away on his bass and is pretty active on the stage with temperatures well above the 30 degrees Celsius.
I cannot say that is bad, but it doesn’t catch me all that much and I decide to hydrate myself again and find a cool breeze.
First thing to note when Atreyu is getting on the stage is, that singer Alex is missing and that drummer Brandon Saller is standing in front of the band. Normally Brandon is on drums, so this is kinda new for him. Alex has severe problems with his back and had surgery the day before this gig, so his band mates and the crowd sent him their best wishes for a speedy recovery.
I must say, Brandon does a job and a half! I know he can sing, but singing from behind a drum kit is quite something different than to sing upfront and entertain the bunch of frying metal heads in front of the stage!
Dan Jacobs (guitar) is having a blast too. He is enthusiastically playing is blooded or with green tape covered guitar and is inciting the crowd.
When the three songs are over, I have to leave the photopit in front of the stage and when I am near the exit I get pushed. When I look around, Dan Jacobs is urging me to hurry up and when he gets past me he storms into the circle pit with his bass to join the madness! Hilarious!
I kinda looked forward to see Enslaved, but it didn’t came across the way I hoped it would be. Maybe it was the almost unbearable heat in the tent or a less than perfect audio setting that caused this, or I had a different perspective of Enslaved live.
The experience was visibly there, but musically it was just slightly above average in my opinion. Pity
With quite a belly from her pregnancy, Amalie Bruun enters the main stage to take her place behind the, with oak leaves and branches decorated, microphone. The metal Myrkur is bringing is based on Scandinavian life, nature and magic and has quite a following in The Netherlands.
The musicians she brought along today know their profession of supporting the elegant singing and moving Amalie. It is a bit pity she hides a lot behind the leaves in front of her microphone, but her singing is mesmerizingly beautiful and the band is doing a great job too.
It is striking to see how many youngsters are standing in the front rows. It is good to see, that these not
so common genres have a decent following.
Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats (UK)
The first out-of-place band of the day is Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats. This is more rock than metal and it shows. It is not as busy in the tent as it as been with the previous bands. Besides that, it is quite dark on the stage with lots of smoke with dim red and blue lights. After three songs I only have one usable picture and I hurry to hydrate myself again and to prepare for the band I wanted to see live for a long time…
It is busy when Amorphis walk on to the stage in the still blistering heat. When the first notes of “The Bee” sound, there is a roar in the crowd. Singer Tomi is sounding great and the overall audio is just awesome. The atmosphere is great. The setting sun and Amorphis playing their not most complex songs keeps everybody listing and hang around enjoying the moment.
The deep dark “Black Winter Day” is diametrically opposed to this day full of sun, happiness and beer, but is brought to perfection.
Much too soon the “House of Sleep” sounds, which heralds the end of the gig of Amorphis on Fortarock 2019.
I can use a lot of superlatives to describe this performance of Amorphis, but I guess you just had to be there to know what I am talking about. With a broad smile I order a large beer and enjoy this gig thoroughly.
Cult of Luna (S)
The heat of the day is being trapped inside the tent and it is hot and humid. On the stage there are two complete drum kits! This could get interesting, but band doesn’t look like they enjoy these conditions either and surly and maybe even a bit uninterested they work their way through the first few songs. The sound isn’t great either and It looks like this band getting all the technical problems they can have. Stagehands running around and fiddle around to correct some problems. I stand in the shadow of the tent in a mild breeze and watch Cult of Luna for a while and after about their fifth song there seems to be a small spark of joy getting back and this is audible too. Possibly the better audio is causing the spark.
Children of Bodom (FIN)
When the first notes sound, the ground resonates with the low bass tones and signals that this is going to be heavy and loud! The sun is setting behind the trees and the relative coolness is welcomed by the crowd, which gathered in large numbers in front of the main stage.
The first song of their set is the second song of the new album “Hexed”; “Under Grass and Clover” and sounds awesome live. The audience is moving wildly from the first song to the last.
The grand finale is “If you want peace… Prepare for war!” of their 2005 album “Are You Dead Yet” and is the last chance to go wild with Children of Bodom today… and a lot of guys and girls are doing just that!
With members of Katationia, Opeth and Paradise Lost, it is hard to imagine that these gifted musicians cover themselves in blood and play a pretty different kind of metal, than they are known for, but that is just what these guys do.
In the tent, it is dark and Bloodbath has no intentions to add light to the show. There is a lot of smoke and red lights, so it is hard to see at times who is who and where he’s at.
Musically there is not one point of criticism. With artist of this kind it should sound great and it does, but visually there is something to be done in my opinion. A cheerful singer who is hardly visible at times is fun, but only that much.
X Raiders (NL)
After Bloodbath I decide to check-out X Raiders, as I just love this band for it’s performance and humor. I am a bit late, because of my presence at Bloodbath in the tent and it is obviously clear to me that I am not the only one who is into this band, as Hanks Garage (the small stage) is filled to the brim. Even outside are quite some people enjoying the performance of X Raiders.
Sadly I hardly see anything of the show, but it is very well audible and it sounds (and looks) like a pretty wild party.
I fill my water bottle and sit down for a while in the cool evening air and enjoy the music and sounds coming form Hanks Garage.
Behemoth was promoted to headliner and this is fairly just. Behemoth has a great show and is a great live band.
The large distinctive snake microphone standards standing quite a bit from the edge of the pretty high stage, so the first few rows see only chest and up of the band. The large microphone standards hide a large part of Nergals face too, so most of the times he is barely visible and that is a shame.
Nergal does come to the edge of the stage quite a few times, but the singing is done behind the ornamented microphone.
Although there is more than enough light available, the stage is pretty dark throughout the entire set. The advantage of that is, that the fire of the flame throwers is better visible.
The performance is impressive. During every single song, the flame throwers are active and give the stage and the band an eerie look.
Standing from a small distance, the stage is better visible and the band changes costumes a few times and it is very very busy on the field with enthusiastic fans.
Behemoth is a worthy headline band for the Saturday of Fortarock in this arrangement. Personally I would get rid of the large decorated mic stands and move the band 2 meters to the front of the stage to enhance visibility, but that’s just me.