So, Wednesday, the first and so called worming-up day. I arrived in Jaromer at about 7.30 p.m., then I unpacked my things at the field and went to see some shows. And there – a surprise: a queue for e-tickets validation was so amazingly long I couldn’t believe my eyes, people were waiting for 5 hours to get their passes. Last time (2011) there were no such problems; the organizers later explained it was “caused by a long response of their database” and promised to take care of it next year. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait, so I came just in time to see Anaal Nathrakh’s show. What can I say, I was annihilated. I saw them once in my hometown of Wrocław (btw, it was their first gig in Poland ever), but the concert was almost ruined because of the poor sound in the club. In Jaromer the sound was perfect and VITRIOL with his bandmates did their best to give us totally merciless, grinding, yet somehow intelligent, dose of chaos and aggression. For me, it had been the best festival starter I could have possibly dreamt of, a fucking bomb! Then Root came on the stage, a legendary Czech black metal band, which generally was enjoyable, but I was expecting something more, maybe something gloomier and dirtier from this group. And the last one this day – Alcest from France – a band that has been controversial from the very beginning of its existence (except the demo which consists of regular black metal material) because of incorporating shoegaze elements to its music. Alcest is considered to be one of the pioneers of so called black-gaze genre and is despised by many who stay devoted to the traditional black metal music – and, on the other hand, is loved by those who are not afraid of experimentation. Anyway, I was looking forward to see this band live and I was quite disappointed, but it wasn’t necessarily the band’s fault. This time the sound was really bad, in fact – it sucked, especially on the vocals. Maybe no one was prepared for that kind/tone of voice that Neige has, I don’t know, but for sure these technical problems contaminated the overall atmosphere of the show. Also, I was hoping they will play more songs from their first, groundbreaking album, but sadly they didn’t.
Drinking drinking drinking drinking, eating, laughing, saying some stupid things to random people, sleeping.
For me the next day began with Trollech – I watched their ridiculous video made for one of their pieces some years ago and I hoped they will be as funny as they were on the clip. (Un)fortunately they weren’t, they just played some average, listenable black metal. Then another Czech band, Brutally Deceased. I saw them for the second time and again I was impressed. It’s a very young band, they’ve released only one album named “Dead lovers guide” so far, but they serve good, in-the-face, old school death metal, especially Swedish school is noticeable in their music. Black/thrash machine Toxic Holocaust gave, as expected, an energetic show, the same as Russian Arkona with its blend of folk and metal music.
But the best part of the day was definitely the evening. Ministry surprised me, because I was almost sure I wouldn’t like their music – eventually I liked it, at least as it was performed on the stage: harsh, industrial, monotonous thing with strange samples. Then Dimmu Borgir began their show and this time I wasn’t surprised, although I saw them live for the first time. They played their kitschy, bombastic black metal-like music for more than an hour; I thought that maybe there was some chance of hearing at least one song from their first or second album (both are pretty decent), but the band focused mainly on their latest records, sounding sometimes like a shitty soundtrack to Batman movies. Then came Inquisition, which played on the third, Budweiser stage, placed in a big hangar next to the “green field”. By the way, I didn’t like the idea of adding the third stage, it had always been significant for Brutal Assault to have only two stages, so one band could prepare itself on one, while another group was playing on another and then the other way round, so you wouldn’t miss any gig. And now, when the third stage was added, you had to choose which concert you would like to attend. So I choose Inquisition while Samael was performing on the big stage. But I don’t regret it, Americans showed, how the satanic, ritualistic black metal should be played. Their music, brutal, dark and raw as fuck was really refreshing after plastic and pompous shit served by Dimmu Borgir. Definitely one of the best gigs on Brutal Assault, simply perfect. When I came back to the main field, Samael was ending their show with the “Baphomet’s Throne” piece and Nile was preparing. They didn’t fail to evoke this unique Egyptian atmosphere that characterizes their music and gave a really good show, despite the fact that the drummer destroyed his bass pedal and the tech guys had to change it, which took some time.
Arcturus closed the second day of Brutal Assault, the second day of slaughtering. How should I describe their show, hmm, terrific, fantastic, great? Well, none of these adjectives would be sufficient – it was absolutely marvelous and breathtaking, I was speechless afterwards. It was the first Arcturus concert after years of silence and they really did their best to show us that they are still capable of delivering awesome, avant-garde music of the highest quality and, in addition, serve us a good show. Simen’s voice remains amazing and fresh.
The third day was the weakest one for me. I’m not a fan of Machine Head or Paradise Lost, but I was expecting something at least decent – if not interesting – from their shows. My expectations were quickly crushed, because Machine Head, except maybe two or three songs (from the first album) occurred to be a very flat and uninspired band, and Paradise Lost gave one of the worst gigs I’d ever seen in my life. Of course, I’m aware that playing on the festivals usually doesn’t allow the certain band to show its all abilities and skills, but really, there are some borders. For me, Paradise Lost didn’t show anything valuable: the singer was singing out of tune, the music was boring as hell and monotonous in a very bad way and generally, the whole impression and atmosphere during this show was simply dull.
I’d say there were two highlights of this day: Napalm Death and Sebkha-Chott. Guys from Napalm didn’t fail at all, in fact they provided us with an hour of intense ear-mutilation connected with body harming in the crazy moshpit. Our lovely grinding monster is still in a good shape.
As I dislike Amon Amarth I decided to check, what this Sebkha-Chott band was about (they were playing on the small scene during the AA concert). I’d heard they are inspired by Frank Zappa and John Zorn, which was quite promising, but I wasn’t prepared for the thing I eventually received from them. Mostly their show was a pure chaos; nothing related to nothing, two guys in some crazy masks and a girl dressed like a courtesan behind the drums were making such a mess that I was totally bewildered (and bewitched). Later their show developed a little bit more form and formula, became more technical, but still it was full of absurd and all-embracing oddity. Truly refreshing thing, especially after seeing all these metal bands, which are taking themselves so damn seriously.
I regret I didn’t stay to see Gorguts, my friend told me it was one of the best death metal gigs he had ever seen.
And now Saturday, definitely the best BA day, half of it was a fucking cream-dream. Let me recite the most important bands that played then: Sodom, Finntroll, Immolation, Six Feet Under, Immortal, Moonspell, Godflesh. All of them gave great shows; I liked it when Barnes from SFU stopped their concert by simply shouting “Stop! Stop this!” to his bandmates in the middle of a song and ordered them to play a Cannibal Corpse piece, cause probably he realized there would be no time for it if they finish their previous song normally. Immortal’s gig was exactly how I expected it to be, grim and frostbitten, hah! Abbath was doing his crab-walk and seemed to have fun on stage, it was great to see him live.
Sodom was supposed to play at 6.30 p.m., but because of some unknown reasons it had been
moved to 2.30, so they were closing the whole BA festival. And it was pure awesomeness, people who didn’t stay should regret it for the rest of their days. Sodom played a hit parade, all their thrash anthems, including two songs from the legendary “In the Sign of Evil” EP: “Outbreak of Evil” and “Blasphemer”. It was THE show – despite the late hour and the fact that it was the fourth day of an exhausting event, there was a great moshpit and people were still having great fun to the pieces like “Sodomy and Lust” or “Agent Orange”. Really a memorable show and a perfect ending of the great festival.