Brainstorm Festival 2017 (festival review)

Brainstorm Festival 2017 (festival review)

November 3-4, 2017 | Gigant, Apeldoorn – The yearly Brainstorm Festival at Gigant in Apeldoorn is a bit different than other festivals. The positive event surprises the visitors with new and exciting acts, while the festivals has a lot more to offer. Next to shows by (hard)rock- and metal bands, the festival offers an alternative theaterprogram (with acoustic performances, debate, etc), exposition and a cd-market. It’s a pity for the organization that Within Silence had to cancel their performance, but with a well filled line-up and a bit of creative reshuffling of play times , it worked out very well. Understandably it was to late to get a replacement, so well handled.

Day 1: Friday (November 3rd)

The Memory Remains (NL)
As said, the absolute positive side of this festival is without no doubt the number of people which turn up in time to see the first band! Even though The Memory Remains is “just” a cover band, the crowd is having a blast already. The Memory Remains plays mostly older metal songs of preferably the white genre, but Dio AC/DC, Judas Priest, etc. are played too. The crowd is a bit hard to persuade in to singing, but singing along goes rather well. When The Memory Remains last notes fade away, the people are pretty well warmed up for what comes next.

Fleshkiller (NO/USA)
When Fleshkiller enters the stage it is brightly lit, but that changes quickly when the first note is heard. All lights were switched off and apart from occasional bright lights from the back, there was not much light and mostly there were shadows on the stage. Muscially it wasn’t half bad, although I doubt if that had anything to do with the band. The band played tight and the songs are quite varied in style. The singer is using quite some echo on his mic, which makes it a bit odd at times.

SEA+AIR (D/GR)
Last year this duo couldn’t make it to Brainstorm Festival, so they were booked again for this year. In the small theater adjacent to venue, the stage was filled with instruments. When only Eleni & Daniel walk on the stage, it is very clear that both of them are not only multi instrumentalists, but they play multiple instruments at the same time too. Not important, but it must be said that this duo has a lot of humor, too. Jokes flying around and the crowd does not always know how to react to them. But back to the music… to be short: This is no metal. Not even close. Even though Daniel hoped that the audience will think of them as the best metal act of the day (yes, that was a joke too, people). Musically it is just awesome! Very well balanced and filled with little surprises and fun. The in-song changes of instruments somethings give you the idea the song is ended, but that has something funny to it too. It wouldn’t surprise me if in a few occasions that is done on purpose.

Xandria (D)
I leave SEA+AIR a bit early to be sure to get a good spot for Xandria. Recently they switched to a new front woman, Aeva Maurelle who is half German and half Dutch and speaks Dutch fluently. After the departure of Dianne van Giersbergen, Aeva has quite some big shoes to fill and I was curious how she would manage. The band hadn’t performed in 6 months and it was clear they were having a blast to be on the stage again. Aeve was at times clearly nervous, but that was not audible too much. She confessed to be quite insecure about the performance, because she was once a shy girl in the audience of Xandria and now she fronted the band and that in a rather short period. Xandria was superior this evening. Musically and vocally it was nothing short of just awesome. A lot of contagious fun on stage and a great atmosphere in the venue. The light was good (they brought their own light guy) so everyone in the venue could see their heroes and recognize them! Stellar!

Project 86 (USA)
This band plays some serious metal core, which tends at times to punk rock. Again it’s only a bit short of pitch black on the stage with huge amounts of smoke and an occasional light flare from behind. There are quite some fans of this band in front of the stage and I guess most of them could hardly see who was who on stage. In the pit there was a different story… I never saw American-style moshers in real life, but now I did… mowing with arms and kicking high resulting in everybody in their vicinity got hit or kicked. Even the golden rule of picking up everyone who falls down wasn’t respected. Much to my surprise even the most religious fans joined this way of deliberately hurting fellow metal fans… and apparently enjoyed it… To end on a high, Project 86 is great! It is raw and loud and wild, and to be honest… they are live way better than on their albums.

Day 2: Saturday (November 4th)

Undawn (NL)
The first band to kick off the second day of Brainstorm Festival is Undawn; One of the best Dutch metal core bands in my opinion. The set is a bit short, but it is sounding great again. Singer Michiel’s pronunciation is a bit “round” at times, which makes it a bit loose, but generally it is fine. The inevitable jam is again a masterpiece. Superb mellow flowing harmonics and pace changes alternated by faster parts. Again a really enjoyable performance!

Death Therapy (USA)
Surprisingly this band only consists of a drummer, a bass player and a background tape. Singer Jason is the former lead singer of Becoming The Archetype. After trying to figure out the style of this band, singer/bass player Jason gives the answer himself: Technical Industrial Groove Metal… It sounds impressive as the entire set is impressive. Jason jumps and skips around the stage, being true to the groove part of the genre. Jason invites the crowd to dance too (I heard that one before, didn’t I Earik?), but some morons in the crowd see that as an invitation to attack unsuspecting bystanders. Death Therapy is pretty damn good! It could have been awesome if the preaching in between was left out. Nevertheless, if they’re around, check them out!

Wind Rose(ITA)
Next up is Wind Rose. These guys make quite some work of their stage presence and it pays off. The uptempo power metal of Wind Rose is not the most complex, but it is catchy as hell. The genre is formally Dwarf metal according to singer Francesco… I’ve never heard of that one before, but if it sounds like Wind Rose, I think it is great! In the small venue of Gigant, Wind Rose managed to organize 2 walls of death! That’s quite an achievement! All band members are all over the place and enjoy the reaction of the crowd. This band is great fun!

Dark Sarah (FIN)
When I return from a bite to eat, Dark Sarah is already on the stage and the first song is about to start. The band is featuring singer Juha-Pekka Leppäluoto and that turns out to be a great decision. The band put quite some work in their costumes and overall stage presence, which has quite some steam punk items. Right from the very first tones I am stunned. Singer Heidi Parviainen and Juha-Pekka Leppäluoto are standing close to their fans on the edge of the stage and their voices fit incredibly well together. It reminds me of some great Gothic bands with classical educated singers, but this is an opera on metal music! Cinematic metal they call it self and that fits it maybe even better. This is some old fashioned story telling, which can be found in their video clips too. On stage there is a lot to see; quite good light and a lot of interaction in the band and with the audience. I am really impressed by Dark Sarah. A great show, great music and stellar vocals. I can’t wait for the next time around, with hopefully a longer set.

Gideon (USA)
Brainstorm had a surprise act and it turned out to be Gideon. To be honest, as much as I do like metalcore, Gideon could not impress me. It was much the same with very little variation except for the drop. With almost no light and a huge amounts of smoke, there wasn’t much to see either. But sadly the mediocre performance wasn’t the low point of this set. That one was reserved for a part of the crowd. Apparently assuming that god wasn’t looking, there was a lot of hitting and kicking going on and even people who clearly didn’t want to get involved were hit, kicked or violently pushed over. One woman even got knocked over on the stairs and was left behind by the perpetrators, who fled back in the mosh as fast as possible. The real “heroes” of the night… shame on you.

Sleeping Romance (ITA)
No moshing during the performance of the houseband of this festival; Sleeping Romance, whom presented their new album “Alba” at Brainstorm Festival. This is the third time in a row that Sleeping Romance is performing at Brainstorm and to be honest I don’t mind at all. Sleeping Romance is a solid performer with quite a large following and tonight is no difference. The performance is superb and there is eye for the fans too. A girl standing front row and is filming a some small parts of the show and Federica kneels before her and sings while looking straight into the camera. That’s how you make fans for a life time! The rest of the band is enjoying the crowd too, by standing on the edge a lot. Except for the drummer of course. Another fantastic performance of Sleeping Romance at Brainstorm Festival.

Living Sacrifice (USA)
Before the band climbs the stage, the smoke machines are put on max and with the poor lighting the band is hardly visible. This combined with the poor sound setup which makes the singer hardly understandable. Their christian hardcore punk is getting lost in a mushy atmosphere of sound and light. After the third song I called it quits. I couldn’t judge the band by its sound, because the setup was quite bad and the show was hardly visible due to smoke and poor light.

Conclusion
This festival had it all; great surprises and great let downs. Some of the bands could not convince by a poor sound setup or by hiding in smoke and darkness. Personally, when I go to gigs I really would like to see the band, besides hearing them of course. Sure, smoke and darkness is part of the show, but exactly what I say; a part, not the majority. On the other hand there were great surprises! Xandria and Dark Sarah were absolutely impressive and Sleeping Romance was “just” great as usual. Death Therapy and Wind Rose surprised me in a positive way, so all in all it was a great Brainstorm Festival band wise.

About the author

Marc is concert/festival photographer and reporter for PitKings in the northern and eastern part of The Netherlands. On occasion he’s also writing album reviews. Besides PitKings he also has his own photography company called Loud Images.

View all articles by Marc van Kollenburg