Living on the edge!

Dynamo Metal Fest 2018 (festival review)

July 14, 2018 | Eindhoven – After a bit of a disquieting run-up to Dynamo Metal Fest 2018, finally the gates of the ice rink in sunny Eindhoven were opened and a little after 10 in the morning the people poured in. Some even ran to the barrier in front of the stage to claim their spot for Ghost, whom were scheduled some 11(!) hours later. With a blistering 33 degrees Celsius at it’s peak it was going to be very hot day! This years line-up is a great mix of different types of metal like Ghost, Ministry, Overkill, VUUR, Leprous and Iron Reagan.

The American metal (super)band Sons of Apollo cancelled their show a week before the festival, due to personal matters and last minute the organization found replacement: VUUR. Maybe it was not the most original move to ask them for a second time in a row, but finding a worthy replacement within the genre and within a week is not easy in the middle of the festival season I guess.

The venue changed the lay-out this year to give more room to the visitors and manage the flow of people better. The entrances were moved outside and that was a much needed change. The ice rink’s entrance was not build for hundreds op people, and this new entry made it much more orderly. The merch-market was moved inside and that was a smart move, but the intense heat of the day made it very hot indoors. On the positive side, there was more space to browse around and a lot less noise from the bands, so you could actually understand what was being said.

Elephant (B)
It is a custom that Dynamo Metal Fest is opened by the winner of the Metal Battle and this year the Belgian band Elephant was the lucky bunch. To start off with probably the biggest drawback of Elephant, that there is just not one genre to stick to this band. It makes it quite interesting, but also a bit hard to put the gears of a festival in motion. Elephant plays some old style hardrock with metalcore-ish influences, mixed with alternative rock and it does make an interesting combination, but maybe not on Dynamo Metal Fest. But judging the line-up, they fitted in rather well in a strange way. On stage there is more than enough action for the few hundred spectators to be entertained, but the fire is not extremely contagious. There is a great potential in this band and with a few more catchy tunes, they have a nice road ahead of them. Nevertheless a nice but a bit to mellow start of the festival.

Iron Reagan (USA)
Next up is Iron Reagan and if any band can kick some butt, Iron Reagan can! A few years ago I saw Iron Reagan at Dokk’em Open Air, and that was a lot of fun! They even played a dozen of songs in under a minute and it was hard to distinguish where the most fun was; on the stage or in front of the stage. So, I was looking forward to Iron Reagan and I didn’t get disappointed! Right from the first song, the crowd went crazy. Dust clouds rise up as an early morning (well, to be honest a bit noon-ish) moshpit emerged. The band and the rather large crowd are in perfect synergy; a big pit and almost every head nodded to the ferocious fast beats of Iron Reagan and a band was giving it all they had. The sound quality isn’t the best, but I never witnessed an outdoor festival with perfect sound. The conditions are hard to influence, so we have to deal with that. In the case of Iron Reagan it doesn’t matter much. It is loud and it is fast and that’s what the crowd wants. The energy coming from the band and the crowd was superb! Much too soon “Miserable Failure” is next on the set list, which meant the end of this awesome show and it gave time for the dust to settle.

When the first notes of VUUR sounds in the ice rink, a few “heroes” hiding behind others backs are boo-ing, but that doesn’t bother VUUR at all and soon these voices are drowned-out by the sound of VUUR. Personally I think it is pathetic to disdain a band who is just not of your liking. The crowd was quite passive during the show. It is probably not the best headbang music, but nodding heads are numerous. Maybe it was to hot and the fanatic headbangers wasted most of their energy and water at Iron Reagan. But none of this influenced VUUR. Anneke was being her radiant self and the rest of the band performed well up to par. The highlights were the songs of The Gentle Storm and The Gathering, but with a quite new album that is not a big surprise.

I Am Morbid (USA)
Another band with a bit of a controversy is next. I Am Morbid is put away by some as a cover band of Morbid Angel, but with the signature voice of Morbid Angel, David Vincent, this hardly does any justice. I am surprised how melodic the songs sound live and how varied they are. Where some other bands in this genre tend to glue songs together, I Am Morbid plays a very well performed set of well performed songs. The sound isn’t half bad either! It is funny how stoic singer David remains throughout the set. I’m convinced he didn’t even blink an eye during the whole gig! The rest of the band is headbanging and running around, but not David. With his head a bit tilted upwards he is the King of Eindhoven for the moment and everyone present bows for their king! Hail I am Morbid!

Leprous (NOR)
The first time I saw Leprous was in 2014 and I was greatly impressed by their performance then. With solid albums like Coal and Bilateral, they had pure gold in their hands. Even then not everybody could value their complex sound, but the ones that could were touched with the virus. For me personally the newer albums got less interesting and the focus was to much on the fiddling and incomprehensible detailed layering of the songs. So I was curious with what set they would come to Dynamo.

For starters, there was a problem with the equipment and almost everybody of the band walked around with a tablet or a smartphone checking data and settings. With a delay of more than 15 minutes the first song was started and within 2 minutes the majority of the audience was lost. It was too complex and too much fiddling, just like the last albums. The high pitched voice of singer Einar Solberg is not something everyone can appreciate and it is getting quite busy at the bars during Leprous. It appears that in search for the ultimate sound, they forget the music and the audience they are playing for. The handful of die hard fans were treated to some great prog music, with ultimate layering. I guess I stick to Coal and Bilateral.

Annihilator (CAN)
At last! I really looked forward to see Annihilator today and it took like ages for them to climb the stage. Jeff Waters and his gang kicked in with “One to kill” and that set the pace for the rest of the set. With Jeff on vocals these days, the elaborated guitar riffs and crowd interactions are a bit less than before and he is “hiding” more behind a mic and stand and that is a pity! Yes I do miss Dave Padden, in my opinion he has the best voice for Annihilator. Nevertheless the set is awesome! The best thing was the downside too… All the usual songs came by with hardly any surprises. That’s a bit of a shame, because Annihilator has a truckload of fantastic songs to choose from. On the other hand, this is probably what the majority of the fans wanted to hear and with such a large repertoire to choose from, a set of only 1 hour is filled up fast. Annihilator gave a good solid performance, with no big surprises, but just fast thrash metal. Quite nice!

Overkill (USA)
Oh boy, after Annihilator, Overkill unleashed their mayhem upon the ice rink and damn, what a spectacle that became! Singer Bobby “Blitz” has a Dutch connection and he used that well in addressing the crowd. Ranging form “zijn jullie een beetje moe” (“are you all a bit tired?”) to “flikker toch op” (“fuck off”) when the crowd reacted a bit to tame to Bobby’s liking. It was received enthusiastically by the Dutch crowd and this raised the performance of Overkill. With a perfect mix of old and new songs, Overkill nailed it today. In the diminishing, but still hot sun the dust clouds climbed up an above the stadium covering as the crowd went berserk! Ferociously fast metal with the voice of Bobby “Blitz”, the best music to eat your dinner with! Again the old guys did it and in my opinion the best band of the day!

Ministry (USA)
During the changeover it became clear what the message of Ministry is; 2 huge inflatable chickens were put on either side of the stage with the golden heads of Donald Trump. On it’s belly was a swastika painted with a prohibition sign over it. Another striking thing on the backdrop of Ministry was, the reichsadler, or at least a variation on that, as logo of the band. I never payed much attention to it, but in combination with the swastika-chickens the penny dropped. Strange that a anti-nazi band uses that symbol as their logo…

Let’s talk about music, because musically Ministry is pretty damn good. The DJ on the stage is a valuable addition and it sounds like clock work. The industrial metal of Ministry is pretty catchy and some songs are surprisingly melodic too. Vocally it’s not that all that great sadly. Singer Al Jourgensen has a lectern besides his mic, where the lyrics are on and that distracts him sometimes. Al is mainly busy with making faces, gestures and other stuff like kicking the Trump-chickens.
That is actually quite funny, because with every kick of Al, the chickens are tilting sideways.

What was not hilarious at all, was the moment when the time slot of Ministry was over. They started a bit later, so the had to cut short on their setlist to stick to the schedule. When Al heard that time was up, he called the organization of Dynamo Metal Fest a bunch of Nazi’s, just pathetic. Again, musically is Ministry pretty good, but to politicize the lyrics with extremists points of view, running around and “bravely” kicking inflatable chickens to make your point is just not that entertaining in my opinion. Metal should unite, not divide!

Ghost (SWE)
Due to restrictions, I was not allowed to take pictures form the photo pit. Ghost had a restriction of 10 photographers, so I had to find a decent spot early in the audience. With quite some amazement I watched the changeover from the stage where all bands had played this day to the stage of Ghost. Literally everything had to be removed off the stage and the complete stage of Ghost had to be build from scratch. In under 40 minutes the change over was complete and the soundcheck was fast en good. It produced the best sound quality of the day!

Ghost is not my type of music, but I was open for anything and live music is always a different thing, especially with 9.000 other people around you. To be honest, the show is amazing! A very slick performance of the band and with a lot of variation in the music it was very entertaining! However, I never had the impression, that this was a metal band of even a metal show. It is heavy rock at it’s best and singing about Satan doesn’t make it metal all of a sudden. Still the show was entertaining as Hell and as I walked to my car with the sound of “Dance Macabre”, I realized this years Dynamo Metal Fest was an interesting mix between old and new types of metal. I can’t wait to see the line-up of the lustrum version of Dynamo Open Air 2019!

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