Exodus, Benedictum and more at Brande Hornerkirchen (2008)

Brande Hornerkirchen (Brande Hornerkirchen, Germany)

Exodus, Benedictum, Deadly Blessing, Ancestral, Messenger
'Headbangers Open Air' Day 1As I've said before, you never know what's to come the […]
By Erika Wallberg
July 24, 2008

'Headbangers Open Air'

Day 1
As I've said before, you never know what's to come the first time you go to a festival. Last year I visited 'Headbangers Open Air Festival' for the first time and could hardly believe my eyes driving into the campsite. Ok, I knew 'Headbangers Open Air' was small, you don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure that out since it's called the world's biggest garden party. But I never expected it to be in someone's garden. That's exactly what it is! It's small, cozy and super friendly. Doubtless the best outdoor festival I've ever been to.

Opening this year's festival was the German band MESSENGER and they started off really good. They served a nice mixture of Heavy Power Metal, even if pretty plain such. And after a while I started to realize that they were actually quite boring musically; nothing really stood out and it felt like I've heard it all before about a million times. They had one thing though that separated them from the masses; singer Siegfried SchÏŒssler pretty much stole the whole show. He had that rabid squirrel look (if you've seen Over The Hedge you'll know what I mean), very energetic and enthusiastic but those angry faces wasn't very convincing and he was a little too much from time to time. And perhaps he took it a little too far, sure great to watch but he was a little too energetic, a little too much in your face all the time. But he's an awesome singer and because of him MESSENGER were a pleasant start of the festival.

Musically DEADLY BLESSING fit my taste perfect and I was really looking forward to seeing this band playing live. And it was good, most of the time at least. But sometimes the vocals were so sour it was painful. I don't know if Stephen Childs was trying to live up to the old vocalist Ski's talent because it felt like he kept pushing himself a little over his ability from time to time and when he did it he sounded terrible. That's a real shame because when it was sounding good, DEADLY BLESSING was amazing. And the new song Utopia In Flames proved that this New Jersey quintet still has it when it comes to songwriting. The song was really dark and suggestive and if they can keep this up their next album will be awesome.

One thing that's certain, BENEDICTUM fits a lot better on a stage this size. Here they felt like a big band on a little too small stage and that's much better than watching an act with the feeling they can't fill out the stage. They sure served the action and power a band is supposed to do all the time. And that, combined with a slight touch of frustration because they didn't have enough space to move around made everything really intense. With all those criterias filled it was bound to be good. Compared to the not so action-filled performance at 'Magic Circle', I absolutely preferred this one a lot more. It all felt very tight and they absolutely managed to convince me, they're a band to look out for in the future. Both judging musically and from a performance perspective. And when they get little more live-experience they will manage to fill the big festival stages too. Doubtless! Veronica Freeman strutted around on stage looking like a kid in a candy store, completely satisfied. Her connection with the crowd was so much better here than on the bigger stages and just this little interaction made so much for the whole show. The set was the same as on 'Magic Circle' and this time the backing vocals to Balls To The Wall became all clear. People from the front-row were dragged up on stage, they probably did the same at MCF too but this time there was action! With this show I totally got the idea with the arrangement, this time it absolutely boosted the show and it felt perfectly right. And again, BENEDICTUM closed their set with mighty Season Of Tragedy, a song I thought was a little odd from the start but has grown a lot, especially live and it was a killer-track again.

Headlining the first day was mighty Thrash-titans EXODUS. They released one of the Thrash-scene's strongest comeback albums with Tempo Of The Damned a couple of years ago and their gig at 'SwedenRock' right after that release was nothing but a killer concert. I must say I was really disappointed when Steve Zetro Souza announced his departure from the band. Ok, Paul Baloff was a true character and is still deeply missed but my favorite albums are absolutely the ones with Souza. Anyhow, sometimes a band needs to move on and then I don't want to be one to judge just because a band changes some members. The core of EXODUS is still there with Gary Holt (guitar), Tom Hunting (Drums) and bass player Jack Gibson (yes, he's been in the band for more than 10 years now). Lee Altus (guitar, also in HEATHEN and ANGEL WITCH) is also a familiar face in the scene. Musically EXODUS were stronger than ever. Super tight and so much alive I got completely speechless. Both the old-school material and the new songs were delivered with perfection. This should easily been best on the festival with Souza or Baloff. I really hate to say it, but Rob Dukes is an awfully boring singer. He has no structure in his voice at all, everything sounds the same, even the old songs. He also looked a little bored with everything just walking indolent from side to side and that didn't fit in with the rest at all either. I think that is very unfortunate because EXODUS is and has always been one of the world's greatest Thrash-bands.

(photos by Toxic Waltz Erika)





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