Manowar, Majesty and more at Nordwaldweck (2008)

Nordwaldweck (Bad Arolsen, Germany)

Manowar, Majesty, Holyhell, Brazen Abbot, Krypteria, Titanium Black, Mob Rules, Sixth Sense
The chaos totaly ruled that day since both WHITESNAKE and DEF LEPPARD had cancelled their […]
By Erika Wallberg
July 12, 2008

The chaos totaly ruled that day since both WHITESNAKE and DEF LEPPARD had cancelled their appearances due to contractual difficulties. The gates remained closed even if it was gig time for the first band on the bill. Ok, it wasn't that hard to figure out that they've changed the scheduled and postponed the first band but there was no official information available anywhere.

I had characterized MOB RULES as a plain German Power Metal band some years ago. The little I did hear back then didn't appeal to me and I never gave them another chance! Until now that is. Better late than never perhaps, but still I curse myself for this. I found it to be highly interesting Heavy_Prog-metal and not at all what I had in mind from the past. They delivered the same, this cloudy morning, and with such high quality. Guitar player Sven Luedke, who is one hell of a player, had this way of adding tiny little things to the solos that increased the attitude and life in his tone so much, and made him stand out from everyone else. I'm really surprised that he hasn't made a bigger buzz in the guitarists world because he is really outstanding. Singer Klaus Dirks is a true entertainer and runs forward and back all over the stage. That slight Geoff Tate feeling in his voice suites the music perfectly but just as with Geoff, it's a little nerve-wracking in the really high pitched notes. Sometimes it feels he has to work a little too hard for it. But he pulls it off with grace and everything sounds really good. MOB RULES served a well balanced 'best of' set that just left one more thing to wish for; I would have loved to hear Among The Gods. That was the song that got stuck with and I kept playing it over and over again before the festival. But what they really should have kudos for, is that they skipped all the more radio-friendly songs and kept the dark and mystic mood for their entire set.

TITANIUM BLACK from USA are the newest signing on Magic Circle Music and they serve some kind of Progressive_Classic_Goth Metal in a great American style. I can't really remember anything about them, not more than thought I really should check them out more when I got home. I really liked the music but perhaps their performance didn't stand out as much as the music. Or maybe it was more action around me than on stage and those people stole my attention from the band.
After TITANIUM BLACK, it was finally time for BRAZEN ABBOT. It's kind of hard to see this as a full time bandl they don't really seem to fit together live either but as long it sounds good who am I to complain? Maybe this feeling wasn't so strange; this has been Nikolo Kotzev's project and the opportunities to see BRAZEN ABBOT live have been quite limited. And there's always been more than one singer on the albums. With only Joe Lynn Turner the variations weren't as prominent as on the records.
But this was absolutely Joe's show though, the rest of the guys became very anonymous in the shade of him. Not that the others were anything but great, everything sounded perfect but Joe stole the whole show. It's just a few people that can rule a stage without an extravagant image or extreme moves. Joe could and I couldn't take my eyes off him, and this had nothing to do with his looks. Besides his stage presence Joe still has an amazing voice and it's nice to have a more Rocky singer to this music. If Nikos had chosen someone with a traditional Power Metal voice I doubt I would have liked it as much as I did. And then to be served a whole bunch of RAINBOW-classics was of course a huge bonus.

That the festival took advantage of the re-opened slots and promoted some of their own bands is a fact. And why shouldn't they, since they have a lot to gain if their artists reaches a commercial success. I had barely heard of HOLYHELL before the festival but maybe that's not so strange. Their only release up until today is a 5-track EP, Apocalypse. So they're a pretty new band and a lot of the action going on in the Metal scene in Europe never even passes my dark corner of the world. I'm not a huge fan of female fronted Goth-bands and HOLYHELL didn't appeal to me especially much either. They managed to pull off a really good version of AEROSMITH's Dream On though and Maria Breon showed that she can do more than singing Opera stylish. Unfortunately it all fell completely flat again with the cover of the classic Yngwie Malmsteen-song Rising Force. This surely was decent female fronted Metal and I wouldn't be surprised if HOLYHELL will be one of the next big names in the genre. They were absolutely good but this just wasn't my cup of tea.

MAJESTY, or METAL FORCE as they've changed their name to, were also moved up on the schedule. And what could be a better warm up for MANOWAR than a German clone of the band? Yes, METAL FORCE sound a lot like MANOWAR and have about the same style too. Lots of leather and attitude! I thought Hellforces was a really nice album so my expectation on this was set to pretty high. That album showed more of their own identity and a little more depth in the music than before. Live that didn't come through at all. Sure they were great to watch and they served a lot of action. Eric Adams & co sure got a match in looking Metal and how to pose.

Time for the real deal then! MANOWAR started off just as they did the day before with their own theme-song, Manowar. Why break a tradition? On tonight's bill they had Sign Of The Hammer, Fighting The World and Kings Of Metal. And just as the previous night they played the albums straight through, with a little exception of Kings Of Metal, Crown And The Ring was saved for the grand finale as usual and the CD bonus track Pleasure Slave was added to the bill. The whole concert feeling was a lot better with the latter three albums as they didn't include as many anthems as the first three. That brought up the speed and action on stage compared to the day before. But else it was pretty much the same, the sound - good, lights - massive!

Eric and Karl in the front-line and Joey a little bit further to the back again. But of course, Joey had his part in the spotlight when the lottery of the Harley Davidson Choppers started. It's quite grand to give away all that, first a lot of free beers, then a CD-single and finally 4 Motorcycles. Yes, a little now and then during the festival the organizers came out on stage and screamed free beer for the next ten minutes, it wasn't only to compensate for a delayed MSG concert. One more thing differed this day, above the drum podium there was a ledge with a forest of mic-stands.
The closure of the second night was just as the first one, Die With Honor and Warriors Of The World but at the end a live version of Crown And The Ring featuring a live orchestra and choir. Unfortunately, that was the only time the sound engineer didn't manage to give a great sound on this festival. The effect served its purpose, doubtless but the sound from them was distorted and pretty much a blur of horns and voices. That's a shame really, because that song is so strong and powerful. Without the right sound some of the emotion was lost and the grand finale wasn't as huge as the night before.

With the key in my hand I think this was a really nice festival. The atmosphere was amazing but the organization left a little to wish for. The non-existent passages to the press-area, spreading of information and so on but nothing was so bad I wouldn't go back again. And what really separated this one from the rest of the festivals was the forest of flags in front of the stage. I counted countries from every party of the world. South Africa, Australia, Turkey, Hungary, Romania, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Norway, England, Scotland, Japan, Canada, Poland, Denmark and I'm still pretty sure I've missed a few. It can't get more international than that. And it will be nice to see what trick up their sleeve MANOWAR has for next year.
(photos by 'The Warrior Of The World' Erika)


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