Sodom, Blaze Bayley and more at Brande Hornerkirchen (2008)

Brande Hornerkirchen (Brande Hornerkirchen, Germany)

Sodom, Blaze Bayley, Detente, Impaler, At War, Lethal, Sweet Savage, Mortal Sin, Deadly Blessing, Black Hawk
'Headbangers Open Air' Day 2Friday offered a lot of sunshine and a massive hangover. The […]
By Erika Wallberg
July 25, 2008

'Headbangers Open Air'

Day 2
Friday offered a lot of sunshine and a massive hangover. The combination of an overheated car and the effects of last night's party was not a pleasant way to start the day. But as experienced I am with this type of living I was fit for fight for MORTAL SIN at least. And since PARADOX had to cancel because their singer got ill and were replaced by DEADLY BLESSING my recover-time was a little extended. Well, DEADLY BLESSING did a really good re-run of the night before. Everything was pretty much the same. Even if it was really good it's more fun to watch a band more than once if they do something different from day to day.

MORTAL SIN's latest release An Absence Of Faith sure was a nice surprise. Ok, it took a few listening for it to get stuck but when it settled it climbed fast on the list of last year's best albums. Together with new killer songs they put on a killer performance and showed everyone it's not a necessity to have a lot of stage-prop. A tight band and a bunch of nice songs to thrash away to were absolutely enough. Sure, it was great to hear all the old songs but it still was the new material that got me started for real this day. It doesn't get much better than Deadman Walking and Tears Of Redemption and you'll have to be dead to be still when MORTAL SIN play those songs. A groove like that can't be ignored and I'm certain everyone present was tapping the feet to the rhythms. Still, it is the old-school stuff that got the strongest response from the crowd. I must say I find this lack of interest in listening to bands new efforts really strange. Ok, all bands doesn't manage to live up to old times but it seem like the general attitude is that everything was better in the past. And in this case the band is better nowadays and has written 10 new songs that easily fit with the old material. I Am Immortal and Lebaon still hold today and made a great ending to an awesome concert.

Kentucky has more than Fried Chicken and Straight Bourbon Whiskey. One of the world's finest metal bands comes out of Hebron, Kentucky. LETHAL convinced me once more that they deserve to be called one of the best bands around. Programmed from 1990 stands strong against any progressive record released in the last 18 years and it will be really interesting to hear how the new material will sound. Sure, Programmed sounds a lot like QUEENSRYCHE did around the same time and Tom Mallicoat's voice is similar to Geoff Tate. The only difference is that Tom still pulls it off, every phrase and every note. This day, just as the times I've seen LETHAL earlier they played a lot from the already mentioned album, a few from the Your Favorite God-EP and brand new Invention. That tune was quite fast and a really angry bastard! A lot rawer than their old material but still with the finesse and brilliance they've always had. If the rest of the new material matches this one LETHAL's new album will be one strong candidate for album of the year.
Though I still think it was a shame that they ignored the Poison Seed album totally. Sure the sound and style differs quite a lot from its predecessors but it still is a damn nice album. But all songs on it aren't 100% Grunge and would easily fit into the set so I can't come up with any good reason why they've excluded them from the set. On the other hand, I wouldn't want them to remove any of the songs they were playing either. So, with the time they were given their set was perfect. And the ending with Immune, Pray For Me and Killing Machine was unbeatable and made LETHALK the winners of this year's 'Headbangers Open Air'. Best on the festival!

I'm sorry to say it but for me AT WAR had the worst spot on the bill. Right after LETHAL and at that time my mind wasn't really open for anything but more LETHAL. Still, I really appreciated AT WAR, and why shouldn't I? They're absolutely great and their Old-School Thrash sounds a lot better live than on record. That mostly because the production on the records leaves quite a lot to wish for. Sure, that has its charm too but the music absolutely gets better with some real power and volume. Sometimes it's hard to point out exactly what it is appealing with a band but here, with AT WAR, just as on Thrash Assault II earlier this year they made me smile widely and I felt sort of reborn afterwards. Well, at least filled with a lot of new energy to take on the rest of the night.

There are a few characters in the metal scene that will make a permanent mark on you. Dawn Crosby certainly was one for me. I picked up FEAR OF GOD Within The Veil just because I thought the cover was cool. I absolutely hated it. But for some reason I kept listening and it got stuck and I ended up loving it. Dawn's death in 1996 sure was a great loss for the metalworld. But as they say, something bad always has something good with it. Anne Boleyn took Dawn's place on these gigs ('HOA' and the after-party at Headbangers Ballroom). Frankly I prefer Anne as a singer over Dawn and since HELLION always have been high up on my ranking of best bands I was really looking forward to see this. I wasn't disappointed, that's for sure! Pure Thrash Metal performed with precision that made it extremely tight. And one guitar was enough (Juan Garcia resigned a few months ago), Caleb Quinn managed that really well. Judging from a video-clip posted on Youtube a couple of weeks before the festival I was a little worried that it would feel weak without a second guitar but that was absolutely not the case. Caleb pulled off the guitar duties perfectly and together with bass player Steve Hochheiser everything sounded as fat and heavy it's supposed to. I was really impressed by Anne's performance, she absolutely owned the stage. I love her voice and I think it fitted perfectly to the music. A replica of Detente, not really but I still loved it.

I loaded my mp3 player with The Man Who Would Not Die as soon as I got my hands on it. This was an album I was looking forward to hear a lot. The first song I actually did hear was Robot, the superfast and really thrashy tune also released as a single and I thought; What the hell is this? BLAZE? Holy shit! To my luck they played that one and even if it wasn't as tight as on record I think almost everyone appreciated it, at least after getting over the shock that a song that hard could come out of the BLAZE BAYLEY's camp.

So, there's no doubt BLAZE manages to write great music on his own. But when it comes to the live performance this line up still has a bit to go. The magic John Slater and Steve Wray created together is hard to duplicate but that's what I expect out of this band. I guess it's hard to get there with the band spread out over two continents. Both Jay Walsh and Nicolas Bermudez are both great guitar players but there's no magic between them. For any other band this performance would have been more than great but since BLAZE has been setting the standard so high the expectations rises for every occasion they cross my way. Despite my high expectations and all complaints I've been spitting out this was really good, as usual. I don't know why Blaze still has the label of a bad singer to some because that's as far from the truth as it gets. And once again BLAZE delivered a set of great songs with the focus on Silicon Messiah and Tenth Dimension, but also introducing new songs. I wouldn't have mind a few more from Blood & Belief though.

It's hard to realize just how big SODOM are in Germany and a headline-gig at 'Headbangers Open Air' doesn't set the real level either. But this night the garden was burning. The else very calm and gentle festival turned into a battle-field. All bands did get a decent response here but this was something else. The garden was packed and Onkel Tom Angelripper and his crew did what they're good at. Just as sure as you can count on getting a great set of straightforward Rock'n'Roll when going to a Motorhead-concert, you can always expect the same from SODOM. Only that the music is a little more brutal. They always deliver and they're always great. And with a lot of time they didn't have to compromise much with the setlist. They played almost all songs I wanted to hear, all from Outbreak Of Evil to M-16 and with a great bunch of die-hard fans present it was even a little better than normal.

(photos by M-16 Erika)





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