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Summer Breeze 2012 Review Part III

By: Dan Barkasi

Day 4

The last day at a festival is always bittersweet. Yeah, it’s obviously going to be fun, but one doesn’t want it to end there either. However, that’s the sign that you had a good time. And a great time was had at this festival! Onto the homestretch!

Night in Gales
There was a hell of a great streak when it comes to first bands of the day at Summer Breeze. Be’lakor, The Foreshadowing, and now Night in Gales. Three of this guy’s most anticipated bands, by far.

Night in Gales – to those unfamiliar – are one of the best melodic death metal bands you’ll ever have the pleasure of hearing. Having been split for a decade, they came back with a furious vengeance with Five Scars, which was my album of the year in 2011. Having been a fan for many years, seeing these guys live was a long time coming. So one can imagine my excitement – like a kid at Christmas who just pissed themselves after getting the toy they’d been begging for. Well, I didn’t piss all over myself. At least I hope not! I digress.

The German’s blasted out of the gate with the instant classic “This Neon Grave” from the new disc, followed by another new barnburner “Days of the Mute”. “Tragedians” was a great dip back into their first album Towards the Twilight, with a return to the new album via the title track “Five Scars” and “Endtrip." “Intruder,” a blazing track from “Thunderbeast” was one of the last songs, along with their last foray into their latest “Void Venture,” and finishing off with a personal favorite in “Autumn Water.”

The most obvious trait with Night in Gales was the energy and just how much fun they were having. When a band is having this much fun, it rubs off on the crowd quite easily. Bassist Tobias Bruchmann may be competition for Mikael Stanne for happiest man in metal. I don’t think he stopped smiling the entire set. To top it off, they’re as tight as can be. A perfect set from a band more should know about. And they couldn’t be nicer people, as well. A life dream achieved. Thanks, dudes!

After being massacred by Night in Gales’ sheer awesomeness, there was a bit of a lull, so while wandering around the festival grounds, a few other bands were partially caught in passing. Betontod, a German punk band, was one of them. Absolutely not my cup of tea, and their sound was rather redundant. Maybe it’s a cultural thing, as there were a ton of people into them. A big no thank you.

Another was The Unguided. Apparently this is a project set forth by a couple of ex-Sonic Syndicate members. Yes, that sets off all sorts of warning signs right away, as Sonic Syndicate is just awful. This, however, was much less irritating than Sonic Syndicate, but also nothing to write home about. It’s simply watered down melodic death and not a whole lot else. Tolerable, but nothing more.

After all that time wasting, it was finally again time for something good. Well, more than good – Naglfar. Odd side note: for whatever reason, I always mix up Naglfar and Borknagar. They don’t really sound alike at all. Maybe it’s the presence of “ar” at the end of each of their names? Am I some kind of pirate or something? Maybe the dudes from Alestorm can help me with this?

Anyways, back to Bork…sorry, Naglfar. See what I did there? Naglfar’s brand of melodic-tinged black metal is the kind of black metal this goofball enjoys most. All the buzz saw guitar attacks one can shake a stick at, but with some well-worked tempo changes and melody. “Pale Horse” begins the sonic onslaught, which is from their very effective latest release Teras. “The Darkest Road” and “I Am Vengeance” were other highlights of a set that comprised of mostly material from 2003 and onward. Vocalist Kristoffer “Wrath” Olivius has a good demeanor to him that really propels the band’s live presence. Their sound is also a systemic chaos that comes together into a nice package. A good, face smashing set from a band that isn’t easy for a North American to catch.

I watched the last couple of songs from the line of Paradise Lost’s signing session, which had been steadily building up. It was cool to get to chat with Nick Holmes about zombies and Gregor Mackintosh about just how much his project Vallenfyre kicks. Nice bunch of fellows.

Legends, these guys are. On the front lines of Swedish death metal, Unleashed has been putting out their brand of Norse-inspired tunes for over 20 years now. All of these bands singing about Norse mythology? It all comes back to these guys, for they did it first. Once you’ve seen Unleashed before, one knows what to expect. Lots of headbanging and a huge riff-driven madness? Yup, that’d be it. And this is exactly what the Summer Breeze crowed received.

Old staple “To Asgaard We Fly” was far and away the oldest song played, with the majority of the set consisting of songs from more recent works. No matter, as Unleashed are one of those bands who have been defined by the consistency of their material. “The Longships Are Coming” and “The Great Battle of Odalheim” were particularly potent. Well-done.

After that was time to blow some cash on some merch, including a bunch of CDs that you won’t find on these shores and a couple of shirts. One can spend way too many Euros in a place like this, so restraint is important. After all, one does want to be able to afford food once returning home. Nah, screw it – more CDs!

Also during this downtime, a signing session with the one and only Anaal Nathrakh was on the agenda. Very, very funny dudes these Brits are. Their dry wit definitely has an impact on making their music the nuclear weapon that it is.

Paradise Lost
Having gotten in the line for Anaal Nathrakh early had purpose – their signing session started not too long before the mighty Paradise Lost began. Obviously, a second couldn’t be spared.

The gothic doomsters played a set that had a little bit of everything, though more focus to material from their magnum opus One Second and onward. Personally, any Paradise Lost set is a great one, as they have not a weak release to this guy. There was a good amount of more recent material, too, which has gone more to the feel of some of the band’s earlier records. All in all, there was something there for fans of any of Paradise Lost’s eras. Tracks like “Enchantment” and “Forever Failure” harkened back to the band’s Draconian Times days, to the band’s transition to more melodic landscapes in “One Second,” to newer tunes like “Tragic Idol” and “Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us” were all present. As mentioned previous – something for everybody. Paradise Lost’s influence is undeniable, and their live show displays their vast catalogue with gusto. Finishing off with “Just Say Words” was also the perfect ending to a flawless show.

This is a band of which one doesn’t get many opportunities to see them. Blackened thrashers Nifelheim are one of the first to really mesh the two styles well, starting way back in 1990. And it must be said – I have never seen more leather and spikes in my entire life. A new accomplishment!

Nifelheim’s live show is comparable to a chainsaw with a mind of its own. Just tearing up everything. “Bestial Avenger” and “Storm of the Reaper” were the highlights of the set for the time that I did see them, with a little over half of their show being caught due to a bit of an overlap with Paradise Lost. Hope to see a full set of them someday, however, what was seen certainly sufficed.

This next band was an interesting one. These guys were pretty much the precursor to Rammstein and bands of that ilk, having pioneered the “Neue Deutsche Harte” sound that Rammstein made so famous. With all that in mind, it was a cool chance to see a band of this ilk of which would likely not make it to these shores.

The band was definitely all for the theatrical, all dressing in sailor suits, with lead singer Dero Goi sporting Joker makeup in the Heath Ledger style. Not being overly familiar, the band ended up being a pleasant surprise, as they exuded plenty of energy to go along with their well-done light show and heavy electronic sound. A great band to check out if you dig electronic metal with a German flair.

Just for clarification, no, this isn’t the awful Norwegian black jazz whatever band. This is the good Shining – the downtrodden black metal group from Sweden. They have a very unique approach to the style, which is certainly refreshing, as black metal is a style that is either done extremely well or absolutely awfully.

Shining have always been on the good end of black metal, and their show here further solidified that judgment. They’re a real no frills sort of live act. Very in your face, and almost hypnotic with their approach. A very distinct sort of approach, and it suited them. Recommended listening/viewing for any fan of black metal that stands out from the pack.

Sick of it All
Next up were hardcore legends Sick of it All. These guys are easily one of the very best hardcore has ever had to offer. Their energy is infectious, and their shows have a solid reputation of being a fun, party-like atmosphere. And to those who don’t at least give some respect to this style – save it. Give these dudes a listen and then get back to me.

The atmosphere I just mentioned was exactly what happened. Other than The Excrementory Grindfuckers set, their show was the craziest at the entire festival. One couldn’t even begin to count the crowd surfers and people just jumping around and having a hell of a time. There was one crowd surfer in particular who is one of the funniest people I’ve ever seen at a festival. Sporting a Madball shirt that had definitely had some wear that day, he was a crowd surfing machine. After going over the barrier, he always had a different dance move to pull off on his way back to the crowd. I also cannot count how many times this guy hugged me and a few other guys outside of the railing. And there were tons of fun people like that during Sick of it All.

Oh yeah, and the band was as killer as their fans. The whole band was running marathons on stage, jumping around, and all smiles from start to finish. And their playing is so tight and poignant that one can’t help get sucked into their atmosphere. It’s unbelievable that it took yours truly this long to finally see them. Next chance I get to see them will be taken without hesitation.

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