SUMMER BREEZE 2014 – Day one – Dinkelsbühl – Germany

SUMMER BREEZE 2014 – Day one – Dinkelsbühl – Germany

Day 1

The rare awesome started straight away, with a show from melancholic black metal troupe Heretoir. Another unfamiliar band until their festival addition, they put on a punishing good time with a lot of downtrodden twists. "Eclipse" and "Fatigue" were among the most impactful songs played, proving them to be a fine band that should have more attention. The day couldn’t have started better.

A couple of songs from thrashers Skeletonwitch were next, with them being a band originating from Ohio in the United States – not too far from my residence. Having seen them many times locally, it was cool to see them tear it up in Europe. And tear it up they did. Never a bad time when these dudes are around.

(Photo: Dan Barkasi)

A few tracks from melodic death folksters Eluveitie was fun, yet unspectacular. Again, a band this guy has seen a ton of times, and they put in a good effort. They managed to attract a huge crowd, too. Their live show is still decent, but this is a band of which much interest has been lost due to the lacking of their later material.

A huge moment was next, for melodic death masters Mors Principium Est were the next band on the T Stage.  Having seen them once at Cleveland’s long defunct Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles fest years ago, this guy knows how much they rip. Add their unfortunate breakup, and then the beast of a comeback record they’ve been boasting, this was a huge deal.  No disappointment, thankfully, as they’re sharper than ever. "Departure" set the tone, with songs like "Bringer of Light" and "Destroyer of All" keeping the pace high. Every note was spot on, and they absolutely slaughtered the audience with their riff mad assault.  One of the highlights of the festival, no doubt.

Afterwards, the tail end of Caliban was checked out. Not bad, but not what they used to be, either. Still, the new disc is better than the last few, and they sounded decent enough.

(Photo: Dan Barkasi)

A little bit of Todtgelichter was on the list for this timeframe, too. They weren’t bad, but not as good as hoped. Their all-white outfits/makeup definitely brought the interesting factor up a few notches, but actually detracted from the music a bit. Definitely were better on album, but not bad live, either – just ok.

After one of many bratwurst breaks – and the brats at the festival were absolutely delicious – it was Equilibrium time. Unfortunately, on the way over to the stage to secure a spot, Arch Enemy was finishing up. What was once a leader in melodic death metal is now a bad punchline – one that has gotten worse with the introduction of their new singer, Alissa White-Gluz. If you thought Angela ruined the band – and she did – they’ve stooped to a new low now. Once good songs were butchered worse than the stage set for a Gorgoroth show.

However, we now more on to infinitely better things – Equilibrium!

High on the want to see list for a good while, it was an opportunity not to be missed. Disappointment? None. The wait was absolutely worth it, as the Germans executed almost flawlessly. "Blut im Auge" and "Waldschrein" were particularly captivating. It’s a crying shame they haven’t gotten a tour in North America.

(Photo: Dan Barkasi)

Unfortunately, all of Equilibrium couldn’t be watched, as a clash with the one-of-a-kind The Ocean was present. Catching the last few songs, The Ocean were on their game for sure.  Impressive, especially after reading about all of the incredible hardships they dealt with to make it to the festival. Great job, no matter what the circumstances were. They’ve yet to do me wrong, and will always welcome the chance to see them.

Another quandary loomed, with Winter of Sin and Behemoth clashing. Thankfully, Winter of Sin only went ten minutes into Behemoth’s set, so the decision was simple to stick around for all of them. Featuring Henri Sattler and Michiel van der Plicht of the now reunited God Dethroned, and with a kicking new album to feature, these guys simply owned. Bits of melody, but lots of blackened death goodness were the selling point, and this dude was buying. The 30 minute set went by super-fast, but every minute was memorable.

Rushing over to catch the rest of Behemoth, a decent spot was managed, albeit a sort of far away. Seeing them at this very festival in 2012, I have first-hand knowledge on just how massive their festival shows are.  They put on a true show, complete with lots of fire and a fitting stage setup. The music is pretty damn convincing, too, of course. Their latest, "The Satanist," is a strong disc, and the songs came off as dark and crushing as they do on recording. A band on top of their game, Behemoth is a band that doesn’t leave one unfulfilled.

(Photo: Dan Barkasi)

Sadly, only about 20 minutes of Behemoth were watched, as Twilight of the Gods was also playing at that time. All of this quality!

A super group of sorts, these guys started as a Bathory tribute, and evolved into a very competent classic heavy metal group. Primordial’s Alan Averill’s vocal work here is a stark contrast to his main band, and he manages to really push the band to great heights with his soaring vocals. A great throwback from some very talented and renowned musicians.

The recently changed – infinitely for the better – The Haunted was on deck to thrash the T Stage to pieces. For those who don’t know, old singer and complete nutter Peter Dolving is out of the band, and they brought back their previous – and far superior – singer, Marco Aro. This band is back like one wouldn’t believe! The new album is a hell of a return to form. It’s great to see The Haunted playing ferocious death/thrash again. Hearing "Dead on Arrival" live after all these years brought back all sorts of good feelings. I told Marco afterwards that it was great to have him back. He replied, "Believe me, it’s great to be back!" Thank goodness for that, sir.

German black metallers Waldgeflüster followed, and they put on a positive set. Nothing over the top spectacular, but sharp and enjoyable. This is a group I’d definitely watch again.

(Photo: Dan Barkasi)

Testament is one of the best thrash bands in history, and certainly my favorite from my home country. A chance to see them is always one to be taken, so challenge accepted. Nothing different than the countless other times I’ve seen the band, which equates to a phenomenal showing of thrash goodness. The only blip on the radar was the band bringing on Arch Enemy’s new vocalist, Alissa White-Gluz, on to do a duet with Chuck Billy during "Into the Pit". What in the name of Paul Baloff were they thinking? What a mind-numbing atrocity that was. The rest of the set overshadowed that giant boner, thankfully, and hopefully that will never be witnessed by another human being again.

By this time, it was 1:30am, and we were walking corpses. The cold and rainy weather is draining, along with being on your feet for almost 12 hours. Nevertheless, Alcest were playing in 45 minutes, and they weren’t one to be missed for any level of tiredness. So a break on a bench was in order, and then to grab a spot a few minutes before the French melancholic masters started.

Alcest was definitely worth sticking around for. Their beautiful music puts one in a euphoric haze. New songs from their latest "Shelter" came off swimmingly, and the tiredness temporarily melted away.  Niege is a master craftsman, and he does a wonderful job of showing it off.  Brilliant.

Now at 3:00am, it was time to drag ourselves off into a cab and get some much needed rest.  The rest of the days weren’t going to be much more forgiving.


More pictures from SUMMER BREEZE 2014 here