I started writing this report in my darkened room, surrounded with black candles and blood red vintage wine in my hands. First thing that was going through my head, while I was sipping my first glass of my blood wine was SATAN.
A little bit of humour is always good. Actually my thoughts were what kind of music to listen to while writing this report or “What I did (or what I remember) from 5th of August to 11th of August”. So, as any 666trv666 metalhead knows the decision is not that simple, but I managed to make a music compilation based on Brutal Assault :D.
As my playlist was set, I was thinking how to summarize a festival as Brutal Assault. So, to cite Wikipedia:“Brutal Assault is an open-air extreme metal festival that takes place in the 18th-century army fortress Josefov, located in Jaroměř, Czech Republic. It is held each August early in the month from Wednesday until Saturday. The festival started in 1996, originally focused on grindcore. For many years, it was a small event with mainly Czech and Slovak bands performing. It changed location several times and grew into a large event by 2006, when over 7,000 people attended the festival in Svojšice. After moving to Josefov, attendances grew further to 15,000 in 2012 and the festival has operated two alternating main stages since with addition of 2 smaller stages. Currently, Brutal Assault features artists that perform all forms of extreme metal, including some of the genre’s most prominent figures, as well as artists with dark and intense styles from genres outside of heavy metal such as punk, experimental and electronic.” The festival motto is: “Against violence and intolerance”.
Why Brutal Assault?
It was 2012, when my good and big friend Pajdo the Dominator said to me –Do not be a pussy, let’s go to Czech Republic and go to Brutal Assault. Immediately I said, Let’s go! We took a car, drove almost 1000 km, after getting lost a few times, problems with tickets, we arrived in the night, set our tents and the rest is history. I fell in love immediately. The setup of the festival, the people, the music, the food, the beer and general feeling of belonging. First time I saw the entrance I said to my self – This is my beautiful hell!
So, each year I still go to this beautiful hell, now 8 years in a row. Each year the festival grows, not in number of people but in better organisation, improving in every aspect, from bracelets needed for entrance and payment for drinks/food/merchandise (Festival is for the past 3 years no cash festival), more food options (from meat to vegan), more beer and other drinks,
more music, more chillout zones
and other commodities such as old school gaming zone, mad max wasteland and lot of quality merchandise.
This year me and three of my good friends and brothers in metal wet to 24th Brutal Assault.
After a long drive we arrived in our apartment (yeah I know, we are old fucks and we need our peace and quiet after all day filled with metal, beer, grilovana kita, Chinese nudlinz, langoshes and kurecky) and Shagec started making beans with sausages, while the rest of us started to relax and drink. This was our day zero, and nothing important happened that day 😀
DAY 1 (Wednesday)
The day started with healthy breakfast of Czech beer, Czech salami, cheese and bread, and important discussion about the bands we would like to see. So, we went to the festival (we parked at the same old spot as every year). As we received our entrance bracelets via mail, the entrance procedure was quick and very efficient. First person we met was our good friend and brother in metal (we actually met 8 years ago at Brutal Assault and have been friends ever since- so Brutal Assault connects people and brings love) Human Barrel or Matija Lackovic, Legend from Zagreb, 100 kg of pure love and sex. After a few drinks with him we went to see our firs band for the day.
And the first band we saw was legendary SLAPSHOT.
As always, their performance was brutal, old school hardcore. Lots of energy was there and in one point the vocalist was in such a state of adrenaline rush taht he split his head open with a microphone and continued to sing. As I said this was something unique to see and to be a part of it. Also this set the ambience for the whole day and I knew it was going to be extraordinary.
As any regular visitor this festival knows, there are always a lot of colourful people you can meet and talk to. This is one of the things I like at Brutal Assault. Not only the bands and organisation, but the variety of hominids you can encounter there.
After Slapshot, I went to see THE ARSON PROJECT at Obscure stage. Their raw, grind, powerviolence was ideal for a bit of adrenaline rush. They played for about half hour, but it was enough. After their performance I went back to meet with my friends and we went so see VOIVOD. What say about this band, personally I do not get their music. It is not my cup of tea. But lot of people like them and enjoy in their progressive sound. I respect them as they are legends and they have been playing for a lot of years.
As we found an ideal spot (close to toilets and bars), we stayed close to main stages. So next on the list was ENSIFERUM, Viking folk metal and their melodic death metal sound. As always folk/Viking metal is fun, and it is good to get Odin’s blessing as early as possible 😀 so you could have energy to fight Ice giants if necessary and to be worthy to enter Valhalla.
One of the interesting things this year that festival had to offer was Apocalypse warrior Mad max corner where you could experience the whole world of possible future. The offered various selection of interesting food, innovative artwork and very interesting people. It was great for relaxation with combined Brutal Assault gaming zone where you could play old school video games and test your skills against other players.
After Ensiferum, I listened to SOILWORK, alternative melodic death metal. To be honest, I only listened to a few songs and went for a beer and a meet-up with EYEHATEGOD, with whom I did a short interview. Soilwork is a band that has been around for 20 years or something, fans have mixed feelings about them regarding what is their best work, but the always create something new and their music evolves.
Right after the interview I practically ran to main stage to see a rising Ukraine star in metal, a band that has sold out almost half of their concerts in upcoming European tour, with one of the most versatile vocal performers, the one and only JINJER. One must see them live to experience what this band has to offer. Their vigorous performance, their live energy and their music is something everyone has to see. They are touring through Europe and I recommend you see them. 45 minutes of groove, death and progressive metal, left everyone speechless especially when their vocal Tatiana started to growl. In October they have a new album “Macro” coming out.
So EYEHATEGOD. What to say about New Orleans sludge legends? They formed in 1988 by Jimmy Bower, are a part of the NOLA metal scene, the play harsh misanthropic music. Their sound is heavy, detuned with blues riffs and punk attitude, which can be experienced in tortured vocals by Mike Williams. All band members, during the band existence, had some kind of problems with law and drugs, and they use this experience as inspiration for their music. Mike Williams was struggling with heroin addiction, but he overcame this evil with help of his friends, bandmates and with great help from Phil Anselmo. I had the privilege to talk to them at Brutal Assault. The interview was kept short as they had to prepare for their performance. We talked about being in a band such as Eyehategod, and they told me that music inspires them and gives them energy to go on. Performing is not easy but it is a job, it is a lot of sacrifice, and it can take a toll on your personal life, can push you to the dark side with drugs, alcohol and bad living but they do not regret a thing, the still play shows and have fun. They told me that they take inspiration from everyday life and from their surroundings so you have to make people think and say fuck it from time to time and live.
Also, I talked with the singer Mike about his new life. He suffered from alcohol addiction, drug abuse, partying and living the rockstar life, but in 2016 he almost died because of this. His way of life destroyed his liver. When he found out he just said “Ok, it figures but I do not regret anything. I’m glad I’ve lived the way I did. I still live hard “. And that was the same thing that he said to me, Fuck it I do not regret it. I have been sober for almost 2 years now, I am recovering, and starting a new life. As he stated out in an interview for Decibel magazine (https://www.decibelmagazine.com/2017/05/26/eyehategod-s-mike-williams-on-liver-transplant-recovery-and-addiction-i-will-never-regret-anything/): “Anybody getting sober after a lifetime of drinking is going to tell you it’s not easy, “You just have to fight through it. You come out the other side happier because you know you beat something you struggled with. I feel stronger for it. I think addiction is a disease, heroin or alcohol; it’s there and who knows why people do it, but when it gets into your bones, you’re screwed, but you fight through it. It’s all about the willpower, man, and how strong your mind can be.” Talking to him gave me something to think about. He said he didn’t expect to live this long, but he is over 50 years old, still performing, with second chance in life, and life is good. He was smiling the whole time and was generally happy to talk about life.
During the writing of this report I have read the news that Jim Bower has left Eyehategod. Statement from the band says: “In accordance with the chaotic lifestyle that is everyday reality, EHG will continue to tour the USA while Jimmy Bower seeks help for visions unknown”. EHG are still touring regardless.
And now a little about their performance. Their show as on Obscure stage. First day of Brutal Assault was hot, humid, with lots of smoke in the air and had proper New Orleans vibe. They started aggressive, fast and loud. There was a lot of energy in the air, people were headbanging and feeling the harsh, negative, sludge music. Their 45 minutes performance was over in an instant almost like a meditation. For me, it was one of the few that was really great.
After Eyehategod, I had to take a break and have a few drinks with my friends, and also to eat something, so we saw half of the performance of THERION, legendary symphonic metal from Sweden and their opera like performance. They are a good band to see for a little bit of leisure and just to be immersed in their performance.
Next on the list was PRONG, alternative trash metal. They have been playing for almost 30 years and their age does not stop them to be energetic in their live performances. Lots of jumping and frolicking with fast music. Then it was turn to see PARKWAY DRIVE, very popular metalcore from Australia, especially among the younger generations. Performance was great, with a fire show, flamers and explosions (sincerely I did not expect that). I was generally astonished.
The highlight of the first day to me was CULT OF LUNA, one of my favourite metal bands. I was really really thrilled to see them live. Cult of Luna are Swedish metal band, with post-metal, progressive, doom and sludge influence founded in 1998. The played a few times at Brutal Assault, and always gave a great live performance with their long, slow, heavy sections of distorted guitars and crushing aggressive sound. They played a few songs form their upcoming album “A dawn to Fear” that will be out in September. Their music is about anger with modern society, negativity of politics, propaganda and governmental control of people, problems with self-perception and individual freedom with spiritual themes. During their performance there was a lot of headbanging, general immersion in their music and feeling of something wonderful. Their played for about 1 hour and for me it was too short. Cult of Luna is one of the bands I would like to see more live more often and I hope I will soon, since they are on European tour this winter.
And with Cult of Luna, the first day of Brutal assault has finished. It was a long day filled with great music, good friends and beer. We returned to our place to relax and gain energy for rest of the festival.
DAY 2 (Thursday)
Second day of the festival started with a slight hangover and general pain in my whole body, which was expected after a great first day. After input of some nutrients to sustain me during the day, we went to local Vietnamese shop for some beers and to discuss our plan for the Second day. We decided on DECAPITATED. Polish brutal death metal, ideal for getting some adrenaline rush for the start of the second day. Their performance was angry, loud, with a lot of energy. People moshing, screaming and enjoying themselves. Very “calming” experience and great intro for WALLS OF JERICHO. USA hardcore, trash metal legends with powerful female vocals, the one and only Candace Kucsulain. She trained boxing, she lifts weights (Raw: Squat 270lbs, Bench 203lbs, Deadlift 335lbs. In Gear: Squat 420lbs, Bench 280lbs, Deadlift 440lbs), and she can kick some ass. As always Walls of Jericho is a great band to see and through the years they have not lost their energy, they just keep going harder. It is important to mention at this point that we lost our friend Human Barrel 😀 but found him later a bit drunk and he paid a round of beers, and everything was ok.
Next on the metal menu was a hard choice. Either to see LIONHEART or SODOM. So we decided to split up. Pajdo the Dominator and Shagec went to see Lionheart (they said that they were great and that their performance was superb –I have to believe them on that), so me and Peter went to see German trash metal pioneers SODOM. They have been playing their crushing metal since 1981! Almost my whole life. I saw them a few times already, and they never let down. Soul crushing, loud, trash metal. What else to expect from legends.
After crushing trash metal, some hardcore was on the menu with NY based SICK OF IT ALL. This band was first hardcore band I have ever heard, somewhere in the middle of 90ties. Songs “Step down” and “Scratch the surface” are always on my playlist. I saw them a couple of times, from big open air festivals to small venues. They have been playing since 1986, and still they have energy that never goes out and are an inspiration to a lot of bands. Their live performance was as always energetic with lots of jumping, moshing, circle pits and wall of death. During the performance they they had some trouble with sound but that did not spoil the experience.. And as they always say “Hardcore still lives”!
TESTAMENT was the next show I attended. Trash metal from USA, the do not need a lot of introduction as they are well known to any metal head. They have been active for over 30 years, and still haven’t lost their trash metal sound. They were big influence to many other bands and are credited as trash legends alongside Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth, Exodus and Metallica. They did a great show but sadly I had other plans so I only stayed for a little bit.
The day passed quickly, it was evening already, and I needed a break from trash metal. I went to Obscure stage to attend DAUGHTERS show. This band was something different from the rest of the bands I saw that day. Daughters are USA based mathcore, noise rock band with a mixture of other sub-genres such as electronic music with a dash of grind (they started off as a grind-core band but changes their music during time). I discovered them by recommendation and was impressed from the start. Their last album “You won’t get what you want” has a different sound from their other albums and with the name they send a message to their fans. Latest album was greatly approved from reviewers/critics and fans alike. The band practically reinvented themselves with their latest album. It is not for everyone (as the say – “There is a name for people like you”), but I highly recommend them to anyone. Their performance is something out of this world. The whole crowd was surprised and after the initial shock, everybody was dancing and jumping. Frontman’s energetic performance contributed greatly to the whole ambiance, as he was jumping around on the stage and singing almost half of the songs with a crowd. Their live sound is different in comparison to album, more energetic, more metal and vocals are harsher (maybe because the frontman chugged like half of bottle of votka before he started to sing). In general, their live performance is perfect 10 for me. I enjoyed every second of it, it was like seeing metal version of early Depeche mode. After seeing them live I am a bigger fan now :D. I would like to finish report on their performance with their lyrics: “Don’t tell me how to do my job. You carry on like a son of a bitch. They got a name for people like you. But I didn’t take the time to write it down, though “
Best way to finish your second day is with some complicated, complex, extreme, progressive, avant-garde, trash, death metal, The fathers of Djent? MESHUGGAH. Meshuggah are known for their ground-breaking musical style, complex, polymetric song structures and polyrhythms. And their performance always delivers. It is something one must experience, in full immersion, surrounded with thousands of people, transfixed in rhythms and headbanging. As day was cumming to an end, we stopped for around half of ANTHRAX show. This band does not need any special descriptions, they are trash legends that are playing for almost 30 years, they never stopped thrashing. And that was it for second day.
DAY 3 (Friday)
On day 3 we arrived a bit later. We took a lazy afternoon, did some merchandise shopping, hanged out with fiends and friends, and enhanced our culinary experience with different foods that were available. Theme of the day was Black metal and wizards as Emperor was the headliner. Lots of people were wearing corpse paint, showing their inner demons and futility of life, screaming Satin, sinners everywhere worshiping false gods, people offering a sacrifice in shape of fire burned shredded, chopped, crushed and minced dead flesh of innumerable animals, devoured in voraciousness and gluttony, never satisfying the burning hole in their guts, never satisfying the endless thirst for beer, you get the picture. So, after a few beers and some sustenance for our decaying, deteriorating living corpses we went to see ABORTED. Death metal from Belgium. Their raw, serious and savage performance was ideal for an afternoon. They have been playing for 20 years or something, and always offer something wicked and brutal. Next was WOLFBRIGADE, hardcore punk/crust from Sweden. To surprise my ears and to experience something completely different, I went to see ANATHEMA. As this was my first time, it was quite special, filled with love and it made me feel delicate and adored afterwards. Anathema are emotional, depressive, alternative rock with a lot of artistic expression (sincerely I do not know what this means, this is a description from “the mighty internet”). It was ideal time for a bit relaxation, hanging around, and preparing for 4 hours for three bands of black metal.
Black metal number 1: AU- DEUSS. Lithuanian black metal band, they released a full-length album in 2017, did a tour across Europe, even played in my hometown Čakovec. They put Lithuanian metal scene on the map. Incorporation of sludge and post hard core in their sound augments the overall experience. Their stage performance is interesting and has a lot of spirituality. Mythology is the main theme in their album, they said in a recent interview : The idea (for the album cover) deals with mythology: in order to reach afterlife, one had to cross the Styx river on Charon’s boat and had to pay for this service with the coins left on his/her eyes. The full artwork depicts this story in three images: life/death/the river. It has a symbolic meaning for the band – a chapter of youthful innocence comes to an end and a more mature one begins. I recommend seeing them perform live and give them a listen.
Black metal number 2: ZURIAAKE, or “Lake of buried corpses” in Chinese or as the band said the name Zuriaake is a distorted portmanteau of three words: Zu (the Sumerian god of wind and clouds), bury, and lake, thus roughly encompassing the meaning of the Chinese name. I discovered them by accident, researching Chinese metal scene for my friend. I didn’t know that black metal even exist in China and was quite surprised. After first listen of their latest album I felt in love. Integration of Chinese mythology, ethnology, and traditional music with raw black metal gives a unique sound of atmospheric, epic black metal about autumn, sadness, desolation and nature. They envisioned their music through their own history and culture and that gives beautifully dark melancholy to the sound. Also, they perform in medieval traditional outfits that you can see in old Chinese martial arts movies, and this with the unique stage decor gives them a distinctive layer of mysticism in their performance.
I managed to see last part of HEILUNG show. They play spiritual music inspired from northern European iron age and Viking period, with very interesting stage performance that incorporates running water, human bones, swords and shields, ancient drums, mystical invocations and chants that were taken from ancient runes and scrolls. Their music is meant to heal people’s spirit and body, thus the name. Everything looks as some dark age shaman healing ritual. Nice intro for Emperor.
Black metal number 3: EMPEROR. The one and only. Band that incorporates arsonists, murderers, hatred toward churches and Satanists is great example or TRV raw original Norwegian black metal. They are so black metal that they abandoned corpse paint because it is too mainstream and TRV evil black metal does not need visual interpretation that they are truly TRV black metal. They were and still are great influence to many emerging bands that want to be evil incarnated. Lots of famous black metal musicians played in Emperor and had their own (mostly successful) careers after that. Because why not, SATAN means freedom (you have to say this while sipping red wine). Their performance was eagerly expected by most of the Brutal Assault visitors. Crowd was in element, weather was ideal for this kind of music, people were under influence of various mind enhancing substances. And then they started to play. Everybody was screaming, selling their souls to evil and enjoying themselves. Delightful way to spend around 1 hour of your life.
But this was not the end of the day. There was still time to see some entertainers that love drugs and murder, in fact their moto is: “Legalize drugs and murder”. Lovely doom, stoner, sludge, occult band from England ELECTRIC WIZARD. Many people think their musical themes are Tolkien books, spells, magic, dragons and such. but no. They sing charming 10-minute songs about occult, drugs, horror, murders, cannabis, smoke and fun stuff you can do under influence of various mind enhancing chemical compounds. Nice change in thematic after 4 hours of black metal. They have fat sludgy riffs, slow, teeth clattering, head banging evil music. And this shows in their performance. The stage was a little bit hard to see from all the “smoke” in the air so I did not take any pictures. Listening to Electric wizard was a pleasant way to end day 3 of the Brutal Assault.
DAY 4 (Saturday)
The last day of the festival started with rain. A lot of rain, mud and a smidgen of cold weather. So we put on our raincoats,
boots and went to relish the day. After arrival we attended ANIMALS AS LEADERS. Instrumental progressive metal from Washington USA. They are prominent in the djent scene. Complicated rhythms by solo fingering from famous Tosin Abasi is interesting experience. As rain persisted to pour down, we went in a covered bar that is incorporated in walls of the festival venue. There we took a little break, drank some quality beers and had a few laughs. Then the time arrived to go and see VED BUENS ENDE, Norwegian true avant-garde metal (I sincerely do not know what this means), with diverse instrumental sound, that has slow pace and with jazz influence that is intersected with aggressive black metal elements and vocals. Ved Buens Ende means “By the end of the bow” referring to the mythological rainbow Bifröst. Do not be confused by the name, they do not sing about rainbows, that is for sure.
After seeing a band that does not sing about mystical Nordic rainbows, we went to main stage and saw ROTTING CHRIST.
Greek trash, black metal from 1987. They essentially made Greek underground metal scene. As their name indicates, they mostly have religious, spiritual themes with clean melodic baritone vocals, doom, gothic metal and industrial music traits, and male/female Benedictine chants. They say for themselves: “I think everyone should have the right to call religions as he/she wants. We in fact simply believe they are “rotting”! We are not a “satanic-crusader” type of band but rather one of the many bands that represent the dark side in nowadays Metal music”.
After Rotting Christ to kill some time, , we wandered around, bought some merchandise, chillaxed. Suddenly realisation came over us that soon everything will be over, that life has no meaning, death and decay is inevitable, we are all walking, breathing, pieces of flesh. So, to repel this sobering thoughts we ate some food, drank some beers, wine and absinth and life had meaning again. We were in the mood for some NAPALM DEATH. Extreme metal band formed in Meriden, West Midlands, England, in 1981, pioneers of the grindcore genre. They incorporate elements of punk and death metal, noise-filled sound with distortions, down-tuned guitars, grinding bass, high speed tempo, blast beats and incomprehensible growls or high-pitched shrieks.
Songs are short and have socio-political lyrics. I saw them quite a few times, and I am always amazed by their performance. Loud, raw, brutal, violent metal with a message. As Napalm Death ended their performance, we started to drink some water, coffee and hot herbal tea to sober up, and warm ourselves because our friend Pajdo the Dominator, although he has a lot of love to offer didn’t want to give us nothing. But we still love him very much. Filled with hot beverages, we gained some energy to see our last band for today, black metal from Poland MGLA. Band has a lot of controversy regarding their “right” affiliation. They published a new album this year and are on tour through Europe. Majority of their concerts are sold out, and reports of their performance are greatly positive. At the festival they played great music, dark atmospheric black metal, perfect for concluding our BRUTAL ASSAULT experience. And that was it. We slowly walked towards the exit, above us there were big letters SEE YOU IN HELL. Tired and exhausted I dragged my feet through mud-covered pathway, I contemplated return to reality, everyday life, but I was smiling, my heart full of joy and metal and beers and wine and beautiful people.
See you in Hell my beautiful Brutal Assault, see you in hell some other day.