From August 8 to 11, the 23rd Brutal Assault music festival took place in Jaroměř, the Czech Republic. The Noizr Zine team were in attendance and have got 6 tips from one of the leading European metal open air fests to ensure your next one is the best it can be.
1. Try to give preference to small scenes over bigger ones at large festivals
Aluk Todolo during their set
The larger/better known a festival is, the more prestigious it is for a band to get into the line-up, because of this, great bands from small scenes get a chance to display their chops, granting people the opportunity to see very interesting and worthwhile acts that you may not get a chance to see elsewhere. Therefore, for frequenters of metal gigs and festivals, the main tip is this — do not go to see the headliners for the 5th or 10th time, instead, visit the sets of bands unknown to you. In my opinion, it's better to watch the performance of the "big artist" for 5 minutes, but take the time to fully appreciate the full set of a smaller act. From personal observations, I also noted that many festival visitors waste way too much time, reserving a place in the front row near the stage, where a big well-known group is about to play, whilst missing out on a lot of interesting things that are happening outside of the main stage.
Shows at the small stages that we enjoyed
Misþyrming's live set
Aluk Todolo: The French occult rock group, whose non-stop set plunged the audience into a state of trance
Arkhon Infaustus: Excellent performance from the French black/death metal outfit with Satanism-inspired lyrics, their show took place in in the afternoon, when the heat was still in full swing and the sunlight conspired against them, yet they triumphed and delivered an epic display.
Aura Noir: Vibrant black/thrash performed by legendary cult Norwegian musicians.
Bölzer: Phenomenal Swiss duo, whose show easily outdid the performances of bands with a full line-up.
Misþyrming: Excellently played set from one of the leading groups of the Icelandic BM scene. Read our interview with the band here.
Celeste: "Simple and tasteful"; Great material, great performance, and a great stage gimmick — glowing red light bulbs, flickering in the smoke of the stage on the heads of musicians like demonic halos.
In addition, the atmosphere of the K.A.L. stage which is dedicated to experimental music — I managed to check out several interesting sets there, in particular an erotic show performed by Hecate vs Instinct Primal.
Shows at the main stages that we enjoyed
Fire during Behemoth's set
Behemoth: There can be different attitudes to Nergal’s blogging, symbol-laden video clips full of pathos and his ‘celebrity status’, but, few will argue the fact that this Polish band is one of the best live metal acts of our time.
Cannibal Corpse: Must-see band for any metalhead, and Fisher's non-stop headbanging is an exigeant task for even the most active metal concert goers!
Dead Congregation: This band became one our most pleasant discoveries of this year. Thanks to their powerful performing style and great material, the set of DC became one of the most memorable shows of the whole event.
Gojira: This group is also one of the top modern bands with the best live sets, but still, for me, their best performance remains when I saw them for the first time in 2013.
Laibach: This is that band, who I’ve really longed to see live, and whose set did not disappoint me, not even for a second. Everything, beginning with the musicians appearance on the scene, preceded by the words of "the Czech entertainer", "Ladies and gentlemen, meet the musical collective Laibach!", and climaxing with the stage image and performing style with the hypnotic video background. Laibach stood out among the rest of the festival’s bands. The only drawback in the performance of this Slovenian industrial machine was the absence of the hit "Achtung!" in their setlist, instead of which the musicians ended their show with the upbeat song "Tanz mit Laibach";
Marduk: This band never disappoint their listeners with its live gigs; the musicians played one of the most 'evil' shows of the festival, and the material of their new album "Viktoria", as I expected, sounded great live
Myrkur: Some of my acquaintances were frankly unhappy with the abundance of pure vocals in the performer's set, but, for my taste, the symbiosis of extreme music and pure singing — sounded rather interesting, plus, this performance brought a significant variety to the festival’s dense death/thrash/black metal line-up. Unfortunately, they were unable to play the last song, finishing the set earlier due to problems with the electricity;
Wardruna: For me, it was the best set of the festival. Real art, in terms of performance and music, I highly recommend that everyone evaluate their magnificence live.
...As well as Belphegor, Dying Fetus, and Harakiri for the sky.
Harakiri for the sky
Perturbator: I have heard about this electronic project for a long time and I have to agree that the musicians really do put on an excellent show. However, having many years of experience visiting raves and electronic music concerts, I can not say that the French musicians hooked me more than Infected Mushroom, Igorrr or such mastodons as The Prodigy or Aphex Twin.
Paradise Lost: The strangely set lead guitar, which was constantly knocked out of the general mix, slightly spoiled the impression of the band’s show.
Suicidal Tendencies: My main claims relate to the vocal work of the frontman Mike Muir, whose "live" flow was noticeably inferior to the studio records. However, one should thank the band for performing their main hit, "You Can not Bring Me Down", at the very beginning of their set.
Carpathian Forest: There are no complaints about their music, but Nattefrost’s vocal performance, for my taste, was one of the weakest at the whole festival.
2. Stay at the festival as long as possible
The reason is simple — very often the sets of the most interesting, "obscure" bands are scheduled after midnight, for example, Marduk and Dead Congregation started to play at 1 am, and Wiegedood went on stage at 2 am at this year’s fest. Our advice is to take care in advance of how you will leave the festival and pace yourself in order not to miss some of the best shows in the schedule.
3. Take the opportunity to buy music souvenirs
In addition to Brutal Assault’s official merchandise, which has always distinguished itself with its high-quality and uncommon design, we recommend that you use festivals as an opportunity to supplement your music collection. Big metal events always have large outlets with the band’s official CDs, vinyls, and box sets that will be much more affordable to buy at a festival than to order through unreputable dealers or via the Internet, overpaying for delivery. In addition, you have the great opportunity to buy media of your favorite band and have it signed at a fest’s Meet & Greet.
4. Prepare in advance for your time at the festival to make sure your experience is as smooth as possible
A very important point; the ignoring of which can spoil your whole festival, which should be a time to relax and enjoy your experience. Beforehand, take care of your accommodation, budget accordingly, and ensure you have the things you’re planning to take with you. In advance, find out about all the perks of the event — where you can drink water for free, recharge your phone or take a shower. Plan your holiday ahead of time, deciding for yourself; will it be more profitable and convenient for you to stay in a hotel and come to the festival on a shuttle bus or camp in a tent and go see bands’ performances by foot? Perhaps, it will be more comfortable for you to rent an apartment away from the event and find your own way there? If it’s important for you to relax after a busy program, first of all find out what the festival offers. Perhaps, spending the night in a tent in a secure camp with a shower and WC at hand is the minimum which will satisfy your basic needs, maybe its something more extravagant. Lastly, always dress for the weather, do not neglect drinking enough clean water (beer and lemonade does not count!), and sunblock — this will save you from heat stroke and sleepless sunburnt nights!
5. Follow the festival news and updates
Make sure you don’t miss out on tickets that sell out before you expect, and keep up to date on changes to the program, by periodically tracking the latest news of the festival that you’re planning to visit. For example, this year, long before the start of the open air, all passes to the Natural Stand, located opposite the main stages, sold out.
6. Chat and make new friends
The international festival is a great place to make new acquaintances. For journalists, it's not even advice, but a necessity. In addition, if you are going to the event in another country — this is an excellent opportunity for you to practice your knowledge of foreign languages.
Final thoughts on Brutal Assault 2018
Perhaps the main impression of this Brutal Assault is the noticeable increase in the number of attendants, and, as it was mentioned earlier, the abundance of people meant that all passes to the viewing platform 'Natural Stand' were sold out long before the start of the open air. This increase, in comparison with previous years, influenced the cleanliness of the grounds — in some areas, there was a characteristic ammonia smell, and huge mounds of garbage, which the festival workers didn’t have time to remove, stored not far from the main entrance to the festival.
With regards to meals and leisure, the BA festival-goers, as usual, had the opportunity to enjoy delicious food and drinks, as well as a large number of goods/merchandise and activities (including bumper cars). **Please note that the problem I mentioned in 2016’s report, with queues for receiving bracelets, has become irrelevant.**
Regarding ‘security’ issues, there are no concerns; on Thursday evening, a fire broke out on one of the hills near the main stages, and two fire brigades on duty at the festival reacted immediately — with loud sirens they went to the heart of the fire and extinguished it in the shortest possible time.
Unlike the team of firefighters and technicians (whose efforts were great), the local medical center suffered, mostly due to being overworked. A few years ago I suffered heat stroke and, having turned to the doctor's brigade on duty at the festival, I received the most qualified help available. Regrettably, this year, when one of our comrades became ill (due to dehydration, his pressure increased and a severe headache started), the doctors could offer nothing but advice "to find a quiet place and drink water". As a result, I had to supervise their work personally, asking them to measure his blood pressure and give at least some medicine to help him out (not to mention the feeble offer of a glass of water, which the ambulance workers didn’t bother to offer without being asked). As for one of the most common claims on the Internet, it should be noted that there are no one-day tickets on sale until the festival starts. The post about such tickets appeared only on the closing day of BA.
Despite some shortcomings, 2018’s Brutal Assault (as usual), pleased the visitors with its main features. I believe everyone should visit this festival at least once if only to experience its wonderful location and venue, an excellent line-up, the extensive amount of attractions, delicious food and drinks (albeit with significantly increased prices in comparison with previous years), as well as great organization by the festivals architects.
Report by Anastezia
Translated by Anastezia G. and Dan Thaumitan
Photos by Dmythro, Anastezia
Noizr Zine thanks Brutal Assault team for the accreditation