Ragnarök Festival 3, Lichtenfels, Germany

Event: Ragnarök Festival 3
Written by: Promonex
Published: 28.01.2007
First of all I'd like to apology for the time when this article gets posted, i.e. more than nine months after the festival and two months before this year's edition. Unfortunately huge parts of this review got lost half-way through 2006 and only got rediscovered in the Christmas holidays. And since I didn't ask for accreditation prior to the festival, I didn't have the pressure to finish it anyway. Considering the Ragnarök 3 as the best festival of 2006 I decided to finish and post it nonetheless - after all it makes for quite a good advertisement for the Ragnarök 4

Also a very big THANK YOU at this point already to Twilightheart of Sheol Magazine (http://www.sheol-magazine.com) for letting me use the pictures from her site. The girls are really talented when it comes to photography, so be sure to check out the linked galleries.
Of course the pics aren't free of use, so if you want to put them on your site or use them for whatever, be sure to ask Twilightheart first.



1. Table of Contents
1. Table of Contents
2. Introduction

3. Friday, April 7
3.1 Varg
3.2 Sycronomica
3.3 Gernotshagen
3.4 Odroerir
3.5 Equilibrium
3.6 Korpiklaani
3.7 Primordial
3.8 Moonsorrow

4. Saturday, April 8
4.1 Orlog
4.2 Thrudvangar
4.3 Creature
4.4 Black Messiah
4.5 Fallen Yggdrasil
4.6 XIV Dark Centures
4.7 SkyForger
4.8 Nomans Land
4.9 Menhir
4.10 Turisas
4.11 Riger
4.12 Helheim

5. Conclusion
6. Outlook on Ragnarök 4
7. Credits


2. Introduction

"These crazy Bavarians did it and put up the ultimate Folk-/Pagan Metal-Festival. Sauerkraut!!!"

What Mathias "Warlord" Nygård, frontman of Turisas, was talking about is the Ragnarök Festival, Germany's prime pagan metal festival. And looking at the lineup you can tell he didn't exaggerate: Moonsorrow, Korpiklaani, Primordial, Turisas, Equilibrium, SkyForger, Menhir, Nomans Land were just few of the bands honouring the stage. The third edition of the fest took place in the town hall of Lichtenfels, which turned into Valhalla for 2800 metalheads during the first weekend of April.

Before we get to talk about the event itself, let's take a look at the location: Lichtenfels is an idyllic town in Northern Bavaria in vicinity of Nuremberg, about 3 hours away from Frankfurt and 2 hours from the Czech border. Upon approaching the town hall one notices its somewhat appealing exterior and the big parking area next to a small river. Unfortunately the camping ground on the other side of town was flooded, so the organizers of the festival rented two gymnasiums and offered the festival visitors a dry and warm sleeping place for a fee of 5 €. Everyone else just built up their tents on the grassy riverside or on the gravel of the parking area.

The hall itself had a very pragmatic segmentation: a small entrance hall with a bunch of metal stands which led into the big hall with the stage on the long side and stands for food, beer, mead and other drinks. The best thing about this hall is the huge gallery though. Opposing the stage you had a perfect view on it, so you had plenty of room to bang your head, mosh and run around in front of the stage, but could also sit down, relax, enjoy some mead on the gallery and watch the bands that aren't that interesting for you or take a break after having exhausted yourself moshing to the headliners without missing any of the other bands.

Enough introduction, let's talk about the music now...


3. Friday, April 7

3.1 Varg
Opening the whole event was a young local cover band called Varg. Far from perfect on the musical side you could still notice the fun they had playing and with songs like Finntroll's "Trollhammaren" and Amon Amarth's "Death in Fire" they easily passed on their enthusiasm to the crowd. They also had a little drinking game which was faster over than expected: two guys from the crowd both got a bottle of mead and had to drink it in two minutes. The winner actually made it in a mere 15 seconds! Respect to that! Later that evening you could still hear him cursing about his throat burning ^^

3.2 Sycronomica
Next on the schedule would have been the meloblack metallers of Sycronomica, but they dropped out due to a leg injury of their drummer. The rest of the band went up on stage nonetheless, apologized for the cancellation and promised to return with their full line-up on next year's edition of the festival.

3.3 Gernotshagen
Although the schedule was updated accordingly before the fest the following band already had an hour delay, as if no one had told them about the rearrangement, only one of far too many flaws in the organization. But then they finally came, Gernotshagen, the first of many Thuringian pagan metal bands on this festival. Clothed in chainmails they took the stage, and rest assured that they not only made an optical impression. 45 minutes of original pagan/black metal gave a pretty good idea of what the rest of the festival would be about.

3.4 Odroerir
Now it was time for the first highlight of the festival: Odroerir, wearing furs and accompanied by large drinking horns, which got attached to the mics and were in constant use between the songs, played a set full of emotional and captivating mid-tempo songs, with several speeches about Thuringia's history, fierce battles and the ancestors. Overall a very convincing live performance - the atmosphere they created with their appearance and the authentic pagan spirit was astonishing and sing-along songs like "Iring" or the upbeat "Zur Taverne" surely got the crowd going. Definitely a band that shouldn't be missed on next occasion!
Right after Odroerir left the stage it got full - very full. People came from everywhere and tried getting up front. Yep right, it was time for the first headliner:

3.5 Equilibrium
If you have been to one of their concerts already you probably have also experienced that standing in the main crowd you won't have any place for headbanging - too many people around you and too many moshers in particular. Praise to Lichtenfels town hall's gallery, where you had enough place to headbang and a perfect view! But I must admit I didn't quite like what I saw and especially what I heard. Equilibrium played all the songs everyone knows and loves them for, may it be "Unter der Eiche", "Nordheim" or the growl-along "Met", and they even gave their song "Shingo Murata" its live debut. Unfortunately the sound was far from perfect and all keyboard parts were played from tape. The absence of their keyboarder was left completely unmentioned; the new drummer was announced by frontman Helge though and he introduced himself with a drum solo, which was far too long, seemed to have a few mistakes in it and overall just didn't seem to fit into the set. All in all it didn't seem to have been Equilibrium's day - the crowd was having fun though.
Gallery: http://www.sheol-magazine.com/Rag_equilibrium.htm



Equilibrium



3.6 Korpiklaani
Coming up next were Korpiklaani, a band with quite some more live experience. Not wanting to waste my time on the gallery I went down in front again and shortly after the crazy Finns took the stage. And they had the crowd with them from the very first note - everybody was singing, jumping, moshing, banging and dancing Humppa to new and old songs of the contemporarily probably most well-known folk metal band. "Beer Beer", "Hunting Song", "Happy Little Boozer" and many more were responsible for total exhaustion of plenty a fan after the gig, and the band seemed to have just as much fun as the people who celebrated them and their music.
Gallery: http://www.sheol-magazine.com/Rag_korpiklaani.htm



Korpiklaani



3.7 Primordial
From now on the night was a bit mellower. Next band on the bill were Primordial. I've seen them once already and I had found them rather boring, so I returned to the gallery; halfway through the first song I was down in the crowd again! Primordial totally took me by surprise, I didn't expect much and I got one of the best gigs of the whole festival! The sound was the total opposite of what I had experienced before; here it was crystal clear, crushing, droning and heavy as fuck. A.A. Nemtheanga, the band's frontman, had a very intense stage performance and an extraordinarily charismatic appearance with his captivating and accentuated movements. The light-show was fantastic as well, mostly held in bleak green and magenta and perfectly enhancing the dense atmosphere of coldness emanating from the hypnotic riffs of their unique style of folk/black metal.
Gallery: http://www.sheol-magazine.com/Rag_primordial.htm



Nemtheanga



3.8 Moonsorrow
The closing act of the night was Moonsorrow who reportedly delivered a very good show for a far too small crowd. I can't really tell for myself as I was sitting up on the gallery again repeatedly dozing away due to the late time - it was past 1 a.m. already when they started - and the exhaustions I carried away from the performances of the preceding bands. I don't really think it was a good move of the organizers to put the two slower bands right after the two fun bands of the night. Also the delay of the first bands couldn't be compensated and thus was pulled through until the end. Especially Moonsorrow appeared to have been quite sad about the pathetically little number of fans who had stayed awake for them.
Gallery: http://www.sheol-magazine.com/Rag_moonsorrow.htm


4. Saturday, April 8

Day 2 of the festival featured nearly twice as many bands as day 1 (or at least it seemed so), most of them rather unknown. Since the first band started at 1 p.m. we had plenty of time to take a look at the town. Apparently we weren't the only ones with that idea, as hundreds of black-clothed pagan metallers had already flooded the mostly Catholic Lichtenfels. Some Christians had themselves prepared and had set up a booth in the pedestrian area, where they handed out leaflets and balloons which said "Jesus loves children", and tried to convince all the pagans of "the only true way." Those didn't avoid the confrontation at all, discussed with the Christians ("Shouldn't we worship Michael Jackson, too? After all he loves children as well!?") and returned to the town hall with dozens of balloons, where they later on floated around slightly modified - now they said: "Jesus loves child meat." ^_^ (thanks to Tavrodir for letting me use his pic)



Evul tr00 pagan metallers



4.1 Orlog
The first band of the second day was Orlog who played some decently technical, but far from outstanding black metal. I don't really know what else to write, which should be proof enough that they didn't leave a lasting impression.

4.2 Thrudvangar
Thrudvangar were next and they were one of the bands I was looking forward to the most. Their style of Viking metal isn't really new, but catchy as hell and with a simpatico amateurishness and laid-backness in the songwriting department. They played a nice and fun gig with excerpts from their upcoming album "Walhall", and looking at the responses in their guestbook they didn't only convince me.

4.3 Creature
Creature weren't really my cup of tea, a bunch of panda bears which played the same old, same old 2nd wave black metal. They seemed to have a solid fan base though, of which some individuals appeared to have some kind of strange stiffness in their right arm...

4.4 Black Messiah
According to the schedule Black Messiah should be up next. Instead they were pushed back all the way and became the closing act while the headliner Turisas played three slots earlier; apparently Turisas didn't want to meet the same fate as Moonsorrow. So let's carry on with the next band on schedule.

4.5 Fallen Yggdrasil
"Hello, we are Fallen Yggdrasil and we are the misplacement of the festival: we play death metal!"
That's how Simon Kratzer introduced his band and that's what they stuck to throughout their performance - death metal with somewhat melodic riffing without drifting into the overcrowded pool of melodeath metal bands. Running and jumping around a lot you nearly had the impression that Simon thought he was Tobias Sammet though

4.6 XIV Dark Centuries
XIV Dark Centuries were another highlight for me. The band with the original name plays a pretty up-beat style of typically Thuringian pagan metal (yep, another one of those) with a good dose of folk and black metal. And they didn't let me down - their appearance was filled to the brim with powerful, energetic and captivating metal and melodic lines you won't get out of your head so fast!



SkyForger








4.7 SkyForger
Since every other band of the day already had quite some delay, SkyForger were probably the only ones being on time... because they swapped the playing time with Nomans Land and moved up one slot.
I had only known the demo "Semigalls' Warchant" of the Latvian riflemen so far, which was just lame black metal in my book. So when I returned to the hall somewhat belated I couldn't quite believe my ears - not droning black metal guitars were coming my way, but the tunes of a bagpipe instead! And it even was a real bagpipe! Unlike most other bands they didn't use a keyboard for all those exotic instruments, but had them live on stage instead. And the bagpipes weren't even the most exotic they had up their sleeve - the weirdest instrument I've seen appeared to be no more than a plank with a single string on it. And to my immense pleasure they weren't as black as I expected them to be, but rather folkish instead. One of the best surprises of the festival for me.
Gallery: http://www.sheol-magazine.com/Rag_Skyforger.htm








4.8 Nomans Land
Nomans Land were also a bit surprising - surprisingly boring. I like their music a lot, but their overly long trademark guitar lines didn't quite ooze of variety, so that their gig appeared like an accumulation of nameless instrumental passages rather than actual songs. A solid performance which failed to leave a lasting impression.

4.9 Menhir
Then large wooden statues of kings or whatever were moved up on stage as the setting for Menhir's gig. The veterans of the Teutonic pagan metal scene were certainly one of the highlights for many visitors of the festival as the size of the crowd indicated. I must admit I never quite liked the band, despite of their importance for the scene, and their performance didn't convince me either. The fans seemed to have their fun though.
Gallery: http://www.sheol-magazine.com/Rag_menhir.htm


Menhir



4.10 Turisas
The real highlight of the festival was yet to come: Turisas, despite of the fact of having released only one album, have already gained a reputation as marvellous live band with a furious stage performance! And the bad habit to overrun at festivals...

Warlord Nygård

After the compulsory intro they conquered the stage wearing furs, covered in blood and war paint, and from the very first note of "As Torches Rise" the crowd was going totally mad. Right after the song the band's accordionist Lisko Mäkinen played some bullshit and tried drawing attention by dragging away frontman Warlord Nygård from his mic who in turn kicked Lisko from the stage. Two songs without accordion later the light went out and the band disappeared from the stage. And suddenly he was there again, in the limelight in the middle of the stage and going off playing an accordion solo of Slayer's "Raining Blood"! Shortly after he got accompanied by the violinist Olli Vänskä and then the entire band returned joining in to what should be the next song. I thought that would be their share of solos for this gig - I was wrong! Olli Vänskä later got his go as well and asked the crowd with that awesome Finnish accent:

"Do you want a sollo?" - the crowd roared
"Do you want a violin sollo?" - the crowd roared
"In England sollo is another word for masturbation. Do you like masturbation?" - the crowd bursted into frenetic rejoices
"But I also do group sessions. Would you like to do a musical group session with me?" - the crowd roared again, and off he went.
But not only the acting made up for good entertainment, also the selection of the songs. Along with the usual suspects "Battle Metal", "Rex Regi Rebellis" and "The Messenger", they also played the Mary Hopkin cover "Those Were The Days" from their demo, a fun medley containing "Lambada", "Bonanza", the Eurovision hymn and an awful lot more, "One More" as a tribute to their guitarist Georg Laakso, who had a severe accident in October 2005 and has officially left the band by now,
and as encore they finished their set with Boney M.'s "Rasputin." I personally would've preferred "Midnight Sunrise" over some of the covered stuff, but it sure was fun as hell the way it was. Oh yes, and of course they've overrun their time...
Gallery: http://www.sheol-magazine.com/Rag_Turisas.htm


4.11 Riger
Riger were next. I didn't know them well and I wasn't too fond of what I had heard of them before. They seemed to play a decent gig that unfortunately attracted quite a bunch of those idiots with that aforementioned stiffness in their right arm. Riger had to struggle quite a lot in the past to get rid of the rumours about their political ideologies after releasing their album "Hamingja" which showed a stylized suncross on the cover, which always is a controversial thing to do in Germany. While most people understood what the songs "Zunft der Lügner" ("Guild of Liars") and "Schöpfer der Hetze" ("Creators of Agitation"), which appeared on their most recent album "Gjallar", were about, the aforementioned jerks sang along to these songs with their right arm in the air, not understanding that the lyrics actually were against their extreme right-wing tendencies. Idiots will stay idiots...
Gallery: http://www.sheol-magazine.com/Rag_Riger.htm

4.12 Helheim
It was way past midnight already when Riger finished their gig. Not having the same status as Moonsorrow the night before and being forced to play after the headliner of the night, the crowd was even more pathetic when Helheim took the stage, and only the hardcore fans of either Helheim or Black Messiah were still awake; I belonged to neither group, so I can only tell what I've been told by others.
Helheim reportedly gave everything they had and rewarded the few spectators richly for their endurance with an energetic performance and a setlist that consisted of old and new material alike.
Like I said, it was a lot later than expected, so the organizer of the festival came on the stage after Helheim's gig with quite some bad news: due to curfew the police requested to cut the noise at 3 a.m. at latest, which didn't leave any time for Black Messiah to set up their stuff and even play half a set. And naturally all of the fans who stayed awake all the time for Black Messiah were deeply disappointed. Oh well, better luck next year...
Gallery: http://www.sheol-magazine.com/Rag_Helheim.htm


5. Conclusion
The lineup of the festival was brilliant and had everything you could ask for as pagan metal fan: high-quality bands from all over Europe, some unknown gems, no über-headliner who would've attracted too many kiddies (Equilibrium had some kids with Bodom shirts in the crowd though) and the congenial possibility to take a break on the gallery and still experience every band, so that you didn't miss a thing (unless you fell asleep of course). Also the prices for drinks and food were tolerable. The organization was far from perfect though - not once was a band on schedule, one always had to check the updated schedule in the entrance hall and I guess quite some visitors missed either Nomans Land or SkyForger as the change of their slots wasn't announced on stage. And of course the bands had to suffer from the poor organizing as well, most notably Black Messiah who had their performance cancelled, and Helheim and Moonsorrow for the immensely small crowds. Fortunately the organizer has decided to compensate the bands and their fans by inviting Moonsorrow, Helheim, Riger and Black Messiah for the 2007 edition of the festival.
Another huge point of criticism were the Nazis. While I don't mind them when they remain peaceful and low-key, I do mind those who execute the Hitler salute or listen loudly to RAC and other racistic crap on the parking area, both deeds which are against the law in Germany; more serious enforcement from the police and the security would have been appreciated, just like a clear statement from the organizer who instead preferred to insist on the Ragnarök being an unpolitical festival and taking sides would have gone against that credo. After receiving some heavy criticism from the media afterwards, he decided to do something about it for this year's edition though.


6. Outlook on Ragnarök 2007
As mentioned above the organizer has learned from the mistakes - a banner against political extremism is going to be spread in the hall and a vendor who was discovered to sell NSBM was reportedly banned in 2006 already. The bands who suffered from the chaotic organization the most, namely Black Messiah, Moonsorrow, Helheim and Riger, were invited again for 2007. Along with those plenty of other high-quality bands have been confirmed, so that the complete lineup of Ragnarök 2007 reads as follows:

Aaskereia
Black Messiah
Cruachan
Dawn of Blood
Eluveitie
Fjoergyn
Gernotshagen
Heidevolk
Hel (live debut)
Helheim
Kampfar
Koldbrann
Kromlek
Månegarm
Minas Morgul
Moonsorrow
Riger
Swallow The Sun
Sycronomica
Taake
Tyr
Urgehal
Vreid
Wolfchant

Unfortunately Pagan Reign from Russia had to cancel their first gig on European ground due to severe problems inside the band. Hopefully a worthy replacement will be announced soon.

Ragnarök 4 will once again take part in the town hall of Lichtenfels, this time on the last weekend of March, i.e. March 30-31. And I'd be more than glad getting to meet some of you guys there this time


7. Credits
And finally the obligatory thank you list:
Thanks to the organizer Ivo Raab for the best festival of 2006! Not bad for a 20 year old organizing this thing nearly single-handedly
Thanks to Rina for the great company and for the free sleeping place.
Thanks to the readers for actually getting to this part. I know I tend to use words inflationary and blow up an article to three times of its supposed size ^^
And once more thanks to Twilightheart for the great pictures. I owe you one!


All texts by Metal Storm.
All photos by Sheol Magazine, unless noted else.
All rights reserved, do not use without permission.



 



Written on 28.01.2007 by
Promonex
Daniel "Promonex" Pereira loves to enthuse people with stuff he's enthusiastic about; as writer, photographer, promoter and DJ. Metal Storm staff since 2005.
More articles by Promonex ››




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Bad English - 29.01.2007 at 02:59  
Quote:
had only known the demo "Semigalls' Warchant" of the Latvian riflemen so far, which was just lame black metal in my book.


Hahha I knwo all albusm and had seen them planty times live

www.skyforger.lv [/url]

I like secend album better how firts, but only first are real pagan/black metal
Promonex - 29.01.2007 at 14:26  
Yeah, they were really surprisingly good. Most people there didn't know them and were VERY impressed judging from the reactions in the Ragnarök forum. My friend bought Thunderforge right away and counts SkyForger to her favorite bands by now.
Basso - 29.01.2007 at 19:49  
OMG TAAKE NEXT YEAR awesome :O I wanna be there
Lily_Lazer - 30.01.2007 at 10:12  
*sniff sniff*
that is too much uberness in a festival i cannot attend ;_____;
waaah, anyone, please invite me to next Rangarök ;____;
Bad English - 30.01.2007 at 10:31  
Written by Promonex on 29.01.2007 at 14:26

Yeah, they were really surprisingly good. Most people there didn't know them and were VERY impressed judging from the reactions in the Ragnarök forum. My friend bought Thunderforge right away and counts SkyForger to her favorite bands by now.


I had hera demo
''Semigalls' Warchant'' ist ist primitve ppor sounding pagan/black metal demo cvality tape man damn I had tapes nof them so cant help you whit sound but if you wanna more pagan/black simmilar like XIV Dark Centuries by ''Kauja Pie Saules'' CD (''Battle near Saule'')
Latviešu Strēlnieki(Latvian Rifele man) musidcaly are same but album are about WWI so ther are calmer vocals
vampir - 02.02.2007 at 15:30  
You did a good job, late but good :-)
I like your reminder of "do you want a sollo"
and I'm looking forward for the next rag....
Lucas - 02.02.2007 at 22:35  
Fucking nice line-up next year!
Promonex - 03.02.2007 at 14:17  
Written by Guest on 02.02.2007 at 15:30

You did a good job, late but good :-)
I like your reminder of "do you want a sollo"
and I'm looking forward for the next rag....

Damn, I tend to forget you also got an account here! You spend far too much time on the wrong message boards

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