Eisenwahn Festival - Obersinn, Germany, 25th-26th July 2008
Eisenwahn Festival 2008 - Obersinn, Germany, 25-26 July 2008 by Promonex (45)
Welcome to Eisenwahn, your metal wellness spa in Central Europe! Grab a beer, sit down on the green grass and enjoy the sonic violence while you take a look at the beautiful landscape of the Spessart mountain range. Or lie down at the beach bar with a cocktail in your hand and your feet in the warm sand and doze off to extreme metal lullabies.
Yeah, this is what life is about. Metal, beer and just having a chilling great time. Barely a festival realizes these principles as well as Eisenwahn does, a small festival somewhere in the middle of Germany, a true gem among all those overcrowded festivals which seem to have forgotten what a friendly and relaxed atmosphere truly is about. Or can you name me a festival which offers a beach bar with sand, couches, cocktails and fresh fruit, a hookah and tea lounge offering over a dozen tobacco and tea flavours, a breakfast booth on the campground selling coffee, cake and other pastries, all this for reasonable prices while maintaining an attendance of merely 2000 visitors per year? I think not. And if you believe that so few visitors and so much luxury for cheap prices must result in a lame lineup, Eisenwahn will prove you wrong once again: this year 22 bands from 8 different countries graced the stage, headlined by Unleashed, Sodom, Hatesphere and Endstille. Plus it is a great occasion to warm up for the big festivals of the coming weeks like Wacken, Party.San and Summer Breeze
Friday, July 25
* One Bullet Left
* Return To Innocence
Saturday, July 26
Friday, July 25
After driving through the beautiful Spessart mountain range for less than an hour I had finally arrived in Obersinn, the scene of my metal vacation for the weekend. After sniffing some of the country air, building up my tent and beheading the first bottle of beer I went to inspect the camping and festival grounds. While the campground failed to provide enough lighting for the night as I was to find out a few hours later, the festival ground was as awesome as in the previous years: a meadow on a slightly-sloped hill with the stage at the bottom of this hill guaranteed that one could always see the bands playing, no matter how big the people in front of you are - most of the time, that is unless the headliners played, you could sit or lie down on the grass and still see what was going on on stage. Having missed the opener of the festival, the Death worshippers Symbolic, Hateprison were the first band I was to catch live.
It's in the middle of the day and the crowd was quite respectable already. This wasn't much of a surprise as the local band Hateprison featured Johannes "Laudi" Laudenbach on guitar, the personal hero of many a visitor as he was one of the three main organizers of the festival and mainly responsible for the lineup. The band delivered a decent set of melodic death metal in the vein of At The Gates - an influence they underlined with a cover of "Blinded by Fear" - and were a nice introduction to the general death metal-oriented tone of the festival.
The secret headliners of the day surely were the Grailknights. The colourfully costumed superheroes from Grailham City fought valiantly for the grail - on a purely musical level of course - which had been captured by Evil Dr. Skull and his henchman Morph The Swarf. Supported by the crowd, now known as the Grailknights Battlechoir, and the beer-pissing steed Zapf Beauty the knights played a solid set of melodic death metal with occasional tinges of power and heavy metal, handed out free shirts and beer to their courageous battlechoir and eventually obtained the grail from the vanquished villains. With their colourful superhero costumes and their comic stage antics they easily had the audience on their side and even though one might think that such a gimmicky band may entertain exclusively through silliness, their music was well performed and catchy as hell - a trait other bands have acknowledged as well and so the Grailknights have been invited as main support for Sabaton's upcoming Europe tour.
One Bullet Left
After the fierce battle it was time for a break. A cocktail (4 €), a huge chunk of water melon (1 €) and a couch at the beach bar were my sole amusement for the next 45 minutes. One Bullet Left on the other hand weren't all that amusing. Even though their heavily Gothenburg-influenced metalcore occasionally sounded like Dark Tranquillity or even Insomnium one couldn't get rid of the feeling of having heard everything a thousand times before. Add the embarrassing and unnecessary speeches of their vocalist and you had plenty of reasons to rather doze off than continuing to listen. And no, Mr. Vocalist, we don't want to shit on your testicles...
Return To Innocence
Time for some international flavour: the Czech band Return To Innocence set out to convince the audience of their brand of death/doom metal. They didn't convince me to get up from my couch yet though. Down-tuned guitars, some harsh and some clean vocals and far too many keyboards actually made me think of a slowed down version of Skyforger, just a lot more boring. And so I ordered another cocktail and chilled a bit more.
Nachtblut had a lot of keyboards in their sound as well, yet they were far from boring. Wearing corpsepaint and gothic-looking clothes they bared quite some resemblances with Cradle Of Filth, not just optically, but also musically. Their melange of gothic, black and dark metal was also quite similar to Eisregen - controversial German lyrics included -, so that a scent of morbidity was lingering in the air. And a slight hard rock influence guaranteed that Nachtblut's music occasionally still sounded like a punch right in your face. An interesting mixture and overall a very good performance which was rewarded with quite some applause.
Unfortunately my camera ceased to work in the middle of their set and refused to get back to work for the rest of the weekend. At this point thanks a lot to Nicolai Teufel of www.metal1.info for letting me use his pictures for this article. If you understand German you might want to visit his article as well and read about his impressions of this weekend.
By now it was past 8 p.m., the time when the big acts would get on stage. And Kronos left no doubt that they can be considered as such. The French deathers indulged in a furious frenzy of brutality and let everyone know that they weren't going to take any prisoners. In their 45 minutes they fired one salvo of violence after another into the crowd and left us totally mutilated and craving for more.
One step back in brutality, two steps forward in intensity and you get Disbelief. The German death/sludge veterans created an epic wall of sound which seemed mighty and fragile at the same time, as if it was to collapse any second and bury the whole crowd under it. Disbelief's brute death metal with a certain emotional depth and a flavour of despair, largely owing to vocalist Jagger's unique post-hardcore-ish voice, got the crowd going in no time. Especially the songs from their latest album "Navigator" - which was also optically represented by two banners on both sides of the stage - stirred up a considerable moshpit time and time again.
The crowd was in best mood, perfect conditions for Hatesphere to totally finish us off. And that's just what they did! After a somewhat odd James Bond intro the Danish death/thrash machine fired one song after another into the audience. The band seemed to have a lot of fun - above all their new vocalist Jonathan Albrechtsen, who is about 10 years younger than most in the band - and they easily managed to pass this enthusiasm on to the crowd. While the focus of the setlist was on their last two albums "The Sickness Within" and "Serpent Smiles and Killer Eyes", they also presented three new songs, one of them with the somewhat alienating title "Cloaked in Shit".
The death metal veterans Unleashed on the other hand had quite a hard stand to get the crowd going. As always the setlist was one to die for, with all time favorites like "Death Metal Victory", "Before the Creation of Time", "Don't Want to Be Born" and "Into Glory Ride" and newer hits like "Midvinterblot", "Long Before Winter's Call" and the title track of their new album "Hammer Battalion". The delivery was highly professional (or perhaps too professional?), but for some reason Johnny and his gang weren't able to connect with the audience which seemed to be rather tired all of a sudden. And as Johnny loves to include the audience by letting it sing key parts of the chorus this flawed connection resulted in some awkward moments, so that one nearly felt sorry for the band. Want an example?
Johnny: My warriors scream for me!
Crowd: Death *mumble* Victory...
Johnny: C'mon, one more time! My warriors scream for me!
Crowd: Death *mumble* *mumble*...
Johnny: You gotta give some BALLS to the response! Once more! My warriors scream for me!
Crowd: *mumble* *mumble* Victory...
Johnny: Ah fuckit, I'm going home!
Which he didn't do of course, not before their 90 minutes (encore included) were over. And after the gig the band shook hands with the front row to bid their farewell and probably thank the few people who actually took part in the show. And so we were released into the night.
Saturday, July 26
Six hours later. If the noise on the campground hadn't woken you up yet, then the heat of the rising sun did. Still somewhat tired and more or less hangoverish my mate and I stumbled to the entrance of the campground where a water tank and two booths could be found. My friend went for the drugstore booth and got herself some aspirin. Other than aspirins one could also get condoms and tampons at this booth, an offer you dearly miss at most other festivals. I on the other hand got myself some coffee and a piece of cake at the breakfast booth, especially the cake (cheesecake with cherries or streusel cake) being incredibly delicious and cheap at the same time. After breakfast we had a "shower" - an older guy from the town was standing next to the water tank with a hose and "showered" everyone who asked for it. The fact that even the older town folk supports the festival adds a lot to the friendly and welcoming atmosphere of the Eisenwahn. And of course there still were the bands, so after some refreshment at the water tank and the first few beers of the day we went back to the actual festival ground.
Missing the first two performances Finsterforst were the first band we caught on the second (definitely more leisurely) day. The folk metal septet stands out with its accordion which isn't just a gimmick as is the case with most bands in the scene, but takes up the role of a second lead guitar instead. While the accordion sound is very distinct the vocals are rather monotonous though, live even more so than on record. So even though the band made a good job and the crowd responded quite positively one couldn't avoid getting bored after a while as the monotonous vocals combined with the lengthy compositions didn't really carry you along.
Luckily A.O.K. were next to blow all boredom away. Being a complete failure musically the Frankfurt-based "nothingcore" band surely knew how to entertain, even though they had been prohibited to perform naked as they usually do. Infantile, senseless and totally over-the-top they shamelessly ripped off Metallica, Sodom and Slayer, tortured the listeners with their own compositions, bombarded the audience with lettuce, sausages and bread and constantly made jokes about genitalia, faeces, smegma and all the other stuff kids in their anal phase (greetings from Dr. Freud) might find funny. They also initiated a wall of death to the soundtrack of their song "Power Shortage" which consisted of nothing else but silence. Nonetheless the impact of the wall combined with the drought of the past few days was great enough to completely cloak the stage in a cloud of dust, which inspired the band to improvise the song "We have a dust problem" and which was responded by the crowd with another wall of death. Without a doubt A.O.K. were the most incompetent band of the whole festival, but from a comedic point of view they were the undisputed headliners.
A furious moshpit, two walls of death, constantly throwing sausages and lettuces back on stage and above all the blazing sun surely were exhausting, so I went to the beach bar once again where I soon passed out on the couch. Half an hour later I woke up just to notice that Fleshless had been playing for 15 minutes already. The Czech death/grinders pulled off a solid show, but had problems to keep the crowd going - apparently I wasn't the only one exhausted after A.O.K.'s show. Fleshless on the other hand weren't tired at all and delivered 45 minutes of energetic and versatile death metal. I just can't get over the fact that guitarist Ludek has cut his hair to a mullet though...
After missing Vendetta's set (you seriously have no idea how comfy that couch was!) Detonation were the next band I was to catch. And these Dutchies, who have recently run out of their record contract, surely seemed happy to be able to play this festival, despite of the meagre crowd at this time of the day. At least bassist Otto never stopped grinning throughout the show and also the rest of the band seemed to have fun. And so did the people in the crowd who appeared to enjoy Detonation's Gothenburg-style melodic death metal and the band's friendly attitude quite a lot.
Casketgarden were one of the surprises of the festival for me. I've never really been too fond of their studio material, but live they were really convincing! The Hungarian death/thrashers might not appear entirely original on CD, but on stage they pulled off a brilliant performance with outstanding guitar work, and they seemed to get better and better with every song - perhaps motivated by the fact that more and more people got convinced and gathered in front of the stage - eventually climaxing in a very good rendition of Carcass' "Heartwork".
Just in time for the most blasphemous band of the fest dark clouds gathered over the festival ground. When Endstille started firing their scornful and raging black metal assaults into the crowd they were backed up by thunder and lightning, just as if they had ordered it. Even though the lightning definitely added to the atmosphere, the heavy rain which followed soon after did not and so about half of the audience ran for cover while only the hardcore fans - which still were an awful lot as for the entire weekend no other band logo was to be seen more often on band shirts as Endstille's - remained in front of the stage. The band didn't give much of a damn and delivered a show full of hate and aggression which seemed to fit the apocalyptic setting just perfectly. After some twenty minutes the rain stopped and the people slowly flowed back to the place in front of the stage again to celebrate the last few moments of Endstille's gig.
And as last, but definitely not least band of the festival the Teutonic thrash veterans of Sodom set out to put the visitors over the edge. This was the second time I had seen them, the first time was at Wacken 2007, but unlike at Wacken they kicked some serious ass at Eisenwahn! The setlist naturally contained all of their classics, be it "Ausgebombt", "Agent Orange", "Outbreak of Evil" or "Obsessed by Cruelty", and half a dozen of newer songs. Unlike the headliners of the previous night Tom, Bobby and Bernemann had no problems at all to connect with the audience. They joked around ("When this was released most of you weren't even born!"), convinced a girl to flash her tits in exchange for the song "Die stumme Ursel" and had all in all a great time with their nearly 2000 fans. Despite of their professional and experienced appearance they still seemed to be "one of ours" and it was just a whole lot of fun to party along with them and waste all the energy one had left after a two day festival in the blazing sun. And after 90 minutes of finest thrash Sodom closed their set and this year's Eisenwahn Festival with "Ace of Spades" and the obligatory "Bombenhagel".
And thus ends the Eisenwahn Festival 2008. Once again the festival has convinced with its friendly atmosphere, cheap prices, flawless organisation, the new beach bar and the hookah lounge, the breakfast booth on the campground (which even opened once more on Sunday when the actual festival was over) and of course loads of good music and a plethora of interesting new discoveries. If only the organizers invested some more into advertising a lot more people would become aware of this gem among all those interchangeable festivals. If you happen to be from the area (Bavaria/Thuringia/Hessen) you definitely need to give Eisenwahn a try; and even if you come from further away, maybe even from another continent and come to Europe for the festival season, you should consider a stop in Obersinn on the weekend before Wacken. I swear you won't regret it!
All texts by Metal Storm.
All photos by Metal1.info and Metal Storm.
All rights reserved, do not use without permission.
All photos by Metal1.info and Metal Storm.
All rights reserved, do not use without permission.
||Written on 12.09.2008 by Daniel "Promonex" Pereira loves to enthuse people with stuff he's enthusiastic about; as writer, photographer, promoter and DJ. Metal Storm staff since 2005.|
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