FEBRUARY, 7th/8th at the Turnhalle / Crailsheim-Triensbach, GER
The time has come for the biggest ever organized German Doom Metal festival!!! My good friend Thorsten and me were excited about the upcoming two days and our journey started at Dortmund, where we were waiting for two other guys, which were friendly enough to take us with them in a comfortable van. So, here we are , heading towards the south of Germany. Our road-trip was relaxed and we drove through nice snowy landscapes, just to take here and there a small break for a spliff or a piss. After some hours, we reached Crailsheim and Andrew, the driver, and his comrad were the first who landed safe in their small hotel. We waited some minutes, and then, the ride goes on to our hotel. It was a nice room, with a proper bathroom and a TV set. After we stowed away our baggage in the room, they time has come to search the place where everything should happen. Instead of the "Eiche", the DSR-crew has chosen another venue and it wasn't that easy to find the "Turnhalle" in Crailsheim-Triensbach. It was dark outside and there were so much tiny villages, so we were a bit confused. But, we were good pathfinders and after a while, we discovered the "Turnhalle". It was a curious place, and after the first look, it was hard to believe, that the DSR Festival should take place here, at the end of the world....
Soonly after, we entered this building and weren't the first visitors, of course. From the inside, the place looked much better, although I missed something like a pleasant atmosphere. There were big bright neon lights on the ceiling, and it reminds me more to a storeroom. Anyway, the most important thing was the music! After a warm welcome of Jochen (MoD/DSR-Crew) and a hello to MÃ¡rk of Psychedelic, we drank our beer and waited for the opening act DOOMSHINE.
I've never heard anything of this young German band and so, my expectations were high. After they've entered the stage and played their first song, it was hard for me to believe, that DOOMSHINE were part of a Doom Metal festival. Why? For my taste, they've got not very much in common with Doom. They were more some sort of an Epic Power Metal band, nothing more and nothing less. The live sound was unbelievable quiet, because the person behind the mixing desk was afraid to turn up the volume or something like this. And the sound was the opposite of heavy. But the people liked it , it was the first band and I'm a patient man.
DREAMING was the first band I liked, although their debut album doesn't mean that much to me, but they've got their own vibe. They seem to be authentic and their sound was doomier, than the bands before. And another important thing was, that this three-piece was aware of the ROCK, instead of playing gay Power Metal. No, I'm no homophobic or against gay men....hahaha. The band plays a St. Vitus cover, too and they performed solid and tight. Well done!
FORSAKEN was on the winning side. They were playing a very passionate gig, and they were really surprised from the overwhelming reaction of the crowd. Ok, FORSAKEN are playing keyboard-based power metal with a very small doom influence, but the frontman was very entertaining and the rest of the band was tearing their hearts out, just to play an impressive show. I would never listen at home to their music, but I appreciate their energetic show.
MIRROR OF DECEPTION played a great live-show, and I'm glad, that the old singer is no more part of the line-up. For me, he always sounded out of tune. The band presented old and new material, and they've earned an overwhelming reaction from the audience. MoD have got the Doom feeling. Jochen Fopp is the charismatic eye-catcher on stage, and Klaus' incredible vocals are giving something very special to the entire sounds. Maybe, he's the first human didgeridoo, playing Doom Metal....
Hmm, than SEMLAH entered the stage. It's this Swedish band with the old Count Raven bass-player in the line-up and I can remember the good review, I've written about their self-released debut. The first songs of their show turned out great, but after a while SEMLAH bores the shit out of me. They got an interesting sound mixture, but something was missing here. It isn't necessary to lose words about the sound-engineer, because I've got the impression, that he never mixed an event like this, and I hope he never does again. But it wasn't only his fault. Maybe SEMLAH had a bad day... don't know.
The last band was THUNDERSTORM from Italy. I know, that they've received a lot of good reviews for the second album and they are everybody's darling, but not mine. Maybe they are belonging to the friendliest persons on earth, but I can't dig their sound, especially live. When I listen to their records, everything sounds doomy and heavy, but on stage they are just a lame bunch. But once again, it seems that I was the only one who was feeling that way. The audience was headbanging and they worshipped the band to the max. I was longing for my bed ...
After waking up, I realized that me and my buddy weren't part of a so-called Doom festival. Apart of DREAMING and MoD, it was more a Heavy Power Doom Metal feast and sadly, I'm not the greatest fan of ordinary Power Metal or stuff like this. I'm not interested in pseudo-warriors, celtic crosses, my pathetic feelings are very low, and I've cut my hairs a few years before. And I only like the first and the last Candlemass album. And Candlemass was the common ground for 80% of the here included band. But the influenced bands never reached that class. But here was the second day, and I KNOW, that some of the included bands aren't influenced by Candlemass. Thank god! After the breakfast and a walk through Crailsheim, Thorsten and me were going back to our hotel, because we still need some sleep for this day. The price was, that we've missed TOLLWUET and WEED IN THE HEAD. When we later arrived, people told me that I had loved both bands, because they ROCK in a heavy and sludgy way. Maybe next time!
But then was the time for WYTCHCRAFT. The band's first mistake was this silly oversized barbarian helmet, which the tiny frontman was wearing in the first seconds of the show. Are you kidding, boy? When you've read the reviews inside this webzine, you may know that WYTCHCRAFT's sound doesn't belong to my favourite styles. They are trying to be complex, but what about the heart? And the singer needs more hours in the rehearsel space. Due to the reason, that we've seen the band a few times before, Thorsten and I left the building for some fresh cold air.
The debut album of VOODOO SHOCK is one of the strongest releases of the last years from the German doom underground and I was really glad, when they've started their show. But, hey...what's that? The mixer was afraid of the bass-sound (and maybe everything else !) and the VOODOO SHOCK sound was very light and thin. Should I kill the man behind the board? No, so I better watched the show. They played a lot of stuff from the debut, but I was really disappointed. Were my expectations to big? Have I smoked too much weed? Unfortunatly not. VOODOO SHOCK are an excellent band, and I know that they can do much better. One funny thing happened after this gig. A guy asked me very serious, if the singer and guitarplayer of VOODOO SHOCK is gay. I laughed out loud, shook my head and went away..... Later, I've talked to the band, and they weren't really satisfied with the mix, too.
Next band was DAWN OF WINTER, one of the most overrated German Metal bands. And I don't know, why this band is categorized as Doom. The singer sounds as a 3rd class Scott Reagers copy, and once again, this band is far away from being heavy or something like this. The frontman wears a Witchfinder General shirt, but that was the only positive thing of the DoW show. Once again, the music was epic Power Metal with a few Candlemass influences. The guitarist was playing the role of the arrogant and misanthrophic guy, but it turned out very funny, what simply means, that he failed. I think, I was the one of the very few people, who didn't like what happened on stage, because mostly the people were very enthusiastic about DoW.
With a sound that worships at the throne of Warhorse, early Anathema, the Dutch OFFICIUM TRISTE also incorporates a strong goth feel with a mixture between growling and clear vocals. This five piece unleashed a fat and massive wall of sound, and I hope they leave out this goth touch in the future. But apart of that, I think it was a nice atmospheric show and one of the first alternatives to the epic power metal style.
WELL OF SOULS were the next band. I think, that after the first chords every Candlemass fan will fall with them in love. Due to the mass of Candlemass-styled bands , I can't remember this show in full-length, buit it was a very typical show without any outstanding moments.
The next band was SUBVERSION and their show was a killer! I like the second album of this band, but the show was the real deal. SUBVERSION really ROCKS without any compromise. In opposite to other bands from this festival, SUBVERSION were live as heavy and forceful as on their albums, with only one difference...everything sounds much better. I guess, this was one of their best shows in the band's lifespan. Apart of the Crowbar influence, they've got a strong 70's vibe and they've learned their Rock 'n' Roll lessions well. SUBVERSION were my personal DSR winners, and if you got the chance to see them live don't hesitate!
In the early days of Cosmic Lava, I've done an interview with REVEREND BIZARRE, because I liked their "Slice of Doom" demo and now it was the first time for me to witness their show. A Black Sabbath LP-cover on the kickdrum was a sign for everyone, that REVEREND BIZARRE are seeing themselves as a "true" doom band. They are playing a very heavy minimalistic style, but at that evening I missed the earth shuddering heaviness of their album. Nearly every song is very long and slow, what's no problem in general, but after a while I thought that this band was more something like a parody of Doom. Maybe this band wants to be evil or mystic, but they weren't able to create a hypnotizing maelstrom. For me, it was just pure boredom and after the show I need to take a break, so I walked to the car.
That was the reason, why I've missed REVELATION. People told me, that they played a pretty tight and heavy show, including songs from all three albums and a few new ones.
Ok, that was the first DSR-Festival and apart of the fact, that a lot of the featured bands weren't playing the music I prefer, I have the deepest respect for the organizators. And it seems as if most of the people really liked the bands, and that counts more, than my own point of view. I'm not the centre of this universe. The food was ok, the beer wasn't to expensive and the whole atmosphere was very friendly. But I suggest a wider spectrum of heavy bands for the next time. Nowadays, there are so much heavy bands around, much more than 20 years ago and I hope the DSR-crew will put together a more diverse billing for 2004. And another guy behind the mixing desk!!! I'm glad, to be part of the first festival and I'm excited about the things that will happen next. I hope, to see everyone of you in 2004, because than it's time for the next DSR.