WALDROCK - BURGUM, NETHERLANDS, JULY 3 1999
Last year, Waldrock had been proverbially rainy. In fact, it started late-ish in the afternoon, and didn't relent until Dream Theater came on. Those who were still present witnessed the band from a pool of sodden earth, mud, beer and, probably, urine.
The first few bands on the 1999 edition of the festival suffered from the rain, too. So I didn't catch much from My Mind's Mine, Deviate (which replaced Murphy's Law) and Urban Dance Squad. While it poured down, I checked out the covered Metal Market, where I bought some cool stuff. I heard quite a bit of Urban Dance Squad, but it's much too danceable for me. I don't know what the heck the Waldrock organisers were thinking when they decided to get this band (which they, apparently, had wanted to do for the past five years or so).
Altar was the first band that enjoyed dry weather - with the occasional sunny spell, actually. Although not as good as their debut, "Youth Against Christ", Altar have released quality albums steadily. Apart from several 'oldies' (most notably the corker song "Throne of Fire") they played a cross section primarily of their recent two albums. From their latest product, for example, they played "Holy Mask" and the title track, "In the Name of the Father". The band sounded OK, which was amazing considering the fact that the Waldrock sound was pretty terrible until S.O.D. started. Altar was the first climax. The band sounded tight and, well, rocked.
In Flames was next. Bands from 'the Gothenburg sound' need, well, good sound. They didn't have that. I could barely recognize the tunes they did, not even those from "The Jester Race" and "Whoracle" that I ought to pick up instantly. They also played several tracks from their new one, "C.O.L.O.N.Y.", including the title track. Due to the bad sound, however, I have to say this part of Waldrock let me down a bit.
Also having bad sound, but not suffering from it in the slightest, were Immortal, up next. Having seen other black metal bands play, it strikes me that Immortal are rather too poser-ish, too often headbanging in unison, and the singer making - I kid you not - thrusting movements with his hips as if he were a sex god instead of the ugly, bepainted, old, I-need-a-belt-these-days-to-keep-my-beergut-in-check kind of guy. Their songs all sounded alike. Sonic waste.
While we're on the subject of posers, Hammerfall definitely fall into that category. Guitarist Oscar Dronjak looked too ridiculous for words, and bassist Magnus "man I'm pretty" Rosen was jacking off his ego rather too much too. Having said that, Hammerfall produce excellent retro metal with Joachim Ganz' soaring vocals and crunchy, killer riffs as well as a melodic approach with the odd sing-along. Sound was getting a bit better, which Hammerfall need. Good stuff. If I didn't already have both albums, I'd buy them now.
Up next, true legends, S.O.D. Considering that they released their first album, full of quite meagre hardcore-like music, about a decade ago, their popularity is amazing. It's probably the off-beat humour the band sheds onto the listener. This is amply illustrated by their ballads, this time of Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Freddie Mercury, John Bonham and probably one more. "These people died so you could laught," Billy Milano said. Easy humour, but funny nonetheless. S.O.D. played all their classics, including "March of the S.O.D.", "Milk", "Chromatic Death", "Fuck the Middle East", "Milano Mosh", "Fist Banging Mania", "United Forces", "Kill Yourself" and "Pussy Whipped". From their new album I can only recall "Charlie don't Cheat", which had some of the most rapid double-bass drumming I'd ever heard. They also did "6 Songs in 9 Seconds", in which I could only recognise "Momo". Was "Pi Alpha Nu" in there too? Anyway, S.O.D. was good fun. No more, no less.
The number one climax of Waldrock 1999 was the next band, Mercyful Fate. They played some really interesting tracks, including "Doomed by the Living Dead" and several other oldies that weren't exactly run-of-the-mill (most notably "Melissa"!). Well, of course they played the inevitable and always enjoyable "Satan's Fall"! The new album was represented by "Last Rites" and "Burn in Hell". The songs came across really well. I stood there and realised the riff meisters behind the band are absolute geniuses. Superb!
The anticlimax of the evening was Sepultura. To be honest, I'd not had high expectations. But what I saw was even less. They concentrated heavily on their latest album, and a track like "Arise" was played with such neck-blistering speed that it almost made you think they were doing that because they wanted to get it over with. I decided to give "Beneath the Remains" and "Arise" another spin once I'd get back home.
Written July 1999
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