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Blind Guardian, W.A.S.P., Y&T, Exodus, Hardcore Superstar, Pink Cream 69, Warrior, Driver, Powerwolf, Laaz Rockit, Cloven Hoof @ Bang Your Head, Balingen (GER)

in Saturday, 27 June 2009 at Bang Your Head
by Grigoris Chronis

Day 2

\[Greg]: Raining cats and dogs is not an ideal way of waking up on a late June morning. Having a rich breakfast again I drove all the way to Balingen and was on time for CLOVEN HOOF's opening ritual (haha)! The British clan did not seem to bother from the pouring rain, even if not more than 300 faces were gathered in front to enjoy some striking Metal music from the past. The driving force of Lee Payne paved the way for an exciting set and classics like Nova Battlestar, Return Of The Passover and Road Of Eagles could not go unnoticed. Singer Russ North's voice sent (again) shivers down our spine and the band wrapped up their set with Gates Of Gehenna while joined onstage by ROXXCALIBUR axeman Kalli. Clap, clap, clap; CLOVEN HOOF stands proud in filling our needs with traditional British Metal by any means. Who'd give a damn for the rain…

CLOVEN HOOF's setlist:

02. Nova Battlestar
93. Mutilator
04. Return Of The Passover
05. Road Of Eagles
06. Gates Of Gehenna

\[Erika]: Shouldn't old school Thrash Metal be old School? LAAZ ROCKIT's renewed image doesn't fit anywhere at all. The really edgy and groovy songs from the past do not get justice with this new sound. Sure, the new material is written with the thick and modern American Hardcore, NU-Metal sound and of course it fits better there. Still, that wasn't at all what I expected from LAAZ ROCKIT. I want the old school. OK, the old school attitude they had in their performance at least. They were absolutely a lot more fun to watch than listen to. Especially Michael Coons (vocals) and Willy Lange (bass) were running around like crazy and it has to be taken in consideration that it was still a few hours before lunch while they were playing. I normally approve of bands' development. That's a part of the process but I think LAAZ ROCKIT should have kept their old sound for their old songs at least. Recreation and renewal sure is every band's right but instead of being a pleasant trip back in time everything fell flat.

LAAZ ROCKIT's setlist:

01. Brain Wash
02. Delirium Void
03. Erased
04. Last Breath
05. Chasin' Charlie
06. Liar
07. Forced To Fight
08. Fire In The Hole

\[Greg]: This was an interesting band, whether you would end up digging their music or not. POWERWOLF had 45 minutes at their disposal to present their Heavy/Power/Myth Metal blend and - while not being the first act coming to mind for an open air fest, clad in corpsepaint(!) - succeeded in raising the interest of much more people than initially (maybe) expected. With a brand new album in their luggage, Bible Of The Beast, the German quintet also exposed their mystical humor backing up teasing songs like We Came To Take Your Souls, Saturday Satan and Ressurection By Erection and - backing off in order to have some beer and draft food - I was checking many people's positive commends regarding POWERWOLF's recital. Again said, you may like their music or not but truth is it's an experience to watch POWERWOLF on stage.

POWERWOLF's setlist:

01. We Take It From The Living
02. Prayer In The Dark
03. Raise Your Fist Evangelist
04. We Came To take Your Souls
05. Saturday Satan
06. Werewolves Of Armenia
07. Ressurection By Erection
08. Kiss Of The Cobra King

\[Greg]: With the names of Rob Rock (IMPELLITTERI, WARRIOR, AXEL RUDI PELL, JOSHUA etc) and Roy Z (the Midas touch for Bruce Dickinson's and Rob Halford's solo careers) marked in the band's lineup there were many fans assuming this was something more of an 'one off' project. Well, rest assured DRIVER's history goes back twenty whole years with their infamous 1990 EP; 2008 saw the pressing of a full album called Sons OF Thunder and, while I'd judge it as rather difficult to have a fully functional band back on the map again having in mind Roy's and Rob's other activities, it surely was a good chance to check the US outfit's music performed live. I'd expect more people showing interest to DRIVER's piece since the sun was starting to show its face eagerly; anyway, the quintet showed class and songs like Sons Of Thunder, Fly Away, Nations On Fire (a track from Rock's M.A.R.S. days) and Judgment Day (from his RAGE OF CREATION solo project - Roy Z was the producer) did make a good impression. Core fans asked for Warrior and Rob Rock - with an excellent voice throughout the whole set - would not say no. A descent performance, really.

\[Greg]: With WARRIOR being one of the main reasons a classic Metal fan would travel hundreds and hundreds of miles, the veteran US metallers achieved a hellraising performance with some solid as hell representation of songs mainly from their Fighting For The Earth landmark debut (a couple of tracks off the Ancient Future follow-up were heard, too). An underestimated band in their prime, WARRIOR showed great chemistry and appetite to seek and destroy and - lucky us - Perry McCarty still has a stimulating throat. Since, the whether was gradually getting sunny again, WARRIOR did not let go but forced us to scream and shout in tunes like Mind Over Matter, Defenders of Creation and Tonight We Ride. I was really shocked watching my beloved WARRIOR since I expected something more into the 'let's just take a trip through old times' feedback and what the front rows got was a nasty performance. With Roy Z adding guitars at an expressive take on Fighting For The Earth (one of the most 'trademark' American Metal songs ever?) it was nothing less than pure relief that the trip was worth deciding it.

01. Fight Or Fall
02. Mind Over Matter
03. Ruler
04. Day of the Evil (Beware)
05. Defenders of Creation
06.  Tonight We Ride
07. Cold Fire
08. Fighting For The Earth

\[Greg]: Sorry PINK CREAM 69, but some food_beer_rest was needed after a typhoon of front row headbanging (with a second part soon to follow). Watching the German hard rockers - replacements for American rockers TESLA who were pushed to cancel their visit - from the main lobby placed near the main fest entrance I can only tell they had a good sound backing their songs and the front crowd seemed to enjoy their set. A rather remarkable band, PINK CREAM 69 offered nearly an hour of German hardhittin' music with equal reference to both the 'Deris' early and 'Readman' more recent days. I'd like to be a more vivid part of the audience but - unfortunately - thinks do have to work out like this at all-day summer fests.

\[Greg]: Stuck at the same spot - since these Gothenburg sleaze rockers are not of maximum esteem in my ears - I was rather curious to confirm if HARDCORE SUPERSTAR would fill in gently in such a traditional lineup. Well, judging from the fans' reaction and the feedback I got it seems the tattooed boys did rock the house with guts. Jocke Berg was constantly on fire while his throat  - plus the band's playing - featured a more metallic approach. With a sample off their latest Beg For It CD performed, some older tracks were also in the bill; waving goodbye HARDCORE SUPERSTAR received a grand applaud rewarding their dynamic gig.

\[Greg]: I was one of the 'old school' EXODUS maniacs feeling rather embarrassed with the re-recorded versions of the Bonded By Blood legendary songlist, added to my so-and-so admiration for the more modern paths the American thrashers walk on after their 2003_2004 reformation. Still, thirsty for a doze of merciless Thrash Metal tornado I tiptoed into the front rows right before the Bay Area masters stormed in with Bonded By Blood. Well, be it the songs' vibe or the positive mood for something more brutal in regards to the previous bands' offerings, let's say that EXODUS smashed the stage in quite a non-stop gunfire of riffing and hammering. Equally honouring their 1985 debut masterpiece and their more recent works, mainman Gary Holt's figure dominated the stage - I looooove this man! - while singer Rob Dukes did his best to make the crowd go even more frenzy. Mosh-pits was a 'must' at the time and I believe if EXODUS had more time on their side they'd tear the whole place more apart in ease. Hey Lee, your THIN LIZZY shirt ruled!!!

01. Bonded By Blood
02. Iconoclasm
03. A Lesson In Violence
04. Children Of A Worthless God
05. Piranha
06.  Blacklist
07. War Is My Sheppard
08. The Toxic Waltz
09. Strike Of The Beast

Another reason for me to be at this year's BYH! fest was Y&T. The Dave Meniketti-fronted quartet walked in and first thing to be noticed was some minor missing hits in the drums parts. What the hell?… Mike Vanderhule had his lower left hand part in plaster, hence he struggled performing his session with one hand. Wow….we got used to it, eventually, plus Dave informed the crowd 'bout the accident Mike had four days before. Nonetheless, with an amazing intro set featuring Open Fire, Lipstick And Leather and Dirty Girl the California-based rockers painted a grand piece of their legend with Dave Meniketti offering lessons on how to be a guitarist full of emotion yet filled with hostile power. Meanstreak and Black Tiger was on the list, too, and I was personally thrilled to listen to more 'obscure' tracks like Eyes Of A Stranger or Looks Like Trouble accompanied by some late evening cool breeze. Forever could not be missing and the crowd yelling the song's title nonstop was a glorious proof  Y&T's legend lives on after 35 years of career.

01. Open Fire
02. Lipstick And Leather
03. Dirty Girl
04. Wild If I Wanna
05. Meanstreak
06. Rescue Me
07. I'll Cry For You
08. Eyes of a Stranger
09. Looks Like Trouble
10. Black Tiger
11. I Believe In You
12. Forever

\[Greg]: Thirsty, thirsty, thirsty….but you can't just leave the front barrier prior to Blackie Lawless chopping your head in two, right? W.A.S.P.'s setlist was as typical as it can get (see below) but the band was more thunderous than expected, Blackie included. They played really loud and Doug Blair was striking at his guitar worx, delivering some nasty soloing at Hate To Love Me and Chainsaw Charlie (Murders In The New Morgue). Blackie's guitar was rather down on the mix again but he seemed to have enough desire to give the fans what they actually wanted that summer evening. The take on The Idol was breathtaking, especially when matching the song's essence with the beautiful landscape surrounding the festival area, and the deafening ending duo of I Wanna Be Somebody and Blind In Texas wrapped up a set rather classic for hardcore W.A.S.P. follower but more than intriguing for the general audience out there yelling …be somebody, tooooooooo!. Let's see what's next in the W.A.S.P. camp in the future to come.

W.A.S.P.'s setlist:

01. On Your Knees_Inside The Electric Circus
02. Hate To Love Me
03. L.O.V.E. Machine
04. Wild Child
05. Take Me Up
06. Chainsaw Charlie (Murders In The New Morgue)
07. The Idol
08. I Wanna Be Somebody
09. Blind In Texas

\[Erika]: That BLIND GUARDIAN ploughed the way for about a zillion German Metal bands in the early 90's no one can deny. Sure, HELLOWEEN and a few more were there building the style too, but BLIND GUARDIAN has been the biggest in the genre for, if not 20 years, at least 15. One more thing that is well known when it comes to BLIND GUARDIAN is that they are the world's most boring live band. It's impossible to understand how it could go this way. Their songs are perfect for a concert and it's very easy to create a mystique atmosphere around them with the lights. The passion in the melodies melts even the hardest heart. Then, why is it that they don't seem to care anymore. Sure, Hansi KÏŒsch has a great voice and he sounded absolutely amazing this night but he didn't seem to care at all. Songs like Another Holy War, Nightfall and Traveller In Time should be performed with raw force, not with some half lame nonchalant attitude. Hansi seemed to enjoy being on stage more while he still was playing bass. But apart from that, BLIND GUARDIAN sounded amazing. Especially since Hansi's voice was prefect, complete, crisp and absolutely clear which isn't really the case a bit into the tours. But since there wasn't much more going on onstage there's really not much more to say. But one thing, why are they doing it if they don't want to be on stage? Because that is what they deliver! It takes more that musical perfection to win over a crowd. BLIND GUARDIAN has a legacy to live on and of course a lot of great songs to perform. But for any other band, with a performance like this, they would be falling headlong into the abyss.

01. Time Stands Still (At The Iron Hill)
02. Another Holy War
03. Nightfall
04. Traveller In Time
05. Turn The Page
06. The Script For My Requiem
07. Blood Tears
08. Goodbye My Friend
09. This Will Never End
10. Valhalla
11. Sacred
12. Time What Is Time
13. Lord Of The Rings
14. Punishment Divine
15. Imaginations From The Other Side
16. The Bard's Song (In The Forest)
.17. Mirror Mirror


\[Greg]: The rain was on again as soon as we were leaving the festival area gazing at the sky fireworks saluting a sea of metalheads filled with good music, nice facilities and some party 'open air' atmosphere these 2+1 days 'Bang your Head!' festival was on the go. Driving back to the hotel for some sleep and preparations for next day's return to Greece there were various thoughts crossing ways, now falling quite dim after 20 days, but just one has stuck: it's not that difficult to enjoy a summer fest, have a party mood, watch the bands you came here for, back off and rest_eat_drink while the other ones are playing, tolerate people having the same needs_wants as you and not even bother if it rains or snows. It just needs some serious professional arrangements from the promoters and an adequate level of wide-ranging education from the fans. Quite simple in words, huh? Thank you Balingen, thank you Bang Your Head!.

(photos by surfin Nicaragua Erika)











Ticket Price: 72€


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