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Death Ss, Beehler, Picture, New Eden, Rebellion, Wild Dogs, Axehammer, Praying Mantis, Destructor, Abandoned, Stone Cold Black @ Brande Hornerkirchen, Brande Hornerkirchen (GER)

DEATH SS, BEEHLER, PICTURE, NEW EDEN, REBELLION, WILD DOGS, AXEHAMMER, PRAYING MANTIS, DESTRUCTOR, ABANDONED, STONE COLD BLACK
in Saturday, 26 July 2008 at Brande Hornerkirchen
by Erika Wallberg

'Headbangers Open Air'

Day 3
Saturday started with Bay Area thrash from Germany; ABANDONED manage to balance in the middle of the classic Bay Area style and the German like. With a little touch of each they're a fresh breeze in the scene. Their first album Thrash Notes was a wallop that hit me really hard. The follow up (Thrash You) though was a lot weaker both when it comes to song-material and production. Unfortunately their performance here went the same way as the records, at least compared to the Bang Your Head Pre-Party at WOM two years ago. ABANDONED are still really good but the music wasn't striking, neither was their performance. It felt more like a routine gig rather than an exciting event. Ok, they had an early slot but that's no excuse and frankly I was a little disappointed. I expected a lot more since they were so damn great at WOM.
 
Why some bands reaches cult-status is hard to say. DESTRUCTOR never gained any rockstar fame but if you ask anyone the least into Old School Thrash you'll get the same answer. Yes, of course I'm going to see DESTRUCTOR, they are great, I love their old albums and Do you think they will play Iron Curtain? So this is another band that never gotten the recognition they deserved, at least if judging by what people have to say about them. And what's even worse, those old albums are real rarities so it's quite impossible for new fans to get their music the legal way. Even re-prints of Maximum Destruction are sold for quite a lot on eBay. And DESTRUCTOR really lived up to their reputation and served a really sweaty set just balancing on the verge of being a little cheesy. And I mean that last comment as a good thing. Sometimes it's such a fresh breeze to see a band that delivers great music, fairly tight, with passion and a sense of humor. They seemed to have a lot of fun doing it too. And that really takes a band to a much higher level, at least for me. DESTRUCTOR was a pure pleasure to watch, their Old-School Thrash was just as filthy and sweaty it's supposed to be. And yes, they did play Iron Curtain!

Sometimes it's painfully clear that the opportunities for great bands to get good gigs in USA are shamefully limited. A lot of bands sound great but when it comes to live performance there's things to wish for. AXEHAMMER fall in that category. Vocalist Mark Stewart was nicely dressed up in a plaid kilt. Perhaps a little daring on a high stage if it was worn the way the tradition says. I didn't check so I can't say if that was the case or not. But it felt like he didn't know what to do with himself on stage, just walking on and off a little too far to the back most of the time. A frontman needs to be in your face all the time. Especially with the type of music AXEHAMMER play; guitar driven US-power. I guess they just need a little boost and a few more gigs to get started because they sounded awesome.

Even if I've seen a fair share of bands I still get surprised every now and then. Portland's WILD DOGS with Fatt Matt McCourt in the front-line really stunned me. Matt had an outfit that would make the Metal God himself jealous and enough studs to dress the entire crowd. Perhaps this just shows I didn't do my homework properly before the festival. On the other hand, if I'd known I probably wouldn't have seen them at all and missed all the excitement the surprise gave me. From an entertainment perspective WILD DOGS was awesome. But from a musical perspective they were a little too much basic rock for me. Perhaps if they'd been tighter and a little more edgy it might have appealed to me more than it did. But basic rock is the absolute best party music. And to just chill out in the shade of the trees, sip on a cold beer, with MOTORHEAD-stylish Rock 'n' Roll in the background, made this Saturday afternoon absolutely perfect.

Perhaps a little too perfect! A few Tequila-races with loose and LETHAL people really doesn't improve one's intellect but who cares when you're having a great time. And this was the only bad thing with 'Headbangers Open Air', it was over a way too fast. It felt like it only had started when it was time to leave. There were no time at all to finish all conversations, didn't even manage to show up at my friends camp-sites to have a beer or two as I promised. There was no chance to follow up the tips on new (and old) cool bands from people with the same taste in music. And absolutely no chance to have a re-run of those Tequila Races (oh well, that might be a good thing though). I could easily have taken a few more days of great music, cheap beer and nice people. Because 'Headbangers Open Air' is that really nice pre-party you regret leaving when you arrive in a Bar or Nightclub and it lasts for three days! There's no doubt 'HOA' is the world's greatest Garden Party, in more than one perspective.





(photos by No Sleep Til Hammersmith Erika)

ABANDONED

AXEHAMMER
WILD DOGS

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