Headbanger's ball fest

By Rudi Marina Wauters

May 6th, finally it is time for a new edition of this festival. As usual we arrive early at the venue, and we enjoy listening to how the security is finetuned in the last minutes before the start.All measures taken to have a good and safe festival. The impressive amount of crewpeople come together to get the final instructions. A picture of the crew is taken and everybody takes their spot to start the festival.

The festivaltickets were sold out, so everybody gets to play for a full house. That's really nice for the bands.  Immanent Distance, the melodic/progressive metalband has the honour to start of the fest. As usual its not easy to be a starter, but this band give it their all. The crowd is still a bit lame and only a few are enough alive to shout and scream the band to the next song. The voice of Mike Slembrouck isn't bad at all, and he's supported with talented musicians. Only thing disturbing me a bit, was that he was the only one moving, on a huge stage. There was lots of place to switch musicians from one side to another, but they didn't use it. Because of that, the energy on stage didn't find its way to the crowd. But, the band kept going, and a lot of guitarrifs, which sounded really good, were sent in the sky. All things considered a nice warm up for what is to come.

Next up was At The Front. This band started in the early nineties, but disappeared soon after.  In 2014 they came back in the picture, made a few changes and look how good they are doing now. This Belgian trash metal band, started a bit slow, but soon they got the vibe and took the crowd on a various trip. This early in the afternoon and getting the people to party with you is only given to a few. The rough sound of the leadsinger together with the hard guitarrifs and drums, were a perfect mixture for this event.At certain moments the band sounded a bit more death metal, and then a next they sounded kind of deathcore. A really good set. They also played a cover of "Roots" by Sepultura. I'm usually not that fond of covers, but this was a really nice one. Overall great performance.

Fields of Troy, another Belgian band, but this time of the rock/metal kind. This band exists about 7 years and already brought out two albums.Their foundation was in a Belgian town near the beautiful Bruges.First thing i noticed was the really nice screaming of leadvocalist Louis Soenens. In front of the stage, the clean voice and backings were not coming true. An issue that was fixed after the first song. Although this band gave it their all, and had lots of energy, the crowd wasn't excited and lots of them left the venue. When the singer asked to start a wall of death, only 2 or three people took part in it. And a moshpit of about 6 people, also wasn't very convincing. But the band didn't seem to mind and went on full speed. Got no clue what went on, but this band deserved a bit more crowd and support.

And then we get to a band that has been at this festival multiple times. Thurisaz. A band that celebrates their 20th anniversary this year. They've got a lot of experience and have been on lots of stages throughout the world. Even the US got a taste of their atmospheric avant garde metal. The soundcheck brought some trouble, and it took a while before everything was set to the wishes of all bandmembers, but once everything was fixed the band went in highest gear. Also here we got to enjoy the better guitarrifs . The voices of Peter and Matthias work well together. The clean voice of keyboardist Kobe completes the vocal variety. Also some nice drumparts filled the sky. You could also see that this band is better known by the public, cause the crowd came back in to see them perform. If there is something negative in this performance....it would be the bad lightening that made it very difficult for the photographers.

Cowboys and Aliens is a band that found its roots in Bruges and is working the scene for more then 20 years already. They are good for 6 albums already, and the last one is dated 2014. They were on many stages, and 2 times at Graspop Metal Meeting. They also were warm-up band  for Deep Purple. The reputation of this band is that they don't leave the venue without getting all people moving. And even though this crowd was very hard to get moving, they kept trying. The energy coming from this band, but mostly from the leadvocalist and entertainer Henk Vanhee, is incredible. It took a while, but by half of the set he had the crowd on his hands. When the guitarist decided to jump of the stage, and go in the public to play amongst the people, the roof went of. Strong performance by this band, but lots of preps especially to Mr Vanhee . I sometimes wondered how the at times spastic movements didn't get him injured or got his body in a knot. Incredible!!

Next up is the German band "Freedom Call" . I don't really know if i have to call it metal, and if i call it metal, it is probably the closest to power metal. But in my opinion it's more old school(hard)rock. Nevertheless, this was the first band that really got all of the crowd going. Their music is easy to remember, and easy to sing along. Lots of songs of the new album Masters of Light found their way to the crowd. The lead vocalist Chris Bay, has a good interaction with the crowd. During the whole evening he keeps them occupied, lets them sing and jump. But the highlight was the "Pope Song". The introduction of this song, was enough to get the people crazy. He talked about the fact that there is only one possibility to get worldpeace. Everybody should listen to Metal and become metalheads. Because they are the most peaceful people in the world. And in a certain way......there's truth in that. Very appreciated performance.

And then it is time for the appearance of the band most people here were waiting for, Dyscordia. This band is born and stated not this far from here. They are well known and have a lot of fans. Dyscordia did, what it always does, and that is giving the people a party. Impressive guitars and drums are the trademark of this band. Together with the voice of Piet Overstijns a perfect match. Twin Symbiosis, made the people party even harder. A surprising cover of Sonatica Artica's "My Land" was the icing on the cake. I don't think Dyscordia ever got that much energy from the crowd as now. Still haven't decided if that was because of the super performance, or the home crowd. Perhaps a little of both.

Headliner this year is none less then the Swedish Amaranthe. People who know the band, also know that this is a party from beginning to end. The band started of with a few songs of the new album Maximalism which was appreciated by the crowd. Yet the roof went of the place with the older songs, such as Hunger, One Million Lightyears, Call Out My Name and ofcourse The Nexus. The beautiful Elize Ryd, crossed about every inch of the large stage. Throwing her legs up in the sky, like only Elize is able to do. The vocal mixes of Elize and Nils Moline, who is a temporay replacement for Jake E who resently left the band,  and the grunts of Henrik Englund Wilhemsson seemed to work well. The crowd just couldn't get enough.  In the public there was a 9 year old girl, who sang all songs of the top of her longs and headbanged like a pro. But at the start of the extra songs, the band asked to start a wall of death. So the security people took the girl out of the crowd and let her sit in front of the stage.  The wall of death was huge for this venue, and the security people made a wise decision by taking the girl out. She stayed there for the rest of the set, and was taken on stage by Elize to sing the last song together. A fantastic way, to end an epic performance and a fantastic fest. 

One more thing i need to say, I spoke with lots of bandmembers that were here at the fest before. I asked them what they thought about the fest, and how they feel it has developed through the years. And one thing kept coming back, they all said that they had lots of respect for the way things were organised. A pleasure for the bands!!

I already wonder what next year will bring. Hopefully Metal on Loud will be there again.

Rudi Marina Wauters