The 10th anniversary edition of the largest metal festival in the Netherlands. Unfortunately the organizers encountered some challenges finding the wanted bands. Nevertheless plenty of nice names on stage, bands coming back and bands new at FortaRock. The weather was more then OK for this outdoor festival in the pleasant Goffertpark. The ambiance was great again.
Due to family obligations the opener God Mother was missed. However, in time for Ne Obliviscaris at the open Main Stage. This progressive death metal band from Australia mixes various genres. Black metal, melodic death metal and even trash metal was blended with Prog Rock, Jazz, Classic, … Two vocalists and a violin do offer additional options for the music. The rich and long compositions, requiring a high level of musical skills, impress from beginning to end of the show. Unfortunately it’s over after 45 minutes.
A different state of mind was set by Swedish Monolord in the Tent (Stage). Not in the sun but still very warm. No fast or complex metal but back to old school doom. Slow and sludgy doom riffs with space vocals bring you in a kind of trance or ‘pushes’ you out of the tent. The massive stoner and doom by the trio is not everybody’s cup of tea. The heavy, repetitive and psychedelic songs were great for the lovers.
Respect to Atreyu; last minute their frontman had to cancel the European Tour due to health reasons. The drummer moved to the frontman position and the drum tech took over his seat. It worked out quite well for the musicians from California. With an infectious positivity and a very energetic performance they compensated the new setting. A mix of hardcore, emocore and old school heavy metal was ‘poured’ over the public. With ferocious guitar solos of a ‘ Rockstar’ with a bright green guitar and a bassist playing in the Circle pit, they managed to conquer the hearts of the audience.
For personal reasons the Enslaved set was skipped in favor of the happening in Hank’s Garage (third, small stage). Every year there is the BUMA (Dutch Music Rights Society) Rocks! Export Award for an artist who has meant a lot for the Dutch music industry abroad. From 2014 it has moved to the heavier music with winners Adje Vandenberg, Epica, Within Temptation, Textures and last year Floor Jansen. The 2019 award was for ‘friend’ Anneke van Giersbergen for her contribution over the year. This event was followed by a Q&A session related to her 25th anniversary in music. After that she played acoustic for the small crowd at the Garage; ‘My Mother Said’ and ‘Wasted Years’ (Iron Maiden).
In a short time Myrkur has made an impact with their mix of black metal, classic and folk. Amalie Bruun was back in the Netherlands, now with three men with Black Caps on stage. Although the atmosphere of the music would have had more impact in the tent than on the bright sunny stage, the positioning of Myrkur on Main Stage was correct. Her singing was flawless and she rose with her band, from behind a fresh forest branches with green leaves, to a very high level. Slow atmospheric and heavy black metal songs were mixed in the set to keep your attention. a piece of cake with this very refreshing and impressive performance of the only female artist on Main and Tent Stage.
Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats were not that lucky. Challenges with the sounds affected the show of the UK band. Fuzzy, screaming guitars dominate the vocals. Because of this, the psychedelic rock is not how it could sound. They tried to compensate this with a lot of energy. This festival show felt despite their enormous enthusiasm, a bit disappointing.
The next one with personnel issues is Amorphis. Within short notice they had to find a drummer to replace their own. Luckily the Bloodbath drummer was willing to solve their problem. The Finnish formation has been in super shape in recent years and there seems to be no end to the good performances on both the stage and the albums. FortaRock is no exception. The sound was very good. Everyone could enjoy the bombastic and layered melodic metal, which mainly can be found on the two most recent albums.
Not only the tent was crowded with Cult of Luna, also the stage. Seven musicians; keys, bass, two drums(!) and three guitarists. A wall of sound in the tent was assured. The sound of the vocals was again not optimal, the instruments were OK. The nice light show and the musical performance are convincing. Their status of top band in the post metal movement was definitely confirmed.
According to many fans, the best of Children of Bodom was in the past. The Finnish metal institute released the album “Hexed” earlier this year. Although the new song material is not surprising, it’s still a quality release. The crowd reacted best to the old tracks and a nice pit is formed. A good show, Children Of Bodom is not dead yet.
Last band in the Tent Stage was Swedish super group Bloodbath. Smeared with blood, the band members entered the stage. The singer was dressed in a suit with a large pair of sunglasses. He interacted a lot with the audience, the rest of the band headbanged, but stood reasonably motionless on stage. This was not the case with the audience, soon a huge moshpit was formed which stayed the whole set. Bloodbath was musically strong and solid and has proven this in the Tent Stage again.
Time for the headliner of the day: Behemoth. The stage was decorated as expected. The microphone stands had satanic decorations and there were several images that refer to the last album “I loved You At Your Darkest”. The band showed up in new outfits, which can also be seen in the video clip of ‘Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica’. During almost all tracks, flamethrowers were active to a larger or lesser extent. The band disappeared from the stage, for a change-over to the familiar appearance. The band played passionately and the setlist guided the crowd through most of the impressive oeuvre. All in all a worthy headliner of the first day.