On Sunday it started a little quiet. You couldn’t blame the weather because it was already sunny and warm. During the day it got warmer and luckily there were some tree areas for a little bit of shade. For those that wanted to be in the sun, KWF Kankerbestrijding (Dutch Cancer Society) had a stand where you could get some sun protection. With this warm weather, free water point would be appreciated. Later in the day, more people joined.
Opener, early afternoon, on main stage was Savage Messiah. The band from London was happy to be promoted from after party (2012) to opening act in 2019. An enthusiastic and well played set was delivered to the audience. The mix of (Trash) Metal and Hard Rock had quite some references to other bands like Testament, Metallica and Bon Jovi. Not always authentic or innovative, however it was well received. In the meantime the crowd in front of the stage has grown.
Not Allegaeon, as mentioned in the festival booklet, in the Tent (stage) but
Car Bomb with almost ‘academic’ metal. Very technical and complex, sometimes doomy and then a bit ‘exploding’. It was definitely no easy music, looking at the crowd. Some stayed for two or three songs, others were triggered by the sound. Quite some crowd dynamics. Anyway, a great show for people that love straight complex compositions.
It’s party time!!! The Heroic Fantasy Power Metal Warriors of Gloryhammer on stage. Fun started with the totally ‘wrong’ outfit of the band. The presence of an Alestorm member in the band brings in experience in how to create a party. The interaction with the audience was enthusiastic and the very accessible music made it easy for the audience to join. It was not really high standard and the songs might be a little bit more of the same, nevertheless they knew how to entertain. Sometimes it was like looking at a live comic on stage, but it was highly appreciated by the fans. Gloryhammer partied in “the land of tulips and fries with mayonnaise”
In the tent, another cup of tea. Polish Decapitated, who had a bad time with some cancelled allegations, played in a quite full tent. OK, getting some shade there might be influential, the brutal but groovy songs for sure kept them in too. Limited talking and let the music do the work. Looking at the size of the mosh pit, they did a great job.
It was not that crowded in front of main stage when Kadavar started. Maybe people had some thoughts; fully in the sun might not be a good idea at that point in time. Usually the drum kit is positioned on a riser a little in the back, now it was in the middle front stage. The bass on the right (crowd view) and the guitar on the left. This stage lay-out made it quite static, the trio didn’t change positions, but the headbanging and moves on location compensated a lot. For sure they enjoyed playing and this enthusiasm made the die-hard in front to join the headbanging. The stoner rock / 70s oriented metal was even appreciated a little further away under the trees based at the many nodding heads over there.
In the tent a show which required a lot of preparation. They already started when Car Bomb played. The band itself seems to be part of a metal soap. At FortaRock played, a band with the name Batushka, the ‘version’ around the singer. At a stage full of ‘religious’ attributes the band appeared with masks, with that you could not really check who was there. However, the focus was clearly on the singer / main actor in this death metal mass. The black metal was definitely OK, however with this theatrical show, the attention was moved away a little from the music.
Back to Main for Rock Institute Symphony X. The tragic car crash of 2 years ago (14 July 2017), where Adrenaline Mob-bassist David “Z” Zablidowsky and tour manager Janet Rains lost their lives, still did have impact on singer Russell Allen who was present at the crash. Today he mentioned this fatal event and said to be grateful to God and fans, to be able to be on stage again, despite all ups and downs. The great musicians on stage delivered an amazing show full of progressive metal. Excellent sound and a great mix of old and new songs. The only question remaining, why this was their first time on FortaRock.
Next stop, the dark and in the meanwhile very warm tent. Waiting for dark melancholic sounds. A quote of Singer Jonas Renkse; ”I know it’s a Sunday. I know it’s Katatonia on stage… It could be worse. It could be a Monday. It could be Opeth playing songs exclusively from their last three cd’s.” did bring some reaction. The set was based on the 10th anniversary of the album “Night is the New Day”. The band followed the track list and the audience got a great integral performance.
Hammerfall was present to bring back the happy feeling at the warm evening. No melancholic or brutal metal, just cheerful Power Metal. What Gloryhammer did, Hammerfall would do better. No funny costumes to get that feeling, the songs did the job. The “choreography’ of the show was good and sound and music were the ingredients to create a nice atmosphere. The massive colorful backdrop, combined with the smoke, was a great background for the well performing band.
The last one in the tent was Animals As Leaders. Again a celebration. This time the 10th anniversary of the band. This was also the opener of an European Tour. Prepared by Car Bomb, the audience was served another technical high standard show. The skills of the trio were eminent and the compositions did have more than sufficient variances to keep the attention.
Time for the closing act: Amon Amarth. A Viking ship / helmet with the drums was an eye-catcher on stage. The melodic death metal show with lyrics related to the Nordic mythology started in 793 aD. A bombastic sound, grunts and riffs are key in the gig. A lot of fire and smoke was added to the show. It made it a spectacular performance. Unfortunately Thor came a little too early so at the end they needed to close the show quite abruptly. The audience was requested to leave the area as soon as possible and look for shelter. I did the same and was happy to have reached my car before the rain and thunder really started.
Despite the ‘special ending’ it was a nice FortaRock edition. Not really big names, however with Behemoth and Amon Amarth two great bands to close the days. The variance in the metal styles was excellent, something in it for everybody. The enthusiasm of the bands made it a nice happening. The sunny weather made Goffert Park a nice place to be and the setup of stages, drinks, food and markets was fitting the numbers. I’m not sure about the influence of real big names, it will most likely have impact on ticket sales, however the ambience and the possibility to discover new bands are equally important and might suffer from that. For what it’s worth, I prefer this kind of festivals.