The 18th edition of Brutal Assault metal festival took place between 7th and 10th of August. I was fortunate enough to be here for the third time, but we still got lost several times in the Czech Republic because of the strange road signs. When we started to see metalheads we knew that we were close to the Old Army Fortress of Josefov, and arrived just in time to accommodate and relax a bit after the long journey by car. As there are no parking facilities near the festival area, we parked our car on a nearby street, that was already packed with cars from all over Europe.
The camping site is outside the festival area and the walls of the fortress and it’s free of charge. The VIP camp however was enlarged this year because of the high demand, and you have to have a special wristband to be able to set up your tent in the fenced and guarded area.
After we carried our heavy bags through the walls of the fortress and the camping site, we set up our tents and then we went to the festival ground to pick up the tickets. A very good news is that they installed a ATM machine at the entrance of the festival ground, so you don’t have to worry if you don’t have any Czech Coruna (CZK) if you travel from elsewhere in Europe. You can also pay in Euro for the ticket and for the coupons also.
We waited for the gates to open together with other hundreds of metalheads that were over-enthusiastic to get their tickets. There were several wristband tents in order to prevent long waiting lines. All the staff was smiling and very cooperative, you could tell on their faces that they were not only there to do their job, but they had fun while they helped the participants. The first time you pass through the gates of the festival there’s a great feeling that invades you: the tattooed long-haired participants, the happiness all around, and most of all, the loud metal music that makes you want to bang your head at the very entrance.
The first thing that came in my mind was to get some beer, so I had to purchase coupons. You could pay in Euro (4 coupons for 5 euro) or in CZK (1 coupon for 30 CZK). There were many big beer tents that offered 10? beer (1 coupon) or 12? beer (1½ coupon). Again this year, for the third time, they had the refundable cups system, since they want to limit the impact of plastic on the environment. But since the plastic cups that they created with their logos are a great collection to have for every metalhead, few people really gave them up to receive the 1½ coupon back. They dramatically reduced the waste amount, because there were even separate garbage bags for metal and organic waste.
We walked around to see what had changed since the past years. They set up the Obscure Stage, which was a smaller one, installed in the Metal Market, and the Marshall Stage, which was an even smaller stage where smaller bands played and where there were a lot of guitars on display.
The first day of the festival was a warm-up before the carnage that was to come in the next days. Beast Within the Sound, Dying Passion and Jungle Rot were impressive as a performance, then came Testament, who everybody was waiting for. Unfortunately, at the first song they played the sound broke down and everyone was screaming, but the staff fixed the problems and everything was in order after a few seconds. Since they were one of the first thrash metal bands, they had a lot of fans and their performance was flawless.
On Thursday the 8th the grind – core – death – black – progressive – doom – thrash metal party started at 11AM with the local melodic death metal band AbstractEssence and ended after 2AM with the black metal band Marduk. Between them, there played Dr. Living Dead which came with skull masks on their faces and during the whole performance the crowd rushed in some giant moshpits, even if the amplifier broke down for a short time.
A fire truck came near the Jagermeister Stage after their performance due to the searing heat and sprayed the whole crowd, over to the Metal Shop Stage, with cold water. Everybody was delirious! Of course I had to run away from there because I had my camera, even though I wish I could stayed. After the fire truck had no more water and turned away, the metalheads cheered so loud as if the greatest band of the planet had just played their favorite song!
The Americans from Novembers Doom delighted the audience with their deep lyrics and doom metal, Philm really surprised us and also did Downset with their combination of genres. After a few beers at the tent we rushed to see Devildriver, of course they did not disappoint our expectations. After that came Dying Fetus and some friends said that the show that they put up was the greatest so far. The French from Gojira started their performance powerfully with “Explosia” and instantly there was a huge mosh pit. The vocal Joe Duplantier said that we should always remember the past and how it was to be a child, then followed “L’Enfant Sauvage”. Finally, he screamed “stay fucking open minded” and then he spread the crowd in two walls… Another thrash metal band, Anthrax, one of the first and most loved ones, gathered a huge amount of metalheads that wanted to see the Americans.
The rain started again and we wanted to go to see a movie at the Horror Cinema, but it was full, as it was the entire festival. People really enjoyed the films and the relaxing atmosphere away from the fuss and noise over to the two main stages.
In the same building as the Horror Cinema there was the meet & greet stand, where the progressive metalists Gojira came, of course it was a huge waiting line and a lot of people with “Gojira” t-shirts. They were all very friendly and smiling even though they had just came off the stage and I can assume they were a bit tired. One girl came with a tight small white t-shirt and she asked all the band members to give her autographs on her tits and they all laughed while doing it.
The night ended with the Black Metal band Marduk which took the audience into the darkest abyss, starting with “Serpent Sermon” and taking us on a journey through most of their albums.
Then I slowly went to the camping area and spent almost an hour searching for it in the night. There was enough light in the VIP camping area but we set up our tents far away, but I finally arrived and stayed a bit longer into the night with my friends.
On the morning of Friday the 9th we went shopping for some supplies in the non-stop shops in the city, where there were installed a lot of beer tents and food stands. People were all around and I had the impression that this was a metalhead town, with metal music everywhere, happy faces, friendly Europeans, hot chicks and bad-ass rockers and bikers.
The day started with Antropofagus, Attack of Rage, Katalepsy, Minority Sound, Obscura, Glorior Belli, Hypnos, Misanthrope, and Pro-Pain that really impressed me, i definitely have to look them up. Even though I like Black Metal, Hate weren’t my favourite, maybe because it was quite early for them or because I didn’t drink that much.
The meet & greet In Flames was held at the Marshall tent and people were standing in the line with one hour in advance. You can imagine there was a huge line with a lot of fans. Unfortunately, only the guitarist Bjorn Gelotte came to meet the fans, but he was smiling and taking pictures with everyone. After the event was over, he took for a walk a mad fan friend of mine in the backstage and they had a lot of friendly talks.
When Orphaned Land started to perform a great black cloud appeared on the horizon and I soon realized that we had to seek some cover. By the middle of their show there was the heaviest rain and the beer tents were so full that I almost became claustrophobic, and then there came the greatest thunder that I heard in my life, cheered by the whole festival. Even though I saw Meshuggah before, they performance was a blast and the sound was perfect. Everybody went crazy when In Flames came on the stage and they absolutely rocked the hell out of the metalheads! So many people were there that I guess that the camping and the Metal Market were empty!
During the Amorphis performance we went in the Metal Market where Novembers Doom were playing an acoustic set that was totally angelic, I could say! Everybody present there heard the marvelous lyrics and went into a deep trance mood!
Carcass left the fans with a great pain in the back of the neck because of the headbanging and Overkill and their Thrash Metal were perfect and started huge mosh pits. Of course I waited for the Swedish sludge/post metal band Cult of Luna, I knew that it would be a surrealistic psychedelic experience and it was absolutely perfect!
The last day of the festival, Saturday the 10th was an administrative day, meaning that we showered again and for my surprise there were no lines and everything went smooth. Then we packed our tent and belongings and took them to the car because we wanted to enjoy the rest of the show without thinking that we still have to carry everything later on, and the same thing did a lot of people, they all wanted to take care of the nasty business before having some fun.
We Butter the Bread with Butter, even though it was quite early after a sleepless night and a beautiful sunrise, gathered a large number of fans that danced franticly during their entire show. Vomitory did not surprise anybody with their ugly black metal growls and fast rhythm. The Hardcore hip-hop type of metal band Biohazard were another pleasant surprise, as well as Clawfinger. Trivium played flawlessly and the fans were ecstatic.
We took a short break and went to the tea tent, where you could drink all sorts of tea and smoke from the hookah. Some girl was alone on a couch and was laughing a lot so i wondered what did they put in that tea. Not long after that we started laughing too, maybe because of her and because of our friendly table neighbors. We also had something to eat, and believe me, it was pretty hard to decide! Vegetarian, Chinese, American, traditional food stands were all over the place and offered a wide range of yummy goods to fill up any hungry drunk metalhead.
During the day there were a lot of painted people on their faces, the Tattoo & Paint stand in the Metal Market had a lot of clients, so I knew this was the Behemoth day. Their show must have been the most spectacular of all, with big flames and a lot of smoke. They also decorated the stage with grim symbols and metal works. At the end of their performance they even threw loads of glitter over the crowd. Luckily we were in front of the other stage waiting for Opeth, which was probably the most cheered band of the whole festival. People were eager to listen Mikael Akerfeldt’s dry jokes and smart lines. The lead singer and guitarist said “When we are attending a jazz festival we will play some Death Metal, and when we are at a Death Metal festival we will play them some jazz” so they continued with “Atonement”. They played only 6 songs, but everybody can guess that they all lasted over 10 minutes each. It seemed like a very long performance, but nobody actually wanted it to end. Borknagar and Madball didn’t impress me very much, but the Black Metal band Carpathian Forest were great until one point at which I couldn’t wait them to finish already because I was eager for Saturnus to come on the stage. They had a half an hour delay because of the earlier performances, but this only increased out excitement. They ended the festival in a great doom/post metal way, with their hit “Christ Goodbye” when absolutely everybody banged their heads.
Almost sad that the festival had ended but happy that I could attend, I went alone back to the car. On the way up to the city there were in front of me a group of four people, one of them was playing the harmonica and the other was growling so I laughed behind them the whole way.
I totally recommend going to Brutal Assault, maybe with 2 clones along (because they offer you such a large range of activities), you can connect with the nature, with the history of the little town, with the great people that listen to different shades of metal. It’s always a great opportunity to see some new bands and to increase your musical knowledge and experience.