Articles : Summer Breeze Open Air @ Dinkelsbühl, Germany 15 – 17/08/2013
Summer Breeze Open Air is fast becoming one of the biggest and best metal festivals in Bavaria. The festival takes place annually in Dinkelsbühl, a small town 100km from Nuremberg. The festival is easily accessible via various major cities surrounding Bavaria on train, bus or by car. Since 1997, Summer Breeze has created a world wide following and is now bringing 40,000 metalheads annually.
Summer Breeze has played host to a plethora of iconic metal artists, as well as Australia’s Be’lakor, who performed at the festival in 2010 and 2012, respectively.
This year saw the likes of Hatebreed, In Flames, Agnostic Front, Alestorm, Orden Ogan, Destruction, Sabaton, Fear Factory and many more play the 3 day festival. The trip from Nuremberg was made quite comfortable with the new addition of direct buses from main train stations and airports surrounding Dinkelsbühl to the festival grounds. For a mere 20 euros metalheads can book a return seat on an air conditioned bus which takes you directly to Summer Breeze, allowing you to bask in the warm summer air and drink cool refreshing Bavarian brewed beer sooner rather than later.
This year I opted to camp at Summer Breeze with Matt Dodds, guitarist of Melbourne forest metal band Arbynth and an American couple we bumped into at our hostel in Nuremberg.
Day 1 – Wednesday: Destruction, Exo
A lot of people seem to miss out on the first day of Summer Breeze. Either they don’t really find much interest in the opening acts or they completely forget there is an additional day that starts off the festival. I see it as a bonus to party for an extra day and get to know everyone before it gets too chaotic.
This year, Poland’s Vader were one of the three headlining acts at the Party Stage. Their set list consisted of all the usual classics ‘Sothis’, ‘Silent Empire’, ‘Fractal Light’, plus their latest single ‘Return To The Morbid Reich’ from their 2011 release, ‘Welcome to the Morbid Reich’. Sonically, Vader sounded amazing. The sheer intensity of their bone crushing death laden grooves along with the chaos of the crowd made it one of the more enjoyable experiences of seeing Vader live. Whoever mixed their sound at Summer Breeze is a sheer genius.
Next up were Exodus. These guys put on amazing show, but due to extreme fatigue and vertigo, I was unable to stay for their entire set. Traveling for 7 hours from Copenhagen to Nuremberg then staying up til 3am drinking with the American couple I bumped into at the hostel the night before was probably not the best idea. However, looking back at it now it was meant to be, as spending the next 3 days with these people made my experience at Summer Breeze all the more enjoyable.
Midnight struck and Destruction hit the stage, opening with ‘Thrash Til Death’. By this time I was lying somewhat uncomfortably in my tent on an irrigation line which prevented me from falling asleep straight away. After some minor adjustments I was serenaded to the land of nod as ‘Mad Butcher’ echoed across Summer Breeze.
Day 2 – Thursday: Soilwork, Alestorm, Fear Factory, Sabaton, Cult of Luna and Powerwolf
Unless you have a back made of steel or purchase a rather comfortable mattress, I suggest you find an alternative to sleeping on the ground. Don’t get me wrong, camping is amazing, but when you wake up to a back which feels like an accordion. Its probably a good sign you need to reevaluate your sleeping arrangements.
Thankfully, warm showers are open to the public early at the festival to get rid of knots in your back or the unbearable beer odor coming from your underarms. For small change you get yourself a private shower with hot running water. I suggest you wake up early and take advantage of the showers before they become overrun with too many people. Bare in mind that both men and women have private shower facilities…sorry perverts. Ok! Enough about showers. Let’s get back to
Opening the Pain Stage at 1:30pm was German medieval band Cultus Ferox. If you like true traditional German medieval music without the amplification of electric guitars and drums, I suggest you check these guys out. I know of this band and have seen them from a distance from previous visits to European metal festivals, but this time I took the time to experience their entire set. Great music to get drunk and party too.
Up next were The Bones, a Swedish punk rock n’ roll band with a 1950’s rebellious vibe, similar to that of Johnny Cash or Elvis Presley. This is something that Summer Breeze does well, to mix up the genres and influences of punk, rock and metal into their line-ups. Regardless of how many people think this will or wont work, you have to hand it to Summer Breeze for giving their attendees a great choice of variety.
Following The Bones were Scottish pirate metallers Alestorm. As mentioned in my Wacken Open Air 2013 review, I sadly missed Alestorm‘s set at Wacken due to heavy roadworks. Thankfully, I arrived nice and early to see their set which consisted of both new and old classics. Opening with “The Sunken Norwegian”, “Shipwrecked”, “Nancy The Tavern Wench”, plus crowd favorites “Keelhauled” and “Rum”. The crowd made their set all the more enjoyable with their over the top enthusiasm and lust to make the biggest man made row boat mosh pit. Solid performance as always.
After a short break to refill my beer, I made my way back to the main stage to check out Soilwork. I saw these guys at Wacken a week prior and was impressed with their set and performance. The setlist was pretty much the same, but mixed in a different order.
Following in the traditional of incorporating more diverse music into Summer Breeze’s line-up, Detroit based We Came As Romans played to a rather seemingly young audience. This is something which is quite predominate at Summer Breeze. Unlike Wacken Open Air where regular attendees ranges from 25 – 50 years old, Summer Breeze bring in an influx of the younger generation. However, general numbers of the festival are split down the middle so you will always get a majority of both generations no matter where you travel.
Fear Factory then hit the main stage at 6:00pm. Unlike the performance given at Wacken Open Air a week prior, I was definitely impressed with their performance this time round. Vocalist, Burton C. Bell was able to sustain his vocals throughout the entire performance. Making it one of the better experiences of seeing FF in recent times.
After consuming more beer and grabbing a bite to each the sun was slowing setting, making it rather awkward to watch Korpikaani if you weren’t directly in front of the pain stage. With a beer in one hand and a doner kebab in the other, I was impressed by the band’s lengthy set. If you have never seen Korpikaani, I suggest you book your tickets now and see them when they come to Australia later this year.
As night drew in, I grew weary. Walking all day drinking nothing but beer and eating barely recognisable food takes a toll on anyone. Especially if temperatures reach the high 30’s. However, with a little perseverance I pushed my way through to see the remaining bands of the evening.
Next up were Powerwolf. I saw these guys a week earlier at Wacken Open Air and was completely blown away by their performance. Seeing them at Summer Breeze made it all the more enjoyable with excessive pyro and an amazing light show to accompany their religious heavy metal experience. No doubt I’ll be keeping my eye out for future performances when I head back to Europe in the future.
Closing the main stage was the Swedish war machine Sabaton. This was the sixth time I got to see Sabaton this year, the second being at a festival in Europe. Seeing them a week previously at Wacken Open Air was one of the most amazing and spiritual experiences I have ever been apart of. Chanting “Primo Victoria” and jumping in unison with some 80,000 metalheads was a religious experience and something I shall never forgot. Their performance at Summer Breeze was greatly improved over Wacken. This was mainly due to them scoring the headliner spot at Summer Breeze. This gave them more time to fine tune themselves and be ready for the onslaught. Looking back at their performance at Wacken they seemed worn out on stage, mainly due to the vigorous touring schedule of the Carolus Rex European tour. However, this was rectified at Summer Breeze as Sabaton performed one of their most memorable and enthusiastic performances to date.
Day 3 – Friday: Anthrax, Lamb of God, Orphaned Land, Whitechapel, Finntroll
Waking up just before 11am the next day is a good indication of a great party the night before. However, most of my day was spent in the shade. caring for a sore stomach and a minor hangover. It wasn’t til about 3pm til I really made a move to the stage area.
The first band I took advantage of was Leaves’ Eyes. I saw these guys previously at Summer Breeze back in 2010. As much as I like female fronted metal. I’ve never really been a huge fan of this band. I’m unsure what it is, but their music has never really appealed to me. However, they were still pretty entertaining nonetheless. I pushed through a majority of bands as they didn’t really do much for me, plus being sick at a metal festival isn’t the best experience for anyone. I saw a little of End of Green‘s set. They’re a German hard rock band with Gothic influences. They reminded me of 69 Eyes, but with a more rockabilly influence.
Next up were Der Weg einer Freiheit, a Bavarian based black metal band who has a similar sound to Ulver. Atmospheric and haunting. I quite enjoyed these guys, but due to sweltering heat inside the party stage I quick adjourned and stood outside for the remainder of their performance. By this time I was feeling a little better. Its amazing what more beer and terrible festival food can do to you in an hour of desperation.
Without hesitation I made my way back to the party stage to witness Orphaned Land. These guys are the real deal when it comes to religious heavy metal. Not only are they all from the holy land of Jerusalem, but their lead singer Kobi Farh, is the doppelganger of the holy son. Sporting sandals and a brown robe, along with the elegance and tranquility of the most humble of persons. It’s a shame they only played for 45 minutes. Their middle eastern folk influences brought out all the musical freaks of the festival, myself included. For a person like me who admires world music, you seriously can’t go past the sheer power and elegance of Orphaned Land.
Going from one extreme to another. Whitechapel arrived next at the party stage. Their blast beat induced coma surely awoke those who drifted off into tranquility from Orphaned Land‘s set. Aside from a minor technical fault with a speaker, their set was one of the most brutal I had ever seen. Bodies were hurdled over railings, noses were broken and ribs were surely crashed. If you ever have the balls to see these guys live. Make sure you invest in body armor and a helmet. You’ll surely need it!
With a little time to spare. I quickly made my way to the main stage to see Anthrax finish up. While their performance at the 2013 Soundwave Festival in Melbourne, along with their headline show at the Hifi Bar was one of the best I have ever seen in recent times with Belladonna. I have to admit that seeing Anthrax in Europe is a completely different experience in itself. To be honest, I felt a little out of place as majority of fans were from the younger generation. However, this is a welcoming change when Euro fans just embrace the music. I’m so use to seeing a variety of 20 – 35 year old thrash metal fans in Australia complain at every thrash metal gig regarding “insert band name here”. Anthrax‘s European fans just shut the fuck up and embrace the music. It was quite a welcoming change.
Their set list really hasn’t changed since I saw them at Soundwave earlier this year. A couple of songs have been put into different rotation, but the all round great times are still there. Plus the non complaining fans were a huge bonus.
The night’s headliner was soon drawing closer. The lights dimmed and Lamb of God made their way to the main stage. I’ll be honest with you all. I’m not a huge fan of LOG. I do acknowledge them and what they do, but NWOAHM (New Wave of American Heavy Metal) isn’t really my cup of tea. However, getting to see them on a grand scale at Summer Breeze really puts things into perspective. Sonically, Lamb Of God kicked everyone in the tits! Of course I’m speaking metaphorically, but you get what I mean.
Their whole set was sheer power from start to finish. Whenever someone fell, someone would be there to pick them up. Whenever you thought the crowd couldn’t get any crazier, you would see something for a slight second only to question it over in your head and say to yourself, “Did that really happen?”. Having seen LOG at Summer Breeze, I have grown a new appreciation for them. I’m really looking forward to catching them on their upcoming Australian tour with Meshuggah.
Day 4 – Saturday: Orden Ogan, In Flames, DevilDriver, Moonspell, Amorphis, Dark Funeral
Inevitability all good things must come to an end. The last day rolled in as quickly as the festival started. I made the effort to get up early to catch Orden Ogan‘s entire set. Thankfully, they were the first to start and did not conflict with anyone else. I’ve been a fan of these guys since the “To The End” release. Best described as a power metal outfit with progressive and folk elements with a lust for a good ol’ breakdowns, they produce a great duality from the heaviest to the most soulful and inspiring songs. What shocked me the most about their performance was the crowd. While majority of metalheads were sleeping off their beer induced comas from the night before. A substantially large crowd grew and grew to watch Orden Ogan‘s 12:30pm set.
By this time the sun was blistering high in the sky. Thankfully security had the great idea of hosing everybody down with a cool mist spray, making it all the more enjoyable for everyone. Orden Ogan‘s stage get up was reminiscent of their attire in the “The Things We Believe In” video clip which also accompanied the 2 fully armored soldiers in the video clip. This had to be one of the best performances of Summer Breeze. Sonically and visually, everything was just perfect.
It was pretty hard to top Orden Ogan‘s performance. However, next up were Van Canto. An a capella metal group who take on a new twist to metal classics. The group consists of 6 members, all of whom replicate a musical instrument with their mouths. The group is probably most well known for backing Grave Digger‘s previous performances at Wacken Open Air. Adding an extra layer of fun and musical integrity to any performance.
Bare in mind, its not all cover songs. Van Canto do belt out quite a few originals. Great set list with a good variety of their own classics and metal anthems.
Taking a back seat to the main stage after Van Canto. I made my way back to the party stage to see Dr. Living Dead. A new age thrash crossover outfit who are reminiscent of D.R.I and Suicidal Tendencies, more so the latter. Their stage get up is pretty bad ass too. All the members wear skull masks and bandanas. It may not seem like much to some, but it does add a great visual aspect to the band. I did have the intent to see these guys at Wacken a week prior, but due conflicting acts I waited til Summer Breeze. I’m glad I did. These guys were fantastic!
Picking up where I left off. I walked back to the main stage to see Moonspell. I’ve seen these guys quite a few times in the past. However, this particular performance celebrated the band’s 20th anniversary. Gothic metal done with a Portuguese twist. Honestly, their set was pretty bland. Perhaps I was spoiled for choice, but Moonspell‘s performance didn’t do much for me at all. Next up were DevilDriver. I already saw these guys at Wacken a week ago, so I made my way back to my camp to get ready for the final round of bands throughout the night. While chilling out at camp I had a great view of the stage and listened to DevilDriver as I sat back and drank cheap 5,o beer. Classy!
My chill out session continued on through Ensiferum‘s set. Their performance was pretty good from where I was standing. Majority of their set consisted of old material as Jukka-Pekka Miettinen, took over bass duties from Sami Hinkka, as he had chosen not to make it to that weekend festival run. Regardless of this, people still had an amazing time and were engrossed in the heroic Finnish folk metal goodness.
Next up were Amorphis. A week ago they played a special acoustic set at Wacken. An interesting idea, but not very well executed in my eyes. Things went back to normal at Summer Breeze as the band played a classic heavy set. The crowd grew larger as the set went on. I was quite impressed with Amorphis‘ set at Summer Breeze. I’m hoping people will enjoy them as much as I did when they tour Australia next month.
Finally the time came to see the main headliner of Summer Breeze, In Flames. By the time they rolled around the crowd was immense in size. In Flames really put on a mind blowing show. With the addition of a creative light show and a ridiculous amount of fireworks. It was a fitting end to one of the most enjoyable Summer Breeze festival’s I have attended.
To close the night Dark Funeral partied while the main stage was deconstructed in the background. I remember seeing these guys on the same stage back in 2010. They kicked ass then, and kicked even more ass this year. Finally, as the main stage area drew to a close the party stage was still blasting with music. Before hitting the hay, I went to check out Long Distance Calling, a German post rock instrumental band (with the expect of one or two songs that actually have lyrics) mellowed out the evening. Quite a fitting end to one of the best and diverse Summer Breeze line-ups.
Next year’s Summer Breeze Open Air is looking even more exciting with the announcement of Wintersun, Hypocrisy, Children of Bodom, Heaven Shall Burn and Arch Enemy already confirmed. Trust me when I say book your tickets now! As much as Wacken brings in hordes of metalheads. Summer Breeze make your experience all the more enjoyable with bearable crowd numbers, great beer, great people and always diverse and interesting line-ups.
Book your tickets now and receive a 2012 Summer Breeze DVD which includes performances from Napalm Death, Katatonia, Epica, Deathstars and Be’lakor. I’m very much looking forward to attending Summer Breeze in 2014. Every year the festival gets bigger and better and I can’t wait to see what they have for us next year. Perhaps I’ll see you there!
For more information head to: www.summer-breeze.de
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