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Articles : Metal Obsession @ Summer Breeze Open Air 2016

By on October 3, 2016

Words: Gary Carson


Almanac Photo credit:

This was my first time at one of the final big festivals for the European summer, Germany’s Summer Breeze Festival, in its 19th iteration, located in the corn fields of Northern Bavaria in Southern Germany near the town on Dinkelsbuhl.

This is a beautiful area of Germany – rolling hills and green fields – one of the more pleasant festival experiences in Germany (Metal Days in Slovenia is the most peaceful/relaxed experiences on the Euro metal calendar). Unlike Wacken – which I love – Summer Breeze lends itself to a little bit more tranquillity. It puts 40-odd thousand people into the surroundings but in general it’s not a claustrophobic experience and after the mayhem of Wacken, this is exactly what I needed.

And this place is so friendly too!

There’s far less walking to do and the four stages are accessible and extremely well placed. The main stage is called, umm, the Main Stage and is backed up by the Pain Stage. The Pain Stage is smaller without the pyros but they play tag-team with each other and there’s only 5 minutes down-time between each of the main stages. Bands that featured on the Main Stage were Sabaton (premiering new songs from The Last Stand), Steel Panther (watching a man in drag prevented from going up on stage whilst the most women I’ve ever seen be allowed was either a highlight or a lowlight), Exodus, At The Gates, Arch Enemy, Parkway Drive, Korpiklaani (joined the grounded rowboat!), Queensryche (up front, singing every song), Slayer, Carcass, and Airbourne (seriously, Germans and their love of Airbourne!). Bands featured on the Pain Stage were smaller but no less experienced – DAD, Soilwork (amazing moshpit, thoroughly enjoyed their set), Katatonia (in the rain, the perfect accompaniment), Omnium Gatherum, Grailknights, Mastodon, Blues Pills, and Fear Factory. The band with the biggest crowd on the Pain Stage was German industrial-goth band Eisbrecher who would have torn the house down if they were playing in one. It may have been all in German but they know how to politicise and put on a brilliant light show (seconded only to Sabaton who had their tank and pyros ready to fire).


Abbath Photo credit:

The single under cover was the T-Stage which is situated in a large circus tent (without the circus – unless you count a sea of black as a circus). There was a mixture of bands playing here from Moonsorrow, Almanac (former Rage guitarist Viktor Smolski’s new band and also featuring David Readman from Pink Cream 69 and Andy Franck from Brainstorm), Grand Magus (Swedish true metallers), Arkona (crazy Russian folk metal – wow!), Coheed & Cambria, Napalm Death, My Dying Bride, Primordial, and Vader. There was also a very tiny stage between the tent and the main stage area called the Camel Stage (yes, unfortunately cigarette advertising is still alive and strong in Germany). I spent a bit of time here checking out the 30 minute sets of a range of bands. They’re basically bands you’ve never heard of unless you’re aware of everything. Bands like Winterstorm (German folk/power), Dyscordia (Belgian progressive metal), Hell City, Stallion (80s old school metal with a singer who looked like Sideshow Bob crossed with Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure), Gyze, Accuser, and Evil Invaders. Whilst Wacken had me zipping from one stage to another, at Summer Breeze it’s a pleasant walk.


Sabaton Photo credit:

With the relaxed atmosphere I spent a lot more time shopping than what I did at Wacken. This was partly enforced because the Summer Breeze line-up is a lot broader than most festivals (this is always a blessing and a curse). They push EVERY style from hard rock, power metal, progressive metal, folk metal/rock through to hardcore/metalcore, thrash metal, grindcore, and death metal. About the only genre that was under-represented was black metal (Satyricon being an exception – I’m sure there were more). So due to the diversity there were actually less MUST-SEE bands on my list but plenty of bands I wanted to check anyway. The merch stands were well organised except when trying to get a Summer Breeze t-shirt when you want to see bands – and, seriously, I thought Wacken had a range of shirts, I think Summer Breeze has more. T-shirt or bands? Band will always win out. But generally band merch was easy to get hold of and there were some fantastic stores and merch tents selling well priced CDs too. So I probably bought 40-50 odd CDs at Summer Breeze – which was a good haul.

For those who camp, and I don’t (it’s a hot water/shampoo hair thing – yes, I know!), it’s extremely well organised and easy to get around. Once again, friendly, friendly people everywhere. There was one stage watching Steel Panther where so many people were going crowd surfing that a bunch of locals decided to send them all back. Who says Germans don’t have a sense of humour?


Parkway Drive Photo credit:

Summer Breeze is the perfect mid-sized summer festival that managed to live up to its name (barring the rain on the final night – but I was watching Katatonia at the time; perhaps it was an omen). Whilst I heard some grumbles from punters about the quality of this year’s line-up, I’d be more inclined to proffer that Summer Breeze is for those of you with very broad tastes in metal and who love the social side of metal.

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Since 1999, Gary Carson has co-hosted Australia's longest running prog/power metal radio show on Screaming Symphony. Gary has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology/Sociology and enjoys horrifically violent games, horrifically violent books, and horrifically violent movies. And gay power metal. Check out Screaming Symphony every Thursday night from 10pm (Melbourne time) on PBS.FM