The young festival – as this is just the second edition – is held in the most inviting venue of the whole Austrian capital, particularly pleasant for open spaces, the remarkable choice of spots where one can order a beer and the series of stands to have a snack. Two stages and sixteen scheduled bands, this is what lies ahead.
After smaller bands like Darkfall, Theotoxin, and Distillator, on the main stage appeared Gutalax, but really in a subdued mode, if we consider their usual outbursts on bigger stages, like during last year’s MetalDays. Yet the Austrian public is in a rapture for them and does not lose heart in demanding a performance at least similar. Few rolls of toilet paper fly from the scene, but in general there is very little action from the group.
But then we can walk down memory lane thanks to Desaster, which raises everyone’s spirits: great stage presence and energy to spare. The only remaining founding member, Infernal, is at his very best, scraping and scratching the strings of his guitar with amused aggressiveness. A few meters from me the first moshpit is formed, small but very impetuous. However, for it there are no borders and the impact also overwhelms other spectators.
Ragnarok follows on the other stage, named “District 19”, and attract a lot: the room fills up quickly and people keep pushing from the entrance. Overcoming the mass to take some pictures is a difficult task and once I reach the first row the non-existing brightness does not help. Deep darkness and guttural sounds, as the rule of good old Black Metal from the ’90s wants. After a while, however, the show seems repetitive, so I go out and relax with a fresh beer on the lawn in front of the external structures of the Arena – now unused as the classic spring shower was expected. After the heat of the crowded hall, this moment is a necessary pleasure.
I finish my drink in time to be present at the first virtuosities of Obscura, precision peaks especially with “Akròasis”. The German band talks really often to the public: Stefan Kummerer presents his repertoire calmly, resting his arms on the guitar. They do not need special effects to astonish: it’s all included in the technique, refinement, and extension of the sound. It seems like attending a concert at the Wiener Staatsoper: we pay attention and listen tidily and carefully. No sudden movements, rounds of applause at the end of each piece.
Second beer and short break. The food options are so many that there is no line anywhere: five bars and two trucks share the job. The atmosphere is definitely more relaxed than at any other festival.
However, Nifelheim are my next goal. They win the title of champions of the evening from the very beginning. The age here is only a sign of quality: “Storm of the Reaper” and above all “Sodomizer” get the blood going, given the certainly ‘old but gold’ sound. Every skin’s centimeter of band members is covered in sweat drips. Some friends warn me not to get too close to Per “Hellbutcher” and to his brother Erik “Tyrant“, who notoriously spit at every change of sound. And yes, I can only confirm … The top is reached with “The Bestial Avenger“, with its immediately recognizable slight symphonic feature.
The energy of the Gustafsson brothers is definitely compensated by the arrival of Tiamat. When the litany starts, I can only be grateful that Johan Edlund, now more and more dedicated exclusively to singing, is not totally smashed as at the Brutal Assault 2017. Boredom assails me, when Thomas Wyreson intervenes, who grasps firmly the microphone and saves the show. The songs come from old albums, from “Clouds” (1992) to “Wildhoney” (1994).
Slumber must have also attacked Abbath, who in the first stages of his repertoire gives only the bare minimum. Finally, thanks to a crazy “One by One“, we all wake up. About time, also because the numerous hours of continuous concerts weigh on everyone’s shoulders. Our Abbath needed only a little encouragement: at the first warm response from the audience, he reacts with the usual verve. “All Shall Fall” closes the evening of many of us, which then move away in the direction of the first subway station.
Because of tiredness – the concerts are in fact started at 14.30 and will continue until 1AM -, not many remain to watch the performance of Marduk. The Arena empties and I leave it after one last look at Gama Bomb, which are always worth it! Outside the smaller stage hall, we also find Infernal very much taken by the music, tattered vest and beer in hand. He is not tired “like us young people” at all!