European Metal Festival Alliance 2020

European Metal Festival Alliance 2020
Virtual Festival – Live In Your Living Room
7th/8th/9th August 2020
Review by Beth Jones with annoying interjections from Rick Tilley

With the world still in the grips of a global pandemic and the flickering light of the chance of live music happening at all this year steadily dimming, the great and the good of European metal decided that sitting on their laurels and moping was not the way forward. Something needed to be done to feed the metal fans’ lust for a festival. And, as always, the best solutions to problems are found with a little thinking outside the box. In this case, ‘if we can’t bring the fans to the festival, then why not take the festival to them’. Ok it may not be what we truly want. Nothing beats drinking beer in a field with your best friends, amongst other like-minded souls who truly understand how we all fit in to this crazy world, and watching fellow like-minded souls thrashing things out on an awesome stage to bring us all pleasure. But, in the circumstances, it’s a pretty reasonable compromise, you just have to get into the right mindset. You can’t always have what you want, so run with what you can have.

With that in mind, 13 of the best independent Metal festivals from around Europe decided to get together to bring the Metal to us! They were Art Mania (Romania), Bloodstock (England), Brutal Assault (Czech Republic), Dynamo Metalfest (The Netherlands), Alcatraz (Belgium), Into The Grave (The Netherlands), Leyendas DEL Rock (Spain), Metal Days (Slovenia), Midgardsblot (Norway), Motocultor (France), Party.San (Germany), Resurrection (Spain), and Summer Breeze (Germany).

So, here at Ever Metal HQ, we found ourselves cracking open a can at 10:50 am, and logging on to the live stream, to stand in the virtual arena queue for the European Metal Festival Alliance 2020! To be honest, I much prefer this way of queuing! A sofa and a cold beer sure beats sitting on your bag drinking a warm beer! Now usually at this point in a live review, I’d spilt off and do it day by day, band by band, and have accompanying photos. But this year, even though the photo pit (just in front of my TV) was easier to get to, and a lot less crowded than normal, sadly no pictures were taken! So, I’m going to give you a run-down of my highlights for each day. There were some old favourites, some surprises, and also some gems of discovery!

FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS

I was still technically working on Friday, but another bonus of attending a virtual festival paired with working from home is that you can multi-task! There were three bands that stood out for me on this first day, Evil invaders, Alien Weaponry and Rotting Christ.

Evil Invaders

Having seen these guys before, I knew they were a great live band, and this performance was no exception. Here we were treated to a special set, filmed with a live audience at a private location in Flanders, Belgium. It was as blistering and crazy as you would expect from these guys, but it was also as tight as a tight thing! Their stagecraft is second to none. If you Like crazy speed thrash with added insanity eyes, these guys have got it covered! They were one of my favourite bands to photograph at Amplified festival back in 2018, because they’re so full of energy and fun, and Frontman Jöe pulls the best faces! If there’s one band that everyone should see live, it’s these guys. They’re invigorating, and are firmly planted in my ‘favourites’. Loved it!

www.facebook.com/evilinvaders/

Alien Weaponry

Ever since these guys popped onto the scene, they have excited me. Their fresh brand of metal, many in New Zealand’s native language ‘Te Reo Maori’ is spectacular. It both sickens me and fills me with joy that people so young are filled with this much creative flair. Their performance for this set was again filmed in front of a live audience, and started with an invigorating All Black’s style haka, that set the tone for the whole performance. It was alive and electrifying! These guys are firmly on my bucket list of ‘people to see live’!

www.facebook.com/AlienWeaponry

Rotting Christ

I’d never really paid much attention to these guys before. The name just made me think that it just wouldn’t be the sort of thing I would be in to. Well, damn! Was I wrong!!! This performance, recorded behind closed doors, was so full of passion and prowess, it was as if it had been created in front of a sell-out crowd. This is no mean feat, considering that the energy coming from the fans is a large part of the driving force behind live performances. Their brand of black metal is steeped in sounds from traditional eastern European music. Their use of droning and harmonic 5ths enhanced their black metal riffs and rhythms to create a very pleasing sound. I feel incredibly stupid for ignoring them for so long, they’ve been around since 1987! A very worthy closing act for Friday!

www.facebook.com/rottingchristofficial

Rick’s Friday Interjection

Parasite Inc.

Rick here: It would be wrong of me not to pipe up and let you know who my favourite band of the Friday were. Whilst the three bands that Beth has picked were all superb and definitely worthy of mention, German Melodic Death metallers Parasite Inc. knocked it right out of the park as far as I was concerned. Very heavy, but hugely catchy, their playing was exemplary, and they were as tight as a very tight thing. Their mix was also spot on with every instrument sounding huge without overshadowing. If you’ve not checked them out before then ensure you do. It is now my intention to make sure I see them properly live as soon as I can!

www.facebook.com/ParasiteInc/

SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS

After a very comfortable night’s sleep in our camp (aka our bedroom), it was time to get up and do it all again! We were pleasantly surprised to find the toilets still in a usable condition for our morning ablutions! Again, something we’re not accustomed to on the second day of a festival! I could get used to this! Another great day of metal was stacked up ready behind the login gates, so what would be today’s highlights for me?

White Walls

There is something very special about discovering a new band that blow your mind. And that’s made even more special when it’s a ‘first band of the day’ band. The spot traditionally occupied by the lesser known names, some may ignore, but for me, seeing these bands is always my quest! And Romanian Progressive Alt Metal band, White Walls, were my treasure. Vocalist Eugen Brudaru absolutely blew my mind with the versatility of his voice; from metalcore screams, to soaring falsetto, his range was astonishing. And it didn’t stop there. Their blistering riffs, progressive rhythms and technical prowess was masterful. I would go as far as saying, from a technique point of view, the whole thing was perfect. One thing I find is often, when a band gets weighed down with technical performances, they lose some of their soul. But not these guys, and that was a joy to not see! They are a band that I will be checking out further, and following with eagerness! They’re very close to releasing a new album too! I’m already salivating at the prospect! My band of the weekend by a country mile.

www.facebook.com/whitewallsofficial

Lepoka

Saturday afternoons at a festival are made for one thing, and one thing only – PARTYING! Whether it’s in a field with thousands of other drunkards, or in your own living room, it has to be done. And there is no better accompaniment to said party, than some jaunty Spanish monks delivering what they call ‘Folkoholic Metal’! They describe this as ‘festive folk metal that invites you to drink and dance and that also hides an important message of struggle and self-improvement.’ I was mainly in the drink and dance camp at the time, I have to say! Self-improvement was the last thing on my mind, because at that moment, I was just fine! They put on a great show, and looked like they had a great time doing it, which I love. The joy of music deserves to be as pleasurable for the performer as it is for the listener, so when it looks like a band are having a great time, then I’m much more likely to get on board with it! If you like any sort of Viking/folk/party/drinking metal, check these guys out.

www.facebook.com/lepokafolk

Avatar

Last time I saw Avatar was at Bloodstock, when they were bumped up to the main stage after another of the band’s plane was delayed. The arena went from ‘Ava…who?’ to ‘FUCKING AVATARRRRRRRRR’ in the space of one song! It was amazing. And from then on, it was obvious that these guys were destined for great things. The show here was a recording of previously unseen footage from their headline set at Alcatraz Festival 2019. My god how I wish I had been at that show! They are an incredibly talented bunch of musicians from Gothenburg, who’s tight as you like heavy metal melds perfectly with the theatrics of a slightly unhinged and freakish circus. I particularly liked the Trombone solo here! It added to the insanity! Sadly, but as is traditional with festivals, a technical hiccup cut the show slightly short, with the feed going down just before the end. But it didn’t detract from their splendid performance, and who are we to argue with tradition, eh?! The fact that the feed got an almighty lag about 10 minutes before it died also actually added to the craziness! The picture was a few seconds behind the sound which made for a bit of a mind-melt moment  – if you were drunk and worrying that you’d maybe over done it, it’s ok, all of us who had drunk ourselves sober by that point saw it too! Anyway, Avatar smashed it, and I can’t wait to see them live again ASAP!

www.facebook.com/avatarmetal

Rick’s Saturday Interjections

Venom Inc.

Me again! I cannot fault Beth’s choices, but I have to make additions. Firstly, Venom Inc. Surprisingly, I’ve never seen Venom Inc. live, in the flesh, although I have seen Venom on quite a few occasions, with various line-ups, over the years…the first time on ‘The Seventh Date Of Hell’ at Hammersmith Odeon in 1984, which was a definite eye opener for a 16yo Rick, but I digress. On this particular Saturday, whilst sitting in my lounge with a bottle of Hobgoblin, Venom Inc. were an excellent, short, sharp shock to the system, racing through their #EMFA set with barely a pause. Wonderful stuff!

Angelus Apatrida

The other band, who are definitely worthy of mention, are Spanish Thrash Metallers Angelus Apatrida, who I’ve been a fan of for a fair while. They played an amazing set of machine gun Thrash, so precise it would probably take your head off at 500 yards! Not only did they play superbly, but it was evident they were having a huge amount of fun doing it. They are another band who I much catch ‘properly live’ at the earliest opportunity.

www.facebook.com/angelusapatrida/

SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS

In the same why that Saturday is party day at a festival, Sunday is ‘nurse the hangover and rue the fact that you’re not as young as you used to be’ day. This calls for bands on earlier in the day to be solid, not too much of an assault on the ears or eyes, and something that will help get that first ‘hair of the dog’ pint down. Also, in traditional festival fashion, we missed the first band because we were still trying to haul our asses out of bed! Oops!

Skyeye

Slovenian Heavy Metallers, Skyeye, were the first band we tuned into, and they were a perfect way to start off our Sunday. If you like classic heavy metal in the vein of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, then these are the guys for you. Their music is littered with the classic riffs of heavy metal from back in the day, and vocalist Jan Leščanec has the perfect set of pipes to complete the sound. Their performance here was full of passion and performed flawlessly, even within the weird circumstances. They were certainly the perfect antidote to an overdone Saturday and made my body feel like it was rejecting itself slightly less. They also helped me get the first Strongbow Dark Fruits of the day down (I actually don’t particularly like that cider, but… traditional for a festival isn’t it!). They were just really easy to listen to. They know exactly what sound they want, and they do it well.

www.facebook.com/SkyEyeBand/

Svart Crown

Now given what I’ve already said about Sundays at festivals this might seem like an unusual pick. And to be honest, given my taste in music, Blackened Death isn’t really the direction I would usual go in. However, French Blackened Death maestros, Svart Crown, caught my attention. It was heavy as hell, not great for my brain, but it was technically absolutely spot on. And it had some really exploratory elements to it, which as some of you may know, I really like. This special performance was filmed in the old theatre of Ramatuelle, which made a wonderful backdrop with its temple like columns, complete with orange glow lighting and dry ice a plenty! Like I say, not usually my bag, but I was very impressed with this performance!

www.facebook.com/SVARTCROWN

Mass Hysteria

French industrial groove tech metalcore, with a hint of thrash! Or at least that’s my best description of them! Shit many bricks they’ve got a groove! And who knew the lilting poetry of the French language could be shouted with such venom and brutality! Their riff laden chunkiness is like chocolate for the ears, and you can properly move to it! These are another surprise find for me, but now on the list of ‘must see’. Rick also says that they have a sexy drumkit! And they can drop into a bit of thrash without a second thought, too – bonus points for that! Got to love a bit of versatility! A wicked livener for my now fully normalized (hahaha) and raring to go evening brain! ALLEZ!! Spectacle fantastique!!

www.facebook.com/masshysteriaofficiel/

Sabaton

This year has been a battle for everyone, fighting an invisible enemy. So, what better and more apt a way to close a festival than the ultimate battle metal band, Sabaton. This previously unseen footage was recorded at their headline slot at Bloodstock 2019. Sadly, we weren’t there to witness it live, but I now envy all that were. What a fantastic show!! Rick remembers seeing Sabaton at the Engine Shed  in Lincoln, back in December 2009, supporting Dragonforce, so the fact that they have grown to the point of headlining a festival, the size of Bloodstock, is tantamount to their hard work and dedication, and that shows through brilliantly in their performance here. It’s exciting, its powerful, and it doesn’t half pack a punch, and they carry it all off with the utmost professionalism and musicianship. Powerful vocals, superb harmonies, the thumping pulse of the rhythm section, and solid riffs, make Sabaton a band who most will find something they like in. This is a band who know exactly who they are and where they’re going. Everything you want in a headline band. Another job brilliantly done. What a perfect finish to a weekend that, under the circumstances, was pretty spot on!

www.facebook.com/sabaton

Rick’s Sunday Interjection

Kissin’ Dynamite

Yes, okay, I know I’m hijacking Beth’s review again, but I couldn’t not mention Kissin’ Dynamite, who I’ve been a fan of since their first album, and who always put on a blinding show. Their performance at #EMFA was no exception as they galloped through a cracking set of hugely catchy melodic hard rock, with choruses that get stuck in your head for days. Their musicianship was spot on and vocalist Hannes Braun proved, yet again, what a superb voice he’s got. I’ll shut up now and let Beth sum the weekend up!

www.facebook.com/Kissindynamiterocks/

All in all, for me certainly, European Metal Festival Alliance 2020 has been brilliant. A huge thank you must go to all those involved in creating this experience; Their hard work and dedication has, yet again, proven that it is possible to overcome the odds. Yes, it might be very different to what we’re used to, but just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s wrong. And, in the future, this sort of festival streaming could be the key to making festivals accessible for people who aren’t in a position, through whatever reason, to actually attend in the flesh. The choice of bands was great, as it gave people a chance to check out some that they might otherwise have ignored in an actual live festival setting. The onsite facilities were pretty top notch too – almost homely (lol).

But, joking aside and above all else, even though all the viewers might have been spread out in little clusters all over the place, the feeling of the mighty metal community spirit was still tangible. The good side of social media meant that we could all comment and converse throughout the event. We were together, even though we were apart. That, to me, is the most important thing about Metal. The community we’re all part of shares a common passion, and while we’re all individual within it, none of us need an explanation as to why others are there. In a world that’s ripping itself apart faster and faster as each day goes by, we have a common ground. Music. So, by whatever means possible, let’s enjoy what we have and let the music play on.

LINKS:
Art Mania (Romania)
Bloodstock (England)
Brutal Assault (Czech Republic)
Dynamo Metalfest (The Netherlands)
Alcatraz (Belgium)
Into The Grave (The Netherlands)
Leyendas DEL Rock (Spain)
Metal Days (Slovenia)
Midgardsblot (Norway)
Motocultor (France)
Party.San (Germany)
Resurrection (Spain)
Summer Breeze (Germany)
www.metalfestivalalliance.com/
www.emp.co.uk/

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

EMQ’s With Rick Tilley

EMQ’s With Rick Tilley

What is your name, what do you do, and can you tell us a little bit about how you ended up doing it?

Hi Everyone, I’m Rick, and I try to look professional owning and running Ever Metal, as well as having to deal with the motley team of people that write/review and take photos for us… believe me, this is no easy task! 😊

Now, the boring bit! I was born with two hereditary & degenerative conditions of my spine which have affected me since the age of 11. In 2002 I had to give up full-time work. Starting in school, and for many years afterwards, I also played drums in Rock & Metal bands, driving around in the back of battered cars and vans, with a variety of instruments, amps, other long-haired musicians and bassists called Colin, falling all over the place so we could play gigs to two people and a dog. If you’ve ever watched ‘The Comic Strip Presents…Bad News’ then you’ll get the idea. I eventually had to give this up as well as it got too painful to play.

Being unable to work or indulge in my passion for playing music (plus a hobby of purchasing far too many drums, cymbals and cowbells) was something of a major kick to the balls. Along with my worsening pain I drifted into depression and hid away. In 2012 I hit rock bottom and realised I had to make some serious changes. A friend suggested I try writing and reviewing as I had good knowledge of Rock/Metal. I am naturally shy and had lost all my self-confidence so it was a struggle, but I persevered and eventually started to really enjoy receiving a new monthly batch of albums to review. It gave the days purpose again, and it was good for my brain. I did this for the next 5 years, writing for various webzines and an internet radio station.

In 2017 I got the opportunity to come onboard at Ever Metal as joint owner, when it was a fledgling site, to work alongside 1 other person and to see if we could grow, and I’ve never looked back. Several people have come and gone but we are now a team of 16 and growing every month!

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

I was born in Hillingdon, Greater London. I lived and worked in London until 1999 when I moved to Lincolnshire. In 2015 I met Beth and moved to beautiful North Wales!

Being from London, and an 80’s kid, I was very lucky to live through the Metal/Rock golden era and was constantly at gigs from the age of 14. The scene then, and in Nottingham when I moved to Lincolnshire were both awesome.

North Wales is a much quieter proposition but Fozzy, Beany and Frank at North East Wales Metal Productions are working their backsides off to bring more gigs back into Wrexham and the surrounding areas. We are also fairly close to Liverpool and Manchester which both have very active scenes, in fact, Manchester, probably has the best underground Metal scene in the UK.

What is your favourite latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)

As Editor of a webzine, even a small one like Ever Metal, this is never going to be an easy question to answer, because I am constantly listening to new music, and so much is being released. But, I’m going to go with “The Poisoner” by White Crone. It’s a monster debut album, which delivers a blast of Dio-esque old-school Heavy Metal by a lady (Lisa Mann) who is much more used to releasing Blues albums.

Who have been your greatest influences, in music or in life?

My major influence growing up was my Dad, an incredibly kind man who, hopefully, taught me wrong from right, and to treat everyone equally, regardless of where they come from and what their views are. It didn’t stop me being an idiot sometimes, but it has helped tremendously as I’ve got older.

I was a loner as a child and, before I discovered Rock music, you could nearly always find me with my head buried in a book, way beyond what I should have been reading. I read Homer’s ‘The Iliad’ and ‘The Odyssey’ at a very young age, Carl Sagan, Arthur C. Clarke and Sir David Attenborough brought to me the wonders of Science and Natural History; Marvel comics, Isaac Asimov and Stephen Hawking all had a big impact on me. My two greatest non-musical influences though, were Star Trek and, my favourite author, Stephen King. I also have a warped sense of humour, thanks to The Goons, Monty Python and The Goodies!

Musical influences you can read below so I don’t repeat myself!

What first got you into music?

Simple answer to this is my Parents.

They weren’t musical but they loved music, so it was always available in the house when I was growing up. I often used to search through their collection of vinyl and listen. The Carpenters (I still think Karen Carpenter has one of the purest voices I’ve ever heard), The Shadows, Abba, Frank Sinatra, Neil Sedaka, Swing, Blues, Folk, Classical, Musical Theatre etc. My life was already enriched with music way before I discovered Metal and Rock and I will always be thankful to Mum and Dad for that.

1975 sticks in the memory because my Dad and I were listening to the radio when ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was first played. I was 7 and my Dad turned to me and said, “This band are going to be huge”. He was a massive fan of Queen and they were the first ‘Rock’ band I listened to.

Which current bands or musicians would you like to see collaborate on a record?

I often think that the best collaborations are the ones you least expect, although if Devin Townsend’s name is mentioned, the results will be gold!

If you could go to any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

As far as outdoor Festivals in the UK go then my favourite is Bloodstock for the music and atmosphere, but I would love to get to one of the big European Festivals such as Wacken, Hellfest or Graspop.

However, at Ever Metal we are all about the underground, so these days, I do prefer to roll up to cover as many of the many smaller festivals and multi-day events that happen around the UK as I can such as Badgerfest, Rabidfest, Pentre Fest, Stone Dead, SOS, Beermageddon etc. etc. etc.

What’s the weirdest music related thing you own?

Probably CD’s & Demos with me playing the drums. What’s weirder were the few occasions when I was asked to sign them (many years ago).

If you had one message for your Ever Metal readers, what would it be?

It sounds like a huge cheesy cliché but thank you. You don’t know what it means to me to see how we have grown over the last 3 ½ years. It’s onwards and upwards from here!

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

We have lost so many, before their time over the years, but the one that sticks out for me is Freddie Mercury. We will never see his like again!

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

There are two. (Sorry, I’m breaking my own rules).

Firstly, I would like streaming services to actually pay bands a proper cut. Getting 15,000 streams of your latest single is incredible, unfortunately the £3.67 you may get for doing that takes the piss. Creating music to a high standard isn’t easy or cheap and I don’t know why current attitudes expect bands and artists to basically give their work away for free. ‘Exposure’ doesn’t pay bills. Many of these services are raking it in so the very least they should do is pay a fairer percentage!

Secondly, I’d very much like the practice of charging bands for a review or feature/interview in certain magazines/webzines to stop. The bands create the music, play the gigs and give you your content. It’s hard enough as it is, without then being told if they want a review, they have to pay for it, in fact it stinks! I will never charge a band, however big we may or may not get. Bands, if you get asked to pay then refuse and come to one of the sites that will provide you with honest coverage for free.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

There are so many I could mention, and I wouldn’t even be scratching the surface, however, I’m going to go with one that had a massive impact on me as a kid. This band became, still are, and will always be my favourite band

Saxon – “Strong Arm Of The Law”

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s, or Downloads?

For writing/website purposes Downloads and Streaming are what I deal with most these days, but my favourite format will always be vinyl. I’m very glad that I held on to my vinyl collection!

What’s the best gig that you have been to, and why?

‘There Can Be Only One’!…Queen, Wembley Stadium 12th July 1986.

One year after Queen destroyed the stage at Live Aid, they were back at a sold-out Wembley Stadium in front of 72,000 fans and this was the second night. Status Quo, The Alarm and INXS supported and, for pretty obvious reasons, this is the best gig I’ve ever been at. I was right down the front (I’m even on the ‘Live At Wembley’ DVD) and for two hours I watched four musical geniuses at work. It was an absolutely stunning day and it feels like it only happened last week, not 34 years ago.

What do you get up to when you’re not writing

I don’t often get a chance to actually write album reviews these days, most of the time I spend on Ever Metal is taken up with Social Media, news, e-mails, editing, looking after the reviewers and the album list, talking to bands, management, PR reps and labels and sharing all the reviews and interviews. When we aren’t in the middle of a pandemic I also cover as many local gigs/festivals as I can (when my health lets me) and I am ably assisted in most of this by Beth. Running a site like this actually takes a heck of a lot of work, and certain people will tell you I’m a little bit OCD about doing it to the best of my ability. I would rather spend an extra 5-10 minutes doing something right than rushing and making an error or having it look a mess. It is very important to me to not only represent the bands properly but also our brand!

Outside of Ever Metal and when my back doesn’t restrict me to bed, I love watching horror and science-fiction films as well as terrible B-Movies. My stomach will agree that I like food far too much, and I also love getting out into the Welsh Countryside, although these days I cannot get too far!

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

As stated above, I am rather partial to a good meal and Beth is an awesome cook, but it wouldn’t be fair for her to do the cooking so my five would be Beth, Freddie Mercury, Neil Peart, Stephen Fry and Stephen King.

Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?

There is a reason why this question has always been on the EMQ’s. Beth thinks it is a biscuit, when everyone should know that it is a cake! Many people know about the court case, but even without, that it’s clearly a cake. We will never agree on it and, because of that, we thought we would have a laugh with the bands we interview, and it has thrown up some quality answers!

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Some of us have filled in this adapted interview just for fun. Lockdown has made us all go a bit loopy here, well more loopy than usual!

I want to thank each and every one of you for continuing to follow us pretending we know what we are doing; and all the bands, because without their music we would have nothing to share with you; and finally, all the members of the Ever Metal team who, for some reason, call me boss…there has never been a more inaccurate title!!!!

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.