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ennlfrdeitrues
Lichtenfels, Germany
28th - 29th March 2008
Ragnarök Festival Day 2: ELEXORIEN, TRIMONIUM, TROLLFEST, WOLFCHANT, XIV DARK CENTURIES, BATTLELORE, HELRUNAR, ARKONA, MENHIR, HAGGARD

The night was relatively short but I was ready for this day after a nice and warm shower and a real good breakfast in our hostel. Still some time remained for the first interesting band ELEXORIEN so I was able to have a brief overview of the festival area and the city. The majority of cars on the roadside seemed relatively unharmed for this night however the pavement in the city mediated another sight I could spot everything from broken beer bottles to camping equipment and torn out street poles and even the garbage vastly piled on the street. This view was not really a nice thank for the residents.


ELEXORIEN

ELEXORIEN (the Netherlands) was founded in 2004 by Lainedil, Grimbert, Liza and Joris. They play a mixture of Power and Viking metal, in which the folk, black and even death metal influences play a great part as well. Great songs of battle and epic hymns tell of fantastic stories and wars in ancient times. "Epic Battle metal" would be the best way to describe our music.

Music & Performance
Strengthened by my real good breakfast I slightly delayed the show of ELEXORIEN. Their demo album was the last year’s interesting discovery but the new album was quiet disappointing for me and this impression strengthened with their show although this Dutch band is real sympathetic and they almost improved my opinion with their last song ‘Dryads & Trolls’.

Rating
Music: 7
Performance: 8
Sound: 7
Light: 7
Total: 7.3


TRIMONIUM

TRIMONIUM was formed in 1998 by Teutonnic and Dolch (both on vocals and guitar). After trying out in vain with a drum computer, they came across their current drummer Helltrasher, who gladly joined. Before the first steps of recording were taken, the band was completed with the addition of bass player Ammon. They then recorded their demo ‘Fight for The Clan’ in 2000, after which Folter Records signed the band. A year after the demo the band unleashed their debut album ‘Of Warriors and Heroism’, and in 2003 ‘Blow the Horns’ followed. Bassist Mosha filled Ammon's place on 2007's ‘Son of a Blizzard’.



Music & Performance
TRIMONIUM and their dark servants followed the folk and melodic sounds of ELEXORIEN. Despite their real heavy metal influences, TRIMONIUM failed to arouse a great enthusiasm inside, like SWORN the day before. But the poor sound in this location certainly supported this feeling.

Rating
Music: 7
Performance: 8
Sound: 5
Light: 7
Total: 6.8






TROLLFEST

TROLLFEST (sometimes written TrollfesT) are a Norwegian folk metal band. The band released their first full-length album ‘WILLKOMMEN Folk Tell Drekka Fest’ on the SOLISTITIUM RECORDS label on March 15 2005. The album name translates roughly to ‘Welcome Folk to the Drinking Feast’ in English. Their second album ‘Brakebein’ (2006) was released by Omniva on May 24, 2006. The band performed at the 2007 Barther Metal Open-air festival in Germany, which was their first ever live appearance. Most of TROLLFEST's lyrics are written in the fictional Trollspråk, which is a mixture of Norwegian and German.



Music & Performance
Fortunately the sound for the following TROLLFEST was not so important. Troll music or like I thought during the concert Folk Grind was played to the end in rapid fashion with highly pitched screaming and deep growls. It was a blessing that the band took themselves not as serious as the massive enjoyment of beer. Especially ‘Trollmannen’ with his amusing shirt "Fat people are hard to kidnap" enjoyed swallowing more than one. The band simply transported their powerful songs like their never ending energy to their fans.

Rating
Music: 8
Performance: 8
Sound: 8
Light: 8
Total: 8






WOLFCHANT

WOLFCHANT were founded in the year 2003 in the Bavarian St. Oswald. They play Pagan metal band with influences from the Black Metal. The fact that the band is closer to the former than style groups in the same genre, especially on the almost total absence of traditional instruments and the aggressive guttural vocals of the singer. Lyrical themes of the band are Nordic mythology with its legends and stories.

Music & Performance
Saturday was coming slowly but surely to its interesting phase. WOLFCHANT were on the stage a real fine musical performance and you could be sure for a big success. Singer "Lokhi" turned on the stage back and forth and jangled grimly into the microphone, the ringing guitars hammered quickly down the melody. Only the parts with the choir sounded something wrong but you could barely perceive this cause of the roaring and screaming from the audience.

Rating
Music: 9
Performance: 8
Sound: 8
Light: 8
Total: 8.2


XIV DARK CENTURIES

XIV DARK CENTURIES were founded in the year1998 after they reshuffled from another band. 1998/99, 6 newly created title were banned on their demo tape ‘for your god’ as the first signs of life and so emerged the current formation. They first completed their own production of the demo CD ‘Dark Ages’ in June 2002. On the CD were some older unreleased titles, as well as a cover and a new song.



Music & Performance
There was no doubt that XIV DARK CENTURIES could maintain the good mood. The audience probably was not appearing in big crowds just because of satisfying their needs such as tobacco or alcohol. This band should probably be the most credible set pagan group of the entire festival and it devotes to the faith in nature and the avoidance of waste. These proper dressed guys on the stage presented their top songs like ‘Skithingi’ or ‘Bragaful’ and ensured similarly excited states in front of the stage as their colleagues of WOLFCHANT. Unlike the previous day with the schedule problems they had enough time for an encore.

Rating
Music: 8
Performance: 8
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 7.8






BATTLELORE

J. Vahvanen and M. Kokkola founded BATTLELORE in 1999. Their first promo CD ‘Warrior’s Tale’ was released that same year. ‘Warrior’s Tale’ was praised and liked, but the band caught the attention of Napalm Records only after the release of their second demo ‘Dark Fantasy’ in 2000. The album ‘Sword’s Song’ was released in spring 2003 and took BATTLELORE to a totally new level in their music. ‘Sword’s Song’ was also recorded at Music-Bros Studios under the guidance of Miitri Aaltonen. The response was huge and thus, BATTLELORE did their first tour around Europe. BATTLELORE’s third album ‘Third Age of the Sun’ was recorded at Sound Suite Studios in spring 2005 resulting in an innovative and fresh finished product. The next album, ‘Evernight’, was recorded in the autumn of 2006. Once again, BATTLELORE chose to work with Miitri Aaltonen at Music-Bros Studios, supported by a state-of-the-art studio and Miitri’s irrefutable experience. The results can be heard in the even more bombastic, more epic and heavier soundscapes.



Music & Performance
The singer of BATTLELORE seemed to get his inspiration from the axe-show of SVARTSOT on Friday so he dragged his own sword as little ornament on the battlefield stage. It was not as manageable as it seems during the singing so it quickly disappears on the stage floor. I am somewhat surprised how many fans the more melodic mainstream-oriented BATTLELORE could keep in front of the stage; I would have expected significantly less people watching the show of BATTLELORE, just the good parts of ‘The Third Age Of The Sun’ album are really good.

Rating
Music: 7
Performance: 7
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 7.2






HELRUNAR

HELRUNAR is a German black metal band which was founded in the spring of 2001 in Muenster / Osnabrueck. After the foundation in 2001, HELRUNAR made their way for the first time to the studio for recording their first demo ‘Gratr’ in the year 2003 which was published in December of that same year. They signed their first record contract with Prophecy Productions in the summer of 2004. In August 2007, the band played at the Summer Breeze, in October 2007 their latest album ‘Baldr ok Íss’ appeared.



Music & Performance
But again there is nothing funny anymore with the appearance of HELRUNAR. They were one of the headliners on this festival. The audience gathered together slowly but surely and like TURIASIS before it was almost overcrowded. Skald Draugir heated up the front rows with his active facial expressions and gestures to their fantastic play. They convinced me with their Black Metal songs as ‘Older than the cross’ and ‘Til Jardar’.

Rating
Music: 8
Performance: 8
Sound: 8
Light: 8
Total: 8






ARKONA

Arkona is a Russian Folk-Pagan Metal band. Their lyrics are heavily influenced by Russian folklore, and Slavic mythology, and their music incorporates several traditional Russian musical instruments. The name of the band ARKONA was the last pagan Slavic city-castle. The band was founded in 2002 and as of January 2007, they have published three albums, one demo one compilation and one concert DVD.

Music & Performance
I waited with excitement for the next band ARKONA and we could only thank the festival that they have managed to bring those Russians onto stage. Could you compare recent promotional photos of singer Masha with a beautiful hippie at the year 1968 but we would better think with the incited storm and the Russian flair on the stage. There was dancing and jumping to Russian folk pieces and the rhythmic songs until the shaman next door showed up. Finally the sound was phonetically differentiated enough to even hear the hand drum of Masha. Even the audience knew no stopping and jumped enthusiastically with the band until the end of their performance.

Rating
Music: 8
Performance: 9
Sound: 9
Light: 8
Total: 8.5


MENHIR

MENHIR is a Pagan metal band from Thuringia. The German texts mostly treat the pre-Christian history of Thuringia. There are also the activities of the major part of the band at the re-enactment group Ulfhednar. The band was founded in early 1995 by the singer and guitarist Heiko Gerull, drummer and keyboard fix Manuela Erin Ebert. The following year a demo with four songs appeared called ‘Barditus’. Together with the bassist Heinz they released the debut album ‘Die Ewigen Steine’ a year later with ARS METALLI. The last four publications resulted in a new edition with PERVERTED TASTE. They began 2004 recording the next album ‘Hildebrandslied’ which finally appeared in 2007.



Music & Performance
It seems that the guys from MENHIR had stolen the shields from XIV DARK CENTURIES. But that did not matter, even worse were the technical problems which the band had to struggle with. The first song was cancelled repeatedly in the middle and the intro started new. Afterwards they hammered their songs like ‘Wotans Runenlied’ from the album ‘Ziuwari’ in the front rows of their fans. In my opinion MENHIR is not the absolute good live band but still quite nice to listen to from the edge of the crowd.

Rating
Music: 7
Performance: 7
Sound: 7
Light: 7
Total: 7






HAGGARD

HAGGARD is a German Symphonic metal musical group founded in 1991. The group combines classical, renaissance and medieval music with melodic death metal. Haggard was founded in 1991 and originally played death metal. They changed their musical style after their first demo tape, ‘Introduction’ in 1992, becoming a band with symphonic melodies and classical instruments but folk themes.



The album ‘And Thou Shalt Trust….the Seer’ marked their breakthrough in 1997. After their second album ‘Awaking the Centuries’, they toured through Mexico twice. In 2004, they released their third album ‘Eppur Si Muove’ which is about the life of Italian scholar, Galileo Galilei, sentenced to house arrest for heresy by the Church for supporting Copernicus' claim that the Earth revolved around the sun. Just before their album ‘Awaking the Centuries’ was released, the group had its highest number of musicians at 21. All their songs are written by vocalist and guitarist, Asis Nasseri. Currently, HAGGARD are working on their fourth album, ‘Tales of Ithiria’ which will be based on a fantasy story. Originally planned to be released on June 29, 2007, it has been postponed until 2008.



Music & Performance
It was understandable that the technology almost failed with so many people in the band and so little space on the stage. This longer waiting time was absolutely worth it because the technicians fulfilled an absolute miracle and distributed a nearly perfect sound experience. The instruments were as clear as wonderful soprano of the front woman. The crowd went almost into a euphoric state even on quiet material like ‘Mr. Mannelig’ the big band enjoyed their performance and entertained a lot with their funny announcements. Sure, the hits like ‘Awaking the Centuries’ and ‘Eppur Si Muove’ were not lacking this performance. This appearance was certainly one of my personal highlights this festival.

Rating
Music: 9
Performance: 9
Sound: 8
Light: 8
Total: 8.6



After that I left in the direction of my car my. My feet and arms were sill burning and even my neck would take some days to heal. The following bands VREID, NEGURA BUNGET and FIMBULTHIER could hold me no longer in the festival hall; my thirst and the wish for little rest were stronger.


Conclusion

Musically the Ragnarök Festival was very unique and excellent this year. The bands from all directions of the various music genres contributed very much to the mood of this festival. Although its basically the premise Metal Pagan and could convince with bands like MENHIR, WOLFCHANT or XIV DARK CENTURIESDARK CENTURIES XIV which could be otherwise seen only at some club tours but there was still enough room for exotic bands like HAGGARD or Death Metal highlights as UNLEASHED. The sound was not as good as expected. Ok you cannot expect CD quality on a festival but the serious differences between the bands were still unclear for me. But this is also the only real criticism which I had up this year.

Well, sounds like up here actually almost faultless. But there were especially deficiencies in the organization. On my opinion it was simply insufficient to increase the sold tickets without sufficient parking opportunities available. The camping option is beautiful and good but the parking along the small street couldn’t be a real solution. The problem is clear without enough security there would be more vandalism and thus even greater problems for an upcoming Ragnarök VI. The increasing number of crazy and wild metal heads remained not hidden for the residents. There's also the problem with the appearance of the band AGGALLOCH and the small debacle for the respective fans which also could have been avoided. Some positive aspects are the very moderate prizes for food and drinks, the sleeping hall and the camping opportunity. There is also a conflicting picture of a still satisfactory festival. It remains questionable whether the Ragnarök will take place next year in the city hall in Lichtenfels. Another idea would be to wait one or two months to allow for an even bigger open-air event.

All pictures by Ruth Gräbeldinger (http://www.alpha-photography.net/)
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