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ennlfrdeitrues
Brande-Hörnerkirchen, Germany
9th - 10th July 2010
Hörnerfest Open Air 2010: Equilibrium, Feuerschwanz, Cromdale, The Pokes, Bran Barr, Adivarius, Schattenweber, Myrkvar, Cultus Ferox, Feuerteufel Fire Show, Rapalje, The Shanes, Coppelius, Arkona, Ingrimm, Rabenwolf, Ragnaröek, Fiddelaldermolk

I love this festival. After my first visit last year, I was really feeling as though I was amongst old friends and it has a great family but fun atmosphere that seems to bring out the best in everyone there. Thomas, the organizer, must be on first name terms with the local weather gods, because like last year the weather was fantastic reaching nearly 40 degrees. So with a festival as hot as Africa and a killer line up, we pitched our tents and headed off to see what we could see.


Friday

Fiddelaldermolk (12:00 - 12:45)

A local (Hamburg) punk medieval band who gave a frantic and good account of themselves, regaling us with the likes of a speeded up version of 'Come ye oer frae France' to very good effect! I'm not a mad keen fan of speed folk, but these guys pulled it off well with great playing and musical dexterity, as well as good harmonies and they were a welcome starter to what proved to be a very good line up indeed. http://www.fiddelaldermolk.de/ / http://www.myspace.com/fiddelaltermolk

Rating
Music: 7
Performance: 7
Sound: 7
Light: 7
Total: 7 / 10




Ragnaröek (13:05 - 14:05)

Hailing from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, these guys rank amongst my favourite acts of the festival. They're dynamic, unique and hard as hell raging through a killer set of songs, the audience being dragged along for the ride by their throats. They are accompanied by their trademark blacksmith who forges a sword on stage on a fiery anvil, his hammer beating time to the music with the crowd chanting his name, which at times almost formed a canticle to the music. Fantastic! The lead singer is one in a million in terms of getting the audience on board and enjoyed himself palpably throughout. What more could you ask for than that? Not much really, for they gave a near perfect performance, being musically talented, personally charismatic and visually smack on. http://www.myspace.com/ragnaroeek / http://www.ragnaroeek.de/

Rating
Music: 9
Performance: 9
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 8.6 / 10




Rabenwolf (14:25 - 15:10)

This group really appealed to me being a dead cross between medieval and metal, and executing both aspects of that perfectly. They have a very, VERY big sound and are harsh and uncompromising without ever being tuneless. Their pure musical ability should never be doubted as they delivered track after diverse track with cutting precision, whilst at the same time having a ball on stage and working the audience to a well-earned frenzy. There are eight of these guys, well six guys and two girls, in the studio in readiness for their debut album, and judging by the excellent live performance I can't wait. http://www.myspace.com/rabenwolfhorde / http://www.rabenwolf.eu/

Rating
Music: 9
Performance: 8
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 8.3 / 10




Ingrimm (15:30 - 16:30)

A fabulously hard and heavy band with Fenris, a lead singer that looks as if he should be at the helm of a Viking long ship, INGRIMM gave it their all during their hour long set that left no-one disappointed and many pleasantly surprised who had never seen them before. With a mix of deep metal and hurdy-gurdy refrains running through an incisive set with heartfelt drumming from Klaus and killer guitars and bass from Alex and Mugl, these guys are slick and accomplished, giving the audience exactly what they came for. They’re touring all over Germany this summer, so if they're at a town near you don't miss the chance to check them out, it's well worth the effort. http://www.ingrimm.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/rockgrimm

Rating
Music: 9
Performance: 9
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 8.6 / 10




Arkona (16:50 - 17:50)

Hailing from Russia, ARKONA tick more boxes than probably exist, being a fantastic blend of folklore, passion, myth and madness. Their lead singer Masha has all the ethereal beauty of a Faye, but with vocals that can scream and roar as well as give a gentle and much longed for caress to a song. They have produced many awesome albums, most recently 'Goi, rode, Goi', a blessing of an album mainly based on their native Russian folklore and belief systems and on CD they are a very complex sound. This was the first time I have seen them live and I'm more than delighted to say that same complexity managed to be translated perfectly to the live arena.



Masha is a hell of a visual spectacle, swathed in black leather and furs (despite the horrendous heat) as she head banged and charged around the stage vocally giving it her all. All other band members were equally on the ball and there were a good few audience members who had attended the festival just to see them. Their albums are brilliant, their live show is brilliant and I'd really love to see them getting a higher billing the next time they come to Hörnerfest. http://www.arkona-russia.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/arkonarussia

Rating
Music: 9
Performance: 9
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 8.2 / 10




Coppelius (18:10 - 19:20)

I was assuming that FEURSCHWANZ would be the only totally off the wall act of this festival, having never seen these guys in operation previously. The main problem is how to describe what they do for playing double bass, clarinet and an array of other unlikely chamber instruments at a medieval metal fest in what sounds like a mixture of jazz, metal and rap is really not what I thought I would be listening to. They are both musically and visually a real treasure, dressed in Victorian-esque dinner suits with a butler who serves drinks on stage and to the audience, all wearing Neo-Goth make-up.



The audience absolutely went wild for them, and I cannot recommend them enough for they surely deserved a far higher billing as band members jumped onto the iron rail separating the audience and then down INTO the audience to mosh with them, whilst playing the clarinet in a way that I'm happy to say I didn't know it could be played. Total quality in every way but the killer song for me was 'Time Zeit' - masterpiece! http://www.coppelius-band.de/ / http://www.myspace.com/coppeliushilft

Rating
Music: 10
Performance: 10
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 9.3 / 10




The Shanes (19:40  - 21:00)

Very fast Irish music arrived in the form of THE SHANES, an energetic power fiddle group who did not disappoint those in love with the genre. Founded in Trier some 20 years ago, they play a blistering mix of punk fiddle, ska and hard rock. Listing their influences as “drunkenness, drugs and polka” it's no surprise that these guys were as much fun as they were. They did a full length concert set with boundless energy and contagious enthusiasm, and could fit in at literally any festival on the planet such is their diversity. http://www.hardpolka.de/ / http://www.myspace.com/theshanes

Rating
Music: 10
Performance: 10
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 9.3 / 10




Rapalje (21:30 - 23:00)

All the way from sunny Holland came RAPALJE, kilted and fit for battle as they wove their way through a great set. Tempered and authentic in feel, their brand of folk music appeals to absolutely everyone, as they have gathered the very best songs from every European country and incorporated them into their repertoire. They aren't frantic - they're solid, they aren't fast -they're paced, they aren't gimmicky- they're the real deal. I thoroughly enjoyed everything they played, and the tracks form their recent album came thick and fast to the delight of the crowd. http://www.rapalje.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/rapalje

Rating
Music: 10
Performance: 10
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 9.3 / 10




Feuerteufel Fire Show (23:00 - 23:30)

Fire shows seem to be getting far more intricate and elaborate. Gone are the days when someone breathed a little fire and that was it for this is a very complex, very dangerous, very tightly produced piece of theatre art, which happens to centre on fire and I'm very pleased to say that it has a story to it and unravels like a hell bound ballet. It's gorgeous and engaging to watch culminating in one of the girls skipping between two fiery ropes and a fully suited (and the suit was on fire) battle. Awesome stuff!

Rating
Performance: 10




Cultus Ferox (23:30 - 01:00)

Oh joy CULTUS FEROX! I can scarcely say anything about this band that hasn't already been said, and it's fair to say that they are one of my favourite medieval based groups. Nothing was amiss in their performance and they could barely stop smiling. They enjoyed themselves so much, which transmitted to the audience who lapped up every second of what was an outstanding performance. They're a good natured band on stage, playing with the audience and generally clear in their fun the diversity of their music - one of the most delightful things about them. The audience were howling their appreciation by the time one o' clock struck and they left the stage with people still calling them back for more. They worked hard, gave a great concert and deserved all the adulation they got. http://www.cultusferox.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/cultusferox

Rating
Music: 10
Performance: 10
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 9.3 / 10






Saturday

Myrkvar
(12:00 - 13:00)

From the Netherlands, I was surprised to see MYRKVAR starting the billing on the second day, as they're a very well thought of and established group, having been going since 2003. In the past I've always liked what they did immensely, having seen them when they supported KORPIKLAANI. With a plethora of influences, they combine Viking and black metal with folk to seamlessly produce music of great passion and energy. Today was no exception and despite the crowd being cold as they were the first band on they did brilliantly, the contrast of Fusilan's vocals against the guttural sounds of Herubern's voice working perfectly. It was a solid set that soon warmed the audience up and I was sorry when it ended. http://www.myrkvar.nl/ / http://www.myspace.com/myrkvar

Rating
Music: 7
Performance: 8
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 7.5 / 10




Schattenweber (13:30 - 14:30)

This multi instrumental group from nearby Hamburg surprised with a gentler and more melodic brand of folk than many of the bands which graced the bill this year. Silva has a delicate and haunting voice and is a real catch as a vocalist whilst the rest of the band offered intricate backing to compliment that, especially praise going to Klaus who has a lovely way with a hurdy-gurdy. Altogether they perform a very unique type of folk, being both authentic without ever being simplistic, and it has to be said that their own compositions are absolutely beautiful. I enjoyed them a lot and hope that they go far for they surely deserve to. http://www.schattenweber.de.be/ / http://www.myspace.com/schattenweber

Rating
Music: 7
Performance: 8
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 7.5 / 10




Adivarius (15:00 - 16:00)

These Berliners known as 'The minstrels of good mood” really know how to put on a show with an alternative kind of twist to the usual run of the mill folk band. Renarion, the lead singer, has a very good voice indeed and all of their songs were played and performed with a genuine nagging enthusiasm that just wouldn't go away. If you get the chance try to see them and meanwhile check out their blazingly different version of 'Mersberger Zaubersprüche' on their MySpace page, which will give you a very good idea indeed what their live act is like. http://www.adivarius.de/ / http://www.myspace.com/adivarius

Rating
Music: 9
Performance: 9
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 8.6 / 10




Bran Barr (16:30 - 17:30)

Great talent from France with a blend of music that has everything from a genial ambience to a full on vocal assault from Yoltar, a truly great front man with huge charisma and style. Backing up all this bravado is a solid group of very able musicians, not least the drum genius Aed Morban who was the original instigator of the band way back in 1995. They play a vicious and commanding style of Celtic war metal that left the audience screaming for more when they finally quit the stage after their all too brief hour long set. Different than most, they rage through their material, never leaving you in any doubt that they mean and love every word and note of it. http://www.branbarr.fr/ / http://www.myspace.com/branbarr

Rating
Music: 9
Performance: 9
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 8.6 / 10




The Pokes (18:00 -19:15)

THE POKES were the ones, offering the fast Irish (and other) music today no less ably than their predecessors THE SHANES the day before. This band differs however in its cosmopolitan line up, the lead singer being English, the banjo player of the awesome and frequently differing hair style Scottish, and the remainder being made up of Berliners. YAY! It makes for a very different and frantic sound, the best being taken from each culture and hammered together in a ragingly fun and energetic punk folk fiddle banjo accordion ensemble that leaves you breathless. They're a quality act, responsible for a whole swathe of songs and a whole lot more I don't doubt. This day they were in particularly good form, laughing and carousing with the audience who did nothing but revel in the whole affair. You either love 'em or you... love 'em. http://www.thepokes.de/ / http://www.myspace.com/thepokes

Rating
Music: 8
Performance: 9
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 8.2 / 10




Cromdale (19:45 -  21:00)

Proper folk rock music from this tight outfit from Germany sent me into a fit of appreciation for how good music can sound if you just play it simply and don't muck about with it too much. They are the lords of understatement, never overdoing anything, but getting the balance in everything they do absolutely right. It was authentic, well played and really a very good, very tight set. All this being said, they're not flimsy and boringly traditional, they're hard as hell, infusing the lyrics with a genuine passion and fire, making songs like the ever overly done 'Herr Mannelig' a thing of new pleasure with its driving sinister edginess. I love this band and wish more people would take a leaf out of their book and do folk as well as they do. Enough said! http://www.cromdale.de/ / http://www.myspace.com/cromdalerockt

Rating
Music: 10
Performance: 9
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 9 / 10




Feuerschwanz (21:30 - 23:00)

I was looking forward to FEURSCHWANZ so much, as I've seen them a dozen or more times and they have never once disappointed. Bringing their own version of medieval mayhem to life once again, they blitzed through their set with their usual flippant hilarity. The high point for me was when The Prince jumped from the stage and led the audience (yes ALL of the audience) on a conga out of the arena, around the medieval market and back in again, whilst his fellow band members continued playing awaiting everyone's return. They are fun, unique and totally fabulous- if you do nothing else before you die- please see FEURSCHWANZ! http://www.feuerschwanz.de/ / http://www.myspace.com/feuerschwanz

Rating
Music: 10
Performance: 10
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 9.5 / 10




Feuerteufel Fire Show (23:00 - 23:30)

The second night, we had a repeat performance of the excellent and captivating fire show from the day before, no less entertaining and no less engaging. Sheer (hot) brilliance!

Rating
Performance: 10


Equilibrium (23:30 - 01:00)


Finally we come to the end of an all too short festival with the headliners EQUILIBRIUM. With a front man as imposing and inspiring as Robse, it would be hard for the other members of the band to fall relatively unnoticed. This however is not the case. Whilst it's impossible to ignore the ear bleeding strong vocals, this front man is not such a crowd hog that he doesn't allow his fellow band members to share in his limelight. For this reason I was able to appreciate almost individually each band member's contribution, which is in itself a fairly rare thing. Sandra is an awesomely strong and accomplished accompanist, as are the rest of the lads who set a solid driving rhythm for everything else to overlay.



The crowd were ridiculously enthusiastic, screaming and moshing to their heart's content as EQUILIBRIUM soared through track after track of melting white hot metal. This band is clever, never once losing the audience for an instant, engaging and playing with them until it seemed that everyone was old friends. I like EQUILIBRIUM from past encounters and this show left none in any doubt about why they headlined. Superb! http://www.equilibrium-metal.de/ / http://www.myspace.com/equilibrium

Rating
Music: 9
Performance: 10
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 8.9 / 10



Hörnerfest is a great weekend away for anyone even mildly interested in any type of music, because it's not just about the music here. It's about friendliness, diversity and an all-round good experience. Security are fabulously level headed, beer and food is abundant and reasonably priced, the loos are better than at most festivals and more importantly than anything, everyone is there to have fun and not cause trouble. It’s a real party festival with a great atmosphere thanks to a crew and organisers, who genuinely care about it and are not just hell bent on raking in money. This is a special festival, run by special people and it's a special experience to attend, so don't miss it next year!

All pictures by Maddi Isaacs
Written by Maddi Isaacs and Alex Morris
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