1st June 2008
Fear Dark Festival: Sletchvalk, Thy Majesty, Eluveitie, Endstille
Shortly after I reached the LKA, I had to realize that I already missed the first band but some others should still follow. It thought it would be a real good indoor festival with Headliners like ENDSTILLE and ELUVEITIE. But unfortunately I must confess that I was almost disappointed this year. The selection of the bands was more than poor and for a FEAR-DARK-FESTIVAL not satisfying enough. There were so few people in front of the stage at some times that we had enough space to play a football match. Most other fans I talked to where also not very impressed with this selection and they mainly came to this festival cause of the headliners ENDSTILLE and ELUVEITIE.
SLETCHVALK is a Dutch metal band with folk and Christian influences; musical and strong bonds from the Symphonic Black Metal. The group SLETCHVALK (Dutch for peregrine falcon) was founded in the year 2000. The influences are songs from IN FLAMES, VARDOGER, IMMORTAL and older songs from ANTESTOR but also SUMMONING, DIMMU BORGIR and WITHIN TEMPTATION. Since the label Fear Dark got interested in SLETCHVALK, they released the CD ‘Falconry’ in the same year. The album was a success from the perspective of the founder Shamgar and so he decided to further search for supporting musicians.
So he found the new band members Nath, Ohtar, Fionnghuala, Sorgier and Grimbold; Shamgar himself over the guitar and singing. In October 2002, the band released their album ‘The War That Plagues the Land’. They use often sword art shows and similar in their live performances. In addition, they have - for a metal band rather unusual – Meallá, a sword dancer and artist in their ranks. Even the band dresses them self in seemingly medieval clothing with war paint and appropriate weapons at concerts.
Music & Performance
In my opinion the previous bands were so bad that some people considered leaving the festival. Therefore it could only get better as SLETCHVALK entered the stage with their usual war-painting on their faces. They tried to heat up the crowd in front of the stage. But they had some trouble to invoke the maelstrom of black metal cause most of the fans were really disappointed and need their time to heat up and so the reactions were more than subdued. With each song SLETCHVALK tried even harder to present a good show and almost raped their instruments but this was still not enough to enhance the mood.
THY MAJESTIE is an Italian power metal band, which was founded in 1998. They call their music style themselves as Symphonic Epic Power Metal. There is a similarity to the band Rhapsody from the same.
Music & Performance
After SLETCHVALK disappeared with quite some applause, THY MAJESTIE set their instruments and prepared to the show. Most of the people who filled the hall as SLETCHVALK played their songs leaved for a drink and a cigarette. Much in regret of the band only a few fans seemed it necessary to follow the sounds of Power Metal and so, THY MAJESTIE played almost in an empty concert hall.
In my opinion THY MAJESTIE was not a good selection for this festival and so the guys from the band got some more problems to inspire the small crowd. Despite this circumstances the singer tried his best and it was actually Power Metal from the best variant abstain of his football-shirt and baseball cap. Any Power Metal fan came to his costs unfortunately only a few of the remaining fans shared this opinion. Despite this adverse circumstance the band tried to fire the enthusiasm of the people and played their show with vigour and strength.
ELUVEITIE clearly belongs to the fast growing Pagan Metal-scene, anyhow brings some "fresh air" into it. ELUVEITIE's sound is traditional, authentic Celtic Folk Music combined in a unique way with modern styled Melodic Death Metal, strongly influenced by the classic “Göthenburg Sound”. Originally formed by Mastermind Chrigel Glanzmann in winter 2002 as a mere studio-project, the first EP ‘Vên’ was recorded in 2003, already unique in its way of having the Folk-Part being on an equal footing with the Metal-Instruments. This self-financed MCD was ardently received by the scene, magazines etc. and sold out within a few months.
In 2004, ELUVEITIE signed to the Dutch label Fear Dark Records, which released a re-mastered (and partly re-recorded) version of ‘Vên’, and continued as a "real" band, playing gigs together with bands such as CRUACHAN, KORPIKLAANI and SKYFORGER.
Music & Performance
After the appearance of THY MAJESTIE the stage was almost completely rebuild because really much space was required. ELUVEITIE occurred and also the huge crowd of fans stormed the hall. And you can’t miss the feeling that ELUVEITIE were the real headliners on this evening. They kept the crowd under their spell and sure that the previous disappointing shows came into oblivion.
From the beginning to the last tunes of the ending song a real hurricane of strength and energy swept from all the members in the band across the stage and almost tore the people in front of the stage apart from the first song on. The crowd went into a state of frenzy with the mixture from hard black metal and soft played songs. The audience visibly delighted could thank ELUVEITIE only with a real storm of applause and hope that they never end their show
ENDSTILLE, founded in December 2000, plays ugliest aggressive Black-Metal with the speed of a MG42 firing and the power of heavy ship-artillery. 4 full-length albums pushed ENDSTILLE to the top of Germany’s Black-Metal scene. The latest masterpiece ‘Endstilles Reich’ was released via Regain Records.
Music & Performance
For a good conclusion ENDSTILLE joined the harbingers of doom. ENDSTILLE is a band which I consider with absolutely mixed feelings. Since they offer a really good black metal of the finest variety I personally see the little aspirations for the further development of the band but this is only my personal opinion. Shortly after ELUVEITIE left the stage the lights went dark and the FEAR DARK FESTIVAL showed why we really should be afraid of the dark and her lurking shadows.
Unfortunately many fans already left the hall after ELUVEITE and so ENDSTILLE played in front of a moderate number of people. Hard sinister and tremendous Death Metal was played from the first to the last song. Without a break for the band and their fans ENDSTILLE played a song after another. They tore a rift between this world and the darkest realms with their hammering bass and absolutely aching vocals (not negatively) and sometimes I got the feeling that the shadows in the hall come to live and danced a dance macabre to this sinister sound. The remaining fans in front of the stage were lined up and enjoyed the coming of the darkness in a quiet pleasure. With ENDSTILLE the Fear Dark Festival found a worthy conclusion at least.
I think we could await a little more from the Fear Dark Festival than presented this year. With a few exceptions it was more than disappointing. THY MAJESTIE played very good power metal but where sadly misplaced for this indoor festival in my eyes. Band like SLETCHVALK, ELUVEITIE and ENDSTILLE were the outstanding highlights this year and could barely prevent a disaster. Without these three bands the festival would have been likely more an absolute flop. Following discussions with other visitors hardened this impression even more and we could only hope the next Fear Dark Festival would be better than this one.
All pictures by Ruth Gräbeldinger (http://www.alpha-photography.net/)