When one of the brothers of Volker Leson (bass player of WIZARD) understood that he will play at Dijon, he asked: ‘Are there any metalheads there to play in front?’. I do not know if this happened before but in the wonderful evening of 30th September all of us were screaming before the phone of Mr. Leson to be heard by his brother. Although that I live a little bit aside from Dijon – at around 2000 km…
The scene of Rising Fest grows on the efforts of a serious group of enthusiasts. These fans are united in Association Phoenix Rising. They became a factor for the increase of a regional metal culture which shines with originality and devotion. The organization of this year’s Rising Fest indeed can praise with providing comfortable conditions for bands, journalists and public. This was a precondition for the strong experience that I’ll try to reproduce.
Yet with the coming out at the stage of the young men from DEPTHS OF MADNESS a powerful lights show with a curtain of smoke exploded. This immediately made the air hot emphasizing the enthusiasm of the French men. Yet in 05:30 pm a hard mass of fans of the band was headbanging in front of the stage. The style of the quintet is not easy to be determined because includes a classic heavy metal approach and modern influences. The riffs are straightforward and with no unnecessary complexity. The vocals are mainly high and take their inspiration from the power of the young voice at places with more ambition. The band demonstrates wide inventions including rock elements in its music. I remain with the feeling that the seeking of boys goes in direction: progressive/math metal/rock. Their college image is in synchrony with this assessment. But they need more refined guitar technique and development of the rhythms. This was an interesting opening set. Around 6 pm the fans with the shirts of DEPTHS OF MADNESS in front of the stage disappeared in the big crowd.
Around 06:15 pm the Bulgarian guests from RAMPART already were radiating the public with classic energetic heavy metal. As if their only guitar player was obtaining sound with the movement and the energy of his whole body. It seems that the non-standard articulated voice for a lady of the vocalist Maria was deriving with marches on the stage and with emotional grimaces. Both of them did not leave any free space on the stage. Inherited something from HELLOWEEN the quartet was striking in order fast and middle tempo songs, all garnished with not bad solos. Perhaps because of his colleagues the bass player stood still in the corner. Even during the manifested bass parties he was standing half-back to the public not letting us see demonstrations on his 7 strings instrument.
When RAMPART performed the only one in their setlist track from their first album ‘Warriors’ it became clear that there are fans who know the song and who are singing it with the band (Inferno Records that released their two albums is a French label). Indeed it was obsessing with its more straightforward rhythm and fast dynamics. The heavy metal maniacs definitely were infected with this virus when the band went down the stage in 7 pm.
The heavy metal baton is taken by HEAVYLUTION. Their frequent gigs in the region supported by debut demo and EP gained the band the respect of the fans. Immediately became clear that the vocalist Paul is an admirer of Rob Halford. The double guitar attack of the French men is noisier and aggressive (the guitar players wear T-Shirts of DEATH ANGEL and MEGADETH). The choruses of the bigger part of their set are with aggressive, low and clipped syllabified singing. This manner of the boys reflected on the cover song of IRON MAIDEN which they performed.
The energy spread to the every corner of the hall. When it returned to the stage it became a demonstration maximum expressed high tones singed with lots of harsh. This is a situation in which the tonality always is lost somewhere at the windings. It’s most likely – we also were screaming “Metal in Our Blood”. Timed was passing and around 8 pm we sent the five boys with applauses.
Besides its presence on the stage, the French band SANCTUAIRE set a table with a skull, a glass and an ink-pot with a quill – subject-matter from the cover artwork of their album ‘L’Empreinte de Lucifer’ (2011). The scene became scarlet... The music was a unique combination of classic heavy metal and the musicianship of the early BATHORY. There is something occult in the whole look of Florean B-Manquat (bass, vocals). From the calm spoken introductions to all songs there is a smell of darkness and mysticism. The presentation and the lyrics are entirely in French with affinity to poeticism. In the middle of its set the quartet slowed down the tempo emphasizing on the minor melodies. A distance appeared between the fans of the band and the heavy/speed maniacs in the public. Amongst the second mentioned there were sarcastic smiles – the remark is toward this attitude to the band.
The presentation of the misanthropes SANCTUAIRE at the festival was short, but remarkable! The different face of the metal or if you prefer ‘the fresh breathe air’ for those who did not appraise them.
Gained speed from their strong debut album ELVENSTORM conquered the stage shortly after 9 pm. After a short intro the audience literally was blown by two speed songs with no pause between them. The guitar riff is like the most aggressive things of RUNNING WILD. As if the drum cannonade was shaking the band. The vocals of Laura are climbing to the high female tones full of nervous energy. The first shown electricity turns to more hymn songs. Here the efforts thrown in the beginning played a bad joke to the front lady and she looses the power of her high tones. This is something which was fixed until the end of the set.
The uncompromising speed playing and the serious metal vision of ELVENSTORM pressed the public to the edge of the stage. The pure energy that the fans were searching for was given to them. That’s why while the band was getting down the stage the audience was screaming its name.
Shortly after 10 pm the German band WIZARD let the magic out. The quality of the festival jumped on the next level. The common measured rhythm is pulsing in the hearts. Teutonic melody caresses the ears under the remembering riff. Yet with the first stanza of the chorus unblock the throat. The music of the band enters under the skin with no effort. This is heavy metal that needs no words and classifications.
The musicians demonstrated the freedom to become one with the instrument. The most impressive thing is the voice of Sven D’Anna. This person presents with ease the high tones, the low ones, and even at the middle where lots of vocalists of big bands have collapses, he effortlessly moves the tones. Till the end of the concert there was no tone which needed the attention of the sound engineer or a standard approach for glossing over that we often hear at the festivals. WIZARD was the only band that did not loose the attention of the public during the slow songs. These music messages were not to be missed. With the live presentation this band made me its fan. I do not like too melodic heavy metal with melting motives as if from 80’es pop tracks but the melodies of WIZARD touched me. I do not like battle appeals made of effective word in the veins of MANOWAR but I liked the choruses of WIZARD. I always strain from the clownish humor of big names from the German scene but this set was honestly entertaining.
Without unnecessary poses and pretentious demonstrations the quintet forced us to call it for more for the final conclusion of the concert. Although they played the previous night there was not metalheads unsatisfied with the show. So in 11:30 pm the noisy part of the feast ended.
The wonderfully built hall, the excellent organization and the heavy armored scene deserved the attention of more people! Having in mind the spectacle I believe that the enthusiasm of the girls and guys from the Association Phoenix Rising is yet to begin repaying. The growing scene and the splendid festival are the things for which they breathe!
Attending: Rock Thrashler