As you can see I only could visit this festival on Saturday and that really is a pitty, because I missed bands like After All, Symphony X, Iced Earth and Amorphis on Friday. Next time better, but fortunately there was enough to enjoy on Saturday also.
Saturday morning 8.00 a.m., I look outside my window and the weather is fine, there is a lot of wind, but no rain and an hour later, even the sun appears. The weather forecast for the day wasn't fine, but why would they be right? Perhaps it was going to be a nice and dry day..... Arriving at the festival at about 13.00 p.m. all my hope for a dry day was gone, grey clouds and a steady wind where torturing the festival site. It wouldn't take long before the first rain fell down. I had been driving rather fast not to be to late for the band Heathen and fortunately we didn't miss them. There were two stages, the Large Rockhand Stage, which was in the open air and the Large Realm Stage, which was inside a tent. When I arrived, the band Hellbike was just playing their last notes and later on I found out that the band Blood Red Throne didn't arrive at the festival in time due to boarding problems and that Hellbike got the opportunity to fill in the gap. Although Blood Red Throne arrived later on the day, there was no place anymore in the time schedule for them.
Heathen started their gig outside in the open air and at that time there was no rain. It was a miracle that the band arrived in time at the festival, because they had car troubles in France. With a bus some volunteers they drove from Dokkum to France to pick up the band and two hours before playing they arrived. For the band the festival already was a success, just being able to play. The band played some newer songs, but the reaction of the crowd was the biggest when they played old songs and especially the sing along part in "Death By Hanging" of course.
Just before the rain came down Heathen finished their gig and we took shelter in the tent where Von started their gig. I'm not a real fan of black metal and certainly not on a festival. Most of the times the very fast songs become just one wall of sound, but lucky enough Von has slower songs too and therefore it was quite enjoyable.
We were lucky this time, just before Delain started their show, it stopped raining for a little while. I went outside and took some pictures. Just when I returned in the crowd, somebody up there put the shower on and it started pouring. With my camera I flee into the tent and from there I followed Delains gig. Part of the songs came of course from their latest album "We Are the Others" and despite the rain, there were still a lot of people supporting them in front of the stage.
One of the bands I was looking forward to was The Monolith Deathcult. This Dutch band impressed me with their latest album and I wanted to know if they could impress me live too. They did, what a great band this is. Sure I think you love them or hate them, there is probably no middle road. Their typical style took the crowd by the balls and the band played a very tight set.
Next band was Orange Goblin, they had to play their gig on the outside stage and during their performance the rain came down all the time. The band is rather popular because there were a lot conquering the rain not to miss a second. Their rather drooling style fit the weather perfectly and the response of the crowd was overwhelming. Outside the ground became swampier and muddier by the minute. Where once was grass, there was a mud pool and it didn't look like it would get dry yet.
Inside Keep of Kalessin was on the bill next. The black metal based music of these Norwegians enjoyed the crowd, but it is not really my cup of tea.
Next outside was Jorn. The charismatic vocalist played some new songs and his voice was in top form. Personally I would have liked a few more faster songs, but who am I. Jorn is a very good vocalist, but the poses he almost does in every song start to irritate after a while. I don't know why he does it, but he can certainly do without.
CRYYYYYYPPPPTOPSYYYYYYYYYYYY (AAAAARGGGGGGGGHHHHHH) came saw and conquered. This Canadians know how to play technical death metal and althoug they are very extreme, they got the crowd on their hand. The mosh pit was very crowded and never stopped. During the last song even a guy in a wheelchair joined the pit and I have my deepest respect for him, because even after he fell and was helped up again by the crowd, he went on again. Respect! The biggest cause for the wild crowd is vocalist Matt. The man is a real performer and the sounds he can create with his voice are incredible. Pig squeals, drain grunts, hysteric screams he does it all. No single person in the crowd can understand a word of what he is singing about, but who cares, it all sounds extreme and heavy as a mammoth.
Outside Peter Pan Speedrock showed that they are the ideal band for a festival. Their music is quite simple, but very effective. They got the crowd going and I'm sure a lot forgot the terrible weather for a while. For me it was time again to look for some food and taking a piss.
Six Feet Under got the crowd going and the mosh-pit was at least as big as it was during the performance of Cryptopsy. For me this was the highlight of the evening. The groovy death metal riffs in combination with the almost danceable rhythms and the low grunts of Chris Barnes did their effective work. The whole crowd was moving on the rhythms, some women even danced on it and many heads were going up and down and side to side. Six Feet Under are perhaps not the most technical band, but they were the most effective this evening.
Outiside Rhapsody of Fire was ready to do their thing. Fabio Lione was in shape and the orchestral power metal with high vocals was appreciated by the crowd. The heavier songs got the most respect from the crowd. I think that next time Rhapsody of Fire has to leave soft dramatic songs out of their set, sure it shows how good a singer Fabio is, but it doesn't really work in a set of an hour during a festival.
The evil band Marduk was the main dish in the tent. I'm not really of fan of them and I don't have any records at home, but they varied very fast tracks with more midtempo once so it wasn't just one wall of sound. Mortuus evil vocals and corpse painted look created an evil atmosphere and many black metal lovers saw that is was good or should I say Evil?
Last but not least the band Testament had the honor to end the festival. Programmed at 23:45, but due to sound check troubles their gig got postponed for more than half an hour, but then finally they took of. Some songs were from their latest album 'Dark Roots of Earth', but the biggest part of the audience waited for their old songs. "Practice What You Preach" for example and of course "Into the Pit". When I was taking some pictures the band sounded really heavy, but when I joined the crowd later on, the sound was less. The guitars could have been more in front of the mix if you ask me. But overall Testament was the perfect clincher of a successful eight edition of Dokk'em Open Air. Next year the ninth edition and I already start praying for a sunny day!
With dirty army boots and a pair of trousers full of mud and a bad back (from standing all the time), I went home and after taking a shower to spool off all the dirt I finally could hit the sack at about 3.30 a.m.
Attending: Reinier de Vries