The clouds almost disappeared, the ponchos were stowed and for the most, there was some visible sun; day two of Brutal Assault was off to a promising start. We walked past the countless number of half-soaked tents and half-dried mud puddles and proceeded to fully explore the fortress grounds. The place is a giant labyrinth with places to duck into and things to see at every turn. There are a shit-ton of catacombs within the fortress that contain crudely handmade benches forged out of pinewood two by fours for the metal masses to rest their bruised and muddy bodies.
One of the coolest things you’ll see at Brutal Assault are the Nazguls (Hooded creatures that wield plague, look it up if you don’t believe me) that manifest themselves from time to time on top of the fortress walls. There’s usually four of them together at any given time and if you look at the top of the walls, you’ll see them snaking around. At other times, they’ll ominously stare at the crowd below inflicting plague I presume. I haven’t fallen ill just yet but there’s still plenty of Brutal Assault left.
Check out the Brutal Assault festival trailer
The first band up on our "must-see" list for the day was the incredibly-talented, Animals As Leaders. Again, I would consider this band as an odd fit for an extreme metal festival, but hey, they’re extreme in their own unique way. I’ve listened to a lot of Animals As Leaders in the months preceding this fest so my number one question leading up to now was if they could pull the intricacy and intensity live. Yup. They can. Tosin Abasi may be soft-spoken on the microphone between songs but he’s a monster at playing guitar. In fact, the rest of Animals As Leaders aren’t too shabby themselves and, as a unit, proved that they were a force to be reckoned with at Brutal Assault.
After a couple of absinthe lemonades, or possible more (who’s counting at this point?), it was time for a lesson in violence with Exodus! Even though Gary Holt isn’t playing with them currently, and the lineup consists of half of their Bay Area thrash brethren Heathen, Exodus sounds like Exodus no matter who is playing for them. Their set consisted of a great spread of their discography covering everything from Bonded by Blood to their most recent album, Blood In, Blood Out. In typical Exodus fashion, they ended their set with "Strike of the Beast"; this is where Steve Souza commanded the crowd to split down middle for the infamous "wall of death". After screaming "Gooooooooo!," each side charged the other at full speed confirming that good violent friendly fun is more than an Exodus lyric, it’s the Exodus culture.
As Exodus wrapped up their set on one of two main stages, there was already a crowd gathering for the next stage that Gojira would grace. I’m relatively late to the Gojira party as far as being an established fan, but I reviewed their most recent effort for PureGrainAudio and gave it a fine score. In my opinion, Gojira are better as a live band. You can tell they spend a lot of time crafting their live sound and play with a ton of intensity. They definitely made a fan out of me with this show!
Wrapping up the night for us were the long time Industrial Metal kings, Ministry. I think it was close to 20 years ago the last time I saw them, but I don’t remember them being this good. I was assuming they were going to play a bunch of material that I wasn’t familiar with but I was happily disappointed. They played a ton from Psalm 69, The Land of Rape and Honey and The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste. They were focused, tight as a unit and Al Jourgensen was on top of his game. After ending their set with "Liars and Thieves", that was a wrap for us and the majority of metal heads for the second day of Brutal Assault.