As we got on the bus to head out to day four of Brutal Assault, we noticed that we weren’t the only ones that looked a little exhausted. But you know what? Being a little fatigued isn’t going to stop us from enjoying this final day of Brutal Assault! You know why? Because we’re metal as fuck, that’s why! Today we decided to wander about the festival host town of Jaroměř before entering the fortress grounds. Jaroměř has a very similar feel to the village of Wacken. The town really gets behind the festival and welcomes it with horns up. Most every bar, restaurant and shop was tailored to the black t-shirt masses of that descended upon it. Just like Wacken, food and beverage is much cheaper on the outside of the festival grounds so there was a contingent of festival goers that spent most of their time on the outside and just entered the festival site to only watch the bands. After some more absinthe lemonade and beer, we headed inside.
Today, the majority of the bands we were going to check out were in the evening so we decided to do some shopping first. Pretty much all the vendors, besides the main merchandise stand, were in the same area located opposite of the main two stages. I’m sure this is done so there’s less crowding around the stages and it’s a wise idea at that. Atypical for metal fests this size, there were plenty of vendors selling bootleg band shirts. I noticed a Nuclear Death shirt at one of them. Nuclear Death was an extreme grind/death metal band from Phoenix, Arizona that has been defunct for more than a couple of decades at this point and I know them personally. I highly doubt they are getting a penny from the sales of these bootlegs and that’s sad. It’s great that bands like them stay alive in memory in this fashion, but at the same time, it’s their intellectual property that is being stolen. Rant finished.
Check out the Brutal Assault festival trailer
The first band we watched were the German thrash metal titans, Destruction. They never stray far from their formula of thrash metal because it works for them and their loyal fan base appreciates this. They recently released an EP called Under Attack and I was pretty sure they were going to play some material off of it today. I wasn’t a fan of this latest release but the good news for me is that they only played a couple of tracks off of it during their hour-long set.
The highlight of the set for me was when they played "Mad Butcher." During the song a "Mad Butcher" came from out of nowhere and started chasing a scantily clad, voluptuous woman about the stage with a large butcher knife in hand. While the band was thrashing about, he eventually caught and dragged her to a strategically placed butcher block stand located at the middle of the stage. The butcher mimicked that he was hacking her to pieces and then he pulled out a bag of what appeared to be meat and entrails and placed it on the stand. He then started hacking away at the bag of meat until he was splattered with blood and the pieces of meat were cut. He started chucking the chopped meat at the blood thirsty audience in front of him…good times! Allegedly, Destruction is not allowed to bring this part of the stage show to North America but it’s perfectly acceptable in Europe. We felt fortunate to have witnessed this element of Destruction’s stage show because it adds a macabre theater feel that’s sorely missed from most heavy music in general.
After Destruction finished, both of the stage fields quickly filled to witness one of the festival’s main attractions, Behemoth. If you’ve ever seen this band, you know how serious they work at their craft of being one of the best Black Metal bands around. They played their most recent critically acclaimed album, The Satanist, front to back much to the crowd’s liking and to appease the part of the crowd that wanted to hear some of their older material, they played "Ov Fire and the Void", "Conquer All" and "Chant for Eschaton". Because tonight was obviously Polish black metal night at Brutal Assault, upstarts MGLA took the stage next. Cloaked in their customary black leather jackets worn over black hoodies and their faces covered in black synthetic material, MGLA played a spread of material off all their releases. As a live band, they are visually one dimensional but I wonder if this is done on purpose so you can focus on their precise and intense playing style. In any regard, MGLA seemed to be a crowd favorite and evoked a terrific response from the audience.
Last, but certainly not least, Venom Inc. wrapped up the final night of Brutal Assault for us. Before seeing this version of Venom sans Cronos, I was really skeptical. My mindset after the split of the original Venom was, if there’s no Cronos, it’s not Venom! Recently, a few of my friends checked out Venom Inc. and told me to open minded and give it a chance…fuck…I’m glad I did! This version of Venom FEELS and SOUNDS like the Venom of old to me more than Cronos version of Venom. It has more of that dirty "black and roll" feel to it and it’s just rawer. I love watching Abaddon because he still looks the same from back in their prime and acts like it too; taking swigs of Jack Daniels between songs and egging on the crowd while doing it. As expected, they played a wide spectrum of material from the classic era of Venom and finished their set with "Die Hard". I can’t wait to see them again! They were definitely my favorite band on this final day of Brutal Assault.
As we stumbled towards the bus to bring us back to the hotel for the final time of the festival, I thought about the Brutal Assault experience as a whole. Other than the awful lines the first day, the rest of festival took place without a hitch. In fact, comparing it to my Wacken, Bloodstock and 70,000 Tons of Metal experiences, this is my favorite large metal festival experience to date. Next year’s line-up already looks promising with such acts as Emperor and Ulcerate already being announced. I’m not sure if we’ll be back next year, but we’re definitely returning to Brutal Assault at some point!