Festival report of Fall of Summer 2016 – Torcy, France; 2-3rd of September 2016
Report by Estelle for Metalegion Magazine on the 7th of Januar 2017
In the beginning of September 2016 I visited the Fall of Summer festival near Paris, France. Because of the exquisite lineup and also because of paying a fortune for the whole trip regarding that it out of many reasons turned out to be a last-minute decision for me, I had high expectations towards the bands – expectations that, as luck would have it, proved themselves true on the whole.
Even though the fest is called ‘Fall of Summer’, personally it belongs among my most “summery” experiences last year due to the stunning location on a sunny beach right next to a lake and with sand below our feet at one of the 2 stages. Fall of Summer in France is thus not a festival one should miss who has an affection for dreamlike places with the comical twist of being able to see a large number of appealing bands from the most various genres of metal on the spot.
The band that I first got to see from the incredible lineup right as I arrived to the venue were the old French heavy/speed heroes, ADX. Even though one can and should still appreciate the enthusiasm they themselves still possess and gladly show to the fans on stage, it does unfortunately already show that we are not writing 1985-86 anymore. The two new songs from their newest album they started their set with (‘La Mort en Face’ and ‘La Complainte du Demeter’) did not manage to establish the mood and feeling one needs to hold at an ADX gig, and unfortunately I had the feeling they were not able to do that afterwards with their old classic songs either. The passion would still be there, however, the physical part – the voice and the speed – are not able to support the mental section anymore.
Manilla Road, on the other hand, did not disappoint this time either: they brought us the expected level even despite the little ragged beginning which was the effect of the absurd heat and the band being anyways somewhat tired. After getting even more heated up and getting to the ‘feel’ through the interest of the fans they with no doubt always call forth; with the classic Crystal Logic songs Manilla Road permanently managed to focus on the mood that actually they themselves created and so the band’s and the fans’ energies moved along hand in hand afterwards, complementing and expanding each other.
Mark “The Shark” Shelton’s solos are still just as sharp-edged and beautiful sounding as ever, and as expected he took over the microphone for a few parts this time on stage as well. Despite the years’ strong effect on the 58-year-old founder & guitarist and his voice; we can still recognize the incredible high-level commitment, engagement and “let’s-do-it”-attitude on his face paired with his tender yet majestic glance which shadows it out how important Manilla Road and the fans for him are, and which makes him an uncommonly lovable and honourable musician.
After Manilla Road Polish death metal band Vader started literally in 5 minutes on the Blackwaters stage and showed us they are still after so many years right on track and ripped our heads off with some real death metal tunes.
Their setlist was particularly mixed: they presented us a group songs from their early era like “Dark Age” from the classic The Ultimate Incantation and songs from the following De Profundis, giving us the strong old school core of their performance. They didn’t leave neither the popular Litany nor the 1997 record Back to the Blind out, and picked songs from their newer releases Impressions in Blood (2006), Welcome to the Morbid Reich (2011) and Tibi Et Igni (2014) as well. We also had the chance to already hear the two newest songs from their album The Empire released in November 2016, ‘Prayer to the God of War’ and ‘Parabellum’.
They still have the dynamism and are in control of themselves on stage; I did not expect much at first but was positively surprised by Vader’s performance.
We once again did not have any chance to recover as my personal largest surprise of the festival, the impressive Riot V kicked off at the big Sanctuary stage. They presented us – in honour of the passed away guitarist & main songwriter founding member of the band, Mark Reale – a perfect oldschool setlist with each one of the classic songs one is eager to hear on a Riot (V) concert, including a lot from their evergreen record Thundersteel. Even though the two elderly members, bassist Don Van Stavern and guitarist Mike Flyntz just hit 51 & 53, completed with “girls-dreams” vocalist Todd Michael Hall the guys showed how astonishingly fresh, youthful, catchy and tight they are – just as much on their newest neat 2014 album ‘Unleash the Fire’ as live. They simply know what the fans want and also give that to them without a hint of artificialness; being committed and respectful towards the old lineup of Riot and towards the crowd the whole time and also representing that by not wanting to shove the new record down our throats but instead concentrating on what people from Riot actually want to hear. Admirable.
Riot V’s setlist on the 2nd of September 2016, Fall of Summer festival, France:
- Ride Hard Live Free
- Fight or Fall
- Johnny’s Back
- Angel Eyes
- Flight of the Warrior
- Metal Warrior
- Road Racin’
- Swords and Tequila
A complete turnabout and a full switch of genres: Samael came onto stage. I would rather describe the Switzerland black metal band’s performance as interesting instead of good as they even brought the electronic instruments into their older black metal songs. They had a flawless oldschool setlist though consisting of songs picked only from their first 3 albums, what the fans also welcomed and appreciated on the gig.
As the last act of the night again from a contrasting genre, American thrash group Whiplash were about to pound us with aggressivity into the ground. If they succeeded?
The guys possessed the right amount of energy & raw aggressivity as well as a perfect sound for a thrash gig – and still, maybe because of the lack of communication between the band and the crowd both regarding talking/encouraging between the songs and the way of behaving on stage, or maybe the formal conventionality of their way of playing, Whiplash’s gig did not come through perfectly as expected. One (as I would usually expect it) could not lose his/her mind completely over the few tight and thrashy best-of songs they could scrape together from Whiplash as the band simply played them casually, routine-like with the rightly measured amount of energy, which unfortunately took a little bit away from the experience.
Compensating that as well as deducting the stress of having to see such an amount of bands on one day (poor us), we went and showed the French how to drink.
– – –
The second day started for me with a sunny Grim Reaper. I could have barely imagined the amount of energy Steve Grimmett and the whole band of his actually still have and similarly could I have barely imagine a more classic setlist including really every classic track from the early albums one is eager to hear on a Grim Reaper gig. Even in spite of the somewhat unnecessary Dio-cover (‘Don’t Talk to Strangers’) that they apparently can never leave out, and even in spite of the exaggerated encouragement of the crowd that occasionally did get a smile onto our faces, I can say I was positively surprised on account of Grim Reaper’s live performance. Steve has tons of experience, he knows how to handle the fans and last but not least: finally a veteran group where we cannot complain about the lack of vitality when it comes to playing as speedy as they should!
Grim Reaper’s setlist on the 3rd of September, Fall of Summer festival, France:
- Rock You to Hell
- Night of the Vampire
- Lust for Freedom
- Wrath of the Ripper
- Fear No Evil
- Rock Me ’till I Die
- Don’t Talk to Strangers (Dio cover)
- Waysted Love
- See You in Hell
No rest for the wicked – here comes Nifelheim. If I say they were the only band by whom I indeed entirely forgot about the fact that I am standing on a beach with sand gently tickling my feet, instead at some point simply realised getting lost in the tremendous, menacing obscure spirit that they created and that we all so craved on this shiny bright day…; I said enough. Terrific, pounding and shredding black/thrash brutality streaming right at our bodies without any break – just how a Nifelheim gig shall be happening right from the moment the band gets on stage and plays the first note.
After this giant hit of cruelty I was still able to get myself together to curiously walk over to the big stage where Karl Willetts’ (singer of Bolt Thrower) newly founded death metal band, Memoriam gave their third concert ever. Thanks to Karl, ex-Bolt Thrower-drummer (1986-94) Andrew Whale, Benediction bassist (1991-present) Frank Healy and Benediction guitarist (2015-present) Scott Fairfax, they sound prominent and besides presenting us some good old BT-riffs and drum samples in the new tracks (along with 2 Bolt Thrower cover songs ‘Spearhead’ and ‘Powder Burns’), they assure us about having some new, catchy own ideas up their sleeves as well.
Karl still appears completely drunk on stage and still does not care about it, he does however very much care about the crowd and sings (growls) enthusiastically with love and respect towards the people who are curious about them.
During the following Dead Congregation I decided to take a little break finally as we still had Exciter, Unleashed and Tankard left for the day, but I still was listening while getting something to eat in the festival area: They played as always energetically and tightly with a few real catchy modern death metal riffs.
And now again with full-on power I was ready to cordially welcome the moment for which I was waiting and by reason of I decided at all taking the risk and travelling to the festival: Exciter was willing to tear my head off with nothing else but their over-the-top classic setlist from the ‘80s.
Incredible how physically fit vocalist-drummer Dan Beehler still is. I have always admired yet could never fully understand how one can have such a level of concentration and attitude to play the drums and keep his head straight while singing the ripping fast top-notch speed metal songs at the same time; however, Beehler manages that even after 37 years of playing without any problem. Only his voice started to give up and fade sometimes, especially for the end of the gig at the high-pitched notes, which for me personally still did not take from the experience of seeing the genre-creating speed metal gods playing with such dynamism, love and respect towards the people, towards each other and the whole industry live. Guitarist John Ricci and bassist Alan Johnson are similarly still particularly ‘on-track’, keen on playing while not being able to wipe the smile off their faces.
The most classic lineup and the most classic setlist ever matched with a huge amount of energy, enthusiasm and SPEED: Ladies and Gentlemen, this is what we expect to see from Exciter.
Exciter’s setlist on the 3rd of September, Fall of Summer festival, France:
- I Am the Beast
- Rain of Terror
- Stand Up and Fight
- Iron Dogs
- Heavy Metal Maniac
- Pounding Metal
- Violence & Force
- Beyond the Gates of Doom
- Long Live the Loud
- Under Attack
After going into ecstasy over another band came the Swedish death metallers Unleashed. They, similarly to Vader, had an absolutely mixed setlist with a high level of variation and presented us songs from almost every album of theirs from the first until the very last 2015 one. Just as on Brutal Assault 2014, the gig was absolutely energetic again reaching its top with the two powerful ending songs, ‘Hammer Battalion’ and the obvious ‘Before the Creation of Time’.
As the closing act of the incredibly intense festival where I sometimes had the feeling with so many engaging bands we never get a real break, I went to see the old German thrashers Tankard. The crowd expectedly went crazy and started singing along and moshing right away to their classic opening track ‘Zombie Attack’ and did not finish until the band walked off stage. Vocalist Gerre showed great energies by running up and down the whole time, maintaining a pleasant vibe and topping that, later facetiously showing his (beer-)belly. The German beer-lovers kept going on with songs like ‘The Morning After’, ‘Chemical Invasion’ or ‘A Girl Called Cerveza’; they let us hear a bit from their newest album R.I.B. from 2014 and, giving a frame to their gig, they closed the show as well as the event decently with the strong ‘(Empty) Tankard’ from Zombie Attack.
And now, to sum up…
Strongest standout bands: Manilla Road, Riot V, Nifelheim, Exciter
+ excellent location; prominent lineup; decent sound; a great variety of genres; open-mindedness
– pricey and not-that-tasty beer; location hard to find for French taxi companies in case you want to be at the airport by 5 am
Find more information at: http://fallofsummer.fr/
Photos were used by ‘Estelle’.