“A lot of the lyrics on this new album are all very reflective of the world that we live in” – Karl Willetts (Memoriam)

Interview with vocalist Karl Willetts from Memoriam

Interview for Metalegion Magazine by Estelle on the 19th of February 2018

Hi Karl! First of all thanks a lot for being down to talk to me even at this late hour! My first question would be, what would you say is the most satisfying thing you’ve ever achieved along your career?

That’s a really good question, interesting. I haven’t been asked that one. It’s been lots, along the way through my 30 years of working within this industry. There’s been a lot of things that I consider to be high points. Those are quite genuinely often the firsts. The first time you’re doing anything is when you really achieve something, a milestone in the career. That’s what I always remember the most. So for me, even before I was in the band Bolt Thrower, I heard their music in the radio: That was a really big deal, my best mates’ band playing on the radio. But for me personally, I think recording the first album, that was a phenomenal experience.

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Bloodbrother Tour (1990) [Photo from Tshirtslayer]

Also doing my first show, I remember doing my very first European tour which was back in the 80s-early 90s with Autopsy and Pestilence. The first time beyond our little island in the UK. That was a massive game- and life-changing experience, to realize there was such a big potential and big market for what we were doing. Such a lot of people enjoyed what we were doing beyond our small environment. So these were some of the early highlights of my career.

And gig-wise, when we finally got to Australia with Bolt Thrower. That was in about 1993-94, I was standing on the beach in Perth watching the waves crashing in and I thought “Well, this is quite strange. We actually got to the other side of the world playing this extreme kind of strange music and we’re even getting paid for doing this, this is amazing”. So yeah, those were the biggest highlights that come to mind. But at this point of my career doing Memoriam, everything is a big highlight. It’s an amazing experience. I’m very lucky to be able to do this at this stage of our lives. It feels like a privilege, to be able to do what we’re doing. And that’s really down to the support we get from the people, the fans, the followers, however you wanna call them. So we do appreciate they give us the opportunity to do this. And every day is a highlight at this point – it sounds cheesy but that’s the way it is.

ALL TIME HIGHLIGHTS…

Could you select up to 3 albums (it can be less or more, it’s up to you) from any genre that you consider your all-time favorites and tell me why you consider them personal highlights?

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Antisect – In Darkness, There Is No Choice (1983)

In the late 80s, that’s when I started getting into extreme music. And what was happening in the UK back in those days was the kind of old anarcho crust grind scene. That’s really where my sphere of influence developed. It was a starting point for me in my career and my interest in extreme music. So I have to point to an album from a band called Antisect and their album called In Darkness There Is No Choice. That was a massive influence to me. It really set me on my road to my political point of view. This was also the time in which the whole tape-trading was going on, the precursor to the internet in many respects, global sharing of information on cassette tapes.

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Sacrilege

Also, back then I used to go to gigs regularly at a local pub. One of the bands back then that were really influential to me is Sacrilege, with Lynda “Tam” Simpson as the main vocalist and Damian Thompson as guitarist. Those two were an absolute massive influence to me musically. I was at a Sacrilege gig in around ‘87 and it was one of those lightbulb-moments when I was watching them: “I want to do this. I would love to be a band up there on a stage, doing what Tam’s doing.” I think that was one of the main catalysts for me wanting to be in a band. So I definitely have to name Behind the Realms of Madness from Sacrilege. One of my all time favorite albums.

 

And of course Slayer! When I heard the first offerings that they put out on Show No Mercy and Haunting the Chapel, those were the albums that were really influential. Specifically Haunting the Chapel had a massive effect on me. So those were the 3 protagonists. I think I’d probably have to include the Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath album, it has to be in the top 4-5 as well. They are the legends from my hometown and I am very proud of their musical heritage here in Birmingham.

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Memoriam – The Silent Vigil (2018)

Now let’s talk about your new album coming out at the end of March, “The Silent Vigil”. It’s a pretty awesome one! This record is a lot less affected by sadness compared to “For the Fallen”, instead you’ve become more aggressive and raw. What did you have in mind?

Very perceptive of you. Definitely, I think as you noticed the first album that we released was a document of the time. As all albums are kind of recording the emotions that are going through your life at that point. And the first album was written as a tribute to our lives’ tragic loss of Martin (Kearns, drummer of Bolt Thrower from 1994-97 and 1999-2015 ed.). He’s the catalyst of why the band got together in the first place. The first album is almost a tribute to him directly. And that’s what all the actual songs contained. All the elements that are in there, they are written from a place of mourning, grief and sorrow. Sadness. That was the aspect of For the Fallen. And this new album reflects the way we feel again, it’s almost like a journey, a grieving process, effective by time. Time’s the thing that makes it easier ironically. And things change.

Could you try to describe the album’s identity?

This album I think goes onto the next stage of the mourning process. It’s a part where you’ve lost all the initial shock and the sadness and the sorrow, and you’ve got to get a bit more angry about the situation. So I think there’s a lot more bitterness and anger in this album, it’s a lot rawer as you say. Maybe even more emotional in some respects. There’s a different kind of raw emotion to this one, it’s a lot angrier.

The new album is moving into a new era lyrically as well, with themes that are a lot more reflective about the world that we live in. Lyrics about the real world, things that I think are important to talk about. War has been the center theme, that’s what I’ve written about. There might be a sub-context to the lyrical content involved but the main interest has always been about war. On the first album I did a couple of songs that were moving away from that area but with this new album, The Silent Vigil the lyrics are very different. They are beyond the formulas I’ve been writing in the past. There are songs on there that are based on real theories, real things that are happening in the world around us right now. By that I mean, there are songs on there that have a large amount of social-political comments about the world. They are very concerned about the global rise of the right wing and the fascist ideology which seems to be gaining a massive voice across the planet that we live in. And that really scares me.

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Karl Willetts [Photo: Vivien Varga]

I think voice needs to be raised against it, we can’t just turn away and ignore what’s happening all over the world. As an artist, as a vocalist and as a lyrical writer I think it’s my position to stand up and say something about that. It’s important to me. And I enjoy that challenge of writing lyrics that are not specifically in my comfort zone. It’s quite good to be able to break free of these chains and have that kind of creative freedom, to be able to write about things I think are important. So along with the songs that have large elements of social-political content which are about equality, freedom, racism and all those issues, there are also songs on there which are about transition, about moving forward, about trying to create a new future. These things are very reflective of what the band is trying to achieve as well. That’s how I feel about what’s happening in my life. That’s what we’re doing with Memoriam, we’re moving from the past and trying to develop a new identity, our own band, our own thing.

Could you select a special song from The Silent Vigil and share your vision on it?

There’s a song on there that is about my personal experiences with my mother. Nothing Remains, that’s about the issues of dementia, a mental illness, which is a massive growing issue in the world within our aging population. That happened with my mother about a year ago and it’s been a devastating experience, not just for her but for me and my whole family. A massive impact. So I’d say a lot of the lyrics on this new album are all very reflective of the world that we live in: They are all based on real issues that are important to me.

That’s totally understandable.

But that’s just the lyrics, of course musically there is also a big difference to the first album: There’s lots of tones and textures and new ideas on this new album. I think the first album is great and as I said a document of the time but we were very much aware of the expectations on us to a certain extent; people were quite interested to hear what we are gonna do. There was a certain level of expectation on us so we wanted to say “Hold on. We’re not gonna be doing a Bolt Thrower Nr. 2 or a Benediction Nr. 2; we wanna do our own thing, we wanna create our own identity”. But at the same time, we were still kind of in the shadows and the chains of the past on the first album.

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Memoriam (Karl Willetts, Frank Healy, Andrew Whale, Scott Fairfax)


So The Silent Vigil is moving forward – I think we’ve managed to come out of these shadows and create something that is more Memoriam-ish.
We are more comfortable with our own identity as a band right now and that’s expressed in different tones and structures of the songs. There’s lots of different varieties on there. The overall production is a lot warmer as well, we’ve used the studio this time with real amps in it. We feel the last album is great but certain elements are too overcompressed and maybe too digitalized in many respects, we’ve used quite a few samples on there. But we move free from those with the new album. The album has got a lot more warmth and depth to it. I think the reals amps enhance the rawness, the warmth and the depth of the music. That’s really been a big difference for us and we are very happy about the way it has come together. That was a long answer, wasn’t it? (laughs)

It was, but you answered some other questions of mine as well so I guess it’s a win-win situation!
Okay so I just love the album cover, it’s a typical mesmerising Dan Seagrave artwork with lots of details, beautiful colors and an old school death vibe. As far as I know with Bolt Thrower you’ve never worked with Seagrave, how did the idea come this time?

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Some of Dan Seagrave’s works

That’s right, we’ve never worked with Seagrave with Bolt Thrower. There’s a little story about why we were using Dan Seagrave and it’s basically because we are trying to recreate that old school vibe with Memoriam. Call it a midlife crisis if you want but we are trying to recreate the feelings of energy, creativity and joy in how we felt when we were in a band for the first time. That’s the bottom line of what we’re trying to do with Memoriam. And I think we’ve achieved that by the book at this point. However, the reason we used Dan was because when we first got together as a band, we all sat down before we went into the rehearsal room and we thought “Right, let’s see what we all wanna get out of this band. What would be the greatest thing we could actually get from doing Memoriam?” I said I wanted to play at certain places in the world where I haven’t played before. I think (Andrew) Whale(, drummer – ed.) mentioned a few festivals he wanted to do; Frank (Healy, bassist – ed.) he wanted to record at certain studios… And Scott (Fairfax, guitarist – ed.) came along with the fact that before he dies, he wants to record an album which features a Dan Seagrave cover. So we managed to tick that box quite successfully, twice now. But yeah, we approached him and gave him a very brief idea of what to do and that’s how he came up with the first album cover which is absolutely amazing. And you may have noticed on the second album cover, following the theme of the actual contextual idea of the album – grief –, the album cover reflects that as well. On the first album cover the coffin is being paraded across the battleground – funeral procession. The album cover of The Silent Vigil shows the coffin in the center of focus, lying in state with all the minions and supporters, followers standing there and watching, paying homage to the fallen leader (whatever you wanna call him, whatever’s in there). So yeah, we’ve got an idea what we’re doing with this. So I’d say the album cover’s theme just reflects the process of grief.

Do you already have any plans in mind for the future?

We are all ready at the point where we are starting to work on Memoriam’s next album. We work in an incredibly fast pace. We have a trilogy in mind for Memoriam: We’ve already engaged Dan’s services and we’ll team up for the next album cover, too. We’ve got other ideas beyond these three albums as well but our intention is to move forward and get another album out at some point in 2019. To complete the trilogy.

That sound really good Karl! Looking forward to it.  

Yes, exciting times for us here in Memoriam! We’ve got a lot of gigs as well, doing a lot in between. We’re just enjoying every moment for what it is ‘cause we’ve realized that life is short and you don’t know what’s around the corner. So you have to take everything you can, roll with it and enjoy life. That’s what you have, just enjoy life to the maximum and have as much as you can, while you can. And we’re doing that.

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Karl Willetts

Nice words, I’m happy for all of you guys! Some other subject now, as far as I know you have a Cultural Studies degree from the Birmingham University. It’s clear from all your lyrics and previous interviews that you have an interest in discussing about ideologies, ethnicities, globalization, and in general, politically engaged cultural issues.

Cultural Studies was the only school of thought in the 70s and it closed down ironically a year after I finished my degree course. I think they just realized it was kind of developing a lot of critical cultural thinkers and critical theorists. Which wasn’t doing the system any good, really. But yeah, I had a great time at Birmingham University. I did that because I left school with no real qualifications. When Bolt Thrower first started and was getting quite popular, I did a lot of A levels and my qualifications. And then when I left the band, I really wanted to go to university and experience that life. So doing that course was fantastic, it almost kind of contextualized the ideas and lyrics I’ve been writing previously. And made sense of them for me. It was a good grounding for me to get all these different ideas of social theory as well. There was lots of postmodern theory, classical social theory. I’ve also spent a year doing a bit of Russian culture, African studies and things like that. Issues of gender and race. So I think that’s really how it formulated my mindset and developed my ideas and maybe gave me the confidence to write the way that I do.

Did you ever think about working in a different field connected to your studies?

The ironic thing about Cultural Studies was that there was such a lot of deconstruction involved in what we did. I came away from the course thinking that academia generally is just a lot of self-justifying bullshit (laughs). Writing things about stuff and not really engaging with real life. That’s what I generally got from my degree course. So I never really wanted to pursue my academic career any further than what I did: I think the three years at university were more than enough for me. And I’ve taken away those ideas and applied them in a much wider context and I feel like that’s a better way forward.

For the end: What do you think is your most spoken sentence?

(Laughs) It has got to be a wrong word really, or like “War Master” or “World Eater” (laughs). I think my personal favorite line is the two lines in Powder Burns “Psychological technique / Invincible no pain”. Psychological technique, I really like that line for some reason. That’s one of my favorite lines I’ve ever written.

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Lynda “Tam” Simpson of Sacrilege

I’m also particularly proud of the song Last Words on For the Fallen from Memoriam, which we did with Tam from Sacrilege. She came with the idea and that was a kind of crowning highlight moment. A highlight moment of my career that I forgot to mention! It was great to get her involved because she was the reason I wanted to do this in the first place. There are some lines in that song that are quite touching as well.

Thank you very much for your extensive answers and your time Karl. I wish you all the best on your way forward with Memoriam and have a good night!

It’s been really a pleasure! Thanks for you time and your support. Good night Estelle!

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Metalegion Magazine #3

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Support us by buying the 3rd edition HERE! :)

And it’s here again: The third issue of Metalegion Magazine, another project I am contributing to is out and ready to be purchased for the price of 6€ (printed version) or 0.99€ (digital version)! This time the magazine features my interviews with Karl Willetts of Memoriam and ex-Bolt Thrower, Paul Mazurkiewicz of Cannibal Corpse and Marcel  “Schmier” Schirmer of Destruction; along with a few reviews written under the name of Estelle.

92 English-written, full colour pages with a sampler CD and posters. If you’re interested, visit metalegion.com – we are thankful for any support and are happy to come back with a fourth edition soon! 

Estelle

 

R.I.P. Mark “The Shark” Shelton!

The Shark and Estelle in May 2017 at a Manilla Road gig in Halle, Germany


One of the most enthusiastic, fan-loving and intimate bands of our time; thanks to you, Mark “The Shark” Shelton! Your musical work is indescribable and your energy and nerves for playing live gigs and catching up with fans in the past few years is honourable. I am incredibly happy I had the chance to be present at your second last live concert at Chaos Descends. Rest in peace – if someone, you can be sure you’ll be missed!

Metalegion Magazine #2

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Purchase the issue HERE

The second issue of Metalegion Magazine, another exciting project I am contributing to is now out and ready to be purchased for the fair price of 6€ (printed version) or 0.99€ (digital version)! Besides lots of other highlights, the issue features my in-depth interviews with top acts of the metal scene like Running Wild or Sodom, a few reviews as well as an extensive festival report of the French Fall of Summer Festival 2017; written under the name of Estelle.

92 English-written, full colour pages + a 79 minutes Sampler CD covering metal bands from different genres ranging from Heavy to Brutal Death Metal: If this sounds good to you, don’t hesitate and support us by purchasing the magazine HERE!

We’re really thankful and will get to work soon with the third edition. Couldn’t be more excited! :))

MERCILESS (Swe) video interview

I’m incredibly happy I got the chance to interview Merciless (Swe) at the Fall of Summer festival 2017 – check the result here! Topics include: Euronymous, Deathlike Silence, Morbid’s Dead, bad decisions, Fredrik Karlén, the ending of something and Kate Winslet. Enjoy!

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Festival report of Fall of Summer Festival 2017

Festival report of Fall of Summer Festival 2017 –  Torcy, France; 8-9th of September 2017

Report by Estelle on the 12th of October 2017

foslineup.jpgIn spite of last-minute band cancellations as well as some unpleasant weather conditions, Fall of Summer turned out to be again one of the most varied and quality festivals of the year. It seems that more and more metal enthusiasts recognize this fact: Not only attended this year markedly a lot more fans of black, death, thrash, heavy and doom metal than in the previous years, but the visitors’ scene also got much more vivid and international.

FRIDAY, 08.09.2017

Broken Hope, starting at 14:15, showed us into what we can expect from the festival death metal-wise with some serious massive riffs and rotten, pestilent growls. Their setlist was very diverse consisting of songs off their older as well as newer titles; all played with violent energy.

German speed/heavy/power cheese-kings Grave Digger took over. Starting with the title track of their newest (and most definitely not strongest) album ‘Healed by Metal’ from 2017 I was already considering leaving, and merely with two songs off their 80s’ classics, Witch Hunter and Heavy Metal Breakdown, they did not come close to convincing – not to speak of Boltendahl’s non-consistent voice and the “clap your hands”-style encouraging. They are trying, which is undeniably respectable, even though one sometimes wishes they didn’t.  

Fortunately, the unique experience of witnessing a (Tribute to) Sortilège show among the French not only eased my misery but also gave back my enthusiasm for the rest of the day: One could not extract themselves from this huge French karaoke nor from acquiring a part of the warm, collective feeling coming with it.

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(Ttribute to) Sortilège| Photo: Estelle

Vocalist Alexis d’Hürlement accomplished the effortful task of having to take the place of genious starting Sortilège singer Zouille with ease and joy, stealing the show even from the three original members showing up on stage for the single closing song, Marchand d’hommes. It can be contemplated on why the long-announced three original members (drummer Jean-Philippe Dumont aka ‘Bob Snake’, bassist Daniel ‘Lapin’ Lapp and guitarist Didier ‘Dem’ Demajean) only made an appearance for one song at the very end, on why it seemed like it was simply a duty for them or on why the group did not play ‘seen-as-obligatory’ titles such as Chasse Le Dragon or Mourir Pour Une Princesse; however, I was personally so amazed by being able to hear the well-composed setlist live with Hürlement’s fitting voice that I rather concentrated on enjoying the moment.

(Tribute to) Sortilège’s setlist on the 8th of September 2017, Fall of Summer festival, France:

  1. D’ailleurs
  2. Progéniture
  3. Métamorphose
  4. Quand un aveugle rêve
  5. Messager (w/ Gil Di Bravo)
  6. Gladiateur
  7. Sortilège
  8. Délire d’un Fou
  9. Marchand d’hommes (W/ Bob Snake, Daniel ‘Lapin’ Lapp and Didier ‘Dem’ Demajean)
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Merciless | Photo: Estelle

My cheerfulness boosted as after the last notes of (Tribute to) Sortilège I again became conscious of the fact that I am going to catch Merciless for the second time: The Swedish death/thrash veterans have reformed last year for a handful of dates across Europe before splitting definitively at the end of 2017.
How their show was? Nothing but Pure Hate. Regarding their energy and the quality of their performance, they gave a show that was comparable to the one given at the Swedish Muskelrock with nonstop savagery, insane speed and not a moment to breathe. On a side note, even though the audience seemed to be more into the show as on Muskelrock, the pit still didn’t turn into the biggest one on the festival – which I did not let distract me from how I personally enjoyed the show. A chain of cruel shows like that for a year before saying goodbye to the industry: real tricky, Merciless, real tricky!

Getting into the crowd of the French progressive rock group Magma after a Merciless gig is like slipping into a pot of warm, steaming, whirling soup as a portion of carrots after already being peeled and chopped.
Magma, reflecting my expectations, completely hypnotised: it is not every day you have the chance to see a symphonic rock band with jazz elements, singing most of their lyrics in a constructed language, Kobaïan. Eerie, impressive and engaging enough to get you completely forget about the rain.

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Île de loisirs de Vaires Torcy | Photo: Estelle


Meanwhile we were spending a bit of time in our tents trying to (unsuccessfully) dry ourselves off, Blasphemy took over, not giving a damn about the pouring rain nor the audience’s religious views, managing to attract and override many enthusiasts with their unmistakable, profane music, lyrics and attitude. Studs, bullet belts, inverted crosses, corpsepaint and the obligatory evening-hour sunglasses highlighted the experience of seeing the satanic Canadian death/blackers live.

Blasphemy’s setlist on the 8th of September 2017, Fall of Summer festival, France:

  1. War Command
  2. Blasphemous Attack
  3. Gods of War
  4. Darkness Prevails
  5. Desecration
  6. Nocturnal Slayer
  7. Emperor of the Black Abyss
  8. Hording of Evil Vengeance
  9. Goddess of Perversity
  10. Weltering in Blood
  11. Blasphemy
  12. Fallen Angel of Doom
  13. The Desolate One
  14. Demoniac
  15. Atomic Nuclear Desolation
  16. Empty Chalice
  17. Ritual

The celebrated Canadian speed/thrash group Annihilator followed with a rather typical but not in any way dull festival setlist with lots of old-time classics such as Set the World on Fire, W.T.Y.D., Alison Hell, Phantasmagoria and Human Insecticide, besides the characterless newer titles. I am curious if Jeff Waters ever gets to the idea of playing the whole ‘Alice in Hell’ record live within a (festival)tour, much to the delight of the long-term fans; until then we ought to content ourselves with their (still decent and very much enjoyable) current shows.

Primordial are a band that consistently manage to give back the atmosphere and spirit of their records live while also retaining the quality of their sound. As the last act, the Irish group gave this particularly bleak and wet day a graceful and pleasing end with a well-chosen setlist together with their perceivable dedication. Always a pleasure.

Primordial’s setlist on the 8th of September 2017, Fall of Summer festival, France:

  1. Intro
  2. Where Greater Men Have Fallen
  3. No Grave Deep Enough
  4. Babel’s Tower
  5. As Rome Burns
  6. Gods to the Godless
  7. The Coffin Ships
  8. Empire Falls


SATURDAY, 09.09.2017

As Saturday’s first, I went to see Toxik in the foreday’s mud. Expanded with their three new tracks off their 2017 EP ‘Breaking Class’ we got all the relevant 80s’ songs delivered, played decently but not as enthusiastically that I would have felt the need to get myself further into the crowd. It was, however, certainly heart-warming to see that after years and years of a break the US thrash band enjoys being on stage so much and that frontman Charles Sabin cannot thank the crowd enough for coming – Not to mention their action of inviting a French fan onto the stage to help them with the guitars on False Prophets.

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Count Raven | Photo: my good friend Gábor Oláh

I did not exactly know what to expect from Count Raven’s live performance. So what did I get? Surprisingly engaging, gloomy, harmonized riffs with not at all banal or worn-out lyrics, coupled with the feeling of tranquillity and the sand below my feet standing at the Blackwaters stage on the lakeside. Everything they do feels real: with a presence and setting much less theatrical than by bands of the same genre (see: Candlemass), the Swedish Count Raven managed to both convey the message they meant to through their music and show us how sincerely they mean it. Anytime again!

 


Moving on to Bulldozer, one of the groups from the high-class lineup that I was hoping to see live for years already, I found myself standing on side of the stage-separating hill in the drizzling rain, staring at A.C. Wild and his group from underneath a yellow bin liner-like raincoat and being mesmerised. A strong, fierce performance with engaged people moving around, where fortunately even the weather did not succeed to make it difficult to interpret A.C.’s words “It’s fucking whiskey time!”, AS IT WAS ALREADY FREAKING WHISKEY TIME. Show: 9.5/10, Weather: 3/10, People who gave a damn about the weather on average: 1/10.

Bulldozer’s setlist on the 9th of September 2017, Fall of Summer festival, France:

  1. Neurodeliri
  2. IX
  3. Desert!
  4. Ilona the Very Best
  5. The Derby
  6. Impotence
  7. Minkions
  8. The Final Separation
  9. Ride Hard – Die Fast
  10. Whisky Time
  11. Willful Death
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Demolition Hammer | Photo: my good friend Gábor Oláh

Always tearing every stage and crowd apart, Demolition Hammer did not let us down this time either. Overwhelming power and tight thrash riffs at lightning speed with corresponding (but mostly moshing and fighting) fan-reaction: the old school US-thrashers once again managed to become the most impressive act of a festival, leaving absolutely no chance for the nomination for the upcoming bands.

 

 

Demolition Hammer’s setlist on the 9th of September 2017, Fall of Summer festival, France:

  1. Skull Fracturing Nightmare
  2. Carnivorous Obsession
  3. Hydrophobia
  4. Neanderthal
  5. Omnivore
  6. Infectious Hospital Waste
  7. Aborticide
  8. Human Dissection
  9. .44 Caliber Brain Surgery
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Morbid Saint | Photo: my good friend Gábor Oláh

As the first notes of the starting Destruction System could be heard, we were hurrying to the Sanctuary stage to get our heads ripped off by another American thrash-pioneer group Morbid Saint. As after the introduction of two decently written new songs (Flesh of the Disease and Daku) recent vocalist Cliff Wagner announced that they are about to play the whole ‘Spectrum of Death’, I was blown away, I thought they bought me and that there would be no place for critique in the concert report afterwards. I was wrong: The fact that the only original member who partook in the makings of their demos and ‘Spectrum of Death’ is guitarist Jay Visser, has its strong effect not only on the band’s image but also on its sound, together with the members’ engagement. As I see it, Cliff’s hardcore appearance and vocal-style does not fit the fans’ idea of 80’s Morbid Saint either, which results that one of the most brutal thrash metal records of all time played in its entirety live sounds ungenuine and flat.

Due to the hustling-bustling audience, Coven’s show showed an utter contrast regarding the attitude and overall feeling to their gig on Muskelrock. On Muskelrock every single bystander-listener behaved themselves quiet, engaged and observant and so not only they, but also the band was able to empathize the theatrical obscure, ritual-like mood that is relevant for a Coven show. On the contrary, at Fall of Summer the audience was loud and chatty, not giving the band the chance to deliver a spirit of obscureness. Uncommonly, vocalist Jinx was even talking, storying, introducing the band and thanking the audience for coming between the songs, which absolutely contradicts one’s expectations of a show of the American psychedelic rock band.

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Coven | Photo: my good friend Gábor Oláh


Even despite the fact that Jinx with her 67 years is understandably not able to sing the higher tones anymore, her presence on stage can by no means be overlooked: Stepping out of her famed-for coffin; wearing her glimmering masque and scenically getting rid of it after the first few songs; tenaciously standing in one place for the whole concert-duration with no sudden moves, just the slow, gentle, (Wicked) Womanly hand-movements.
Even though the show was not free of defects and mistakes (e.g. error message at the screen at the back of the stage displaying rituals), hearing this top setlist – from where the only song that I personally missed was Lost Without a Trace – and going through the Coven-experience live still made me feel it was magic.

Coven’s setlist on the 9th of September 2017, Fall of Summer festival, France:

  1. Out of Luck
  2. Black Sabbath
  3. Coven in Charing Cross
  4. White Witch of Rose Hall
  5. Wicked Woman
  6. The Crematory
  7. Choke, Thirst, Die
  8. Black Swan
  9. Dignitaries Of Hell
  10. F.U.C.K
  11. Epitaph
  12. Blood on the Snow

Marduk‘s setlist on the 9th of September 2017, Fall of Summer festival, France:

  1. Frontschwein
  2. The Blond Beast
  3. Of Hell’s Fire
  4. Materialized in Stone
  5. The Levelling Dust
  6. Throne of Rats
  7. Cloven Hoof
  8. Wartheland
  9. Legion
  10. Wolves
  11. Panzer Division Marduk

To my sadness, the festival ended for me with an exceptionally disappointing Venom show.

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Cronos | Photo: my good friend Gábor Oláh

Not only did Cronos have constant problems with the sound, but he even let the audience have a look behind the scenes by behaving himself extremely unprofessionally. Whispering something to the soundman every two minutes, changing bass guitars three times, making perplexed announcements like “As you can see we have some problems here *hehe*”: Am I the only one who does not feel any Satan or black metal here?

Comical, out-of-context fire effects, the abuse of the original lyrics, unenjoyable dull singing, puzzled faces and the feeling of disappointment. The man of the show who even managed to ‘save’ the situation to some degree was drummer Danté with his overwhelming energy, showing he is having fun at what he is doing, making crazy faces at photographers and simply trying to distract our attention from Cronos’ obnoxious unprofessionalism.

 

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Danté | Photo: my good friend Gábor Oláh


Surprise of the day: The fire effects without proper music are apparently not enough to satisfy the needs of thousands of Venom- and evil-hungry people.


And now, to sum up…

Strongest standout bands: Demolition Hammer, Bulldozer, Merciless, (Tribute to) Sortilège

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Île de loisirs de Vaires Torcy | Photo: Estelle


Main impressions:
+ still an excellent location; high-class lineup; no delays; decent sound; a great variety of genres; open-mindedness
– pricey and not-that-tasty beer; no shelter from the storm; music genres in the after parties ranging from 80s pop to Rammstein

Recommendations: Go!

Find more information at: http://fallofsummer.fr/
Photos were used by ‘Estelle’. Special thanks for his generous help with the photos to my good Hungarian friend Gábor Oláh.