Festival report of Fall of Summer Festival 2017 – Torcy, France; 8-9th of September 2017
Report by Estelle on the 12th of October 2017
In 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.
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.
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:
- Quand un aveugle rêve
- Messager (w/ Gil Di Bravo)
- Délire d’un Fou
- Marchand d’hommes (W/ Bob Snake, Daniel ‘Lapin’ Lapp and Didier ‘Dem’ Demajean)
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.
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:
- War Command
- Blasphemous Attack
- Gods of War
- Darkness Prevails
- Nocturnal Slayer
- Emperor of the Black Abyss
- Hording of Evil Vengeance
- Goddess of Perversity
- Weltering in Blood
- Fallen Angel of Doom
- The Desolate One
- Atomic Nuclear Desolation
- Empty Chalice
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:
- Where Greater Men Have Fallen
- No Grave Deep Enough
- Babel’s Tower
- As Rome Burns
- Gods to the Godless
- The Coffin Ships
- Empire Falls
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.
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:
- Ilona the Very Best
- The Derby
- The Final Separation
- Ride Hard – Die Fast
- Whisky Time
- Willful Death
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:
- Skull Fracturing Nightmare
- Carnivorous Obsession
- Infectious Hospital Waste
- Human Dissection
- .44 Caliber Brain Surgery
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.
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:
- Out of Luck
- Black Sabbath
- Coven in Charing Cross
- White Witch of Rose Hall
- Wicked Woman
- The Crematory
- Choke, Thirst, Die
- Black Swan
- Dignitaries Of Hell
- Blood on the Snow
Marduk‘s setlist on the 9th of September 2017, Fall of Summer festival, France:
- The Blond Beast
- Of Hell’s Fire
- Materialized in Stone
- The Levelling Dust
- Throne of Rats
- Cloven Hoof
- Panzer Division Marduk
To my sadness, the festival ended for me with an exceptionally disappointing Venom show.
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.
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
+ 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
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.