This year the “The Black Planet” team returned to Leipzig for the Wave Gotik Treffen festival. Like last year, we chose to do the daily reporting in one place. We decided to watch the performance of all the bands on that stage/venue, instead of jumping from place to place, because we would lose a lot of time between the trips.
So, on the first day we chose to report on the events in the medieval market Heidnisches Dorf, not far from the place where we went to get the accreditations.
The first band to climb the main stage in this medieval village (and the one we attended at the festival) was Fairytale, a german celtic folk band that was one of the best performances we have seen at this festival. Among the songs played, the main vocalist was narrating a story (in German) and the songs were making the bridge between the chapters. The inclusion and presentation of certain objects in the narrative between the songs helped to understand this story. The feeling and the ambience of this show that they created left us with the feeling that we were watching something like the musical representation of a fairy tale. Noteworthy was the extraordinary coordination between the two vocalists, which made the show all that much more special. At first there were not many people, but the curiosity, the medieval dresses, the music, and all the narrative involvement awoke the curiosity and some people started to get closer to the stage, so it ended up being a concert with some public.
Next up was Ingrimm, a German medieval folk band with twelve years of activity. To the sound of electric guitars, drums, bagpipes and violin, they gave a well stirred and very happy concert, going through the four original albums that they have. Songs like “Die Pest”, “Schalk im Nacken”, “Teufelsweib”, or even “Sag Mir Nicht” – which closed their set – have enliven the public that gathered to see them, even though they weren’t present in a big number at that time.
The Dutch folk band Cesair was the third act of this day. With more people watching than the previous band, they delivered a great performance of folk music. They released their second album “Omphalos” last year, so most of the concert was based on it. A live-show presentation for those who did not know it yet. Tracks such as “Surya Mantras”, “Rúnatal”, “Umbra” or even “Troll Kalla Mik” imparted certain spirituality to the crowd. There was also a return to the past and to the first album with “Atiny Naya” and “Canso”.
As the night drew nearer, more people came to the compound. The fourth ensemble of the night was the old and legendary Rapalje, a quartet of Dutchmen who play Irish / folk / celtic music. His joyful, fast-paced music soon made everyone dance. In the middle of the crowd, many people were shaking their heads and rehearsing some dance steps, to the sound of traditional songs known by many. “Whiskey in the Jar”, “Wat Zullen We Drinken”, “Further Up Further In” (a Waterboys cover), “Stand and Fight” (a Manowar cover) or even “Tri Martolod” (a Breton folk song) are some examples of the songs played. At the final song, the bagpipe player and the bass drummer came down from the stage and made a convoy with the people attending their gig.
With the enclosure completely full, the last act of the evening was Eivør, the band of the renowned singer Eivør Pálsdóttir from the Faroe Islands. It can be said that the sound they practice nowadays is avant-garde Nordic folk with some electronic influences. A rather interesting project, that managed to gathered an impressive crowd to see the show. Tracks such as “Mjørkaflókar”, “Brotin”, “Bridges”, “Trøllabundin” (one of the highlights of the concert with the vocalist making throat sing) or “True Love”, led the public to complete ecstasy and transcendence. As an encore we had “Verd Min” and to close in great style the “Falling Free” song. To make this an even greater and special show, they had a special guest playing the accordion in some songs, in which they were intentionally adapted for this purpose.
On the second day we went to the Agra precinct, which is one of the main sites of the Wave Gottik Treffen event. Not only because it has one of the biggest markets for Gothic clothing and accessories (during these days), but also because where it is located the campsite for those who come from outside.
The first band to climb onto the stage was Zeromancer, an industrial rock band from Norway. They kicked off this second day in a blast – with seventy minutes of pure power. The crowd that gathered knew very well what was about to come, given its numbers. The setlist dedicated time to both old and new songs. Tracks like “Auf Wiedersehen Boy” or “Something For The Pain”, among others, made the audience throb. To close their set they played “Ammonite” (which was penultimate and where 2 drums were placed on stage, and where the vocalist and the bass player alternated playing) and a Depeche Mode cover for “Photographic”. Their sound was just perfect!
After the discharge that was Zeromancer, the industrial sonorities remained. They were followed by 3 Teeth, an American industrial band from Los Angeles. A screen was placed at the back of the stage, showing several projections throughout the concert. The enclosure was not as full as it was with Zeromancer, perhaps because they were not so well known, but the show was equally devastating. The “motto” for the “party” was given by their charismatic singer with a moustache. When he entered the stage, he said that: “Is good to be out to fucking America”. With a hypnotic sound closer to Ministry, the room gradually got fuller, similar to the witnessed with the previous band. Songs such as “Divine Weapon”, “Dissolve” or “Nihil Close”, were part of a set that progressively conquered the audience. By the end, they were rocking in the songs.
Oomph, a German industrial metal band, came up next and had a full house waiting for them. They are the pioneers of the German “Neue Deutsche Härte” (new German Hardness) movement in the 80s. Although they have been around for over 30 years, they still live this with the intensity of a newcomer. Their show exude perfection from start to finish. The sound vas on point, and the choice of the setlist was impeccable, fluctuating between more aggressive and more melodic tunes. After an intro, songs like “Das Weiße Licht”, “Gott Ist ein Popstar”, “Mein Herz” or even “Augen Auf!” were heard and welcomed by the fans. Oomph turned out to be the band of this day in Agra, due to their amazing stage presence and electrifying symbiotic interaction with the fans.
The legendary Canadian electro-industrial band Front Line Assembly, were the following act. They used projections on a screen to convey their message, to the sound of their repertoire. However, the sound quality faced a few problems throughout the concert. The bass was too loud and muffled the music a little. Despite this, several people were seen in the crowd dancing to the sound of “Killing Grounds”, “Deadened”, or “Mindphaser” – among others. Although there was no overflow like in Oomph, they had a respectable amount of dancing fans.
Wardruna closed the night. Unfortunately it felt like the Agra venue was not the best place to listen to Wardruna. After four bands more industrial-oriented, it’s only natural that people are a little excited, and then a band appeared that play music that demands another level of attention, many couldn’t be quiet, ruining the ambience needed to fully experience the show. Despite that, their performance was exemplary. They played themes from their three albums, like “Tyr”, “Heimta Thurs”, “Algir – Stien Klarnar”, or “Odal”, that sounded between the walls of the enclosure.
This was probably one of the festival’s strongest days, no doubt.
On the third day, we went to Felsenkeller for a day dedicated to metal sonorities. In previous years this day dedicated to metal was presented in Kohlrabizirkus, a large space where thousands of people can be housed. Unfortunately this year, due to problems of loan of space with the new owner, the organization decided to change the shows to the Felsenkeller venue.
Opening this stage was Cellar Darling, a new project from Anna Murphy (former singer in the Eluveitie). The eleven songs were all taken from the homonymous debut album from 2017. Despite the quality of the music, it was a rather lukewarm show. Maybe it was the early time they played, but the reaction of the crowd could have been more enthusiastic. The highest point of their performance came on the last song, of the set – “Challenge”. They invited the talented violinist Shir-Ran Yinon was invited to play with the band, which seem to delight most of the crowd.
Their set was followed by Aeverium, an alternative metal band with two vocalists, one male and one female. It was a more muscled and stronger concert than the previous one, on which the band played mostly songs from their second album that was released last year. Tracks like “Time”, “Brave New World” (one of those that excited the public more), and World Inside my Head, and some older ones like “Break Out”, or “Heaven’s Burning” were played. In the middle of their show, the band made an appeal for the fans to buy the CDs and not to make illegal downloads, because the bands without the financial support of the fans tend to end.
The third band was the legendary Pyogenesis, a band played death/doom metal, before their break up in 2005. They returned in 2014 with a different sound, closer to a mix of hard rock and punk. Much to our surprise, part of the audience, even before the Pyogenesis concert started, left the venue, resulting in the band playing for a half-empty room. The sound was somewhat troubled in the beginning, but in the middle of the second song it improved and the acoustic conditions was appropriate. The setlist was mostly based on the last two albums of the band – in which we can classify as their new phase. However, in the middle of that there was time for two tracks of their initial phase of death metal – “Twinaleblood” and “Undead”, taken from their second album.
The fourth band was Dool. A Dutch band with an original sound, that mixes a few genres such as progressive rock, doom metal, psychedelic and gothic rock. They had a fuller room waiting for them. Even though they started with a delay of almost thirty five minutes, as soon as they sounded the first chords, the audience was hooked on their sound. The public grew in numbers throughout the duration of their show. “The Alpha”, “Golden Serpents”, “Vantablack” and “Oweynagat” were some of the songs played. The stage presence of vocalist and guitarist Ryanne van Dorst was brutal, giving a vibrant performance that didn’t leave anyone indifferent.
Closing the nigh on its glory, we had a very special Tiamat show. This mythical Swedish doom band played their classical albums “Clouds” and “Wildhoney” (minus the instrumental songs) in full. It was a very intense performance, in the midst of darker – and suited – ambience. The stage lights were deliberately diminished to help create the proper scenario. The room was beyond crowded. This was definitely a must see show. However, this new venue was just too small for the number of people interested in seeing this show, there were even some complaints that some people just couldn’t get inside the room to see the concert. We hope that the next year the previous place can be rented to avoid a similar situation.
A new trip to Felsenkeller was in order for the last day of the festival.
The first band to come on stage was the Swedish folk / viking metal band Grimner. They had the unpleasant mission to open the day for an almost empty venue. Their sound, which can be considered festive metal music, works really well live and their performance was impeccable. They brought with them “Vanadrottning”, their third full length album released last year, and most of the setlist was based on it. Johan ‘The Blacksmith’ gave a show playing the flute, and the scarce crowd in there became very enthusiastic. In all was a very good show and the sound was on point.
Eminenz, one of the oldest German black metal bands, active since 1989, was the follow up act. The venue still had very few people in it, but the band gave an excellent concert reviewing all their musical history anyway. After an intro, songs like “Sink in Oblivion”, “Darkness Comes Over Us”, or even “Consolamentum” delighted the audicence. They closed their set with Exorial, where the vocalist entered the stage with a wooden cross, reversed it, and sung the rest of the song kneeled and holding the inverted cross. In the end, there was still time for an encore, on which they played a Venom cover.
The third act was Wolfchant, a German pagan / folk metal band. The fact that they have two vocalists, one for clean vocals and the other for harsh vocals, makes their performances more lively. They are both energetic frontman, and never stood still, always running across the stage and cheering the audience. They had a larger number of people watching the show than the previous bands. Although the last album was from last year, their setlist featured both new and older themes, like “A Pagan Storm” or “Embraced By Fire”.
The next act was Imperium Dekadenz, another German black metal band. It was a very good concert and quite engaging. The setlist had themes taken from all five albums of the band. “Der Dolch im Gewande”, “Reich der fahlen Seelen”, “Staub und Erinnerungen” and “The Million Moons” were some the songs masterfully played.
Our last show in this year’s edition was Heidevolk. This Dutch folk / viking metal band closed the night at the Felsenkeller venue. The setlist was mostly based on the songs from their new album, released this January. There was still time for one of their hymns, “Vulgaris Magistralis”, a cover song from an old Dutch rock band called Normaal. Their performance was intense and made half of the venue dance in most songs. A wonderful closing for this day.
In short, the balance from this year’s edition of Wave Gotik Treffen is fairly positive. There were a lot of great shows and ambiance, and a lot of wonderful bands. Now, we have to wait to see what the next year’s edition will bring us. See you there!