Fortarock The Festival 2014

May 31st
Goffertpark, Nijmegen (NL)

Report by: Laetitia (L) and Ingrid (I)
After Fortarock’s XL edition last year, many metal fans were anxious to see how this year’s edition of the festival would turn out. The line-up featured a bunch of legendary bands that everybody knows and enjoys, like Iron Maiden and Slayer. The people with a yearning for straightforward rock could also enjoy Vandenberg’s Moonkings, Alter Bridge and Graveyard. The headbangers and moshers could go wild on the tunes of groups like Behemoth, Dimmu Borgir, Gojira and Carcass. This wasn’t the complete line-up by far as The Charm The Fury, Blood Ceremony, Deafheaven, Caliban, Skillet, Ghost, Trivium and Anthrax adorned the bill of Fortarock 2014.

The Dutch rock formation around Ad van den Berg (Whitesnake, Vandenberg) Vandenberg’s Moonkings has been a welcome guest on the stages everywhere in the past year. The foursome played rather early on the main stage and many people were enjoying their first large beers while chatting and relaxing in the grass. Meanwhile, the musicians were attempting to create a lively atmosphere by inciting the people to move around. This mainly had an effect when the band played amongst others a Whitesnake hit, Here I Go Again. Out of nowhere, a lot of air guitars appeared and anybody who knew the song (which means everybody) started to sing or lip sync along. (L)

Papa Emeritus II and his Nameless Ghouls of the Swedish band Ghost made their first appearance on Fortarock in 2011. In the meantime, the group has been touring around the world and released its second full length ‘Infestissumam’ and the most recent EP ‘If You Have Ghost’ and consequently, they’ve gained a large following. The ritual that Ghost performed today was somewhat disappointing. The songs were played flawlessly by the Ghouls, but Papa Emeritus II failed to hit a clean note occasionally. (L)

The American heavy metal band Trivium is another group that has played on Fortarock before and like two years ago, they proved once again that they are a band to be reckoned with. Their hard hitting melodic metal got the front rows moshing, the people in the back head nodding and altogether the performance of the band was flawless. As they play good shows each time, it’s easy to see why they are a favourite on the festivals! (L)

The brutal guys from Behemoth do not let anything stop them, not even the Russian government. Today they showed that they are still standing strong by putting on a great show. They even played one of the better shows of the entire festival. Even though the festival struggled with the bad sound almost the entire day, from where I was standing, the sound of Behemoth was actually pretty ok. Newer songs like Blow Your Trumpet Gabriel and The Satanist, as well as older classics such as Chant for ESCHATON 2000 or Christians To The Lions were played. (I)

What can you say about Sabaton that isn’t already out there? This band takes performing to another level and there aren’t many other groups out there that can put on a show like these Swedes. Even if their catchy heavy metal isn’t your thing, vocalist Joakim Brodén cracks up basically everybody with this jokes. Furthermore, the band radiates positive energy in their active stage performance and the gig on Fortarock was no exception. The setlist featured classics like The Art of War, Primo Victoria and Ghost Division. From the most recent record, Heroes, the Swedes played the single To Hell and Back. (L)

If you were in for some more brutal action after Sabaton, the Tent Stage was the perfect place to be, since Gojira was playing here. In a completely filled tent, the fans gave all the moshing and headbanging they could. (I)

In the meantime, Deafheaven was playing on the Monster Energy stage. There weren’t much people watching, and probably there were more people sitting on the grass and listening to the band from a distance. We happened to be part of that last group and that suited us perfectly. Even though Deafheaven is seen as a very promising band, today they couldn’t convince many people to really move towards the stage. (I)

After all this heavy stuff, it was time to satisfy the fans of less extreme music. Alter Bridge might not totally fit in with this line-up, they managed to fill a big part of the main field. You may, or may not, be a fan of this band, but you can’t deny that they played a pretty good show, and that they were booked to play on Fortarock for a reason. (I)

The ‘break’ was quick and it was time for some serious death metal! Since a few years, Carcass is back in the picture, and with the release of their new album Surgical Steel last year, there’s no getting around them. Despite one little flaw, the London based band proofs to be still standing strong by playing a tight set that included a lot of old work, but of course also tunes from their latest release.
In the meantime, Graveyard was rocking the Monster Energy stage. I’ve seen this band a couple of times now, and was impressed the first time, but today wasn’t their best show. I can’t say exactly what it was, but something was lacking here today. Too bad, because I know they’re much better than this. (I)

Time for one of the biggest bands on this festival: Slayer on the main stage. Two years ago, this band was headliner, when Fortarock was based in Park Brakkenstein, and I remember not really being impressed by them back then. This year, their show was a little better. The gentlemen seemed to be a bit more alive today. Unfortunately the sound wasn’t all that good, but still (even though I had to wait a while before I heard some familiar tunes) I was able to hum along with classics such as Dead Skin Mask, Raining Blood and Angel Of Death. (I)

While Slayer was still playing, the crew of Dimmu Borgir thought to be funny, which they indeed were, as they played along with Slayer during the sound check. Unfortunately this was about as exciting as it would get concerning Dimmu Borgir. First of all the expectation of them playing the entire Death Cult Armageddon album live, as was announced, didn’t come true, since they only played about half of it. Though on the other hand, this wasn’t actually the worst thing that could happen, because it left space for other songs like The Serpentine Offering, Puritania and of course Mourning Palace to be played. Second of all the sound in the tent was so extremely bad and thin, that I would say this was almost the Disney version of Dimmu Borgir. Which is a shame because the band itself was really giving all they could. (I_

And then of course it was time for the headliner of the day. Last, but certainly not least, it was time for Iron Maiden to enter the main stage. I am surprised by the energy these old rockers still possess. Especially front man Bruce Dickinson seemed to be fully enjoying himself by jumping and running around on stage. With classics such as Can I Play With Madness, The Number Of The Beast, Phantom Of The Opera, Fear Of The Dark and The Evil That Men Do, the setlist wasn’t what you would call surprising; but then again, nobody of course expects anything else from you, since you are Iron Maiden.

And with this more-than-worthy-headliner, Fortarock 2014 already had come to its end. We were lucky to have lovely weather this year, in contradiction to last year. We were lucky with good shows from bands like Sabaton, Behemoth and Iron Maiden. We were also lucky by the festival area not being so extremely crowded as it was last year. We were unlucky with suffering from bad sound most of the day, especially when there were bands playing at the Tent Stage and Monster Energy Stage at the same time. All that’s left now is to wonder what Fortarock 2015 is going to look like. Will they book another big name and fill up the entire Goffertpark again. Or will we get a smaller, but cosier edition, in the way the festival started a few years ago?

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