Review by: Ingrid, Laetitia, Tabitha
Pictures by: Laetitia
It’s been three years since Metal-Exposure last visited the Ragnarök Festival in Lichtenfels, so it was about time that we were coming back. Arriving at the Stadthalle in Lichtenfels, things looked exactly the same as three years ago, and it felt like we never skipped an edition.
However, it seems the festival has grown a little since there were now two camping places instead of one, added to the still existing sleeping hall, which we’re very happy with. After claiming a spot in that last one, it was time to check out some bands, because after all, that’s what we came for!
First band to watch was the German black metal band Creature, and there were more people than I expected there to be. The show they played was ok, and made us wondering what their style precisely is. The music sounded typically like black metal, but the vocals were very ambient and made us think of bands like Elffor. Nevertheless I really enjoyed it.
Next band we watched was Minas Morgul. I’ve seen them before and even though they’re not really my style of metal, their shows are usually pretty ok to watch. And even though this show wasn’t bad at all, I’ve seen them do much better than today. Nevertheless the fans seemed very enthusiastic and they were enjoying themselves.
Because of the cancellation of Graveworm who were supposed to play later that day, Minas Morgul, Fäulnis and Eïs played a little longer than scheduled to fill up the gap that else would appear in the running order.
The last two of those were already on tour together and the two bands played in a nice flow. Fäulnis played a really nice show, and Eïs seemed to be super enthusiastic to perform, and there was a lot of interaction between the band and the audience. Unfortunately the sound wasn’t always all too good, but that didn’t ruin the gig.
Arkona had a special show on Ragnarök because it was the release party of their new cd ‘Yav’. I never was much a fan of this band, but it seems they’re growing on me and I really enjoyed the show. They played very strong and powerful. Of course they played a lot of songs from Yav, but also old classics as Goi, Rode, Goi, Yarilo and Slavsia, Rus.
As Borknagar isn’t the kind of touring tiger that you are able to see every year, the band’s appearance on Ragnarok was something we were really looking forward to. The groups latest work, the 2013 intriguing, avant garde piece Urd, got the critics raving, but how would the Norwegian six piece translate these intricate song structures to a hard hitting gig? At first, the sound was blurry as the vocals were drowned in the music and in the middle of a song, an amplifier needed to be switched, which made the start a little chaotic. Nevertheless, the Norwegians did not lose their game and played songs from different albums, among them the majestic Frostrite, the pulse accelerating Epochalypse and they sealed the deal with Colossus. The vocals were done by Pål ‘Athera’ Mathiesen (Susperia, Chrome Division) who has been stepping in for singer Andreas ‘Vintersorg’ Hedlund for some time now. Mathiesen has swiftly grown into Borknagar as he flawlessly interacted with the other band members. All in all, the band lived up nicely to the set expectations.
Finntroll seemed to be the most popular band today, since they surely gathered the biggest audience of the day. Everywhere you looked there were people dancing, drinking, partying and having fun. And even though they struggled with ‘not so good’ sound, they managed to enthusiastically play songs from all kinds of different albums for us like Solsagan, Trollhammaren and Blodsvept.
Last band of the day was Kampfar. I’ve seen them quite some times and they never disappoint. Today was no exception and they played an extraordinary show. With their newest album Djevelmakt being released not so long ago, they naturally played songs like Mylder and Our Hounds, Our Legion for us. But also old classics such as Hymne, Ravenheart and Troll, Død Og Trolldom passed us by. Slowly undressing himself bit by bit on stage, singer Dolk showed us some tr00 black metal attitude. A worthy ending of this first day of Ragnarök which ended way too soon!
Unfortunately Ragnarök doesn’t have an organized afterparty, but there are more ways to celebrate. And by the looks of it, a lot of people had a good party the first night because we were some of the few who managed to watch the first band on Saturday: Firtan. I never heard of this band before, but I was very impressed. Even though they played a very short set, they really blew those few who were watching them away!
Not unfamiliar on this festival are the ‘medieval rockers’ from Odroerir. All dressed up they stepped on stage to entertain us with some lovely tunes. During their short playtime, the atmosphere mostly stayed lovely since they didn’t play much of their harder stuff. The gig was nice, but a little more of the harder songs would have been welcome.
As fourth band on Saturday, the band Skálmöld from Iceland was taking the stage. This Viking-metal band from Reykjavík has not been around for ages like most other bands on the festival, but did not perform any less well because of that. They started with ´Heima´, the first song from their debut album ´Baldur´. This is an amazing intro that really got the audience in the right mood and created a great atmosphere. During the show, songs from both albums were performed with an enthusiasm that was contagious. You could see that they were really enjoying themselves on stage and were playing their instruments with inspiration. Their male voices made for beautiful full vocals, even though pretty much no one in the audience could understand any of it. The highlight of the show was definitely their last song, ´Kvadning´. This epic piece of music was so well played by the artists that it generated goose bumps and an elated audience. A really good note to end this amazing show with. So, when are they playing next?
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to watch XIV Dark Centuries. I don’t like saying it, but I’ve seen a lot of bad shows when it comes to this band. Therefore I was rather surprised about their performance today.
Their show was really good, and the audience also seemed to like it because I saw heads and other body parts moving all around me. I am happily satisfied with their gig this day!
I must confess that I lost sight when it comes to Finsterforst. Nevertheless I know that they’re a great band, so time to check them out! And I am quite happy that I did! What an amazing show this was. And it seemed I wasn’t the only one thinking this since the hall was pretty packed with people head banging and going crazy. Especially the balance between the accordeon and the rest of the band can almost be called magical. They really impressed me today, this must have been one of their strongest gigs I’ve seen, well done!
While the pouring rain came down on some lonely Vikings outside who were fighting their battles, inside it was time for one of the highlights of the festival: Fjoergyn. Tis band probably proclaimed the title ‘house band of the festival’ by now; today was a special show as the brain behind the Ragnarök festival Ivo Raab, was participating during their show. I have to confess that I didn’t watch the entire show. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Fjoergyn, but I prefer to listen to them on CD. Nevertheless it was great watching the band, especially Ivo his enthusiasm was adorable to see!
Next to see was Trollfest. I remember the first time I saw them play live, which was actually also on Ragnarök, but then back in 2007, when they were still this small, not very known band. Look at them now! This is quite the opposite, since they’re probably one of the most well known bands on the festival this year. When you go watch a Trollfest show, be sure to wear your funny pants, cause else you will get disappointed. Already when they were still soundchecking they started making jokes, and they wouldn’t end until the show was over. Most of the time, I was standing with a smile on my face, or better: dancing with a smile on my face, but when suddenly a half-naked wench appeared on stage, my smile (and the smiles of those around me) was suddenly gone. Was this really necessary? In the end I really enjoyed the complete package of this show and danced on songs like Kaptein Kaos, Brumblebassen and Helvetes Hunden Garm.
After Trollfest it was time to get serious again cause it was time for the black metal guys from Agrypnie to step on stage. It’s been a while since I last saw them live, and I was wondering why because I really loved their show today. Might want to catch up more often with them, because today they delivered well.
It almost seems like this festival was filled with bands whom I lost track with. Last time I saw Månegarm was on this festival three years ago. I knew that they are without a violin player nowadays, but that their sound would be as brutal as it was, was a pleasant surprise for me. They blew everybody away. Especially the songs of their newest album Legions Of The North, like the title track, are made for heavy headbanging, and so everybody did! I might want to listen to it more.I myself was happy to also still hear some familiar older songs like Sigrblot and Hemfärd.
Finally, it was time for the headliner of this day, Satyricon. I think I’ve never seen the Stadthalle this crowded before. We were happy to see Frost on drums again, because last time we saw them was on the 70.000 Tons Of Metal where he wasn’t able to join. And Satyricon without Frost, is just a little less Satyricon ;)
They played a very tight show with songs from all different albums. Of course they played a lot from their latest album ‘Satyricon’ like: Our World, It Rumbles Tonight, Nocturnal Flare and The Infinity Of Time And Space. But also ‘older’ songs as K.I.N.G., Fuel For Hatred and Mother North .
After Satyricon a lot of people left the hall, but there were still two more bands to play: Todtgelichter and Negator. I’ve seen Todtgelichter play as an afterparty band more than once, and I kind of feel sorry for them. Still, there were more people watching than I actually expected, and it seems they had a good time. As for Negator, I didn’t know this band, but as far as my energy still allowed me to, I really enjoyed their show! They blew the few people who were still watching away. You might want to go check this band out if you’re into Black/Death Metal!
So, the festival had come to an end. Compared to the last few years that I went, I must conclude that the festival has improved a lot. The security was very laid-back but fair, there were actually shots of alcohol in the mixed drinks this year, and the sound in the hall was mostly pretty ok. There weren’t delays (probably because of the strange countdown/timer hanging on the stage) and unforeseen problems like a band cancelling were handled well.
I was also happy to hear how much metalheads care about each other since a lot of bands played a song to Kai Schubert (Dark Troll Festival, friend of the Ragnarök Festival) who died a few weeks ago in a tragic accident. All in all, I guess it won’t take another 3 years before coming back ;)