Dokk’em Open Air 2014

Dokkum, The Netherlands

The best festivals are the smallest. The atmosphere is great, the drinks almost payable and they are able to give the fans a line-up that is worth their money. One of those festivals is Dokk’em Open Air in the north of the Netherlands. Metal-Exposure attented the festival on Saturday!

In cooperation with metal festival Into the Grave, Dokk’em Open Air gives upcoming bands the chance to make themselves known to metal fans. They host a band contest, and the winner of this year’s competition was the Frisian-Overijsselse grindcore group Teethgrinder. While a lot of people were still rotting in their tents, Teethgrinder showed that they are a force to be reckoned with. The combination of relentless tunes and the screams of vocalist Jonathan Edwards are better medicine then a bowl of black coffee on a typical, hungover festival morning.

By booking bands from all genres, the organisation of Dokk’em knows how to please all metalheads. From grindcore to heavy metal: the Swedish-Danish formation Evil Masquerade was next. The songs of this band sounded like pretty classic heavy metal tunes and the musicians managed to create a laid back and cosy atmosphere with that. However, when their gig was nearing the end, the – until that point – tight show, started to crumble a little. Vocalist Tobias Jansson didn’t hit the right notes several times and the music started to sound somewhat monotone as well.

The Dutch black metal band Cirith Gorgor replaced Troll, as they cancelled the festival last minute. All the ingredients for an intense black metal show were present: corpse paint, a few torches and grim faces. The crowd was willing to be absorbed in that atmosphere which made Cirith Gorgor a suitable replacement for Troll.

Without a doubt, one of the best shows of the day came from the American thrash metal group M.O.D (Method of Destruction). Their on stage energy, meaning passionately jumping or moving to the grooves of the music, and reminiscing stories of metal back in the days and statements of the witty frontman made sure that everybody enjoyed this band. Really, in a sense everybody, as the tent of Dokkem Open Air was filled to the rim.

Death metal band Nocturnus A.D gave a show that can be placed on the other end of the spectrum. From the start of their gig, the sound was off balance. The vocals of drummer-singer were drowned in by the loud guitars. Furthermore, the stage performance of this quintet was very static, making the concert somewhat slow to behold. Just as M.O.D, Freedom Call was able to make an impression by giving a joyous performance. Of course, their genre (described as feel-good-sing-along metal, but actually being melodic power metal) already lends itself perfectly for an upbeat vibe. The enthusiasm clearly rubbed off on the spectators and altogether, a party was started.

The Norwegians guys of Circus Maximus were having a bad day. Their show got delayed because the band’s instruments were not delivered. The crowd for this show mainly existed out of a group of fans. They were, of course, happy to see the band play, as they were singing along and headbanging as far as the accessible progmetal of Circus Maximus allows for such extravagant movements. However, most of the people were outside, enjoying some company, a few rays of sun and beers.

There were quite some people who travelled to Dokk’em especially for MaYan, the melodic death metal formation around Mark Jansen (Epica). With nine musicians on present, the stage looked pretty crowded. What is admirable with such an amount of people sharing the podium (and in general) is the way these musicians all of these musicians are attuned to one another and give a very charismatic, nearly theatrical performance. Combine that with songs that are played flawlessly and you’ll understand why people were anticipating this show.

Folk metal fans could get their share of pleasure by going to the show of one of the genre’s leading bands: Arkona. Probably because of their extensive touring agenda now and in the past, the Russians are now experts in giving powerful shows. The gig on Dokk’em Open Air is no exception. Singer Masha and the other band members actively run around stage, while trying to awaken a strong sense of history and amity with their music.

Napalm Death gives a similarly vigorous show as some of the bands that played earlier. Frontman Mark ‘Barney’ Greenway and the band fire up the audience up with short, yet fierce songs and all the while demonstrate why they belong at the top of the metal scene. Powerhouse Gamma Ray surprised the audience at Dokk’em Open Air by adorning their set with a hint of reggae weaved into the music. The audience reacted enthusiastic to the music of Kai Hansen and his comrades. The band really gets the crowd going when playing a cover of Helloween: I Want Out.

In the past two years, Death (D.T.A) has been performing on stages worldwide. Each time the tribute to Death (Chuck Shuldiner) is an honourable one. The songs are played with such finesse, leaving neither old fans, nor the ones who’ve only recently discovered the legendary tunes, disappointed. The iconic American heavy metal band Metal Church is the headliner of the festival. The band finished the day with several classics, something that many people were already hoping for. Of course, some material of the 2013 album Generation Nothing was also played. Ultimately, whether they play old tunes or new, Metal Church showed that they are still capable of running with the young wolves by giving a headliner worthy show.

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