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Festival Report   

RAISMESFEST 2009



Festival : Raismesfest 2009[/urlb]
Place : Raismes
Date : 12 and 13-09-2009
Crowd : About 4 000 people

The joys of the open air : we are 1 kilometre away from the festival gates and we are already enjoying the first tracks of the Stormzone gig.

Nothing revolutionary about it really and that’s not really the point for them. Stormzone’s radio type heavy metal is the first to address the Raismefest crowd : mainly heavy metal and oldschool fans.

The English band’s music and performace is effectively concentional and evokes a certain sense of deja-vu. The tracks also have the bad habit of being needlessly long.


Neonfly

The rythme is then cracked up by the Frenglish combo Neonfly (two of the band members are French) with their heavy/speed melodic metal. Their music and attitude on stage is playful throughout (although a bit dull), much like Dragonforce concerts. Again, nothing very original about the whole thing, but the performance seems sincere and the energetic frontman is warm-hearted. However, the singer does struggle a bit with some of the higher vocal notes.


Battlelore

Battlelore are not famous for being a big stage band. This is because the Finnish band have a certain styke that cannot be adapted to live performances very easily. Their alternation between groovy death metal and then calming parts are quite effective on disc. For this, Battlelore are very unique in the medieval epic metal genre. However, on stage this contrast is not mastered very well. Every dynamic surge delivered by a fat riff is crushed by the insistant chorus, which gets very frustrating. On their album, we can appreciate the timid voice of the female singer which creates warmth and closenes. On stage, however, the lack of variety in the voice and overall lack of energy make it boring, especially when the music isn’t helping… as was the case on Saturday. The two singers struggled to get themselves heard during the melodic parts. According to this, there was an incressed emphasis on the aggressive parts. Let’s move on to the performance. Battlelore are effectively true showmen. Most of the musicians just play their bit and pretend to be mean. Having said that, the pleasure they get from playing together is clearly perceptible. The show is overall well structured, and the drummer especially, plays a simple yet metronomical set. The singer, Tomi Mykkänen, is at the head of the show, unlike Kaisa Jouhki, the female appeal of the band who seems to rely way too much on the imposing presence of her male band partners. The performance could also do with some visual re-vamping. A few costumes, a little make-up and one sword seems a little feeble! At least the setlist manages to keep the fans happy, covering the whole of the band’s discography and including one new song. Finally, it’s important to mention the song “Storm Of The Blade” which was able to invoke the pit’s warrior instincts. On the whole, not too bad but could have been a lot better.


Ramone and Pedro

Complete change of scenery next, as we set off for the discovery of Térroir (french word meaning vineyard and ref to a region in France) Metal! Ramone and Pedro arn’t joking around! There are six of them, they come from Lille, they are extremely serious and they are made up of one guitarist, one drummer, one singer, one keyboard player, one bassist and a guy that does fuck all. In fact, the band includes in its formation an individual called Paquito, whose role is to dress up, goof around on stage and occasionally perform dignified virtuoso’s air guitar solo. Completely and utterly pointless. Absolutely brilliant. Ramone and Pedro are the “Didier Super” (guy who makes punk parodies of french songs) of this year’s Raismefest with their mix of French folk songs, punk and slapstick humour kind of metal. Countryside rock with limited musical skills which are rather pointless, despite the fact that the silly choruses stick in your head. But then again, who cares? Ramone and Pedro are the type of band you have to show your friends or go see for a laugh. The loudmouth frontman is awesome just the way we like them to be. The rest of the band don’t blend into the background since they are constantly participating in the stage interation too. The set is made up mainly of compositions, some of which are already famous such as “Joli Curé En Porte Jarretelles” meaning “pretty parish priest in fishnet stockings” (in fact Paquito acts this out with incredible finesse) and “Ne Me Brule Pas” (do not burn me), which tells the story of a man’s misadventures after he disposes of faecal matter on his carpet. They also played a few French songs remixed into punk with crazy vocal yells. There really isn’t more to say than this is a very festif gig. The moshpit is complete mess and utterly hilarious. Overall, an absolutely spontaneous concert, with much less preparation than an Ultra Vomit gig but just as fun.


Ultra Vomit

After that for starters, we head over to the main stage. As usual, the band from Nantes are herded by roadies as they install of their equipment on stage. This sets up the perfect occasion for them to throw in a few riffs while they wait, such as “One” by a band you all know well. It must be noted that the usual opening to their gig with the Pink Panther theme has now been replaced by the Batman theme. However, their way to the stage is still as mockingly melodramatic, with the violins, the ridiculous poses and the cliché heavy metal eye winks are still present.
Even though we notice that the setlist hasn’t changed at all, it seems that the stage antics have slightly evolved. Luckily, Foetus and his comrades aren’t laying out all of the same jokes as previously. In a Manowar instant, the band invite a member from the crowd onto the stage. His name is Thomas but he is later renamed “Pauv Connard” (poor bastard) to sing “Une Souris Verte”. He is then kicked off the stage and insulted, yet all in good humour of course. It is also the start of Manard’s career in the band (who looks more and more like Mike Portnoy with his beard) as a frontman to their version of the hit french song “Face A La Mer” by Calogero mixed with some Gojira (Calojira).
We guess that the show and the jokes are rehearsed, but the concert is still hilarious. Ultra Vomit manage to make the crowd go absolutely crazy in a way that no other band manages to at this year’s Raismefest. Hit songs such as “Quand J’étais Petit”, “Boulangerie Patisserie”, “Mountains of Math” and the most adored “Je Collectionne Des Canards (Vivants)” create such an amazing impact that they really are what make Objectif: Thunes a bestseller in France.


The Real Nelly Olson

Mid tempo has no place here for the next band. The Real Nelly Olson are a full on jittery hard rock, garage/punk band with a very angry female singer. It the band’s biography, it states that “this band, is almost like therapy”. Kler Chacal seems to be acting out her battlefield urges here. In a terse and almost hysterically energetic way, this high priestess of anger urges the crowd to, I quote “act out” and send a message of hate to all those who have “broken your balls”. This is clearly not a departement Kler Chacal is lacking from. It even gets a bit old after a while. No festif rock n roll here. The Real Nelly Olson are a tough, angry and intense rock band all the way. It seems to be the break down of a shitty day, week and year.
Therapeutic? Perhaps. But mainly exhausting.


Pat Mc Manus

To say that this next performance has potential, would be a euphomism. Pat Mac Manus (ex Mama Boys) is an undoubtable guitar virtuoso. Gordon Sheridan and Paul Faloon, the bassist and the drummer, follow his lead with sentiment. Although the bass and drum parts are very simple, boy are they groovy! There’s nothing bad to say about the compositions, they are good old classic blues hard rock creating a catchty and inspired sense of genius.
The show is incredibly varied, between the blues, the rock n roll, the progressive rock and even a bit of festive violin playing along the way, as though we were in a medieval Irish pub! Pat Mac Manus even showed off his ludicrous guitar maneuvres as he played his intrument swung behind his back, used a bow to play with (little reference to Jimmy Page), created orginal sounds, etc.
And that’s when it all came crashing down. By trying to do so much, the Irish virtuoso managed to… over do it! The guy’s improvisations are full to the brim with emotion, but they are also unbearably long. It got boring to the point of getting irritating when, during each song, Mr Mac Manus endlessly throws himself into another five minute solo.
To end on a good note, it’s was a shame because the pleasure that these three men feel when they play together is evident and very communicative. There were smiles all round throughout. It seems that sometimes when a band are so well connected, the fusion becomes contagious to the audience. This was the case; therefore, we forgive them.


Abinaya

If there had been a big screen like there was on the big screen, the guys from Abinaya would have totally killed it. Andreas Kisser’s (Sepultura) little Parisian protégés gave one of the best stage performances of the whole festival thanks to their ultra visual show.
Abinaya is a rock/metal band who play loud guitars, incorporate tribal percussions and have some serious balls.
Although Abinaya’s style is incredibly unique, their set was actually quite repetitive as it relied solely on their album “Corps”. The band focus essentially on the rhythm which sometimes overshadows the melody and they just over do it. Also, the vocals were sometimes not quite up to scratch.
However, the gig is good enough to put aside these small faults. Abinaya consists of four confident guys who have great stage presence and as much class as the greatest in the business. It’s important to mention the percussionist, Nicolas Héraud, who brings a touch of aesthetic appeal with martial arts choreography mixed with dance (probably capoeira), really drawing the attention.
Definitely a band to keep track of!


Axxis

Next we went back to the heavy metal core of Raismefest with German band Axxis who performed one of the most enthusiastic sets of the festival.
This was mainly because of friendly joker Bernhard Weiss who carried a piece of paper with phonetic sentences on it due to his lack of French, and the piece of paper was of course full of mistakes. He goes on to invite a girl from the audience onto the stage to take part on the percussions during two tracks in a similar manner to our role model Eric Adams (Manowar).
Without being original, the German band’s heavy/power metal have a consistent range of hits. They are not too joyful and not too glum yet just enough to give you the right energy boost! Without being amazing, Axxis performed an awesome fun-loving show. When you’re sick of always seeking a musical revolution, a new kind of sound or sick of desperately trying to understand, Axxis is the type of efficient metal that you can relax with.


Michael Schenker Group

What’s annoying with the Schenkers is the fact that we can never tell which is which. The Scorpions brothers look alike, have the same mannerisms and play the same instrument. We just got to say, they really don’t make it easy for us!
Michael Schenker, unlike his brother Rudolf, is lead guitarist and left the Scorpions as well as UFO to concentrate fully on his own band MSG. The music here is an upright combination of hard rock and traditional old school heavy metal.
Despite the friendliness and positive mood created by Michael Schenker, the songs don’t really stand out. MSG lack the stage antics to give their songs enough life, which we have to admit, are quite conventional. Things don’t really get better as the audience keep still throughout and next thing you know it’s the end of this first day.


Aone

Aone is the first band to play on the big stage on this Sunday 13th of September. This progressive metal band from Lille, not unlike The Old Dead Tree, has calm parts and some more violent parts. The vocals are like an odd mixture of Alice In Chains and Gojira. The inspiration from the latter is pretty striking and the similar mentality is also present in the death metal parts which are intensely violent and atmospheric at the same time. These parts blend in a surprising yet pertinent way with the sound of an insistent acoustic guitar.
Overall, an interesting show that was able to absorb the audience who had become gripped.


Obszon Geschopf

Next was Obszon Geschopf, a powerful show of nauseating and hypnotic industrial, just the way we like it. The songs are excessively repetitive, with very basic yet haunting riffs. The lack of progression at the core of the tracks ends up creating a permanent upset and traps the listeners in a state of uneasiness. The songs seem to last forever. This feeling of uneasiness is increased by the band’s stage behaviour, without being particularly violent, as they throw each other evil stares and spit, punch and smack into each other. The possessed singer has to be mentioned for his excellent mimics which were downright obscene at times. Your faithful reporter may have dreamed it and his microphone just needed a good scrubbing…
Anyway, it was a show without concession, which would make anyone allergic to samples or to simplistic riffs in songs run for their lives. Others, on the other hand, will also become possessed.


Machine Gun

The Machine Gun show comes just at the right time. Fun rock n roll is exactly what we needed to recover from the pleasant uneasiness provoked by Obszon Geschopf. Machine Gun are a Belgian AC/DC cover band. The show consisted of classics such as “TNT”, “Back In Black”, and to our surprise, “Rock N Roll Train”, a single from the latest album Black Ice.
These covers are very loyal to the originals, notably in the vocal department. As for their stage performance, it was exactly what we were expecting: a fun concert with musicians enjoying themselves and a very receptive crowd. The show is ended with a promising cover of “Highway To Hell”.


Dylath Leen

The French band Dylath Leen are, along with Wild Karnivor, the most brutal band of the week-end. Are they the most extreme? Debatable. The Real Nelly Olson and Obszon Geschopf, in their respective genres, proved to be as intense as extreme metal can be.
The set list here was honouring their very good latest album Semeïon which mixes some old school melodic death metal with some more modern death metal of which the rhythmic and atmospheric complexity reminds us once again of Gojira. Kathy Coupez’s ability to switch from high pitch vocals to death metal vocals is impressive. It’s a shame the sound was not that good because it disabled the melodic and soothing parts to be enjoyed. It seems to be the same issue as with Battlelore. Even if the smaller stage had good sound, the sound on the main stage was limited for the angrier bands.
Emotional bit: Dylath Leen chose to celebrate their ten years of existence at Raismefest. For the occasion, the band invite many guests onto the stage such as Ludovic Loez (SUP). These final emotional touches brought some lightness to the gig which was actually quite standard.


Beyond The Labyrinth

“They played back at home in Belgium last night. Straight after that, they drove all the way here to play for you guys tonight. Here are Beyond The Labyrinth!”. This is how we were introduced to the four member heavy progressive and slightly mainstream band. Note that the band also included an invisible keyboard player!
Overall, despite the sounds of a badly tuned guitar and some very basic songs, the performance was enjoyable and the accessible melodies made the length of the songs bearable enough. We often think of Shadow Gallery’s more famous songs. The track “In Flander Fields”, which delves in the subject of everyday life during WWI, comes to mind. The subject is adapted to music in an intelligent way through a skilfully crafted tragic tone power ballad. The sing is quite long though. Perhaps this is a reference to the long daily rituals mentioned in the song? We must mention the song “Caught In The Game” which alternates between some mid tempo couplets and a speedy chorus making it sound like a hit.
To conclude, we would like to congratulate Beyond The Labyrinth for winning the prize of ugliest pair of trousers worn on stage at Raismefest. So congratulations again to the singer and his tight red pants with black stripes!


Karelia

Karelia, who supported band for the Scorpions on their French tour were the band your faithful reporter was anticipating the most. These Alsatians have the habit of making their albums in advance. Therefore, as the excellent and original album Restless was coming out in 2008, its successor was already being made. We were thrilled by this idea as we listened to the new tracks and made our way over to the main stage to see the band’s new imposing drummer. We also bump into a few people from their fan club who made it all the way here to see them. Unfortunately, the show stops after 30 seconds. The guitars are barely audible and the samples used by the band are not working. Matthieu Kleiber announces after a few minutes that the show will not be able to pursue due to unsolvable technical problems. Infuriated, we await the discovery of Karelia’s new face.


The Last Embrace

Due to Karelia’s cancellation, the audience make their way over to the smaller stage to watch The Last Embrace doing their sound check. They are announced as being a mixture of Anathema, Pink Floyd, Tori Amos and Opeth.
Anathema’s influence is quite pertinent and one track from the set is very close to their song “Flying”. The Gathering are another band that spring to mind. Sandy’s stage presence as well as her voice is very much like that of Anneke Van Youknowhat: friendly, charismatic, never overdone yet relevant in the angrier parts.
After the Karelia fiasco, the Parisians’ atmospheric rock manages to appease the crowd.


ADX

Dear Reader friend, you will now have the opportunity to prove that Radio Metal really talk shit! ADX’s thrash metallers are right now preparing a DVD which will collect footage of various live gigs including the Raismefest one. Therefore, the set list was a compromise between their great classic tunes and the new songs from “Division Blindée”, song of the same title and the excellent mid tempo song “Livide”. It’s also important to note their cover song of la bamba! For the occasion, the band cooked up a few pyrotechnic effects.
In this context, it was hilarious to see the band arrive on stage to then have to stop the gig due to a technical problem. The band seem to take it on the chin and continue to be completely relaxed as they goof around before starting up the classic song “Caligula”. The tone has been set and this gig will be the most convivial of the festival. The show is spontaneous old school rock n roll, just the way we like it. It’s so good that you can even enjoy it if you don’t specifically like the music.
ADX are a bunch of childish guys who play rock music and goof around constantly. However, they are also an extremely solid band. Phil (whose voice seems to be in between Bernie Bonvoisin and Blaze Bailey) interacts constantly with his fellow band musicians. They’ve all got big gobs and don’t let anyone walk on them, yet none of them stands out more than another.
ADX is overall a great team who can teach us all a good lesson about unity.


Pain

Pain make their way to the stage followed by a strange vocal effect enabling Peter Tägtgren to sing like Rob Halford. The first track to be played is inevitably “I’m Going In” from the album Cynic Paradise.
Whether you like Pain’s music or not, everyone pretty much expects to see a energetic gig due to the immense potential of their dance-to tracks. The set list was predictable yet always efficient and well prepared. All of their famous hits are there: “Bitch”, “Same Old Song” and the Rammsteinian “Shut Your Mouth” played at the end of the concert. The song “Hate Me”’s mid tempo creates a sensible time out half way through the set. It seems that on paper, it is a good gig.
None the less, the sound isn’t great, which seems to be a reoccurring factor at this 2009 Raismefest. The drums are way too loud, making Pain’s rhythm song like an annoying cheap techno band. Furthermore, the lack of movement on stage seems to be tainting the atmosphere. The tracks are rapidly played in succession and the musicians just seemed happy to be standing still, playing their parts and headbanging from time to time. Notably, it seems that Peter Tägtgren thinks that his sole presence will manage to captivate the crowd.
The band are really only playing the songs for themselves, which they seem to be ok with. Consequently, the concert has no life.


Epica

The roadies’ preparation of the stage is a scene that your faithful reporter never fails to miss. This moment is always like a bit of an intrusion into the band’s backstage. We just feel really jealous of the roadies because they get to meet the bands, touch their instruments and even see them play! The instruments placed on stage have no life until their masters can on stage to reanimate them. It’s as if only a person elected as “the one” can manage to get the correct sound out of these big cases full of cryptic buttons.
At this final Raismefest concert, this ritual seems to be taking considerably longer due to technical issues. Just as a small anecdote, the key board seemed to be unstable on the stage, provoking a general meeting of worried roadies around the instrument. That was fun to watch.
Let’s move on to the ridiculous stage entrance of the Dutch band. It’s almost like Ultra Vomit’s piss take poses, except this time it’s for real. The concert then starts after a half an hour wait with the song “The Obsessive Devotion”, which despite being so long, is a very good opening track. We also notice that Epica seem a lot more at ease during the more extreme parts nowadays. We can’t deny that Simone and the rest of the band have definitely progressed in terms of live performances from when they were still so shy a few years back. The new guitarist seems to have fit in the band perfectly.
However, the cursed main stage doesn’t let off Epica either. The concert has to be interrupted or a few minutes during which the drummer has a chance to show off his drumming skills. In his defence, this solo seemed to be completely improvised despite the fact that it wasn’t particularly any good. Especially since the man had been practicing drum breaks for the past half hour before the show…
Apart from the band’s lack of will and a sound that still isn’t great, Epica performed a set that was professional and complete. As expected, there were also some large scale visuals during the show. For example, female dancers dressed with sharp bright flames, seemingly borrowed from Edward Scissor Hands, appeared on stage during “Chasing The Dragon”. It was a beautiful visual show.
Quant à la setlist, conformément à l’esprit Metal Symphonique hollywoodien du groupe, elle est diversifiée et permet de ne pas s’ennuyer. Les fans apprécieront le folk “Quietus”, le classique “Cry For The Moon” ou encore le cinématique “Chasing For The Dragon”.
Even if they weren’t quite on the level of ADX, Epica have gotten better on stage. This concert was the last of the festival, even though as usual, a few extras might have been appreciated!




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