Hof Ter Lo, Borgerhout (Antwerpen, B)

Once again the association of $Metallyzee$ and $Biebob$ turned out to start a very lame way. Last year, they "lost" Metal Blade guestlist… This year, it turned out to be even worse! They came the day before at the EXPLOITED gig to stick huge flyers on the walls claiming the fest was 25 euros (presale) and 27 (no presale). Of course, the following day, the price had raised to 30! Don't tell me the day before they didn't know it would be 30 (and it was written 29 on the tickets!). Then, that bloody female tried to teach me 4 tickets (at 30 euros each) cost 160 euros!!! It really took several minutes of negociation and the help of other people in the queue for her to admit it was 120!
Last but not least, CALLENISH CIRCLE was still announced everywhere while they had been sacked of the bill a long long time ago for an really stupid, meaningless reason.
Anyway, back to the music : CALLENISH were replaced by belgian ABORTED we unfortunately missed. Sweden's DARKANE played next, with their brand of typical scandinavean Thrash Metal, sounding quite good despites somewhat weak vocals.
PRO-PAIN played earlier, having another gig the same day and what can be said about them that hasn't been said? A very pro set of metallic Hardcore full of energy. Always a pleasure!
Next was the hardest band of the day, MALEVOLENT CREATION. I've been following this band since their demo years and let me tell you, they now have their best line-up to date! New singer (from side-band HATE PLOW) confirmed what we saw at last year appearance : he's doing onstage everything Brett Hoffman has always been unable to do : long typical MALEVOLENT screams, moving a lot… the perfect replacement! And despites the band had a session drummer (from NILE), the whole set was tight as fuck and the fans weren't disappointed.
I was disappointed by the gig of DIE APOKALIPTISCHE REITER. First, their sound was really bad, it was impossible to hear the keyboards which are a very important part of their music. Then, the singer was a bit boring asking between all songs if people liked beer. They did some tracks of their new album which has way more variety than before but it might not please everybody, I fear. The IN EXTREMO influences were confirmed by the singer's new look. But their keyboard-player remains a very enigmatic guy… I hope I'll see them soon in better conditions…
NUCLEAR ASSAULT surprised me big time, being more exciting than on their brand new live CD, maybe because the track listing was more interesting… You can see the years on the singer's… stomach but unlike EXODUS last year, these guys were really giving a lot and Dan Lilker prooved again he's a very great person, not a rock star!
DEATH ANGEL were better than I thought despites posing a bit more and some unbearable Hard Rock vocals on a couple of songs. Otherwise, the old stuff from "Kill As One" sounded great, avoiding the high-pitched screams that would sound stupid today.
MARDUK said they would be back late 2004 which was the good news since those posers (mainly the singer) come twice a weak, like they had a subscription… I thought it would be easier to get some food during their set but many "good taste" Metalheads had the same idea…
Then TESTAMENT hit the stage such an intense way, proving Chuck Billy is back for good. Some of you know how I hated this band ten years ago, but since their "Low" album, they've really gotten heavy, mixing their Bay Area Thrash to Death Metal and all members wre really impressive. I have to admit that despites the quality show, I spent the end of it outside due to the heat, massive exhaustion of two days of partying hard and enjoying so many good bands of different styles.
The most interesting No Mercy for a while.