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Hodonin, Czech Republic
15th - 17th August 2014

Ian Sutherland

ian sutherland

made of metal

Having spent many years bemoaning the line-ups and shambolic organisation at UK rock festivals I have started in recent years to explore the huge number of Metal festivals held around Europe and when I was pointed towards a new festival being held in the Czech Republic I was tempted to check it out. When I saw that the early bird ticket price was £22 for 50 bands over three days I was convinced to go.

Hodonin is a four hour train ride from Prague and after an overnight stop in the beautiful little town of Olomouc I made my way to the old abandoned airbase where the festival was being held.

This was a small festival for around 5,000 people with two stages located around disused aircraft hangars converted for use as beer halls in addition to the outdoor stalls. If you like your beer the Czechs drink more per head than just about anyone else and I was delighted to find that the festival was selling eight different local brews. I was even more delighted to find that they had kept the price the same as the bars in town which meant around 90p a pint.

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Beer in hand I headed to the second stage to catch Czech symphonic Metal band Passion Of Hate who were workmanlike and competent but left me underwhelmed. Moving to the main stage Dalradia from Hungary pulled the first big crowd of the weekend with their fun lively take on folk Metal. They went down really well but for me the female vocalist is the weak link and sounded woeful at times.

The first band I was keen to see were Austria's Edenbridge. I'd never seen them before but with a sixteen year career I was hoping for big things from the female fronted symphonic Metallers. Ultimately I was disappointed though as vocalist Sabine Edelsbacher seemed ill at ease and lacked confidence on the big main stage and their music seemed to get lost in the bright sunshine and made no real impact on me or anyone else.

made of metal

Back on the second stage local progressive Metal band Cast Of Mind played an impressive set of technical groovy metal to a small crowd that didn't really care which mirrored my own reaction to Germany's Atrocity and their soulless, tuneless second division death Metal on the main stage.

I didn't know much about Hungarian power Metallers Wisdom but they were well represented in the t shirts around me and the first really big crowd of the weekend lapped up their high energy riffing and soaring vocals. I found it to be somewhat cheesy and cliched but for many that's what power Metal seems to be about and there was no denying the entertainment value and stage show served up.

made of metal

Sometimes going to a festival in a new country can be a learning experience and I was astonished to find out that Czech black Metal veterans Root had been going for over twenty five years. They have certainly learned the art of presentation in that time and had frontman Jiri 'Big Boss' Valter emerge from swathes of dry ice on a throne of skulls before rising and surveying the crowd from the front of the stage while the band played some atmospheric Metal.

Clad in a huge cloak with half his face covered in arcane symbols and holding a sceptre topped by an animal skull he was an imposing charismatic figure. It wasn't all theatrics though as Root have a few decent tunes in their black Metal dungeon with enough melody mixed in to keep me interested. They must have been good as I ended up the front row sandwiched between the inevitable sweaty topless guy and a giant woman with blue dreadlocks.

Despite the fact that Scottish rockers Alestorm hail from a few miles up the road from where I stay I'm not a big fan so I did some socialising instead and returned to the main stage to catch Friday headliners Luca Turili's Rhapsody. The Italian power Metal icon has been playing with this offshoot band since Rhapsody Of Fire split in 2011.

made of metal

Power Metal is supposed to be over the top and billed as the 'Ascending To Infinity Cinematic' tour the set opened with intro music and screen projections with opening credits just like in a movie.

Once they got to the music it was the expected over the top riffing and soloing, soaring melodic vocals and several male/female vocal duets. It was all suitably over the top and melodramatic but by the time the drum solo came along I'd had enough as I couldn't really tell the songs apart or get involved. I think Mr Turili is an acquired taste I don't have so I headed for some more beer.

Rhapsody were the headliners of the first day's proceedings but like a lot of European festivals Made Of Metal decided to put another band on the main stage afterwards for those who still have some energy left. Tonight it was Norwegian goth Metal act Sirenia. While travelling to the festival I heard there was some problem with the airline losing their instruments so it was no surprise when they started late, at 1.30am local time!

made of metal

There were still a few hundred hardy souls around and they were treated to a competent set of gothic Metal anthems with nice crunchy guitars and pounding rhythms and soaring choirs. Spanish singer Ailyn (just one name, the goth Metal Madonna) did her best to get some life into the crowd and they did respond a bit but I thought that she was the weak link in the band. The vocals were workmanlike at best, weak and wobbly at others and let the overall sound down badly.

A tame and disappointing end to a promising first day and with a 2.30am finish only seven and a half hours until the first band played on the Saturday!

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