Review by Jordan Quinn with photography by Chris Bowley.

Us intrepid Gig Junkies set of on a journey across Europe to Dinkelsbühl in Germany for the immense four-day metal fest that is the delectably titled Summer Breeze 2017 to see some of the biggest names in metal including Korn, Amon Amarth, Kreator, Megadeth and many more….


Day 1 Wednesday:
Journeying to any music festival takes careful planning, a psychic ability to predict the weather and serious Tetris skills when it comes to packing all of those crates of beer alongside your camping gear.  Traveling to a festival in another country is entirely different kettle of fish.  But if there was one to pick, it had to be Summer Breeze Open Air 2017, a metal festival celebrating its 20th anniversary.

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Bleary-eyed and unsuspecting of the journey ahead, we set a course for Summer Breeze Open Air in Dinkelsbühl, Germany and left our comfy beds at dawn.  Managing to catch the 12:00 ferry from Dover to Dunkirk, after already traveling for five hours, the REAL journey began! Driving across Europe was definitely an experience, we passed through France and Belgium and a large portion of Germany before finally reaching our destination. This involved munching pizza in Bruges, stopping at a random Belgian campsite to drink beer (called Jupiler – worth a try if you get the chance) and eat Cheetos, and being caught up in the freakiest thunderstorm you’ve have ever seen!

Upon arrival at the campsite at teatime, we unpacked the car with the open-air cinema in our sights, Nightwish’s Imaginaerum playing on the screen. If that’s not a warm welcome to a festival, I don’t what is! Not even seconds after we’d set the tents up, the heavens opened. It appeared that the storm had followed us but we weren’t about to let it dampen our spirits – pun only slightly intended there! We wandered around the campsite area, the Breezers had already got the party started, made obvious by communal singing of System of a Down’s ‘Chop Suey’.  After a couple of beers and a German equivalent of a cuppa-soup, we got our heads down in preparation for the weekend ahead.

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On Wednesday, the festival officially began and the sun beamed down on Summer Breeze. Only half of the arena was open but the line-up more than made up for that. The T-stage became the main stage for the day and hosted an event called the T-Party: a heartwarming tribute to a Mr. T who had sadly passed away but who had played a massive part in the nurturing of Summer Breeze and had also worked with all of the bands of the T-Party surprise line-up. As we arrived, the arena was already packed and the queue for the limited-edition t-shirts stretched across the whole site. Some people were waiting for up five hours for a special design tee!

Blasmusik Illenschwang - Summer Breeze Festival 2017 (3)

The first act of the festival was one that you wouldn’t expect at the metal meeting that is Summer Breeze: Blasmusik Illenschwang, a brass band celebrating their 30th anniversary on the T-stage.  Although they were not a band that any other metal-gig-goer would predict to be opening the festival, their energetic yet traditional brass sound got the crowd dancing and warmed up for a weekend of music and fun.

Blasmusik Illenschwang

Blasmusik Illenschwang - Summer Breeze Festival 2017 (4)

In Extremo were up next on our list for the T-Stage.  Having no idea what I was letting myself in for, I was pleasantly surprised by their folk-infused-metal sound.  This medieval metal band don’t just contain your standard metal combo (guitars, drums and bass) but are also complimented by their use of more traditional instruments such as bagpipes, shawms, harps and a nyckelharpa (Yes, I may have had to google some of these). Surrounded by pumped up Germans who seemingly knew all of the words and bombarded with waves upon waves of crowd surfers, it was obvious that In Extremo had gone down a storm and they’d be back the following day on the main stage!

In Extremo

In Extremo - Summer Breeze 2017 (5)

In Extremo - Summer Breeze 2017 (4)

Another surprise band joining Summer Breeze for the T-Party was the mighty Powerwolf. With lyrics easy to pick up and sing along to – they had the crowd onside in practically no time and it wasn’t long before they had them participating in a “which side can shout the loudest” contest. Despite missing guitarist, and co-founder of the band Matthew Greywolf due to illness, they were no less lively or entertaining.  The hard-hitting guitar riffage and thumping 4/4 beats intertwined perfectly with the ever-ominous organ as they played hits such as “Sacred and Wild”, “We Drink Your Blood” and “Sanctified by Dynamite”.  Vocalist (Attila Dorn) was on form, encouraging audience participation between powerful hymn-like melodies.

Powerwolf

Powerwolf - Summer Breeze 2017 (9)

Powerwolf - Summer Breeze 2017 (3)

The T-Party headliners also happened to be the main stage headliners for the following day, Amon Amarth, who appeared on stage with their signature Viking longboat as a drum riser. They opened with crowd favourite “Twilight of the Thunder God”, a viking-themed death metal epic. As expected of Amon Amarth, the set was riddled with pyrotechnics (FEUER!) and dramatic lighting which also added to the production as a whole.  Seeing what they were like on the T-Stage, I knew we were in for a treat for their Thursday main stage slot.

Amon Amarth

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Day 2 – Thursday

Deciding to get in early for some merch ourselves, we hopped into the queue which was considerably shorter than it was earlier in the day. This gave us an awesome view of Swedish punk metal band Sister playing the Camel Stage. Possessing all of the qualities of an old school hard rock band with added growling and gothic make-up, they had the crowd in the palm of their hand for the entire show. After grabbing our merch, we headed back to camp. As seems to be the tradition at European metal festivals, after the headliner has departed, they tend to have an “after party” band and although we didn’t physically see them, they sounded great enough from our tents that I felt they deserved a mention. Steve ‘N’ Seagulls hit the T-stage playing bluegrass versions of metal favourites such as Rammstein’s “Ich Will” and Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper”.  You may have seen that viral video of the hillbilly version of ACDC’s “Thunderstruck” – it was this lively bunch! If I was entertained by them from my tent, then I can only imagine how fun they would be to watch.

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Kicking off the main stage bright and early is Hungarian Irish Folk-Punk band Firkin, setting the tone and a very high bar for the day. Combining Irish jigs and reels with Punk and utilising the energy of both genres, those who had beaten their hangovers and ventured over to the arena were greeted with an upbeat and refreshed yet authentic take on Irish music that you couldn’t help jigging along to at the very least.

Firkin

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Unfortunately, due to illness, Xandria were unable to make it for their slot but their replacement, Hard Rock band The New Roses, did not disappoint.  Despite originating in Germany, their impressive classic rock sound would have you believe that they flew over the Atlantic to play Summer Breeze. The new generation of hard rock has been waved in, inspired by classics such as Guns N Rose, ACDC, Thin Lizzy and Bon Jovi and any fans of these bands should definitely give them a listen. After traveling across Europe throughout the summer, they will be hitting UK shores this November!

The New Roses

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We soon headed over to the Camel Stage to watch German Industrial Metal Band, Erdling. Clearly influenced by bands such as Rammstein and Pain, industrial metal uniting with electronic synth. They gave a stellar performance and had the crowd singing and dancing throughout the entire set.

Erdling

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Later in the day, we managed to catch Devin Townsend Project who had managed to elude me for years. They were so obscure and I was transfixed for the entire set. Devin would shout random obscenities before jumping straight into the next track. For the majority of the set, they were joined by Anneke Van Giersbergen who, with her excellent vocal harmonies, took the songs to the next level, adding an extra layer to the performance. 

Next up we had the mighty Megadeth! Dave Mustaine and co hit the stage with a fantastic light show. They sounded fantastic, it sounded just like I was back home playing Guitar Hero. They played a flawless set, banging out classics such as “Hangar 18”, “Tornado of Souls” and “Symphony of Destruction”. I was expecting a lot more performance-wise, especially after witnessing Iron Maiden’s show earlier this year, but they didn’t give much. They can definitely be forgiven for this as they sounded spot on!

Megadeth

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Megadeth -46

Amon Amarth were next to venture on to the main stage, putting on an even more epic production than the night before and even played a different set list! For this set, the drummer was sat upon a Viking helmet! More lights, more fire and more metal!

Amon Amarth

Amon Amarth-16

We also decide to head over to the Camel Stage to check out Spoil Engine (Belgium) and I must say that they put on a fantastic show. I witnessed my first wall of death of the festival and their heavy, aggressive and high energy show had the crowd bouncing from start to finish. In Extremo were back on the main stage with all of the energy they’d had the previous day and they were back with fire! They played a blinder of a set just as they had done on the T-Stage and all of the extra effects just added to the overall atmosphere! If you like Folk Metal, you’ll like these.

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We headed back to the tent with Wardruna (Norway) as the soundtrack and I felt like I was in a scene from Vikings, especially when they played a cover of “If I had a Heart”, the theme song of the show. It was unbelievably atmospheric and like nothing I’d ever seen or heard before. It was so cool to hear traditional Norse music being played live, made up of long, drawn-out chords and haunting vocal harmonies to create this esoteric sound….

We look forward to the next two days…


For more great pic from the festival check out our Flickr page.

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