It finally was that time again! Unfortunately, last year there was no FortaRock in the Gofferpark in Nijmegen, but luckily there is another nice edition of this metal-festival this year. FortaRock 2018 took place on June 1st and 2nd. On Friday June 1st, the gates opened around half past two.
There were a lot of announcements surrounding FortaRock, one of these announcements was that the FortaRock-area would be changed compared to earlier editions. When we entered the area, this indeed was very clear to see. Almost everything is placed along the borders of the area, which creates a lot of free space in the middle of it. This way the FortaRock-area becomes a very clear and open space, with almost no place being annoyingly busy. Due to these changes nearly everything is close by and easy to walk to without missing too much.
An hour after the gates of FortaRock 2018 opened it is time for the first show of this Friday, taking place at the tent-stage. Betraying the Martyrs got the task to kick off FortaRock 2018. Betraying the Martyrs start their set with a pretty catchy intro, but of course the heavy breakdowns are soon added. At the beginning of their set, the sound isn’t that great, but luckily this changed during their second track. Something that keeps returning in Betraying the Martyrs’ music is the catchy aspect also included in the intro. Especially Victor Guillet with his keyboard takes care of this. He also is responsible for the clean vocals, which will be combined with the lower growls of Aaron Matts. There are also a few guitar solos hidden in their set, but unfortunately these can’t be heard that well. I have to admit, Betraying the Martyrs is not totally my kind of music, but with their big dose of energy and their pretty poppy, but fitting lightshow, of course combined with their music, they do what they are good at. This even resulting in the first mosh pit of FortaRock 2018.
When we arrive at the main stage, where the next band will soon start playing, there is a nasty smell in the air. However, for the soon starting band and their fans this doesn’t matter. Screeching guitars, that’s what matters now, fuck that smell! With the band that is opening the main stage today, the Bay Area-hailing thrash metallers of Death Angel, those screeching guitars will be present for sure. This Death Angel show will be their only Dutch show during this summer, so they give their Dutch fans a very tight, solid and heavy show. Sometimes the sound is a little bit affected by the wind, this however doesn’t influence the energy coming off of this show. The musicians of Death Angel move a lot on stage and they have a lot of contact with their fans. Besides the screeching guitars and the fast thrash metal of Death Angel, there is also some space in their set for some nice guitar solos, while vocalist Mark Osegueda proves that he is able to take care of some heavy vocal screams several times. The tracks Voracious Souls and Thrown to The Wolves are, just like the bit more melodic track Lost, very well received by the audience. After the last-mentioned Lost, Death Angel goes full throttle for one last time with their closing track: The Moth.
While, after Death Angel’s set, Suffocation delivers a brutal show at the tent-stage, we chose this moment to take care of our stomachs. The quality of the food at FortaRock was very good. Of course, we can only tell you this about the grilled cheese sandwiches and the frites/snacks, since we didn’t eat any of the other food that was available at the festival, of which were quite a lot. (Tim)
Body Count had a lot of fans in the audience and due to the fact that they began with two songs of one of metals biggest bands Slayer, Raining Blood and Postmortem, they just couldn’t go wrong. Body Count was a whole new experience for me. Sure, I did some research and listened to some songs, but nothing could prepare me for what I was about to hear and see. It was also the first time that I was at a big festival as a journalist plus I had never been to FortaRock in my life. And getting to know Body Count as one of the first bands there certainly did not disappoint. Body Count, to me anyway, is a perfect mix between hip-hop and metal. Heavy low tuned guitars and powerful drums are the basis of Body Count’s music accompanied with some screeching guitar solos. Everything under profound leadership of Mr. Ice-T himself. I personally wouldn’t associate him with metal music but after some research I came to know that he’s been doing this for quite some time. And let me tell you, it shows! Generally, rapper Ice-T remains a rapper to the core, but he puts on the metal music like a custom fitted leather jacket!
All the songs are pretty straightforward heavy metal songs with rap vocals and they all have a pretty clear message to tell. This message is that everybody needs to be treated equally and that everyone should respect that people are different. The song No Lives Matter really gets this message across to the audience, but this is also true for most of the other songs where there’s a critical view of the society we live in nowadays. Lead guitarist Ernie C. showcases some mighty fine guitar solos and the rhythm section of the band is also pretty tight. How the band presented themselves however can be considered messy at best. I am not talking about the music though, I am talking about the fact that each band member at first glance seems to be doing their own individual thing. While at the same time saying we are Body Count and this is what we do and if you don’t like it then just don’t come and see us. That every bad member was an individual was underlined by the fact that they all looked very unique. For example, one of the guitarists, who was new in the band had a cool looking mouth mask while another member had a complete facemask. But I think that their diversity was precisely their point. And it falls perfectly in line with their lyrics and music. I regret that I can’t say much about the technical aspects of their music, but what I can say is that what they’re doing comes across as very professional even though it doesn’t always look like it is. These guys know exactly what they’re capable of! I enjoyed Body Count very much and I am glad that I got to know them! (Glenn)
When Body Count just played their last notes, the tent-stage is about to burst open into evilness. It is time for the evil black metal from Watain! After a short orchestral intro, different candles are lighted with a torch. The stage is looking very great with flags, candles, fire and inverted crosses all included. Soon after this intro, and the accompanied lighting of the candles, the pounding drums and wall of guitars breaks loose. Combined with Erik Danielsson’s misanthropic vocals, this is as evil as it can possibly be. The very fitting, mostly red, lightshow also adds another nice layer to this. This evilness reaches its absolute height when front man Erik throws some blood over the front-row audience. Luckily the sound is much better than during the first (and our only so far) show at the tent-stage (Betraying the Martyrs). When looking at the Friday line-up of FortaRock 2018 I personally was mostly looking forward to the shows of Watain and Kreator. Of course, Kreator’s show is still upcoming, but Watain surely did fulfill my expectations with their evil show! (Tim)
The first time that I saw Arch Enemy, the next band, was at the Heineken Music Hall where they opened for Nightwish. Despite the fact that I always thought it wasn’t really my kind of music, I have to come back from that. Because ever since I saw them with front woman Alissa White-Gluz, I knew that Arch Enemy was one of the bands I would enjoy the most on the FortaRock Friday. But sadly, things didn’t go quite as I expected them to go. This was due to the fact that Arch Enemy’s set was plagued by severe technical problems. When during the song The Race the sound went completely silent, the audience could only hope for a quick recovery. When the sound is turned on again after a short period of time, the band tried to continue The Race, however, shortly after they started the song, the sound went silent again. I think that the crew tried to turn on the same amp that a while ago seemed to have short fuse. Not a great idea if you ask me, but I do understand that as a crew you want to make sure that your festival set can resume without a pretty big delay because when you’re on a festival you are pretty much on the clock. But it didn’t influence Arch Enemy’s performance very much, on the contrary, the song The Race was stoically finished after the sound went silent for the first time. It might have looked a bit weird, but hey, what else can you do as a band? I think Arch Enemy did a very professional job and I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes when something like this happens! After the sound was restored again they continued their set list like nothing happened.
Let’s talk about the music then. My opinion about Arch Enemy is pretty simple. It is a great band with amazingly powerful vocals, tight ass guitar riffs and a straight to the point attitude! Despite everything that happened the band had absolutely no problem in serving the crowd what they came for. The stage presence of the band is amazing and the incredible energy of front woman White-Gluz is beyond admirable! It is clear that the band is not to be stopped, not even when things don’t go the way they want them to go, after all, they came to give a great show for their fans and the rest of the FortaRock audience and also to enjoy the show and believe me, that they did! It might not be the best first impression if you are new to this band, but look at it from this angle, now you do know that they are very professional and a force to be reckoned with! The Eagle Flies Alone remains one of my favorite Arch Enemy songs. (Glenn)
The next band at the tent-stage is already the closing band for today, when it comes to the tent-stage. This place is given to the German thrashers of Kreator. What a great show they played! Besides the great stage-decor and the big, very intense lightshow, Kreator plays a hell of a heavy, tight and extremely fast set. It all start immediately with their opening track: Phantom Antichrist. Almost immediately it is very clear that this will be a great, intense show. The screeching guitars, the pounding drums and the raw vocals of Mille Petrozza crush through marrow and bone during this all-destroying show. Of course there is also some space for some nice guitar solos and Kreator also adds some extra show-aspects such as confetti, big doses of smoke (for example during Phobia) and fire (for example during Satan Is Real). During the track Fallen Brothers Kreator remembers musicians who are unfortunately no longer among us. Quite a few of these musicians can be seen on the screen behind the band, some examples of them being Lemmy, Chuck, Dio and Bowie. Like I already said earlier, I personally was looking forward to Watain and Kreator the most when it came to the Friday line-up. Watain already fulfilled my expectations, Kreator for sure did too.
Today’s headliner is the Australian metalcore band Parkway Drive. Musically this isn’t what I liked the most, but Parkway Drive for sure delivers quite a great show. The sometimes a bit catchy sounding metalcore results in a lot of energy and enthusiasm for a lot of people. A big audience is coming to see Parkway Drive’s show with a big part of them going crazy. Parkway Drive plays a tight set with a lot of energy. When it comes to show-aspects Parkway Drive is also doing a great job. There are a lot of flames, over the audience as well as vertically into the air, even above the stage top. These Australians also brought a lot of fireworks with them. Drummer Ben Gordon, together with his drum kit sits, in some sort of cage, which is spinning around periodically. At the end of their show Parkway Drive really sets the stage on fire, literally! The flames across the whole stage can be seen clearly and even the afore-mentioned drummer-cage is on fire, while still spinning around at times. Parkway Drive finally ends their set with a lot of fireworks and proves to be a worthy headliner for this first day of FortaRock 2018! (Tim)
Be sure to come back tomorrow for our live review of FortaRock’s second day!
Photos by Jimmy Israel
Also, be sure to check our album reviews of Arch Enemy’s Will To Power (here) and As The Stages Burn! (here) as well as a live review of their aforementioned Heineken Music Hall show here. You can also read our album review of Betraying The Martyrs’ Phantom (here) as well as an article about the metalscene in Nijmegen including an interview with FortaRock’s Freek Koster here.
FortaRock Official Website
Parkway Drive Official Website
Parkway Drive Facebook
Parkway Drive Twitter
Kreator Official Website
Arch Enemy Official Website
Arch Enemy Facebook
Arch Enemy Twitter
Watain Official Website
Body Count Official Website
Body Count Facebook
Death Angel Official Website
Death Angel Facebook
Betraying The Martyrs Official Website
Betraying The Martyrs Facebook
Betraying The Martyrs Twitter
Combined profile for Glenn van der Heijden and Tim van Velthuysen