Metal on a scale South Africans who have never left home can only dream of. For me this was round 2. Having hit LOUD PARK like an asteroid last year I had expectations. I knew there would be no Children of Bodom this time around so it could never have been the best live of my life. Yes. I have bias like that. Regardless it was mind-raping and body breaking. What metal is supposed to be.
This year was a year for legends and side projects. I saw some of the greatest names in the history of the genre. It was as much of an honour as it was a blast.
Upon arriving at the Saitama Super Arena, I bought myself a TURISAS T-shirt and the queue was a bit of a beast so I skipped out on the first bit of Holy Grail. I heard some of Engel as well but to be honest apart for the appreciation of the amazing sound quality, I decided it was time to put some fuel in the furnace prior to the first act that I wanted to see…
Taiwanese black metal. Dark and powerful. Fusing the brutality of the frozen north with the sounds and spirit of a small island in the far east. I heard them for the first time when checking out the line-up for the festival many months ago and I was hooked. The traditional Taiwanese vibe and the brutality of black metal as well as their very proud Taiwanese spirit was appealing.
“A unique sound that still
got the blood pumping.”
It suited the idea of the genre as it was conceived back in the church burning days and gave it an Asian flavour. A unique sound that still got the blood pumping. Their bassist is also pretty good looking. She is no Angela Gossow but any metal babe is in for the win. The live was the perfect start to my LOUD PARK. It set the tone for my weekend. Moshpit madness and of course my dominance thereof.
Warriors of Viking metal. Amon Amarth were the first of the bands I’d known from way back when and probably the first band I could claim any real fan loyalty to. Death metal about warriors and steel.
What more does one need?
Not much to be honest. They opened with “Twilight of the Thunder God” and as is to be expected, kept it up through the entirety of their set.
I moshed like a Viking berserker set free to destroy all in my path. But I met my match.
For the first time since I took on Anton from Architecture of Aggression when I was still a teen. I got taken out properly. I know in pits I go down a lot. Everybody does. You can’t see 360 degrees and when someone blindsides you and there is no body in front of you onto which you can transfer the power to the result is inevitable.
But to go down in a face to face head on wall of death charge was something I honestly didn’t expect would ever happen to me again. His size should have made me more cautious than I was but I honestly expected it to be a little less one sided.
I flew backward like a ragdoll and landed with such a resounding crash that the entire pit stopped and let out a collective “woooooo” enough to make it seem like the band even skipped a note.
I got an adrenaline surge so rough that I nearly passed out (it may have been pain/shock induced but I didn’t feel it.)
I was brutalised. I don’t think what I did to James at Motherfudd to …and Chaos all those years ago came close to this impact. Jupiter charged the sun and the result was as one would expect. To Amon Amarth and later Stone Sour, I had to concede that I could only be the 2nd most deadly object in the pit. After I recovered my senses however, We joined forces. and brutalised the locals. When he stood in the centre of the seething circle, it felt like he actually had his own gravity field. But bugger me sideways. what a mosh… And it wasn’t even the best one of the day!
Another band that I have been listening to for a few years at least was Edguy. Power Metal from Germany. They fit somewhere in between the classic and modern power sound and as a result they were never at the top of my list in the genre. I do prefer to listen to the newer sounding stuff. Having said that seeing anything live on a stage as big as the two at LOUD PARK with such amazing quality sound changes one’s perspective. Metal is and always will be a live genre and no matter how good a recording is. Nothing (I will touch on this later when I talk about Ozzy Osbourne) can beat it live.
“Metal is and always
will be a live genre”
Edguy made me wish I still had hair. While I have gotten used to the lack of momentum generated when I head bang these days. Power metal needs long flowing hair. The below (my personal) average headbanging coupled with my intense drive to nosh however left Edguy feeling a little too chilled a little too soon. No fault of the band’s I just get so little chance to truly cut loose at lives that I wanted to mosh as much as I possibly could.
The biggest band for me on the day. A band that I have been listening to since the beginnings of my J-music discovery. I still remember the first time I heard them. I liked Ayumi Hamasaki but I was dying to get hold of some good and proper hard Japanese rock. I can’t remember who it was at Omega, Brett, Karlien or maybe RIaan that found me the first 2 tracks which started a mad fury to dig up more and more of their music which ultimately drove me to discovering Visual Kei and well a lot of the rest of the story is recent enough that many of you know it (and are a part of it).
Needless to say. while I have not been following them of late. These legends of VK will always have a special place in my brain. I called them metal in the past. I have stood by that in many arguments with many who would say otherwise. The band themselves proved me right by playing the mother of all Japanese metal festivals.
They blew my skull in!!!
I love Deluhi. I maintain they are on a stratospheric rise to become the best metal band in Japan.. but they are not there yet. Wow.
I felt a bit of trepidation going into their set. I found a spot roughly 1 4th the total distance of the front standing area. that area where moshpits generally develop. my natural habitat, but much to mu dismay there were many skinny’s with poofy hair and of course large pack of the dreaded hyenas. There were no big guys anywhere. In fact there was only one other foreign guy who looked worth the two between his legs.
The band came on.. there was squealing and hand hearts. Kyo came on… in jeans, a T-shirt and a very manly hairdo. I was suitably pleased with his 'f@ck you' to the visual style that got them into the halls of fame in the first place.
They let rip. This army of brutal guys charged out of nowhere and a massive typhoon of a circle scattered the hyenas and their skinny boys off to the side like vermin.
“Many couldn’t take it
and got far away from the
seething circle of fury ”
I too made my presence known. We moshed up a storm. I had 2 years of frustration for not being able to truly go wild at VK lives to let out. I was not the only one. It appears all those dark horses, off in the corners of VK lives, in their metal Shirts wanted it just as badly as I did. I put aside some of my mosh manners this one time and dragged as many skinny boys in as I could knowing the fate that awaited them. Whenever the more ambitious hyenas filtered through to the centre of the circle i took great pride in shattering that core with a cannonball.
The tables were turned. They were in MY domain and I had many lessons to teach on how to properly appreciate music of this calibre. Many couldn’t take it and got far away from the seething circle of fury but those that stayed learnt both their place and their true potential. We made moshers out of Hyenas and the ones that could cut it were as much fun and as brutally insane as any Tokyo Hate crew member.
As for the music. Its Dir en grey. for intercourse's sake. It goes without saying that they were perfect and poured their souls into the performance. that alone fuelled the savagery in the pit. Japan was on show with the best in the world. not on a small side stage but in the forefront. It was battle and victory. All who engaged were rewarded with the spoils thereof. One of the best pits of my life and the best pit of the day.