Festival report by Black Tortoise and Friend.X aka Mr. Deep
December is Christmas time. We stumble over Christmas markets everywhere. “Jingle Bells” and “Last Christmas” lurk behind every second corner. Where is the way out of this danger zone? We need an emergency exit to escape from it. We have already pre-reported about it and found it at Winter-Madness Festival, Hirschaid near Bamberg, Franconia! We are happy to go there as a team of two, my friend and colleague Black Tortoise accompanies me and we are about to meet some more friends.
First of all, here are our overall impressions: A small festival, likeable, respectful, pleasant. The visitors made a generally friendly impression on me and the atmosphere was pleasant. Band members were free to walk around, hang out among the fans and even join in the party without being harassed or besieged. For example it was lovely to talk with Lisa of Haggard and share a pint of beer and a sip of Irish Whiskey with her while waiting for the next band to play.
The size of the venue was very well chosen for the amount of people, which also allowed for very relaxed proximity between bands and fans, for example at the merch stalls. Unfortunately, due to the fact that it was a small festival, there were only a few people in front of the stage during the performances of some bands, which was certainly a challenge for one or the other band, especially if they were not very well known yet.
Food, Beverages and Staff
Staff at the entrance and the food and beverage counter was friendly and everyone took care of things very well. At times it was very busy and there was a very high noise level, which is why ordering was a bit difficult sometimes and the staff seemed tense but they still remained friendly. We personally found the food a bit pricy, but also surprisingly tasty. You could taste that it was not a cheap frozen pizza, but probably rather homemade. These were definitely bonuses that almost made up for the price. I was also very positively surprised that with only three, later four pizza options to choose from, both vegetarians and vegans were catered for. Sadly, pizza was the only available food though, no sausages, fries or burgers.
Another very positive aspect, in my opinion, was that in addition to the security staff for safety and the presence of the DLRG for emergencies, there were also people available who could be approached if someone felt harassed or needed mental support or accompaniment of any kind. The concept seems to be quite new and still under construction. We received very open, friendly and helpful answers to our inquiries about it. In general, we had the impression that the well-being of the individual was well considered at this event.
The only point that, in our opinion, falls a little out of this category was the undefined “smokers’ corner”, which formed – intentionally or unintentionally – directly in front of the door during the breaks. As a non-smoker, you had to squeeze through a crowd of smokers for ten meters to get some “fresh” air at the end. It would probably have made more sense to either only allow smokers to exit from the back, or to limit some sort of smoking area to one side next to the main entrance, or at least designate an area a few meters away from the main entrance, or a minimum distance from the main entrance.
About the bands
Our very personal opinion about the two days is that we both got much more music to our taste on Friday than on Saturday. But tastes are known to be very different. Nevertheless, all the bands that played on Friday had more problems and took more time to set up with stage design, sound check, etc…. There also seemed to be more problems with the sound equipment in general. If we perceived it correctly, this may also have been due to the fact that the bands on Friday brought on average more different instruments and vocal styles on stage, which had to be tuned to each other.
Corvidae: Folk, Medieval, Pagan
Unfortunately, it took a bit longer until the first band could actually start playing. Corvidae were on later than planned because the second band Svarta Faran had been cancelled. Corvidae bridged the setup and the sound check well and performed full of energy and power, even though this surely must have been difficult at first with still few spectators. To make it even harder, the vocal mic was not quite well tuned for most of the show, so that it was often difficult to understand the lyrics, although they were in the foreground according to the genre.
Varus, Epic Metal: Symphonic Folk Metal
Varus delivered good music and a nice show in our opinion, but here also we had the impression that it was due to weak sound engineering that they didn’t get the best out of their performance.
Vera Lux: Folk, Medieval, Pagan
We had already heard a lot about Vera Lux before so our expectations were somewhat higher than usual. The skills of the musicians are undeniable, but it seemed that they didn’t have the best day in their life. Vera Lux were not bad but not quite what we had hoped to get. Again, tastes are different.
Molllust: Opera Metal
Molllust had a really great gig, great also regarding their music, but with the somewhat stale aftertaste that there were problems with the singer’s mic and you couldn’t hear her at times. This of course put a damper on the whole thing. But it was still nice. You could watch dreamy faces and just enjoy the sounds. We would see some of the musicians once again with one of the later bands the same night.
Munarheim: Folk, Medieval, Pagan
Munarheim really took off. They rocked the stage and there were the first real mosh pits and head banging scenarios. And after Munarheim you were really pumped up and awake for the last band. Sadly right at the beginning of their set my camera decided to go on strike. No pics from Munarheim and a very reduced quantity and quality from that point on.
Haggard: Orchestra Metal
Haggard as headliner and closer on Friday were simply great. The problems with the singer-micro/sound-technique that had existed before with other bands seemed to have subsided or at least minimized to such an extent that they were no longer noticeable. It turned out Haggard had brought their own sound engineer with them… For one of us it was the first live experience with Haggard and the band members were, as you know from reports, very close to the audience. Walks of the singer and the guitarist through the crowd of fans and head banging together were program, as well as amusing conversations between the songs.
World Heritage: Sight Seeing
Being a group of five friends of – you might remember from other festival reports – AG Metal, we decided for a cultural visit to World Heritage Bamberg by the time the second day of the madness would start. Due to losing the time, weird train connections and stations under construction we were a bit late and missed the opener Needle. Sorry, no pics and no remarks.
Eraser: Deathmetal, Dubstep
Eraser turned out to be a quite surprisingly good band given they were the second to play and other names were more prominent.
Goregonzola: Deathmetal, Grindcore
Goregonzola, no Italian cheese but a very talented band and a rhythmic style which caught our interest and ears. From the name we expected some kind of Italo-Metal we found them more on the deathcore side though.
Human Suffering: Metal
The next in line were non less than Human Suffering, quite well-known in the genre and maybe the most spectacular band name. Well, sadly not our cup of tea though but that counts for most of the second day’s bands.
Metalcore purists Impvlse were the next band to play. We can’t say it often enough, tastes are different and they are good musicians but sadly not up to our taste. Meanwhile we realised a slightly changing audience. It seemed a lot of people only came for the headliner on Saturday.
Varg: Melodic Deathmetal, Metalcore, Pagan, Viking Metal
This headliner was very Teutonic Varg. Regarding their music and show they performed very convincing, there is no doubt about it. Regarding their lyrics can be questioned. They were a bit too Teutonic. If you know about the history of the band and the doubts about their political attitude it was a bitter sweet show. Looking at the remaining and additional audience didn’t make it any better. Anyway, everybody deserves a second chance and so do they to prove these doubts being wrong.
Earlier good bye
Due to other commitments early the next day and train connections once again we had to leave a bit earlier and missed the closer of Saturday, Vermilion, another Metalcore band.
Finally, it was nice to visit one of the last festivals in 2022 even if it was small and lacked audience especially on Saturday. We personally would have preferred a mixture of genres so the numbers would have been more balanced. But we also understand the concept of having different main genres on both days. It makes it easier to choose one day if money is too short for a full visit.
Metal IS Culture
We worry though about the costs of such a festival. With low visitors it won’t pay the cost and make it difficult to continue in the future. Culture, especially when we talk about Metal music, is probably not top of the list for too many deciders on culture budget. The opera house is more important…. Therefore, it is important to support small and local events, organisers and especially small, local and unknown bands rather than paying 120.- € or more for one the big mainstream names in Metal.
Winter Madness: https://www.facebook.com/wintermadnessbamberg/
Bamberger Festivals e. V.: https://www.bambergerfestivals.de/
Please buy merch and physical music or download it from the bands official sources and don’t stream it for free because it steals your artists’ income.
Proof-reading by DermimBoad