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Dong 2008 Review

DONG OPEN AIR 2008

After discovering the Dong Open Air for several times the time had come to the point we decided to present you a smaller festival. The reason for this decision is pretty much the same as why we had visited it the times before: The Dong Open Air is unique and totally incomparable to all other festivals! It’s placed on a hill where 1.500 visitors have comfortable place to camp, to watch and buy Metal merch, to enjoy the wonderful panoramic view and to watch Metal shows at the Tent Stage. The Dong Hill is placed in the countryside close to the town of Neukirchen-Vluyn northwestern from the Ruhr Valley. The closest bigger cities are Moers and Duisburg. The festival has raised over the latest years. The organizers evolved the standards and the festival became earlier sold out each year. So this year it was sold out after a weekend. But the organizers don’t want to change the place to grow in seize and budget income, they prefer to take care about the familiar festival atmosphere! This attitude is Metal!!!

Friday
Path Of Golconda Usually the opening band of a small festival has the bad job to play in front of nearly nobody. So the opener of the DOA actually didn’t. The fivepiece from the close city of Oberhausen was able to rock a pretty crowded tent. Its first side was completely filled by motivated metalheads saluting the golcondrians. The first five, six rows completely banged to Death Metal – killers like the opener “Metropolis Rotting”, “Catafalque” and “A Cannibal Crusade” which got celebrated by the whole audience. The band stayed for the weekend partying on the Dong hill. Sympathic!

Enemy Within After the female-fronted Rock-formation Scarlet Fire had canceled their Dong-appearance it was on to Enemy Within to replace them. Anyway the band which appeared with one guitarist less because of the short-term confirmation played standard Thrash which didn’t excite me as most of the spectators. So in comparison to Path Of Golconda the tent became much emptier after a few minutes.

Roots Of Death Another Thrash-attack was up to follow and the five Swiss guys did their job better than their predecessors. Their material owned an ear-catchy variety and their performance was agile and sympathic. Even more sympathy the Thrashers earned by the Sepultura-cover “Territory” which of course caused the loudest jubilation. Anyway the band was celebrated for 45 minutes of pressure and fun.

Lyriel The only left female-fronted group in the billing after the cancelation of Scarlet Rose performed Folk Rock which usually always has a high acceptance in the common Dong-audience. Visually the dress of singer Jessica Thierjung blinded my eyes for a short moment in a negative way. So I concentrated on the music which didn’t convince me as the outfit did. Their songs supported by a cello and a violin were as unspectacular as their appearance. The singer’s voice combined with some sound problems displaced me.

Moder The next formation showed up a total contrast to the act before, but that doesn’t mean it became better. Ordinary Black Metal the band around the physical Mikael Akerfeldt – wannabe fronter presented and reached positive ractions in the first few rows which seemed to had been waiting for some harder stuff. Anyway, the motionless stage-action of its corpsepainted protagonists bored as their material. The so-called show effects consisting of a huge turned cross and the two micro-pyros became the ridiculous visual background appropriate to the show.

Civilization One The Dong – program stayed very diversified, so the following fivepiece presented Melodic Metal. Although this is not my favourite music genre it’s members coming from three different continents showed a professional performance. The charismatic vocalist Chitral “Chity” Somapala whose vocals could have been mixed better while the first tracks communicated with the audience and earned respectable applause by “Welcome To Paradise”, “Time Will Tell” and “Legends Of The Past” (its starting riff reminded me on that one from Mötley Crüe’s “Live Wire”).

Grind Inc. Death Metal from the close city of Krefeld was the next attraction on the Dong Hill. The fivepiece including two grunting shouters rocked the tent. Material from the brand new release “Sudden State Of Hate” like “Collateral Body Count” or “Certifiably Insane”) activated the moshpit as classics like “Inhale The Swarm” did. Especially the rhythm section did a great job and its band held the crowd in action jubilating a cool sympathic appearance. Well done!

Suidakra After the Irish shooting stars Primordial canceled their Dong-appearance for the second time in a row they became replaced by the Melodic Deathers from the close town of Monheim. Of course they’re not Primordial, but Dong-fans know the band around fronter Arkadius had played a sweeping headliner gig four years ago after they had been forced to wait for an hour because of an electric blackout. This time they had more luck: After some light problems the formation started into a best of – set considering most albums. Assisted by a bagpiper “Dead Man’s Reel”, “Wartunes”, “Pendragon’s Fall”, the regular set closing “Forth Clyde” and the encore “The IX. Legion” earned the support of numerous fans.

Dark Tranquillity So the time had finally come for the almighty headliner. The Swedish Melodic Death Metal – institution and innovators of the well-known Gothenburg-sound are the most popular band being confirmed for the Dong Open Air and so the expectations were high – and became fulfilled totally! When the instrumentalists entered the stage the whole crowd yelled and in the tent ruled a fantastic atmosphere. The band opened with the new hit “Terminus”. The quintet played a well-balanced set between songs from the current “Fiction”-masterpiece (the opener, “The Lesser Faith”, “Inside The Particle Storm”, “Focus Shift”, “Misery’s Crown”) and their classics (“Lost To Apathy”, “Hedon”, “The Numbers At Your Feet”, “Damage Done”, “My Negation”, “TherIn”). Mikael ran and jumped the stage up and down and interacted with the crowd creating a fans’ choir singing “Happy Birthday” for drummer Anders Jivarp. The band acted tight and enjoyed the special Dong festival a lot. With “Final Resistance” they finished an overwhelming show. Dark Tranquillity rocked the Dong!!!

Saturday
Grailknights Usually the band with the earliest position in a festival schedule is the unluckiest one because the fans just wake up fighting with their hangover instead of watching the first act of the next day. So didn’t the fourpiece from North Germany. The tent was completely crowded by fans of which several ones prepared for this gig by bringing different gimmicks which fit to the party character of the band. Its musicians wore Power Rangers – uniforms and used many show gimmicks themselves. In search of the holy grail the quartet introduced a few guests on stage. So they defended a unicorn and fought and defeated an ork, some guy looking like Skeletor and a dragon. The loyal fanship called battle choir got animated to headbang by commando by a “Hold!” – game reminding on a battle scene from the “Braveheart” – movie and moved down on their knees to celebrate the warriors and their tracks like “Moonlit Masquerade” or the final “Return To Castle Grailskull”! What a show, and by the way their songs rocked, too.

Commander Of course it became a hard job for the following Death Metal – quartet to act right after the fans’ fave. The tent became much emptier pretty soon. The band from Munich reacted with a motivated performance considering material from their new “The Enemies We Create” – output (“Vengeful Angel”, the title track) as from their full-length-debut “World’s Destructive Domination” (“Salvation Of A Dead World”). So the few people staying in front of the stage watched a good Death Metal – show which should have deserved more fans.

Rocketchief The following band showed the variety of the Dong program. The fivepiece from Münster performed Rock in the tradition of acts like Mustasch, Motorjesus, etc.. Their refreshing good time – Rock ‘n’ Roll as their agile performance won lots of supporters just within a few minutes celebrating catchy songs like “Devil In My Head”, “Glad To Be Sad”, “Spaghetti” and “Right Time”. So the sympathic guys reached the goal to get all fans in front of the stage in motion. Cool gig!

Raintime The next formation was familiar with me knowing one song from some former Rock-Hard-Promo-CD. Anyway it became a funny coincidence it rained while the Italians started their set. The second track was the mentioned hit “Rolling Chances” after which the Melodic Deathers let follow “Another Transition”. Many Dong-visitors took care about their tent being afraid of a storm warning in memory of the 2004 – “hurricane”. Besides those tracks from their current “Flies & Lies” – album the band around sympathic fronter Claudio Coassin who sometimes played the air guitar also rocked with material from their debut release “Tales From Sadness” like “Faithland” to which the first five rows completely banged their heads to. So the very motivated band won many new fans under those who didn’t wait for the storm which should never come with their sound reminding a little bit of Children Of Bodom, just which much more variety on the voice as on the instrumental side and finished their set with the newer “Matrioska”.

Drone The following band is well-known for their victory of the Wacken Metal Battle 2006. The music as the performance of the quartet from Celle remembered pretty much on Machine Head. Nevertheless the guys sounded independent enough to catch the tent visitors which could have been much more like before by “Stampmark”, their hit “Theopractical” and “Chainsaw Symphony” from their breakthrough album “Head-On-Collision”. Fronter Mutz first seemed a bit arrogant, but then showed humor by announcing they wanna be more chavy than Manowar. Anyway the four guys showed a very active performance including a stunt jump from Mutz. This band rocks!

Torian From then on Power Metal from Paderborn prevailed the tent. Although their sound is not my cup of tea Torian knew how to entertain the crowd. The fronter Marc Hohlweck seemed to live his music all the day and performed with much passion. Both guitarists showed their high skilled talents and the band rocked presenting with “Stormbringer” and “Dragonfire” new tracks from their forthcoming release “Thunder Times”. So they finished a celebrated appearance with their self-titled hymn “Torian” from their “Dreams Under Ice”-debut.

Nohellia France has brought us several very talented as innovative formations at last. So I was pretty curious about the four boys and one girl from Nizza and I got totally disappointed. Their Symphonic Black Metal with some rare female vocals (A tape would have been cheaper than to transport the actress for these few words!). The instrumental passages sounded interesting, but their songwriting hopfully hadn’t reached its climax. The songs were much too unstructured.

Persefone Have you ever heard about a band from the little state of Andorra? So I hadn’t done till this appearance which should become one of the biggest Metal recoverings of the latest years. The sixpack presented a very variable sound which may be defined as Progressive Black / Death Metal. In contrast to the group before every detail fitted into the epics created with a very high approach. Besides the screams and grunts of fronter Marc Martins keyboarder Miguel Espinosa assisted him with his distinctive clean voice. Besides all the technics and high approach the band showed its sense of humor by performing a Metal version of Star War’s “Imperial March” combining it with the “Star Wars Theme” itself. The spectators got caught by the hammer appearance and celebrated the opuses from their albums “Core” and “Truth Inside The Shades”. Another great discovery by the Dong-“scouts”! Please bring them back!

Hollenthon After Morgana Lefay had canceled their Dong-appearance the Austrians around Pungent Stench – mastermind Martin Schirenc got confirmed to replace them. Of course they don’t represent the same style, but Hollenthon should become a big gain for the festival. Very motivated the banging quartet started into their set combining material from the new longplayer “Opus Magnum” like the opener “On The Wings Of A Dove” or the new video-single “Son Of Perdition” and classics like “To Kingdom Come” or “Once We Were Kings”. By the way fronter Martin showed much self-irony as he noticed he had considered the on the floor taped setlist from the band before most time of the set. So with the final words in Austrian dialect (“Sooo, jetz spuiln wer noch zwaa Songs und dann schleich ma uns!”) Martin and his comrades dismissed from the jubilating fans. Great performance!

Sadist “Sometimes They Come Back”: This song title describes the wonderful return of the Italian Prog Death Metal – legend whose sound can be described right in the middle between Cynic and Atheist. The geniuses around guitarist / keyboarder Tommy presented a well-balanced set considering songs from the different band eras like “Tearing Away” from the current self-titled “Sadist” – masterpiece as the familiar creations “Christmas Beat”, “I Rape You” and the instrumental “From Bellatrix To Betelgeuse”. Besides the intelligent music the actors didn’t take themselves too serious. Fronter Trevor put half of the microphone in his mouth still grunting very effectively. In another situation he took both stringers with one arm each into a headlock. So the fourpiece showed an excellent performance which just found a few fans, but those got really banished by the excellent show.

Sabaton After Morgana Lefay had cancelled their show their fellow countrymen rose one position higher in the billing becoming Saturday’s headliner. Despite all their lyrics about war the Swedes fulfilled their image as a positive party-band. And the fans reacted feeling more than okay with it. So within all the headbangers and many stagedivers the band didn’t have any matters to keep the crowd in motion by the new “The Art Of War”-material (the opener “Ghost Division”, the title track) and tracks from the former two releases (the second played “Panzer Battalion”, “Primo Victoria”, “Attero Dominatus”). Besides that vocalist Joakim Brodén had much fun with the word ‘Dong’ and its different meaning in English, especially when a crowdsurfer without any pants arrived the stage. So the Swedes partied with their numerous supporters into the night with a totally dignified headliner performance.

Conclusion:
Well the Dong Open Air definitely rocked! Although the organizers had billing problems losing important names by Primordial and Morgana Lefay the billing promised and held high quality between well-known acts and hopefuls for the future discovered by the seemingly talented Dong-“scouts”. And they got rewarded for their cool attitude: Although their festival was already sold out the Dong team presented (and payed) by Dark Tranquillity the biggest Dong-band so far. Our respect for this attitude which helped a lot after the mentioned formations had cancelled their Dong-appearance!

The Dong Open Air spread out a totally familiar atmosphere on a beautiful location you can’t ask for more. The mobile Dixi-toilets got cleaned continuously, the security was nice as uncomplicated and the catering situation was different. While the Döner snack bar sucked the other caterer offered nearly everything for fair prices and reached high demand which nearly all Dong-visitors found out after a short while. Another hint: Don’t bring your own beer on the hill. You get 0,5 l – bottles for 1,50 € which is very fair and needs to get supported!
We enjoyed our time on the Dong hill and want to return next year to experience the event and to report about again! Thanks go out to Benjamin “Colamann” Munsch, Dennis Strillinger and the DOA-team!!!!!

At the Dong Open Air rocked, drank and partied Tobi Wan Kenobi, Nic and Dumbo!!!!!