Live Review: Metal Hammer Paradise 2016

IMG_0659.jpgWritten by Rainer Kerber

Location: Ferienpark Weißenhäuser Strand
Date: November 11th/12th 2016

The holiday complex Weißenhäuser Strand, 5 km away from the Holstein town Oldenburg, was for the fourth time the venue of the hardest short break in the world, the Metal Hammer Paradise.

Hosted by the organizers, the music magazine “Metal Hammer” and FKP Scorpio, this was an indoor comfort festival; and the Metalheads came in great numbers. The apartments were sold out for weeks and there were only a few day tickets for Friday evening. There also more than 25 bands playing on three stages, as well as readings, workshops, a warm-up and after-show parties.

Friday

After a brief welcome by the chief editor of “Metal Hammer” Thorsten Zahn, the doom masters of Pentagram opened in the Baltic Ballroom. The musicians from the United States clearly showed that they are still far from the scrap heap. The space before the stage was already very well filled and the fans in great mood. At the same time, Die Kassierer played in the tent at the Maximum Metal Stage. Metal had little to do with this and it was not good what the band presented. So it does not open up to me why the band could perform on the big stage.

But then followed some power meta; from Germany in the Baltic Ballroom – Brainstorm. The latest album Scary Creatures was released earlier this year. Singer Andy B. Franck had the fans fully under control from the start. Brainstorm caused tremendous atmosphere in the Ballroom.

But then was the first visit in the big tent. After the opening by Die Kassierer hard rock fireworks burnt down with the Danish band Pretty Maids and frontman Ronnie Atkins (with the bourgeois name Paul Christensen, among others also with Avantasia) entered the stage. This was one of the first highlights of the festival, at least for me.

For over 15 years he was singer at Accept, during which the band sold more than two million recordings worldwide. In 1987, he founded his own band U.D.O. – Udo Dirkschneider. He is currently under the name DIRKSCHNEIDER on “Back To The Roots Tour 2016,” on which he once again presents old Accept-Hits. Songs like ‘Princess of the Dawn,’ ‘Son of a Bitch’ and ‘Monster Man’ shone in new splendour. And as an encore, there was ‘Metal Heart’ and ‘Balls to the Wall.’ The place in front of the Maximum Metal Stage was thrilling. There was a great atmosphere.

At Apocalyptica the rows in the tent had visibly cleared. The cello metal of the Finns is not just everyone’s taste. Since the 2015 album Shadowmaker the band works with Franky Perez as a fixed singer. He was also given the opportunity to prove his vocal abilities. But the focus of the show, of course, were the three cellists Eicca Toppinen, Paavo Lötjönen and Perttu Kivilaakso.

Saturday

Anvil from Toronto (Canada) probably had the longest journey. The band, founded in 1977 by Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner, is regarded as a pioneer of speed metal, and the trio sparked true heavy metal fireworks at the Maximum Metal Stage.

According to the original planning, RAM from the Swedish city of Gothenburg should have been on the Baltic Ballroom on Friday, but the slot was replaced with Pentagram. So, on Saturday I made a short detour to the small stage. The Ballroom was well stocked and the Swedes attended with their flawless heavy metal for great mood.

There is also a good mood for Uncle Tom, the band around the singer and bassist of the Ruhrpott thrashers Sodom, Tom Angelripper. Drinking songs with a heavy metal flipside always go well. Whether ‘In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus,’ ‘Schnaps das war sein letztes Wort’ or the encore ‘Es gibt kein Bier auf Hawaii’ – the fans in the big party tent sang loudly.

At the show of the German-Swedish-Italian band Primal Fear, the Baltic Ballroom was really packed. Of the skills of the guitarist Alex Beyrodt, I could already convince myself at the Voodoo Circle concert in Hamburg in March. But his fellow musicians could also shine, especially singer Ralf Scheepers (ex-Gamma Ray).

Because of illness of their singer Stu Block, Iced Earth had to cancel their appearance at the Baltic Sea. So this evening Freedom Call from Nuremberg had entered the stage. They themselves call their sound “Happy Metal.”

The day prior to their show, Freedom call celebrated the release of their current album “Master of Light.” In that spirit they played some of the new songs live for the first time. Logically, the musicians were a bit nervous, but they confidently presented their new material.

They do not play metal, they do not play hard rock. They were the exotics at the festival – Schandmaul from the Bavarian state capital Munich. So at least was the announcement by frontman Thomas Lindner. Despite (or because of?) the exotic status the Maximum Metal Stage was really full. With hurdy-gurdy, bagpipes, violin and flute, there was a full pack of medieval rock. The singer has always succeeded in encouraging the fans to join in, get together, dance and sing along. He told stories about the individual songs. The Bavarians have during their show certainly won some new fans.

Afterwards it was really full in the tent. The headliners of the festival – Saxon from England – presented their new album Battering Ram. And with the title song they opened their set and started afterwards with “heavy metal thunder” with their hit ‘Fire Work.; But three more songs of the current album were also on the program. With ‘Wheels of Steel’ ending the regular set list. Of course, Saxon didn’t leave without encore, which contained the classic bangers ‘Denim And Leather’ and ‘Princess of the Night’ before the lights in the big party tent finally went out.

Setlist Saxon

  • Intro – It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll) (AC/DC song)
  • Battering Ram
  • Heavy Metal Thunder
  • Sacrifice
  • Solid Ball Of Rock
  • Never Surrender
  • Stand Up And Be Counted
  • The Devil’s Footprint
  • Strong Arm Of The Law
  • Killing Ground
  • The Eagle Has Landed
  • 20,000 Ft
  • Queen Of Hearts
  • And The Bands Played On
  • Dallas 1 PM
  • Wheels Of Steel

Encore:

  • Denim And Leather
  • Princess Of The Night

Also the fourth edition of the Metal Hammer Paradise was a huge party. Several thousand metalheads celebrated peacefully and enjoyed the advantages of a luxurious accommodation at the holiday paradise Weißenhäuser Strand. The organization was again excellent, and the sound and light on the two larger stages were good. On a visit to the Riff Alm I have renounced because of the bad experiences and thus unfortunately missed some good bands. In 2017, there will be the first small anniversary – five years MHP. The date is already fixed: November 10th/11th. Advance sales are already in full swing.

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