On a warm sunny day, with just enough breeze to make it a perfect festival day, we headed to Fortarock, a festival in Nijmegen that has gathered critical acclaim for good vibes and excellent acts. This years billing wasn’t as sweet as some they had before, which led to the organization lowering the entrance price, a credit to them. That didn’t mean it wasn’t worth the trip to the Netherland’s most eastern metal town.
At midday the festival terrain is slowly getting busy as Leprous and Carach Angren take the two side stages. It was a coin toss which of the two to go see, as they started at the exact same time and both bands, while excellent in their own setting, aren’t really middle of the day outside in the bright sunshine bands. We opted to go see Leprous, who indeed suffer from less than optimal sound, and bright sunlight. Somehow for me they also suffered of a distinct lack of Ihsahn this day and just weren’t as excellent as I remembered them from Roadburn.
Opening on the main stage are Swedish heavy metal band Enforcer. These guys know how to start a party and the fact they’re the first band to play this stage doesn’t phase them at all. The showmanship is incredible, even if the sound is a bit bass and kick drum heavy even at the sound booth. They seem to know you rarely have optimal sound at an outdoor-fest and step it up a few in show, finally waking the milling crowd up.
Next we opt to go see Sylosis, a British modern trash outfit that turned out to be the surprise of the day. I’d not heard of them before or heard their music and the booklet description wasn’t something that tickled me, but opted to go see them over Converge. I’m glad I did, as they were excellent, with a progressive sense of timing and minor core influences, yet a straightforward honest brutality to it all that kept it well grounded.
Next on the mainstage are Godsmack, mostly known for their one hit ‘I Stand Alone’ used for the Scorpion king movie, their sound is pretty much a repeat of that one song, rehashed and reworked endlessly to the point of brittle weakness. A rather bored stage presence in the full sun doesn’t help the band and distinct feeling of has-been creeps up on me, even though musically they’re pretty solid.
Over on stage three, which seems to be my favorite this day, thrashers Flotsam And Jetsam are starting. The band so far have the best sound balance of the day and pull a pretty big crowd, as singer Eric AK’s almost flawless vocals fly over the solid and clear trash music. The show is slick and smooth, but not without heart. Like a well oiled machine the band effortlessly win over the crowd, aided by some clever banter between songs.
After some initial confusion on the program, it appears a few weeks ago Papa Roach and Parkway Drive switched spots, but the booklets had already been printed. So instead we have Paparoach on the main stage. While they are clearly festival veterans and know exactly what they’re doing, this isn’t the best I’ve seen them. The show is captivating and every person in the crowd sings the hits along full swing. Sadly, their energetic and excellent front man Jacoby Shaddix couldn’t carry a stage this large today.