For the record, the Fortarock is a festival that has been running for ten years in Nijmegen, in the Netherlands. And, although its lineups are quite prestigious, it remains a human-sized event. Despite an uncertain weather last year, the experience there was so positive that I was really happy to return.

So, I was really motivated when I entered the site of the festival on June 1 to discover the Australians of Ne Obliviscaris and their progressive metal with an experimental touch. Indeed, it is very difficult to qualify the style of the band as its universe is super vast. But one thing is certain, they manage to marry a multitude of influences with ease and coherence. They are already sending us to another dimension. Lovely !

Live Report from Fortarock 2019 @ Nijmegen (NL)

The stoner of Monolord following on the second stage, under a tent, doesn’t convince me, I prefer the easy metalcore played by Atreyu. The show is super energetic and the choruses are efficient. I learn in the photopit that it is actually the drummer of the band who performs the songs today. Even if the fans have noticed it right away, the novices couldn’t see anything. I really liked their cover of Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love A Bad Name”, which made the whole festival plain sing together.

We go hide from the sun again to listen to the Norwegians of Enslaved. I had already had the opportunity to see them twice, but had never really been conquered. The sound is so good today that we can hear all the diversities of their music and the beauty that emerges from less black songs. Astral travel is assured while the band is browsing their diverse discography.

We do not change so much of atmosphere with Myrkur who invests the mainstage. Today, the enchantress Amalie Bruun is playing in daylight and, surprise, she proudly shows her round belly. It’s also an opportunity to finally see the faces of the musicians who accompany her. Even if Myrkur’s music is more powerful in the darkness, the show is not lacking of mysticism and the singer’s voice always gives me shivers, wether she sings or growls. The moment is splendid.

Live Report from Fortarock 2019 @ Nijmegen (NL)

I make a quick passage in front of the British from Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats. I’m not super fan of their stoner / doom, but I have an interview with Ne Obliviscaris. Fortunately, the festival site is not huge, it allows me to quickly find the press point. I’m a bit devolved when, during the conversation, I hear the intro of “The Bee”. Indeed, I am missing the beginning of Amorphis … It is not so serious because I have had a lot of opportunitiers to see them during the last three years. Anyway, I’m still happy to attend the second half of their set and hear songs that I love, such as “Silver Bride”, “Wrong Direction” or the famous and sublime “House Of Sleep” which concludes this beautiful performance.

It is now the turn of Cult Of Luna and the public seems conquered by their varied and rhythmic doom. Personally, it does not bother me, but I am not transported. I started a little in the same state of mind when it was time for Children Of Bodom to hit the stage. As I had already seen them three times before without really taking pleasure. But tonight, I think it’s great! In addition to the apparent good mood of the musicians and the excellent atmosphere that emanates from the audience, we absolutely hear all the instruments distinctly. I can’t believe it ! The choice of the setlist was also smart, the band skilfully navigating between his hymns, among which include “Are You Dead Yet”, “In Your Face” or “Downfall”. They also proposed a few songs of their nice new record, ” Hexed “, released last March.

Bloodbath may be a reference in death metal, I do not know anything about it and I really do not know what to expect when I see these weird bloody guys on stage. For the first time of the day, the lights are catastrophic, the dominant is red and the smoke does not help anything. I complain a little, but beyond that, my ears are hit. What an atmosphere, what an energy! I’m not sure if I understood everything, but I loved it.

Ah Behemoth! I was excited about shooting them, it was a long time. Unfortunately, the beginning of the show is almost identical to all the others I have seen since the release of “The Satanist”. With the arrival of “I Loved You At Your Darkest” last year, whose songs constituted the majority of the setlist, I was hoping something else visually… So I was a little disappointed. Nevertheless, whether or not we like their mainstream black metal, we must recognize the professionalism, the energy and the precision of the musicians. Everything sublimated by the quality of the sound which is offered to us tonight. Anyway, despite my tiny disappointment, I really enjoyed some hymns of the band, including “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” or “Chant For Ezkaton 2000” and its infernal riff. Finally, it is under a shower of black glitters that Behemoth bows out and closes the first part of this Fortarock.

Live Report from Fortarock 2019 @ Nijmegen (NL)

Well, not quite … For the more adventurous, it remains the performance of a band named Ploegendienst, who seems to play hardcore. This, on a third scene (“Hank’s Garage”), smaller, that I have not mentioned yet. And for a good reason : if you want to fully attend the concerts under the tent, it is impossible to visit this extra podium that offers more underground bands.

The night was pleasant and relaxing, so enthusiasm is still present to attack this second day of festivities that begins with the young English band Savage Messiah and its quite efficient heavy metal.

This first performance may have seemed trivial, but it is far from the case of the second… While we expect to see Allegaeon, the Americans of Car Bomb come to us with a hyper complex and intense metal. The least we can say is that it’s original. Although the band was not planned, their mathcore seems to make an excellent impression. For my part, if I were drunk there, I would surely have had seasickness…

Then, let’s escape to the land of unicorns with Gloryhammer and their power metal transposed into a completely delirious universe. With its green leather armor and silver leggings, the singer looks a bit like a frog from space. Despite his weird look, we are still impressed by his high level vocal performance.

Live Report from Fortarock 2019 @ Nijmegen (NL)

The change is radical after this with Decapitated and their sharp death metal which makes me the effect of a huge slap in the face. Even if the band does not propose a particular staging, the musicians are captivating, the singer at first place. What an energy! A big crush for this band that I had never listened to.

The afternoon is beautiful and I prefer enjoy a moment on the grass while Kadavar is playing is stoner a bit further away. It was not worse to take a break before Batushka‘s most bizarre concert of the universe. The scene has turned into a church, there are gilding, icons and candles everywhere. Candles, that the singer took the time to light one by one before beginning his diabolical litany, planted behind his desk in front of which is placed a kind of reliquary, probably containing bones. And speaking of bones, human skulls are also part of the staging. It smells incense, too. One might have thought of a one-man show, but the musicians are simply on the second plan, melted into tapestries and smoke with their cardinals costumes. I had seen Batushka last year at Graspop and even though the show was special, it was not as pushed. Here, I’m a bit deranged after their powerful set.

Live Report from Fortarock 2019 @ Nijmegen (NL)

The atmosphere is immediately alleviated with Symphony X which delights its audience with its speedy prog metal. I prefer, however, the melancholy of Katatonia exclusively playing its album “Night Is The New Day”, released ten years ago. But what I was really looking forward today is finally coming: Hammerfall! The musicians are in great shape and travel in their discography, in joy and good humor: “Hammer High”, “Renegade”, “Blood Bound”, “Any Means Necessary”, “Last Man Standing”, “Let The Hammer Fall” and “Hearts On Fire”. Also, the band offers a sample from its new album, “Dominion”, to be released in August: “(We Make) Sweden Rock”. A moment of pure pleasure that seemed much too short to me!

Live Report from Fortarock 2019 @ Nijmegen (NL)

On the other hand, the set of Animals As Leaders seems endless to me. Even if the trio performs its complex instrumental compositions perfectly, the absence of vocals tends to annoy me. But for the lovers of the genre, it’s surely a pure delight for their eyes and ears.

Suddenly, a familiar riff sounds in the distance, it is Amon Amarth who run out of their drakkar with “The Pursuit Of Vikings” to ignite the public. I’m not especially fond of their death mixed with folk, but the effect they have on the crowd is really impressive. In the photopit, I hear people sing in chorus behind me. In the crowd, everyone jumps and dances. You can feel the fun from the beginning to the end of the set. It is not the rain that falls on us as at the end that spoils the pleasure. Nevertheless, the storm warning is given and the site of the festival is evacuated, once the Swedish had left the scene of the Fortarock which ends already.

Live Report from Fortarock 2019 @ Nijmegen (NL)

What to say to conclude except that this festival was once again wonderful? Indeed, the Fortarock has many qualities: the large parking is free and is located just five minutes by foot from the site, everything is easily accessible on the site without the need to walk for miles to reach one stage or the, the bars, the food or the toilets. Also, I have rarely heard a sound of such quality in general during a festival, the lights were also generally great. A varied lineup, a super friendly staff and a beautiful weather also contributed to the great weekend there. However, if there is a negative aspect to report, it is probably the high price of drink tickets (not far from 3€), as at many events. Finally, even if on one side it’s great that there is no waiting between the bands, it is sometimes sporty. Apart from these small details, the result is so positive that I got back home super happy! We never know what the future holds, but as we say: never two without three … So, Fortarock, see you next year ?!