Dynamonic Destruction
Dynamo Open Air 1999
Mierlo, The Netherlands, May 21-23, 1999

by: Paul Schwarz

Having heard stories of how great an extreme music festival Dynamo is for many years, it has longtime been an aim of mine to attend this legendary three day event. 1999 proved perfect as I had no school commitments, the funds to do it and Manowar were headlining; what more reason does a person need? For those of you who have avidly read CoC's various reports on American fests like Milwaukee and the recent March Metal Meltdown (or who have even attended these meetings of metal), Dynamo has many of the same fish, but in a different kettle. It is, of course, an outdoor festival, and is also nearly eight times the size of either of the aforementioned in terms of attendance (40000 people witnessed Dynamo this year). However, the significant difference, one which I think Koshick and co. should take a hint from, is that the set times are not as punishingly short. Cryptopsy got 50 minutes instead of 20 to 30, Hypocrisy got one hour instead of 30 to 40 minutes, and I have to say this makes a -big- difference. The line-up may not look as divinely all-encompassing, but the level of satisfaction each set gives is dramatically increased. I would say that if ten minutes were added to each set at the various US festivals I have been to and a requisite number of bands removed, attendees would walk away with a greater net happiness. Anyway, through the trials and tribulations of hard ground, expensive food, good -legal- pot, good German beer, copious amounts of tobacco, even more water and hanging with most of Terrorizer's writing staff, this is my story of Dynamo 1999; I hope you enjoy it.

Friday, May 21st, Campsite Stage

Having previously heard Darkane on the Wardance compilation, what struck me about their set was that the vocals sounded distinctly more melodic. Even though the singer occasionally used a metal tube to create a differing vocal effect, he was still closer to power metal wailing than the death metal rasping I had previously heard. All the same, the band played decently and their sound, though far from perfect, was still good.

After unfortunately passing out in my tent and missing Sodom, I went back to the Campsite Stage for Anathema, who took the stage just before 01:00. Opening with a well-executed cover of Metallica's "Orion", Anathema showcased a sound tweaked to perfection and proceeded to play a set composed most squarely of their newer material (from the last three albums), which would be enough, I think, to convince any non-believer that this band have talent, musicianship and a penchant for developing their sound which is rarely found.

Therion were accompanied tonight by an orchestra, which was utilised to great effect, with interesting melodies and harmonies being fused with the guitar/bass/drums/vocals core, as per their _Theli_ album. "To Mega Therion" and others from this monumental opus came off beautifully and the band put a big smile on this writer's face by also grinding out the crushing "Wings of the Hydra" from 1995's _Lepaca Kliffoth_. After leaving the stage and being demanded back on for one more song, the band decided it was time to pledge their allegiance to old heavy metal and thus churned out an absolutely brilliant cover of Saxon's "747". With every catchy vocal line, riff and guitar lick intact and kicking serious ass, this cover was an ideal closer to a triumphant and varied set.

Saturday, May 22nd, Campsite Stage and Main Stage

I unfortunately had to bypass my chance of seeing The Haunted to catch Meshuggah, who ended up taking the Main Stage over 20 minutes late. Beginning with a long industrial-type intro at a volume which made it feel like it was literally choking me, Meshuggah pounded through the following set with precision and finesse: "Concatenation", "Sickening", "Soulburn", "Future Breed Machine", "Sane", "New Millenium Cyanide Christ", "Suffer in Truth" and "Gods of Rapture". They paused at many of the time changes, which, though it built suspense, was unwelcome in my eyes, because hearing these sudden changes is part of the rollercoaster of Meshuggah's music -- though I will admit doing those sudden changes must be hard to pull off live. Overall, Meshuggah were a thoroughly satisfying first band of the day.

My next appointment was with the hieroglyphed sledgehammer of death (metal) wielded by South Carolina's Nile as they took their place on the Campsite Stage. With the setlist comprising "Barra Edinazzu", "Pestilence and Iniquity", "Serpent Headed Mask", "Stones of Sorrow", "Ramses Bringer of War", "Howling of the Jin", "Smashing the Antiu" and one song from their first record, you could hardly go wrong and Nile didn't falter on any level. The sound was a decimating wave of sonic energy, but one which possessed such clarity that no riff, solo, drum break or vocal line could possibly be lost in the web of organised chaos that Nile weaved so brilliantly.

The band of the festival for me and a band I am already salivating in anticipation of seeing again, Arch Enemy were certainly a step down in heaviness and intensity from the all-out-assault of Nile, but all the same they were relatively impressive. Unfortunately, their sound lacked the crystal-like clarity of Nile's and thus some of the finer subtleties of their more melodically intricate music were lost. However, a good performance and a setlist including "Bury Me an Angel", "Dark Insanity", "Beast of Man" (their opener) and "Bridge of Destiny", among others, meant that Arch Enemy were still a long way from disappointing.

Supreme masters of individualistic technical death metal, Canada's Cryptopsy played their first European show ever today, and they did more than just turn heads -- they near twisted them off. The performance was flawless and frightening in its violent extremity and the response was appropriately appreciative. With a killer setlist composed of "Slit Your Guts", "Faceless Unknown", "Emaciate", "Phobophile", "Defenstration", "Abigor", "Cold Hate, Warm Blood", "Crown of Horns", "Born Headless" and "White Worms", Cryptopsy pleased the faithful and, I am sure, convinced the unbelievers -- and probably any passer by with ears -- that they mean serious business. Another triumphant set from these crushing live performers.

The intro chosen by Hypocrisy nicely set the stage for their arrival, as any good intro should, and though there were times during their hour-long set when I found myself trying to figure out what song I was hearing through the slightly dense sound, my overall feeling about their set was positive. As usual, the band played a good spread of material from their albums, with the vicious one-two of "Roswell 47" / "Killing Art" and the hellish death metal of "Pleasures of Molestation" being definite highlights from me. New material from _Hypocrisy_ sounded cool and the band were in good form with their second guitarist present and the set free of any unwelcome deviations.

With their new drummer (David Hirshheimer, formerly of London's Infestation) playing his second show tonight to 40000 people, one might have expected Cradle of Filth to have played it a little safe. However, despite the fact I am told this performance was not one of their greatest triumphs, this evening Cradle of Filth impressed on a number of levels. Firstly in performance, which was pretty damn flawless, especially, and most impressively, on the part of the newly appointed Mr. Hirshheimer, who does fucking brilliantly in playing every song pretty much perfectly -- no mean feat when you consider Nicholas Barker's considerable skill. Secondly in stage show; the pyros, dancing girls and fake blood, though cheesy, make Cradle a worthwhile spectacle to watch. Thirdly in stage banter; the quote of the weekend comes from Dani, who proclaims: "We were gonna come on stage on Manowar's Harley Davidsons, but unfortunately I couldn't reach the peddles." All in all not quite something to write home about, even with "The Principle of Evil Made Flesh" and "The Forest Whispers My Name" both getting airings, but certainly worth witnessing, and entertaining to say the least.

Well, "The time has come / All the training done / The muscle and the blood will come to bear" and it's at last time for me to witness Manowar (The Kings of Metal) live. After a longish wait and a film-like intro ending in "Ladies and gentlemen... Manowar", the band kicked off proceedings with "Manowar" from their classic _Battle Hymns_ debut and over the next hour and a half also churned out: "March for Revenge (By the Soldiers of Death)", "Kill With Power", "Sign of the Hammer", "Fighting the World", "Sting of the Bumblebee", "The Gods Made Heavy Metal", "Hail and Kill", "Return of the Warlord", "Power" and "Black Wind, Fire and Steel" along with a combo of Dutch songs especially for the people of Holland and a little "performance" sandwiched between "Sting of the Bumblebee" and "The Gods Made Heavy Metal". Off the bat, I must say that I was disappointed. The setlist was somewhat disappointing (where were classics like "Wheels of Fire", "Army of the Immortals" or "Dark Avenger", and why was a quarter of the set culled from _Louder Than Hell_, which is far from being their best record?) and the length of time the band spent on Joey's little "performance", which involved getting a male fan on stage to play guitar and a female fan on stage to show her tits, was inordinate in a one and a half hour set, to say the least, not to mention the continual use of somewhat ponderous rock 'n' roll endings which further cut down on how much time there was to hear this godly band's godly music. There were some excellently funny moments in the "performance" segue (like Joey saying to the female on stage: "Okay, I'll be fair with you: I'll take off my shirt and then you take off yours", along with continually claiming he'd "never done this [taken a woman's shirt off] before") and of course what the band did play was fucking heavy, loud and more invigorating than a shot of adrenaline straight into your brain, but, as someone pointed out at the time, for a band that are so no bullshit about their music and image, there was a lot of bullshit in their set. What it comes down to is that we (the Manowar fans) wanted the best, and didn't get it; simple as that.

Sunday, May 23rd, Campsite Stage and Main Stage

It is weird to see a band as old and well respected as Mercyful Fate open the Main Stage proceedings under bands as young and inexperienced as System of a Down, but it must be said that Mercyful Fate were an absolutely cracking way to open up Sunday's proceedings. Along with some great sounding songs from the new _9_ record, they belted out the classic epic "Satan's Fall" and blew the sleep which was still in my eyes clean away with "A Dangerous Meeting" and "Come to the Sabbath". King was as inspiringly animated as ever and all members (including bassist Sharlee D'Angelo, who was on his second set of the festival) got right into the music, resulting in a great all round performance.

After indulging in the pleasures of what is legal in Holland but not elsewhere, I returned, appropriately, for Monster Magnet's set. They were in fine form, opening with "Atomic Clock" and pounding through a set with "Powertrip", "Tractor", "Crop Circle", "Dopes to Infinity", "Negasonic Teenage Warhead" and "Space Lord" providing the remainder of the ammunition, along with one song off _Superjudge_ and a weird rap thing Wyndorf went off on. Monster Magnet have an undeniable groove that, though downright infectious on record, is a fucking andromeda strain in a live, outdoor festival setting, especially when the sweet leaf is sprinkled so liberally throughout the audience.

From my tent, probably three miles away, I heard Biohazard's opening salvo of a new song from _New World Disorder_, followed by "Shades of Grey", "Black and White and Red All Over", another new song and "Tales From the Hardside", which convinced me, before I fell asleep from fatigue, that there was still plenty of energy left in Brooklyn's ever verbally amusing bruisers.

My final planned trip to the musical mosh pit of the Campsite Stage was for Marduk's set as the headliners on the black stage. This was a fucking "Baptism by Fire" if I have experienced one. Kicking off with the searing "Panzer Division Marduk" from their new record of the same name, they blazed through the earlier aforementioned (also from the new album) and also gave the enthralled audience "Beyond the Grace of God" and "Those of the Unlight" (among others) before being forced off after much less than their allotted time because of a late running stage and a pressing curfew time. However, in the short time they had, Marduk positively decimated the Campsite Stage and proved that no-nonsense, full-speed-ahead black metal is worth its weight in spikes and bulletbelts when brought into the live arena.

So, on to the dubious headliners, of whose set I only caught parts. Metallica started off well with "Breadfan" and "Master of Puppets" and also succeeded in playing convincing versions of "Creeping Death" and "Fight Fire With Fire". However, Metallica don't play even the old stuff as good or convincingly as they used to and when watching them means you have to sit through various cuts from the last two "Load of rock" albums, the idea and reality of seeing them live becomes less and less appealing.


In summation, I would say that Dynamo was an incredible festival experience, not to mention a musical joy, and I only hope that work constraints in the future will not stop me from going back year after year after year. If you are anything like close to this Southern part of The Netherlands around the time of Dynamo, I suggest you drop whatever you're doing and make the trip; you won't regret it.

(article submitted 15/6/1999)

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