Euroblast returned for it’s 13th outing this year, again being held at Essigfabrik in Cologne, Germany. On the bill this time around were (among others) the formidable Textures, playing their last festival slot before their indefinite hiatus, Twelve Foot Ninja, and the magnificent Devin Townsend. Also to be found on the festival menu were acts like Car Bomb, Exivious and Uneven Structure.
The festival has grown in size since its inception, and has always had some of the strongest line-ups in the progressive metal scene. With the festival branching out to include bands like LO!, The Hirsch Effekt and Sleepmakeswaves, it’s an event which caters to everybody from across the metal spectrum.
The layout was interesting when I first arrived, and I was amazed by the polarized stages; the main stage is as wide as it is tall, with vast banks of speakers and lights to boot, whilst the second stage is literally an underground venue. Pokey, sweaty and with an oppressive atmosphere, it’s a far-cry from the main stage, but a great alternative to it as well.
I was expecting there to be a better beer selection, but when venues are licensed, it’s hard to expect the festival staff to roll in some Oktoberfest barrels and serve up Weißbier all weekend. The food as well I found to be really lacking. Aside from the burgers, which were great, there wasn’t anything which blew my mind or even made me want to eat at the venue. Pack a lot of money if you expect to stay in the festival all day, because it’s not cheap either!
Moving onto the important stuff, though, let’s talk about the sound, lighting and bands. The sound on both stages was excellent, with a great mix between the instruments. There were some bands which didn’t sound as meaty as I’d expected, and Car Bomb were missing vocals in their performance, but I’ve been lead to believe the lead singer was ill during the show, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
At Euroblast the were a number of bands who I hadn’t heard of before or hadn’t managed to catch live in the past either – here’s my high- and lowlights!
I’d held off listening to LO! before Euroblast so as not to spoil what I had heard was due to be a really fucking heavy set. The Australian band delivered a great set to open the festival for me. Their sound is like Converge and Meshuggah had a despot of a child together; crushing guitar sounds meet vicious vocals. Their stage presence was commanding, and they brought the atmosphere close in the hot rooms of Essigfabrik. 9/10
A band I was really excited for were Isaac Vacuum. This grung-y prog metal band from Germany put out a certain top 25 album of the year for me, their unique sound as well as their hooks and riffs enthralling me greatly. Playing on the second stage, their sound was perfect for the dark, intense room. The touch guitar which Stefan Huth played on the right of the stage sounded excellent and mesmerizing to boot. 9/10
I held off watching Uneven Structure live until I knew I’d see La Partition played in full (or at least in order). I’m glad I did, because this was one of my favourite acts of the weekend. The album scored a 10/10, and their live rendition of it did for me too. The music is so gripping live, and translates perfectly not only in the sound, but also the raw emotions that La Partition offered in abundance. 10/10
Just before the gig, I realized that Textures are close to one of my most views acts of all time, them pumping out tours and festivals in quick succession. This final festival date compounded their status as one of the leaders of modern progressive metal, and of ‘groove metal’ in general. The band rolled out fan favourites aplenty, and thus the room was buzzing for their final appearance. Great sound, brilliant lighting and a stage presence which screamed that they wanted to be there was a great send-off. I’m hoping this indefinite hiatus will be as short as possible… 9/10
Get a load of Textures on their Facebook!
After only catching half of their set at Tech Fest in ’16, French progressive tech-death band Atlantis Chronicles were one of the bands to see at Euroblast for me. Their latest album, Barton’s Odyssey, has been a constant feature on my playlists, with their neo-classical guitars and insane technical drumming hitting a sweet spot for me. Their live show is just as frenetic as their albums and it’s a true joy to watch the instrumentation of the band. The twangy bass, the juicy sweeps from both guitarists and the pulverizing drums make for an excellent combo. Criminally underrated and billed far too low, one of my favourites of the weekend. 10/10
Orange Mathematics is one of the strongest debuts from a band in the scene for a while, and in the live setting, Frontierer perform it with such gusto and panache, it’s a real treat to behold. I caught them for my second experience but a few months ago at Arctangent and was damn impressed; however at Euroblast, they blew me away. The aggression of their tones, the mindbending switching, and the jarring screeches of the instrumentation is so fucking cool to bang your head to. I’m excited for new material from this promising band. 8/10
Twelve Foot Ninja
How on earth is this band headlining festivals? Their sound is tight, but their anthems are just so droll. 2/10
The Hirsch Effekt
I was practically a virgin to The Hirsch Effekt’s music prior to Euroblast, and to my delight, they turned in one of the performances of the weekend. Playing a progressive mathcore/post-rock blend, the band delivered from start to finish. Not only did they have the best light show of the weekend, their music complimented it so well, making the whole show extremely immersive. The intense strobes collided brilliantly with the frenetic guitar work and desperate vocals from both guitarists, with only the band members being highlighted on stage. Go and check these guys out and tune into their latest album Eskapist. You can read our review here. 10/10
I unfortunately missed Sleepmakeswaves at Arctangent, but luckily caught them this time around, and wow: what a show. I hadn’t paid the band the attention they deserved, and they completely blew me away live. Loving every second of playing the show, the band were deserving of their sub-headline slot and punched out jam after jam. I really enjoyed the bass used by the band, and loved the synergy between the members. 9/10
I was in no way disappointed by The Devin Townsend Project’s set. I am a bit of a faux fan, and this was my first time, but I’m really excited to start trying to tackle his enormous back catalogue in more depth and detail. His stage presence is excellent, the intermissions hilarious and the band’s finesse at throwing out banger after banger is unmatched in the theatrical metal space. What a way to end the festival! 8.5/10
That’s all from me folks! I’d certainly recommend Euroblast as a brilliant international festival, with easy travel, which works for those on a budget and great times to be had in Cologne. Buy tickets for next years festival here and follow their Facebook for updates on the line-up for 2018!
Pete’s festival score: 8 /10