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Germany’s New Noise 7 hardcore festival reviewed!
If you ain’t got a lot of time but still want the full festival experience, New Noise is for you. This little hardcore gathering in Karlsruhe, already in its 7th edition, is a triumph of immediacy – in just an afternoon and evening, a little over eleven hours, you get 26 bands in two stages, without overlapping. Granted, most sets are 25 minutes long, but that’s just about right for most of these bands, with their face-ripping punk intensity working much better in short, sharp, spazzy bursts.
Before we dive into the actual racket put on by this wonderful bunch of people, here’s a small list of visual observations to really get you into the atmosphere:
- The staggering ratio of ink per inch of skin. On this little grassy field on the outskirts of Karlsruhe, and inside the two cute circus tents that made up stage 1 and stage 2, there was enough art on people’s bodies to fill half a Hermitage, from the funny and ludicrous to the downright scary (fully thick black-striped arms and legs, anyone?), it was simply tattoo heaven;
- The, ahem, colourful taste in clothing. Gym or bermuda shorts, flip-flops or bare feet and flowery summer dresses aren’t usually what you expect to see at a festival where Terrorizer goes, but they seemed to be the choice outfit options among the New Noise faithful;
- The lack of any real metal people there. Where the hell were you? Are you so scared of hipsterdom that you’re afraid you’ll catch it after having way too much fun and watching kickass bands unleash hellish noise? The long hair and beard of the very Roadburny-looking yours truly might have been an exception, but I felt extremely welcomed by the whole crowd regardless;
- It was fucking warm. Like, really, skin-burning, dehydration-threateningly warm. Who knows why German people go to Mallorca in the summer, they might as well just all camp out in Ostauerpark in July for a day or two and catch enough sun rays to last them the whole year.
So, all sweaty and among the throng of scantily clad tattooed Germans, we hung around while the first few bands whizzed by, a flurry of hardcore screaming to get us in the groove of walking from circus tent 1 to circus tent 2, until Tempest really caught our attention, like we were expecting them to – the dark fury they unleash is akin to what happens in their records, as their vocalist switches between soft-spoken messages about respect for animals in between songs to unhinged madman throwing himself into people while screaming his head off.
Titan were on right after, and a certain Neurosis-ish quality to their elaborate hardcore lends them a very welcome darker and more menacing edge than most of the bands at the festival.
France’s Aussitôt Mort were the next ones to really stand out, their heavy, post rock-drenched screamo sounding very refreshing. A ruthless three-pronged vocal attack is the main means of expression through which desperation, sadness and even melody pour out, on songs that stay with you long after they’re heard.
Vestiges‘ crusty post-hardcore had a similar impact to that of their buddies Tempest, going even further both in the savagery and in the creepily atmospheric bits to evoke shades of black metal (no shit) at times, all with the added bonus of the one man show that is one of their guitarists – stomping on his pedals, wrenching out notes from his guitar as if he’s gutting his worst enemy, screaming the lyrics all to himself, throwing himself on the monitors and spitting viciously all over the place. Fuck yeah.
On a very international bill, Germans Downfall Of Gaia, who are now one of the much-needed shining hopes on the Metal Blade roster, didn’t disappoint their local fanbase at all – on the contrary, their nebulous crust goes down a storm and raises fists everywhere inside the warm tent. Have we mentioned how hot it was already?
It was about to get hotter, too, as Birds In Row (pictured above) played a blindingly intense set, able to rival with any brutal band you’d care to mention. Filthy and ravaging, yet with oddly poetic, broken strands of melody at their blackened core, the French three-piece’s short songs are like an ice pick through the heart. One of the very best shows of the whole day, and there were a shitload of them to choose from, so that’s really saying something.
No time for rest as, still reeling from Birds In Row, we stumble towards another huge highlight – San Francisco’s Loma Prieta (pictured above) put on a dazzling display of unconventional, agile screamo violence, full of fire, passion, melody and destructive power. They’re simply uncontrollable live, and during the last song drummer Valeriano Saucedo III, along with his whole drum kit, were carried above our heads by the whole crowd while he played. Crazy isn’t the half of it.
Among the most traditional hardcore bunch, Portuguese mob Adorno were one of the most exciting, their screamo going down a treat as well, after the oddball aggression of the previous couple of bands.
Sadly, sloppy time management meant that the planned no-overlap of the initial schedule didn’t happen, and the worst clash had two of the headliners playing at the same time. It was a painful back and forth to catch the amazing Celeste and the heart-stoppingly wonderful Defeater (pictured below), but we managed. The French weirdos spewed forth their misanthropic devastation among an eye-watering strobes-and-red-light atmosphere, with a surprising highlight among the chaos that they haven’t played in a while, the sludgy monstrosity that is ‘Toucher Ce Vide Béant Attise Ma Fascination’.
Defeater’s Derek Archambault, on the other hand, poured his heart out as usual with the deeply affecting narratives of their songs striking a chord for everyone. Despite the emotion (with its high point during the acoustic quietness of ‘I Don’t Mind’ brilliantly performed by Derek alone onstage), it was also the wildest show of the day – from the very first second of ‘The Red, White And Blues’, bodies threw themselves recklessly from the stage and the whole tent seemingly entered a collective trance. It’s good to see a great band get the reaction they so broadly deserve.
Despite the exhaustion of eleven straight hours of (new) noise, there was still some energy to be extracted from our bodies, and no one better to do that than Raein. Vocalist Andrea Console pleaded for everyone to pull out all the stops since they were the last band, and everyone followed him and his passionate screaming right up until the final climax of ‘Tiger Suit’, that very nearly brought the whole tent down.
In the main stage, mass was in session as the Church Of Ra, a joining of three Amenra-related bands (Oathbreaker, Hessian and Syndrome), provided a sombre and fitting come-down for the entire day, running the whole spectrum of emotions and moods, from creepy savagery to enveloping, minimalist dark ambient. See you next year for New Noise 8!
WORDS & PICTURES: José Carlos Santos