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Novarock 2013 Review

Novarock 2013 

June 14th - 16th  
Nickelsdorf, Austria

When I first heard about the size of Novarock (161,000 people spread over three days) I was surprised I hadn't heard of it before. While it is not exactly a metal festival it can still take pride in having some of the hottest and also biggest Metal and Rock bands in its lineup. This year the festival was headlined by Kiss and Rammstein, but also featured bands such as Amon Amarth, Kreator, Sabaton, and HIM. Apart from that there was also a range of Pop, Rock, and Metalcore: Thirty Seconds to Mars, Bullet for my Valentine, A Day to Remember, IAMX - just to name a few. Most interesting for me were the following, though: Amaranthe, Within Temptation, and Cradle of Filth – featuring Sonic Cathedral's very own Lindsay Schoolcraft.

Nova Rock

Cradle of Filth (Day 2)

Even though COF are not female fronted, I guess I can get away with reviewing them by focusing on their not-so-new-anymore female keyboard player and backing vocalist. The fact that I am a huge fan of Lindsay Schoolcraft is probably no big secret anyway.

As this was a festival show they had to shorten their set, playing a total of nine songs including the intro. The band seemed to be very aware of their new background singer's needs and accommodated them by giving her some smaller warm up parts in the beginning and showcasing her more operatic voice at the end of the set. “Nymphetamine” was my personal highlight, but the friend I went with was particularly waiting for “Her Ghost in the Fog”. According to him, all of the former female singers had trouble singing this song (which, granted, is not an easy one to sing). With Lindsay he was really impressed, though (as I had expected). The whole band's performance was really good, and especially front man Dani Filth did a great job interacting with the crowd. His jokes presented in his British accent were probably just as entertaining as the musical performance itself.

Cradle of Filth setlist:

1. Intro: Tiffauges
2. Tragic Kingdom
3. For Your Vulgar Delectation
4. A Dream of Wolves in the Snow
5. Summer Dying Fast
6. Born in a Burial Gown
7. Nymphetamine
8. Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids
9. Her Ghost in the Fog

Amaranthe (Day 2)

This was my second time seeing Amaranthe within the last few months (see review here), so I didn't think I was in for any surprises. I was maybe a little wrong there, because as the band came on stage, I realized that I had never seen one of their members before.

This was because they had had a stand-in rough vocalist on their tour with Stratovarius and Seven Kingdoms, which I had not been aware of before. Amaranthe drew a considerable crowd for a band playing rather early in the day. They started off their set with “Invincible” and had to fight some sound issues during this song. They took it with humor (“Are you sure you can't hear us?”), and got more or less back on track pretty soon. All these problems were sorted out by the second song, “Leave Everything Behind”. It took the band a little while to get back into their routine, but once they had gotten over the initial difficulties their performance became the well attuned show I had witnessed before. Elize took advantage of the big stage and impressed the crowd with some karate-like kicks and moves that were new to me.

Their set was rather short and ended after seven songs with “Hunger”, which seemed to have been anticipated by the crowd, who had been shouting the title already. Before the band left, they took the time to voice their appreciation for Austria. It turned out that Austrian Airlines had saved them from a screw-up of their original airline, who had cancelled their flight and almost kept them from playing the festival. It is safe to say that everyone was glad they had dodged that bullet.

Amaranthe setlist:

1. Invincible
2. Leave Everything Behind
3. 1,001,000 Lightyears
4. The Nexus
5. Afterlife
6. Call Out My Name
7. Hunger

Within Temptation (Day 1)

Within Temptation and the Novarock festival have an ill-fated relationship. Last year the band's set had to be cancelled due to bad weather conditions, and this year their set had to be shortened because recent flooding had made them late to the venue. With their co-headlining of the second stage they made the best of this second chance, though, and didn't disappoint.

Their lengthy but impressive intro short film “Mother Maiden” set the right mood for the darker and symphonic set that was to come. Everyone who hasn't seen the short film yet should look it up on Youtube. If the background music and the storyteller's tale don't manage to creep you out, the kids climbing the outside of a building and leaving with their mouths bloodied will definitely do the job. The band then started their set with “Shot in the Dark”, and it was obvious a lot of people were in fact not waiting for the headlining band, but were specifically there to see WT. During their third song, “Faster”, a fan threw a rose, but missed the stage by a few inches. Sharon then had a security guard retrieve it for her. The crowd was quite mixed, though, and when the time came to sing the opening of “Ice Queen”, it took people a second to understand what they were supposed to do. After not seeing WT live in about six or seven years I was happy to find that Sharon still does the reaching gesture when singing “she takes all life away”. This created a quite nostalgic moment for me.

When comparing Within Temptation in 2006 (when I last saw them) and now, there are a few things that stand out. Sharon's voice has definitely become more mature, and very much in her favor. They cut all the fire effects (at least from their festival show) and their stage setup and decoration are simpler, putting the focus more on the music as such. Granted, the lack of effects may have been caused by their late arrival at the fest. What has not changed is how well they are received by the audience, regardless of if they play new songs or old.

Within Temptation setlist:

1. Intro: Mother Maiden (short film)
2. Shot in the Dark
3. In the Middle of the Night
4. Faster
5. Stand My Ground
6. Ice Queen
7. Sinéad
8. Iron
9. Mother Earth

Taking everything into account, this was a very good first Nova Rock for me. For a non-metal festival the amount of stellar Metal bands is really amazing, and some quick research shows that this was not a lucky coincidence this year, but that it is in fact common practice at this festival. Even though the crowd is not a Metal crowd there are no rivalries between the fans of different types of music, and the general mood and fun factor is really good. If you're not watching a band or grabbing a bite at one of the many, diverse food booths you can take a quick bungee jump (!) or enjoy one of the other funfair rides that add to the general fun that is to be had. The weather was extremely good too, maybe a little too much so, because by the second day a lot of visitors (including myself) resembled lobsters. A short trip to the festival convenience store will equip you with sunscreen and fix this problem as well, though. Once the next festival season comes around I will definitely have an eye out for this one again.