Sunday is the day of the sun, and it wouldn’t be fair if it weren’t an especially hot and sunny day in Valhallamand, where our report team was eager to attend the third and last day of Rock The Lakes festival. A little recap: the first day was focused on extreme metal, the second was focused on folk and symphonic, and the third was focused on heavy and power metal. Before enjoying our galleries by Silvio Colombo as usual and my reports, we would like to sincerely thank the organization of the festival for hosting us and for making us feel so welcome.
Who’s ready to take a trip back to the 80s? Well, Silvio and I are definitely in, if that’s the case. With two heavy and glam metal enthusiasts like us, the first band of this Sunday was checking all of our boxes. King Zebra play a bright and fun type of metal, and even though the crowd was not quite big, their energy on stage was top-notch. With a captivating fusion of classic metal elements and modern influences, King Zebra‘s live shows are a whirlwind of anthems and adrenaline-charged solos that leave an indelible mark on the senses. Their dedication to crafting a visceral experience for their audience has solidified their reputation as a powerhouse in the global metal arena, making each King Zebra performance an unforgettable journey into the heart of heavy metal. It’s too bad that they played for only 25 minutes, so hopefully, we’ll have occasion to see them again soon!
It is time for a change in the atmosphere of Vallamand because a supergroup from the Netherlands is ready to enchant the Swiss festival. Blackbriar’s captivating stage presence intertwines seamlessly with their hauntingly beautiful music, creating an immersive experience that leaves spectators mesmerized. At the forefront of this spellbinding experience is Zora’s bewitching voice, a vessel that possesses the uncanny ability to transcend the ordinary and transport the audience into an alternate realm. With a voice that effortlessly navigates between haunting vulnerability and powerful crescendos, Zora guides the listeners through a sonic journey that feels both intimate and otherworldly. This was especially true during “Arms of the Ocean” and “Deadly Diminuendo“. Blackbriar‘s performance is more than a mere concert; it’s a voyage into the depths of emotion, a symphony of darkness and light that lingers for quite a while. I honestly could not understand why they were playing so early in the day: this band has the talent and skills to play much later in the day. Please, let’s give them a headliner spot soon!
And we’re soon returning to the glam and heavy metal world with the next act of the day, Kissin’ Dynamite. The charismatic German group possesses an unparalleled knack for ensnaring the entire audience within the magnetic embrace of their live shows. With a fusion of electrifying riffs, infectious melodies, and boundless energy, the band creates an atmosphere that transcends mere entertainment, evolving into a collective experience shared by all fortunate enough to attend. Each member’s vivacious presence on stage, coupled with their contagious enthusiasm, forms an irresistible invitation to partake in the revelry. As their music surges through the air, it weaves a tapestry of nostalgia and modernity, uniting generations in a sea of dancing and singing camaraderie. Kissin’ Dynamite‘s performance becomes a celebration of life and music, a vibrant testament to the enduring power of glam metal to captivate hearts, ignite spirits, and involve every person in the audience in an unforgettable musical event.
To tell you the truth, I am not a big fan of change. That applies to my life as well as the band I listen to, and when on the bill of the Rock The Lakes festival it was announced that Gloryhammer would perform, my heart ached a bit. I was and I am very fond of original vocalist Thomas Winkler, so I was a bit skeptical about hearing and seeing them for the first time ever without him. And while I can confidently say that Sozos Michael does not possess the same vocal ability as Winkler, he did a fine job in filling those shoes and he was also quite good in engaging with the crowd. Amidst a backdrop of dazzling visuals and immersive storytelling, the audience becomes an active participant in the grand narrative, united in a shared journey through the realms of fantasy and metal. For once, I will say that I was wrong in hating change. Sometimes it can lead to good things!
The clock strikes 17:40, and it’s time for a memorable act on the main stage at the festival: U.D.O.! Mister Dirkschneider and his band ignited a stream of nostalgia and passion among their dedicated fans. With a storied history and a repertoire of iconic hits, the band took the stage with a commanding presence that harkened back to the glory days of metal. The most unmistakable thing about U.D.O. is the lead vocals: you could hear and recognize him even if blindfolded! His signature gravelly vocals and charismatic stage presence remain a driving force. The synergy between U.D.O. and their adoring fans was palpable, evoking a powerful connection that transcended time and space. Every person in the audience sang with their hearts “They Want War” or “24/7“… what an incredible concert! In that moment, Rock The Lakes became a crucible of metal fervour, a testament to the enduring impact of U.D.O.‘s music in the lives of the metalheads.
The heat won’t stop, but also the bands won’t stop playing, and this next one is sure to bring the temperatures even more up. Epica, the symphonic metal powerhouse, continues to enrapture an ever-expanding legion of followers with their mesmerizing performances that seamlessly blend orchestral grandeur and metal might. In their latest spectacle, the band elevated their stage presence to new heights with captivating scenographies that transported the audience into a world of mystique and wonder. The inclusion of two serpents that shot smoke to the music’s rhythm and two rotating metal gears not only visually mesmerized but also symbolically intertwined with the band’s thematic depth. As the symphonic waves collided with the thunderous guitar riffs and impassioned vocals, the crowd became entranced in a sonic tapestry of contrasts. Epica‘s music, enriched by the lush symphonies and operatic vocals of Simone Simons, seemed to find its perfect counterpart in the intricate stage design. The synergy between the band and their visually striking set pieces created an immersive experience that left an indelible mark on the senses, solidifying Epica‘s ascendancy as a force that seamlessly marries music and spectacle, captivating a new era of devoted metal enthusiasts. The grandiose finale with “Cry For The Moon“, “Beyond The Matrix” and “Consign To Oblivion” proved that they are a force to be reckoned with.
Readers, you’ll have to forgive me for this report because it might get a bit longer than the other ones, but when it is about a band that has shaped my taste and my preferences in the metal world, you would understand my feelings. I have been a fan of Blind Guardian for so long that I lost count of how many times I’ve said, “I will see them in concert“, and then the occasion either vanished or was too difficult to accomplish. So, 2023 and Rock The Lakes, thank you for bringing to Vallamand my Bards because I truly thought that I was never going to enjoy one of their performances as most of my friends have. When the first notes of “Imaginations From the Other Side” were playing, I simply could not believe my ears and my eyes. Those incredible melodies and anthems that I’ve sung so many times by myself, now I would sing in the company of thousands of people who love Blind Guardian as much as I do. I knew that I was going to cry during their show sooner or later, but I didn’t expect tears on my cheeks during “Nightfall“. But, while singing with my voice, my heart also was singing, and tears were a natural result of hearing this masterpiece being played in front of me. Then, with all of my strength, I screamed on “Time Stands Still“, and the tears came back even stronger during “The Bard’s Song”. The band closed the concert with “Mirror Mirror” and “Valhalla“, which are anthems for Blind Guardian fans. So much so that we started singing the chorus of “Valhalla” just right after “Imaginations“. The band took that as a compliment! I was absolutely in awe of Kürsch’s vocals, flawlessly delivering high notes and screams, as well as being delicate when needed. It is pointless to write something about Olbrich’s and Siepen’s guitar skills because they are two living legends and nothing short of spectacular was their show. Ehmke on drums was hammering as his life depended on it, and van Stratum on bass as well as Schüren on keyboards, complete this outstanding ensemble. So Blind Guardian, thank you for realizing the dream of this wanna-be journalist to have you in front of her eyes. The FemMetal team is coming home, our hearts filled with magic, and our minds filled with the fantastic memories of these three festival days.