My first Summer Breeze in many, many years. I wanted to go for a long time, but something always got in the way: Bachelor’s thesis, compulsory internship, master’s thesis, Corona, last-minute private reasons… but in 2023 the time had finally come, two cars, three friends and four days of festival. The anticipation was great, although on paper there were certainly more suitable line-ups for me in recent years, but this year there were a few things that were on my wish list for future concert visits anyway or that had made me curious for a while.
Wednesday, August 16th
After arriving at the festival site as early as possible, pitching our tents and toasting with the first beers, we went to the traditional opening of the Summer Breeze at 3pm by the brass band Blasmusik Illenschwang. It’s always amazing how a few thousand metalheads go wild to this music and you can see in every single face of the brass band how much they enjoy and like it. Directly after that we went to the Main Stage to see Corvus Corax. The gig was okay, but I never really got into the band.
After that Kataklysm played on the Main Stage and they were the first big surprise for me. I have to admit that the band passed me by a bit, I knew much more the side project Ex Deo of the front singer Maurizio Iacono. But the gig completely blew me , or rather us, away, so it was clear that after the festival I’m going to look into Kataklysm a bit more. Arpad already gave me some “where to start” tips.
After a somewhat longer beer and food break on the festival grounds, we went to Soilwork at 21:35. Again, similar to Kataklysm, I’m much more familiar with front singer Björn Strid’s AOR side project The Night Flight Orchestra with which I have already driven one or two colleagues on this site crazy. All in all, I also have to say that this was one of the weaker performances I’ve seen. On the one hand because it was somehow a bad sound set-up for me, on the other hand because I felt I had left this kind of music behind me. The Patrik of 15 years ago would have celebrated it more than the one of today.
The last band of the evening at 22:40 was the Black Metal band from Germany Vorga. As described in my preview, I liked their sound very much live as well, plus a spartan-looking but nevertheless very efficient stage presence to add a certain spice to their songs. I can definitely recommend you to give the band a chance if they play near you.
Thursday 17 August
Thursday started sunny but developed light rain and cold wind throughout the afternoon. We were able to watch Be’lakor on the Main Stage at noon in bright sunshine. Before that, Gutalax played, which meant that we saw a lot of people armed with toilet brushes and toilet paper roaming the festival grounds for the rest of the afternoon. Be’lakor surprised me positively, they sound much heavier live than on the album. I didn’t really expect much, but I liked the live performance and it made me curious again, but I don’t really like them like that.
The only real disappointment I had was with Paddy And The Rats at 19:40. Their performance was also found to be very boring not only by me, but also by my colleagues. Normally I always find Irish folk/punk a nice change in the festival line-up, this worked zero for me this year. No comparison to bands like Fiddler’s Green or to name a smaller band The O’Reillys and the Paddyhats. But now let’s get to one of my absolute highlights of the festival.
While my three colleagues went to the Trivium concert on the Main Stage, which incidentally also became one of their highlights of the year, I went back to the Wera Tool Stage to see Kanonenfieber. And the show absolutely blew me away. The heaviness of the drums and riffs, which already made the album a pleasure to listen to, were even more intense live. The vocals on point and the stage show very good. I also had the feeling that the audience felt the same. At this point I would like to refer to Roman’s review. If you like the music, then I can only recommend you to see the band live.
After that I went to Amenra, one of the post-metal benchmark bands. The gig was a double-edged sword for me. On the one hand, their performance itself was flawless and intense. On the other hand, there were at least a few people around me who didn’t know what to do with post-metal and were fooling around. I also had the feeling during the whole concert that a festival is not the right place for this band to get 100% of their strenght on the audience. Which means that, in the end, I have to see the band on a stage in my area as the main act. Nevertheless, by “A Solitary Reign” at the latest, I had goosebumps and moist eyes throughout the whole song and I saw some people with Amenra shirts who had tears running down their cheeks.
At 1:00 Sleep Token played on the Main Stage, a band I wasn’t familiar with until then, but a friend recommended them to me. Unfortunately, the band could only partially live up to the advance praise for me. On the one hand, I kind of wanted to like the music, but I couldn’t. Too cleanly produced, no edges and corners. But you notice how much talent there is in every corner. Maybe I have to listen to the band in peace on the couch, but this band seemed like a perfect band for young people who will get their start in metal. And I can’t be angry with any band for that. Since I left after four songs, I quickly went to the Groza gig, where I could listen to the last songs. Here, too, I have to say that there is a lot of potential. What I saw and heard seemed like a band that you can easily enjoy. Thumbs up from me.
Friday 18 August
The day started at 1 pm with Skalmöld on the Main Stage, probably my sixth live performance of the band. And once again I have to say, even as a fanboy, that it was excellent. For me, the best folk metal band there is at the moment.The gig was also special because, on this Friday, their sixth studio album was released. So far I could only listen to the pre-release singles, which I didn’t really like.
Afterwards, we went straight back to the camping site because of the sweltering heat, and only at 9 pm were we back at the festival site to watch Powerwolf. I don’t listen to Powerwolf very often in private, but I have been to one of their concerts before and I have to admit that their stage show is worth seeing. The band is metal fast food, of course, but sometimes you treat yourself with fast food. I really enjoyed the gig, they played a lot of the much better Powerwolf songs and the stage show was again on point.
After that I went to Gaerea, a Black Metal band from Portugal. Again, a clear praise that this band needs only little to get an impact on their audience. Again a recommendation from me – if Gaerea ever plays a concert in your area. Last but not least at 1:00 am. Since I am an old Post-Everything listener and quite a fan Long Distance Calling, this was one of my must-sees of the festival. The highlight for me was the live version of “Eraser” from the latest album, otherwise the band played mostly well-known songs, although it has to be said that on average they were the heavier songs in the band’s history. In any case, I was not disappointed and happy to saw them again.
Saturday 20 August
Last day of the festival. Again, the sun was beating down on the camping ground and the festival area. The forces were slowly coming to an end. We started with the Excrementory Grindfuckers, a band I’ve never been able to get into, because when I listened to them on Spotify and the like, they always sounded too simple. My opinion changed a bit with the concert, I still wouldn’t listen to them on album but the live performance is fun from minute 1 to the end. Every song made the crowd explode more, at the beginning a lot of inflatable pool toys were thrown through the mosh pit, suddenly you saw people in business suits, panda and axolotl costumes, at some point T-Rex and raptor costumes were running around on stage and in the crowd until finally someone crowdsurfed in a bin. The gig was a lot of fun, not gonna lie. After that we had a break for dinner and I listened to some Twilight Force songs, on the one hand I like cheesy power metal like Gloryhammer and Angus McSix, on the other hand I didn’t really like it.
After that we went back to the campsite, the last few days had taken their toll on our strength, so unfortunately I had to skip Knorkator, Dragonforce and Tankard, even though I could at least hear two songs from the latter as I walked past. The next two bands completely passed me by in my childhood, but I know that both have been one of the youth bands for many: Killswitch Engage and In Flames. Both good gigs, a few songs came up again after years from my memory from all the parties in my youth. For Killswitch Engage this was also their first gig at the Breeze, and they had a lot of fun which you could see. The same goes for In Flames, even though they have been at Summer Breeze more often, but you could see how much the crowd moved Anders Fridén, especially after the Corona time.
Afterwards I had a quick meal and listened to the last songs of Marduk from far away, a good blast that sounded really good. After that it was time for me to wait for Zeal & Ardor at 1:00. Which meant for me, I had to see Hammerfall. Was absolutely nothing special for me, just not my music. Then, finally, one of the must-watch dates this year and one of the highlights of the festival with Zeal & Ardor. What an incredibly good live band, the mix of soul and black metal is unique for me and has been top class in terms of quality for three albums. I really enjoyed this hour and it was the perfect end to the festival for me.
With a few exceptions, I was able to see most of what I wanted to see. The burning sun was so fierce, especially on the last two days of the festival, that I had to miss a few concerts at midday, which were also recommended to me by you on Instagram. You could see how much the weather had used up most of the festival-goers’ energy, and on the last evening you could see a lot of empty faces. The last day of the festival was also very exhausting for me, I’m very happy to have seen Zeal & Ardor at the end, but my feet felt like mud afterwards.
All in all, it has to be said that the festival was very well organised and set up. Of course there is room for improvement here and there, but it was nothing serious. The toilets and showers were kept as clean as possible by the staff, this applies to both the campsite and the festival grounds. You can’t complain about the number either, there were 1-2 toilet areas at each stage plus toilets at junctions. One wish for the festival area from my side would be proper drinking water stations like they did on the camping ground, you could get some at the toilets but they were the same taps you used for washing. And I always had a bad feeling about fetching water there. Of course it wasn’t the festival’s fault that it was so hot, but (more) drinking water stations would have been desirable. Otherwise, it took comparatively few steps to get to a drinks stand, the selection of drinks was great and the prices were absolutely okay, even fizzy drinks were okay. As far as catering on the festival grounds was concerned, there was something for everyone and it was available several times at different locations, even for people who live vegan. There were not only the superficial offerings, there was a good selection of vegan food. I have to praise the Wera Tool Stage, the sound of the system was very good and in my opinion the best of all the stages, but I didn’t notice any bad set-up per se, except that you had the feeling that maybe the tuning of the instruments was missing here and there. But that’s just normal for a festival.
Until next year!