Festival: PPM Fest 2014 (Day One)

Bands: Pain, In Extremo, Pagan's Mind, Epysode, Furyon, Kells & Monument

Location: Lotto Mons Expo, Mons, Bergen, Belgium

Date: 18th April 2014



A 19 mile car journey, the 384 miles by plane and then a 75 minute train journey can only mean one thing, we were off once again to Mons, Belgium for PPM Fest 2014!  The sun was shining, the weather was a lot warmer than back home in not so sunny old England, and we were ready to party big time over the next 3 days in celebration of the great bands before us.

PPM is one if not the biggest European indoor metal festival and this year another truly international line-up hit the Alpha and Omega stages of the Lotto Mons Expo, from as far a field as Toronto, Canada to St Petersburg, Russia.  Calling at all points in-between to bring the best of the international metal scene to perform live at one venue over 3 days.  A total of 32 bands donned the stages this weekend, as well as entertainment in between bands, a metal market, with food and drink a plenty.  In fact the perfect Heavy Metal weekend. 

Opening up this years proceedings were the UK’s Monument, who because of early interview commitments, I only managed to catch the final song of the bands set, but by all accounts the band gave a good account of themselves.  Luckily enough my partner in crime ducked out of the interview in favour of catching more of the band's set and reported back that these old school metallers really blew the cobwebs from the rafters with their power driven set, giving the crowd everything they had with their performance.  The set was well received by the crowd of metal-heads who had ventured out early enough this evening to catch the earlier bands.  

For all the British fans of the band, you can catch them here in the UK in May as they kick off proceedings at the Rebellion Bar in Manchester.  I personally hope to catch the band at this year's S.O.S. Festival at the Radcliffe Civic on July the 19th, to make up for missing the guys today.  

Next up this truly international bill heading off to Lyon France for Symphonic Nu Metallers Kells, led by the effervescent Virginie Goncalves, who along with Patrick Garcia, Laurent Lesina and Julien Nicolas, took up where Monument left off, with Goncalves angsty vocals hitting the heights from the opening barrage of ‘Illusion d'une aire’ and ‘Se Taire’, really setting the venue alight.  That angsty vocal assault went on to hit even greater heights with the massive ‘Sommeil infini’ and the full on symphonic metal of ‘Emmurés’.  Even though I couldn’t understand a single word of the lyrics, the international language of music was all I need to know that Kells meant business, and were here to make their mark on PPM 2014.

They continued to impress with the impressive riff drive ‘La Sphère’, before closing in style with ‘Irrationnelle’.  Definitely one of the bands of day one and I dare say one that will have given them the perfect exposure to make people watch out for their forthcoming new album later this year. 

There was more to come, as it was time for the second of the UK bands on today’s bill, Brighton’s Furyon to hit the stage.

With a new album in the offering, it was over to 'Gravitas' for the majority of the set, as Matt and the guys hit the stage running with ‘Disappear Again’ and ‘Wasted On You', with the Belgium crowd really warming the band from the off.

The set continued its impressive path with the stomping ‘Souvenirs’, as the band showed their darker edge with this one.  The band really hit home with a short but impressive set that was rounded off with show stoppers ‘Fear Alone’ and the massive ‘Stand Like Stone’, both of which showed why they are one of the UK hottest properties around today and their much anticipated second album is sure to propel the band to bigger and better things.  This is another band who will be hitting the road in the UK later in the year and definitely one to watch out for in 2014 and 2015. 

Next up were band I was really looking forward to seeing after hearing their superb 'Fantasmagoria' opus, Epysode led by founder Sam Arkan, who was joined on stage by Julien Spreutels on keyboards, Simone Malroni on guitars and the entire vocal might of the album, Tom Englund, Henning Basse, Ida Haukland, Tezzi Persson, Mike LePond, Matt Marinelli and Leo Margarit.  In fact the entire cast of 'Fantasmigoria' was here on one state for the very first time.  Wow what another fabulous exclusive PPM managed with this one.

The band set about delivering one of the highlights of the night with the opener ‘Ravenscurse’, with Evergrey’s Tom Englund opening the vocal might on this one.  After the titanic opener it was time for more of the same with the excellent ‘T.H.O.R.N.S', before we are treated to the vocals of Triosphere’s Haukland, who brought an air of grace to proceedings with one of my favourite tracks off the album ‘Morning Rose’.  Another show stopping slice of sheer class in Gothic / Symphonic Metal.

The band continued to win a great many new fans as their set continued with the thumping ‘The Black Parade’, again with Englund laying down his vocal might on this song.

It was time for Basse to don a priests collar for the mighty ‘Venom’ and even though at times the mike seemed to dip in and out, this didn’t stop the crowd raising the horns high on mass in salute of the mighty metal that was being produced on stage.

This impressive set continued with the album title track ‘Fantasmagoria’, where Englund duetted with Huakland for this song, which was almost seven minutes of pure Metal bliss.  The soaring metal melodies of 'Unreal' filled the arena hall, before icing on the cake, the set closer.

Before the thumping, unrelenting metal continued, there was quick "Happy Birthday!" to keyboard player Julien, then it was onwards as upwards with the superb ‘The Arch’, which capped off one of the sets of the day and what turned out to be one of the highlights of the 3 days. 

Again due to interview commitments I had to miss Pagans Mind, but from the people we spoke to afterwards, Nils and the rest of the band gave 110%, such a shame I missed them because its been a really long time since the mighty Norsemen have visited the UK, and with this being their return after the very first PPM Fest, I really wanted to catch these guys.  

One band that you couldn’t miss were German Folk Metallers In Extremo who showed how Fold metal should be done.  With tongue firmly in cheek, the German's kicked into high gear from the off with ‘Küss mich’ with oversized bagpipes, harps, hurdy gurdies and shawn in the mix.  Think Rammstein meets The Levellers.  With Folk Metal comes the crowd surfing and a high tide of fans propelled the tsunami of floating bodies across the heads of their fellow metallers, as the band continued their set with ‘Frei zu sein’ and ‘Herr Mannelig‘.

It was time for something from the recent album ‘Kunstraub’ with ‘Feuertaufe’, by this time the Berliners had the crowd firmly in the palm of their hands. The band rolled back the years with the dark ‘Vollmond’, before bringing back the pace big style with ‘Gaukler’ and ‘ Unsichtbar’.  To say there was much merriment and dancing going on in the hall at this time would be an understatement, everybody was having an absolute blast with this band and their music and nothing and no-one was going to stop this crazy party while the music still played.   

There was no stopping the Germans or the fans as by now the mosh-pit was in full flow and the crowd surfing was at its height, so it was time to really bring the heat with ‘Saengerkrieg’, with the crowd also getting in on the singing with a little "HO!, HO! HO!", before the band returned to 'Kunstraub' for ‘Himmel und Holle’.

The Germans left their mark on the festival with the two closers, as it was back to the bagpipes and harp for the mellower ‘Liam’, before rounding off a truly magnificent and breathtaking set with ‘Omnia sol Temperat’.  Now this was one hell of set and one worthy of a headline slot if ever there was one.  I hope these guys head on over to the UK with their magical assortment of instruments, so we can get a bit of that fever pitch metal over here as well.

However the headliners for today were Pain, whose show tonight would be their only one of 2014 (another PPM exclusive!), so the Swedish Industrial Metallers led by Peter Tagtgren set about closing day one with some full on Metal.

Opening up with ‘Same Old Song’, it was clear that their only show of 2014 was going to be massive, Taegtgren was at his intensive best as they laid waste to Mons with ‘I’m Going In’ and ‘Walking On Glass’.

Joining Tagtgren on stage where regular cohorts David Wallin, Michael Bohin and Johan Hasgafvel.  They all gave the same angsty presence as the main man himself, as the full on heads-down metal filled the Mons Expo.  The set continued with the massive ‘Dirty Woman’, with its intense vocals from Tagtgren delivering a definite punch to this one, then it was full steam ahead with electro filled ‘Zombie Slam’.  A definite crowd favourite as the bodies just engulfed the pit in front of the stage, as crowd surfer after surfer made the security work double time.

The same electronic metal vibe was continued with the anthemic 'End Of The Line’.  This one wouldn’t be a miss in the likes of the dark clubs of London, such as Slimelight, as would the next one ‘End of the Line’.  This is Pain at their intensive best.

It was time for something a bit more recent and more old school metal with ‘The Great Pretender’, taken from the bands most recent album 2011’s 'You Only Live Twice’.

Then it was time to bring a little dark tones to proceedings with ‘Psalm For the Dead’, before bringing the tone back up with a bang with ‘Monkey Business’.

With the Saturday morning now in its infancy, it was time for the band wrap things up in style with ‘Nailed To The Ground’ and ‘On and On’, the band left the stage to rapturous applause.  It was at this time we had to leave to book a taxi back to the hotel, because tomorrow was already upon us and we had another 12 hours of pure Metal to celebrate in just a few short hours.  Hell yeah! roll on Saturday! 

Review by: Barry McMinn & Little Linda.  





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