“Big, brutal and friendly,” say fans of extreme metal festival

Brutal Assault, photo: Christian Rühmkorf

Thousands of fans of extreme metal will be flocking to the Czech Republic in just a few weeks’ time for the annual Brutal Assault music festival. Established in 1996 as a small show with mainly Czech and Slovak bands, the festival gradually evolved into one of the major events of its kind, with nearly 18,000 visitors coming to last year’s 20th edition. This August, the Brutal Assault festival will again take place at an old Army Fortress in Josefov, some 130 kilometres east of Prague. Over the course of four days the festival will showcase over a hundred bands from all over the world.

Brutal Assault,  photo: Christian Rühmkorf
Liana Sas asked one of the organizers, Tomáš Fiala, to outline the history of the festival:

“The concept of the festival is to bring in extreme music. It is mostly oriented on metal extreme music but you can find extreme forms in most music genres. So the basic idea is not to have strict boundaries and try to explore them a little bit.

“The festival takes place inside the town of Josefov. It is an old fortress, which has not changed since the baroque era. This is the ninth year in this location. The festival used to take place in various venues before, but now we finally found a place we can call home.”

What about the festival itself? How has it developed over the years?

“We try to raise the standard and make the event more artistic. So this is the direction we are trying to take.”

When do you usually start to prepare for the festival?

“We are already preparing for the season 2017, so it is a continuous work that takes most of our time. There is no break, really. It is more or less six or eight people working for the festival for the entire year.”

Can you tell me more about the history? How did you start?

“It is a long time ago and I wasn’t the one who established the event. We got involved with my partner some eleven years ago. At that time, it was still quite a small event and we tried to open it up a little bit and I would say it worked out pretty well.”

And what about your plans for the future?

“The plan for the future is to be as great as possible and hopefully we are awaited by better tomorrows. There is a great book that was released to mark the 20th edition, which tells the story behind the festival. So whoever is interested in the festival I would recommend them to read it.”

And finally, how many bands are coming this year?

“Over 100 bands from all over the world.”

Among regular visitors to the Brutal Assualt music festival is Matěj Struska, a “metalhead” and sound engineer. Liana Sas asked him how he became a fan:

“The first time I was there was some five years ago, when I worked there as a stage hand. It was fun because we had a great group of colleagues. We built up the stage, we built up the sound and lights and we still had time to party for three days in a row. And then, when the festival ended, we tore down the stage, sounds and lights. So we had a very good time there.

“I also had a chance to see the show backstage. People are always wondering what happens backstage, but there are musicians and technicians eating and that’s it. No drugs, no girls, but with good people around you always have fun.

“So that’s the Brutal Assault. I think it is a unique festival in the Czech Republic as well as in Europe. It is big, it is brutal and it is friendly. And there is always a good chance of meeting some interesting people.

“It can happen really easily. You just hang around grab a beer and people tell you: Hey, you have got a nice tattoo, or: Are you going to see this band? They are strangers but if you talk to them, there is a possibility that they become your friends.”

Brutal Assault,  photo: Christian Rühmkorf
You said it is one of the greatest festivals in Europe: Why?

“Because it is legendary and it is not like any other events. There are people from Spain, from France, from Norway. It is a great chance to meet interesting people and bands. The bands come to the festival not just to stand on the stage. They also mix with the people after the show is over.

Tell me more about the music. What does “brutal music” actually mean?

“It is a model taken from abroad such as France or Germany. There are two stages, and when one finishes, the other starts. In the Czech Republic there is always just one stage, while the Brutal Assault has two, so you can always choose your favourite genre and your favourite band.

“Brutal is not just metal. It is mostly metal, but it is not just one style of metal, such as dead metal or black metal. So that’s Brutal Assault. It is for everyone. There are really old and really young people.

“The Brutal Assault festival is a promise that I will be having a good time. It is mostly because of the people. They are really nice and they just want to have a good time. This is the spirit of the festival, I would say. I visit so many festivals, but I have never seen anything like this.”

You are a sound engineer, so what would you say about the sound quality at the festival?

“It is hard to say. The Obscure Promotions productions try to raise the standard every year. There is something called nature auditory five meters above the ground, where we put extra speakers. So I would say that the quality is good for this type of festival.

Brutal Assault,  photo: Christian Rühmkorf
“As I have already said, there are two stages and no pause for silence, so it is hard to do a sound check with the other stage is playing. So we are just trying to do our best. The most important thing is the people are having a good time, even if the quality is not 100 percent.

Which bands are you most excited about?

“I don’t even know which bands are coming. I am just coming to have fun and I don’t care about the bands. I know I will see something that I will like but I don’t have an idea who will be playing there.”