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Report

Metal Underground's report on France's other metal festival.

Photo of Marduk

Band Photo: Marduk (?)

September 8th - Day One

Vive le Fall of Summer Festival 2017! My girlfriend and I arrived in Paris the day before the festival jet lagged and without a plan on how to get to the town of Torcy, the home of Fall of Summer Festival. So we did what any metalhead might do in this situation, we went to THE metal bar in town and for Paris, that bar is Le Black Dog. Located a stumble away from the Seine River and in the middle of a popular food and entertainment district, you wouldn’t even know it’s a metalhead sanctuary from the outside.

After sheepishly stepping inside, the bar was packed with plenty of other metalheads. Black metal was blaring over the sound system and I observed there was a solid beer selection and plenty of Fall of Summer posters and drink coasters strewn about. After attempting to ask the bartenders and then realizing there was somewhat of a language barrier going on, I said “fuck it.” I shoved four of the Fall of Summer cardboard beer coasters into my girlfriend’s purse and decided that we’d figure it out the next day.

The first day of the fest, we decided to call our cab driver that drove us from the airport to take us to Fall of Summer and after a 40 minute drive, we arrived in Torcy. After winding through a few country roads, the all familiar seas of tents became visible. Our driver asked us where he should go to drop us and I told him anywhere near the mass of black t-shirts…duh! After a relatively short wait in line with several dozen of anxious festival attendees (approximately 1 hour), we were inside of Fall of Summer. Our first mission was to get adult beverages and food and to accomplish that we had to purchase “tokens.” After securing enough tokens for a day, we were able to complete our mission and finally set out to see our first band of the day.

Necrowretch, a death metal band from France no less, played a tight and aggressive set under a cloud filled sky. The crowd was small, but it was obvious that people were still making their way into the fest while they played. In fact, it was evident that at some point, there was going to be rain in the forecast. We weren’t worried, we had ponchos!

After Necrowretch, we started exploring the festival grounds. What a better place to start our exploration other than the merch area. There were about a dozen or so vendors, plus a bar and a café to peruse through. In addition, and most importantly, there were umbrella covered standing areas to chill…err…I mean escape from the rain that would dominate most of Friday’s festivities. The second band of the day was the blackened jazz version of Shining. Also hailing from Norway, this version was a last minute replacement band when Saint Vitus unfortunately had to drop off the fest. Without a doubt, The Shining were one of the more eclectic bands of the entire fest, they poured on the saxophone around the same time the rain ramped up its performance.

As the rain continued to soak everyone to the bone, that didn’t stop us and the rest of the festival attendees from checking out Gaahl’s Wyrd. Performing a swath of material from Gorgoroth, God Seed and Trelldom, Gaahl commanded a ten song set that made everyone forget about the rain for the time being. At one point, and I apologize for not remembering which song it was, but he sang in French to which the hometown fans responded in earnest. Ending his set with “Prosperity and Beauty,” the ever so eloquent Gaahl saluted with a sincere “Merci beaucoup” before exiting the stage.

After being soaked to the bone, the weather unfortunately got the best of us on this first day of Fall of Summer. As we made our way towards the exits, we were able to watch a couple songs from Blasphemy’s set. Covered from head to toe in chains, spikes and black leather, Blasphemy blasted the crowd with sheer brutality. As a teenager, I remember purchasing their debut album on Wild Rags Records and I, like most that followed them back then, are probably surprised by their rise to becoming a cult legend among extreme metal purists. Well, that was it for day one of Fall of Summer, hopefully the next day would be drier.

September 9th - Day Two

Waking up to somewhat clear skies in Paris, we started the day with a renewed hope for better weather. With our trusty ponchos and umbrellas in tow, we made our way towards Torcy for the 2nd day of Fall of Summer. As we traversed our way past the Arc de Triomph and The Louvre, I couldn’t help but to think how lucky the local Parisian metalheads are to have Fall of Summer practically in their backyard. Keep in mind that most of the European metal festivals take place in or near smaller towns and/or villages. Even though being away from the city and being engulfed by metal culture for a weekend doesn’t suck, it really doesn’t suck not having mud all over our tent and having access to a loooong hot shower after a day like yesterday.

As we made our way through the entrance gates, we noticed that the festival organizers had spread hay over most of the mud ridden areas. Would it help? Well, I guess that would depend on if Mother Nature cooperated… The first band of the day, and hailing from Poland, was Azarath. Playing a set heavily comprised with material of their 2017 release, “In Extremis,” they did not disappoint. If you’ve listened to “In Extremis,” you know this band is blistering and tight. The live version of Azarath, even without “Inferno” from Behemoth on drums, was just as brutal.

After Azarath, we were dismayed by the fact that the clouds had returned. We checked out some of the Bulldozer set and hoped that the pockets of rain that had started to fall, wouldn’t dampen the terrific start to the festival today. We donned our ponchos once again and hoped for the best. Bulldozer played their brand of Venom worship to the anxious crowd and with the blessing from the metal gods, the rain had stopped by the end of Bulldozer’s set.

Melechesh was next and brought their unique version “Sumerian Metal” to Fall of Summer in a colossal way. The crowd went rabid for them and they responded by producing a set list that covered most of their storied discography. Ashmedi played with a ton of energy and the crowd responded by thrusting the metal horns throughout their entire set, especially during “Rebirth of the Nemesis.” After Melechesh, we headed to the other side of the foot bridge to see Brooklyn New York thrash legends Demolition Hammer. Demolition Hammer delivered what their fans were hoping for, a set list comprised heavily with songs from their legendary debut album. Their set was so good, the metal gods stopped the rain for good and cleared the skies for the remainder of the festival!

Orange Goblin was next and the London quartet hit the Fall of Summer crowd at its apex. What I mean by that is that it was readily apparent that the festival crowd had finally let loose and was ready to party. With vocalist Ben Ward egging on the crowd, Orange Goblin delivered the goods with a festival crafted set. The crowd responded rabidly and with overwhelming energy. Stage divers shelled the stage security with flailing bodies and it didn’t cease until the band had played their final note.

The organizers of the Fall of Summer Festival must love bands from New York because Immolation was the 2nd band from the Empire State to annihilate the crowd this day. With most of their set consisting of 2016’s “Atonement,” the crowd didn’t seem to mind being that its one of their best albums in their catalog of brutality. Concluding their set with “Into Everlasting Fire” from 1991’s “Dawn of Possession,” the fire was lit for the rest of the night for the Fall of Summer crowd.

As the sun set on the second day of Fall of Summer, one of the most anticipated bands was about to take the stage, that band being Coven. I consider Coven the Black Sabbath that didn’t happen. But in all honesty, Coven is considered psychedelic rock and Black Sabbath are the undisputed kings of heavy metal. That counts for something. Vocalist Jinx Wilson made her entrance via a coffin on stage and both she and the rest of the band set the mood with some elaborate costumes and stage props. But even though the visuals were impressive, the music was not. We ended up leaving halfway through Coven’s set to get crepes. C’est la vie!

When we arrived at the crepes booth and realized that at least a dozen people in line in front of us had the same idea (or they thought Coven was “meh” also?), we ended up eating cheeseburgers and fries while Marduk provided the background music to our meal. With our hunger satisfied, we headed back to the “Blackwaters” stage to catch the headliner of the festival, the founders of “Black Metal,” Venom.

Let’s rewind to about three weeks before Fall of Summer Festival when Venom was announced as the festival’s headliner. If you ask my opinion, this was a risky move since there are so many festivals to choose from during the European metal festival season. It was obvious that the crowd didn’t care because EVERYONE was gathered to see “the gods rock ‘n roll.” Kicking off their set with “From the Very Depth’s,” Venom played set list consisting of 18 songs that celebrated 38 years of their existence. Ending with an encore of…wait for it…you guessed it, “Black Metal,” the crowd got what they wanted and was fully locked into party mode now for the remainder of the night.

The final band, Greece’s Septicflesh, kept the festival crowd in party mode and they were an excellent act to wrap up 2017’s Fall of Summer Festival. Septicflesh just released their tenth full-length “Codex Omega” a week prior to the fest so it came as no surprise that their set was laden with songs off this excellent album.

With Septicflesh putting the exclamation point on Fall of Summer, we strolled towards the taxi pick-up point as shared memories of the festival. We both came to the same conclusion…we’re definitely coming back someday. And if you’re in metalhead in France at the beginning of September, Fall of Summer is a festival worth selling the battle jacket off your back for. Jusqu'à la prochaine fois!

Check out some photos from Fall of Summer Festival 2017 here!

Greekbastard's avatar

Metal isn't just a type of music, it's a lifestyle for Nikos Mixas. In addition to playing guitar for the Phoenix's own Twingiant, he's a contributing writer for PureGrainAudio.com and The Sludgelord. And when he's taking a break from it all and on vacation, you can almost be certain he's banging his head at a metal festival somewhere interesting.

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