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The Czech Metal Summer 2023: Metalfest Pilsen, Masters of Rock & Rock Castle

Posted by on February 3, 2023

 

Avid readers of this page will probably have noticed my live reports from last year covering the three biggest Metal festivals in Czechia, organized by promoter Pragokoncert: Metalfest PilsenMasters of Rock in Vizovice, and Rock Castle in Moravsky Krumlov.

After a strong comeback year post-Covid-19 in 2022, all three festivals are set to return again in 2023. The following paragraphs are designed to present an appetizer to fans planning to attend one (or more) of these festivals this year.

02.06.2023 – 04.06.2023 METALFEST OPEN AIR Pilsen

After the special “extended edition” in 2022, which lasted four days, Metalfest Pilsen returns to its classic three-day format in 2023. However, the lineup is arguably one of the strongest of the entire festival summer, especially for fans of the slightly heavier Metal styles.

Headlined by German werewolf metallers Powerwolf, who will once again celebrate their infamous “metal mass,” the other co-headliners hit a bit heavier as Arch Enemy, Behemoth, and Testament fill up the additional top-tier slots. Complemented by some more melodic acts like Finnish Melodic Metal giants Stratovarius, Folk Metal icons Korpiklaani and Ensiferum, and some further highlights in Insomnium, The Unity, and Thundermother, Metalfest is shaping up to cater to a wide variety of fans of multiple genres this year.

Additionally, the festival’s venue is a highlight in and of itself, as Metalfest takes place at a bonafide amphitheater, which naturally provides a fantastic backdrop for a Metal festival.

 

 

13.07.2023 – 16.07.2023 MASTERS OF ROCK Vizovice

Following up on last year’s uber-headliner in Judas Priest, which necessitated building the largest stage ever used at Masters of Rock festivals, Pragokoncert’s flagship festival returns with a fairly classic lineup for the 2023 edition. Headlined by female-fronted Symphonic Metal vanguards Within Temptation and the legendary Vikings of Amon Amarth, the further headline slots will be filled by German Thrashers Kreator and the always-energetic Airbourne from Australia.

In contrast to the arguably more genre-diverse Metalfest, Masters of Rock has traditionally focused on the more melodic side of metal and rock. The 2023 lineup reflects this in featuring acts such as former Nightwish singer Tarja Turunen and her Finnish countrymen from Sonata Arctica as well as German Melodic Metallers Orden Ogan, who are looking forward to making up for their show last year, which they, unfortunately, had to cancel at the last minute due to health reasons. 

Battle Beast, Freedom Call, and the always-entertaining German Folk Metal troupe Feuerschwanz are featured next to former Motörhead guitarist Phil Campbell and his Bastard Sons, rejuvenated German Symphonic Metal outfit Xandria, Swedish Power Metal aficionados Bloodbound, as well as legendary German Gothic Metal band Crematory.

However, this year’s lineup also promises a few interesting debuts and hidden gems at the festival, such as Ad Infinitum, fronted by one of Napalm Record’s most sought-after new faces, Melissa Bonny, Björn “Speed” Strid (he of Soilwork fame) and his AOR project The Night Flight Orchestra, the rising Lord of the Lost, Legion of the Damned, and sword-and-sorcery metallers Warkings (hailing from Valhalla, no less).

Additionally, Angus McSix, the new band of former Gloryhammer frontman Thomas Winkler will be featured in one of their first festival performances, as well as Northtale, the new band of Bill Hudson, known for his work as guitarist for acts like Doro, Udo Dirkschneider, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra – and yours truly will indeed also be performing this year, as Dragony returns to Masters of Rock in 2023 as well!

And as every year, the festival lineup will be completed by a selection of well-known Czech bands and newcomers, such as Dymytry, Doga, Salamandra, and Alia Tempora.

 

17.08.2023 – 19.08.2023 ROCK CASTLE OPEN AIR Moravsky Krumlov

Going into only its third year, Rock Castle in Moravksy Krumlov is quickly becoming my personal favorite festival of the season. Located less than a two-hour drive from my hometown of Vienna, Austria, this festival is just a natural fit for me: a focus on melodic Metal bands, plus a fantastic concert location right next to the medieval castle in the center of the town, Rock Castle provides the perfect ambiance for a Metal festival.

In 2023, the legendary Swedish True Metal outfit Hammerfall will act as the festival’s main headliners, but the remainder of the lineup does not disappoint either. Classic Heavy Metal aficionados will be pleased to see former Accept voice Udo Dirkschneider on the lineup with his solo band. Amaranthe from Sweden will deliver modern Melodic Metal, and the omnipresent pirate metallers of Alestorm will provide the necessary comedic relief.

Speaking of pirates – my former bandmates of Visions of Atlantis will be featured on this year’s Rock Castle lineup as well, after the fantastic showing at last year’s Masters of Rock. And speaking of Amaranthe, male vocalist Nils Molin will be working double duty at Rock Castle and performing with his band Dynazty.

Further highlights include the atmospheric Evergrey, the high-octane Power Metal of Beast in Black, more sword-and-sorcery courtesy of Gloryhammer and Twilight Force, and some good old hand-made German Heavy Metal in the shape of Brainstorm, Serious Black, and Rage. A few (more or less) hidden gems complement the lineup, with Brazilian all-female Thrashers Nervosa as well as Evil Invaders from Belgium providing some fodder for fans of heavier sounds, and Italians Dragonhammer as well as Tri State Corner, with members hailing from Germany, Poland and Greece, can be regarded as some of the sleeper hits of the festival.

Overall, the Czech festival summer is shaping up to be an excellent one again, and this author can’t wait for the festival season to start!

 

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