Prophecy Productions, independent label based in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, kickstarted in 1996 with the aim of releasing A Wintersunset… by Empyrium. To date, its roster contains a startling amount of quality artists, carefully selected on the basis of stirring emotional content rather than marketing appeal. One can feel that, as far as the same enthusiastic, passionate people stay at its helm, trends and fashions will always be shunned in favour of a continuous effort in creating something meaningful and worthwhile. From a personal point of view, Prophecy represents an oasis where genuine, spiritual (no religious reference intended) Art & Creativity can thrive. Through time, the label slowly but steadily carved its own niche, becoming – especially since the hugely successful signing of Alcest – a well-established household name for Beautiful Music which never fails to please, projecting us all towards magnificent skies ablaze with eerie, multifaceted stars which beckon to be chased with a free, pure spirit and a curious, optimistic mindset.
It makes totally sense that Prophecy has finally set in motion its own festival: independent music and art needs to evolve through many different outlets and patrons who are unafraid the break the mould. The concept of having a wonderful congregation of musicians within an unusual, beautiful natural setting, where music acts as shamanic vehicle between “us” (the alienated modern human) and “it” (the primordial environment we originate from) is ancient. Within modern age rock music in particular, legendary alternative events such as the original The Isle of Wight Festival (1968-70) immediately comes to mind. In more recent times, I think one inspirational independent event has stuck out for its longevity, outstanding ethos and the uniqueness of its setting: Dark Bombastic Evening, which unfolds every August in the stunning historical town of Alba Julia, in Transylvania. I sincerely believe that Catalin Doru of Kogaionon (this year celebrating its XX annivarsary!), the tireless, brave organiser of this festival off the beaten track, has inspired a lot of promotors, artists and punters alike with his vision. Open air extreme metal events have been happening for a long while, being very popular in the summer months as a good excuse for some rough, drunken camping, but it is the smaller, truly independent festivals set in the wilderness, such as Stella Natura in the USA or Funkenflug Sommersonnwend in Austria, that seem to be gathering momentum, catering for a different kind of audience. And while the psychedelic trance crowds have been enjoying self-organised “secret parties” in the heart of a forest since the mid 90s, it is definitely time for black metal and its close siblings to catch up and seek venues in an environment that is, after all, at the core of its aesthetics.
Within this enthusiastic trend of using nature as live theatre for the various shades of black metal and its closest allies, such as neo-folk, dark ambient, avant-garde and classical, Prophecy comes up with a fantastic alternative which has been literally lying on its doorstep: the Balve Cave, or Balver Höhle. Located in Sauerland, this stunning geological wonder has been used as a cultural venue since the 90s, having a long history in local and even Norse lore, being mentioned in 13th century saga Thidrekssaga. The cave hosts mainly art festivals, folk and jazz events, even live football screenings, so seeing a wonderful bill such as the one on offer for the first edition of the Prophecy Fest is definitely a huge deal for everyone involved in the project. The experience will incidentally resonate with those lucky ones who attended Vemod’s exclusive concert at the Vigeland Mausoleum in Oslo last year…
So 1250 music fans from all over Europe and beyond will gather in Balve (DE) on 19th September: the nearest airports are Dortmund, Köln/Bonn, Münster/Osnabrück, Frankfurt/Main, Frankfurt/Hahn, Paderborn/Lippstadt, Düsseldorf, Weeze/Niederrhein, Kassel, and trains handily run to Balve town itself.
EMPYRIUM – Special set with songs from A Wintersunset…, Songs Of Moors & Misty Fields and The Turn Of The Tides…
AMBER ASYLUM – First European concert since 2011!
LIFELOVER – 10-year-anniversary show with Lifelover songs from their entire discography.
CAMERATA MEDIOLANENSE – Special show with L’Altro Coro, a choir of 30 voices.
VEMOD – German premiere with a special set attuned to Balver Höhle!
DARKHER – First concert in Germany.
CRONE – Playing their first ever show with songs from EP Gehenna and world premiere of new material!
TENHI – first concert in 8 years!
The fact that there will be no headliner or pecking perder to the bill is particularly appealing, and thoroughly fitting with the laudable ethos spurring the crop of people behind the organisation, for whom I have a lot of respect and, it must be said, a certain fondness… So the final running order , like in any good drama play, will be created in order to create maximum pathos to guarantee an unforgettable communal experience for all involved.
As well as the evocative music, there will be a reading of Münsterländer Sagenwelt by dark folksters Wöljager and an art exhibition by Tenhi’s Tyko Saarikko.
TICKETS AVAILABLE FROM PROPHECY’S STORE!