Another amazing week of metal in the hills of Slovenia has come and gone and, as always, it did not disappoint. Great line-up this year, big names in black metal like Behemoth, Watain and Carpathian Forest, a good amount of death metal as always, some pretty weird stuff like Jig Ai and the all-popular Igorrr, way too much folk if you ask me and just not enough heavy metal. However with Judas Priest as well as Accept as headliners, one really can’t complain too much.
The weather was not nice to us this year, it really gets unbearable in the heat up there, but you kind of expect that from your MetalDays experience. Better than last year’s rainstorm that blew tents away I guess, but still quite annoying when you try to enjoy the earlier shows.
The organization was great as always, this year they even went the extra mile by adding green toilets and extra urinals. However I have to say, those darn urinals stunk so bad. It was worst the first day, later on it got quite better though. I don’t know if they did something to keep the smell down or did I simply get used to it. Every morning the entire festival area was cleaned so there was no junk, puke or any other horrible-ness from the day before. There was an obligatory quiet time from 3-8 AM, no music in the camping area, and really everybody abode by it, so it was all nice and civilized. I mean, sure, you could still see a guy passed out on a path holding a bootle, but that’s just good old happy drunk metal fun.
The prices of food and drinks keep going up every year, which is expected I guess, but I have to say, the quality went a little down this year. I always look forward to Maharaja Indian food, but this year the portion was a lot smaller, the taste at best mediocre and the price higher than ever. I mean when you pay 3 euros for a cup of coffee, you at least expect it to be really good coffee. I have to say I was not impressed.
But we don’t go there for the food and definitely not for the coffee, so let’s talk bands finally! We had some delays in getting there so we missed a lot of Monday bands like Moros, stoner rockers Omega Sun, Ukranian metal chicks Jinjer and symphonic blackers Hecate Enthroned. We caught a glimpse of Hate and Skeletonwitch, but the most memorable performance of the first part of the night was definitely Alestorm. I think every person from the entire camp area was there and everybody was pumped and happy, I mean people were rowing in the dirt to the tunes of these crazy metal pirates. A really good show and a great way to start off the festival. Next up we had a clash between Carpathian Forest and the melodic death/folk band Eluveitie, which is inevitable when you have two stages of course, and you know I can’t be at two places at once, so I missed the “new wave of folk metal” and saw Carpathian Forest. I was not disappointed, it was a great show. You can always count on black metal bands to give a great performance but you just feel the punk and rock’n’roll with these guys which sets them apart a little bit. They played a mix of songs from most albums and even a cover of The Cure’s “A Forest”, which was really good. Nattefrost’s vocals have gone a bit rogue I have to say, he sounds a bit squeaky-ear than before, but his performance was on point so it was all good. I was told he wears no underpants underneath his robe but even though he kept waving it about showing his legs, he kept it decent enough (this time).
Monday’s headliner was one of the biggest names in black metal today, Behemoth, one of my favorites of the festival this year. They are still promoting their last album “The Satanist”, which they already played at MetalDays 2015, but they also played their new single “Warewolf of Syberia” and (and this was especially interesting since we just heard the same cover from Carpathian Forest less than an hour before) “The Forest” from The Cure. Niklas Kvarforth from The Shining was their guest on this one and I’m sure you can imagine, it was quite a show. All in all, an amazing performance from Behemoth, as always. You can really see why these guys are wright there at the top of today’s metal scene, which is an amazing accomplishment considering their genre.
To close this amazing night, the legendary Diamond Head. It’s always awesome to see a band who were formed in the 70’s and still rock. Loved the show, true British heavy metal fineness.
Tuesday started us off with Slovenian Sober Assault as early as 3 PM (which isn’t really that early since the sun wakes you up at 8AM when you tent starts to boil and you just want to cry!). Not that many people at these early shows as expected, but still a good effort from this melodic death band. Cold Snap took the main stage arround 5, promoting their album “All Our Sins” released by Arising Empire. Always proud to see Croatian bands up there, especially on the main stage, rock on guys!
Missed a few bands in the middle there, you can’t have a MetalDays experience without good times on the Soča river. Soooo many blow up water toys this year, I’m completely sure there is not a single rubber unicorn left for sale in entire Europe! The water – beautiful and still frigging cold as ever, but keeps the wine cool! 🙂
Tuesday evening starts us off with the Swiss Coroner, which was a bit of a surprise since their last album was released in ’93. Didn’t know they still played honestly, but they gathered up the masses and thrashed a good show playing old hits like “Masked Jackal” and “Die By My Hand”. The night continues in good spirits of folk melodic death metal by Ensiferum, who are very popular by the crowds of Tolmin and are not here for the first time.
Bölzer are a black/death band from Switzerland with only two members on guitars/vocals and drums. Amazing show, great crowd response and for those who missed it, they are playing in October in Ljubljana as support to Taake.
The headliner for Tuesday were Accept and they did such a great show. Still rocking, still blasting out great albums and touring the world..I mean these guys were so energetic, amazing performance, top quality production, just a really memorable show for me.
The night ends, as it should, with the loud roars of black metal giants Watain. The crowd gathered basically 40 minutes before the band started and by the time all of what seemed like a thousand different torches on stage were lit, the place was packed. I have to say there was an amazing response to black metal bands in general this year and seriously, they were all on point, but Watain was the one that stood out by miles. To their advantage though, The Boško Bursać stage is pretty much perfect for black metal, surrounded by trees and mountains, just sets the mood to that perfect tone of darkness. Really great performance, they gave their all and it was damn near perfect. Personally not the biggest fan of getting meaty blood spilled on me, but hey, it’s all part of the experience. Ran to camp straight after and took two showers, but it was still one hell of a show.
Wednesday. So sad I missed 1000mods! I heard it was one of the best shows of the festival despite the early performance time of 3PM as well as the fact they play stoner rock which is not a regular genre here. They had a show in Croatia last year, missed them here too. No luck! I was interested in Tremonti, the new band of Mark Tremonti of Creed, but I have to say I was not impressed.
The next interesting band of Wednesday were the Japanese heavy metal Loudness. They were also here last year, but were moved from the main stage (Lemmy) to Boško due to heavy rain. So they had a second chance on the big stage this year and they really didn’t disappoint. To me they were a great surprise because I didn’t see them last year.
Igorrr is a French band that everybody seems to be talking about. A huge number of people came to the show, there was a lot of buzz arround this performance. My thaughts about it… Hmm, I honestly still can’t quite put my finger on it. Did I like it, did I hate it, it’s just impossible to say because it was just – confusing. I suppose that’s what they’re going for and it seems to be working because the crowd was just loving them. It’s a mix of trip-hop DJ-playing electro music, baroque crazy vocals screaming and a drummer blasting black metal beats. The whole thing looks like a contemporary theatrical performance, but I have to say I was blown away by the girl on vocals. She was dancing like a crazy person, so truly and expressively, it was just wonderful! Really interesting show.
Soulfly went on after Igorrr, an OK show by the band of the former Sepultura frontman, which brings us up to Wednesday’s headliners – Kataklysm. There is a lot of melodic death metal in this festival, but rarely as headliners, so this was a nice surprise for the big audience that gathered.
Belphegor brings Wednesday to an end and again it’s one of the best shows of the day. Bones and inverted crosses on stage, great sound and just great form all in all from these death black Austrians. They’re currently on tour with their last year’s album “Totenritial” and you can also check them out in Rijeka at Dark Circle Festival at the end of August.
So now we come to Thursday… Oooh, wonderful Thursday, what a day! There was just great energy all day long, the most people for sure I have ever seen at this festival, which, I don’t know have I mentioned, was already sold out, but today many pepole came with one day tickets to see the almighty Judas Priest. Since the times when MetalDays was called MetalCamp and had the giants Mötorhead and Slayer as headliners, this is surely the biggest name to play on Lemmy Kilmister stage.
But the whole day was just amazing also. Battlesword, Brutart, Exist Immortal, Harakiri For The Sky, so much great music, wine and beer and happiness. It was just that great festival day when everybody was pumped beyond all. It was hot as hell though and it’s hard to truly enjoy a black metal show with the sun blazing on your forehead so Firtan, although played well just didn’t quite hit the spot.
We were sitting in the press center when I spot these three guys in bell bottom jeans thinking wow, who are these guys, their show will be amazing for sure, some 70’s heavy metal to soothe my heart! Turns out they were Asomwel and the outcome was more than surprising. They sound almost exactly like early Mötorhead! Played perfectly, great performance and all in all vibe, but man, so similar, especially the vocals. Disappointing for sure. Ironically enough, straight after them came Monument who were also amazing musicians, wild show and good fun but they sound almost exactly like Iron Maiden of the 80’s. Really great gigs from these two bands but just seriously lacking originality.
Boško stage brings us the Slovenian black band Dekadent. They braught in quite the crowd which proves they are well popular on their local turf. Next, a show that can’t go unmentioned is definitely the legendary UK heavy metal ladies Girlschool. Such energy from these chicks performing since all the way back in ’78, and still bringing in loads of heavy metal madness. Really good show.
My definite favorite of the festival were the Black Star Riders, coming to Lemmy stage at half past 8. They are the sequel to Thin Lizzy, so they performed some of the classics like “Jailbrake” and “The Boys Are Back In Town” mixed with new material. I think most people didn’t know who they were at first so when they started there wasn’t a big crowd, but by the time they finished it was a full house. They really got the night rolling, straight after came Hatebreed, with their second performance at MetalDays festival. They were my other definite favorite of the festival, hardcore from USA, a show to remember! Crowd surfing, mosh-pits, circle pits, everything was there. I got sprayed with beer from head to toe by a mobile beer vendor and even got a free beer for it, so all in all the experience was just perfect!
The controversial frontman of the Shining, Niklas, who attended the whole festival as a guest and caused quite a ruckus with his, to say the least, weird behavior, made a “spectacle” on stage by cutting himself. Really not a fan of such gimmicks, but I have to say at least it’s not compensating for a bad musical performance. Really great band, quality sound and good music. They opened with a new single “Han Som Lurar Inom” and didn’t falter all the way through to “For The God Below”, one of their rare songs in English. Last year there was a band from Norway with the same name and people were disappointed because they were expecting these guys, so this year MetalDays redeemed itself.
The headliners of Thursday and the biggest name of MetalDays so far, Judas Priest fills the field like never before, at least as I’ve seen in my few years attending this festival. They were promoting their new album “Firepower”, which received great reviews by both critics and fans. With Sneap and Faulkner on guitars, Hills on bass, and the amazing Halford on vocals I have to say I feel very lucky to have been able to see these giants of the industry and just generally amazing musicians perform live. The stage was perfectly set, there was a giant video panel in the background running scenes from the band’s history and the atmosphere was just unforgettable. It’s impossible to fit 49 years of great music into a 100 minute show, but they played across their many albums featuring titles like “Sinner”, “Grinder”, “Bloodstone”, “The Ripper”, “Tyrant” and other big hits, but the greatest attention befell on “Painkiller” which gave its’ name to this years’ MetalDays official beer.
The last day of the festival – Friday. I have to say after four days of great music, little sleep and a lot of beer, you really start to feel drained. So it was such a nice boost to experience something unexpected and so beautiful – a MetalDays wedding. Turns out this is the third year in a row couples have done this and I have to say it was so sweet. Two couples tied the knot down by the Beach Bar this year, one from Chile and one from our dear neighbors BIH. Yaay for love! 🙂
Out of Friday’s lineup I’ve seen and loved Cronosphere, the Greek thrash metal boys in red pants. Kind of funny how they all have the same pants, but good music for sure.
Municipal Waste was another great thrash show. They were sort of apologizing for Donald Trump throughout, saying how not all Americans are racist and such. They even had a banner on stage with an image of Trump blowing his brains out. There was chaos in the crowds, as expected from this fast paced punk infused band.
Of course, I have to mention the almighty Cannibal Corpse, old school death metal US legends, who gave us an amazing show as expected. Afterwards, there was a clash between Epica and Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult, which came on at the same time and both have women frontmen. Although Epica is really one of the favorites at this years’ festival, which was evident by the mile long line at the meet and greet earlier in the afternoon, DNC gathered up a really nice crowd. I have to say it is interesting to see a woman in a white dress with corpse paint spitting up blood and her band’s fast paced black metal created a very dark and ominous atmosphere amongst the trees of Boško Bursać stage.
Children of Bodom closes the main stage with a great performance, only slightly tainted with a bit of instrument trouble with the bass at the beginning. But they worked through it and delivered a nice cross section of mostly their earlier work.
The last band to perform this year was Primordial. Formed in ’87, this Irish band delivers its unique mix of dark black metal with irish folk songs. They were promoting their last album “Exile Amongst The Ruins” and gave a true and perfect ending to this years’ MetalDays Festival.