All Words by: Bruno Curko
All Images Credit: Stipe Surac
Forth Edition of Metal Days was held from July the 25th to 30th in Slovenian town Tolmin on the cost of river So?a. This is the 13th metal festival in the same place, but only fourth under the name of Metal Days. For this festival the most important thing is the atmosphere. Atmosphere in which nations, color of your skin and other unimportant things don’t matter, all of the human beings are connected with one thing and one thing only, Metal culture. This year the big stage was named after one and only godfather of Heavy Metal, Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister. On the other side of the big “Lemmy” stage there was a big party tent in the honor of Mister Killmister. Every night, after the last band finishes, in this tent starts the party with stand-up comedians, strippers end so on. On the beach by the river during the whole festival there are a lot of different activities such as pirate games, yoga, morning exercises, karaoke etc. In all of the five days there isn’t a moment without metal fun. The fun starts even before the official start of Festival. Two days before, metalheads overtook the town of Tolmin. In all of the restaurants and bars the heavy sound of metal could be heard. On the first day 12000 metalheads populated the untouched nature of the concert ground.
On the first day, the chance to show their talent on the Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Killmister stage went to a band from Lebanon ZIX. For this performance they specially prepared their new singer Jelena Dobri?. As it was announced at 2:40 pm, ZIX in front of around 300 people, under the bright sun, showed us some interesting music – combination of metal and oriental music with a very good woman vocalist. It is interesting that in the first hours of the show the flag that was flying over the crowd was the flag of Croatia.
After ZIX, on the big “Lemmy” stage German band HACKNEYED performed. They were pretty static on the stage which was probably caused by stage fright, but regardless of this they were great and presented us their musical skills. Unlike them, happy death folk band DRAKUM was relaxed, playful, interesting and fun on the stage. During the performance of Drakum the first Crowd surfing of the year happened. Israeli band ORPHAND LAND was greeted by pretty full auditorium. These authors of Oriental metal fulfilled all of our expectation. Barefoot Kobi Fahri led their performance with his charisma promoting peace and unity through their songs, but also in between them. He saw Israeli and some other flags in the audience and moved by that Fahri said that metal concerts are one of the few places were opposing and different flags can be seen together and how art is the place where flags don’t represent our differences but music brings us together.
Seniors SACRED REICH, trash metal bend from Arizona who made their first steps in metal back in 1985 didn’t disappoint the audience who expected them the whole day. They also didn’t miss the political statement. Phil Rind said that politicians show how the condition is bad and worst but we enjoy metal on the concerts despite them and their messages. In his repertoire Sacred Reich included “War pigs” by Black Sabbath. In one moment Rind called out normal and reasonable people (audience) to hug their metal brother beside them. Pretty soon the whole audience was hugging each other.
“Unchain My Soul” announced the performance of Swedish black metal bend DARK FUNERAL. Then came the “The Arrival of Satan`s Empire” and “Open the Gates” etc. Song after the song, with the message characteristic for the so called second Black metal wave (and the first one also) – that message can be read in the title of the song „Vobiscum Satanas“. For the end of the night, legendary band TESTAMENT performed on the Lemmy stage. Led by irreplaceable Chuck Billy they rocked the audience in Tolmin. Chak had also political moment remembering the extermination of Indians by Europeans. Testament have powerful and professional performance.
On the so called small stage bands played the whole day (from 14:30). Because of the overlap between two stages it was impossible to keep track of all of the bands. But this was a sweet concern. On the Small stage Slovenian gothic/death metal band SABAIUM had a very good performance. NO CRUITHNE (Ireland) had the most joyful performance. This grove/black /folk metal band cheered up the audience with Irish sounds and colors. Playful singer Maitiú Ó Hean, a very good violinist, traditional Irish string instruments, blue color, joy and happiness – this represents No Cruithne. They are good but they need a little more experience, and then we will have a very good folk metal band from Ireland. Swiss COMANIAC played uncompromising thrash metal, but just like No Cruithne, they need more experience. Star of the evening in Small stahe was JESS COX, known as the original singer of the TYGERS OF PAN TANG. His performance began with Tygers of Pan Tang song “Euthanasia”. In fact, most of the songs in performance were from Jesse TOPT time. The band played only four songs that are not from that period, among which the most striking was the “Piece Of The Action”.
Tuesday on Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister Stage had a very good performance of Slovenian doom Metal band MIST. This four girls and one boy have very bright future if they stay together. Great vocal of Nine Spruk fits perfectly in MIST music. Heroic fantasy power metal band GLORYHAMMER started their performance in their familiar style. On the stage and in the audience there where heroic swords, suits and all of the fantasy goodies. Unfortunately, after the third song the rain became too heavy. Water came near the drums, and show was stopped. The audience, however, used the opportunity and played with the mud. They organized mud wrestling and all the possible games in the mud. However, soon the rain stopped, and INSOMNIUM (Finland) came out on the stage. They delivered their dose of melodic death metal (with some impacts of doom and progressive) technically speaking very good, but they left the impression that they missed the chance to shake the audience much more than they did.
Russian ARKONA led with screaming Masha, similar to INSOMNIUM, failed to use advantage of the excellent atmosphere and shake the crowd with their Slavic folk metal more. Maybe the audience in that great atmosphere of the festival just expected more from them. Or, maybe their problem on this festival was that they performed before the Benji Webbe and his team. This year they, Skindred, deservedly got the chance to play in the night (last year they played in the early afternoon). They used the opportunity and had a great show. Most of the audience will agree that their performance is one of the best performances at this year’s (and last year) festival. Led by the excellent Benji, Skindred were able to initiate absolutely all in the audience. Happiness, strong feelings and euphoria. The crowd was jumping, crowd surfing and waving from the first to the last song. At one point Benji forced the audience to squat, to take off their shirts and to imitate helicopters waving. All of this mix with a very interesting and high-quality mix of reggae, rap and metal made a great show. It is no wonder why Skindred have a few titles as the best live act. For cooling of after Skindred there was MARDUK. Of course, it was not a cooling in a verbatim meaning. Marduk played his set of 16 songs quickly and gloomily. Mr. Daniel Rost Mortuus had very good communication with the audience.
Wednesday on Lemmy stage started with Croatian INFERNAL TENEBRA. They had a standard, good, furious and consistent gig. Their music can be described as Progressive Melodic Death Metal. DYING FETUS made the audience jump, chant and applause from the first to the last song. They had a very good performance. “Killing on Adrenaline” was the highlight of their performance, but also the last song of their show. A sort of calm atmosphere, at least in tempo, but not in noise was created by Swedish GRAVEYARD. Interesting, distorted psychedelia with a very good musical abilities.
After them, Mark Greenway came on the stage. From the first to the last song he totally immersed himself in the songs that he performed with his band NAPALM DEATH. Sweat dripped, adrenaline grew, and the crowd grew wilder and wilder. Official guards have been busy welcoming people from crowd surfing. Luckily they had a half-hour break between Napalm Death and KREATOR. Kreator, as usual, rocked! The Kreator was the highlight of the day and so was their outstanding performance. Circle pits, crowd surfing and general jumping did not stop at all for 90 minutes of Kreator. Once again Kreator showed why are they considered one of the best thrash metal bands. After hour and a half, Kreator said goodbye to the audience with “Until Our Paths Cross Again”. The last band of the evening was DIE APOKALYPTISCHEN REITER. They have an interesting style, blended death/thrash metal with plenty of melodic songs. A part of the songs were in German, part in English. High quality performance, charismatic vocals and a great band to close the third day.
On the Lemmy stage, SEPTIC FLESH from Greek did a remarkable performance, confirming that Greece has something to stay in the contemporary culture of Heavy Metal. The most impressive were the performances of the songs from “The Vampire from Nazareth” and “Anubis”. After them, ELECTRIC WIZARD occupied Lemmy stage. Its doom metal slowed the pace a little bit, but just as much as it should. Since the first “Witchcult Today” to the last “Funeralopolis” it was slow but powerful. Then it was time for DEVILDRIVER. It seems that they disappointed the audience. Next day many talked about them as a kind of disappointment, not just this gig but their performance and attitude?! On the other hand, fanatic fans of DevilDriver have claimed that this was a standard good performance?! On the fourth day Lemmy stage was closed with the AT THE GATES. They regained the public trans. Seniors of melodic death metal did not miss the opportunity to show how you need to play on the scene. At one moment they confused the audience by declaring that they do not like death metal, but only to show, in even louder way their commitment to it. The day ended with the song “The Night Eternal”.
The last day of the festival is always special. Sadness, melancholy, joy for scheduled bands, catch-up attempts (although it’s impossible) etc. Lemmy stage hosted VARG. Bavarians have done their appearance bathed in afternoon sun. The whole band was stained with blood, in fact it was stable makeup, which is not smeared even by a liter of sweat. As it is on their last album “Das Ende aller Lügen”, VARG slightly turned to the political issues, and the reference was to the revolution. One of the most anticipated bands of the last day were EXODUS and GUTALAX. Unfortunately, the Czechs were starting out on a small stage at 20:00, and thrashers from California started at 20:10 on the big stage. Gutalax most likely collected the largest number of audience in front of the small stage. The Gutalax audience was ready with the toilet brushes and toilet paper. They have made real shit party. Gutalax had a very good performance for their playful audience with their gore/grind. On the other hand, Exodus audiences were forced to constantly jump, crowd surf, but there was also the inevitable wall of death.
Exodus have delivered everything that was expected of them, and even a little more. After them, BLIND GUARDIAN once again did a great performance. Perfect playing, always excellent Hansi Kürscherom with a very good background voices. They showed everything that Guardians are and why they always have and always will have a big audience. The last band on Lemmy stage were the DRAGON FORCE. Unfortunately, due to health problems, Marc Hudson was unable to sing at this concert. Norwegian singer Per Fredrik Asly – ‘Pellek was his replacement for this festival. Because of that, Dragon Force has played only five songs. Slowly the five-day metal adventure came to an end…
Five days of intensive heavy metal culture which was a set of Dionysian and Apolinian elements. Now it’s time to wait for something similar in the near future. One of the opportunities will be the winter version of Metal Daysa or Winter Days of Metal which will be held from 19th to 25th March 2017 in Bohinj. So far, Flotsam and Jetsam, Draconian, Orden Ogan, Shining and The Devil are confirmed. Of course, there will always be the 5th Metal Days in June next year with Doro, Bloodbath, Hell, Katana, The Vision of Atlantis…