So, here we are with this METALDAYS 2017 report, an edition slightly ruined because of the weather, but not less interesting.
Once the team was assembled, on July 23rd we made our first inspection, picked up our essential passes and explored the various changes offered by the renowned festival that takes place in the gorgeous Tolmin Valley, a picturesque Slovenian village.
The changes, compared to last year, are not excessive: except the new stage for beginner bands, there are no substantial differences in the life of customers and, excluding small details, not even for journalists like us. After we familiarized with the festival’s areas and spaces, we dedicated ourselves to organize work for the whole week.
The storm that came down on Tolmin greatly affected the plans for the day, causing LOST SOCIETY to be canceled on the spot, burdening even more the absence of XANDRIA and actually leaving the main stage to NA CRUITHNE until the slot dedicated to the headliners of the day. This band, despite the young age, has gathered a firm success both last year on the second stage and this year opening the main one; their folk metal is not really original, but their appearance on the stage quickly involves the audience.
Between interviews and a second storm, the following band is ABSU, which on several circumstances has shown great potential and personality, but this time it left me slightly disappointed. To my great surprise, ICED EARTH were able to change my mind: despite classic heavy metal is not my kind of thing, their exhibition was objectively excellent and devoided of that lack of dynamic that always kept me away from their productions.
In a flash, I found myself under the second stage: candles and incenses already lighted and it’s time for BATUSHKA to bless Metaldays with their liturgy. A concert full of emotions, with great pathos and a solemn vibe. Perhaps one of the bands I was looking forward to the most in this event and certainly one of the most exclusive and peculiar. It’s just incredible how they were able to silence the audience during the moments dedicated to divinations and benedictions, a true liturgic atmosphere.
At this point of the evening, really pumped, we were floored by the evening’s headliner: MARILYN MANSON, who not only blocked the entry to photographers, but put together a lazy, sloppy, roughly executed show, even badly ended ahead of schedule, wrongfooting even promoters, who without doubt have no responsability about the activity of a certain artist. Discouraged because of the event, we decided to stop our day, setting up for the second one, more busy and full of tasks.
Premise: the weather forecast intimidated us from the very early afternoon, but the short shower had just changed the order of the bands, with KRISIUN on second stage, a band that I wanted to see along with KADAVAR, whose cancellation was notified to us just when we arrived in the festival area.
This second day was probably the most packed and opened, thanks to THE BLACK COURT exhibition, probably one of the biggest revelations between emerging bands.
Despite a summer rainstorm that wanted to block our activities, the desire to watch on stage the timeless Warrel Dane (ex-NEVERMORE ) won over the heavy rain, and so we were standing in front of SANCTUARY, a strongly contaminated thrash band. Their unique sound was able to involve a decent audience despite adverse weather conditions. An uncontested added value was the addition of the young Attila Voros (ex-NEVERMORE) to the line-up.
At this point in the evening, the program straightened up and everything started to work like a Swiss clock. KATATONIA went on stage and the enormous value of the Swedish band emerged since the beginning: in a bunch of seconds they were able to create a unique mood and Jonas’ voice instantly warmed everyone’s heart, creating a smooth set able to drive us to the underworld.
Just after their ending I reached the second stage, waiting for MGLA, the band I waited the most on that stage. The Polish band started the show and without hesitation implemented one of the most beautiful concerts of the whole festival. Without any interaction with the audience they were able anyway to recreate the cold, glacial and dreamy climate that their music inspires. Although they didn’t release an album since 2015, they were still able to astonish the public. MGLA ipnotized me, ending up to hit me in the closing moments thanks to the glorious “Exercise in Futility VI”, at the bottom of the set.
With watery eyes I came back to the stage dedicated to the indestructible and greatly missed Lemmy, where AMON AMARTH, the most anticipated headliner of the day, beginned after a few minutes of waiting.
The band headed by the titanic Johan Hegg devastated the Tolmin Valley, with scenography, special effects and choreography worthy of note. Setlist and performance were the best an AMON AMARTH fan may want. The evening ended for good and we could finally say that the festival was coming alive with a headliner worthy of this title.
Quoting a contemporary poet and using an extremely poetic license, GRIME were “really pissed off”: the trio opened the day with exemplary attitude and I was a bit sad their slot was so early in the day.
The day went on and we finally reached one of the most anticipated events of the entire festival: roadies brought to the public a pallet of toilet paper rolls (you have read it well, a pallet) and GUTALAX were ready to go.
Few moments after the start of the set, chaos unleashed: audience partying and anything flew in the air, from inflatable animals to toilet paper, dildos, toilet brushes and parts of bathroom fittings, as well as human beings with the most varied outfits. The Czech band delighted and poured on people his grind mud without even a thought. Surely one of the funniest live I’m able to remember, so gorgeous and fun.
After the laughter session it was time of an authentic Metal Hero, one of the real ones, a living legend that responds to the name of ABBATH (or rolling stoned if you like). His set was full of cliches that, as a whole, created an unforgettable experience: face painting, demonic poses, an assorted setlist with some songs extrapolated from the latest IMMORTAL works gave honor to Black Metal and to the legacy that a man like ABBATH carries on. His impressive tumble at the end of the concert resolved with a couple of scratches and some cocktails to cheer up. It seems that our darling painted face is IMMORTAL and on fire than ever (next day he was impersonating Lemmy in a very loyal tribute to MOTÖRHEAD).
A hero went downstairs and on stage went in death bringers: quick soundcheck and BLOODBATH were ready to lacerate, tear and consume everything they’d find on their path. The Swedish band were fit as never before and, despite our tiredness and theirs as well (a couple of members played the day before with KATATONIA), the show was overwhelming, heavy, tremendously wicked and enduring. The five artists covered in blood gave us a great Swedish Death Metal lesson. Tired as we were, we were not able to watch DORO, so we came back with a really heavy day musically speaking, a good bunch of interviews and great expectations for the next day.
The fourth day begins with a very bitter bite to swallow: ARCHITECTS gave forfait.
Between a consideration and another one, we started our hard work day between interviews and photos until KOBRA AND THE LOTUS took the stage. They were not one of the peak bands of the day, but they gave me good feelings, especially thanks to their stage grip and scenic presence.
After them, it was the turn of mighty RECTAL SMEGMA and their extreme tight grindcore gave a great shock to the whole audience.
On the first stage, the trip started thanks to PERSEFONE, engaging and incredibly complex, at times magical and dreamy, but on other occasions slightly artificial (as with the recorded Paul Masvidal’s voice), however their show was very enjoyable and interesting.
Next it was AVERSIONS CROWN‘s turn, unfortunately out of context and, though very capable, not very understood by the public that didn’t participate much, a real shame.
More audience, but still not very involved, when the veterans RAVEN took the stage. Their classic Heavy was a great appetizer for the juicy part of the evening.
The first stage was then stained with faded, feeble and warm colors, the pastelly BLUES PILLS climbed on the stage and it was instant love. Even though it is a psychedelic Blues Rock band, the overwhelming Erin Larsonn stole the heart of all the people there with her movements from other times and with her scratching, hot and powerful voice. A remarkable surprise that awakened our appetite for the most anticipated band of the whole festival.
I could summarize OPETH in just a single word: sumptuous. The Swedish band made no mistake, not even the setlist based on the unorthodox “Sorceress” and the technical problems that stopped them for twenty minutes could compromise their impeccable, magic and at the limit of human kind exhibition. As usual, Mikael didn’t spare us from a few jokes in his unmistakable style and even the pause was transformed in a showcase for Fredrik Akesson’s solo qualities, when he tested himself in an acrobatic guitar solo to cover dead times.
OPETH left us without words, with an exibition that enters in my personal Top 5, the only objection was the setlist with very few material from the less prog past of the band.
To end the evening, on the second stage, the dreamlike and magical SOLSTAFIR, that surprisingly feeded the gathered human tide a quality, although peculiar in a metal festival, musical proposal welcomed very well, with my enormous pride.
On the gloomy notes of the Icelandic band, our second to last day of festival ends.
The fifth and last Metaldays day brought with it a bit of melancholy, and we were therefore ready to enjoy the latest shows before returning to everyday life. Fulfilled our daily tasks as editors, we had in front of us at the same time HELL and FIT FOR AN AUTOPSY. Sure of the great yield of the first group (you can read our Colony Open Air report) I decided to find out about the other.
The American band is in a perfect shape, Pat Sheridan and buddies set up a show as tight as possible.
Their power and amalgamation spiced a neat and very pleasant musical proposal. The setlist ranged between their works, preferring the recent “The Great Collapse”, and inflamed the audience nourishing a show in perpetual growth.
Time to return to the main stage and we found veterans GRAND MAGUS. Their classic heavy, power and epic atmospheres mix engaged everyone and they demonstrated again to have what it takes to be there. Their set was not very long-lasting, but it was dense and left room, after a while, to a band with a great following: EQUILIBRIUM.
The German band gathered an incredible crowd that, under the warm afternoon sun, supported the band in an epic and and heartfelt crescendo, creating one of the most popular performances of the week. The band behaved magnificently and even the songs less suitable in that context delivered with great success. Nothing else to say: a great discovery.
Darkness fell and PAIN appeared, led by the indestructible Peter Tagtgren, tightened up in his typical straightjacket and wrapped up in the great light show distinctive of the Swedish band during their live performances. Respecting a good tradition, the band was always growing and in this occasion sounds, repertoire, show and scenic presence were impeccable. The versatile frotman hitted a bull’s eye giving us an astonished performance.
Endless soundcheck, a thousand of tests and expedients and finally HEAVEN SHALL BURN were ready: impressive scenography and choreography, fire, flames, confetti and incredible lights wrapped a stage held in an excellent way by the German band. Unfortunately they showed a feeble repetitiveness and an almost absent dynamic on the distance. Anyway, the set was gorgeous to look at and the audience reacted explosively despite tiredness, with incessant movement and immediate response to the inputs from the band.
Just a band before we had to say goodbye to our colleagues and arrange next year’s meeting: DEATH ANGEL.
Last but not the least, the band closed the festival with a violent, pressing, raging show with a surgically precise execution. A band with a shape you rarely see in the last years, that was able to incite the audience for a last time in a very violent mosh that said goodbye to the band, the wonderful view and all of us and consigned us to a well deserved rest.
NB: among the bands who played on the New Forces Stage, we would recommend you SEVEN SPIRES and OVERTURES.
METALDAYS 2017 set aside great surprises, exemplary synergy and media organization, despite the inclement weather of the early days and the abundant shortages in respect to the original billboard.
Now we have just to count days for the 2018 edition.
Pssst… Have you seen that valid bands are already confirmed?