Festival Report 2012

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Welcome to the 9th edition of Metalcamp, and possibly the last one!
There have been many rumours floating around, actually there still are, but as far as we know the story is that after several years of organisational difficulties, the original management have now split into several smaller fractions. The part conducting Metalcamp this year will continue on next year under a new name – Metaldays.
Rumours have also been floating around for quite a few years about a possible change of location – as far as history goes, other places have been under consideration, but for now, and in the coming year, Tolmin is still the place to go.
What will happen with the Metalcamp name? We can’t say for sure yet, and all I can say is let’s wait for 2013 to see how everything plays out.

I’m sorry for bringing such possibly confusing news in the beginning of the review, but as it seems to be something that is on several peoples mind, I felt it couldn’t very well be kept out. None of it made any direct difference for this years’ festival however, so let’s just skip along to that one shall we?

After rain comes the sun...

That could easily be the tag-line for Metalcamp 2012, or at least from our perspective it could; you see, this year the festival had had a significant change of date compared to earlier editions, and was now placed directly after Wacken.
I don’t usually bring up other festivals than the actual festival I’m reviewing in these reports (stop me if I’m wrong, but I can’t recall a single episode before this actually), but this had significant bearing on our festival experience of Metalcamp, and thus warrants its inclusion. You see, Wacken is, when all is said and done, the largest metal festival I know of, and with its 75000 visitors, we can be pretty darn sure that some people who plan on going to Metalcamp are also visiting this festival.
So who the hell thought up the idea of starting Metalcamp the day after Wacken ends?!
Honestly, there’s almost 1300km between the two, and they expect that a hung-over metalfan can travel this distance in exactly no time at all?
Indeed, the music didn’t begin until the Monday, so the Sunday was just for relaxation and party, but advertising this as a Metal Holiday is saying that this is exactly the type of thing you go to Metalcamp for.
Trying to be on the forefront as we do sometimes, we had actually placed a couple of reporters on spot to get the scoop of the day anyway, but oddly enough they reported back to us that the beach bar, the one place under the festivals direction that should be operational by this point, had in fact been closed off for visitors. Another little mistake, given the premise of the festival at hand.
Anyway, back to the tag-line comment; coming from Wacken, which in the end had been not much more than rain and mud, we had checked the forecast for Metalcamp and were looking ever so much forward to the promised eternal sunshine and 20-25˚C that the weather gods were offering up as compensation. It looked like it might actually become the much needed relaxing vacation festival we were looking for after all...

Due to something as simple as fatigue, our driving took a bit longer than expected though, and we didn’t arrive at the festival until halfway through the Monday, and after quickly parking the car, skipping tent-raising and other getting settled rituals, we went straight for the main stage where Testament was about to begin shortly after. Not a very relaxing start, but we sure as hell weren’t about to miss these thrash legends tear up the Slovenian soil with their sonic assault, and their latest album Dark Roots Of Earth in their back-pocket!

So we were off to a flying start! The weather was beyond perfection, the music loud and heavy, and we had even managed to run into our dear Italian friends. Only one thing could turn this opening into a complete success, and that my friends would be an ice cold Laško in my hand. And there’s were the minor hiccup occurred; you see, even though the taps were advertising Laško on the handle, we were told it was in fact Union that was pouring out of them. Now don’t get me wrong, Union is definitely a fine beer in its own right, but it is no Laško. Still, as long as this was the least of my worries, I guess survival could be overseeable.
Before us lay a festival which offered, as always, a fantastic location, so far removed from our Danish homeland as anything could be, and a spread of five days of quality metal and pure enjoyment. Things were looking good, let me tell you!
On the musical side of things, we had a program which included old favourites, bands we had missed for various reasons at earlier festivals this year, and also a few exclusives (at least for the festivals we’d been visiting). Actually, what were mostly gunning for were the bands we wanted to see and had missed on earlier festivals; in this topic we could find such acts as the above mentioned Testament and also the headliner of the day, Machine Head. Even though we hadn’t technically missed Amon Amarth at Wacken, I would still put them in this category, as we had only been able to see them from a very far distance over there.
On the exclusive banner we had bands as Sabaton, Korn and Finntroll, which in themselves make up a nice variety styles, and on the old goodies (which is basically only bands we had seen at earlier festivals but wanted to watch again) there was Paradise Lost, Pain and Korpiklaani to name but a few. Again you may notice the striking difference in styles in the three bands mentioned, and that only goes to show what a wide variety of stuff Metalcamp had in store for us this year. If you didn’t notice it, you sure do have a lot of homework in front of you!
There were actually a few more bands we had talked about before leaving for the festival, like our Danish brothers in Hatesphere, the Swedes of Dark Funeral and possibly also the Brits of Hell, but all of these were quickly dropped after seeing they were slotted on the 2nd stage, and that Metalcamp kept up the tradition of overlapping man stage and 2nd stage bands in time. Sad, but that’s how it is.

It’s not all about the music though, and if there is one festival that this statement is truer about than any other, it must be Metalcamp!
This year, we decided to look a little bit beyond the immediate limits of the festival, for two reasons mainly.
1) As this was our seventh year visiting Metalcamp, we were by now rather familiar with the festival area and the town of Tolmin.
2) The weather just kept on being great, and thus invited to more exploration.
One thing on our agenda was to travel across the Devil’s Bridge, and possibly check out Dante’s Cave beyond it. We had once before been to the Devil’s Bridge, after climbing the mountain trail of the Tolmin Gorges, but at that time I had been in no state to enjoy the place. To tell the truth, I’m no big fan of heights, and that mountain trail had killed just about every sense in my body and soul for the remainder of that year’s vacation...
Anyway, up we went again, this time in car and thus a bit braver. The problem was, on the other side of the bridge, which is pretty high up to begin with, the road just kept on going up and up along the mountain side, one treacherously narrow serpentine swing at a time. Finally, we simply had to turn around and go back as we had no idea how high this road would go, but we were acutely aware of the fact that if we met someone going down there was no place to go but certain death on this one-lane road.
So, having once again torn away at my nerves with the equivalent of a blunt butcher’s knife, we decided that for the last day before going home, it would be a brilliant idea to check out the fort on the top of the much smaller hill just on the other side of Tolmin, easily seen from the festival’s camping area. Well, smaller hill my ass! Again we had set our foots on something that began as a very inviting, wide and rather flat walking trail, which the higher you came became more and more narrow, and as it did so, the trees that grew by the side of the trail, sheltering our eyes from the steep one-way ticket to the hereafter that was beside us became more and more spread out. This time, I didn’t get further than the first serpentine bend, and to the ridicule (that’s how I felt it at least) of Slovenian families who were out on their weekend walk with their kids, I had to walk the walk of shame back down again. As Lunah (Lauridsen, our photographer) continued ever higher till she reached the top, I instead opted to find the opening to one of the caves at the mountain-foot, where I then in the humid darkness underneath the Earth’s surface pondered the possibilities of living out the remainder of my life as an eccentric cave-troll...

As a complete opposite of these experiences, Slovenia also offered up the most relaxing place I have ever been to – the Penzion Sterk! This place was introduced to us by our Italian friends, and we are them forever grateful for this. Don’t be put off by the seemingly nonsensical English translation that their website offers you at a first glance, this place is nothing short of heaven!
Sterk is basically a sort of hotel, but we only came there for the restaurant, which was beyond perfection (huh, second time I use that in the same review? must mean something good then); the food was superb, and the view of the small town of Most Na Soči (which was also the name of the street Sterk was on, and in fact the name of just about every street in this town (I’m guessing low points on creativity)) and the Soča river just below the terrace was picture-perfect.
Going behind the Sterk, we could also enjoy another little nature trail, with the mountain side on the one side, and the emerald river on the other.
Of course, we couldn’t completely give up on the Tmin and their lovely Tolminska pizza, but our favourite hang-out place of old has now got some stiff competition.

Back at the festival, we didn’t get as much time down at the beach bar as well usually do, but on the other hand, the times we were there, there wasn’t as much playfulness from the other festival visitors either.
Not to say that there wasn’t playfulness; I mean, combine a bunch of metalheads with alcohol, high volume Slayer and the possibility of looking silly in water, and you guess the result!
Up by the stage, where we spent most of our time when at the festival, we also ran into some goods friends from Denmark, the people I mentioned in the beginning of this review, and of course this resulted in more merry “Skål” shouts and intake of beer. Metalcamp was really living up to its moniker of Metal Holiday this year.

This year was possibly the most relaxing year I’ve ever had at Metalcamp, or any form of holiday for that matter, and I loved every minute of it as it was such a stark contrast from what we had come from in the north of Germany, and the hectic travel in between. There seemed to be no end to the positive experiences, which musically counted Paradise Lost, Amon Amarth and Pain as some of the top acts for me. I have heard that also Sanctuary and Grand Magus were well-worth a listen (we missed both of them for various reasons), and Heidevolk made a triumphant return to form after their slightly disappointing Metalfest appearance earlier in the summer. On the non-musical side of things, I don’t think you’ll be surprised by me bringing Penzion Sterk up again.
Of course there were also things which could do with some improvement, like the new version of the merchant’s alley between the two stages, which seemed to be narrower this year, or possibly just more filled with people, but as a whole Metalcamp will only receive a lot of love from this reporter this year.

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