Festival Report 2019

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Metaldays, bring thy blazing glory for yet another year! We come to thee in humility, and hope for crushing revelations.
Ask, and thou shall receive…

Yes, Metaldays was once more upon us, and even though we were late in getting our act together this time around, we made it, and we were all the happier for it.
You see, one of the first bands announced at the festival the previous year, was Hypocrisy, and if you follow this site with any type of regularity at all, you’d know this was a damn big deal for us. Of course we had to go!
Hypocrisy may have been the main attraction for us, but Metaldays wasn’t without other cards up its figurative sleeve. Demons & Wizards, Phil Anselmo plays Pantera, Tiamat, to name but a few. Wet your appetite yet? Ours was.
Sadly, a while before the festival was underway, Anselmo had to cancel his show, but to make it up to us, Metaldays went ahead and hired Rotting Christ to fill the vacancy. Fair enough, they’re not exactly the same, I know, but Rotting Christ has consistently delivered highly competent and entertaining shows through a number of years, and were hence not at all a bad band to choose.
As it happened, that joy was short lived, as the shortly thereafter published time schedule revealed that Rotting Christ would play at the same time as Saturnus, which we knew beforehand that we didn’t want to miss. I’ve never understood the concept of having both stages play at the same time, except during the headliner show, now less than ever…

What I do understand however, is that people keep returning here, year after year. 16 years since the beginning, 7 years in the current incarnation, and the overall quality of the festival is still increasing.
Like Copenhell, Metaldays has a lot of other offers and activities on the table besides the music - and to be honest, the line-up wasn’t the major attraction for us this year, it was the festival itself, and all that comes along with it.
The two festivals may both have a lot of activities, but thankfully the activities are wildly different from one to the other, where each try and fit them to the style of the festival. Thus Metaldays, which in part is sold as a vacation for metalheads, have a wide range of possibilities in this spectrum. Wellness and well-being is in high regards, with morning yoga every day on the beach being a very popular stop - surprisingly popular I’d say, as I thought more would still be in their tents, hung over and the like.
The first thing we tried hands on , literally speaking, was the Redneck Massage. It had opened the year before, if my memory serves me, to so great a popularity, that they had had to expand both time and staff this year. Lunah was lucky to catch an open spot on our day of arrival, and she sends her most sincere recommendations! As an alternative, the festival also offers up assisted massage training, if you have someone with you.
Other activities include painting, sports and games, and of course the late-night metal discotheque, this year DJ’d by none less than Ivan Cepanec (Dickless Tracy, Eruption).

Our own adventures took us gradually further and further into the hidden beauty of the land around us. The car was a great asset, and once again gave us the opportunity to just drive out, and see where we’d end up. Usually, it was high up narrow mountain roads with a jaw-dropping view, and deadly fall closer than comfort allowed. On one of these trips, we went to the town Kanal, where we had a much needed swim in the river, which helped cool us down in the blazing heat Slovenia had dished up for the entire festival. After this, we found a road winding up the nearest mountain, and decided to follow it for a bit. After a while, and many hundreds of metres in an upward direction, we came to a small village which announced an interesting chapel. Well, honestly, the chapel wasn’t all that much, but the view towards northern Italy, which we apparently was just next to the border of, was nothing less than breathtaking!
After soaking this in for a while, we went on our way, which for some reason just kept rising. And rising. And rising. We went through another town, called Lig, which gave us some amusement, as “lig” in Danish means dead body. Given the altitude, death was certainly also close at hand here. And yet the road kept going up, and up. At the top we found a great church, sadly closed, with a quite stunning graveyard behind it, and I couldn’t stop thinking who’d actually go all this way up, just to go to church. Why not just have one in the town below?
Why am I going on about this, you may ask? Because this, and other trips like it, are a large part of our festival experience when it comes to Metaldays, and we feel it should be part of yours as well. Where else do you have a great metal festival, in combination with such wondrous surroundings? Sure, Copenhell is great, but it’s in the harbour area of Copenhagen. You stay at the festival. Wacken? You’ve got miles and miles of farm country. You stay at the festival. I could go on, but I believe I’ve made my point.

Back down at the festival area, the music was the action you certainly wanted to take part of. As per usual, more in depth reviews of the concerts are found individually at the site, but to give you a taste of what was going on, I’d like to mention a few things.
After hearing good things about Alien Weaponry at Copenhell, we were very much hoping to catch them here at Metaldays. Despite our best efforts, this didn’t happen, and instead our festival was first truly opened by WHile She Sleeps, which we took an easy approach to, neither of us being particularly interested in the band. Later though Neurosis was set to play, and after having fallen flat on our asses in admiration of them only last year, we were truly hyped to get another go with these special gentlemen. The show was certainly good, and even though we knew what to expect this time around, we still enjoyed it very much.
The Swedish double-billing of Arch Enemy, a constant return to Metaldays it seems, and Necrophobic ended the day with suitable harshness and malevolence.
Tuesday didn’t hold any particular interest for us, and luckily so, since our dear photographer suffered an unpleasant sunstroke. We had wanted to see Finntroll, but missed them due to the aforementioned problem, and only made it down after the sun was gone, in time to catch a nice gig by In The Woods…

Feeling a bit better now, Wednesday truly held more hope in the music department. After returning from the trip mentioned earlier, we managed to catch Glista on the second stage. Glista is a Slovenian grindcore band, which we were interested in seeing, as Ivan Cepanec was handling drums. It was a good show, with a fair amount of people rocking out, and the band did a fine job of getting the early afternoon even hotter than it was before. It was also a special show, as it turned out to be the last time Cepanec were to play with them. According to him, he had to cut down on band activity, and focus on his main efforts, while according to vocalist Matija Majcen, he simply didn’t fuck up enough to fit in. It would seem it was a friendly split, and both sides wished each other the best for the future.
Dream Theater was the headliner of the day, and although I’ve never gotten into their music, I will admit that it was an impressive stage production they’d brought along. The highlight, and at the same time lowpoint, of the day came with the simultaneous concerts of Rotting Christ and Saturnus. Rotting Christ was absolutely on fire, and it physically hurt to have to leave them behind, but luckily it would turn out that Saturnus had a great show in store for us as well, and their calmer doom mood fit the second stage perfectly, filling the place with emotion and atmosphere.

Thursday was the promised Hypocrisy day, so not surprisingly this was what we spent the day in expectation of, although we caught a short glimpse of Cliteater, a funny grindcore band on the second stage, and fellow Swedes in Soilwork, as well as fellow death metallers Decapitated as well. Main band, and second highlight of the day, was Demons & Wizards. We had loved their show at Copenhell earlier in the summer, but this still took us by surprise. They had more time, a bigger stage, more stuff - everything was simply bigger and better!
Friday saw yet another Swedish band, Bullet, open the day for us. We absolutely love this AC/DC sound-alike, and while it’s been a while since our last meet up, we fell straight back into it, as soon as they came on stage and started rocking. Tarja was up next, and the less said about it, the better. Doing an all northern day, we also caught Finnish Korpiklaani, Norwegian Dimmu Borgir, before ending back up in Sweden again, with Tiamat, who put on what was simply the best show of the entire festival. What a way to close down the year!

The year wasn’t quite over however, as the party continued on into the wee hours down at the beach bar, with an elaborate dance show and farewell ceremony, followed by a blasting metal disco (yes, headed by ever energetic Cepanec, of course!). The beach was still full of people when we decided it was time to move on, and we could see the lights still on, and hear bits of the music, while we were driving back to our room in lovely Most na Soči.

Now, the festival has already announced a pretty killer line-up beginning for next year, comprised of Testament, Paradise Lost, Napalm Death, Malevolent Creation, and Razor, but it is a bittersweet announcement, as you’ve probably also have heard that this is to be considered the last year of Metaldays, at least as we know and love it now.
Town officials have announced plans for building a road pretty much straight through the area of the festival, with construction beginning, I believe, in 2021. There are as of yet not definitive words on whether this truly means the end of Metaldays in Tolmin or not, but I fear it is highly likely, as seems to be the general feeling, both for festival goers and the festival management. Time will tell, but if things go this way, I can only say it’s damn sad. I’ve gone on and on about what great surroundings Slovenia provide, but I can’t think of a better location for the festival itself. Oh well.

In parting, words on the festival itself must be added. Metaldays went by very smoothly this year. There were no major delays, last minute cancellations, or natural catastrophes blowing stages away (see last year’s festival), thank ye heavens. The card system for payment was smoother than ever, and lovely, golden Laško was flowing freely from the taps. As a driver, I’d like to make a wish for a better tasting non-alcoholic beer for the future, the one present this year was quite dismal! And yes, there are good non-alcoholic beers out there, you just need to look around a bit more.
Finally, I’d like to send a big hand to the security staff. I recognised a lot of faces from earlier years, but never before have I seen them this well organized, and even more importantly, on the side of the fan. This meant they handled their business professionally, but with care as to not disrupt the fun of being there. Helpful, smiling, and thoughtful, just as one would hope security at a metal event would be.

So, all in all, a very eventful and exciting year, filled with adventures not possibly had anywhere else but at the best metal holiday the world has to offer - Metaldays!

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