Festival Report 2010

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Praise be to the gods of summer!

As some of you might remember, Metalcamp 2009 had a wee problem with humidity, or to put it more accurately, someone took the Mediterranean and placed it on top of the festival.
To avoid such mishaps this year, someone in the festival-management had made sufficient offerings to whatever weather-god was listening, and it paid off!
A whole week of sunshine and warmth, between 30-35⁰C and not a cloud in the sky; yes, it was certainly deemed a sunny vacation on the beach in southern Europe for us this year.
Add to that a full 5 days of assorted metal goodies from around the world, lots of friends not seen in a long time, new ones added to the crowd and let’s not forget the lovely Laško pivo and Tolminska pizza. Ok, so the Laško was reserved for the bars and supermarket this year as the new official festival beer was called Ottokreiger [editors note: Ottakringer] or something like that (also drinkable, but I prefer a nice, cold Laško) and the Tolminska is as always reserved for visitors of the Tmin (yeah, I know I go on and on about this place in every Metalcamp review, but I’m addicted, ok?).
How can this be true you might think to yourself, and on account of previous years, especially the last, I can’t say I blame you for being suspicious, but the truth is that throughout that whole week in Tolmin, Slovenia we only experienced about an hour of rain. Ok, so it was just as evil as it had been during the previous times, but it was still only one collected shower, which was over in almost no time. Unluckily for folkmetal lovers, this happened during the Dornenreich show on the first day, one which we decided to skip, but my heart went out to those who defied the weather and went anyway.
But enough of such dark talk; after this short flex of muscles by Mother Nature, the only water we saw was what was coming out of the hoses of the local fire-brigade who helped cool down people as they were in the crowd, and of course the lovely rivers Soča and Tolminka, which cooled everyone at the beach down.

This brings me to the Beach Bar, which we in fact were brought to at several times during the festival.
Last year a great effort had been put into creating a dry veranda of sorts where you could enjoy your beer, this year it was mainly used to get some shade, but the changes didn’t stop here.
This year the effort had been put into improving the beach itself, a much appreciated effort if I may say so, as it was in need of new capabilities what with all the guests it saw this year.
First of all, the beach on the bar side had been redone and was now almost entirely covered with a thick sand contrary to the stony ground which we were used to from earlier years. This sand extended well out into the water, and there had even been created a sort of ankle-deep land-bridge which created a small cove where the water was calm instead of the rapid current of the deeper parts of the river. This stillness also helped make the water a little bit warmer; very little, but certainly welcome.
Secondly, the shore on the other side of the Tolminka had been hugely expanded with stones, creating room for many more metalheads and the water between the two was never deeper than you could easily walk across.
The Tolminka itself was as icy-cold and rapid as ever, and this helped us invent one of our favourite pass-times for the year; after soaking and playing in the Soča for a while it was time to bring our new-found friend Rudolf the Inflatable up the shore a bit and then river-raft down the rapid waters! I can’t tell you how much fun this was, and it quickly caught on as others brought their own inflatable toys (some even their air-mattresses!) and did the same...

Another completely new pass-time feature which had been added by the festival was that the small forest behind the food area and the 2nd Stage had been turned into a paint-ball battleground where you could fight it out with friends and foe alike.
If your pacifistic believes prevented you from picking up arms yourself, you could always enjoy watching a good death-match between your favourite bands; as there had been arranged some celebrity shoot-outs for the visitors (and certainly bands as well) pleasure. If I remember correctly there was at least one between Behemoth and Decapitated, and also one which Heidevolk was involved in...
As we have now moved closer to the 2nd Stage, I guess I should mention that it at times held other forms of entertainment than music; on a large screen there was played out the grand finale of the World Championship in football, and also the two matches leading up to it, for those interested in such events...

As we were not, I might as well skip ahead to a more interesting part on the agenda; the bands and music!
Some might say this is the most important part of a festival, and I would under normal circumstances be well inclined to agree, but Metalcamp is special.
The placing of the festival, in its beautiful Alp surroundings, and the way it is planned out, stretching over almost a whole week and the fact that there is only the two stages (which means a minimal risk of bands you want to see playing at the same time), really creates a much more relaxed and laid-back atmosphere than seen on so many other festivals. This truly is the Heavy Metal Holiday which they strive to create.

Still, bands are important to the festival, no doubt about it, and this is where we ran into this years’ only weak point in my opinion.
The festival had a great number of the type of bands where I say “I certainly want to see them as I am going”, but in the category of “I have to go since they are playing there”, I found the program sorely lacking, I am sad to say.
Paradise Lost was the one shining star of the billing for me, and also reaching a good status were Korpiklaani, Sabaton and Rotting Christ. Sadly, the latter had to cancel their show due to vocalist/guitarist Sakis Tolis being injured...
On the other hand, if you unlike me is a devoted death metal fan, this years’ program had loads to offer with names such as Cannibal Corpse, Six Feet Under, Decapitated and Obituary who threw some bone-crushing heaviness your way.
Building the bridge between death and black was the ever intense Polacks of Behemoth, and on the other side of that bridge the blizzard beasts of Immortal reigned supreme.
So, it wasn’t that the billing lacked big names, they were just not all my cup of tea, so to speak; on the other hand, I have already tried to make it clear that bands or no bands (which I like, there has to be something I suppose), Metalcamp is still my favourite festival around.
Just as it had been my favourite addition to the billing, Paradise Lost also ended up being my favourite concert of the entire festival, going above and beyond anything I had expected!
Other than that, Metsatöll ended up being a very nice surprise indeed, as we went to the 2nd Stage and saw the end of their show after watching Korpiklaani. Also Immortal shocked me with a very positive and playful attitude.
There was no real letdown, as more or less all bands performed as I would expect them to, but the time I had hardest getting through was definitely death metal Tuesday, with Six Feet Under and Cannibal Corpse playing straight after each other. But here we are back on personal preferences again, I know...

I was actually a bit worried for Metalcamp this year; as it had rained so hard last year I feared they would have a hard time selling tickets, and to be honest, the festal area never felt very crowded which only led to strengthen my believes, but the festival announces over 11000 tickets sold, and with the way the weather behaved this year I don’t think they will have a hard time topping this next year. But remember, they have placed a maximum amount of 12000 tickets, so take care you don’t miss out on the festivities!

Rounding off this year, I would have to say it was an altogether fantastic experience!
I got to try out a new food vendor in town, the Metal Grill (ok, so it has been around every year, but this was the first time I went there), I met up with friends I hadn’t seen since last year and also made some new ones, and since the Magic Circle Festival was up in the same place the very next day I got to stay on for a little while longer, which is always a good thing!
A fun post-note is that I noticed that not just fans but also musicians have come to like this festival so much they show up, even if not playing. I could hardly go anywhere without bumping into Christopher Bowes (Alestorm) and I also saw Christophe ‘Mas’ Mermod (Samael) lurking around the place. It is not impossible that there were more... Metalcamp attracts everyone.

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