Festival Report 2017

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

If you’d like to make a playlist for this year’s Metaldays festival, you’d might consider including such songs as Rain (Samael), Colossal Rains (Paradise Lost), Eternal Rains Will Come (Opeth), and even Raining Blood (J.B.O.). Heck, going on the fringe here, even Oceans Rise (Borknagar) and Ocean Land (The Revelation) (Orphaned Land) seemed appropriate at times!
Yeah, I think you can see where I’m going with this…
Of course, you’d also need to change it up with Black Hole Sun (Soundgarden) in the middle, after which Heaven’s On Fire (Kiss), The Sun Also Rises (Tiamat), Death In Fire (Amon Amarth) could suitably come on. And of course, for the party people among you (and I know you’re out there), why not top it all off with a true classic? Yes, I’m of course referring to The Heat is On (Glenn Frey)! *

So, now that you have that all sorted out, and playing in the background, let’s get into the meat of this review, shall we?
Fittingly, I suppose we should start with a topic that is very close to heart of most festival goers. A topic that comes up every year, and everyone is anxious to see what’s on and what’s not. Some, I suppose, even make their plans of whether or not to go, based on this very topic! No, I’m not talking about the line-up, I am of course referring to – the weather!
As I’ve mentioned many times before, Slovenia doesn’t do middle of the road. If it goes for something, it goes all in! And so it was, that when the rain came Monday morning, it came down hard! It came down so hard in fact, that the newest addition to the stages, the Newforces stage broke! Not kidding, sadly. The Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister stage (main stage) and the Boško Bursać stage** (2nd stage) remained standing, but had to be closed down several times during Monday and Tuesday, forcing the festival crew to work double-time in trying to reschedule bands as well as possible, and sadly, at given circumstances, accepting defeat and make cancellations. Not everything worked out perfectly, but we really have to hand it to the crew here – they were really up against some hard odds, and they handled it as well as can be expected.
Wednesday was still wet, but the coming change could be seen, and luckily nothing else was broken.
Thursday and Friday were good. I mean really good! A bit too good to be true actually, but as I mentioned before, Slovenia doesn’t do middle of the road stuff.

The good weather gave us a chance to continue exploring the countryside before heading to the festival, as we have done for a few years now. I’m still not a big fan of driving on the teeny tiny mountain roads they have in most places here, but we managed to go on some very nice trips nonetheless. This is a beautiful country, and if you have the chance, you really should spend some time exploring it – you won’t be disappointed.
Maybe I should revise that to saying this area is beautiful, because not once but twice did we find ourselves accidentally crossing the border to Italy – it’s really not as far away as you’d think, going down (or rather up) some roads.
When not spending our time on the road, it was very nice to check back in on our favourite feeding facility, Penzion Šterk in nearby Most Na Soči. Their food is to die for, and the other metalheads visiting the place are a nice company.
But that’s just our routine. If you don’t feel like, or have the opportunity to leave the festival during your stay, that’s fine. Metaldays is offering a host of activities besides drinking and headbanging, such as yoga sessions, art painting, and specialized beach sports to name but a few. The festival has also teamed up with local companies offering wild tourist experiences, like rafting and other things perfect for the area. So one thing is for sure – if you’re bored at Metaldays, it’s because you really make an effort at it!

What you don’t need to make an effort for, at least not as long as the aforementioned weather allows it, is to catch some good music.
The line-up this year was varied and nice. It wasn’t a packed schedule for us – there were a few bands we were extremely pleased to see, like Macabre, Pain, Iced Earth (you can sense the variety already), and several more bands that wouldn’t exactly compel us to go to the festival, but were fun to catch since they were there. Here I could mention Bömbers (Abbath’s Motörhead cover band), Equilibrium, Sinister, just to send a few names out there. There was also a host of names that didn’t mean anything to us, but we appreciate that everyone has a different taste, and there should be room for everyone.
In the headlining department, Metaldays had pulled out the big guns, and snatched up Marilyn Manson. Say what you will of his music, but whether you’re a devoted fan or a hardcore disbeliever, you can’t deny that he is one of this age’s most famous names.
Amon Amarth is also a very popular name, and even though they may not be as widely known as Manson, they are most likely more popular within the metal circuit of fans. To keep the variation going, we also got some good old-school metal in Doro, some new-school metal in Heaven Shall Burn, and some hardly metal at all anymore in Opeth. That’s about as far from streamlined as you can get!
Due to the weather and other unforeseen events (our photographer growing immensely ill for one thing), we sadly never made it to the Newforces stage, which was repaired after the devastating start on Monday (honestly, this stage had been open since the Saturday before, so early festival goers had had something to watch even before the grand festival kicked in). Still, one of our best discoveries came from a new, little known band from Northern Ireland, playing the Boško Bursać stage. They were called The Crawling, and they come with the official Metalmoments seal of approval.
There were many other highlights in the musical programme as well, but instead of just listing them all here, go check out the individual reviews instead.
One event that can’t go without mentioning though, is the mighty Abbath, and his turn in the security pit. You may have already seen this on YouTube if you weren’t fortunate enough to be there for it in the flesh. Among other things, it goes by names like Abbath Shall Fall (clever wordplay on the title of Immortal’s final album, All Shall Fall) and Mighty Ravenfall (another wordplay, now on the song Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark)). I suppose you’ve guessed by now what happened, if you didn’t already know it, but I must say that good old Abbath took it like a king, getting up and doing a little dance straight away!

The parallel to the festival is palpable – Metaldays was beaten down by rain and wind in the beginning, but as soon as possible, the festival was back up and partying again!
Looking away from certain drawbacks, we had a very good year at Metaldays. Drawbacks such as Lunah Lauridsen’s food poising (of which we’re still not sure of the origin) did of course put a damper on things, but on the other hand we got to experience the aid of the Red Cross personnel first hand, and they were both kind and as helpful as the situation allowed.
Other personnel were kind and helpful as well, and we had good experiences both with guards and vendors. Especially the guards have improved their communication skills, and also their general mood.
Metaldays still uses the card system, where you get a card going into the festival, which you then use as a credit card during the festival, instead of having to handle money at all the food and drink stands. Great system if you ask me, and the only problem we encountered with it was when we wanted to return the card at the end of the festival – going in, we had paid a 10€ deposit for the card (they of course cost money to make and maintain, nothing strange about that), but when we wanted to return it, the employee at the card booth held to the belief that there was no such thing as a deposit, even though we showed a receipt, and for a while she was unwilling to return our deposit. We did get our money back in the end, but the communication here definitely needs to be smoothed out.
Other than that small hiccup, I was overall pleased with the direction the festival is headed in. Another thing worth mentioning, is that the festival is becoming more and more environmentally aware, and work harder to minimize their ecological footprint. It’s not perfect, but being aware, and starting out is a good step on the way. In this respect, we have sadly had to wave goodbye to our most beloved beer, Laško. Budweiser is now the beer of choice at the festival, due to them being more on the ecological track as well, as I’ve come to understand it. Fine choice, but I do miss that golden horned beverage which we’ve come to associate with the festival.

So, if you are still in doubt, then yes, Metaldays is still a wonderful festival to visit, and we intend to keep coming back for the foreseeable future. And remember, if you simply can’t get enough, there is also the freezing counterweight festival Winter Days Of Metal to visit! Until next year, na zdravje!

(* thanks to all the friends who helped in contributing to this list, much appreciated)
(** who the hell is Boško Bursać anyway? anybody?)

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