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A whole week of "Hevi Meddel" plus holidays, near a small town center and surrounded by a landscape that even I find impressive, although I grew up just on the other side of the very same mountain range. This is the appeal of Metalcamp Festival in Tolmin, Slovenia, that celebrated its 5th anniversary this year.
A propos location - it´s simply beautiful. Fields, woods and the (always ice-cold) Soca river bank, here you get whatever you want within a very small range. Tolmin´s town center can be reached within a 10-15 min walk, therefore it´s woth to try some food there. And you find a tasty selection of good and cheap meals; coffee - REAL coffee, which is small strong black - costs about 70 c, 0,5 l of this pure ecological recreational brew on barley-malt basis about 1,70 E.
Right away when entering Tolmin it appears completely in hands of black-dressed Metalheads. What bars and restaurants live on outside of Metalcamp season, remains the question. Many places offer special "Metal" dishes or drinks on the menu, and also the music there had been modified according to customers´ tastes.
In the area food is nice and the prices are, in comparison to festivals further north, quite reasonable, too. But I still haven´t quite figured out how this system with coupons and plastic chips really works, somehow always something is left over... and, oh, can I possibly use those coupons I found in a pocket still use next year?
Continuing the criticism - I could not find actual playlists anywhere, as sometimes also crew/security didn´t know anything when there were changes at short notice. And I heard that the showers in the camping area were difficult to find. .
Friday, July 3, 2008 Bikinis sold out, leather boots unsalable After the trip via Predil pass - I can recommend this mountain short cut to everybody who seeks adventure, especially to flat-landers and adrenaline junkies! - and surviving an almost-heat stroke while setting up the tent, I went to the main stage where October File had just started. But that was a bit too much Hardcore for my taste. The majority of fans also seemed to prefer the shadow zones outside the main sage area, moreover, the 2nd stage in the woods seemed more attractive.
What a surprise, equipment and sound quality there wasn´t worse than on the bigger stage. Putting it sarcastically, also the audience attention wasn´t much less here for the Austrians Devastating Enemy. Perhaps either the temperatures or the party on the previous day had been too much.
Quite different was the picture only a little later with Wintersun: the Mainstage area was stuffed with people as if you got free beer there... The Finns were loudly welcomed, and hits like "Beyond the Dark Sun", "Winter Madness", "Sleeping Stars" got everybody rocking. Mastermind Jari Mäenpää promised - again - that a new CD will be out "sooner or later", and rounded up the program with a "Painkiller" cover.
In the shopping area I discovered that bikinis were almost sold out, as I had to rip off the very last one of the desired model right from the mannequin... yet everything remotely resembling heavy leather Doc Martens or other boots seemed unsalable. Still.
A short rain shower during Six Feet Under felt refreshing. Top growler Chris Barnes surprised with humorous comments, and the gig of those Death Metal veterans was as flawless as the following Old School DM act Carcass.
In Flames almost shut themselves off when their pyros caused a short PA malfunction, yet the Swedes didn´t care much about that. Who could still stand upright had the pleasure of an entertaining early morning show with German Folk-Metallers In Extremo. (KW)
Saturday, July 4, 2008 For us this day began a bit later. Quote Legion Of The Damned fronter Maurice: "You should sweat as much as I do." Well, he better had not demanded fan tribute for songs like "Bleed For Me". It was only a pity that this band had to play so early, a bit later they would have had so much more audience.
The party began for us with the Finns Finntroll who delivered an experienced show containing all their hits, like e.g. "Jaktens Tid", and in front of a quite impressive crowd, despite the merciless sun.
This year´s Metalcamp audience seemed to enjoy music from Finland in particular; many even began wild Troll dances. Or was it the beer?
After that Meshuggah played but they lost some people to the nearby beach bar. Nevertheless, the Swedes´ die hard followers cheered to their heroes even more enthusiastically. Still, in my opinion this band works better in a smaller surrounding, on a smaller stage.
Singer Jens Kidman draws all attention so that the rest of the band seems to be in the background. But never mind, this must have been one of the most fascinating and complex bands at this festival.
After sunlight the Cello- and light show of Apocalyptica worked out fabulously. But this is not the only reason why the Finns stuck out from the other bands at the festival - the powerful Cello sounds and the positive attitude of the musicians left a lasting impression.
Iced Earth also managed to meet their fan´s expectations and offered a good mixture of old and new songs, from their back catalogue that albums like "Dark Saga", "Horror Show" or "Something Wicked" provided. The excellent show, the song selection and the new old singer Matt Barlow even gave you the goose bumps sometimes.
A notion of nostalgia accompanied the show of Tankard . Singer Gerre had gained some weight and cannot run across stage all the time now, but the fans got what they had been waiting for. And there were quite many fans at 2nd Stage, despite the early hour, like 2 am, who partied with the Germans until their last song "Freibier". (SM)
Sunday, July 5, 2008 Boots are "in" There were rumours about changes in the playing order because of a sick singer, therefore instead of Herfst the French Metalcore/HC band Hacride might have been the ones being first on the main stage, in front of just a handful of people. Most seemed to prefer the cold Soca or a siesta. Despite offering more shade, also 2nd Stage showed the same scenario, Austrian Thrashers Mosfet also just had a handful of friends & fans in front of them.
The heat made me pretty tired, too, so I just listened to Evergrey from a shady spot, which I regret still. It would have so much better to enjoy this great gig - great voice, great riffs, powerful and melodic, fas if being the musical version of this stunning landscape - right in front of the stage.
Afterwards Brainstorm had some fun with the crowd and inspired pretty silly sing along-action. The audience was still small, and even in the beer tent you could easily find a nice place to hang out.
But when the Finns Korpiklaani entered stage, the fans came out of their hidings, the audience number tripled in no time, and the area filled up. No wonder that the spirits went high immediately, with songs like "Saunassa" - quite fitting, Metalcamp, the world´s biggest Sauna. Quite funny that the band continued communicating just in Finnish throughout their super gig.
When during Behemoth the rain started, it was first quite welcome and suitable to this Black Metal thunderstorm. But then it didn´t stop, and indeed thunder and storm came, too, chasing away first the fans and then the band, much earlier than planned.
Hectic re-arrangements on stage, and the beer tent filled up quickly, for a long time nobody knew what´s going on. Then we heard announcements, the PA system was busted, a re-schedule coming up... The guys got a special entertainment when the Strip Show artists from the Beach area made a guest appearance on the beer tent bar. But only the (hetero) guys... what a shame!
About 1,5 h later finally Helloween defied the ongoing rain, and many of their die-hard fans, too, who enjoyed some of the band´s All-Time Hits like "Eagle Fly Free" and "Dr Stein". It might have been the weather, but it seemed that Andi Deris had some problemssinging those classics.
Opeth had to switch to 2nd Stage where you could hear but hardly see them, as too many people weresqueezed between the trees. Still a suitable scenario for this melancholic evil sound and the dry humour of the band: "Hello, we are Opeth, we are from Sweden". Another huge crowd gathered later again for Marduk who were scheduled for early morning 2nd stage anyway.
Ministry began their show about 2.15 am, the rain had stopped but still there was some potential audience missing. Initially the show seemed a bit lame, Al Jourgensen appeared rather fragile, but after 2, 3 songs the performance took off - a great show, quite inspiring and having fans go nuts despite the late hour. I myself was surprised that I made it until the very last chord. Cool! (KW)
Monday, July 6, 2008 Rubber boots instead of leather boots Who had had problems to find the showers in the camping area, found a practical solution now - just grab soap/shower gel and walk outside...
When Mystic Prophecy sang about "Evil empires" in pouring rain in front of such a few people, you could absolutely believe them. They tried to raise spirits a bit with their "Paranoid" Cover. Before them Nightmare had tried that with a "Fear Of The Dark" cover. But many fans had left the festival already, and the rest wasn´t easily lured out of the tents.
The Norwegians Sagh had some more people as their Stoner Rock was somewhat inspiring even in that weather. And they even managed to get the sun back for a while.
Rubber boots would have been a top seller, as the crew fought mud and water pits that constantly formed and re-formed in the pouring rain, filling them up with straw or tried to drain them. But they fought almost in vain. The beer tent filled up, and you could see quite new fashionable creations made of plastic bags. Some fans even enjoyed a bath in those deep puddles. The sound was so loud, btw, that you could easily follow the show from the beer tent.
Rage were lucky as the rain stopped for a while, therefore they gathered a big crowd, so the German Metal veterans with a cheerful mastermind Peavy Wagner played a Best Of show, with e.g. "Soundchaser", "Refuge" and highlights of their recent CD "Carved In Stone". People were headbanging even in the beer tent.
The weather didn´t matter when it was time for Soilwork who drew the masses. For the first time those huge video screens at the stage ailes made sense, as it was almost impossible to reach the front, and a huge circle pit was formed.
The Swedes and this singer-entertainer Björn "Speed" Strid are always a lot of fun! "Exile" or "Low" turned the area into a madhouse. Horns up indeed!
The audience cheered long before the concert started, people fighting for the best spots in the front row, and everybody who could still walk was there - surely, the Metalcamp winners that day were Morbid Angel.
Sinister looks, as their genre demands, were on the faces of David Vincent & Co even during their sound check, and what followed were "70 minutes of pure Death Metal Hell"! At Tuska their sound near the stage rather resembled a starting airplane, here it wasn´t that bad. Still, within seconds everybody in the audience was "still sworn to the fucking black" and had their ears attacked with a merciless Best Of program. (KW)
Dienstag, 7.7.2008 Thunderstorms and never-ending rain had some of the fans depart earlier than planned.
Therefore also the legendary British act Onslaught played in front of less people they had deserved, according to their reputation and this great performance.
Afterwards Volbeat managed to convince the crowd immediately, and perhaps also the weather gods, as the sun came out again.
Those Danes know how to get the spirits high - that band could play at any festival, in my opinion! Thanks, Denmark!
The sound of Eluveitie was not quite my thing, I felt rather bored, but then Subway To Sally were a pleasant surprise - much more classics in the program, and party mood just like in old days. Initially, however, there were sound problems. Arch Enemy seemed to have gathered every fan in the area in front of the stage, they convinced everybody and rounded up the anniversary Metalcamp as a worthy headliner. See you next year! (SM)