A typical Metalhead spends summer with travelling from festival to festival, setting up his tent, getting wasted and seeing favourite bands live. After such a 2-3 day trip he usually needs regeneration.
But what if such event lasts a whole week? Just like 4th Metalcamp in Tolmin, Julisch Alps, near the capital city Ljubljana, the first 7days Metal festival, bands playing on 5 days, known as "Metal Holiday" or “Hell over Paradise”. We tested for you if you can survive a whole week.
Hell was loose by arrival, Satan himself seemed to be present because of those diabolic temperatures. At the area (a meadow) we had to purchase a parking ticket for 10 € (a week) and received directions by the security. We were in a valley surrounded by small mountains, the Soča river right beside the festival area. Hardly any Metal heads could be seen. This year about 7000 5 day-tickets and further 3000 weekend-tickets had been sold.
I appreciated that the connections between stages – those were right beside the camping areas – went through the woods so you could walk in the shadow. The furthest camping area was near the entrance, walking quickly you needed perhaps 10 min. There was room for camping everywhere, also in the woods or near the river. Tolmin also offers self catering apartments and a few hotels available all within walking distance of the festival area , but it is advised to book early!
At Soča river I realized where the Metalheads were hiding, they enjoyed themselves here, either sunbathing at the river side or on the water.
You could also hang out at the beach bar, luckily in the shadow, Metal was on the whole day via an impressive stereo, they had good and cheap cocktails and also beer. And spontaneous shows, like strippers, fire breather, jugglers or bull riding, and all for free.
The only impractical thing was that you could pay for food with cash but needed coupons for drinks, yet waiters could not return coupons, so you always ended up ordering much more not to loose too many of them.
A perfect running order, shows started in the afternoon at 15:30 and ended about 2:00, so you had half of the day for other activities, e.g. cheaper rafting trips with the festival ID, jumping from an 11 m hight, or near Tolmin: climbing to the ruins from where you had a great view of the city and the festival area, tours to canyons and ravines, waterfalls (about 100 m high) or caves.
I was also impressed by crew and security you could easily communicate with, and they were all totally nice. And there was security anywhere, at the camp, at night near the paths or near the border.
There were two stages, the talent stage in the woods for newcomers and the Metalchamp finale. The main stage that opened on Thursday, was exposed to direct sunlight in the afternoon, but you could find shadowy spots on the surrounding hill, which also offered a great view in the evening. Stages could be reached within 5 min, and the path was lined with Metal shops, food and drink kiosks. The food was quite good and prices were moderate, you could get a huge burger filling a whole plate for 5 € and pizza for 3 €.
In the evening the lack of lighting in the woods or to the camps was a bit annoying, you needed a flashlight. Toilets and showers were always OK, even perfectly and often cleaned. And this is perhaps the most peaceful festival I have ever been to (except maybe last year´s Metal camp that lasted only a weekend). Everybody was friendly and courteous, and NO violence!
Tuesday July 17 2007
Animosity from the USA opened 4th Metalcamp. You could have picked a better band, because those Grind Deathers were nothing special Sadist from Italy were mcuh better, great Melodic Death Metal with keyboards cheering up the songs. Remarkable was the guitarist who was fun to look at, playing keys with one hand and guitar with the other. (CG)
Salem´s Metalcore heads Converge got off to a bad start as they have a few issues with the sound whilst preparing for their set. Before long they were ready to get going, and assaulted their audience with a tight set of aggressive & cacophonous sound, with two screaming vocalists and discordant guitars. These guys certainly are not easy listening, but had people, whether fans or not, paying attention with their frenzied, sick sounds!
Next on the main stage were One Man Army & The Undead Quartet, a Death/Thrash outfit, hailing from Sweden & fronted by Johan Lindstrand from legendary Death Metallers The Crown. They also packed a punch of groove with their sound, and played a satisfying set of songs that are heavy yet infectiously catchy, with venomous vocals. Something a little different in the Death Metal scene today. (JO)
Deadsoul Tribe also filled the talent stage with their grooving dreamy songs.
Sepultura excited the crowd after 23 h. What annoys me – they always play the same old stuff, hardly anything from the post-Cavalera era. And as Sepultura cover act (only 2 original band members, Mr. Kisser is already involved in solo projects, Mr. Paulo looks like an old fragile man) they don´t offer enough. A highlight was definitely Mr. Kisser who handles his instrument like no other. A good show indeed, but I still prefer to listen to the CD with original line up. (CG)
Sepultura played a great balance of old and new material, even some material from Morbid Visions. Although, a lot of fans will always compare Derek Greens vocals unfavourably to original singer Max Cavalera, on older tracks he just doesn´t sound right, for example"Roots" was barely recognizable to me, and also a lot faster than the studio version. However on the newer songs, especially from the new album, it´s much better as there is no association with Max. (JO)
Wednesday, July 18 2007
Next day was opened by Deadlock, German Death Metal guys with their own style, “Cleanbeatdeathmetal”. Johannes (voc) growled, Sabine sings clean vocals. Especially the last song with techno beats was fun, because the guitar player was alone on stage, banged his head and played to it, before the other guys returned and switched back to Metal. (CG)
Vreid were highly anticipated today. The 4 piece delivered a finely executed set of Black Metal, some songs quite majestic in style, with elements of Thrash and Groove thrown in, which gets heads banging! Songs are played from all albums, along with a Windir track. Singer Sture had great rasping black metal vocals but also can hold a great note with his clean vocals. I for one shall be purchasing a few albums after watching this outstanding performance. (JO)
Die Apokalyptischen Reiter: I am not such a fan, but the guys always have a good show. This time big blue balloons were thrown into the audience, a girl, a huge fan perhaps, was allowed on stage to dance with Mt. Täumel, after that he lifted her on his shoulders and continued singing. Finally two fans were lifted on stage and received two mattresses... and you can imagine the rest, or check out the photo gallery. (CG)
Korpiklaani (which means Forest Clan) made clear for the first time that talent stage and the area around were too small. By this stage the sun was going down, and the location of the stage, in the forest created a perfect atmosphere for this Finnish Folk Metal outfit. A band who play all the usual instruments, they also incorporate violins, woodwinds and accordion. This is good time drinking music, and many drunken folks could be seen dancing like fools and obviously having a great time. Although cries from the audience for "Beer Beer" are heard it unfortunately is not played.
Cult Death Metal icons Dismember were here to crush you with their neck breaking old school onslaught. An influential band from the early Swedish Metal scene, they have perfected their sound live and were eagerly awaited by many feverish fans that night. They worked their way through an uncompromising set of classics.
Headlining tonight is Germany´s Doro also known as "The Metal Queen". She unquestionably is a fantastic front woman, who demands plenty of audience participation, and puts a lot of passion into her performance! A rather strange choice for a headline act at this type of festival, but plenty showed up to the front to watch the tightly leather clad queen & throw the horns and head bang at her beckoning. Singing her songs proudly, she and her band went down well, although it felt quite long winded, especially the anthem "All We Are" which seemed to last a lifetime. A cover of Judas Priest´s Breaking The Law was also played. (JO)
Thursday, July 19 2007
The following day the talent stage hosted the Metalchamp finals, in which 11 talented yet unsigned acts were able to give their best live performances to impress the judge panel. The bands played between 3.30 & 11.05 with the Award Ceremony taking place between 00.00 & 00.30. It was well worth nipping through to check out some of the bands given the chance, whilst the bigger acts proceeded on the main stage. Showcasing were Turn Of Mind from (HU), Devastating Enemy from (AT), Dread (IT), Excess Pressure (DE) Saturus (AT), Sunstone (AT), Archaic (HU), Shadow cry (AT), Staub & Schatten (AT), Outrage (AT) & Extrema (IT). (JO)
Summing up, most Metalchamp bands proved that they can play well, yet they seemed insecure and made several mistakes. Excess Pressure (Prog-Metal) was one of those, also Devastating Enemy, who played Death Metal, as well as the band Dread. Saturus offered an excellent Deathmetal show and had a sexy female bass player, just like Shadowcry who perform their mix of Melodic Death, Thrash and dreamy ballads better and better. Sunstone impressed me with their charismatic singer. Archaic were much better than everythng before with good Thrash Metal. Staub & Schatten were exotic with a DJ, Deaththrashcrossover meets Hip-Hop. Outrage played highly professional Top Deathmetal (CG)
Runners up, in second place were Outrage, a highly competent old school Death Metal outfit, who gave a stunning live performance. But winners of this years comp were Staub & Schatten, a modern sounding straight out Metal band with some experimental elements. They won a world wide record deal with Napalm Records, a place on the main stage for Metalcamp 2008, and various other festivals, along with a trophy. (JO)
Mainstage An eerie intro with operatic female vocals soared across the field and surrounding area before the main stage, and fans rushed forward as The Vision Bleak presented their unique brand of "Horror Metal". Even in the blistering afternoon heat these Germans managed to send shivers up the spine with the chilling songs such as Carpathia, Kutulu & Wolf Man. An outstanding show for those who managed to stick around for the 45 min set in the heat, as there was next to little shade available! (JO)
Those four Gothers, less make up and outfit this time, but the music did not change. (CG)
Graveworm served up their Italian Black/Dark Metal next on the main stage. Again another band suffering from the intense heat of the daytime, front man Stefano grabbed the water hose from the security and proceeded to drench the melting fans at the front and himself! Nothing was particularly groundbreaking here, the band blast their way through the set, to the delight of fans, playing old, but mostly more recent songs from their 10 year career. (JO)
Their gig had almost been cancelled because the drummer´s wife is expecting a baby, but they found a replacement and offered a good show. (CG)
One of the three great Swedish Death Metal acts playing over this festival, Unleashed assaulted your ears with an energetic burst of merciless riffs, fast & powerful rhythms and absolutely guttural and fierce vocals. Not just straight forward Death Metal, they incorporate melodic, technical lead guitar work, and infectiously catchy riffs that stick in your mind afterwards for some time, the title track song from the last album Midvinterblot being a prime example.
Pain, fronted by mastermind of metal Peter Tägtgren, attracted a huge crowd and gave one of the best performances of the day. Blasting off with Same Old Song the audience went wild. Peter & Co. are obviously very happy to be playing, which only added to the great vibe and energy. Other songs played during the set were Dancing With The Dead, Eleanor Rigby (a Beatles song cover), On and On, Super Sonic Bitch, Zombie Slam, End Of The Line & Delusions. A barrage of Industrial Metal, executed like the pros they are, was awe inspiring. (JO)
The Italians Extrema did not really appeal to me, so I went to the main stage for Satyricon wechselte. (CG)
The intro at the start of „Walk The Path of Sorrow“ bleeded through the air, as Satyricon took to the stage, a great song to start off with creating a grim atmosphere, and the epic song kicked off creating great excitement through the legions of fans. Satyr was notably talkative between songs, and very appreciative of all the support from the hordes of fans here that night. During this set we also heard Now Diabolical, King, The Pentagram Burns and Mother North. Also a surprise appearance was made by a drunken Abbath, who momentarily bounded across the stage for a bit of headbanging, brandishing a tin of beer! (JG)
For me it was time to check out Kreator on the Mainstage. Those German Metal veterans offered a great show, as usual, and the video clips on the screen were really nice to watch. (CG)
Continuing with the fine quality of headliners this year, one of the German thrash legends from the early 1980s scene, Kreator took to the stage for their 1.5 hour marathon of unyielding Thrash Metal. Upon beginning their set, immediately they sent their fans into a frenzy, as mosh pits breakout through the scores of bodies here to watch that night. Mille's vocals rasped vociferously with this angry music that was tightly played, and they played everything you could want to hear from early times to latter days including Violent Revolution, Pleasure To Kill, Enemy Of God, Extreme Aggression and Phobia. Necks were sore the following day, that's for sure! (JO)
To be continued
Christian Girstmair (CG), Jane Oliver (JO), transl. K. Weber