METALDAYS 2013 – Day 3 – Tolmin, Slovenia

METALDAYS 2013 – Day 3 – Tolmin, Slovenia

All of my apartment-mates went to do a nature walk of some sort this morning, but this guy had to decline due to likely not being back in time for the early bands.  There was one in particular that was a high priority, and they were on first.  Not taking any chances!

This band is Stormcast, hailing from the island of Cyprus.  They play a very unique brand of atmospheric metal, and are one of the smaller bands that really caught my ear when checking out the bands that I didn’t know before the fest.  It’s increasingly difficult to stand out these days, with so many bands being unoriginal copycats.  Stormcast has managed to do break that chain of mediocrity.  Their sound is very much one of their own.  Think of a combination of post-metal meets atmospheric black metal, with a few progressive twists.

Their live show came off without a hitch.  They boasted a powerful stage presence, were musically tight as a Chinese finger trap, and portrayed a level of energy that was undeniable.  Easily one of the bands of the festival, and one to keep an eye on.  Can’t wait to hear a full-length!

DICKLESS TRACY live @ Metaldays 2013
(Photo: Dan Barkasi)

Time for some Slovenian grind in the form of Dickless Tracy (awesome name)!  Only catching the last bit of their set due to a partial clash with Stormcast, the couple of songs that I did see came off very well.  They’re a very fun band, and their enthusiasm was obvious.  Everybody had a hell of a time.

After a short food break, a hearty dose of melodic death metal was served up via Dark Salvation.  At this point, it was raining particularly hard.  My trusty rain coat came in mighty handy!  Despite the crappy weather, these guys shined.  Drawing mainly from their latest, "Der Letzte Weg", the band kicked out some of their heaviest and fastest material.  They played as a cohesive unit and delivered beyond expectations.  Certainly, the best melodic death band of MetalDays.

Staying on the main stage, another melodic death metal band, Rest in Fear, was on.  They took a more modern and softer approach, which came off as a bit stale and formulaic.  Their stage show was fine and all, but the music didn’t do a whole lot.  It was like a lighter and much less intricate version of Scar Symmetry.  Not feeling that at all.

NIGHTMARE live @ Metaldays 2013
(Photo: Dan Barkasi)

After an hour layoff, Nightmare hit the stage.  Their style of classic metal is one that’s been done many times, but they have a flair to them that lifts them to a higher level than most.  Singer David Amore’s very Dio-like voice propels them, as well.  With loads of vigor and impressive musicianship, these French dudes impressed.  The Dio tribute was a heartfelt touch, too.  They’re pretty legendary in their home country, and if you’re unfamiliar and dig the classic sound, Nightmare is one of the best current purveyors.

Another Slovenian group, this time being death metallers Within Destruction, were about to hit the stage.  Only the last half of their set was caught due to a clash with Nightmare.  Not too shabby, though nothing overtly original either.  That’s my pet peeve with a lot of current death metal – way too much unoriginality.  Within Destruction do their style justice, but it’s also the same old sort of death metal that I’m tired of.

ORANGE GOBLIN live @ Metaldays 2013
(Photo: Dan Barkasi)

Stoner metal is another one of those genres of which yours truly is very selective with.  Orange Goblin being one of the exceptions to the many boring and drab bands that have cluttered this scene.  They’ve got a little extra "kick" to their sound, to add to their slick songwriting skills.  They’re also top notch in the live arena, too, as evidenced by their performance here in Tolmin.  Singer Ben Ward said that the bad weather wasn’t their fault, even though they come from the U.K.  Touché, Mr. Ward, though no amount of shitty weather was going to stop Orange Goblin from kicking all sorts of ass on this gloomy day.

Bliksem, a female fronted thrash band from Belgium, were next up on the second stage.  They sounded decent enough, though I didn’t get much from their overall sound.  They felt like Cripper Jr. – similar style, but not as much power, less interesting riffs, etc.  Bliksem were totally inoffensive, but not something I’d go out of my way for either.  Still, they’re young and there’s some potential, so we’ll see what the future holds.

BRUTAL TRUTH live @ Metaldays 2013
(Photo: Dan Barkasi)

New York grind legends Brutal Truth were following up on the main stage, and per usual, they took no prisoners.  Heavy, fast, and in-your-face, it was a very typical show for these guys.  And by typical, I mean brash and crushing.  Brutal Truth defines consistently solid.  Any fan of deathy grind should know and dig these dudes, as there’s nothing really negative about their output.  After all, Danny Lilker doesn’t fuck around when it comes to his tunes.

Emergency Gate was next, and that was a big giant letdown.  Bastardized melodic death metal to the worst degree.  This is Sonic Syndicate bad, except they’ve been around longer.  Could this have been one of Sonic Syndicate’s primary influences?  It certainly wouldn’t be very shocking.  I suppose one can say that the stage show wasn’t all that bad, but the music emitting from the speakers ruined that.  I want that half hour back.

Having mentioned them previously, it was now time for some Cripper, and they thrashed as hard as humanly possible.  In support of a very strong third album "Antagonist", the tracks played from it came off nicely, as well as a smattering of material from their other two discs.  Singer Britta Görtz is one of the top female vocalists in metal right now, sporting a good range and a lot of vigor in her stage presence.  Obviously, the rest of the band is just as up to the task, with a strong overall performance by everybody involved.  Cripper rips.

MESHUGGAH live @ Metaldays 2013
(Photo: Dan Barkasi)

After another break, a huge festival highlight was upcoming – Swedish giants Meshuggah.  Having seen them for the first time on their last North American tour, it was one of the most enveloping and tremendous performances I’ve ever seen.  Well, at MetalDays, they managed to top it.

The big stage, the massive light show, the huge wall of sound – the conditions were absolutely perfect.  Meshuggah put on a show for the ages.  Opening the set with the intimidating "Swarm" from their latest album "Koloss" was the perfect choice, as that song is made to be a kickoff track.  The entire set flowed perfectly, with the 1-1/4 hour show feeling like it was about ten minutes.  Can you say flawless?

DYING FETUS live @ Metaldays 2013
(Photo: Dan Barkasi)

With about a half hour remaining, it was time to catch the ending portion of Dying Fetus.  They tour the US constantly, having seen them countless times, and they’re always worth catching.  There’s nothing overly standout about these guys – they’re just simply a steamroller of solid death metal.  Their sound is massive, and they’ve never made a dud.  It’s nice to have reliable bands like Dying Fetus, and their show this evening was just that – a reliably good time.

Next up was a 90-minute extravaganza from Finland’s Sonata Arctica.  True, their older material is their best, but some of the newer tunes hold up.  And they’ve never been disappointing to this guy in a live setting, so another viewing was in order.  Time well spent!  The band played a wide variety of songs, including more recent material such as "I Have a Right" and "The Last Amazing Grays", but also old classics such as "Replica", "FullMoon", and "Black Sheep".  Definitely the most varied – and longest – set I’ve seen from these Finns yet.  The streak continues, Mr. Kakko and co.

TAAKE live @ Metaldays 2013
(Photo: Dan Barkasi)

One of the most underrated black metal bands on the planet, Taake, were the last band to play this evening.  Having heard nothing but positives about their live shows, there was a ton of anticipation for their show.

The verdict?  Taake is easily one of the best black metal bands I’ve yet to see.  Only Horna have been able to equal the level that was witnessed from these Norwegians.  So many black metal bands have the pitfall of sounding sloppy and disjointed – see Mayhem – but Taake are the exact opposite.  As ferocious and as a Norwegian black metal band can be without scorching a church on the spot, Taake brought the goods and then some.  Perfect nightcap.  Onward to the fourth day!