METALDAYS 2013 – Day 4 – Tolmin, Slovenia

METALDAYS 2013 – Day 4 – Tolmin, Slovenia

Wow, day four already?  Time flies when you’re at a bad ass metal fest, doesn’t it?

This early afternoon was kicked off by another band from Cyprus.  This one is Blynd, who sport a pretty straightforward death/thrash attack.  An attack that was quite well done – full of the sort of aggression one would expect from a band of this nature.  Love the lesser-known bands that manage to kick the crap out of you.  A perfect start!

Meta-stasis, a very interesting death metal group, took the stage not too long after Blynd finished up.  A very chaotic sort of approach, complete with a DJ providing samples, and outfits that made them look like painters.  Seriously.  It’s as if a bunch of employees from Sherwin Williams decided on their break, "Hey, let’s form a store band".  Outside of the interesting presentation, these guys had some decent chops and were as devastating as a pipe wrench to the skull.  A good presentation of some brutal death metal, to which was enjoyed more than anticipated.

Grabbing some much needed vitamin drinks (called Multi Sola – very tasty); we got to talking to a very cool Australian dude who was taking in four (!) festivals this summer.  This, Wacken, Party.San, and Summer Breeze.  What a whirlwind!  The lucky bastard.

SOLSTAFIR live @ Metaldays 2013
(Photo: Dan Barkasi)

This was all pre-Solstafir, the most known Icelandic metal band around.  Having seen them absolutely tear the ship down on Barge to Hell, a high-quality show was expected.  Their unique brand of progressive post-metal fit perfectly on this very hot and sunny day.  They galloped through their 40-minute slot and managed to put the sweaty crowd into frenzy.  Love these dudes and their very unique approach to songwriting.

Herfst, a Belgian blackened death five-piece, immediately followed on the second stage.  These fellows merge their two chosen styles almost seamlessly, and manage to put on an energetic and to the point sort of live show.  Not a ton of frills – just a lot of face smashing goodness.  Drawing heavily from their single full-length "Necrotica", Herfst’s live renditions of their recorded output definitely live up to said album’s high quality.

Having a short break, it was time to re-fuel and revel in the fact that I was missing the mind numbing Subway to Sally.  Aka, the Wacken house band.

THE ROTTED live @ Metaldays 2013
(Photo: Dan Barkasi)

Finally, it was time for The Rotted – formerly known as Gorerotted – to give us a dose of punk-ish death metal.  What does that mean?  Death metal with an ultra-angsty and fast-paced approach, with some punk riffage thrown in for good measure.  It’s a very good mix, and true to their punk inspirations, they’re a bit rough around the edges with their sound.  This is exactly what gives them their "charm", so to speak.  Lively with energy exploding like a rocket, The Rotted put on a hell of a show.  Sign me up again and again.

Back to the main stage for a big one for this guy – Leprous.  An ultra-progressive band from Norway, Leprous is just…Leprous.  They’re quite the eclectic band that has carved out their very own sound.  Heavy, melodic, operatic and just plain powerful all at once is the best I can do.  They also happen to be Ihsahn’s backing band, which is sort of a big deal.

The way it’s been going on the festival circuit is that Leprous plays about a half hour, and immediately is followed up for about an hour of Ihsahn.

The set was heavy on songs from their latest, "Coal", including standout tunes "Chronic" and "The Valley".  These guys have it, and I expect them to shoot up the ranks very quickly.  Easily one of the most passionate and bold shows of this entire festival.  They’re into what they’re doing, and it shows.  Incredible!

ANAAL NATHRAKH live @ Metaldays 2013
(Photo: Dan Barkasi)

After Leprous finished blowing my mind, it was off to watch one of – if not the – most aggressive band going.  That’s right – Anaal Nathrakh.

Having seen them once at Summer Breeze in 2012, their over the top insane stage show is one to behold.  They give it their all, and by the end of their sets, it’s surprising they’re not all collapsed in a heap.  Nothing short of that level occurred here at MetalDays.  One of the most devastating live shows I’ll ever see.  Chaotic and heavier than a boulder crushing Wile E. Coyote.  This band needs to be seen to be totally appreciated.  If the chance comes, do whatever possible to see them.  Thanks for a memorable set.  Stuff like this reminds me why I love metal so much.

After being annihilated by Anaal Nathrakh, it was back to the main stage for some Ihsahn.  The clash between Anaal Nathrakh was one of the most difficult to deal with, but at least I could catch the last half of Ihsahn.

IHSAHN live @ Metaldays 2013
(Photo: Dan Barkasi)

Ihsahn‘s solo work is very much an entity unto itself, being very progressive and even jazz oriented at times.  It’s also very ambient, complex and massively heavy all at once.  This fit the description for his live show, too.  This was my first time seeing him with Leprous as his backing band – it was different when I saw him at Wacken years ago, from what I remember – and they fit what he’s doing perfectly.  This was also one of the loudest sets of the festival, if not THE loudest.  So much presence and energy emanating from the stage, it was almost hypnotic.  Ihsahn remains one of the best, and the partnership with Leprous can only be good for all involved.

A brief stop at Lock Up for some seasoned death/grind?  Yes, please.  Unfortunately, only a few songs could be caught, but what was seen was the usual from this super group.  Tomas Lindberg, Shane Embury and co. know what they’re doing, and having seen them multiple times in the last few years, they’re still going strong.

ANNIHILATOR live @ Metaldays 2013
(Photo: Dan Barkasi)

The short Lock Up viewing was due to a rare treat – the Jeff Waters show!  That’s right; Annihilator is the band in question.  Seeing them on the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise was a huge deal, as they haven’t played in the USA in over 20 years.  Somehow, I doubt they ever play there.  Therefore, one must travel to see Jeff and his flashy red guitar.  Worth it?  Absolutely!  Jeff’s a showman, and always performs with a smile on his face.  This incarnation being the most stable lineup they’ve had in, well, forever, certainly helps with their on stage chemistry.  The band played an unsurprising set list, containing the songs you’d expect them to play, such as "King of the Kill", "Set the World on Fire", "The Fun Palace" and "Alison Hell".  If only they would play "Kraf Dinner".  Get on that!  It’s only one of the most fun songs ever written.  It should be a staple!  Staple, get it?  I kill me.  And get a guy to dress up as a box of it on stage.  Why the hell not?!

Continuing the thrash theme, it was time for an Onslaught.  I know, cheesy, but I have Kraf Dinner on my mind now.  The U.K. thrashers have been on fire since their re-formation in 2004, releasing two phenomenal albums and playing a ton of shows.  Having seen them once at Wacken – and being totally floored – seeing them again was well overdue.  Potent as ever, Onslaught blasted through their set and set off a few really feverish pits.  One of the most underrated thrash bands around today, more people need to check these guys out.  With a new album due this year, hopefully more chances will arise to catch them.

Unfortunately, the last few Onslaught songs had to be skipped, but there was good reason.

HYPOCRISY live @ Metaldays 2013
(Photo: Dan Barkasi)

Peter Tagtgren, aka the living corpse (just look at the guy), and his legendary death metal project Hypocrisy were about to tear up the main stage.  Plagued with work visa problems in North America – AGAIN – who knows when or if Hypocrisy ever makes it back to my shores.  Therefore, catching them here was even more of a priority.  A varied set is what was put forth, spanning their very early material as more of a straight death metal band to the newer, more melodic fare.  The couple of new tracks from their latest "End of Disclosure" sounded sharp, and the band’s stage presence was as imposing as ever.  Can’t get enough of these guys’ shows.  Who knows when the chance to see them again will arise?  But for this night, no denied visa application would stop them!  Not bad for a dead guy.

The tail end of the Enslaved show followed, and what a packed house!  One could barely move, but that’s the sort of audience these guy’s deserve.  The Norwegians have carved out quite the niche for themselves, and they’ve been gaining momentum the last couple of years on the backs of some stellar records.  Also, having seen them a TON of times in the last two years – as well as involving them in the whole Barge to Hell Fuck You Phill debacle (long story) – I’ve been growing fonder and fonder of them.  No disappointment here, as they pillaged through a range of tunes both new and old.  "As Fire Swept Clean the Earth" was the highlight, of which much neck strain resulted.

ICED EARTH live @ Metaldays 2013
(Photo: Dan Barkasi)

Legendary power thrashers Iced Earth strode onto the main stage after Enslaved finished up on the second stage.  I wasn’t going to miss a second of this.  Anybody that knows me well knows that Iced Earth is an all-time favorite for many reasons, some of which relate to their tunes helping me through some difficult times.  I’ll always have time for these dudes.  And every single major festival I’ve been to, they’ve been there.  Wacken, Summer Breeze, 70,000 Tons of Metal, and now MetalDays.  It’s fitting, and a theme that hopefully continues.

Kicking off with "Dystopia" and "Dark Saga", the show got going at a good pace.  The middle of the set had some slower material like "I Died for You", as well as a few tracks from the severely underrated "Horror Show" album, namely "Dracula" and "Prophecy".  They also brought a little girl on stage to sing a song, which was absolutely adorable.  Such a class act.  Finishing off with the heartfelt "Watching Over Me", and title track "Iced Earth", it was a perfect finish.  They even played "My Own Savior" after the crowd kept on chanting for more.  The kind of gig that only Iced Earth can do.

Sweden’s Shining closed out the second stage this evening.  Their music has always been interesting and well-done on album, but no chance has ever arisen to see them until now.  Having heard mixed reactions to their live shows before, there wasn’t a whole lot of expectation.  Unfortunately, no expectations ended up being the right level of anticipation.  Thus far, the absolute worst set of the festival (at least of what I’ve seen).  The sad part was that most of the band actually played relatively well.  The problem was vocalist and band leader Niklas Kvarforth.

Stumbling around the stage with a half empty bottle, his "performance" was that of a slurring alcoholic babbling on a street corner.  His voice sounded awful, and it was obvious he wasn’t all there.  What a joke.  The plan was to only catch the first four or so songs of Shining’s set due to a clash, and that’s about all that was tolerable.  Good riddance.

LEGION OF THE DAMNED live @ Metaldays 2013
(Photo: Dan Barkasi)

Finishing the night was the band that I wanted to see more than any other.  Being a fan of their previous incarnation, Occult, and being an even bigger fan since they changed their name, this band has been one I’ve been wanting to see since their inception.  That band is the death/thrash masters Legion of the Damned.

These guys manage to separate themselves from their peers, mostly due to their songwriting chops and memorable riffs.  Having seen a lot of videos of their live performances – especially their incredible live DVD – I was ramped up to see them destroy the stage.

The result?  The best band of the festival so far!  Wow!  Heavy and unrelenting, these dudes put on a fantastic stage show, and all of their songs come off just as imposingly as they do on album.  Highlights included "Werewolf Corpse" and the monstrous – and aptly named – "Legion of the Damned".  If you don’t know them, be ashamed, and rectify immediately.  What a show.  Hopefully, they can make their way to North America and do a full tour.  You know, instead of just Mexico!

Especially after the disappointment of Shining, the night couldn’t have ended better with Legion of the Damned slaughtering the audience with ease.  Back to the apartment for some sleep, and then, unfortunately, the last day of the festival.