Dear Readers of Metal Overload,

I will tell you about my stay in the heart of Slovenia, in the Tolmin’s valley ! This is where the Metaldays take place. If you like metal, beer, sun, nature, water at 10 degrees and inflatable unicorns, this article is for you!

On Monday, our arrival is marked by a long walk under a blazing sun (which will last the whole stay). The campsite is huge and spaced, but contains only two unfortunate trees. That’s why the surrounding woods are colonized by tents!

Travelling with another girl, we decide to look for the campsite reserved for girls. But we realized, after four enquiries to the guards, that they don’t know where it was. Is this campsite non-existent? Tired, and overwhelmed by this 35 degrees, we resign ourselves to pitching our tent in a random place.

At 8pm, we hear While She Sleeps from the Soca River, which runs along the whole festival. 11 p.m. already: Arch Enemy sounds. A nostalgic fan of the time when Angela Gossow was singing, the show leaves me with an impression of unfinished business. No big stage presence, no great interaction. And in the eyes of the musicians, no trace of pleasure or fun. Michael Amott especially, looked worn, off … holding his guitar painfully. In addition, there are many rhythmic inaccuracies. Earlier in the day, the band cancelled their signing session at the Metaldays, at the last minute and without an explanation.

The next day, I am awakened by an overwhelming heat that slowly comes into my tent, which I decided to steer northward. Taken from the bed (or rather the air mattress) at 7:30, I decide to taste the joys of swimming in the clear water of the Soca. The banks of the river make the temperature drop. The water of the two nearby rivers (Soca and Tolminka) does not exceed 10°C. A bit of courage, and here we are, in the middle of inflatable unicorns.

The Metaldays 2019, a unique festival in Slovenia's heart
Soca river

We decide to eat pizza. 4€ per slice near the main stage, 8 the whole pizza near the second scene. The choice is quickly made. This homemade pizza will keep us fresh all day long.

In the mid-afternoon, I decided to attend the concert of the compatriots of Reject the Sickness. I didn’t know at all the music of the band formed in 2010,so I approach the stage, a little bit hesitant. My ears leave more than satisfied, nourished by a heavy and melodic sound with thrash accents. Guy Vercruysse’s voice reminds me a lot Jean-Philippe Sonnet, singer of Exuviated (still Belgian).

On the main stage, the frontwoman of Infected Rain attracts us instantly. The band offers an uncompromising and demanding metalcore, very pleasant to listen to.

The highly anticipated Rise Of The Northstar concert will follow at 8 p.m. Immediately, brutal violence sets in, both on stage and in the audience. The French have managed to create music like no other, with codes of their own, and this originality is also felt in the show, very impressive.

The Metaldays 2019, a unique festival in Slovenia's heart

Soon after, without knowing what to expect, I went to the concert of Architects. I didn’t know their music, but everyone around me advised me to go and see them. After 1:20, the result is clear: even if their music did not attract me, their show was colorful in every aspect. Negative point : the singer is uncharismatic, and it looks like he’s going to spit out a lung every note. Yet a fan of growl, I wonder why the band does not resort more to a clear voice, which would add something to a style already very melodic but quite indefinable, combining metalcore, post-hardcore and deathcore. Given the impressive set of lights, to attend a concert of these English guys, it is better not to be epileptic. In summary, during their concert, my whole body is taken by the bass and the technicality of the drummer.

The Metaldays 2019, a unique festival in Slovenia's heart
Architects on the main stage

Day 3 at Metaldays. It’s a rough wake-up call. Taking a terrible neck ailment (it will teach me to headbang), I decide to go explore the area of massages, and discover with dread the price of the activity: 15 euros for ten minutes, 40 euros per thirty minutes. At this price, I still prefer not to headbang. The same is true for the long-awaited axe-throwing tournament: 12.5 euros per hour.

I step back and decide to settle to rest in the sun. Of course, like 99% of the people here, I will leave with sunburns. The afternoon is going on at a phenomenal rate. I look at Kalmah and Kvelertak on the main stage, and get nothing out of it. Both groups leave me marble. They are neither exceptional nor bad …

As I sit on the huge embankment bordering the main stage, I attend the conert of Rotting Christ from a different perspective. An indescribable energy emerges on the plain, in what is akin to a black mass. Despite this dark aspect, the singer interacts a lot with the audience during a complete show incorporating pyrotechnic effects. I didn’t expect much, and I’m heading back to my tent having taken a slap! If, as some people think, metal is the music of the devil; then Rotting Christ is the devil himself! The concert is already over, and I have not seen it pass.

Thirty minutes later, I’m back in the same place. Following up after such an atmosphere with a band like Dream Theater can seem risky, even strange. Already present at the 2015 edition, the five musicians are back in force in the heart of the Tolmin Valley. The show begins, and is immediately breathtaking, with musicians who are obviously having fun. The drummer, Mike Mangini, makes his drums sound and “groove”, being a full-fledged pillar of a technical and sought-after music. It will convince even the most fervent followers of the former drummer, Mike Portnoy.

In this concert, nothing boring, each piece being radically different from the previous one. When the first notes of “Illumination Theory” sound, my belly rises, and the emotion overwhelms me. A thin rain falls on thousands of raised hands, swaying from left to right, and a few drops, like it or not, trickle down my face.

Dream Theater is often criticized for taking the “big head.” You can’t see that on stage. And I would add that, when people reached such a level of osmosis between musicians, and such technical perfection, a bit of pretension is forgivable.

The Metaldays 2019, a unique festival in Slovenia's heart

Day 4. Today, I’m determined to discover new bands. So I sit comfortably in front of the New Forces stage.

The afternoon begins with the French of Lurking, who produce a powerful and precise melodic death metal. The promising band came to defend their album, Betrayed. The band is inspired by the world of Lovecraft and managed to attract a certain audience, the sun having not prevented the curious from gathering.

Immortal Shadow continues with an unconvincing blackened death. The band reminds me of a “Dark Funeral” discount and technically unfinished. I’m not going to try to see them again.

This was followed by the Slovenians of Captain Morgan’s Revenge, who came to defend a melodic and heavy hard rock with a very clear punk influence. An unpretentious but convincing concert, then.

I travel to the main stage to attend the Bloodshot Dawn concert, and I don’t find anything exceptional. After 30 difficult minutes, the band leaves the impression of playing music too technical for them. Although the second part of the set is a little more energetic and melodic, and the band has an excellent solo guitarist, Bloodshot Dawn is a death band as there are thousands. A little later, when I move to the second stage, located in the middle of the woods, I will see a much more controlled death metal from Skeletal Remains.

I sacrifice Soilwork and Hypocrisy, telling myself that I can see them again whenever I want.

Liquid Graveyard, who follow Skeletal Remains on the same stage, are well developed, offering a square and measured progressive death metal, with grindcore influences. You can see right away that they know what they are doing, but not overdoing it.

On the New Forces stage, Swarm of Serpents transcends me with a controlled, precise and powerful black metal. I’ll be happy to see them again.

The long-awaited concert of the mythical Ghaal arrives, with its formation, a term that makes sense, since Ghaal puts himself enormously forward, leaving his musicians (good otherwise) aside. Ghaals Wyrd will finally offer a monolithic and cold show, both in terms of music and interaction with the audience. One thing touches my mind: the quasi-religious silence shown by the public. Like if this great figure of black metal had nothing to prove, nothing more to do, except to be listen to wisely. I do not agree: a group, an artist, to deserve its audience, must seek to renew itself, to prove to him that he knows that he is there and that he is grateful for his presence. On July 26, 2019, Ghaal seemed tired, worn out, disillusioned. Maybe I was expecting too much when I went into the woods that night… I was disappointed because I thought that seeing black metal in this landscape would add a certain added value. First of all, it was not the case, but the luminous effects, which could (and should) have produced a dark and intimate setting, turned into effects worthy of a techno concert, with great strobes. My exhausted eyes will prevent me from seeing the end of this concert that I had been waiting for so much …

Slightly tired from the short night I just faced, I decided to drag myself to the main stage, telling myself that the symphonic black metal band that was about to start deserved to be given a chance. I’m going to pick up a drink. I chose a “Sex on the beach”. I sit far away enough from the stage, when suddenly the first notes of Winterhorde ring out. Immediately catched by the energy and complex sound of the group, I come forward. Despite the thirty people around me, the atmosphere is there. The audience gradually flocks, attracted by the melodious sound enriched by a violin and a keyboard. Both types of voices (clear and growl) add a thickness to an already rich sound. All musicians have a good stage presence. I don’t see the half-hour. As you will have understood, Winterhorde is for me no more than the revelation of this edition!

The Metaldays 2019, a unique festival in Slovenia's heart
Winterhorde on the main stage

On the way to the beach, I go down to the smallest stage and come across Desdemonia, a Luxembourg death metal band. With a music without fuss and good riffs, the band seems promising!

Korpiklaani opens the evening on the main stage. True to form, they offer a fun but basic folk metal, accessible. The storm is getting closer and, in the middle of the concert, it’s the blackout. The audience screams and demands the band. The set ends quickly, with the band stringing together its best-known tracks.

Dimmu Borgir follows 20 minutes late. I must admit that I did not go to the plain of the main stage to attend, having been very disappointed with their concert at the “Ancienne Belgique” in December 2018. Nostalgic for what I might call the “old Dimmu Borgir”, that is, until the album Abrahadabra (2010), I feared being disappointed again.

That’s it, the day of departure has come. The rain is getting stronger and stronger, like if it was to force festival-goers to go home. My only regret is not having seen Alien Weaponry and In The Woods, both of which got excellent feedback.

But one thing is certain: after tasting the full experience of this festival, we have only one desire: to go back!

Metaldays in summary :

 

This festival could be summed up in the term “Metal Holidays”, combining nature and music in a beautiful landscape. More than a festival, it’s an experience.

Hearing a group while swimming in clear blue water is rather nice.

The surrounding area offers many activities: kayaking, paragliding, Tolmin gorges or the Kobarid Slap Kojzac waterfall.

Fresh water is available throughout the festival, and the toilets are much cleaner than elsewhere. Fast food stalls and bars are very reasonably priced, always in comparison with other festivals.

About the alternation of the bands on the three stages, one thing I like: never follow two concerts of the same kind on the same stage. If I were to blame the programming, I would say that this year was heavily focused on death metal. With Testament headlining for 2020, one can reasonably think that the festival is about to take a thrash turn. The sound is excellent on all three stages.

Metaldays are a unique experience, to live at least once in a lifetime. Warning: following a road project, 2020 will be the last edition of the festival in Tolmin. All that remains is to hope that this “metal paradise” will not become bigger by relocating, in which case it risks losing this intimate and family aspect that makes all its charm. Indeed, it is not uncommon to see children, sometimes young, frolicking among festival-goers.

Click here to see the aftermovie <– !