You might expect someone to be tired after three days of heavy partying, but the excitement kept me wide awake despite the lack of sleep due to partying at the beach the night before. In terms of schedule, the penultimate day of this year’s edition of MetalDays was rich with bands I’ve never seen and those I was dying to see. We arrived at the site early, before any bands begun playing to set up camp and see what was ahead.
The first to take the Ian Fraser Lemmy Kilmister stage were the guys from the French melodic death metal act Nemost. Hailed as the future of melodeath, these guys were formed back in 2005 and have released two albums, The Shadow’s Trail and As the Ocean Burns. We managed to catch the first part of their show and it seems the crowd loved their mix of technicality and melody coupled with the raw death metal aggression. After the show, the band went down to mix with the audience, take pictures and just chat as the stage was getting ready for the next performance.
And the next performance was a real treat indeed. The Canadian heavy metal act Kobra and the Lotus is certainly one of the most interesting acts in the scene if their rapidly increasing popularity is any merit. Fronted by the beautiful Kobra Paige, the band promoted their recent release “Prevail I”, the first of two to come out this year. The band opened the set with the opening track “Gotham” which has become a huge hit before the album even hit the shelves thanks to numerous YouTube performance videos.
Throughout the show the band maintained a constant connection with the audience, acknowledging the wildest ones and those who sung every song word for word. The band is so well-played, both in terms of music and stage appearance that you would never guess that they were formed less than 10 years ago. The band bid us farewell with “50 Shades of Evil” and invited the fans to drop by their signing session later.
Due to Architects cancelling their show, to the disappointment of many, the schedule was slightly changed and tumbled around, and the next to play the main stage was the Andora-based progressive death metal act Persefone. Five guys hit the stage and started playing, making us wonder whatever happened to the singer. And soon enough, Marc Martins Pia ran out onto the stage and started growling to the tune. His unstoppable energy got the crowd going, as he ran down to meet them face to face during their second song. The band’s performance was tight, precise and energetic, but let’s be honest, with any band big enough to hit the main stage of MetalDays, this should go without saying. However, the chemistry between the band members music-wise is truly remarkable.
Sometimes compromises have to be made and we left their set a bit early, just in time to catch the legendary NWOBHM act Raven start their show. This power trio played to a full Boško Bursać Stage with a youtful energy that did well to hide their years. Armed with a headset microphone, the bassist and singer John Gallagher ran and goofed around the stage, animating the masses to mosh and encouraging them to have fun. Meanwhile, his brother Mark demonstrated his remarkable shredding abillities running around the stage as well. And while their drummer Joe Hasselvander wasn’t exactly in a position to run around the stage, his tight drumming was exercise enough. The band walked us through their rich career, playing songs that inspired many younger, renowned acts.
The schedule was pretty hectic, leaving us no time to rest. Instead, we went straight back to the main stage where Blues Pills were about to rock. I have to be honest that my knowledge about the band was limited. I only knew that they play some sort of vintage, Woodstock rock and had no idea what to expect. And while this is not far from the truth, I have to say that Blues Pills are not just another retro revival band.
And while a lot of their image and music are based on the 60’s and 70’s, there are a lot of modern elements enriching their sound. The complex, heavy drumming gives their hard rock, psychodelic foundation a heavier edge. Their lovely singer Elin Larsson was an unstopable bolt of energy, zooming barefoot all over the stage. Their energy got the crowd dancing, moving, jumpig and kissing, I had to doublechek this was still MetalDays and not Woodstock. It’s not hard to see how the band became so popular only six years after they were formed.
Missing out on a couple of their songs, I had to move on back to the Boško Bursać Stage, where a special band was rocking. You might find it surprising that a tribute band got such a good slot at a festival, but Bömbers is not a mere Motörhead tribute. As it happens, Bömbers stars none other than Olve Eikemo better known as Abbath, who we had the chance to see a day earlier. Well recovered from his spectacular fall that became an internet sensation in only a day, for this occasion Abbath was filling in for the late and legendary Lemmy Kilmister.
Their set was comprised mainly of the band’s greatest hits including “No Class”, “Iron Fist”, “Killed by Death” and “Ace of Spades”, as expected. I have to say that my overall impression was that Olve was enjoying being Lemmy more than being Abbath. And he was doing a mighty fine job of it. He managed to capture Lemmy’s voice and his stage presence down to every minute detail. The audience also enjoyed hearing all of these greatest hits, supporting the band loud and wild throughout the show.
After Bömbers finished their show the crowd went rushing to the main stage where the headliners Opeth were getting ready to perform. Shortly enough the rhythm section comprised of Martín Méndez and Martin “Axe” Axenrot along with keyboard player Joakim Svalberg hit the stage and started jamming. Mikael Åkerfeldt and Fredrik Åkesson soon followed, and the show was on. The band opened their set with the title track off of their latest album “Sorceress”, followed by the classic “Ghost of Perdition”. Taking a break after the tune, Åkerfeldt jokingly remarked that even though he sung in Bloodbath, they are not going to play any of their songs because he does not know them. Instead he announced they would be playing another “death metal evergreen” in the form of “Demon of the Fall”.
The band had, by far, the best sound on the entire festival, at least so far. Every instrument was clear in the mix and the music sounded like it was coming straight off the vinyl. But fate intervened and put both the band and their technicians on a test when Mikael’s pedal board was suddenly fried. What came next is close to 20 minutes of technicians trying to find and fix the issue, Mikael assuring the audience that these things happen and that they’re working on a solution and Fredrik jamming on his guitar to keep the audience entertained. Finally, Mikael borrowed a spare board from Fredrik and the show was on again. We may have lost a song or two, but what came next was completely worth it.
I often joke about catching the last train and seeing the band just before they released their infamous record “Heritage” which split their fan base in two. I’ve seen a couple of their shows on YouTube afterwards and was under the impression that the band was trying to renounce their legacy. Yesterday’s show proved that they are not renouncing it but fully embracing and expanding it. Yesterday’s performance was nothing short of perfect, an ear-candy in every sense of the word. Even Mikael’s growling technique has improved and his roars sound more powerful than ever. And believe me, there was plenty of roaring last night. Compared to Amon Amarth’s Cirque-du-Soleil-like show, Opeth’s performance looked like a rehearsal. But Opeth managed to convince me, the megalomaniac that I am, that sometimes less actually is more.
I couldn’t think of anyone more fit to perform after Opeth’s amazing show other than Iceland’s own Sólstafir. One of the shows I was looking forward to the most, these fellows delivered an incredible, emotional performance to a packed Boško Bursać Stage. The band’s hour-long set seemed to hit a chord with the audience, as the small stage sounded incredibly loud throughout the set. Even though Sólstafir are by no means a party band, the atmosphere was highly positive, their signature depressive sound acting like a negative emotion filter. During their last song, Addi Tryggvason went down into the crowd, holding hands with the excited audience as he sung through “Goddess of the Ages” before bidding the crowd farewell.
With only day left, I cannot help but already feel nostalgic and reluctant to leave wonderful Tolmin behind. However, with another packed day ahead I suspect I’ll have no time to think about that at all. Even though our adventure is almost over, there’s still a whole lot of amazing bands to see and enjoy.
Friday, bring it on!