Last week I posted the first part of my trip; the drive down from Manchester to Slovenia and the various ups and downs (both in terms of events and, y’know, altitude) that it involved. But why drive all the way to Slovenia? What madness could possibly have possessed us? Why not just fly, for Odin’s sake?
The answer, in short, is Metaldays.
Last year, my festival quota was filled by France’s Hellfest, but Metaldays is an entirely different beast.
First off, the sheer length of the thing; three days is one thing, but seven? It becomes the difference between a sprint and a marathon. Second off, the heat, since Slovenia regularly reaches 30+°C, and so by 8-9am sleeping in a tent becomes sleeping in an oven. Not exactly conducive to hangover sleep. In fact, from what I hear, it’s the heat that dictates the festival’s length; attempts to run a 3-day festival in the blazing sun resulted in a lot of people fainting in the heat. Solution: spread the bands out over a long time, and start the bands around 3-4pm.
The result is one of the nicest, most laid-back festivals ever. There aren’t many rock festivals where getting up early, having a proper breakfast, a shower, perhaps a walk into town, a few hours’ swimming and hanging out on the beach, and then catching every band on the bill is feasible – but Metaldays has all that and more.
Given that, the fact that the first two days had what I can only describe as biblical f*ckstorms, complete with constant lightning, rolling thunder, and rain and wind so hard they even took down the third stage, and you’d be forgiven for thinking I’d made some terrible mistake in choosing to go there – but the weather in the mountains is a fickle beast. An hour, maybe two, of torrential hammering rainfall, of lightning illuminating the skies and thunder loud enough to set off car alarms, and then all clear again. All sun, all shine, and back to hot.
And hell, to watch the clouds roll up the mountainsides, it was majestic.
The only miscalculation was to use a single-skin tent, that has done me well in France and the UK, but in those kind of hammering mountain storms? Well, even the best water resistant fabrics can only withstand a certain amount of water before they simply give up (otherwise they – and their occupants – wouldn’t be able to breathe, naturally), and in this case… yeah.
Luckily, the van was available to throw all the drenchables into, so my tent just needed mopping out and it was good to go for the night – though, in future, that’s gonna need replacing!
As for the van itself. Just having it there felt like decadence. We actually had a fridge to keep beer cold, and a place to charge phones! Luxury!
After the storms, we spent most of the day just relaxing on the beach by the river. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever been as prepared for anything in my entire life as some of those guys – and I’m looking primarily at the Germans and Austrians – are to hang around that river. Some of them brought soundsystems, parasols and beach shelters, giant novelty inflatables (a strange quirk of fate meant that Lidl stores across Europe were all selling giant unicorn inflatables for cheap – so the sight of a hundred metalheads riding inflatable unicorns down the river was inevitable), and one guy even brought a full sized accordion to play as he sat in his inflatable boat.
(Alright, I didn’t get any decent shots of the river, so here, have these official ones courtesy of Stipe Surać – yes, I am in one of his shots, and no, you can’t see it.)
As for the bands themselves? Honestly the one band I absolutely wanted to see were the mighty Iced Earth, who I’ve never managed to see since they come to the UK so infrequently (and almost exclusively London), as well as Doro, Equilibrium and Amon Amarth, among a fair few others. All of whom were, predictably, fantastic – and even those who I thought were a strange choice for Metaldays (Marilyn Manson, I’m looking at you) still put on entertaining shows.
I think the number one thing this festival will be remembered for, however, is the moment grim, kvult, black metal legend Abbath fell down a hill mid-set, live on the jumbotron.
At least his Motörhead tribute band are goddamn awesome.
For me, these kinds of festivals are as much about the bands that you don’t expect to see as the ones you do. I love seeing bands I’d never heard of before, and leaving as a fan. This year, that honour goes to Triosphere, Shotdown and Greybeards. Rock on, guys.
So that was that, a solid week after it had begun, Metaldays was over for another year. Goodbye Tolmin, I will most certainly be back.
Next stop (and next post): Italy!