Report: Tolminator Day 1

Report by: Didrik
Pictures by: Katja Torkar


The first edition of Tolminator was probably the most anticipated metal event in Slovenia in 2023 as everyone was curious how the some-20-year-old tradition of metal festivals in Tolmin will continue under a new name and new organisers. It’s fair to say not that many people in the local scene were too upset about Metaldays leaving and making way for this new beginning under the leadership of Dirty Skunks, local show organisers who are well known to anyone in Slovenia for their well-organised shows. 

After some uncertainty with the stormy weather and a tree apparently falling on at least one of the cars as well as the entrance to the camp being restricted by falling trees, there was a tiny bit of fear present in the air about as we first arrived at the festival grounds. The underground stage performances were moved to the hangar stage, which was originally planned for the after party, but as it was indoors it was definitely a good choice and a situation well handled.

Sadly, we weren’t there early enough to catch the Macedonian Slave Pit and the locals Britof, who I have seen three times before and they’ve always put on a good show. Therefore the first band playing just as we arrived was the local pornogrind band, Vulvathrone, and they immediately showed they really know how to put on a show. The band’s new vocalist, Lan Pahor, brings really good energy to the stage with some silly dance moves and a solid command of the stage while the guitarist Sašo Herman does most of the interacting with the crowd, often with utterly ridiculous and overly sexual, yet humourous, remarks. Vulvathrone is, honestly, a pretty awful band musically, but they are also awfully fun and that’s exactly why they’re well worth seeing and they even got the people to do a mini wall of death before ending their show.

After a quick walk around the site and seeing some fallen trees while chainsaws were running somewhere in the background it was already time for the next band – the Italian (even if they insist they’re from outer space) Vexovoid. The band presented six tracks in their allotted 30 minutes and did fairly well despite apparently having a stand-in vocalist as their regular frontman was unavailable. Playing a sort of proggy thrash with spacey/sci-fi themes is a fairly odd combination that the band chose for their music, but it works decently enough and I’m honestly glad someone is trying to do something interesting with thrash metal. Next up, was a band that seemed appealing due to their name – Panychida, and I expected somewhat theatrical black metal in the style of Batushka, but it turns out we got a fairly thrashy, general black metal band that I really wish would have some cool outfits to elevate their performance. The Czechs were a band that I expected a bit more from but ultimately didn’t really stick with me.

IMG_20230725_171212-01I decided to skip Mental Cruelty (core bands are generally going to be food breaks with me, sorry) and instead take the time to check out the festival grounds and have a quick walk to the rivers, which were still disgustingly filthy due to the storms and an abundance of rain before moving to the main stage where my first highlight of the festival was still performing their sound check – Baest. The Danes are an absolute beast (get it?) of a band and would have really deserved a later start, but on the other hand, it’s good to get going with a proper bang on the main stage as well. Even the workers transporting the portable toilets who drove close to the stage in a lorry started headbanging (albeit somewhat mockingly). However! Now we get to the sound. It was really solid in the hangar stage, but the main stage was off to a bad start. While Baest’s old school death metal relies on guitars and drums heavily, Simon Lindemann’s growls are a very integral part as well and sadly they were almost completely inaudible. Moving slightly more to the back didn’t really help either. Luckily, Baest are always very energetic and put on a great show and it was slightly sad to see that not that many people came to watch them. The sound was getting a bit better throughout the show, but the undermixing of the vocals continued to be a problem that slightly ruined an otherwise fantastic live band. 

More Scandinavian death metal followed, this time in the form of Demonical, a fairly unknown Swedish band, which, again, makes me wonder why Baest started before them. They clearly lack a bit of show mileage and their live performance wasn’t really quite as smooth and nowhere near as energetic while the vocalist seemed just a tiny bit awkward at times. Combined with the similar sound issues Baest had, Demonical won’t be a band many people will remember, although I did like their one Swedish song, “Välkommen Undergång.” Shortly after it was time for the first real party band of the festival and that’s the iconic Mexican Brujeria. They told us roughly 24 times that it’s their 30-year anniversary and while the band has three vocalists on stage,(a fourth one joined at the end) not one of them can actually sing. And it absolutely doesn’t matter. The band doesn’t even attempt to rely on any musicality, but instead simply goes crazy on stage and brings some really needed proper Mexican/Latino thrashy energy, which resulted in a near non-stop circle pit throughout their set that also included guys dressed as Aladdin and the blue Power Ranger. Of course, in true Brujeria fashion, there may or may not have been some illegal substances on stage at some point before the band descended into some of their bigger hits like “Marcha de Odio” and “Matando Gueros,” which actually sounded better live than they do on the record and got me chanting along, with the latter especially staying stuck in my head even to the next day.

As the Mexicans ended and darkness was slowly descending upon the grounds Lost Society was getting ready and quite clearly having some issues as their sound check was running well into their allotted time for the performance, meaning they started playing almost 20 minutes late, which eventually meant they had to cut almost half of their set. Still, the Finns brought generally good energy, even though they are quite an edgy, teenagey band that seems to still be finding itself and doesn’t really know where to go with their style and sound – for some reason their latest album just sounds like Linkin Park. Despite not personally really caring for them, I can’t deny they definitely convinced some people and the vocalist was really trying to entertain the crowd, even jumping down to the photo pit at the end and singing right in front of the first row. 

IMG_20230725_224846-01But then the skies were slowly becoming to blacken and everything we’d seen before would slowly fade away into history. Dave Hunt (Or V.I.T.R.I.O.L. as he’s officially known in the band) of Anaal Nathrakh took the stage along with the men hired for the live show and the sonic violence began. This was only the second show for the band since 2019, but there was absolutely no sign of any rustiness and the first highlight came quickly in the form of “Hold Your Children Close and Pray for Oblivion.”  Hunt’s theatrical and engaging live performance won me over very quickly and showed we were in for an hour of absolute nihilistic and misanthropic bliss. Continuing with “Libidinous (A Pig with Cocks in its Eyes)Anaal Nathrakh assaulted our ears further before descending into a series of older songs from their repertoire. I was quite worried about the vocals beforehand as I’ve seen some performances that weren’t really optimal but on that night Hunt was at his best, basically managing to mimic all the insane sounds he performs in the studio while also being aided by one of the guitarists who would sing a few lines here and there. As the rain started to fall and then strengthen a few people retreated under the big pavilion but most of us remained and Hunt thanked us and then even joined us under the rain by coming down to the photo pit which the roof of the stage doesn’t cover anymore. But the best was still to come – even if you’re not really familiar with the band and only heard it a few times the song you most probably know is “Forward!.” The piece is pure and absolute violence, in a sonic and literal way. My hands were on the fence that started moving under the collective strength of the crowd pushing it back and forth and while barely being aware of the surroundings I knew people are going crazy. For those three and a half minutes everything else ceased to exist – there was simply catharsis as we listened to a violent track describing the horror of trench warfare. Due to time constraints (largely because Hunt likes to speak quite a lot in his alluring English way between songs) the band almost didn’t perform their surprise addition to the setlist, which was a cover song, originally by The Specials,Man at C&A” before finishing with the titular track of their latest release, “Endarkenment,” which was one of the most important albums in metal in recent years. Anaal Nathrakh’s show was one I’ll remember for a really long time and I really hope they don’t disband or stop performing – and after that show, I really don’t think they will.


The rain wasn’t letting up as the stage was getting ready for Dying Fetus, but the Americans soon started anyway, and as the storm was continuing and the rainfall getting pretty extreme more and more people sought shelter under the big pavilion and watched from afar. The band played really well despite the unfortunate weather conditions and the few hardcore fans remaining clearly enjoyed themselves. Sadly, after about half of their set the rain was becoming too intense and the equipment was getting wet so the band had to stop their show and thus the first day ended on a slightly sad note. I stayed a bit more, hoping for the rain to calm down (it didn’t, really) before heading to the car with generally really positive experiences and getting some proper sleep in order to be ready for day two. 

Tolminator 2023


Didrik is lead content editor at Metal Exposure in addition to being a writer and contributor, and has been in music journalism since 2019. His main metal loves are prog, melodeath, and folk, particularly anything with Arabic rhythms. He's slightly obsessed with knowing lots of random trivia facts, and avidly follows many sports. He lives in Slovenia with his giant dog Thor.

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