Report by: Didrik
Pictures by: Katja Torkar
We woke up into day two with a surprising amount of sunny weather even though rain was predicted. Arriving at around 2 PM we caught most of the Fearancy show (but missed Speed Queen and Hellcrawler) on the underground stage, a melodeath band from Austria with a bit of a metalcore vibe that I really don’t have a lot to say about. The guys need some more on-stage mileage and a more interesting show to be remembered, as well as some more engaging songwriting. Next up, the Maltese Hemplifier took the stage and it was finally time for some diversity as the band plays a sort of stoner doom metal that felt really good after most of the bands so far being somewhere around death or thrash metal. They had no backdrop of their own so some fans lent them the Maltese flag that they brought with them. The underground stage had a very good sound much like the hangar stage the first day did. The area under it was very spacious and positioned next to the entrance, which meant quite a few people walked by and got to see whatever was happening at the time. There was also a bar right next to it with the most comfortable chairs that I definitely took quite an advantage of and probably could have slept in.
After a lunch break and skipping Morost who I’ve seen twice in the past two months, it was time for one of the two of my most anticipated bands on the underground stage across the whole festival. Terzij de Horde are a Dutch post-black metal band who are really putting themselves on the map, most recently with their 2022 release “In One of These I Am Your Enemy” and they definitely impressed live as well with a full sound and some very lovely desperation in the vocals of Joost Vervoort who even came down from the stage towards the end and knelt before the crowd, once again proving that post-bm/post metal bands in general just really know how to perform and create the right atmosphere. I definitely have to compliment the organisers as well here for recognising a smaller band that’s very likely going places and adding it to the lineup.
On the main stage, things have started off with Stellaris (Or Stellvris? I still can’t tell, actually), a Czech metalcore band that has a female vocalist. Sadly, that didn’t make them interesting for very long as, firstly, it’s metalcore and secondly they didn’t sound all that great. The vocals were quite frontal for once on the main stage, but her highs were definitely sounding a bit too screechy – whether that was again poor mixing or her poor technique I’m not quite sure in this case. Next up though, was something pretty special, and that was the first of a few crossover thrash bands we’ve seen this week – Insanity Alert. What can I even say about the insanity that they brought that will sum up this band? Firstly, the name is absolutely apt, this band is utterly deranged. A fan brought a cardboard sign saying “Heavy Kevy for President” and, honestly, I’d vote for him. Heavy Kevy is the band’s vocalist and he’s a man, probably in his 40s, dressed like a skater boy which just adds to the ridiculousness of this band. With their songs mostly lasting around one minute, they had a fitting sign that said “Alles kaputt in einer Minut” while the band kept throwing signs into the crowd with various lovely messages such as “fuck this shit,” “all mosh, no brain” and, of course, my favourite “vse je u kurcu,” which can be roughly translated as “everything’s fucked up.” Heavy Kevy also went on to tell us about how good drugs are and that Swedes are fascists while he’s Dutch – make of this what you will. With a few more crazy tracks like “I Come / I Fuck Shit Up / I Leave” which became one of the songs that was stuck in my head throughout the festival despite being ridiculously stupid. There’s more craziness I could talk about here, but I imagine you get the idea – Insanity Alert is a band you want at your festival. Or your wedding. You know, why the fuck not, have them at your funeral.
And now for something completely different. If day one was somewhat death metal themed, day two definitely had a black metal vibe and we started that off with Ellende, an Austrian atmospheric black metal band that has been making waves recently, especially with their latest release, “Ellenbogengesellschaft,” which you may just know as “the album with the boar.” The band has fantastic album covers in general and I encourage you to go check them out. Anyway, the Austrians showed up on stage in proper black metal attire, with corpse paint and an elaborate necklace made of bones on the vocalist’s chest. The floor was unsurprisingly a bit emptier for them, but Ellende started with “Atemzug” and quickly lulled the audience into a sort of a meditative state with its softness before continuing with their most well-known track, “Ballade auf den Tod.” The vocals were a bit undermixed again, while the bass drum was turned up way too much and I could feel it in my chest, which was, as you can imagine, rather frustrating. As the band was finishing their set I found myself wandering off, looking at the trees and thinking how fitting it is for them to play in such a natural location. But all of this was just a prelude to my personal highlight of the entire week.
KANONENFIEBER! The incoming rain was looming, which meant I took the 15-minute long break to quickly run to the car and get my hoodie and just as I returned the first notes from tape were already being played and along them, the first rain drops fell. As the speech from the German emperor Wilhelm II sounded from tape the lads broke into the “Die Feuertaufe” and then the furious “Dicke Bertha” with its haunting and dramatic slowing down as it gets into the firing stage and the deafening silence is disturbed only by the descriptive Schuss. Blitz. Knall. Even though I was getting as wet as a manatee I didn’t care, my only worry was that the show might be in danger of getting cancelled, but as you can now already see that didn’t happen. Soon the setlist got us to “Grabenlieder,” another highlight before the eventual peak, in which the band’s vocalist, Noise, imitates a machine gun with his hands while the drums and guitars genuinely sound like shots are being fired. Winter was descending slowly upon the stage as two spruce trees were brought on and fake snow machines were turned on, indicating “Füsilier I” and Füsilier II” were approaching. Now, if you don’t know the stories behind these two songs I highly encourage you to do some research and that will absolutely add layers to these tracks and possibly move you to tears. Noise’s performance on stage is fantastic as he acts out the dying moments in the freezing cold in Poland, showing a photo of his family (it’s actually a photo of the band that he later threw to me) to his comrade before kissing it goodbye. Kanonenfieber is the perfect package of pummeling blackened death metal/meloblack with an extremely polished live performance, both musically and theatrically while all the members having their faces covered works really well, indicating they’re everyman in the war. The war so great we wouldn’t need another war. Well, that didn’t turn out to be quite true, but under Tolmin’s rain on that Wednesday evening, on the soil that has seen many a horror of WW I; and with Noise changing his dark facial covering to a mask of death for the final song it seemed as if the memories of century-old horrors are still well alive. Soča, however, did not flow red that night, and let us hope it never will again.
Because I was, as I said before, wet as a sea lion, we had to skip Within Destruction and go dry off in the car and have some dinner as well to replenish our strengths for the next highlight of the festival – the Finnish troll party that is Finntroll. I’ve seen the Finns in Ljubljana back in November and left a tiny bit disappointed, but as it turns out the band really benefits from having a bigger stage to move around more. Now, even though I spoke to Vreth about this some time before, the band did not arrive on stage in bikinis, which was a massive letdown, but as they started with “Att Döda Med En Sten” all was forgiven and the party began. This definitely made me realise I’d love to see some more folky bands; not to mention there wasn’t a single power metal band all week and only one truly progressive metal band. I have to mention the sound mixing a bit again, Vreth’s static mic was barely audible while the other one was fairly okay, and while that wasn’t ideal it didn’t stop us from headbanging and being quite loud for the Finns. It was one of the few moments, however, that I did wish there would have been a few more people around me for a better atmosphere as even though the number of visitors was approaching 2000 they were getting lost in the fairly big main stage floor area. Finntroll, of course, couldn’t do without their number one hit, “Trollhammaren” that got people moving the most and chanting along before they finished with some of my favourites such “Skogsdotter” and “Midvinterdraken.”
Exhausted from the dancing and the long day we retreated to the benches for a short while as 1349 were setting up for the last show of the day. The Norwegians are generally a bit too 2nd wave, for me, musically, but I do usually enjoy almost any sort of black metal live so I was looking forward to them as well. It quickly became apparent, though, that their sound was just awful and the drums were vastly dominating over everything else as well the sound just being generally too loud. As we moved backwards to somewhere in the middle between the stage and the mixing table there was only a slight improvement and given that the show was just not enjoyable we left with about half of their set being left to play. Funnily enough, the sound was a lot better after leaving the festival grounds, but sadly this was by far the worst show of the festival (and this is in no way an indicator of the band’s skill or talent) that left me wondering just what exactly the sound crew was doing.