Report by: Didrik
Pictures by: Katja Torkar
Woo, it’s the last day! But also, oh no, it’s the last day. Those were my main two feelings going into Friday, the former felt mostly by my legs, while the rest of me would be happy continuing for a few more days. I wasn’t planning on coming at noon, but the previous day the Locomuerte lads have done a lot of shameless whoring, passing out stickers as well as taping their little posters all around the festival and I’m happy to reward some good marketing skills. As we arrived just a few minutes before their set the guys were getting ready on stage while the audience was definitely a bit more numerous than it was in previous days at the underground stage. The French four-piece plays crossover thrash, which they also refer to as chicano style and I was quickly happy that I arrived earlier and attended their show. They soon had a proper circle pit going (and remember, this is at noon on the last day), even including a woman in a wheelchair, while on the other side of the fence local cyclists were stopping and observing the madness on the stage and in the crowd. Out of the three crossover thrash bands Locomuerte were actually probably my favourite for reasons I can’t quite rationally explain, it was just simply fun. The vocalist’s mic had a machete handle that’s just ridiculous to see, but I absolutely love it and the entire band was extremely energetic and just delighted to be on stage. Their lack of stage experience was apparent at times as they struggled to communicate a bit, but it oddly made sense in their crazy style and overall the band was one of the better surprises of the entire festival as well as somewhat of a meme as it became a joke to yell “LOCOMUERTE” or “CABRONES” at the band members whenever I would see them around the festival grounds.
It was again time for a trip to the beach and a quick dip in the river, which was by now back to its lovely green after a few rainless days. The river depth stays at roughly about 1m quite a bit towards the centre of the actual river flow, which means you’re free to walk around quite a bit without worrying about dying in case you’re not a very strong swimmer or just don’t feel very comfortable with deeper waters. Since it was the nicest day yet quite a few tourists could be seen in canoes and on the opposite river bank while metalheads sporadically came down the river in all sorts of floaties and, often, a beer in hand. After this little excursion, we were back at the underground stage, having skipped Hope Erodes, and being ready for the local thrash metal band, Eruption. As one of the more active local bands in recent times, who’ve also been getting some international mentions, I was quite happy to be able to finally see them and they certainly didn’t disappoint. The band is active and engaging on stage, with their vocalist being particularly lively. I was watching the show from those nice comfy chairs again and, while thrash is certainly not my subgenre, generally nodding my head along contently as the band handed out one of the vinyls to a lucky fan and later did the same with one of their shirts. Musically, the vocals move into power metal territory at times, which I found welcome, if surprising, but that definitely showcases Klemen Kalin’s vocal skill. After the show, I picked up the setlist and promised to return it at the next show which I hope happens soon because this is a band that’s definitely worth watching for a second time.
The rest of the underground stage that day didn’t really seem that interesting so it was time to go get some food and then back to the beach where we met the lads from Bølzer who’d just arrived at the festival for their show later in the evening and they quickly jumped into the water with a beer and stayed in it for quite a while. This meant missing Penitenziagite, Omophagia and In Other Climes, although I did catch a song of the last band and was immediately turned off by an aggressive-looking, shirtless man on stage yelling metalcorey things. Could you tell by now I really don’t like metalcore? Anyway, on the main stage, the British Damim was getting ready, and as they started literally not a single person was anywhere under the stage, which was pretty sad to see and I can imagine the band members didn’t feel too great. Still, some people showed up after a song or two, although it was probably by far the emptiest the main stage has been for any of the bands. The decision to put such an unknown band on the main stage is questionable and doesn’t really do any favours for anyone, while the sound didn’t either as it was just extremely loud, even on the benches, which were some 30-40m removed from the stage. I got the feeling the Brits really wanted to perform well and present their (slightly proggy!) death metal, but had a rather mixed success with the few attempts from the vocalist to engage the public being largely ignored and it all just got a bit awkward. I do wish I could say better things about them, but this was a fairly unfortunate situation for them and probably not a show they’ll remember all that fondly.
Some more goregrind in the style of Guineapig followed and I largely ignored that as well, but was back for the Dutch Severe Torture, a band that’s now over 25 years old and is so clearly heavily inspired by Cannibal Corpse in their sound and even in their backdrop, which had some fittingly disgusting artwork of humanoid figures playing with guts (or something like that) on it. Soundwise, the band didn’t particularly impress, but I can’t really say anything bad about them either. The vocalist’s growls are very high, which is actually pretty impressive while the guitars just pummel you into oblivion. Some lads clearly enjoyed the band very much and created a wall of headbanging and I admit I was slowly coming around to the idea of headbanging more actively myself. Overall, Friday’s lineup was probably the weakest out of all days and this was reflected in the fairly poor attendance under the stage as well.
Next up, was the German Holy Moses, fronted by Sabina Classen who’ll be turning 60 this year and you can go check out the band’s last show on her birthday in Hamburg in December. The band started in 1980 and as a writer, I can’t do maths, but I’m pretty sure that’s roughly a lot of years so their coming retirement is definitely a deserved one. However, I can’t say the band was particularly interesting on stage and Classen is vocally quite poor, although in some ways that fits the band’s thrashy style. She was rather active on stage though and worked hard to entertain the crowd who rewarded her with a circle pit for most of the show. If I’ve spoken about themes for the day, Friday definitely had a thrash theme and Holy Moses kicked it off with decent success and while this isn’t a band I’m at all invested in, congratulations are in order for their 43-years-long (hey, look, I did the maths) career.
Earlier I mentioned meeting Bølzer on the beach and the Swiss duo was also the only band I had high expectations for on the last day. Equipping the stage with what looked like a head of Greek statue on their backdrop and some Doric (I think? I’m admittedly not an ancient Greek historian) pillars on both sides, this already looked promising. Bølzer straddles the line between black and death metal and tames both, combining them with powerful vocals that obey no rules and range from growls to these oddly muffled cleans that feel like screams from the Greek underground. The band’s vocalist/guitarist, that goes simply by KzR, takes center stage and commands the stage with his charisma alone. I talk a lot about bands having to do more on stage, but here everything was done just by the duo’s mere presence. During their set I found myself just closing my eyes numerous times and drifting off, somewhere deep within myself, wondering how such extreme music can also be so relaxing and calming. If you were given a description of this band without knowing anything about them you’d be forgiven for thinking it could very well be a disaster, but the Swiss duo truly are anything but; and they left the audience entranced and wanting more while I’m personally very much looking forward to getting a chance to see them for a second time. A fantastic booking and a great time slot for the band that truly spiced up the last day of the festival.
Only two more bands to go before we’re done (if you’ve read everything up to now you deserve a biscuit) and the penultimate band to take the stage was the Norwegian blackened thrash metal band, Aura Noir. Here we have a similar situation we had with Ancient a day before and that is that I find the band just unlistenable at home, but, as we know, black metal live is usually great and so I was optimistic and in a great mood after Bølzer, which meant I was quickly back amidst the audience. Unsurprisingly, I was proven right and Aura Noir were really fun as well, a sort of black metal band you just can’t be still to and I definitely wasn’t, even though my legs wanted me to be. The band played a decent amount of songs from the “Black Thrash Attack” album from 1996 that people seemed to enjoy quite a lot. I don’t really have a lot more to say about them, except that it was generally a good time and if you’re someone who enjoys black metal live it’s a safe bet you’ll find this enjoyable.
Finally, as the hour was nearing midnight, the festival’s main headliner was taking the stage. Sodom is not a name I really need to introduce as they’re probably a familiar name even if you’re not very into metal and don’t follow thrash. Personally, I don’t really think they deserved the spot of the main headliner as there were some similarly sized bands at the festival, some that are also more popular presently and have a larger production on stage. Still, Friday was clearly a day for thrashers and a decent amount of battle jackets could be observed with people wearing one-day bracelets who’ve probably mostly come for the German legends. According to the setlist, the band started with “Silence is Consent,” and we’ll just ignore the obvious rapey insinuation of the song and focus instead on their actual music. The band plays mostly fine, but I’d say they rely on their past fame a lot more than their actual entertaining or fascinating show these days. Lucky for them, thrash metal fans are known to live in the past just a tiny bit (okay, it’s often about 20-30 years) and therefore eat them up. As one of the band members took off his shirt the girls next to me yelled “Show the titties,” and I can happily confirm the titties were indeed shown and stayed that way all until the end when the band played “Ausgebombt” and “Bombenhagel” and the band was rewarded with a pretty loud applause. Overall, I wouldn’t say Sodom particularly impressed, and left me mostly ambivalent, but I’m sure some people had their childhood dreams of seeing the band fulfilled.
Right, that’s all the bands and now it’s probably time for some closing thoughts. Firstly, I want to say this has been a fantastic week, and don’t let my slight disappointment over certain bands or the complaints about the sound dissuade you from that. I have nothing but complimentary words for the organising team who’ve made sure everything ran smoothly, as well as the attendees who were all generally in a positive mood and I’ve not seen an incident all week, nor any inappropriate behaviour from anyone and it delights me that I’m able to say that. Of course, there was only about 2000 people, which also means it all stayed fairly intimate and it was easy to see the same people around you each day, which strengthens the feeling of a metal family. I have no doubt that number will double come next year which means the metal tradition of Tolmin should stay alive and well as promised. Tolminator 2024 already has some great bands confirmed on its lineup such as Primordial, Gaerea, Harakiri for the Sky, Tankard, Suffocation,… and I can’t wait to go back and hopefully be allowed to pretend I’m a real journalist again.