So Metal Days is advertised as being on July 22-28 this year. However, they open early (from the 18th) for those wanting to camp up and start the party. Music-wise, the first stage actually kicked into action on the 21st so, of course, we had to be there. Even though it was an additional €20!
The weather… well, it was lovely when I arrived in Tolmin at around 4pm. However, by 5pm it was starting to get a little dull. And windy. And was that thunder? Thankfully the worst seemed to be rolling over the hills to the east, well away from us. Until I reached the box office to get my wristband when raindrops the size of marbles began to hurtle out of the sky. By the time I had my bright orange band on, I was drenched.
As such, I missed almost every single note of Hangar 55. I arrived at the New Forces stage just in time to hear them thank the crowd and disappear. Bugger. As I waited for the next act, I got a tap on the shoulder and a lilting Irish “top o’ the mornin'” from Ten Ton Slug’s guitarist Sean Sullivan. OK, he actually just said “hi there”, but still with the Irish bit.
So, the bands I did see… Dying Gorgeous Lies weren’t bad, though let down a little by the sound. Lisa Minet’s vocals were gruff and scary, but Marcel’s lead guitar was a little too choppy. Also, on occasion, Jay’na’s keyboards crashed the mix pretty badly. A shame as they were used to great effect elsewhere, but just weren’t working when they were given a lead position.
Minor sound criticisms aside, the band did well and left a crowd wanting more. Worthy of their half hour slot.
Valuk were up next, robed in black and covering their faces for the entire show. This whole black metal thing doesn’t work for me on a “listen to it at home” level, but I’ve been very impressed by many of the acts live. Valuk continued that pattern with a great show. Intense, and obviously well-practised, their set flew past in a flurry of buzzing riffs and blast beats.
As darkness really started to fall (as well as a little more rain), Austria’s Fearancy let loose with some groovy metal, with an edge of hardcore in the bouncy riffs. They’d definitely brought some fans with them (including one I had arrived with from Trieste) and it wasn’t difficult to see why they were liked so much by the time they got into their stride. Their bassist’s lovely “Bumblebee” guitar really stood out, and the sound guys had everything nailed by this point.
I managed to snag a CD at the end of their set and I’ll ensure it gets a listen once I get home and have a CD player to hand (this may be a couple of weeks…).
Next up were the band I had been waiting for, Galway’s Ten Ton Slug. And bloody hell did they blow away all expectations. Despite running as a four piece with a borrowed bassist (their second guitarist’s last gig was their appearance at Bloodstock last year), they absolutely creamed (slimed?) the place. Impromptu circle pits erupted, violence abounded, heads banged and horns were raised. The Slug was out to take no prisoners and it absorbed all with its metal power. As they left the stage, many voices were shouting their name (or a close approximation: “Ten Ton Sludge”), and I’m sure they’d have done an encore if they could.
Also, top marks to singer Ronan who caught a bra thrown at him by a pretty young lady sitting on someone’s shoulders… then accidentally dropped it down the front of the stage behind some speakers so couldn’t return it. Sadly this meant she spent the next 20 minutes flashing everyone until the end of the show when he went to great pains to get the bra back to her!
The final act of the night came from Switzerland and, if anything, managed to top even TTS’s performance. Voice of Ruin walked on stage and just BAM started. No messing about, no slow intros, no nothing. Just insane, crushing metal which lasted half an hour.
With a well-polished set, even including some synchronised pirouettes, this is a band who have obviously rehearsed like hell for a long time. Again, the crowd went mad and I’m sure more than a couple of people have staggered to their tents with new bruises and battle scars.
In all, a short but enjoyable start to a week of metal mayhem in Slovenia. The food and drink isn’t as cheap as I’d hoped, but still cheaper than at UK festivals, and the “bacon burger” I had was so big it was verging on being value for money. It was certainly bloody tasty.