After running / crawling up a hill in the morning, I grabbed some lunch and headed to the festival arena for what was without a doubt my busiest day.
The sun was shining strongly, and the bands today were guaranteed sweaty crowds… even before they took the stage! On the New Forces stage, I unfortunately missed Splinterbomb but did catch Warbeast Remains, arriving as the lead singer jumped into the crowd to sing the last song pausing only to lift a crowd surfer shoulder high and over the barrier.
Athiria and Orcus O Dis let loose more heavy material for their sets, but the highlight on the stage was with pirate metal band Storm Seeker. With a hurdy-gurdy and upright bass added to the traditional metal lineup, their sound was verging well into folk territory but what staggered me most (other than the utterly enthralling h-g player *swoon*) was the size of the crowd. I would estimate 300+, many of whom sat down and did the Alestorm “rowing a pirate ship” routine without even being asked by the band.
As far as the second stage was concerned, Harakiri For The Sky were the first band I caught as I arrived and they were doing a good job of keeping their big crowd pleased. Dekadent and Master were both also good, but the most fun was being had with grindcore lunatics Birdflesh. Their mixture of longer (2 minutes) and shorter (4 seconds) songs and an audience who’d left sanity in their tent made for an enjoyable half hour to watch.
The main stage today, though. Wow. The first band I saw were Absomvel from the UK. Who, and I’m sure they’re fine with being told this, were basically Motorhead in their 20s. Playing on the Lemmy stage, the band were clad in leather, bullet belts were on show and the lead singer had huge mutton chops and a Rickenbacker guitar. Importantly, they were good. Very good. They’re essentially doing for Motorhead what Airbourne are doing for AC/DC – keeping the sound alive, and paying tribute in the best way possible.
Monument continued the trend with their homage to Iron Maiden. Twin guitars, posing bassist, singer with London accent and several moves stolen right from the Bruce Dickinson book of “how to get the crowd going”. If they weren’t so good, they’d be a parody of themselves… but they were good. Better than good, in fact. Superb.
Another band on the perfect stage were Girlschool, a band with close ties to the classic Motorhead lineup. The ladies proved (as if there was anything to prove) that gender and age have nothing to do with one’s ability to rock. They were fun, professional, entertaining and as good live as I’ve ever seen them.
I skipped Alien Weaponry (second stage) and Obituary (main stage) as I needed dinner. The former are playing Bloodstock so we’ll see them there, and the latter we know will have been good. By the time I got back, Black Star Riders were rocking a huge crowd though I think ran on a bit – I’m not sure if they started late.
Band of the Week (tied with Alestorm) were up next with Hatebreed destroying everything for the better part of an hour. Again, the crowd certainly played their part in making this an incredible show. I love the style of crowdsurfing here, being held above head height and passed forward by many people. Great fun!
I was absolutely shattered after the show, so chose to enjoy the mighty Judas Priest from near the back of the arena, but that made the show no less enjoyable. Playing a selection of tracks from classic albums, each prefaced by the album’s sleeve appearing on the giant screen behind them, they were an exquisite choice for main headliner and undoubtedly the reason that the festival was busier today than at any other time this week.
“Painkiller” got the biggest roar when it finished than any other song, and it surprised me when – placed alongside their other material – how damn heavy the song is. Good grief. I’d really forgotten how much of a ramp up in terms of metal that whole album was.
We passed by Myrkur on the second stage, and walked down to the beach where some late night entertainment was being put on. With dancing “witches” and a bar open until 5am, there was no stopping the party. I headed off a little after three, but I know that three girls in my dorm didn’t come back until the sun was up!
Metal Days isn’t a festival where you just go to watch music. It’s over a week (if you arrive for the early opening) of partying, meeting new friends, sunbathing, swimming… It’s like a little township of metal.
Photos by Iain Purdie