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MetalCamp & MCF (SLO)

MetalCamp 2010
in Monday, 5 July 2010 at Soca River
by Yiannis Mitsakos

The promoters of MetalCamp use this short phrase to sum up what it’s all about: "Hell Over Paradise". I think whoever came up with this, hit the bull’s-eye. You see, chances are that unless you are Slovenian or a resident of one of the neighboring countries, you probably have no idea how beautiful this country is, like I did before visiting it. It’s like it was created straight out of Tolkien’s fantasy. Last year when I first visited it, I had to break every few meters to take a picture of something beautiful I’d never seen before. I could go on for pages about how pretty the scenery is, but you’re not reading this for a tourist guide and no words can describe this anyway.

MetalCamp takes place in Tolmin, at a site located between the rivers Tolminska and Soca. The concept, as its name implies, is to combine Metal and camping for almost a week. This year, the added bonus was the World Cup semi-finals and finals as well. Watching football (or soccer for those who think football is the game where you actually carry around the ball with your hands) with a big bunch of half drunk metalheads from all around Europe, is the best way you can watch any sports, hell, I’d even watch cricket like that.

Tolmin itself for the entire week, is transformed into a metal "infested" city, with metalheads hanging around the bars, restaurants and even supermarkets. Speaking of bars, the beer was around €2 and they always played something widely accepted like IRON MAIDEN or AC/DC. The times where I wished there was a town like this where I could spend my life were not few.

Our apartment was located in Poljubinj which is a couple kilometers away from the city. The reason why I mention it is because we could actually listen to the sound checks of the first days, so we figured out that the entire city had a clear hearing of what was going on.

The first day (July 5th) was just a kick start for people to get acquainted with the stages, the shops and the surrounding areas so there were only two local acts appearing on second stage, NEGLIGENCE and NOCTIFERIA. To be honest we just took a walk around the grounds early in the afternoon and spent the night at the garden of our apartment, chugging beers and listening to the bands playing (quite clearly and loud) from a distance. Surrounded by beautiful mountainous nature with grunts and metal riffs as the ambient sounds instead of birds twitting is my idea of Heaven.

One of the differences I noticed from last year was that a small part of the river was covered with gravel, a part where people were supposed to hang around while swimming. Two things about it; I didn’t like how the river was altered, that spot looked plain ugly. And secondly, you had to walk in the stream for a few meters, with the water just below the waist to get there. Add booze and the strong stream used for kayaking and the combination could be the reason why the big "Swim at your own risk" signpost was the first thing you saw when you reached the river. Thankfully, the superior balance due to the listening habits and wild head rotations of the average metalhead, averted such incidents and everyone seemed safe and happy splashing down the river.

In a Metal and macho way of course.

The other thing I noticed since last year was the weather. Damn hot weather, nothing to do with the rainy, cool weather I was expecting. We left hot Greece in hopes of some shade, rain and low temperature and we ran into Greece with well… lower prices on everything, cleaner and better streets, more organized, greener and unburned mountains and kinder local residents who didn’t look at you as if Satan descended upon them to rape their daughters and slaughter their goats. Or the other way around for some.

Wait, why do I still live in Greece?

The report damn it, the report. Day 2 and it’s time for the first band to appear on main stage. The sun was hot and after walking between the river, the second and the first stage to watch parts of BREZNO and ILLUMINATA on second stage and LOST DREAMS, ENFORCER, DORNENREICH and CROWBAR, it was time for the mighty NEVERMORE to appear.

Things were a bit different since the last time I saw them. Add lots of sunlight and remove a few hundred people and there you have it. Also this was probably the least exciting time I got to watch them perform (and it’s been several) since Warrel Dane was ill, the rest seemed kind of bored and flat, besides Loomis, he never fails to impress.

The sun was slowly setting while SIX FEET UNDER followed and we witnessed the first mosh pit under the frantic double pedal. We had to share our time though to the other event of the night which was the first World Cup semifinal, which as I said earlier, was a great experience to watch in this way.

The game was still going on when CANNIBAL CORPSE appeared so we were rushing between stages to keep an eye on both events; the crowd warmed up even more and between some classics like "I Will Kill You", "A Skull Full Of Maggots" and "Stripped, Raped and Strangled", you could listen to neck bones being cracked.

Finally the game was over and we could focus on SOULFLY who came up next. We knew what to expect, you know what to expect so I won’t say much about them. I love SEPULTURA so I was there for those songs, though their own ones are not bad to headbang to either. Still, people went apeshit when they brought the old SEP’s songs on stage.

Next ones were KORPIKLAANI. Besides the jokes about KLANI meaning "he/she farts" in Greek, I’m not a particular fan of that kind of music. But for that kind of genre, they were quite good, they gave a nice show, and the crowd seemed to enjoy it. We listened to the second half of their show from our apartment finishing off some beers so we appreciated their folk style better this way.

Day 3 and the day greets us with VULVATRONE and SADIST grunting through the mountains. Time to head back to the grounds as TRAIL OF TEARS hits the stage with no more than 200 people acting up as bacon in the frying pan under the scorching sun. Gothic, female vocals, soft stuf, blah blah blah, you know what I’m talking about. FLAMETHROWER from Croatia were playing in front of an even smaller crowd on second stage so we headed down to the beach to take some more pictures of drunken metalheads splashing around. Always in a Metal and macho way.

ARKONA hit the main stage at about the same time HELLCATS were appearing on the second stage. More Folk/Pagan Metal or Hard/Heavy by an all girls band? Third choice, few more beers by Tolminska, waiting for the paintball match between BEHEMOTH and DECAPITATED. Don’t ask me how it ended, I got bored after they disappeared in the woods and watching leaves move can only get that much interesting.

Speaking of leaves, LEAVES’ EYES were next on main stage. As far as female vocals in gothic metal goes, Liv Kristin Krull is the matriarch of the genre and along with her husband they’ve made a pretty decent band (which is a lot better than the electro-pewpew crap Theatre of Tragedy were playing at her final years with them). She had a warm greeting from the crowd and in overall it was the first interesting appearance of the day.

But the second World Cup semifinal between Spain and Germany which was about to begin in the middle of their performance was even more interesting (how often do you get to watch that once in four years event with METALHEADS from all around the World?), so we headed to second stage to grab a bench and enjoy the game.

At the half-time we visited the first stage to watch the legendary OVERKILL , but DEVILDRIVER were on stage instead of them. I’m not really familiar with them, but I have to admit they were damn impressive and I saw the biggest damn Wall Of Death forming at their request. Thing was fuckin’ huge and no matter how much the other bands asked for something like that the following days, DEVILDRIVER held the record. This is a band that’s made for live shows and I’ll definitely enjoy their show if I run into them again.

The legendary OVERKILL were up next. If you were into old school shit, you’d enjoy it, not caring about the -really- bad sound.

EQUILIBRIUM is yet another Melodic Folk group so after listening to a couple of really uninteresting songs, we decided it was time to call it the day.

Day 3 was called the BEHEMOTH day. The day started with performances by GONOBA, DEMONICAL, SUICIDAL ANGELS and DECAPITATED. You might notice that I don’t mention much about the bands that played early on both stages. Problem is that it was very hot so the people on main stage were only a couple of hundreds at this time and a handful on second stage. Most people were either hanging around the river, their camping tents or around Tolmin at this time so there was not much energy on stage or anything exceptional to watch or report.

EPICA gave a "professional" show, meaning they got up there, played their songs, Simmons gave some safety tips for the sun and well. Yeah. After watching DEVILDRIVER the previous day, they seemed like a snoozefest.

THE EXPLOITED were up next, punk-rock meets metal…. Yyyyeah….

ELUVEITIE were up next. More Folk Metal. At least this band was a pleasant surprise, I didn’t picture a thousand dancing drunken gnomes on top of magical unicorns while they were performing like it happened with the previous folk bands. I won’t say that I became a fan, but they gave a really good show and even non-fans should be pleased. I really laughed hard though when their singer asked for the biggest Wall of Death MetalCamp had ever seen and started off with a flute.

Finally, something that grows hair on your chest was up next. BEHEMOTH who’ve been spending the previous and this day walking around the people and hanging at the beach appeared on stage under the sounds of "Ov Fire And Void". This was my first time I got to watch them and it was an amazing performance. "Demigod", "As Above So Below", "Slaves Shall Serve" are some of the songs they delivered to make our neck even more sore.

EX DEO followed but in no way did I want to ruin the show I had just witnessed so we left while it was still time. We still got to listen to him perform from a distance though and I must say, I enjoyed the company of my fellow metalheads at one of the local pubs much more.

Day 4 was the least interesting day of all, so excuse me if I fast forward it. ABSTINENZ played some black/Viking/pagan metal and VARG played even more pagan metal with their singer boiling under the sun in his armor.

ENSIFERUM, well… yeah, more pagan/folk/whatever metal. I was beginning to wonder if OBITUARY who followed right after, would keep up with the day and start off with some flutes as well but to my surprise (well, not so much surprise but I’m just saying) and played some of their classic "I will smash your face to the ground and dance on its remains" songs, which most of the people didn’t seem to enjoy much. Guess most of the people attending that day were more accustomed to blowing instruments instead of strings.

Continuing the prancing unicorn momentum that OBITUARY shortly disrupted, SONATA ARCTICA appeared on stage. Playing their happy dance around metal, sporting their brand new purple keytar and fans (not people, the devices) blowing on their hair, it made me miss the previous days’ performances of BEHEMOTH, CANNIBAL CORPSE and DEVILDRIVER. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re into that kind of music (and probably cross-dressing too), you’d enjoy their show, they’re highly professional and… energetic.

I already had the noose on a strong tree and I was ready to jump off a bench when PARADISE LOST hit the stage. In a sense, they’re the reason I’m writing this report instead of having my dead folk-infested body transferred from Slovenia as we speak.

Luckily it was getting dark so they played in a more familiar and fitting environment to them. Holmes sounded great but the bad sound didn’t help him much. Even so, it was a very enjoyable show by the band who invented gothic metal. Some of the songs they played were "As I Die", "The Enemy", "The Last Time", "No Celebration" and more.

HAMSTERFALL, oops, I mean HAMMERFALL signaled the end of the day, meaning we had to pack and run like crazy while we were still under the influence of the previous performance, which we listened to from a distance, along with SABATON which we didn’t really enjoy as well.

Last day of the normal MetalCamp and the programming was much more to our taste. Day started with D-SWOON, INSOMNIUM and HEIDEVOLK and followed by the mighty EXODUS.

Really energetic, giving a good show but nothing exceptional.

DARK TRANQUILLITY followed giving their best under the scorching sun and the tired -from the previous days of constant heat and headbanging- fans gave their best to follow. "The Wonders At Your Feet", "Lost To Apathy", "The Grandest Charge" and "Focus Shift", some of the songs they played.

FINNTROLL were up next. You have realized by now that this is not my fave genre but they gave a really good show which I enjoyed so thumbs up for them.

After watching KREATOR last year being the last headliners for the festival, I was glad that something equally ass kicking would do that this year. So the stage went dark and the grim figures of IMMORTAL appeared on stage. They gave a good show, with Abbath doing his signature crab walk or some supposedly funny stuff like shaking or wiping his ass with the yellow flying saucer plastic beer holders which we saw flying around for all of the days. "Grim And Frostbitten", "One By One", "Rise Darkness" and "Tyrants" some of the heartwarming songs the crowd and the residents of Tolmin had the pleasure to enjoy that night.

KALMAH closed the night with a rather good performance that had the people forming the second biggest mosh pit of the festival so a job well done for closing it.

Well. Technically speaking the festival wasn’t over yet. Magic Circle Festival was attached to it and would take place the following day.

You can read a much more detailed report by Maria Kallinikou here.

Now most of the bands were definitely not my thing, I wasn’t prepared to shave my chest hair, rub baby oil on me and grab my sword to go to this epic-fest but it was my duty to at least attend the day without the prerequisites I just mentioned. Especially since my very good friend and part of the original Metal Temple crew, Makis, works for MANOWAR, I was willing to give him the opportunity to make his life long dream true, and see me watch one of their shows.

Yes, I’m willing to suffer a great deal of pain for my friends. Well, at least Arch Enemy were playing that day so that means I could counter balance the effects of the rest of the bands this day. The promising Greek band CROSSWIND started off the day and were followed by METALFORCE, VIRGIN STEELE and HOLLYHELL.

KAMELOT were up next and it was worth coming back from the beach to watch them. Very good and professional band, Khan was giving a great show and the fans sure seemed to enjoy it.

ARCH ENEMY appeared next and it was finally time for the old neck to start rotating. Everyone was impressed by Gossow’s yells and grunts and screams and I’m still wondering how this petite lady can sound more brutal than a huge trucker who just found out his wife is cheating on him with his dog. Awesome appearance by a band that’s fit to perform live shows.

Now the moment Makis has been expecting for. MANOWAR. He warned me I was in for a show I wasn’t expecting.

Well you know what? He was right. People know I like some of MANOWAR’s music but I’m not the biggest fan of their mentality. After this show, I have to admit I respect them a lot more. The sound was phenomenal and the band shows nothing but respect and love for their fans, something which they receive in return. I saw more energy in the couple of thousands who were there, than from all the people combined the previous of the days. Sure, the long speeches and solos were there and all the things I dislike, but you know what? It was fun, even if the setlist was crap. They took a big dump on the songs that are considered their classics and played stuff you have to be a die hard baby oil rubbing fan to like. But even so, I was supposed to watch a few songs and then go crash somewhere because of being tired from the previous days, but I sat through the entire show, watched it and at the end enjoyed with the rest of the fans (and the city) the BIG fireworks show they set up.

If that’s not respect from a band to its fanbase, I don’t know what is. Thumbs up for MANOWAR. And this comes from someone who bashes them with every chance he gets.

And now for the conclusion.

I know what I’ll be doing at this time of July, every year till MetalCamp (or the World) is no more. It is a beautiful experience. Sure, there are some shortcomings in the organization but unlike some of our local promoters, they are learning and improving and things seem to get better and better. If you feel like spending a week in one of the most beautiful places in Europe, either by camping or renting a hotel room or an apartment, enjoy lots of good beer, great company and great music (sure, it’s impossible to like all the bands but there’s so much going on that there will always be something you like) then don’t even think about it, make MetalCamp your yearly habit.

I even suggest that if you have the time to go a couple of days earlier and explore the surrounding areas, only if you have a car. Slovenia will win your heart and so will MetalCamp.


Pictures by Elina Papadoyianni

Promoter: MetalCamp
Ticket Price: €135 (5 days) + €55 (Magic Circle Festival)


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Edited 27 February 2020

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Yiannis Mitsakos

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