MetalDays is a festival in Slovenia that lasts for a week and is situated next to a shiny blue glacier river between the mountains. A river with metalheads on inflated crocodiles, dolphins and flamingos, an awesome line-up and non-stop metal parties (at the beach), metal-karaoke, fire- and striptease shows, cheap food and drinks, great cocktails, amazing weather,… MetalDays really is a metal holiday that everybody has to experience. The festival will present you a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, with only 12 000 festivalgoers, perfect to forget about all worries and enjoy your most likely best holiday ever!
Our journey started in Ghent, where we got on a bus to finally go to MetalDays, the festival we’d all been looking forward to. We had a really pleasant bus trip with Festival Explorers, with a beautiful ending of the trip via some small mountain passes because of a traffic jam on the normal route. The road towards MetalDays lead us through the beautiful Alps and the MetalDays area is also part of the Julijske Alpe National Parks. So before we arrived we already could feast our eyes with the exquisite views and needless to say we already were super excited when we got to Tolmin.
After being on the road for around 18 hours, we finally drove into the beautiful village of Tolmin. The festival is located at Sotocje, which lies inbetween the two mountain rivers called Tolminka and Soča. Therefore the festival offers us two “festival-owned” beaches, to cool down and chill throughout the day (and to party at night!). The river Soča is one of the cleanest in Europe.
Upon arrival we got our wristbands at the office desks. Here we needed to pay our early arrival fee, and then we got our paycards and garbage bags. First we needed to put money on the paycard. From the paycard they extract the mandatory garbage deposit and paycard system fee. People who had a “Real Marjan” upgrade already paid for this, but the amount was still deducted from the paycard, which we found out later on (we finally got an answer from MetalDays that there was a miscommunication and there was a possibility to get the “Real Marjan” money back). The Garbage Deposit money (€10) was given back on returning a full garbage bag during the festival.
!! At the front desks we could only pay cash. To get cash: there are ATM’s at the supermarkets in Tolmin.
We set up our camp and had a little preparty!
FOOD & DRINKS
The food at MetalDays is really nice and there’s a great variety of stands. There are vegan and gluten free dishes so everyone can enjoy the festival food without worries. The pricing of the food is very fair, Slovenia still is a lot cheaper than the festivals in Belgium or in our neighborhood. There is free drinking water on different places of the festival area. There are no plastic bottles allowed, so you have to buy a bottle at the bar first, that you can refill all the time and as often as you want at the water points. The drinks are good (but obviously don’t expect Belgian beer) and reasonably priced and there is a special Beer bar somewhere along the campsite road. And at the beach bar you can enjoy some fresh cocktails!
To buy your own food: there are some supermarket in Tolmin, on about a 5-10 minute walk from the campsite. We’re sure you can find almost anything you would need, so it’s not really necessary to bring your own food from home (maybe just some good quality beers). You can also buy ice cubes there, to keep your food/drinks cold.
The camping is included in the ticketprice, parking tickets can be bought either in the MH SHOP or at the festival upon arrival. When you arrive early there’s always an early arrival fee (1 day early: €15, 2 days: €25) to use the campsite. There is a part of the camping area that’s camping only, where cars are prohibited (close to the mainstage and in between the trees). The rest of the camping area is camping plus parking, so you can park your cars close to your tent. We from GRIMM provided a group camping for the people who joined our Belgian Invasion!
There are several “Hell’s Kitchens” on the campsite, where it’s possible to buy breakfast, coffee, food, drinks and ice cubes. The beer cans (0.5L) are only €1!
There are dixi-toilets and cold showers for free on the campsite. There are dixi-toilets on several places on the festival area too. There are hot showers too, but if you want to use those you’ll have to pay a shower-fee. Clean running water for drinking is provided all over the festival area free of charge.
The festival is basically divided in three area’s: the mainstage area, the second stage area and the beach bar area.
When going from the camping area towards the festival area, you come across a security checkpoint. From there, the mainstage area is right in front of you. If, however, you go to the right, you can follow the path leading to the second stage. The road leading to the second stage is also where you can find merchandise stands.
Keep following the road past the second stage, all the way down towards the Soča river and you’ll soon reach the beach bar area. There you can find metalheads floating down the Soča river on their inflatable unicorns, inflatable lounge chairs, and many other crazy inflatables, while enjoying a delicious cocktail or a cold beer.
What a joy to watch Drakum play on stage! The men are having so much fun playing their music and it pays off. People were moving, dancing around or standing with a smile on their face. The band members tried to reach out to the audience by interacting with them, which was very much appreciated.
Is there any band out there that truly brings people together not only in a spiritual way, but also in a humane, melodic and peaceful manner? Orphaned Land is a band that brought us incredible songs like All is One, The Simple Man, Seasons Unite and much much more. Metal as world music, this band doesn’t have a monopoly on the genre but they sure know how to play. The diversity and sometimes even complex arrangements of the songs caused the people of MetalDays to think, discuss and come together as one. The rain was pouring out of the sky, but Orphaned Land kept playing like true pro’s.
The men stood on stage like we know them: the similar costumes for all band members, a big and theatrical decor, the greasepaint and nevertheless their Italian elements. We have seen the band play many times before this performance and all things considered, they do a pretty good job. They give their best on stage and try to amuse the audience.
How dark the world must be for this Swedish black metal powerhouse. This band has been around since 1993, but we feel that they are evolving and really growing above the underground scene in the past few years. Given their status, the place of being the second headliner of the day was remarkable but nonetheless deserved. In comparison to Orphaned land the messages of Dark Funeral are a bit more violent, death is all around and whilst playing their sets songs like The arrival of Satan’s Empire, Hail Murder and last but not least Where Shadows Forever Reign gave notice of the lyrical themes these guys stand behind.
The first festival night couldn’t have ended any better for us than with a live performance by Testament. Even after decades, they are still standing strong. Bringing some old songs from their first album Legacy, all the way to songs from their latest album, they did all they could to please the crowd. Starting off with Over The Wall, they immediately got the show started with a blast. Followed by songs like More Than Meets The Eye, D.N.R. and Disciples of The Watch, there was more than enough diversity.
After a swim in the amazing river to wake us up, we went to see our own Belgian Bloodrocuted. It was really early and people were still chilling out at the river, but nevertheless Bloodrocuted managed to get a great crowd in front of the second stage. Very impressive! The show was great too, so we already had a good start of the day. And one more confirmation that the Belgian Invasion is real!!
We really looked forward to party at the Gloryhammer gig, but the weather wasn’t agreeing with us. After 20 minutes our hammering heroes had to stop playing due to a very bad thunderstorm; the stage flooding, and a technical defect in the effect panel of the guitarist. The few songs we got to enjoy sounded really good, and there was a great amount of people that was really in a partying mood, so we were really sad the gig had to stop.
The first entrance to the press area for an interview was not disappointing: Skálmöld was already on stage, waiting to strike their first notes. Seeing the band from the riser backstage was really nice and there were lots of people gathering in front of the mainstage. After the thrilling moment at the European football championship earlier this year (as you can see in the following video), the audience repeated the ‘viking clap’ for the Icelandic team, which resulted in a very special moment and many goosebumps. The band played very enthusiastically and that extended to the audience. It was a great performance, as you would expect from these Icelandic vikings and the music sounded really good in the open Slovenian air.
What a performance. The band attracted a lot of people from the start. Very soon, the audience started banging their heads and continued during more serene numbers. It was nice to see the band members play together: they are tight and that shows in their live show. They played very well together and used some good show tricks (like acting the same way), which brought more atmosphere unto the audience. A highlight here was their announced song The Promethean Song. The audience shouted and clapped, cheering them on, excited for the first note to come. The intro was well received, and we saw a lot of hair flying around. Another great show by Insomnium, and we’re looking forward to see more of them!
Warmly dressed (as in almost every case of Arkona), Masha came on stage and people already were very enthusiastic. The band members had lots of energy, which showed off in their live play. The feeling that they are playing with pleasure caused a reciprocally circle of energy between the band and audience. An uncountable amount of crowdsurfers were present during the performance. Some songs it was hard to pass the people on because of the jumping around.
We had been looking forward to Skindred’s show for months now, and saying that they didn’t disappoint would be an understatement! People that were looking forward to their show, as well as people that never heard of them before were all enjoying the party. Bringing some of their most famous songs was one thing, but the way they brought it was perfect and the interaction with the crowd was sublime. Still not convinced? See for yourself in the video below!
Warning warning warning warning!
You want occult? You get occult! This legendary band has been active since 1993 and is still bringing us the most epic Mesopotamiam metal there is. It seems to us that every festival we go to there are a bunch of people that never heard of this band, go in for the ride and come out as ultimate newborn fans. The percussion is always top of the bill and the rawness of the songs brings a desire for long forgotten times were we can dine as gods and feast as emperors on a field of battle. A must see!
Thank God (?!?) this band is playing later in the evening, after seeing them in the light earlier that year we had high hopes to see them again in Tolmin. The instant reaction to the music of Marduk could not be anything else than violence and bloodshed. The music was brought very tight and the crowd loved it. Although Black Metal is in general not the most electric genre to dance to, we did so anyway, because hey, it’s MetalDays and we were there to party. The onslaught of this metal attack ended with the instant classic Panzer Division Marduk followed by the fiery song Wolves. Overall it was a great performance, although the setlist could be a bit shorter.
A lot of love was happening while Napalm Death was playing, and we really felt that extreme music is the backbone of this festival. A lot of crowdsurfing and moshing brought this performances to an experience that is truly exhilarating. From the 17 classics pumped out by the pioneers of grindcore, songs like You Suffer, Persona Non Grata and Scum brought some brutal playfulness to the stage. This band never gets old.
Next up was the almighty Kreator! Bringing songs from Endless Pain, all the way through to Phantom Antichrist, pleasing old and new fans alike, wasn’t a problem. As could be expected of them, they gave one hell of a show. Throwing in Enemy of God right from the start got the crowd moshing in no time. Some other festivals can learn from this and also start to book Kreator as a headliner! These great German thrashers left the stage with a clear message:
“Until Our Paths Cross Again”!
Die Apokalyptischen Reiter
Although we were not in the best shape on day 3 (too much beer/sun/vibe), we took our time to take a look at Die Apokalyptischen Reiter. This German band managed to grow quiet heavily in the past years and played at the biggest festivals. On their latest record you can hear they are working on more controlled song structures, but live we can not shake the fact that it is chaotic at times. While the performance itself is fun with all the pyro, humor and bombastic costumes, the reality is that if you take that away there’s not much more to it. The crowd however loved it and we saw a massive amount of parties, maybe because of the great percentage of Germans in the audience? We sadly weren’t that convinced, but maybe next time we will feel different!
Nameless Day Ritual
We started our day at the second stage, with a Bulgarian band that showed a lot of potential, if they will further evolve on their ‘metal-fusion’-sound. Their music exists of heavy progmetal and ambient atmospheres, colored by the voice of singer Asya Katrandzhieva. A great discovery and start of the day!
The Dutch love symphonic metal and it shows, the amount of bands coming from this country is tremendous and it is a hard genre to stand out from. This band has managed it, and in which way? In a previous review we pointed out that MetalDays takes most band from the more brutal side of the metal genre and for us it is nice breather to see this band (and the lovely Anne of course). The setlist had a lot of energy in it and there was a relative big crowd at the mainstage. There was a perfect balance between the more symphonic songs and straight up powerhouse metal that we as metalheads like to hear. We can easily see this band higher on the bill next time.
Wow, again a great discovery at the second stage, and maybe even the best one of the whole week! This Mongolian folk metal instantly made us dance and we couldn’t stand still for the rest of the show. Many describe them as the Korpiklaani from the East and we can’t deny there was a great party vibe going on.
On to the next party! Gama Bomb is always fun to watch. These crazy Irish Thrashers love to party, that’s obvious right away. In our interview with the band (some time before the show) we had lots of laughs. This, however, didn’t take away from the fact that they delivered a great performance on stage! Shouting “Beer and spliffs! Beer and spliffs!” together with the crowd made them even more popular. At the end of their show, they even joined their fans to go and have a drink at the beach bar!
At The Gates
Being seen as one of the 3 pioneers of Gothenburg Death Metal, it’s needless to say that you can expect a lot from this band. Their music never grows old. They proved yet again that their music isn’t just great on CD, but that they can blow you away live on stage, with their perfect mix of tight, yet melodic sound, combined with violent, aggressive vocals. Another perfect end of a great evening.
Straight from the river, we joined Skyforger at the mainstage for a nice folk breakfast. It was hot as hell, but with some refreshing drinks we could just stand it, whilst chilling in our boats. There was a nice mixture of heavy melodies and calmer tracks. The audience was not that active but during that time, the sun was overwhelming. Peolple enjoyed the song Migla Migla Rasa Rasa, the calm beginning was perfect for breathing in the heat. The number of people showing up was not that high, the last day and timing could have something to do with that, because Skyforger normally knows how to party!
Varg played right after Skyforger. What a remarkable difference: more people came together at the mainstage to see the gig. The band members brought a full energy-mode to the audience by their enthusiastic attitude, their occur with paint, etc. You could feel they were in the mood to play, which was much appreciated. The singer was motivating the audience by shouting through the lines, balding his fists and raising it to the air. Even the drummer was round-banging his hair sitting down and playing, which was fun to see. Kudo’s for playing in this heat and doing such a great job, Varg!
The band already exists for 23 years now, and they played an entire album for this occasion. The audience went wild: there was a circle pit, followed by a circle-rowing pit, as you can only see on MetalDays. The band caused unrestrained behavior by the audience, which told us that most people there were really familiar with their music. This contrary to people standing around this pit: they were just watching and laughing.
We already had a feeling Gutalax was playing today, since we saw a lot of people walking around with toilet paper, toilet brushes and even toilet chairs. Gutalax brought us ‘poop grind’ and crazy ass (pun intended) covers. We’ve never seen so many random things flying around during a performance, and the toilet theme was very much present. It looked like the second stage was going to explode, and even though it’s not really our kind of music, we had a lot of fun watching it!
If you still had some energy left after this long, exhausting week, Exodus was there to help. A constant flow of moshpits and circle pits, combined with an inevitable Wall of Death showed us how much the crowd had been waiting for this show, and Exodus didn’t fail to deliver! For some people, a standard circle pit wasn’t good enough apparently, as there were 4 naked guys joining in!
Blind Guardian is one of those bands that we never grow tired of seeing live. Hansi’s vocals are so beautiful and powerful, that we got nothing but respect for him. Even though the band gave it their best and played a tight show, we were actually a bit disappointed, already early on in the show. Perhaps starting of with The Ninth Wave wasn’t the best choice? Or perhaps we’re just spoiled by having seen Blind Guardian live at Wacken years ago, to which any other show of theirs just can’t compare? Personal enthusiasm (or rather the lack of) aside, they did seem to give the crowd what they wanted, as people happily sang along with classics like Time Stands Still, Into The Storm, and of course their masterpiece The Bard’s Song – In The Forest, but sadly no Walhalla followed.
The vocalist of Dragonforce was ill, but they were still going to play, wíth vocals. How? Norse YouTube sensation Pellek joined them on stage! This resulted in a somewhat strange performance, with the vocalist staring at the ground the whole time, because he didn’t know the lyrics. So maybe this was not the best solution. We did hear some good comments about it from other people, but we weren’t convinced.
THE BEACH AND RIVER
During the morning and beginning of the day there are several fun activities at the beach. There’s topless badminton for women, volleyball in thongs for men, metalyoga and metal karaoke. But it’s also great to just chill out in the cold water.
In the evenings there are beach parties with a great amount of cocktails to drink. This year the DJs weren’t that great, but we’re sure it will be better next year!
Tolmin Castle Ruins:
Floating down the river:
Next to the things we did as a group, there are lots of fun outdoor activities to check out in the Tolmin area, like rafting, canyoning, kayaking, hiking, paragliding,…
Interview with Gama Bomb
Interview with Gloryhammer
Interview with Skindred
Check out the lineup announcement for MetalDays 2017.
JOIN US! Order your tickets at the Festival Explorers website.
Metaldays 2017 takes place from the 23rd till 29th of July 2017 in Tolmin, Slovenia.
For more information check out their website and Facebook page.
Join the official Facebook event and the event of GRIMM’s own Belgian Invasion.