Text – Joanna Pietrzak, English correction – Diona.
The 23th edition of Polish festival “Metalmania” 2017 has passed into history. The festival took place in Spodek, Katowice. According to the official sources, about 4000 metal-lovers from young to old attended the show at the April 22nd. It was clear from the very beginning that the Metal Mind Productions are putting a lot of efforts to organize this event go splendid. Eventually, nine years have passed since the last edition of the festival. Moreover, the show took place almost annualy since 1986. The event had to become legendary. So, does it still deserve to be called like that? Having in mind the impressions of some enthusiasts of the festival, I have confidence – it does. Metal is alive. Both the subculture, and the music itself are still great.
The entire event was spread into about 15 hours of live music being performed on two stages: the main and the small (second). As for me, I don’t have any complaints about the lighting and sound of the main stage for most of the time. Since I’ve been watching the gigs on a concert floor, I wasn’t disturbed by the reverb on the sectors. As for the small stage, I have only two words to say: short-drama. I do understand, that there might be some serious reasons… Probably, due to the construction of the Spodek there’s just no other special place to set up an additional scene, but come on! The stage has been hidden in the hallway between stairs and columns. It’s no wonder that the sound was flat, further, the sun was shining straight at the audience during the whole day. Unfortunately, due to these facts part of the atmosphere has vanished. If only there were curtains or some sun-shield during the concerts… Pure pity.
Everything worked according to the schedule. As soon as the performance on the main stage was finishing up, metalheads immediately had to approach the small scene. During the concerts there was an opportunity to enjoy a variety of snacks and drinks provided by the food stands, visit different merches to purchase CDs or books or whatever from the “InRock publishing” or others. Roman Kostrzewski had personally signed his biography, by the way. And of course there has been a great variety of different fun attributes (including the beer horns). On the opposite site of the set there were catering facilities with low-percent alcohol. In a background hall, one had a chance to visit the exhibition of the concert pictures shot by different photographers as well as the exhibition of Zbigniew m. Bielak . He is one of the most fascinating album covers artist of the metal albums. Among his creations one can find the designs for Ghost, Paradise Lost and Watain.
The set list of the show was the following:
11.30 – Animations
12.30 – Tygers of Pan Tang
13.30 – Sinister
14.40 – Arcturus
15.50 – Entombed A.D.
17.00 – Vader
18.30 – Sodom
20.00 – Coroner
21.40 – Moonspell
23.25 – Samael
01.15 – Furia
11.00 – Mentor
12.00 – Stillborn
13.00 – Thermit
14.10 – In Twilight’s Embrace
15.20 – Mord’A’Stigmata
16.30 – Infernal War
17.50 – Thaw
19.20 – Obscure Sphinx
21.00 – Impaled Nazarene
22.40 – CETI
00.35 – Entropia
Pictures by KaraRokita.pl – concert & event photography.
The small stage:
The first guests were allowed to enter the Spodek few minutes after 10 am. The festival started with a concert at a small stage. There the Polish team Mentor promoted their album “Guts, Graves and Blasphemy”, which was well received by the listeners after the release in 2016. The Mentor was the first and, unfortunately, not the only band that ended up losing some of their potential on the second scene. Let’s not forget the early hour of the concert. As for me, I was impressed by the amazing Mord’A’Stigmata with their recent album called “Hope” together with the deadly Stillborn. pure thrash Thermit was changed by the powerful In Twilight’s Embrace (who played, by the way, the iconic cover of Armia “Opowieść zimowa”). The marvelous Obscure Sphinx were extremely appreciated by the audience who screamed the words: “duża scena!” (main stage) at the end of their show. Though, the dark Thaw are one of my favorite.
These younger groups definitely paid more of my attention. Their commitment and real feelings did touched the audience. Despite the somewhat harsher conditions of the scene, some of people seemed to be put in a kind of a trance. However, I do regret that I couldn’t enjoy the real black metal concert of Impaled Nazarene up to the end. Their gig was intense and dynamic, but the sound remained flat and not very selective sound. Speaking about Ceti, I decided not to waste my time their show, since it is completely not my fairy tale. At the same time, I was really looking forward for the Entropia. They could have generated an outstanding atmosphere, but the audience got totally decreased by that time and only one hour of the festival was left among the other musicians performing at the main stage.
The main stage:
The first band Animations has surprised everyone changing their style from the progressive metal to metalcore. I’m not sure if it was a good choice, actually. A bit avant-garde Norwegian Arcturus with strange squeaky voice had intrigued me, but not in a very positive way. On the opposite, Entombed A. D. came to the top with their powerful guitar rumbles. Some from the crowd considered this band to be a reminder of the best period for the Swedish death metal. Personally for me, the singer burping and blowing his nose right to the microphone seemed disgusting, but, after all, it’s death metal, baby!
Speaking about the giants, the performance of the native Vader should be stressed out. This team arranged for playing a pretty cross-section: from their newest album called “The Empire” to the very first albums “De Profundis” and “Black to the Blind”. Of course, the band haven’t forgotten the 25-year-old debut “The Ultimate Incantation”. Crash, fire and power by Vader could be supreme if only the sound was better. Especially the guitars.
The German metal trio Sodom (without Gomorra, hehe) showed up next. They played precisely, but not as stunning as my friends had prescribed them. The Swiss Coroner afterwards performed under the sign of technical thrash metal. The compositions, which were quite complicated, were played rather good, but for some moments I had a feeling that guitar didn’t follow the rhythm.
For the final of Metalmania 2017 only 3 bands were left. Moonspell, the dinosaurs from Portugal, have already hosted Metalmania for several times. They seemed to be really enjoying their visit to Poland this year. The Portuguese presented works from their first two studio albums “Wolfheart” and “Irreligious”. Those two are probably the most appreciated and popular among other their achievements of the intervertebral discs. The concert of Moonspell was dynamic and filled with emotions. The audience was glad to interact with Fernando and to sing all together the most beloved songs, such as “Opium” or “Awake”. And of course, the band’s biggest hit “Full Moon Madness” was there, while the tip of the Ribeiro has traditionally helped the drums of Miguel Gaspar.
Meanwhile, the great majority of metalheads had been waiting for a headliner of the festival – the veterans of Samael – who performed after a short break. The concert divided the audience into two parts: ones knew the Samael with their electronic drums and industrial (not to say techno) sounds, others just wanted to watch a good, expressive show. Samael began the concert with three large outdoor screens in the background and powerful lighting. As a headliner, they extended the setlist which was mostly based on the album “Ceremony Of Opposites, the electronic housing, at least not like metal sound. The songs from, probably, the first industrial album “Passage”, such as” Rain “or” Shining Kingdom,” sounded controversially. Unfortunately, the present style of Samael is not for me absolutely. To tell you the truth, I wish I had visited the concert of this group 10 years ago.
The final touch of Metamaniia 2017 was for Polish Fury, a band whose album “Księżyc Milczy Luty” caused confusion and started discussions if metal has still a roads to go through or is it already dead. Unfortunately, the audience decreased to ¼ of total as it happened Entropia.
In conclusion, I would like to say word about “master” of the ceremony. It was to be provided by the known and well-liked Polish journalist Łukasz Orbitowski this year. The idea was pretty good, though the performance wasn’t. His announcements seemed at least embarrassing and distasteful. In addition to the poor sound and a bad location of the small stage, I add Orbitowski as a minus to the show. You will ask, how to rate a whole Metalmania 2017? Positively, of course! To my opinion, the organizers fulfilled with their PR commitments and, again, we can safely say that Metalmania in Katowice is equally notable and worthy of the name “legendary”.