Concert Review: Metalmania 2018

On  7th  April, another edition of a long standing Polish festival Metalmania took place. One day, two stages, twenty four bands. It was the second one organized after a recent reactivation. The original Metalmania was an early big metal event in that part of the Europe – quite a feat given Polish Communist and post-Communist realities. Then, due to various reasons, the festival was gradually losing its relevance, dwindling and finally went into hiatus for 8 years. There is no sense, however, to cling to its bygone local importance or whatever glorious past. So how does it look now? 

While too much reliance on more mainstream gothic and heavy contributed to a collapse of previous incarnation of the festival, and now it was death and black oriented, the music on the big scene is rather consistently aimed at straight metal through all of its generations and styles, ending with bands like Dead Congregation or Blaze of Perdition and with some of the more modern sounds on a small scene. On a downside, the fest resurfacing mainly as a stage for classic bands may be reflecting the actual state of metal, indicating that the newer bands are unable to fill the void with something equally strong to their predecessors. 

The festival was obviously rough around the edges (and surprisingly violent – I almost got caught into two different fights just from where I was standing) and the sound was uneven and average overall. It was organized better than in the past, but still perceptibly within Polish standards, that is crudely and with lack of imagination or simply negligence in some areas (although Martin van Drunen said on stage that the organization was great!). Perhaps a very fortunate by-product of these characteristics, which may contribute to the positive reception of this festival, is how – I dare to say – conservative it is, both in terms of lineup and general spirit. With Napalm Death and (I suppose) liberal speed metallers on one side and sort of crypto-nazis on the other, who always find a way to show up in some form, the fest also covered broadest ideological spectrum that is possible for a mainstream event. 

As of 2018 this festival is yet to experience types of modern degeneracy, often coming from outside, which can be seen on festivals elsewhere. There were some obligatory side attractions, like exhibition of works of Christophe Szpajdel (who actually speaks Polish fluently), meet-up with the bands and lots of merch, but nothing delving too much into a fan idiocy or really not related to metal. Very few freaks, zero exotic people, no random participants, just fairly traditional metalheads, mostly in the 90s style, as it should be, world without end. However, those spoiled by abundance of propositions and by big festivals in Germany or Czech Republic will probably miss out on some of these modest qualities. 

And then there’s the surreal, sci-fi sight at the arrival – a monumental, Communistic “The Saucer” occupied by nothing but a tribe of long haired, black clad drunks… 

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Slugdge – Esoteric Malacology (2018)

When you have nothing of substance to fuel the creative urge necessary for musical catharsis, the artistically bankrupt are forced into invention. Here, the muse for this act is a fictional slug overlord that has somehow provided a modern metal band with enough tongue-in-cheek material to spew out four records so far, so at the very least you can’t accuse Slugdge of not sticking to their guns. Bad ideas however tend to foster quicker and more permanent results, and I’m failing to see the inspiration of this act yielding anything further than superficial amusement, so perhaps this is the perfect modern metal product seen from start to finish.

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Goath – II: Opposition

Great Goath!  First impression is, this new output from Goath is pretty darn good. The artwork seems excellent. Some of their other releases didn’t quite do it for me, but this one hits the spot. There is a nice mix of basic time signature riffs. The main thing is that the high level of aggression in all the instruments and vocals works on this one, whereas the other stuff I heard before was boring and lower pitched, like war metal kinda, with some Deicide. The whole thing sounds really old school underground, not aiming for total show-off or the best production, but instead going for authenticity and aggressiveness.
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Atlantean Kodex Live Album is Bad

At first glance, this album boasts a cool cover and impressively long song lengths, making a strong first impression. Then I hit play. It didn’t take long to realize this is really, really bad live album. It is not tightly played at all. The two guitars are not in sync and neither are the drums. You have to suffer through really bad lyrics like: “Onward to the sun” and “Destiny is calling!”. Everything is really bad waltzy Sabbath imitation but really boring. I can fairly say that this album qualifies as epic German cheese. So of course it will be popular. The singer sounds like the guy who sang those Budweiser ads Real Men of Genius.
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Not Digging the New Cynic Single

Received a transmission of a new single by Cynic. Feeling a bit disappointed in this tune, called ‘Humanoid’. While it has the great active warm fretless sounding bass-lines, and Y. Malmsteen styled solos, the vocals are a completely different style than on Focus and Traced in Air. Normally their vocals have the flanged-out robo. voice. On this new track, the vocals don’t sound metal enough. They are too Pink Floyd or Lincoln Park-ish for me. The guitars have tons of solos, but leave the bass to carry the rhythm, and this doesn’t work. It makes it too light. The whole thing comes off sounding funky rather than heavy. I would like them to go back and at least out a flanger on the vocals and add another heavier rhythm guitar tracking along with the bass.

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Woolftooth – Woolftooth (2018)

Stoner metal. What bullshit. Why not just get stoned and listen to good metal? Burzum, Incantation, or even Bach is still incredible music when stoned out of my gourd. Other than giving me the amazing ability to eat an entire large Hawaiian pizza, marijuana intake never fundamentally changed my taste or personality. This fact makes stoner metal, and stoner ‘culture’ prima facie stupid. By that line of reasoning, my having listened to Wolftooth’s newly released album “Wolftooth” stupid. Yes, dear reader, I do stupid things so you do not have to. Stoner culture is not for people who smoke the reefer, it is for stupid people who smoke the reefer.

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Accept – Rise of Chaos

Accept is a band best remembered for their old school song called “Balls to the Wall”, which used to play on the Headbanger’s Ball. Driving my BMV down the Autobahn at 120MPH through the Black Forest, I stopped in Bad Reichenhall.  You know how they always have insane amounts of Gummy Bears everywhere in Germany.  And then next to them are porno mags and stuff like biker lifestyle mags.  Those were where I found out that Accept was still going strong at the time. It never ceases to amaze. This band just keeps hanging around, like a bad STD. Here they are again 20 years later. And they have this new album Rise of Chaos, which sounds like a cross between Sabbath’s Dehumanizer and an Exodus album.

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Crawl/Leviathan

Hipster celebrity and accused tattoo gun rapist Wrest from Leviathan returns with a new sidekick in an attempt to restore some underground credibility.  This is a common gimmick used in rap music whenever an artist has faded from the mainstream but wants to continue making money off the young kids consuming the underground’s newest flavors.  Unfortunately for Leviathan, they were never respected in the underground and Crawl displays very little potential to make any sort of impact.  The split is one twelve minute song from each artist that both manage to be terrible but for very different reasons.  Wrest promised “Aural Mizery” and has ironically maintained that promise.

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