This year’s edition of Metalmania festival was a proper nostalgic event. And I don’t mean it in a “retromania”/hipster way which loads of retro-metal acts and festivals are doing nowadays. It really felt like the crowd which was going to Metalmania during the late 80s and throughout the 90s was present here in 2017. However, the festival organisers also paid their respects to the new blood of Polish metal and have done so magnificently with the second stage.
The event started at 11am with new act Mentor pumping up the crowd with their mix of sludge, hardcore and metal. The sound was equally phenomenal as the energy from the band which was reflected in the audience. You can tell this band is made up of experienced players (Thaw, J.D. Overdrive). Straight after, Animations opened up the main stage. Their show was totally different to most other bands on the bill as they had a more modern approach with metalcore elements. Something which pleased the younger crowd present at Metalmania.
Death metal maniacs Stillborn took the second stage without mercy. There was no compromise to their music and they delivered death. I’ve been aware of this act for years, but I did not expect such a powerful show. Beware people! If you want a proper underground death metal act, ask for Stillborn. Infernal War similarly delivered a no-compromise-show. It was, however, Mord’A’Stigmata who took the second stage to the next level. Without even looking at the stage you could hear that the sound created by this act is mature, unique and something deserving more recognition. With a new album just released a couple months ago, their show should have definitely been moved to the main stage.
The next show I witnessed on the main stage was from Polish veterans, Vader. They had one of the biggest crowds (unsurprisingly) for their anniversary show of their debut album, The Ultimate Incantation. Unfortunately, they couldn’t perform the whole album in its entirety due to time constraints, but tracks such as “Dark Age”, “Vicious Circle”, “The Crucified Ones”, “Testimony”, “One Step to Salvation” definitely brought memories for a lot of people, and perhaps introduced the younger crowd to their older material.
Afterwards, Thaw delivered a wall of black metal influenced noise. Having shocked the black metal world with their Earth Ground album in 2014, this show confirmed to me their talent and authenticity. Better keep an eye out on these noisemongers. It was then turn for In Twilight’s Embrace to show what they’ve got. With a passionate and energetic frontman, Cyprian Łakomy, who looked like he could be death itself, the band delivered one hell of a show. Death metal with an edge and no fancy gimmicks.
It was the top billed acts which got the biggest crowds at the main stage: Moonspell and Samael. It was a “blast from the past” show for both acts. Moonspell were celebrating their 25th anniversary with a special set with tracks from Irreligious and Wolfheart. The Swiss legends Samael also prepared a special show with tracks from their first albums – tracks like “Worship Him” were performed for the first time in 23 years – but also new songs from their upcoming album. Initially I was doubting these acts’ headline spots. However, these performances confirmed that it was the right decision and it was not only because they pulled big numbers in terms of audience. Their professionalism and maturity was visible and audible. They brought a proper show with them. From their stage presence, to the visuals and props, and the musical execution, everything sounded and looked perfect. Both bands are close to Polish metal history as they performed there in the late 80s and throughout the 90s. They won the hearts of the early Polish metal scene back then, and they are still loved now.
There were two acts left after the two headliners. It was Entropia and Furia. Due to the time of their performances, they did not have huge crowds, but the show must go on as the saying goes. In all honesty though, for concerts taking place after midnight, the attendance was still higher than I expected. They did deserve a full house though. Entropia created some waves with their sophomore full-length, Ufonaut, in the metal scene worldwide. After witnessing them live for the first time, I believe we will be seeing this band much more often. They are already starting their attempt to breakthrough to the Western market by announcing performances in both London and Barcelona (Primavera). It will be interesting to see how they develop because their music is just wonderful.
The act to close the festival was a band which is the new face of Polish music (yes, music, not only metal): Furia. I am not the only one to say that they are a truly unique act. From their poetic lyrics based on their homeland of Silesia to their avant-garde and even sometimes jazz-like music, Nihil and co. have been doing their own thing from the start, not listening to any doubters. The results are starting to appear. Performing at the main stage of Metalmania is one thing, but their most recent album was warmly received all over the world (and topped the charts and year-end lists in Poland) and they just announced a Japanese tour for September 2017. Furia. Remember this word and start digging into their discography. If you want something unique and you are one of those people who keep complaining that there is nothing new in music, then listen to this and prove me wrong.
Metalmania 2017 was a huge success. The overall turnout was satisfactory and it was not too crowded (as some festivals can get). The venue was fantastic – a building shaped as a flying saucer, which was built in the 1970s. The event may have benefited with a double stage in the main arena. Although the bands and music coming from the second stage were amazing, the bands and the crowd deserved a better and visible stage. Lastly, Metalmania is a historic event in Poland. If it continues next year, I am sure it will draw the crowds it needs. But it is time Metalmania is put on the international festival map. I am not the one to say how that will be done, but the organisers have the venue, an amazing town (Katowice) and the music to be able to compete with the likes of Roadburn, Netherlands Deathfest, Desertfest and others. I hope we will shortly see an announcement about Metalmania 2018 and that I will be in the crowd once again.