Slayer, Annihilator, Soulfly, Meshuggah, Asphyx (Day 2)
Park Site of Sofia Airport, Sofia, Bulgaria

The second day was entirely for the fans of extreme metal genres. Sunday begun with Asphyx at 17:00 and it was time for some awesome death metal music, even if the sound wasn’t very good. Nevermind, I didn’t care that much for the sound, because it was the first time that I would see Asphyx live (one of my dreams came true). They came out with “Wasteland Of Terror” and from the first song I understood that I didn’t live any longer in the real world, but somewhere else, in a higher place. With no break they performed “Vermin” and “Scorbutics”, so headbanging continued also without a break. After these first two songs, Martin -God- van Drunen grabbed the microphone and thanked all of us who were staying and sweating under the Bulgarian sun. He said: “Do you want some older stuff?” and we all understood that it was time for some “Last One On Earth”. I was expecting “The Krusher” or “M.S. Bismark” (I was hopping for the first one), but in no way “M.S. Bismark” disappointed me. Quite the opposite I would say. I went straight to the mosh-pit while the Dutch were bringing the apocalypse. Even if they had a dynamic setlist, the crowd didn’t rouse much, except from a few fanatics inside the muddy circle pits. Now, it was time for “Deathhammer”, which Martin dedicated to Theo Loomans and mentioned that without him, Asphyx would be nowhere. In “Deathhammer” the Lord himself came down to the field and in “We Doom You To Death” they doomed us truly! All of them were fantastic. Martin, Alwin, Paul, especially, that destroyer, Bob Bagchus, all of them! A smashing jump back to 2009 with “Death The Brutal Way” before they returned to “Deathhammer” with another doom/death masterpiece, “Minefield”. Six songs so far, and the damn moment for leaving the stage came. They close as they started, with “The Rack”, for a goodbye headbanging. They were so fucking happy with their first time in the neighbour country and I was also fucking happy, because I didn’t have the chance to see them in Athens. As you can understand, nine songs and 45 minutes were not enough for Asphyx of course.

But we let go, because it was time for Meshuggah, the crazy Swedes. 25 minutes passed ’till the sound-check was finished. The cover art of “Koloss” was set up and it was time for some brain jamming. “Demiurge” came just to make a big crazy party of mosh pits and headbanging and I was surprised that Bulgarians responded in that way to Meshuggah’s music during their whole show. It was still sunny when they were playing “Demiurge”. I don’t know if their music is calling the rain or something, but from “Pravus” and on, the skies opened and heavy rain drops were falling down (and it was raining only in Meshuggah’s show). The eight-string, brain-smashing storm continued with “Do Not Look Down” and “The Hurt That Finds You First”, the rain was even stronger and so was the headbanging. But what happened in “Bleed” can’t be fitted in only one paragraph. The mathematical equation of heavy headbanging in the rain, circle pits inside the mud plus Meshuggah’s music is equal to an explosive atmosphere. But they didn’t destroy completely our brain, yet. It was destroyed 100% after “New Millennium Cyanide Christ”, and most of us were already bending in a 90 degrees angle, because of the headbanging. And if you’re crazy enough to be in a band like Meshuggah, then you’re so crazy to go down to the crowd, do crowd surfing and throw shoes to the people from the stage. Well, Jens Kidman simply did that. The smashing “Rational Gaze” came, before they made a deep, deep trip in 1995 with the most unexpected track of Meshuggah, “Future Breed Machine”. It was so big the surprise for me, that I hardly remember if I looked at the stage at least for one moment. Such an epic appearance must close with a great song, so the rainmakers played “Dancers To A Discordant System”. They never showed mercy to us, while we were ramming down in the rain, trying to pick up our melted brains for almost an hour.

Do you think that we went back and rested somewhere, after Meshuggah? Well, you’re wrong because Soulfly were next. The first time when I saw them, they played for two hours and to tell you the truth it was too much. As a dirty Cavalera dog, I couldn’t miss ’em, so I was there and banged a lot, especially in Sepultura covers (five songs ladies and gentlemen). With Tony Campos from Ministry, this time, they played 70 minutes and they were a true warm up for the next two bands. They also, played many songs from their new record and specifically they entered with “World Scum”, but they played older stuff, too, like “Blood, Fire, War, Hate” as second song. Max Cavalera was very sociable with his fans and he made sure that all of us would participate in a totally epic live show. So, in “Refuse/Resist” I don’t think that anyone was left without banging his head or being in a mosh pit. ‘Till we recovered from this shock, “Prophecy” and “Back To The Primitive” were following and they didn’t give us any time to rest. In “Seek ‘N’ Strike” all the festival was jumping up and down at the instructions of Max, and then Soulfly returned to “Enslaved” album with “Intervention” and the first part of “Iron Man”. It was time for a tribal dance/mosh pit/ pogo with “Porrada” from “Prophecy” and again a mini cover at the end, of Pantera’s “Walk” (it was fucking amazing, what we did then), before the band played four Sepultura covers and launched us up to the sky. Round 1: “Arise” with “Dead Embryonic Cells” along with brutal pits in the mud. Round 2: “Troops Of Doom” because the crowd didn’t bleed immediately with the first songs. Round 3: the Amazon awakes with bad “Attitude”. Round 4: “Roots Bloody Roots” FIGHT! For the closing, we weren’t impressed that much, because they played “Jumpdafuckup” together with “Eye For An Eye”; Soulfly always close with this song. But fuck it all, we were jumping again because Cavalera succeed to make Loud Festival a big, very big party.

A thrash metal storm came with Annihilator. It was past 9 and the Canadians showed up for second time in front of the Bulgarian fans, after Kavarna Festival. Easily one of the most energetic bands of the gig, they opened their show with “Ambush” from their self-titled album. Although I think that this album is worth their name, they played so fucking well, that they delivered the songs perfectly. But we were waiting for more classic songs and they rewarded us with “King Of The Kill” (where is a new pair of pants when you need them??). Again with the self-titled album and “Betrayed” was in the setlist, until they played a very “Metal” song, “Clown Parade”. Back in the 2002 they released a very groovy thrash metal record, and in tonight’s menu “Ultra-Motion” was also included. I have to say that Dave Padden made a very good appearance and together with Jeff they ploughed the stage. In “Set The World In Fire” the Canadian thrashers set truly fire in the Airport’s Park Site. The deification of Jeff Waters came with “W.T.Y.D.” when he showed why he said “no” twice to Dave Mustaine. And such a great song, should be followed by another, equally great song. And that was “Burns Like A Buzzsaw Blade”. The highlight of Annihilator’s show was “Phantasmagoria”. Once again the two singers/guitar players were going up and down the stage and down in the crowd, where mayhem was dominating. Maintaining the band’s highlight, “Stonewall” came to be added in the big thrash feast. Headbanging in the damp, blood in the mud and real thrash metal in the ears, this party could only become better with Slayer. But the trip in the early albums didn’t stop there. “21” and “I Am in Command” were also amazing moments of Annihilator’s show. The self-titled album was in order again, with “The Trend” (the best track of “Annihilator” for me), and after that they chose something from “Never, Neverland”; the “Fun Palace”. The crowd below was mad about them, so they played two more songs, before they left the stage for Slayer. “Shallow Grave” with a snippet of “Hell’s Bells” and of course the greatest thrash metal song ever, “Alison Hell, with which they close every live show of theirs (and with the well-known intro of it), were their presents for goodbye, because the festival was reaching its end, and it was time for the headliners of the headliners.

Slayer were simply the best band in Loud Festival. More people than yesterday came for this malevolent band, and their hellish live shows. Only one was missing, because he is hospitalized now. But Gary Holt from Exodus, replaced him worthily, thus not leaving the fans thirsty after 2 years. It started quickly, like any other murder, with an aggressive entrance of “World Painted Blood” and “Psychopathy Red”. It continued steadily with “War Ensemble” and even if we were quite far from the front lines and the chaos in the mud, we created our own circle pits. The Bulgarians around us weren’t prepared for it, but we are crazy metalheads and Slayer won’t come to Greece; what the hell were we supposed to do? More fight in the mosh pits, with “Die By Sword” and even more blood with “Chemical Warfare”. A quick come back in “World Painted Blood” and “Hate Worldwide” before the five-six thousands of people banged endless in “Postmortem”. Near “Spirit In Black” we started to loose our minds and it was natural after this solid row of masterpieces. “Mandatory Suicide” was the slowest song in their appearance and we were thankful because the bones of many of us were in pain, but…. Did anyone say something? No? Are you sure? “Altar Of Sacrifice, curse of the damned” motherfuckers! Not even the mud could stop the madness in the crowd, not even Jesus later could save us from the thrash metal holocaust. And nothing was about to stop yet. Tom crooned “Dance with the dead in my skins, listen to their hallowed screams” and we were ready for one of the highlighted Slayer songs. I thought that my head would fall off somewhere due to the strong headbanging. Old masterpieces were enough for the time, and the Americans decided to play “Snuff” and of course we didn’t stop the pits. We didn’t ask anything more, we knew that they would play their three classic songs. The only thing that we didn’t know was the order they would be in. “Angel Of Death” came first and the blood started to boil. Then we travelled “South Of Heaven” using a lot of headbanging and finally the big massacre came with “Raining Blood”, in which we turned even more crazy and used even more power in the mosh pits. What an epic live show… 1 hour and 40 minutes and sixteen songs for the end of Loud Festival. Surely, they are one of the few bands in the world that they didn’t lose their ability to do great live shows and drift the people along them.

Last weekend was a full metal weekend. Loud Festival was a very good chance to see big names of the metal planet on the stage. For only 50 euros, it was unforgivable to loose such a great line-up, plus the epic appearances of many bands, even if the festival had its negative things (but it was the first Loud Festival, so there are excuses for that). And if the organizers in Greece continue their low-budget festivals with their extremely high prices, in the middle of the economic crisis, more and more Greek metalheads will be traveling to the neighbour country. After all of these things, I really need a long rest to recover. From the land where hammer and sickle are crushed down, many metal hails.

Report: Stathis “Sethianus” Ntailianas