Metal Gates Festival first edition (review)

16 November - 18 November

The first edition of Metal Gates Festival took place in Quantic Club between November 16th-18th. We, Din Intunerec team were there and this is how “we saw” it :

(Ana Maria) Day 1:

Metal Gates Festival started on a Thursday around 19:00 o’clock. At that hour, people had just begun showing up, so unfortunately Descend into Despair had less than the audience they deserve. I saw them live one before, in the same place, this spring. Meanwhile, they released their second full-length, Synaptic Veil.  Their performance at Metal Gates was excellent; this time we could properly enjoy the band, because the sound was at its best. As I said on my latest review, I was impressed by Xander’s vocals. I was impressed by the song “Plange glia de dorul meu” the most, not just because of the voice, but also by the use of the keyboards.  In my opinion Descend into Despair is one of the few Romanian underground bands that succeeded to deliver high quality music and proven to be a mature band, worth following. You can take their overall presence at the beginning of Metal Gates as additional proof. I urge you to listen to their latest album if you haven’t.  We’ve talked a bit with Xander about the festival and here are his words: “Hello Din Întuneric and thank you for granting me the chance to speak my mind! I hope that you’re all doing well, I’ve been following your website for quite some time and I’m really glad to be featured within it. These days have been quite something for all of us in Descend into Despair, but we’ve all recovered and despite the fact that we’re a funeral doom metal band the future looks quite bright for us!

It was one hell of a thrill to be on stage again and like always the crowd in Bucharest seems to really enjoy our performance. We’ve been preparing for this show for quite some time and put a lot of thought into our concert. The selected playlist has been a special one, featuring one of our most requested songs (Plânge glia de dorul meu) for the first time ever and I’m really glad that everyone in Quantic reacted  to our show in such a manner, I could really feel all of our energy reflected back at us. We’ve also put up a special projection that I believe to fit in with our music perfectly. It was an honor to share the stage with such amazing bands from all over the world. Overall I think it was a unique spectacle and we are all very proud of ourselves! Being the first edition of Metal Gates and considering the fact that it was quite a lengthy one, spanning across three days, I found it to be a great success. The organizer, Mihu, is still at the start of the road when it comes to coordinating shows, but he seems to already be handling it in a very professional manner. The sound quality was decent, the venue was more than great and apart from one unfortunate cancellation all bands managed to play in a timely manner. A fact that I didn’t enjoy was that the festival overlapped with a concert that took place at a different venue, but I believe that you can’t control everything (it would have been nice though to have brought the respective band to play at Metal Gates as they would have fit in perfectly in my opinion, but I am really unfamiliar with how these procedures go). When it comes to the attendance I always find it such a great pleasure to play in Bucharest as they seem to have a greater interest in niche genres such as ours, so please allow me to send a big and warm thank you to everyone who came to see us! All in all the three days of Metal Gates are a great achievement for the metal stage worldwide and I am really looking forward towards the following edition! Xander”  

The second band for the evening was Abigail. They just returned from their mini European tour they went on with Saturnus and Clouds. I’m happy this band slowly begins to get the recognition it always deserved. At Metal Gates, besides their best known songs, they played 4 new ones, 3 of which were played live for the first time in Romania. The songs were: “AugustSeptembrieOctombrieNoiembrie”, “The Mind Replays what the Heart Can’t Erase”, “Respir” and “Voyage Within”. On a personal note, I was pleased to see all the members in the band happy and smiling on stage; I guess Doom Metal is not always about sadness and melancholy. I hope 2018 will reward us with a new album coming from this excellent band!  

Unfortunately, here is where the sound system in club “Quantic” started to show its ugly teeth. I’m not a big listener of Mourning Sun, but I was completely fascinated by their live performance. Ana Carolina has an excellent ethereal voice, giving a shamanic vibe to the music of the band. I would very much like to listen to this band somewhere in a forest, or in a secluded place with a natural background. I was equally impressed with her shyness and her polite words towards organizer and public. I’m was sorry the sound was not at its best and hope to have another chance to listen to them, live.

The band that closed the evening was Saturnus, who was in Romania several times before. Quantic Club was almost full by the time they began playing, showing that they have many fans here, as it should be. The setlist included songs from their latest 2 albums mostly (“Saturn in Ascension” and “Veronika Decides to Die”, for example), but older song as well. They started the evening with “Litany of Rain”, and ended with “Christ Goodbye”, and they came back for an encore, which I don’t know if I remember well, but I think it was “A Father’s Providence”. The most emotional moment of the evening was when Saturnus dedicated “I Love Thee” to all who were affected by what happened at club “Colectiv”. Their previous performance in Bucharest was there, not that long before the fire. I could see they were affected as well and it meant a great deal to see them holding the Romanian flag with the victims’ names on it, and to hear them performing this special song. 

The Metal Gates Festival had a great start, in spite of some technical difficulties. Also, from the start, I noticed Andrei Irode’s team, Blackhawk Security, keeping an eye on the public and the bands, properly marking the exit and entrance doors and making everyone feel safe. It’s the little details that make the difference and I could notice the organizer, First Steps Production, put a lot an effort into everything and really care for the well-being of the audience. I wish to give my thanks, again, to all involved, and to tell them that their effort gained the public’s appreciation.

(Miruna Vitriol):  The second day of Metal Gates Festival began with Other Eyes Wise, a groovy/progressive metal band from the UK, Terra ΙncΩgnita, a melodic metal band from Greece and Animae Silentes, a dark/gothic metal band from Italy. Unfortunately, I missed these bands because my train arrived with a bit of delay and I am sorry for that. I gave them a try and listened to them at home and Animae Silentes got my attention so far. So if you don’t know the guys you can check them here Moving on to Lunarsea, a melodic death metal band from Italy, I was captured by their show considering the fact this was the first time I saw them performe on stage. The sound was good, but the voice got me. I have talked to the guys about the show and here is what they said:

From the very first time we landed at Bucharest, we got the impression that something memorable was going to happen. When we finished check-out, we found our bus driver with a giant sign with “Lunarsea” written on it, waiting for us at the airport. He became our personal drive through our whole 3 days in Bucharest! We came to the first festival night in Bucharest, after a quick shower at the hote; the driver took us at Bucharest new center, and we go through several clubs and pubs there and to than to the Metal Gates afterparty were we spent 3 beautiful nights together with some other bands and some fans and a lot of good music and kind people. Second day was our turn on festival and we made a wonderful sound check (with our sound engineer Giuseppe Orlando from The Foreshadowing), without pressure and we noticed that there were 2 guys on stage from the festival crew, helping us with all technical details and stuff. Festival begins without relevant delays; our gig was scheduled at 19.40. After a quick set-up on stage we were ready to go. Impressive sound, both on stage and outside. We noticed that after a smooth start, we felt like the calm before the storm has to begin. With every song, we noticed from the stage more and more people watching us. After every song, there was more involvement and screaming from the crowd. Every time, minutes passing by, we felt better and better. One of the most beautiful things that happened, is that normally on this kind of show, after some songs, many people already listen to you, and deicide to take a beer and smoke a cig. BUT, when we were performing our last song, on intro we look out at the crowd and it was pack till the end, and people really were watching and screaming for us like it was the first song. This kind of feeling is something unique for a band. It means that the songs you chose to play were well organized and kept the crowd’s interest high till the end. Wonderful crowd, wonderful people. Thanks. Next day we get a trip at Bucharest at day and back to festival to see Primodial and all the other bands, and then back again to Afterparty for a drink….a lot of drink actually. At the end: Wonderful crowd-Wonderful Organizations, nothing to complain about. It was our first time in Bucharest (we will come back again in Romania next March at Cluj with Orphaned Land), but we really like to come back again to Bucharest for a full live gig. Thanks Bucharest. We really felt like home!

The next band is Votum, a dark progressive metal band from Poland. I never was a progressive fan myself. I will be short in presenting this band, so I am going to say that it was a nice performance and the band are great musicians, but unfortunately the vocals didn’t impress me. If you are a fan of this genre you should check out their latest album “:Ktonik:”.

And we arrive at my favorite moment of the day: Swallow the Sun, which needs no introduction. Juha joined them on stage after a 1 year break. Songs from Emerald Forest And The Blackbird, Hope, New Moon, Songs from the North I, II & III and Ghosts of loss were on their setlist for Friday night. The sound was good overall with few moments when I had difficulties in hearing Mikko’s voice. I wished that this concert would never end, and I think the whole public would agree with me, because they came back to play a few more songs as an encore. I had a great time finally listening to them live and I hope the guys will come back as soon as possible.

The 3rd day began with some symphonic death metal from Sweden, namely the guys from Nox Vorago who were in Romania for the second time this year. I really enjoyed their performance, nice show with few technical problems as far as I noticed, but it was nice. I do recommend the guys if you haven’t listen to them yet. We’ve talked a bit about the festival and here is what they’ve told me: Did the organisation of Metal Gates Festival was good, what about the Romanian public? The festival was very good, it went smooth. Romanian people are awesome and we look forward to return. The only little setback we had was when we were supposed to start our show. Sound guy was away and half of the band didn’t have signal.  It was only miscommunication I suppose, so no hard feelings. The gig went on after a while. 

Did the fact that you were the ones who opened the show bothered you? It usually doesn’t bother us to open shows or festivals. We have a different kind of live performance, so sometimes it’s nice to have us on stage when the sun has gone down hehe. Best regards!

My favorite band of the evening was Riul Doamnei. I saw them for the first time after so many years. I am totally fascinated by Federico’s voice, reminds me a bit of Cradle of Filth somehow. I enjoyed their performance, the sound was amazing and they were nice and communicative with the audience. I had a small chat with Federico about the festival. Here are his words:

How would you compare Metal Gates experience with the other times you played in Romania?

We had many festival experiences in Romania through the years and I must say each one has been great. Metal Gates is for sure in the top three. You know, as a musician, I consider a festival good not only about the public response but also about many other details that are important in the same way, like: care from the sound engineer and stage crew, food & accommodation, merchandise service etc. etc. We can say that everything was perfect at Metal Gates. Definitely another night to remember. 

Do you think you had a good hour to play?

Well, who would not like to have a better position and a longer set? Let’s say we could have had a better position but we are gratefully thankful for the great support. It was priceless to see people showing up despite the early time of our set, it means a lot to us. In the end we were happy and honored in the same way. We wish to thank all those who came for the warm welcome, we hope you enjoyed the festival in the same way we did! We hope to have another chance to meet our Romanian brothers as soon as possible. Noroc. 

The 3rd band of the night was Eufobia. I am pretty sure you already know these guys because they came to Romania many times. The show overall was pretty nice (it was the first time I saw them live) , the sound was good and the vocalist surprised me that he learned Romanian so fast that he could speak to the public so easily. The last song was dedicated to the Colectiv victims. I have talked to Niki a bit and this is what he said about the Metal Gates Festival:

what did you think about the Romanian public? The whole experience was great as always. We enjoyed ourselves very much. The reaction of the audience was great and I was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of people wearing T-shirts of Eufobia, including the owner of Quantic club, a great guy, by the name of Alexandru. We respect and admire the Romanian public. We’ve played many times in Romania and I believe that we’ve already got a lot of friends there. We’re looking forward to coming back to the country. Our very first show abroad was in Romania and it was amazing. I fell in love with this beautiful country and since then for me, personally, Romania is the most special place on earth, second only to my Motherland. I often visit the country, at least half of my friends are Romanian, I speak the language fluently and even my girlfriend is Romanian.

Was the organization good?  The organization was not just good. I’d say it was perfect. This time we went to Romania to take part in two festivals, Klausenburg Metal Gathering in Cluj-Napoca and Metal Gates Festival in Bucharest. Both festivals were very well organized. Everything was quite impressive, but we weren’t surprised actually, because as a matter of fact, most of the Romanian concert organizers, with whom we had the chance to deal so far, were true professionals. I wish to use this chance to thank the people, thanks to who we took part in those awesome events. I’d like to mention the names of Olivia Ignatescu and Mihnea Badea of Cavalleria Events, Nemes Patric of Nomad events and Mihai Ilie of Final Step Productions. The last one is probably better known as the singer of the Romanian Doom Death Metal band Abigail. I’m proud to call these people my friends. Of course, those shows wouldn’t be the same without the devotion of the people who worked behind the scene, like the sound engineers, the merchandisers and those who took care of the bands. I can assure you that we appreciate the work of everyone involved and we’re extremely grateful. Respect.

Could you tell me few things about your latest album released last year. Do you have any future plans for a new album?  Right away. This was the third album of our band. It was certainly a very special one. That’s why we called it simply Eufobia. It was released in the autumn of the last year by the biggest Bulgarian Metal label Wizard LTD. The creation of the album was a long and painful process, because we didn’t want to make any compromises, but it was totaly worth it at the end. We didn’t released it until we were totally satisfied with the result. I must say now that we wouldn’t have succeeded without the help of our friend Deso, who recorded the album and our friend Pepinio, who mixed it, but the most important person, who helped us with the creation of this album, was our brilliant friend Val Volegna. He was the one who created the whole visual concept, the artwork and the videos of the songs “Liquid of Creation”, “Hater” and “Graveyard”. He’s without any doubt the most talented person that I have ever met in my life. Those who don’t believe my words should watch some of the videos, that he made for us on youTube and see for themselves. I’m confident that most people would agree with me thereafter. We’d like to record a new album as soon as possible and by the way we intend to do with the help of exactly the same people. Actually just before I started answering to your questions I met with our friend Pepinio, who’s going to be the producer, so hopefully in the beginning of the next year we’re going to the studio to record it. We’ve been already playing some of the songs, so those who attended our last two shows must be familiar with them. Judging by the reaction of the audience they were very well accepted. Now I’d like to thank you for this interview. I’m looking forward to seeing you in front of the stage on one of our upcoming concerts. Cheers and best wishes!

Mordrake are a band from UK which came for the 1st time in our country. I like the fact that their show made me dig up for more of their stuff. I talked a bit with them and here is what they said:

Tell us smth about the band itself since you’ve never been to Romania before.  Mordrake is a dark melodic metal band hailing from Bristol’s underground Metal scene, sculpting a unique sound that entangles Black, Groove, Melodic Death, Doom and Viking Metal, formed in 2012. Our first “Mini Album” Is called “Unhallowed Chambers” released May 2014. We have since released a lyric video for the song Bloodstained Winter which will feature on the up and coming new album called “Guardians of the Hollow” No official release date for this yet but it should be in the next few months. We have many influences, a few examples are: Behemoth, Children of Bodom, Dimmu Borgir, Black Label Society and Wintersun.We are signed to Enso Music Management here in the UK.

 

What is your oppinion about the whole festival?

As a band we have played support shows with bands such as, Akercocke, Exodus and Whispered, along with festival appearances including the Uk’s number one independent metal festival Bloodstock Open Air and tours around the UK, Poland, Czech Republic and Norway. We at Mordrake thought the event was fantastic. Metal Gates Festival was indeed a fantastic event and a privilege to be a part of. The crowd in Romania was incredible and It was an honour to meet so many of them before and after we had played. The venue was excellent, the crew both on the stage and the bar were a great help and very welcoming! As well as this the bands were all badass and the crowd was fantastic both while we were on the stage and to hang with after! We would like to thank Mihu, Nadia and anyone else at Final Step Promotions for putting on and giving us the opportunity to play such a great event and would love to be involved again.”

The Foreshadowing is a gothic doom metal band from Italy. I am pretty sure you know the guys from the 2016 edition of Artmania. I will be honest and say that the sound was better last year. Technical problems or not, I liked them better in Sibiu. If you don’t know them yet, you should check their latest album here .

The next band was Primordial. I saw them 3 times already. I can’t argue they aren’t great musicians, but definitely not my type of music.

Oh Katara are the next band of the evening. After Primordial I was like 2 more bands? It was exhausting for sure and my opinion is that there were too many bands per day. In my opinion, 5 bands per day would have been better. The Katara guys are a Romanian band from Arad. I will be honest and tell you that I never heard of them before until now. Their performance didn’t convince me that much, but I will dig for their stuff more in the future.

The last band of the night was Grimaze from Bulgaria. I was impressed by their energy and the girl who played guitar had a very strong presence on stage. A band with lots of potential if you ask me and I hope we will hear from them more in the future. I have talked a bit with the guys and here is what they said:

“It was awesome to play at the first edition of Metal Gates. These events are sort of underground, so it’s good that there are people who organize them and bring bands and fans that love metal together. We were the last band that played at the festival and we are grateful to all people who stayed till the end and became part of our music and energy.” 

I want to thank Final Step Production for making this event happen and Mihai Ilie who was kind to us during the entire festival. Hope to see you again in January.

Until next year!

 

photo credits: Gheorghe Paraschiv , Ph_otography , DieRatte Photography

 

 

 

 

 

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