First day of the festival began with a band which was actually new to my ears: Fjort; a post-hardcore band from Germany which was formed in the early of 2012. Until now they released three studio albums and one EP. Their show was short but intense, I saw many positive reactions from the public. As you probably know I am paying serious attention to the voice and this particularly one really got to me. I will for sure look forward to see them again.
One of the festival’s newcomers, and their first time playing in Romania, for that matter, the ambient nordic folk group, Wardruna, exceeded expectations and offered an overall great performance. While not exactly a part of the metal genre, their style of music became increasingly popular over time and their reputation now precedes them. This is especially true due to the popular show, “Vikings”, for which they’ve contributed to the soundtrack, thus exposing their works to a more mainstream audience. Such as it was, the band certainly succeeded in creating an unmistakingly mystifying atmosphere. The traditional nordic instruments used such as flutes, mouth harp, goat horns, deer-hide frame drums kraviklyr and more, offered a unique air of authenticity to their performance, and the melodic vocals made the surreal chants echo in the warm evening air. It was truly a site to behold and this was evident from the warm reception of the crowd.
Architects since there is a “hype” with this metalcore trend over the place, I tried to get into it as well. I won’t deny this band is great on stage and while they created a very nice atmosphere, managing to to make the crowd jump and headbang…personally, they are not my thing and their performance wasn’t a “wow” for me.
One of the festival’s headliners and one of the most popular bands among the crowd present there was none other than Dream Theater. Formed back in 1985, initially under the name “Majesty” and later on in 1988, becoming the Dream Theater everyone knows and loves, the band released a whopping fourteen albums, with their latest one, “Distance over Time” being released this year. The band delighted fans with every occasion and this time around was no different. Their skill is undeniable and their stage presence was as powerful as always. While LaBrie’s vocals were on point, they’re not exactly my cup of tea…but instead, it was band’s energetic instrumentals which stole the show, delivering an excellent performance. As expected, their setlist was blended the old with the new, with tracks like “Untethered Angel”, “Fall Into the Light” or “Pale Blue Dot” taken off their last album, along with older ones like “Peruvian Skies” or “The Dance Of Eternity”. The sound was spot on and the visuals were a very nice touch. Suffice to say that the fans were pleased.
Second day of the festival was opened by Mobius a band which again performed in Romania for the first time. This band was also new to my ears, but I enjoyed their show very much. With their musical style being a mix between doom & slightly a bit of sludge which actually captured the audience’s interest. A ‘quiet’ show with no talk between the songs.
Alcest was definitely my favourite performance of the festival this edition. For those who are unaware of this band, it started as a solo black metal project of Neige in 2000. Lately they adopted a new style “blackgaze” which somehow combined black metal and shoegaze in a unique sound. Seeing them for the 2nd time got me to the point where I can say that they are really amazing live and is one of those bands which give me goosebumps during their entire performance.
Madrugada is a Norwegian alternative rock band formed in the town of Stokmartensin 1993. For those who don’t know about the band, on January 2008 they announced that they will split after one last tour and they performed their last gig in November that year. After 10 years of hiatus, the band returns on stage performing for the first time in our country. Their performance was really nice, emotional with a hint of neofolk here and there. The intensity of their melancholic music left me a blue note but also to the audience who seemed to adore them.
Another of the festival’s headliners was a band that needs no introduction…Opeth. Sibiu’s Large Square was teeming with people moments before the band set foot on the stage, and the crowd cheered excitedly at their appearance. Akerfeldt, charismatic as ever, chatted with the crowd a bit, reminiscing about the last time they were here, and working in a few jokes. It’s always nice to see a band that loves to communicate with its fans and does so naturally. But on to the music! Their performance felt flawless, much better than past ones, in my opinion. Mixing clean and harsh vocals effortlessly as usual, and the instrumental howling in the otherwise quiet evening.. The crowd was enchanted. The setlist being composed of fan favorites such as “Ghosts of Perdition”, “In My Time of Need” or “The Drapery Falls”, proved to be a great selection. My only complaint is that the concert lasted for so little, because personally, I would have loved to hear more.
But the aforementioned concerts weren’t the only things to do when it came to Artmania. Like every year, activities were plentiful. From a vinyl record fair (Vinil Mania 2019) to free access for festival goers to the Astra Museum as well as the Brukenthal Museum, as well as the East European Music Conference where bands such as Coma or Am Fost La Munte și Mi-a Plăcut took the stage in the Small Square. Last but not least, the EEMC also included workshops on differnt subjects such as vocals in music, held by Mira Botocan as well as concert photography, held by Miluta Flueraș. All in all, Artmania 2019 was an interesting and pleasant experience with a good selection of bands and nice atmosphere.
Until next time !
photos by: Miluta Flueras.