Metal Over Malta 2016

By Rainer Kerber

Venue: Chateau Buskett / Malta 
Date: March 18th/19th 2016
 
Malta is a small island state in the Mediterranean, a former British colony, independent since 1964. In terms of surface area slightly smaller than the northern German city of Bremen. Just over 400,000 people inhabit the islands (for comparison Duisburg has about 485,000 inhabitants, Bochum 360,000). Located south of the 37th degree of latitude there is sub-tropical climate here. That's where the second edition of Metal Over Malta Festival took place this year. It was organized by the Maltese band Weeping Silence.
 
On the evening before there was a pre-party at the Black Gold Saloon, Sliema. Not far away from official partner hotel of the festival, the Bayview. Besides the two singers of Weeping Silence you could also meet the Swedish band "Eyes Wide Open" and some of the visiting fans from all over Europe.
 
Since the first day did not start until after 8 pm, there was enough time to visit the countryside and the history of Malta. What suits better than a tour in a double-decker bus about La Valetta and the so-called three cities. Also called Cottonera: Cospicua (Bormla), Vittoriosa (Birgu) and Senglea (L'Isla). It went past ports to the southeast coast and then back to Sliema.
 
For the arrival and departure for the Chateau Buskett the organizers had specially arranged a shuttle service. However, the Buskett Road House is not a typical concert venue but rather a tourist restaurant with a spacious hall, where normally weddings and other family celebrations are held. 
 
The first band of the festival came appropriately from Malta, Viper Soup Complex. The band played a very unconventional progressive metal, the set list was seen as a "Menu", especially for the fans in the front rows. Singer Annemarie Spiteri presented a very theatrical performance. In addition to very good clean vocals, she showed her skills even with operatic vocals and sprinkled sometimes brutal growls.
 
This was followed by Victims of Creation, also from Malta. They played Doom/Death Metal in its purest form.  Slow but almost oppressive guitar wails rang out from the speakers. That was pure darkness. Vocally there was a mixture of typical death metal growls and occasional clean vocals.
 
The band met on the previous evening, Swedes Eyes Wide Open, were then next on stage. Those who now hoped for typical Swedish power metal à la Sabaton and Hammerfall, had to be disabused. Instead, there was an interesting mix of thrash and power metal to hear, with a mixture of growls and clean vocals.
 
At the end of the first evening was again dominated by quiet doomy melodies. The Foreshadowing, from the Italian capital Rome, showed their version of Gothic Doom Metal. While not quite as slow as several of their genre-colleagues, they nevertheless played with a high degree of darkness and as usual with most Italian bands, the keyboard-playing that brought a little light into the darkness was essential. 
 
The second day started earlier so that there was time enough for seven bands. The evening opened with the Greek/British prog metal band Until Rain. The proggy sound was mixed with some doomy tones and backed partly with spherical sounding keyboard melodies. Singer Cons Marg sprinkled clear vocal parts now and then with growls and was supported by backing singer Donna Zed. 
 
Then MartYriuM, from Malta, lived up to their name. A true martyrdom was celebrated on stage. As for genre the band is called "Blackened Industrial Death Metal and Beyond", which is what it was. Right at the beginning flowed theatre blood, both singers were dressed in black and delivered a very theatrical performance. Vocally, there were many evil death metal growls, but also clear and operatic singing. The instrumentation corresponded to the brutal Death Metal style. Note in the margin, this was the second appearance of singer Annemarie Spiteri.
 
Then, it got much more melodic. Apparition, from England, underlined their musicianship, Gothic Metal/Rock at its best. I saw the band for the first time in 2015 live at the Dames Of Darkness. Singer Fiona Creaby greeted me joyfully before the show. And during the gig she impressively demonstrated that she is one of best in their intake. In addition there was outstanding double-guitar melodies with excellent solos.
 
The Italian band, Shores Of Null, also call their style  Melodic Doom Metal. But you can hear a mix of various other styles in the Doom including elements of Melodic, Power Metal or Death. Thus there is a steady exchange of growls and clean vocals. An interesting mélange of different styles. 
 
Even in "Oblivion - Darkness In My Heart Anno XV", the opening song of the local heroes Weeping Silence, the blood began to run cold. You would not suspect this darkness in a band of this warm and sunny region. I saw the band for the first time live at last year's Dames Of Darkness Festival and was immediately impressed by the sound. The album “Opus IV Oblivion”, released in October, is a real masterpiece. And their musical class confirmed the Maltese also at the appearance of the festival organized by them.
 
The Belgian band, Thurisaz, played an atmospheric and very melodic metal with bonds of Doom and Death Metal. Beautiful melodies characterize the band's sound. Class guitar parts, impressive keyboard-playing carpets. The mix of growls and clean vocals were provided by the brothers Peter and Mattias Theuwen.
 
Before the show of the headliner Septicflesh the view of the stage was blocked by a curtain. The fans waited patiently for the end of the renovation work. Then started a death metal thunderstorm beyond compare with many symphonic recordings. In the meantime,  the fans of the well-filled Chateau Buskett welcomed the dressed in black leather Greeks with frenetic jubilation. For the majority of the fans that was the highlight of the two-day festival.
 
Although not each of the bands had hit my taste, it was an unforgettable weekend with great music in a very special location. A two-day peaceful heavy metal Festival lies behind me. I have met many good friends and met new people. A big thank you to this point to Weeping Silence, the band, which has organized this event, a thanks to all the bands and the many helpers who ensured a smooth flow. I will be happy to return. 
 

Rainer Kerber