Location/Dates: Zottegem, Belgium / May 14th – 16th
Bands Featured: MONO, Amenra, Caspian, The Ocean, Jakob, Maybeshewill, Tangled Thoughts of Leaving
Selling Point: It’s unlikely that there will be a more impressive collection of post-rock and metal bands in one place this year. The fact that The Ocean aren’t even headlining one of these nights should give you an idea of the caliber of the lineup present. This is an absolute must for any fan of weeping openly whilst being crushed by walls of noise.
Things to Know: According to the festival’s website, it looks like there will be plenty of amenities and comforts available to all, starting with the fact that the festival site itself is huge. Plenty of free parking and camping right next to the festival site and a shuttle running between the railroad station in Zottegem and the festival site. There will also be free wifi and charging stations for phones. So basically you’ll be taken care of quite well. Also, for those of us who will not be able to attend, they’ll be livestreaming the entire event!
Location/Dates: Bristol, England / May 29th – 31st
Bands Featured: Converge, Sunn O))), Earth, Pig Destroyer, Nails, Between The Buried And Me
Selling Point: This fully independent festival (no media or brand sponsors whatsoever) has a line up that reads like a Who’s Who of Heavy Blog favorites. Focusing on the supremely heavy end of metal, there is no thrash or power metal here. The biggest names in drone, doom, sludge and powerviolence all take to the stage in the multi roomed Motion complex in Bristol. This festival is getting bigger and bigger every year in terms of the quality and quantity of it’s acts from all over the world. Fans of underground music should catch Magrudergrind, either of the two sets from Pig Destroyer and don’t pass up on Torche, Relapse representatives and Heavy Blog darlings.
Things to Know: It’s in Bristol so there will be more varieties of cider available than the mind can comprehend. Just remember, even though it tastes like apples it will still get you drunker than you’ve ever been before. It’s probably best not to wear your Of Mice & Men shirt down to this show. I mean, wear what you want but expect death stares every step you tread.
– Matt MacLennan
Location/Dates: Newark, England / July 9th – 13th
Bands Featured: Decapitated, Betraying The Martyrs, Leprous, Sithu Aye, Slice The Cake, Shokran
Selling Point: Much like Euroblast, this is a festival for fans of the progressive side of music, both extreme and a bit lighter. Sharing some of the same acts as Euroblast, Tech-Fest this year also gives some of Britain’s young technical metal talent. Sectioned, No Sin Evades His Gaze and The Color Line are all acts that you won’t catch elsewhere this year. The perfect environment for burgeoning musical talent is rife with star names too. Decapitated, making their only UK appearance of the year, shouldn’t need much fanfare. The Polish magicians got back to winning form last year and are top of the list of reasons why Tech-Fest is necessary to attend this year. The grounds the festival are held on make for a fully communal experience also so expect to catch some of your new favorites wandering around, looking for somewhere to drop a squat.
Things to Know: It’s a bit tricky to get to but pay attention to the signs and your sat-nav and you’ll be fine. You’ll want to make sure and bring an assortment of gear with you as the English summer is about as predictable as who the next member of The Faceless will be.
Location/Dates: Clisson, France / June 19th – 21st
Bands Featured: Mastodon, Russian Circles, The Atlas Moth, Envy, Elder, Shining (NOR), Triptykon, Meshuggah, Vallenfyre, Children of Bodom, Dying Fetus, At the Gates, Ne Obliviscaris, Lamb of God, Slipknot, Nightwish, In Flames, Faith No More, Sylosis, Ghost Brigade, Haken, Red Fang
Selling Point: Just look at the list above. Hellfest has grown from a small European festival to one of the biggest names out there in just a few short years and there’s a good reason for that: its hands reach deep into obscure, extreme metal, while still grasping on to some big names. Hellfest this year provides one of the most eclectic and far reaching lineups available. From progressive to grindcore, you won’t find a wider variety, anywhere in Europe and even the world. In addition, past years teach us that each of the bands will be given the appropriate amount of stage time, as the really short slots are housed by a plethora of up and coming bands.
Things to Know: It might be June but it can still rain. Bring appropriate clothes, as those nights can get very, very cold. The approach to Clisson is also non-trivial, as you’ll be heading from Paris to Nantes and only then to the small town. Prepare your route in advance and consider chipping in for the shuttles from the train station to the festival grounds. It’s quite a long walk, especially with equipment. Other than that, Hellfest is one of the most cheerful and easy going festivals out there, so be prepared for a good time!
– Eden Kupermintz
Location/Dates: Koln, Germany / October 1st – 3rd.
Bands Featured: Between the Buried and Me, Leprous, Destrage, Haken, Lantlos, Persefone
Selling Point: Basically, this is the Mecca for any metal-head who is bent on the progressive side of things. Featuring bands both big and small from the sub-genre, it’s a veritable guide to everything that’s exciting about progressive metal. Growing out of its “djent” cocoon, the more established Euroblast looks to appeal to all fans of intricate and brooding music. Among the younger names are bands that you won’t see playing anywhere else: VOLA, Aliases, Destiny Potato, to name just a few. It’s simply the best place to catch both legendary acts and younger ones, on the bleeding edge of progressive music today.
Things to Know: Koln has many places to stay at but your best bet is couch surfing. Since the festival brings many like-minded fans to one city, it shouldn’t be too hard to fine a nice, relaxing place to stay. Check out the festival’s forums and the relevant sites and make sure you have a place to stay!