Artmania Day II – a line-up no one expected but everyone enjoyed

Artmania needs no introduction to us, rock/metal enthusiasts. With such a long tradition, it has become a highlight of every year, bringing people not just with its great music, but with its specific atmosphere. As the years went by, many famous bands got up on the stage from the center square of Sibiu. This year had a progressive twist no one see it coming, but overall Artmania can’t go wrong so people were still excited. The charm of the festival consists not only in the musical acts, but in the cultural activities and the attempt to promote culture, which is very much appreciated. Thus, it gathers all kinds of art lovers, no matter the form of i.

This year I was one of them. Unforunately I didn’t manage to get there on the first day, due to some external factors but I surely enjoyed the second one. From what I’ve heard, Haken and Mogwai did some pretty good shows, though there were some sound issues.

The second day started pretty good with Distorted Harmony, a progressive metal act from Tel Aviv. Now, you don’t usually get to hear (good) metal from Israel, but these guys got it big time. Their enthusiam and positive attitude one stage is just fascinating. Although they have been pretty settled in the progressive metal scene for a couple of years now, the guys were quite nervous on stage, but still gave everything they had. It was one of those shows were you see how much the artist works to be there for you. Even if they were the first band and played around 7 pm, they had a generous audience. Their setlist included songs from all their metarials, from Utopia to Chain Reaction and A Way Out. Distorted Harmony is a balanced mix of old progressive metal, Dream Theater style, and modern some modern influences. You know, a nice mix of djent and clean vocals. Overall, I am waiting to see those again, pretty soon.

Zeal and Ardor were definitely the surprise of the festival. A band I knew nothing of became, easily, one of my favs. First thing you see when the lights come on is the number of the lead singers. Three, to be more exactly. So you can already tell it is going to be at least interesting. After they start playing, everything changes. I mean, don`t judge a book by its cover but I thought I am going to listen some classical progressive metal with a twist. Instead, I got some avant-garde metal, which was already a „wow”, but later I encountered some spirituals sounds and black metal. Now picture that being sung by three different voices. It was real party there, split in two main moods, chilling and calm based on blues and soul vibes and energy blast. The setlist had songs from both Devil is Fine and Stranger Fruit album. This show had a strange but satisfying feeling, like when you don’t know what you are watching but you can’t help no to like it. Favorite songs were definitely Devil is Fine, Baphomet and Don’t You Dare. I really hope I will get to relive this experience.

Leprous are simply … Leprous. We know and love them. A band that grew in a few years more than others did in decades, and became, easily, one of the most influential progressive metal bands. Their approach of the genre is unique and psychedelic, with heavy drums, both distorsion and clean sounds on guitars, melodic piano parts and Einar’s chilling voice. A Leprous concert is more like a journey. It starts with excitment and a drop of caution, leaving the public wondering about what is going to happen next and where they are heading. Then it slowly grows into popular songs, on well-known territories and the audience goes crazy. Another thing I noticed, regarding the audience, was the fact that people were feeling every tune. I sw some girls crying during the song „From the Flame”, but it was that satisfaction and fulfilment crying, when you close your eyes so you can hear the music better and then you smile. I think that is the best a band could get while they play live. If your music goes deeper than the hearing, you won. Leprous’ music is a rollercoaster of emotions, moods and states of mind. As their journey ends, the sound gets more serein but still imposing and everyone gets sad because one does not simply gets enough of these guys. The gig from Artmania won everyone’s heart. Besides the great music, we got to see some very cool video projections and a nice „light-show” that completed the show, along the way. The guys played both songs from their latest material and some old songs, for the old Leprous fans. It was a show to remember and definitely one to repeat.

After a short break of soundchecks, Steven Wilson, the most expected artist of Artmania, came on stage. To be honest, I never called myself a big fan of him or Porcupine Tree but somehow, the show got my attetion pretty quick. I guess never judge a book by its past musical materials. When it ended I was just „wow, what did I just see?”. It was definitely more than a regular show, it was a whole new musical experience, a complete one. Everything from the sound, lights, videoprojections to the messege sent and the public-artist bound, was perfect. Of course, we all know Steven Wilson is famous for his meticulous planned shows, but when you get to see it, things are totally different. The setlist included songs from Porcupine Tree, like Lazarus and Sleep Together, but also some pieces from his solo albums, To The Bone, Hand. Cannot. Erase. and The Raven That Refused to Sing (and Other Stories) being the most famous. After Leprous left me emotionally „unstable”, Steven Wilson made me smile, laugh, cry and opened a liitle door inside of me, to a better understanding of what music can do to one. Every song and every word makes you feel something different and takes you to another worlds. As I was talking to a friend after, I told him this show „was definitely from another planet”. Wilson’s voice is both tandem and straightforward and overwhelming. All the musicians that were on that stage gave 110% of what they had and we will stay grateful for those hours for a long time.

This year, Artmania Festival was full of surprises, with a line-up no one expected but everyone enjoyed. From time to time, some change won’t hurt. The organisation of the event was nice. I really enjoyed the fact that the square was opened for the public during the day, so everyone could enjoy the city, even if they were not a part of the festival. Sibiu is definitely a charming city, full of culture, so it was perfect for the specific of the event. Another thing that impressed me was the fact that the promoters tried to organise some meet and greet with a part of the bands. Congrats for that, they made some people very happy. We can only thank the promoters and to all the staff, for what they did. See you next year, Artmania!

Adelina Sahlean

Flip Out – Live out your childhood dreams

I don’t know about you, but ever since I was a kid, I found trampolines exciting. Developing a passion for (watching) gymnastics sure helped with that. So, you can imagine, that when I found out about Flip Out Glasgow, I jumped at the chance (pun intended) to check it out! After all, the biggest trampoline arena in the world! Come on! I plan ahead, take a friend and off wee go. Excitement levels through the roof.

More than a week later and I am still pumped about it. It had so many trampolines to choose from. Surely enough, it had twice that for kids. I was looking at it with envy that I did not have that growing up. Even in the cafe, looking at all the arcade games and pool tables I could not help but think just how amazing it would have been to have a birthday there. Trampolines, games, slushies, burgers.  That would have definitely made me the coolest kid on the block. No wonder it was filled with kids. Now I see it from the parents’ side who just get to chill for a few hours while the kids go crazy and use up all their energy.


It’s equally fun as an adult, getting to spend some time a lot of energy (for real, it’s quite the workout). Perhaps it is more fun because there aren’t that many parks or adventure places like this to cater to adults. I did discover however that I am much more of a coward than little kids are. Where they were jumping from high blocks and fearlessly backflipping into foampits, I was trying to calculate angles and make sure I would be able to do it. Obviously, it was all very safe and all very soft. Try once, try twice, courage will come.

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I loved that I could choose from different trampolines and games. Just as we entered the “grown-up” section, there was trampoline basketball. Sounds fun, maybe if I can jump and jump, I will be able to shoot some hoops. Wrong. I sucked at it just as badly as I sucked at normal basketball. But this was 10 times more fun. Having to let go and just jump takes some courage, especially when jumping from considerable heights. The moment your recoil from the trampoline is some cartoon-ish now what moment, but it is sooo cool. So freeing and fun and just through and through an amazing experience.

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For those of us stronger, there is also an area with a Ninja warrior course. I went on half of the easy one and decided to let others there and I returned to jumping and jumping.

Barely moving, we made our way to the exist in what was a great experience. We truly had fun and enjoyed the day. I would definitely come back.

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Metalhead Meeting II – Soulfly, Epica, Kataklysm, Carach Angren, An Theos

After an intense first day of Metalhead Meeting, the skies were angry and we got rain, rain, and some more rain. But the show must go on. I don’t envy Blood Oath and Rhemorha who had the difficult job of opening the festival on a rainy day.

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Photo source: AnTheos Facebook page

An Theos, however, are better established with the Romanian audience, who gathered to cheer for them. A little rain won’t stop us from doing a ¨hor㨠on Ciuleandra.  It wasn’t a big crowd, but they were here to party with the band. An Theos delivered as always, bringing their folk sound, metal kicks, and energy in a very fun performance.

Up next, Carach Angren, were the surprise of the day for many. They wrote the book on how to establish themselves as a performative act. We are all suckers for live gimmicks. Crowns, masks and face paint? Sure. Fake blood and fake dying? Their music is an interesting symphonic black metal, perfect for headbanging, jumping, and screaming. Their frontman is an amazing performer, commanding the crowd so strongly and yet allowing himself to be silly and amusing. By the end of their set, they had gathered an impressive crowd. I am convinced they are the band from the festival who gathered the most new fans after this show.

Things are heating up with Kataklysm, who delivered a strong show to an energized crowd. Their powerful death metal songs ensured mosh pits. They went a bit much for my taste in the hurr durr we are strong metal men fuck everyone metal is the best.  In a more touching moment, they dedicated Outsider to Vinnie Paul. All in all, a good show, which took the crowd with it. Insomuch that, at the end of the set, many people were screaming for an encore.

Time for Epica to hit the stage. I am very biased since I am fan of theirs, but I knew they would deliver. when you go to see Epica you’re gonna get great and bombastic music, intricate orchestration and heavy beats. You’re gonna get lights and movement, interaction and closeness. Once again, they delivered. In what was a good festival setlist, they played some of their most famous songs (Sancta Terra, Cry For the Moon). But they were here to promote their latest album and showed us the best it had to offer. Old fans still enjoyed gems such as The Obsessive Devotion or the grand finale Consign to Oblivion.

Photo source: Epica Instagram

From beginning to end, Epica are giving it all. Simone Simons was in such a great vocal shape, and the boys were outperforming each other. I love seeing how much they move on stage, with a particular shoutout to Coen Janssen, the most active and moving keyboard player you’ll see. Between songs they had little jokes and games to get the crowd screaming and moving. It was not the best Epica show I have seen, but definitely a solid one. Cannot wait to do it again.

It is now Soulfly‘s turn to show us what metal is. The list of accolades for Max Cavalera and his boys is too long to be named, and they are household names. Even if they do not have anything left to prove, they sure put on a great a tour de force, engaging with fans and non-fans alike. Their technical prowess in undoubted, and they showed it off song after song and solo after solo. Pure, strong music and the crowd went insane. Even if their style is not your cup of tea, you cannot help but admire them and the complexity of their songs. You are going to be taken in by the energy they send out.

Blood, Fire, War, Hate! Blood, Fire, War, Hate!Song after song, the people chanted with the band through constant moshpits and crowdsurfing. In what was surely a high point of the evening, they played Sepultura’s  Roots Bloody Roots! Max Cavalera knows how to make an impact. And he did not stop there with the Romanian public, bringing out a Romanian flag and his very own Romanian national team T-shirt.

And with that, two days of music and performances passed. Metalhead Meeting proved again to be a solid festival. Here’s to the next one!



Metalhead Meeting Day I – Dirty Shirt, Sonata Arctica, Children of Bodom

July 6th. The day I stopped being a Sonata Arctica fan, but I became a Children of Bodom fan.

Metalhead Meeting opens with a day I was looking forward to for a while, as it was bringing us Sonata Arctica. That was definitely less than stellar. But it’s ok because I got to see Dirty Shirt up close and they killed it. Last but not least, I wasn’t expecting much from Children of Bodom, as I am not a fan of growling. However, I loved their set. They brought the house down in an incredible display of their powerful music.

The day started with Siska and The Colony. They weren’t helped by their early slot in what was a very warm day.

The party officially started with Dirty Shirt, our own Romanian folk metal band from Maramureș. It was the first time I saw them live and oh boy what I have been missing. I love that they have built an individual sound, and they bring us along. Their whole set was drawing people in and making them dance. They brought their A-game with songs like ¨Dirtylicious¨ or ¨Săraca inima me¨. Of course, “Hoții” came with an attached speech about the thieves politicians that lead us. On stage with them were the girls from 4Tune Quartet, who really brought it, as well. But truly, it was a great mix of tradition and metal, with its unique sound, energy, and stage presence. Dirty Shirt are worth seeing life. And they deserve to be supported for their next album, which will be launched through crowdfunding. Support them here!

Here come Sonata Arctica, a band I have loved so dearly more than ten years ago. While I wasn’t impressed by their latest materials, I was pumped to see them live for the third time. I made my way to the second row, only to be underwhelmed by the poor sound, or rather mixing. It’s something you have to face if you wanna sit in the front, but after a few songs I decided to move to the stands, where the sound was much better. As someone who has listened to their discography multiple times, it would have been hard for me to choose a worse setlist. From their more famous songs, we only got “Full Moon”, with close seconds “Paid in Full” and “The Last Amazing Grays”. But for a festival they were not headlining, you’d expect them to bring out their best of, whether ballads or power metal songs. But songs like “Shitload of Money”, “Cinderblox”, “Losing my Insanity” just fell flat with the audience. I understand that they were promoting their last album with “Life”, “Candle Lawns”, or “Closer To An Animal”.

Even with the not so stellar setlist, I felt them low in energy. They weren’t actively trying to reach out to non-fans, which is the role of a festival. For half of the show, the guitar and bass players did not move. Tony wasn’t doing his usual crazy clown routine in full, either.

I must state that this is my opinion as a long-time fan, who has seen them before and knows what they can do. Many other fans shared my view of disappointment.  It’s not that it was a bad show. I did enjoy seeing them and hearing live the songs I know and love. It was just not them at their best. Or second best. However, for someone who didn’t know them that well, it was a good show. They performed, they sang, they were out there.


Children of Bodom need no introduction. They are so great at what they do, which made them beloved. I was skeptical, as I don’t enjoy growls, but I am glad I saw their whole show. From the beginning, they commanded the stage and the public.  Their music just filled the air and you knew it was something special. So complex, so lively, so powerful. Their sounds was powerful enough to make a great show on its own, but they were still kicking and screaming and performing. They did it all by the book, impeccable.

Photo source: CoB Instagram

The audience responded and cheered for them. One particular cheer left them flabbergasted, as the crowd was chanting “M*ie Dragnea”. Not once, but twice, were the poor guys from CoB left to wonder what people were screaming. A freeing and vindicating moment for the public. A public which was rowdy from beginning to end, for some too much so. Constant crowdsurfing, moshpits, pushing, kicking. I pitied those who stayed in the front rows. From my seats up above in the stalls, I enjoyed the perfect concert.

The energy levels were never down during their show. They were electric and played with such enthusiasm and intensity. You name it, they played it. Want “In Your Face”, “Downfall”, or “Are you Dead Yet”? You got it! Want some “Everytime I die” or “Angels Don’t Kill” with that? Coming right up.

All in all, a good metal day of Metalhead Meeting. One with fun music, with many bands of different styles. And definitely one which belonged in its entirety to Children of Bodom.