Ticking time bomb

Taking place this Saturday, the metal music festival Shellshock promises to deliver the goods for its fourth edition in a row, as TIA RELJIC discovers

Elvenpath
Elvenpath
The Crawling
The Crawling
Synaptik
Synaptik

Shellshock Metal Fest is back for the fourth time, as the bi-yearly event grows bigger and more bru-tal with each edition. Organiser Shawn Mizzi tells us that the ever-growing festival is gaining acknowledgment for its variety of metal bands, as well as its focus on keeping audiences entertained every second of the event.

In fact, he promises that next week’s edition is the most varied yet, as the festival has partnered up with Wicked Comics to bring a mini Malta Comic Con inside the premises, making Shellshock a metal fest and comic con combined – for the second time yet.

Headliners for the much-awaited festival from overseas include Elvenpath from Germany, Synaptik, and Kill All The Gentlemen from the UK and The Crawling from Northern Ireland specifically. Locals include long-standing bands Martyrium, Angelcrypt and Forsaken among others.

Mizzi’s band – Angelcrypt – have never failed to make an appearance at the festival. “I organise one of the biggest Metal festivals on the island.  I cannot leave my band out.”

Band applications are published publicly and every band can apply. Of course, the only requirement is that the band needs to be metal.

But the screening process is a tough one, as Mizzi says he receives hundreds of applications. “I always try to open the doors to local talent but at the same time Shellshock is getting even more attention from the foreign scene. Bands are chosen to play based on their reliability, talent, and capability to put up a show to remember.”

Inviting foreign bands is also a service to the local scene, Mizzi says, as local bands get to meet in-ternational artists and share the stage with them, exchange gigs, and perhaps even get the opportunity to go abroad themselves.

This year, the festival will see Forsaken, the island’s longest established metal band, hit the stage – but not for the first time. “Forsaken has been privileged to feature at Shellshock before and it’s always a pleasure to return,” the band’s frontman Albert Bell tells us, as he describes Shellshock as being one of the leading metal events, and a ‘must’ for metalheads.

Angelcrypt
Angelcrypt
Martyrium
Martyrium

“The festival spans metal’s diverse shades and hues as this edition amply proves. There is something for everyone really, and it also provides an opportunity to discover new and emerging talent as well as enjoying the very best that the Maltese scene has to offer.”

Bell says he is personally looking forward to Elvenpath – a power metal band with six CDs under their belt, hailing all the way from Germany – whose spokesperson shared with us the funny coincidence which led them to the island. “The internet is a wonderful tool to discover festivals all over the world. When I got in touch with the festival promoter, he informed me that he also played in Angelcrypt and we happened to share the stage at a festival in Germany some weeks later. That’s where we met in person and we talked about gig possibilities in Malta and Germany… and so, Elvenpath was confirmed for Shellshock.”

The Crawling, a three-piece, death-doom metal band from Northern Ireland will be landing in Malta thanks to ENSO management. They are currently working on their second album and video production for another track. “We’re really excited about Shellshock fest, and there are many aspects for the festival we are looking forward to.” Frontman Andy Clarke, a keen scuba driver, says he’s been to Malta and before, and looks forward to the “good fun, nice weather, and cheap beer.”

“I hear we can have a play at the classic Golden Axe computer game!”

The influences for Kill All The Gentlemen range from grindcore to prog, while the lyrical themes cover the “the occult, all things self indulgent, the greed of man, the constant struggle to set ourselves free from all perceptions placed upon us by our apparent governance.”

Highlights for Shellshock for them will be the weather, “apart from playing there of course.”

“We have played with Synaptik before,” Olan Parkinson told us, “It will be awesome to play at that venue – it looks amazing. And also the weather, did I mention that?”

Synaptik, a five-piece progressive metal band hailing from the east region of England, say that they look forward to exploring the sights and sounds of Malta for a few days and blasting out songs from the second album – Justify and Reason – at Shellshock. In addition to performing live shows across the UK and Europe, the band are currently working on their highly anticipated third studio album.

The last time Martyrium performed at Shellshock was in 2016, and they say a lot of things have changed since then. “Now we have new songs and an overall more unhallowed presence.”

“Shellshock has always aimed to achieve good quality sound, a proper venue, nice atmosphere and good quality bands. The amalgam of these things always set the festival for success,” they told us.

Bound to Prevail
Bound to Prevail
Animamortua
Animamortua
Rising Sunset
Rising Sunset

Tyrone Mifsud from Bound To Prevail told us that he has been supporting the festival since its inception. Shellshock, he says, always sought to promote the local scene during the winter days. The band has been busy planning their 2018 shows in support of their new EP – ‘Omen of Iniquity’, and Shellshock has provided a great opportunity to kick off the year’s gig cycle.

“We had such a great time playing at Shellshock in 2016 that we really wanted to come back and play in this year’s festival,” Rachel Grech of power metal band Blind Saviour told this newspaper, expressing her appreciation for Shellshock as a festival which aims to merge together different cul-tures by including different bands and incorporating a mini comic con.

This sentiment is shared by many of the bands that will be hitting the stage next weekend.

“Shellshock provides an opportunity for bands to expose their work and followers of the local metal scene to gather up and have a blast. The “Mini Comic-Con” provides a slight edge, setting Shellshock apart, while also allowing local metalheads to indulge their inner geek, if you will,” Clay-ton Cini of Animamortua tells us. It is the first time his thrash-power band will be playing at Shell-shock.

Ascendor, on the other hand, will be participating for the third time. The Gozitan quintet have just come back from a turbulent period, Paul Formosa tells us, with two full-length albums under their belt; “The local old-school faithful gave us a really warm reception.” He too believes that the mini comic-con is a “stroke of genius.”

Heavy metal veterans 12th Ode will be debuting new tracks from their upcoming album during their performance at Shellshock – a festival which they deem to be important within the local scene.

Gothic symphonic metal act Rising Sunset have been performing at Shellshock since its inception, Carlo Calamatta tells us. The band is currently recording their 4th album – Dos Mysterium Tenebrarum – and will also be debuting some of the songs at the festival. “The organiser is a very well established musician in the local scene so he knows very well what it entails to open the doors to metal bands and support them.”

Shellshock has even given the chance to newbies Goldstein, whose spokesperson told us that the band is doing ‘just fine’ as they look forward to kicking off the festival at 15:00.

“Think of our band as a ticking time bomb. What better place to deploy it than a festival celebrating an existential post-traumatic stress disorder?”

Shellshock Metal Fest 2018 will be taking place at Chateau Buskett, limits of Rabat on February 14. Doors open at 14:00, and entrance is at €18.

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