The road to RC Club Abraham Airport in the village of Abraham, where TopFest Slovakia 2023 Festival took place from June 23 to June 25, was lined with an already black Saturday night.
Arriving at the airport, the glow of lights from the grounds illuminated the adjacent parts of the road. At the entrances to the festival grounds, security guards were watching over everywhere, taking care of safety.
Despite the lights that illuminated the defined areas, it was a deep black night, with a kind of strange silence and almost nobody to be seen. Well, seemingly. Until, from behind the windows of a car parked in front of the TopFest gates, a large swath of light suddenly shone through the darkness of the figures – a crowd of people standing and milling about in front of the stage. It was a view, which reminded me of the photographer Andreas Gursky’s “Tote Hosen 2000” photo, but already a distinct metal sound could be heard alongside the opening of the car door. Guitars, drums, singing and cheering of the crowd. And I’m home!
The stages were located further away from the entrance to the venue. The way to them was lined with refreshment stands on the sides. But even from this area, one could watch, or just listen to the music, alongside lively, friendly talk one could enjoy there. Within the festival grounds, there was a tent city and a car camp, where fans lived their metal life to the fullest throughout the whole weekend.
On this Saturday evening, or better said, Saturday night, the “werewolves” played their concert on the main stage of TopFest Slovakia 2023 Festival. It was a German power metal band Powerwolf, founded by the Greywolf brothers. Fans had been gathering in Trnava near the railway station since the early evening to take the shuttle bus, which transported them to their night of metal experiences and continued to operate during all days of TopFest Slovakia 2023 Festival.
The Powerwolf band’s stage set illustrated the scene with a specific artistic expression that felt mystical against this cooler night.
The band finished their show, and the cluster of fans moved together to the next stage or to gather energy for the next metal charge that was about to take place in just a few minutes.
Silence reigned for a while, but the metal mood persisted in the gloomy colors of the night, although calmer, as it was a little after 1:00 am. It was brought to life by the sudden voice of the lead singer of the band EKTOMORF: “check, check”, during the sound check. It was as if he was summoning his “tribe”, or a part of it, as some of them had been already impatiently wandering around the stage.
Despite the late hour, the incredible energy and strong vocal expression of EKTOMORF at TopFest Slovakia 2023 Festival, starting with the song You can´t control me, evoked metal passion from the very first moment.
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Yes, passion – that’s the word that described the vibe of EKTOMORF from Hungary.
They didn’t need any special effects or sets (nothing against them, though), although the lights and the dark night of the open-air concert created a good backdrop for this, at times raw, thrash, groove metal energy, but they kept the focus on the liveliness and “simplicity”, yet the dynamics and weight of what is essential and what they as well came to convey: music.
Zoli Farkas, as the leader of EKTOMORF, knows how to get the fans in a really wild mood, you could feel that he was enjoying the concert in great shape, together with the rest of the band members.
At TopFest Slovakia 2023, EKTOMORF played only a part of the best of their work such as Gypsy, Outcast, also Holocaust, I know them, We rise, or the encore Fuck you all – this one was especially enjoyed by the audience. 🙂 EKTOMORF people were singing their band’s songs, shouting at them, dancing, jumping. Zoli Farkas knows how to have a musical dialogue with his fans, he is original, just like his music, which stems from his instincts and soul. He brings out the hidden passions in metal maniacs and wants to see them too!
Reborn is EKTOMORF‘s last album to date on Napalm Records and a new album is in anticipated with much curiosity, this time on music production label AFM, Antfarm studios.
The following day, which was the last day of the festival, the weather at Abraham airport resembled a movie from the Sahara Desert. OK, a bit exaggerated perhaps, but the sand and wind that was whipping around created an exotic screen. However, the weather was pleasant and sunny and after Friday’s rain and complications with the cancellation of some of the concerts, the day was open to welcome on stage Czech band DYMYTRY, who do not often play in Slovakia and this year it was their only concert in this country. DYMYTRY‘s fans are of a wide range of ages, and it was no different at TopFest Slovakia 2023. However, in their masks, they evoke a slightly eerie sense of distance, creating a paradoxical mix of strange appeal in their mysterious coolness and monstrosity.
People perceive DYMYTRY‘s music differently, some people love them mainly because of their older work and don’t appreciate the new songs as much, probably because they are more commercial, but on the other hand, it’s great that DYMYTRY aren’t afraid to create what they believe in artistically and creatively, no matter if it brings them some dislike from their fans, and they bring in a little bit strange elements and tones to the music and mix in a slightly peculiar flavor to the musical drink, which deserves respect.
After all, that’s what their music and psy-core music genre is all about. For example, as in the track Who’s Edge is Ringing from their album Revolter. Definitely worth a listen, and not just one!
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The same goes for Revolter, which they blew up at TopFest Slovakia 2023. I also like Sweat and Blood or the amazing Truth and Lie from this album.
The songs are made as well of catchy lyrics and the voice of Jan Macků, Prota – Protheus, who is extremely easy to listen to and who sometimes seems as if he was “just” casually talking to the listener during the songs.
At the concert of the band DYMYTRY at TopFest Slovakia 2023, it was noticeable how, even through the masks, they can beautifully “talk” to the audience and create a somewhat family metal atmosphere. Even Mildor, Miloš Meier, who “rocks” behind the drums, managed to smile at the audience during the playing (although this is obviously easy for him with his magician skills), winking mischievously, creating a feeling of belonging within the musical experience for the fan at a given moment.
R2R, Artur Mikhaylov, created an incredibly strange expression with his distinctive mask and hair and the way he plays and feels musically.
Gorgeous Gorgy, Jan Görgel, enjoyed playing the guitar and music, while adding a touch of flair to the band with his specific movement of his tall physique or dance “creations”, with an occasional gust of sand and wind ruffling his hair.
Dymo, Jiří Urban, and his well-built physique brought to the performance, besides playing the guitar, his traditional solo – the cartwheel, which he does on one hand only, while holding the guitar in the other. And he did it twice in a row. The fans applauded, some taken aback, but with admiration of what the hell is going on at a metal concert if one doesn’t expect it. Anyway, TopFest Slovakia 2023 enjoyed this late afternoon concert.
For DYMYTRY, it is obviously important that their fans take away not only a musical experience, but a visual one too, which is shown by their metal outfit and image, in addition to stage special effects that are distinct at their concerts.
They played as the opening act for the band Pantera and thus obviously know how to “live their dream”, which is also the song they played at TopFest Slovakia 2023, accompanied by the singing of their fans. Another dream that they aspire to fulfill is their concert in the biggest concert hall of the Czech Republic – in the O2 Arena, Prague, 24.11.2023.
From the main stage, one could see the outlines of figures moving chaotically, even frantically, in a cloud of scattered “dust”, where only a few spectators remained standing still. Especially when the band CATASTROFY was playing with an avant-garde singer, because that’s when the dance metal fun happens! CATASTROFY fans enjoyed the concert of this unique band at TopFest Slovakia 2023 as if on a metal dancefloor, together in a circle, not to disturb, but to join in!
The scorching sun was nearing the horizon and many fans of TopFest Slovakia 2023 couldn’t wait for Sunday evening. The last day of TopFest Slovakia 2023. EPICA would perform on the main AGF stage.
Dutch band playing symphonic metal with operatic elements and mezzo-soprano singer Simone Simons.
The charming, talented and energetic singer of the band EPICA, who also performed with Apocalyptica, was one of the main attractions for the metal fans of this music at the TopFest Slovakia 2023 Festival. Her “colleagues” did not lag behind in their spirit, on the contrary.
The singer was almost elusive, moving, even “flying” from one side of the stage to the other, maintaining constant contact/dialogue with fans, but also with her bandmates.
EPICA‘s show at TopFest Slovakia 2023 also included eye-catching stage effects, which immersed the viewer even deeper into the musical action. Simone Simons, with her flirtatious charm and artistic musical talent, seemed almost ethereal, but at times, she turned into a metal vixen. The closer the night got, the larger the crowd at EPICA‘s TopFest 2023 grew. Some people came out of curiosity, but most of them were fans of the band who had travelled here for this experience. The singer walked back and forth between the extended runway of the stage and her EPICA bandmates, and the fans’ hands, raised in the air towards her, were not lowered throughout the whole show.
EPICA called for interaction with the audience, which they didn’t have to force at all, and got it in large amounts. You couldn’t help but notice how the whole band interacted with each other, if only by gesture, movement, or when they looked at each other mischievously. They maintained the same rapport with the audience and the level of the musical experience just kept rising.
Despite the fact that every concert that lies close to our hearts and musical taste always passes somewhat quickly, just like TopFest Slovakia 2023, the great thing about it is, that for a moment, it can bring people together in a certain sense of togetherness, play, fun and creativity, and the musical energy of these unforgettable moments and experiences remains long after the concert or festival itself is over, like an excellent battery charger.
Text and photo: Zuzana Mitra Professional assistance: Boris Vaitovič Translation: Janka Hatalová