6.6.2024 Mystic Festival – DAY 2 @ Gdansk, Poland

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The Polish Mystic Festival has a lengthy tradition as it first launched in 1999. It suffered an over a decade-long break and came back with a proper bang in 2019. Then, unfortunately, promoters were forced by the pandemic to pause their efforts. Mystic Festival came back in 2022 and showed that Gdańsk, Poland, is soon to become a new destination on the festival map of Europe. One to be reckoned with and worth putting your tabs on. This year, Mystic Festival was celebrating its 25th anniversary and invited a plethora of eclectic artists, both international and domestic, to honor the occasion. The festival’s second day included bands like GUTALAX, NAKKEKNAEKKER, BLACKGOLD, PEST CONTROL, ENDSEEKER, THY ART IS MURDER, SODOM, DOOL, LIK, Bruce Dickinson, and MACHINE HEAD.

GUTALAX are Czech grindcore lads guaranteed to gather a huge crowd, even in the early afternoon. Not because they have deep or meaningful lyrics, quite the contrary. Vocalist Maty sounds like a growling plunged toilet, and their music crudely slaps anyone who dares to come close and have fun with them. Their gigs are quite a spectacle because the audience comes pre-equipped with toilet paper rolls, toilet brushes or plungers, balloons, beach balls, and various pool accessories like floating unicorns. The GUTALAX gig even gathered the attention of builders on a nearby construction site, most likely curious to see what unholy pigpen was going on out there. The only thing missing was, sadly, the legendary crowdsurfing toi toi. The band was promoting their 2021 release, “Shitpendables.”

Don’t let NAKKEKNAEKKER‘s looks fool you. These guys are indeed very young but know very well what they are doing, which is playing old-school death metal. Their fierceness on stage is close to that of really seasoned musicians. Hopefully, we will hear about them in the future. They have only barely released two demos but already scored a tour with their fellow Danes BAEST and Brazilian CRYPTA.

British BLACKGOLD play traditional nu-metal, which makes one feel as if it’s the early 2000s and MTV actually played music, which was an interesting experience. One cannot really say much about the band as they keep their identities hidden under masks. So far, they have released a couple of singles and EPs: “Blackgold” in 2022 and “Volume 2” in 2023.

British thrash quintet PEST CONTROL from Leeds is a fairly new act that emerged around the time of the worldwide pandemic. Their hard work paid off as, after a couple of demos, they finally released their album, “Don’t Test the Pest,” in 2023. Their show was really, really good, bordering on hardcore, which only adds to the already fantastic experience.

German death metallers ENDSEEKER are a well-established band as they’ve been playing together for around a decade. Solid work and a very solid gig. They’ve been promoting their latest release, “Global Worming,” from 2023.

Aussies from THY ART IS MURDER brought their newest baby, “Godlike,” to Europe alongside new vocalist Tyler Miller, who replaced Christopher John McMahon after the scandalous ousting of the latter in 2023. With or without the original vocalist, THY ART IS MURDER is going really strong and not looking back.

SODOM are an absolute thrash classic that always pulls off a good show. It’s not fancy, there are no fireworks, but it’s always as solid as a German tank. They are still promoting their compilation from 2022, “40 Years at War – The Greatest Hell of Sodom.” And we shall again wish them another 40 years, whether they like it or not.

DOOL‘s new album, “The Shape Of Fluidity,” was very recently released in April 2024. The Dutch five-piece blends prog rock with metal and post-rock elements really niftily. With charismatic leader Raven van Dorst, they create a unique live experience.

“We are LIK from Sweden and we play death metal” was the line with which Tomas Åkvik welcomed the audience, and that should really suffice. Again, no fireworks, but damn, it’s so good to listen to! LIK is a Swedish metal supergroup of sorts, consisting of members of KATATONIA, BLOODBATH, and MEFISTO. Their newest release is “Misanthropic Breed” from 2020.

After almost two decades of relative silence from Bruce Dickinson‘s solo project, he came back with a bang with “The Mandrake Project” in April 2024. Bruce, despite being well into his mid-sixties, does not want to hear about retiring. And good for him; he still is a born stage animal. He might not be as lively as in his early IRON MAIDEN days but still delivers a great show.

Led by Matt Pike, American HIGH ON FIRE is soon to celebrate 25 years on stage. They recently released a new album, “Cometh the Storm,” in April 2024. Their way of doing stoner metal is dirty, crude, almost aggressive, and incredibly catchy. HIGH ON FIRE performed on one of the smallest stages at Mystic Festival but gathered a decent-sized crowd.

After three decades of presence on various stages, this juggernaut needs no introduction. MACHINE HEAD served as the first major headliner of the festival on the main stage. They most recently released “Of Kingdom and Crown” in 2022.

Notes by Maria Sawicka, text by Laureline Tilkin
Photos by Maria Sawicka