Ian sends me a message one fine day. “Malice in Wonderland” he says. He wants Underground Sound to cover this heavy metal event at a place called the Garage in Zebbug on Friday the 13th. I don’t oppose metal, it’s just simply not something I am blasting through my speakers everyday.
He insists that it is in our ethos to cover all underground events regardless of genre. Good music is good music, even if it involves guttural screaming and bleeding eardrums. So I cave and it is agreed – we venture off to find out what metal in Malta is all about.
Just off the big roundabout near Zebbug with the arch in the middle is a Turkish kebab with a side door leading upstairs. We climb up and enter the dark space. The last time I listened to metal was Rammstein and from what I am told from Ian and Maria, that’s considered rather mainstream nowadays. Ignorance of the genre aside, I keep an open heart to what comes next.
I expect studded piercings, exceptionally long facial hair and some pushing and shoving. What I find is all three in a perfect impression of what heavy metal rock and roll should resemble. Two girls go by with revealing booty shorts, their necks draped in tattoos. There are some pretty serious looking dudes with goatees and there’s even a guy in the front rocking the traditional air guitar. Yea, let’s give this a go.
We arrive at around 11 and a couple bands are playing before the main act. The energy is good and the first band we see is A Broken Design who have great command and play riffs that remind me Black Sabbath. Their drummer is on point and embodies everything we like about rock and roll – shirtless mayhem and a whole lot of grunge.
An Italian band called Proliferhate takes the stage. The crowd still needs warming up. I’m at the front bobbing my head and look around to see most people just listening. One chick is even sitting down. Confused, I am wondering what the hell has gotten into people. You come to listen to angry rock and roll, let it all out. Although it takes a couple songs, people eventually come around and the energy is there.
Regardless of the fact that I am missing the flowing mop of hair distinctive to hard rock, I headbang my way through until we reach the headliner band from Malta, Decline the Fall. We notice a significant change in the crowd. Everyone is to the front and there is a distinctive feel of anticipation. Following an intro and a couple bars, the band loses it and the crowd spirals out of control. People like to push and shove at these events and we have all seen a mosh pit or two at some time.
[For those unfamiliar to mosh pits or for you sick ones that enjoy watching people beating the crap out of each other, check out this Class A mosh at Rage Against the Machine’s live performance at Pinkpop, Netherlands 1993.]
Internally, I decide that if you are watching people, then you are watching life go by. So I throw myself into the center of raging, black-clothed bodies. It’s one of those strange pleasures in life that involves ignoring your primal instinct of survival – UGS team member Maria tells me afterwards that it’s a mutual understanding: you throw one guy, another guy throws you, and if you end up ass first on the floor, people will reach to pick you up. Before I can react, a heavy-set, Hawaiian-sized metalhead is launched at me and I have no chance. Transported from one end of the room to the other, I nearly feel at peace with myself as I smash into innocent onlookers. Doctors should prescribe moshing to promote relaxation.
Standing outside I meet Brendan, a man with purple tentacles sticking from his head, some major mascara and painted nails to boot. In his hands is a bucket of what he tells me is a Jack and JB mix. I mistake his goggles for steampunk while he corrects me that the style is on the other end of the spectrum called Cyberpunk. He tells me that by day, I probably wouldn’t recognize him. Clad in a suit and tie, he is a team leader at his company and manages over 20 people – alternative personas to say the least. I should have taken a picture with the guy.
As per the three opinions of Ian, Maria and I, we give the The Garage a thumbs up. It is a great space to forget about everyone and everything around you and to feel the natural sounds of guitar, bass and drum for a change. Electronic music in Malta gets you a certain high, while rock and roll comes from the gut. While I am no reference, I say hell yes, give Malta’s heavy metal scene a go.
For more events like the about and anything that has to do with metal in Malta, check out Rejects here.
Words by: Luc John Claude
Photos courtesy of: Modern Tribe Photography