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Metalway Festival Day 1 & 2

Venue: Zaragoza, Spain
Date: 6/20/09, 6/21/09
Reviewed By: Rich Catino

Spain’s Metalway is set up (and run) like many other large European fests (Wacken Open Air, Bang Your Head, Graspop, Sweden Rock, Gods of Metal) where the key to success comes from the variety of artists and styles of hard rock and heavy metal music. And we are talking real Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, not the trendy metalcore Hot Topic rock us American’s are exposed to. Unfortunately, on our shores, aside from ProgPower, Rocklahoma, and a couple other genre specific festivals, we are subjected to (at least the masses) Ozzfest and Rock Star Mayhem, festivals that offer nothing more than a plethora of one dimensional angst ridden extreme acts with little to no sense of melody, and a couple of big name headliners that actually do have songs.

This year’s edition of the Metalway Festival took place over two weekends; June 20-21 and June 26-27, in Zaragoza, Spain.

This lineup at Metalway offered a great cross section of headbanging sounds from the hard rock of Tesla, Lita Ford, Gotthard, and Pretty Maids, to European power metallers Blind Guardian, Stratovarius, and Primal Fear, Viking death metal from Amon Amarth, Queensryche’s prog rock, Candlemass from the doom branch on the metal tree, Moonspell and Immortal’s blasphemous black metal, to a reunion of Warlock (the 80s band fronted by Doro Pesch), Manowar’s mighty hammer, Twisted Sister’s anthems, and German thrash courtesy of Destruction and Sodom.


Wait I’m not done…There was also Europe, Jon Oliva’s Pain (the Savatage frontman’s solo band), a Riot reunion of the “Thundersteel” lineup, Children of Bodom, Saxon, Opeth, Wasp, Motorhead, and if they didn’t cancel due a Tony Iommi’s medical problem, Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath).

I mean this lineup was just one great band after another, no local acts, no one unsigned.

Metalway also had about a dozen food vendors and a small Metal Market where you could purchase music, t shirts, patches for your denim jackets, jewelry, etc.

Saturday – June 20

After an eight hour flight (arriving 8 a.m.) to Barcelona, Spain, taking an hour and a half train to the city of Zaragoza, a fifteen minute taxi ride to the hotel, ten minutes to the festival grounds and a few more minutes to get my credentials, I walked in to see half of Sodom’s set that included ‘Agent Orange’, ‘The Saw Is The Law’, ‘M-16’, ‘Remember The Fallen’, and ‘Outbreak of Evil’. Former Guns n Roses bassist Duff Mckagan and his band Loaded followed the German thrash trio and had a hard time doing so. Like myself, the crowd were not receptive at all to Duff’s third rate GnR knock off songs. Generic, boring, lifeless hard rock. Duff was the sour apple of the day.

Reunited New Yorkers Riot back with the “Thundersteel” lineup kicked the crowd back into gear digging out those classics from the “Thundersteel” and “Privilege of Power” albums including the crowd favorite (and mine) ‘Flight of the Warrior’.

Swedish rockers Europe also delivered an hour set of their harder stuff including the Nightwishesque first single/video ‘Last Look At Eden’ from the forthcoming album of the same name. ‘The Final Countdown’ and ‘Rock The Night’ are a given but Europe played less commercial more guitar driven songs like ‘Screams of Anger’ from the second album “Wings of Tomorrow”, and ‘Superstitious’. Blackie Lawless and W.A.S.P. unfortunately for several tours now have hit a rut playing the same freekin songs all the time. If not for the celebration of “The Crimson Idol” performing it live in 2008 I would have passed on seeing them once again. For Metalway it was the same old same old; ‘Blind in Texas’, ‘I Wanna Be Somebody’, ‘Wild Child’, ‘Chainsaw Charlie’, you know the drill. O…And before I forget, all day the wind blew constantly with gusts up to thirty miles and hour. By the time W.A.S.P. were done, the temperature felt like it dropped into the 40s as the winds increased in power.

Nightfall did not creep in for Blind Guardian but did change us all (if you knew the B Guardian song ‘Nightfall’ you would understand) as many left running for shelter from the relentless gusts with others huddling together braving the bitter cold. As Guardian began we had to start our search (trying to communicate with the locals) for a taxi ride back to the hotel. As a result I heard Guardian’s set but unable to take pictures so here is their setlist; ‘This Will Never End’, ‘Another Holy War’, ‘The Quest for Tanelorn’, ‘Punishment Divine’, ‘Nightfall’, ‘Valhalla’, ‘The Script for my Requiem’, ‘Mirror Mirror’, ‘Fly’, ‘Sacred’.

By the time Children of Bodom and a reunited Baron Rojo went on after 1 a.m. I was back at the hotel resting for Day 2.

Sunday – June 21

Late afternoon around 6 o’clock or so, Day 2 again is like standing in a wind tunnel. Aside from ‘Through The Eyes of the King’, Jon Oliva’s Pain (and I gotta say it is sad to see Jon in such poor physical shape) focused on Savatage classics including ‘City Beneath the Surface’, ‘Jesus Saves’, ‘Chance’, ‘Believe’, ‘Gutter Ballet’, Hall of the Mountain King’ and ‘Sirens’. Opeth followed with their artsy style of melodic progressive death metal. Warcry I knew nothing about and after doing some research learned the band formed in 2001 and have become rather popular by playing their Spanish speaking brand of power metal. I couldn’t tell ya what the songs were about or any titles but they were catchy both in the riffs and chorus’. Definitely a band whose music I will look into.

The rest of the day into night was a bit of a disaster as Heaven and Hell cancelled. Here’s what happened, while the stage crew were setting up Heaven & Hell's gear, and after around a thirty minute delay (as the press were quickly removed from the photo pit) an ambulance arrived to the backstage area. At this point already half of Sabbath’s gear was off the stage. After some time a representative from the festival explained to the crowd what happened, that a doctor was trying to determine whether Tony could perform or not. While stage crew started setting up for Saxon it was apparent Heaven and Hell would not be playing. Ronnie James Dio, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice appeared on stage to tell the crowd that the show could not go on due to Tony's back and that they would make it up at another time and place when it's possible. As a bonus, members of God Forbid with Opeth played some cover songs after Saxon’s set (which I missed).






Jon Oliva's Pain:


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