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3 days of Dark bliss

Updated: Apr 28, 2023

Doors to this year’s edition of Dark Malta opened at 14.30 on a gusty Friday afternoon on the 21st April, making the main room at Gianpula a much-desired refuge. But the crowd was not there to shelter from the weather outside, it was there to witness one the best editions of the festival so far. The weather came to its senses by the time Friday’s headliners finished, the wind nearly dying completely, promising an amazing weather for the remaining two days.

DJing in the main room was different each day and duty fell to DJ Toty for the first one. A return behind the deck after an absence of four years, in fact his last appearance was on the second edition of Dark Malta in 2019. A triumphant return with an insane set filling in between bands till the headliners hit the stage.

The festival was hosted by Eric13, guitarist and backing vocals with American aggrotech / industrial metal band Combichrist. The festival could not have had a better host. Having already awed the audience during last year’s edition with an impeccable acoustic solo set on Sunday afternoon and performing with Combichrist later on in the evening, his appeal and charisma this year was spread throughout the three days, during which he interacted with the bands and audience alike, on and off stage and throughout the whole festival area, without showing any signs of tiredness especially during Sunday, the last day of the festival.

Eric13 has just produced a play titled BOWIECHURCH: Scenes of a Rock’n’Roll Life which explores the phenomenon of how the music of David Bowie has been present at some of the most important and most terrifying moments of ERIC13's life.

When it came to live acts, the festival was opened by locals Damaged & Co. The band is already synonymous with the energy their music delivers, and fresh from supporting Lordi a few weeks ago, the band showed they were still on a hype.

Their nine song set-list featured eight tracks from the debut album released 'Life's Grand Delusion' released last February 16th and 'Broken Fields' taken from their self-titled 2022 EP.

The first day of the festival also saw performances by Lost Reality, Normoria, Chontaraz, whose guitarist Akon was gentle enough to concede us an interview, which shall air in the coming weeks on Heatstrokes (now can also be heard on, Dark, L’Ame Immortelle and headliners of the night Swedish outfit Deathstars.

The second day of the festival, Saturday 22nd April, commenced earlier with a rooftop pool party from noon onwards, with music provided by Thenia AF., while in the main room legendary Reptile DJ Vade Retro amused everyone with a very professional set.

The first band on stage was Instant Lake, followed by Juggernauts, DSTR, V2A, Empathy Test, Icon Of Coil and headliners for the second night And One, German new wave/futurepop/EBM band who replaced Blutengel on the eleventh hour, when the latter had to cancel due to medical reasons.

Once the band completed their set, it was time for the afterparty with DJ Yami Speechie and the festival organizer DJ Hades playing tunes till 4am.

Sunday opened, like Saturday, at noon with the Batcave Boys who pampered all those who braved the hot sun dancing by the pool.

In the main room DJ Jasmin Evilution presented an outstanding set between the bands, starting with newcomers Mal Di Luna from Trieste, followed by local project Ancient Remains performing ‘Icy winds of Sarkesh’ and ‘Midnight Procession Pt 1 and Pt 2 from Unearthed EP released in 2021.

Also, on the set-list: ‘Cavern of Solitude’, ‘A Sorcerer’s Tale’, ‘Transylvanian Hunger’, ‘Journey to a distant land’, ‘Of Beast and Man’ and, ‘Danse du Champingnon’.

Ancient Remains act was accompanied throughout the set with the choreography of Irish poet 10Pah who also recited one of his latest poems DRKLIT during ‘Midnight Procession Pt 1’

Ancient Remains were followed by another local – Xitan, whose act was initiated by a funeral procession from the festival area main gates, with nun clad models carrying a coffin following the master of procession blessing onlookers with incense.

The coffin was delivered to the foot of the stage where the awaiting Xitan launched into his set once it was positioned and all heathens took their place in front of the stage. Sandmist took care of the music and technicalities allowing Xitan to perform more freely. For the last song of the set Xitan performed ‘Children Of The Dark’ (original by Mono Inc.) with the ‘angelic’ voice of Veronique Meeuwsen.

The other songs making up his set list were Seraphim Burn, Samael, Union Of The Black, Square Hammer (Ghost cover), Lilith, Satana and Becoming God.

The bill for Sunday continued with performances by Toxic Army, The Dark, Motel Transylvania, Alien Vampires, Agonoize with headliners, German dark wave band Project Pitchfork closing the festival for 2023.

We left the festival tired, but gleaming with satisfaction of a well-organized event, already with next year’s edition on our minds.

Of course, apart from the impeccable organization one must ruminate and congratulate the staff members, stagehands, and stage technicians under the directions of Michael Hersey and sound engineer Ays Kura (Die Kur’s frontman who played the festival in 2022). One only has to read the comments left by artists, musicians and attendees on the Facebook event page towards the crew to see how professional they were.

An artisan market welcomed anyone who entered the main room during these three days with anything goth, metal, and pagan under one roof.

During the three days one could also enjoy an art exhibition titled ‘Malta Oskura’. Stunning artwork by Ester Cardella, Sara Pace, Joseph Bugeja, Franco Navarro, Luca Cauchi and Jennings Falzon The latter five artists’ works can also be viewed at Casino Notabile in Rabat from the 29th April till the 14th May.

Needless to say we all needed time to recuperate, but once energy was regained we were faced of the reality that we have to wait another 366 days (2024 is a leap year) to relive another magical weekend as we did this year.

Melodija team chose their personal top 5 foreign bands of the festival.

  • Keith Muscat :Deathstars, Mal Di Luna, The Dark, Motel Transylvania, Toxic Army

  • Priscilla Spiteri: Motel Transylvania, Toxic Army, Chontaraz, Emphaty Test, The Dark

  • Noel Mifsud: Chontaraz, Toxic Army, Motel Transylvania, Mal Di Luna, V2A

Share your Dark Malta experience by commenting below

pool photos: Antoine Cortis

live bands photos: Vica Mifsud / Priscilla Spiteri

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