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Updated: Feb 18, 2023

Whether you like it or not covid changed many lives, the way we live life and even the way we think. This happened globally in every sector and the music scene, the business, was no exception. Things started to get back to ‘normality’ about a year ago and during these last few months we witnessed an influx of ideas aimed by both business powers and artists to recuperate some of their losses: the release of numerous live albums, reissuing the early catalogue and compilations of unreleased material on a global scale, and let’s admit, nobody can blame them, financially everyone suffered and for the artist until he’s able to tour in full scale this might be the only way to recuperate.

Unfortunately for other entities it was the last nail in the coffin: venues closed their doors for ever, small festivals were postponed, some cancelled, ultimately some throwing the towel to ever be organized again while entities manufacturing media and merchandise are trying to recover by raising prices…all this affected the bands, and the fans making the latter more conscious about how much one can afford when attending to gigs, etc.

Two years without attending a performance or not able to visit a record shop was hard on many but not all is gloom and doom. And this is were we change our picture towards the local market. Locally, just as things developed abroad, we had artists who have released music just as covid reared its ugly head with no way to advertise their material, many album launches were cancelled or postponed to an uncertain date. I, personally, had to start recording my radio programs from home suspending interviewing artists live in a studio. I had to adapt to make some interviews online, but again, artists had nothing coming out for vending, but all those that I spoke to all said that being at home with nothing to do meant that they could compose and write more then ever before. Let us be honest it was either that or lose one’s mind.

Although during the covid years some bands managed to put up an event one way or another, the first major event locally was a six-day seated event in Valletta in March 2022 titled Metal City/Rock City, with 18 bands (three on each day). From the first note it was evident how much all this was missed. But what amazed me and a lot whom I spoke to, was the numerous attendances of a new generation of teens that two years before were still in school. We are used to notice a few new metalheads or other concert goers during one gig or another, but never this amount at one go. Four of these teens performed on the second night to the amazement of all attendees. It was the first time Malta heard Morsrot, a crushing old school death metal young band whose members, like many others, were coming out of two years of online schooling, deprived of two important years in a teen’s live. Later in the year (July 7th) the band released a demo entitled Carnal Enslavement and played numerous gigs. During the same festival we also witnessed the debut of a new band The Drowning Sorrow, made up of seasoned musicians, and the return of one of the best bands in the 90’s, Oblique Visions, amongst others.

But back to teen bands.

On the 17th September newcomers Delirium released their debut album ‘State Of Delirium’ to a packed attendance at The Garage (where else!!). The band was back on stage with their gothic metal genre on the 9th December, part of a 4-band lineup event titled The Advent Of Chaos. Alongside Delirium were veteran bands R.A.S. and X-Vandals plus the debutants Luciferi Regnum, another band whose members are recent school leavers. Although young, Luciferi Regnum managed to mix extreme gothic metal with melodic black metal to perfection as can be heard on their debut single ‘Banshee’.

During the last few months of 2022, a new song was aired in the veins of a black doom genre. The artist appeared first on stage behind Morsrot’s drum kit back in March and since progressed to fill the drumming stool with Chaotic Remains and released a black metal album with his project Saint Vermin on which he plays all instruments and does vocal duties. The album was released on 20th January 2023 on Pesttanz Klangschmiede. His name is Zain Gauci and since then he is also part of yet another band, Halcyon, which still has to make their debut.

On the 8th September, another black metal EP was released on digital platforms. ‘Xifer Id-Dinja’ is the debut from an artist that goes by the name of TY and whose project is called Kalvarju. During the months after the pandemic we assisted the release of a good number of other debuts, from maybe not so young artists including Nokturnal Void’s ‘Odiiu’ (17th November) and Shaun Attard’s Zabbeth’s self-titled worship album (7th august 2022). Shaun Attard also gave us ‘Teratogenesis’ under his other project Psychopath on 13th February 2020 just days before the first case of covid-19 was reported in Malta.

Also, to be noted Niket’s self-titled debut released 2nd October 2021 whilst in the coming days local thrashers Mur.Doc 104 are set to release their debut EP titled ‘Uprising’.

One last small mention goes to Grotium, another band whose members are in their youth, who although playing a few gigs, were relatively quiet during 2022, only because they’re recording their debut album and Hemplifier (not so much in their youth anymore) who have released their debut single ‘Weedcraft’ on 17th November 2021 and are on the verge of releasing their debut album.

And all this is just from the metal scene, (we will talk about the other genres later on down the road, so stay tuned).

I trust, and I’m sure I’m not alone, that the post covid generation is going to make our lives wonderful and believe me when I say the future’s so bright, we’ve got to wear shades.

Noel Mifsud

(St. Valentine’s Day 2023)

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