My first memory related to music is when I was four years old. My dad came back from a flea market with his newest purchase – a slightly used Scott amp with a couple of old Russian-style speakers.
He plugged it all in, connected to his tape-player (that’s what they used to play music on back in the day), sat me down and told me a story about when he was in his teenage years, there was one song that he had listened to for two weeks straight and still didn’t get tired of. Now I was about to hear that song.
With a click of a button, I heard a low, rhythmic strumming of a guitar, followed by an otherworldly voice singing the lines “Hey, hey, mama, said the way you move, gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove”, followed by an amazing guitar jam. The song, of course, was “Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin, and I was mesmerized.
Since that day, I’ve put all of the music into one of two categories – it was either rock or it wasn’t.
So it comes as no surprise that when MXF scouts were being assigned to this year’s summer festivals, I was the first to call dibs on DevilStone – undoubtedly the one true event that every rock and metal lover in Lithuania had to visit.
The location is devilishly interesting
DevilStone is held every year in Dainuva valley in Anykščiai – the town best known for having Lithuania‘s largest rock, called Puntukas.
The rock is the inspiration for the naming of the festival, due to local folk tales about how it was dropped here by the devil. Yes, Satan himself let it slip, while distracted by the sound of roosters announcing the break of dawn.
The town is fairly remote from the largest cities of Lithuania, which meant all festival-goers had to set up camp in the festival territory. On the other hand, this also meant that we could make ridiculous amounts of noise without making too many locals miserable about it.
The location had four stages – West stage devoted to the heaviest of metal, East stage for more psychedelic music (or, according to the DevilStone official website, “the stage of sex drugs and rock’n’roll”), and the Gamma stage for smaller daytime performances and Rocktheque for post-midnight dancing.
All in all, this ensured that at any given moment there was someone and something to listen to.
In addition to the apparently satanic location, the festival-goers themselves made a significant contribution in creating a devilish atmosphere by wearing a crazy mix of Halloween costumes and creating mock satanic rituals.
There is no way to pick one perfect individual to showcase this, so instead what I’ll do, is offer you is a link to the event’s Facebook photo stream.
Despite looking somewhat scary, like most rock and metalheads, everyone was were incredibly friendly and very talkative – there were no punch ups, and nobody had any issues with drink or drugs throughout the festival.
At this point, I have to provide a disclaimer – I missed the first day of DevilStone 2015 due to work-related commitments, and while I was there, the main focus of my attention was the heavy metal bands on the West stage.
So, please understand if I have left someone out – it’s not because they’re bad, it’s just because I didn’t catch a chance to listen to them.
That said, I did hear a lot of praise from my friends for Striker from Canada, Stoned Jesus from Ukraine, and Sraigės Efektas from here, Lithuania – so, please be sure to take a look at them.
In order of performance then, here are the five bands that truly made me beyond happy to be at DevilStone this year.
You can check them out by clicking the headings…
Au Dessus were the first band I saw at the festival, and these Lithuanians are still up-and-coming; it was only last year that they started recording and releasing their first tracks.
However, they already know how to give a strong performance, by mixing black metal with more modern sounds, which result in a cold and mysterious, yet very emotionally charged performance.
It is always fascinating to see new bands like this emerge and I hope their music will take them to broader audiences and larger scenes all around Europe.
Performing since the early 1990s, and having already released 10 albums, Catatonia are legends of the death/doom metal genre, and considered by many to be one of its founders.
Their performance was all about bringing out the painful emotions of melancholy, depression and desperation, then exploring them to the fullest – a signature of style of the band.
Even after the performance, the crowd hesitated before dispersing, with each listener still lost in their own experience; their own reflection of what just happened before them, and possibly finding some new insights and perspectives on their own inner demons.
It takes masters like Katatonia to achieve this, and true to their reputation, they delivered as promised.
Beautifully combining the lyrical and melodic verses of the shoegaze genre with the powerful and raw choruses of death metal, NRCSSST is currently the only band from Lithuania flying under the “blackgaze” flag.
With each song, they slowly built up an atmosphere that was light and ethereal as well as grim and heavy at the same time.
The group has yet to release an album and for now, has only a few videos. However, they have released a teaser of their soon-to-be-released album, entitled Schizophrenic Art.
Lost Society (Finland)
There were many bands that were loud. There were some bands that were fast. There were quite a few bands that were very energetic.
But no one could ever hope to come close to the combined amount of loud and fast energy displayed by Lost Society, the guitar shredding freaks from Finland.
Providing an unbelievable amount of raw guitar and scream, they included all of the audience in the performance – listeners were headbanging and jumping all in unison, screaming back at the band; they even performed the Wall of Death.
For me, this can only be the most perfect reflection of the band’s own energy. And what did they think of the audience?
At the after-fest interview, they had this to say: “Holy fuckin’ shit, DevilStone Fest, YOU WERE AMAZING!
“It was an honor to play for all of you crazy metalheads yesterday, THANK YOU!!!”.
While this was Lost Society’s first visit to Lithuania, they promised it wouldn’t be their last.
Just like Katatonia was the closing act on the second day, the closing act of the entire festival was also reserved for another group of the genre’s veterans – Kataklysm, a band that has rocked for more than two decades and released a dozen albums.
Their performance was very intense, even compared to all the other bands of the festival.
Aggressive drums were enhanced by fast and melodic guitars, all topped off by easily one of the strongest vocal performances of the festival.
Providing a headache the security by actively encouraging crowdsurfers to be carried towards the stage and over the security fence, the band spread an amazing chaotic energy across the crowd with every song.
Truly an amazingly powerful performance, this was the perfect closer for this amazing festival.
The band promised to return to Lithuania in winter, so make sure to see them live should you get the chance.
So, this is it. The festival is over and the breaking dawn sees hundreds of tents being dismantled and carried to cars.
People say their goodbyes in the only way that seems fitting after such an amazing festival – “see you next year”.
You can’t help but feel that no matter what happens, next summer they will be here, joining their metalhead brothers and sisters – as the band Primal Fear once put it, “metal is forever, in every single matter, metal is forever, nations come together.”