It was hard to believe that the second day of M’era Luna had arrived so quickly. After a day of blockbuster proportions, day two had a lot to live up to!
I found it did indeed get to a roaring start when checking out my first act of the day, Heldmaschine. I hadn’t listened to them much before, but considering their style, I really feel like I should have. Starting their careers as Rammstein tribute band, Völkerball, the influence was extremely clear in their music. It was heavy, dark, epic and it all sounded flawless, which was a big surprise in the hangar stage. Their stage setup was fantastically executed too, with a style of LED lightshow that felt like it should have been reserved for headlining acts. Even from the back, you could feel their presence, and the music was extremely powerful. They’re an act I’ll be sure to keep a close, keen eye on.
The band outside were the complete polar opposite of Heldmaschine. Versengold were currently playing, and their style was of a more traditional feel, which had a flair of folk music to it. I have to admit, they completely took me by surprise, and thier set was extremely enjoyable. It was fun and upbeat, giving it a very uplifting vibe. It was a great way to keep me going through the rest of the day.
Funker Vogt were next in the hangar, and I found myself a little aprehensive, as their performance at Amphi last year was a bit of a let-down. However, being as Agonoize had been so good the previous day, it gave me some hope. I needen’t have worried, as the show was not only top-notch, but their best yet! They blitzed through their set with style and ease, and the beats were utterly mighty. Chris L yet again outdid himself on frontman duties, feeling prominent for the duration of his time on-stage. Out of all the bands I saw over the weekend, I definitely danced the hardest to these guys. I felt exhausted afterwards, but it was worth it!
Sadly, we caught the latter half of Combichrist‘s set. I say sadly, because they weren’t good. It felt like they were going through the motions, and the resulting effect was everything falling a bit flat. Admittedly, I’ve gone off them since they became a metal band, and even though these elements were (thankfully) less in the mix, it still felt underwhelming. After hearing some of the tracks from their latest album, One Fire, through friends at the campsite, I was plesantly suprised by how much I enjoyed them, so hoped the live performance would live up to the same quality. Sadly, it seems that wasn’t to be.
Fortunately, Spetsnaz more than made up for the disappointment of Combichrist. Once again we found ourselves in the comfort of outside the hangar, and it still felt epic! For 50 sweet minutes, we were treated to some incredibly catchy, addicitive EBM rythms and beats. Their show was extremely lively, to the point where there was even an army of dancers outside, taking in every moment. I can’t blame them either, as the hooks were so mesmerising, that it was difficult to not move to the beat. Of course, “Apathy” went down an absolute storm, and that was the point where everyone pretty much lost their minds. This is another band that I haven’t listened to as much as I should have, and after this show, I feel they deserve a lot more of my time.
Things slowed down a little bit as soon as Assemblage 23 took to the stage. The harder beats were replaced by something more atmospheric and emotional. Musically they mostly put on a good performance, although Tom Shear’s vocal delivery felt a bit off-key at times, but this improved towards the end of the set. Another flaw was that he was a bit too static, not moving around stage too much. This made the proceedings seem a bit dull, especailly considering how active the majority of artists had been over the course of the weekend. However, I shall give credit where credit is due, as there were a few memorable moments, such as their performance of “Damaged”. Then again, no matter how thier shows go, the sheer raw emotion within the lyrics themselves is enough to get hooked onto.
Then it was time for the final act of the weekend. Suicide Commando were due to play the hangar stage, but I found myself not in the mood for them. I needed something more upbeat, so checked out VNV Nation on the main stage instead. For those of you that don’t know, I have reservations about them, or should I say Ronan Harris, for his recent diva meltdowns on-stage. It made me a little cautious before their show, and wondered how he’d screw this one up. To my amazement, there were no diva moments from him at all. In fact, he was extremely humbled! It could be argued that this was because the festival was being livestreamed to the world, but let’s not be cynical, and take this one as a win, eh? Without this flaw, the show was amazing! It instantly burst into life with “When Is The Future?” and from then on it was an energetic, non-stop trip through some of their most iconic tracks. “Chrome”, “The Great Divide”, “Control”, there’s just simply too many to list. It was all delivered amazingly too, and I honestly cannot fault anything about it, it was a truly euphoric experience. For the second time this weekend, I got nostalgic feelings of days gone by, and it felt like the old VNV Nation were back. A particularly beautiful moment was during “Nova”, where the crowd shined lights from their phones and waved them around in time to the music. It was truly a jaw-dropping sight to behold, it was wonderful. “All Our Sins” was a bit of a surprising way to close the show, but it was effective. The pounding drumbeat was simply to die for, as it reverberated throughout the festival grounds. It was a powerful finale!
I have no idea how the festival organisers do it, but year after year, M’era Luna just keeps getting better and better, and this year was no exception. Did it manage to top the greatness of 2018? It sure did, with some amazing acts and great surprises! Of course, there were amazing people to experience it alongside, and that was probably the biggest blessing of all (although a few familiar faces were sadly missed.) Kudos to those that make this event possible, and roll on 2020!
Of course, I couldn’t end this review without a shout out to Goths on a bus. If it wasn’t for Adrian Atkins and co., the likelihood of me and many others making it to M’era Luna would be very slim. Plus I’ve got to meet so many more amazing people! Thank you so much to Ade and everyone that organises it, you truly go above and beyond. See you all on the bus same time next year!