Malta's Best-Kept Musical Secret Invites You To Jail

A tabasco-sauce injection of extreme sounds to spice up your summer

Abysmal Torment Photo By Alessio Damico

We all complain about want ‘to do something different’ during our summer evenings. But are you really ready to meet that challenge and bust out of your comfort zone?

Because if so, you could do a lot worse than pay a visit to the Xtreme Metal Assault – the annual festival of local heavy metal produce, this year taking place on 9th July at the appropriately ‘brutal’ venue of the Old Corradino Military Prison in Paola.

The music pulls no punches and may not be to everyone’s taste – but it certainly deserves your respect. Mushrooming out of the gritty enclosures of garages in Marsa and Birkirkara, Maltese metal bands are a hardworking bunch despite the stigma their genre attracts, and for a number of years have added an important weave to the local musical fabric.

It’s a case in point that, just as a lot of noise was being made about Ira Losco taking to Germany for a mini-tour early on in her career, the Maltese death metal outfit Beheaded had not only toured Germany, but other European countries too, and scored some serious international press attention in the process!

The XMA boasts a sizeable line-up, so we’ve picked a few bands out of a hat – or is that Viking helmet? – for you. 

1. Martyrium

Martyrium Photo By Independent Photo Nl

Martyrium. Photo by Independent Photo NL

With a Black Metal sound to rattle the cages of hell, this corpse-painted band of screamers have been a source of reliable thrills for some years now. And let’s not forget their display at the Bibliotheca Nazzjonali some years back, as they helped inaugurate Valletta’s candidature as European Capital for Culture (skip to 02:55).

2. Loathe



These guys, on the other hand, stray as far away from the corpse paint as possible, offering up and unpretentious mix of metal sub-genres that is as bouncy as it is brutal. They have a sense of humour about it all too which – it must be said – hasn’t always been this po-faced genre’s strong point. Just check out the video for their 2012 single ‘Bucketlove’… 

3. Blind Saviour

Blind Saviour Photo By Stephan Abela

Blind Saviour. Photo by Stephan Abela

Shit gets epic with “the only Power Metal band on the island”, whose sound will make you wanna grab that crusader sword and take a swing at some marauding orcs. They’ve just released their debut album The Master Plan, and are all geared up for the ‘Assault’. 

4. Bound to Prevail

Debuting live at the XMA and boasting none other than the mythic Daniel Dean Kingswell among their number, Bound to Prevail are the freshest growlers on the block. But their line-up is a puzzle-piece of some serious veterans of the Maltese scene, so they should be ones to watch. “We have been preparing for this gig over the last couple of months, and look forward to performing our devastating setlist for the XMA crowd to enjoy,” the band, who have just released their debut single Survival of the Sickest, told Lovin Malta.

5. Abysmal Torment

The Maltese metal band “with 6-digit Likes on Facebook”, Abysmal Torment (pictured above – photo credit: Alessio D’Amico) are Maltese Death Metal mavericks, who have never failed to disappoint since first bursting onto the scene in the early noughties, and who have since expanded their reach beyond our shores.

6. Ascendor



Pounding thrash metal "all the way" from Gozo. What's not to love?

The Xtreme Metal Assault will take place at the Old Military Prison in Paola on 9th July, with its 15-band-strong line-up kicking off at 5pm. And in true metal fashion, the organisers promise the show will go on and only be cancelled or postponed in case of “earthquakes, tsunamis, terrorist attacks, holocausts or locust invasions, political civil war, tornadoes etc.” 

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