It truly takes everything to organise a music festival in Malta, but for Angelcrypt guitarist and local legend Shawn Mizzi, it literally cost him his gallbladder.
Shellshock Metal Fest is one of the biggest eclectic gatherings of metalheads on the Maltese Islands and has been a must-attend event for the community ever since its conception in 2011. This year’s edition featured 16 international and local bands alike… but it was just days away from being nothing at all.
Whereas every edition of the festival proves to be a brutal showing of some of the finest heavy talent, this year’s edition proved to be extra brutal when festival organiser Shawn Mizzi revealed the absolutely dramatic and horrific sequence of events he had to go through just days before the big event.
Two weeks before the Shellshock descended on Buskett, Shawn was admitted to the emergency department, vomiting blood and in excruciating pain.
“What most of you do not know is that I was in and out of hospital for the past two weeks,” Mizzi said in a Facebook post.
While the scene of Shawn spewing up blood may have made for a good Cannibal Corpse album cover, his situation was far more real and much more serious than the death metal band’s aesthetic antics.
Writhing in pain, Shawn had no choice but to stay in hospital and continue festival preparations from the confinements of his hospital bed.
“It was really hard to remain active online and manage everything from the hospital bed,” he confessed. “Bands started arriving from abroad, suppliers had to start constructing the stage, we had to set up the sound, lights and everything else needed for a large festival.”
To make matters worse, just three days before the festival, Shawn underwent surgery to remove his gallbladder, the source of all his pain and agony.
Though the source of all his discomfort had finally been removed, the looming responsibilities of Shellshock were far from over.
“My phone would not stop the second I came out of the operation,” he continued.
But nothing was going to get in the way of the metalhead and his love for heavy music… not even the pain of being sliced open with a surgical knife.
The festival organiser got straight back to work, answering calls and making final arrangements all while enduring the excruciating post-op pain. Thankfully, though, he wasn’t alone.
“I gave a full handover to my wife Miriam in case I would end stuck in hospital throughout the festival,” he said.
“The show had to go on, with or without me.”
However, with the light of the Metal Gods shining down upon him, and with a fresh set of stitches protruding from his abdomen, Shawn managed to check out of hospital and miraculously made it to Shellshock, where he even played one helluva a show with his Mmelodic death metal band Angelcrypt.
…now that’s metal.
“We would never drop out of a show, so I played throughout the pain and managed to get through a death metal set with all the headbanging and crazy stuff we do with stitches in me.”
Despite being put through hell and back, Shawn was on top form and Shellshock was a huge success. Credit where credit is due; Shellshock would have been just shrapnel had it not been for the support Shawn received from those around him.
“My wife ran all the administrative stuff, I was still in zombie mode. In the end, it was a happy ending for everybody. The festival was a great success, we had an awesome show and everyone was super satisfied.”
Shawn put his life on the line for the music he loves, but thankfully, it all paid off in the end.