For some, the COVID-19 pandemic is almost over. For others, the full blow of the virus has yet to be felt.
Malta’s music industry will continue to suffer the ramifications of the virus well into the summer months and until the end of 2020. With studies suggesting that live concerts will return by the beginning next year, many musicians are left with no income and an unclear path to follow.
And within that community, Malta’s underground music scene struggles the most – especially when it comes to the incredibly niche genres of hard rock and heavy metal.
Getting by as a metal band during normal times is hard enough but doing so when the music industry has been stopped in its tracks has posed a whole new set of challenges.
Lovin Malta spoke to several prominent figures in Malta’s underground heavy scene to gauge where they’re at with the pandemic and what the future looks like for a metalhead in Malta.
Rene ‘Hades’ Farrugia / Dark Malta Festival
“The biggest threat is the uncertainty and having questions that cannot be answered for now.”
COVID- 19 was a huge setback for everyone. It affected me in three different ways; as a promoter, venue owner and DJ.
As a promoter, I had to move the Dark Malta Festival to the end of November. With 15 international bands, two international DJs and a foreign host/alternative model in attendance, we had some extra costs. We also had to rebate a lot of tickets so this affected us too.
As the co-owner of The Garage, we incurred a lot of expenses due to cancelled events.
As a DJ, I had three foreign gigs cancelled but hopefully, they will be postponed until next year.
Full-time musicians that made a living of weddings and events experience a lot of losses and are still uncertain when they will start to perform again.
Virtual gigs are turning into a trend, but nothing beats a good live show!
Mikaela Attard / MIKAELA
“It was a great time for me to really focus on my work and cleanse from all the craziness of the world.”
I don’t think concerts will change much in Malta but having said that, I do look forward to hopefully seeing a better situation when it comes to shows on the island in the rock/metal world.
I do believe, however, that it is going to be somewhat different when touring abroad. Everyone is looking forward to a real smashing show but with all the regulations that are being discussed, we do hope they leave a metal show as it’s meant to be.
During COVID-19, I had the chance to actually finish all the work on my album which I wrote and produced. It features appearances from Marco Minnemann as well as Kyle Farrugia and was also mixed and mastered by Tue Madsen.
It has been enlightening to pause and re-evaluate what is important to me and to us all, despite the shut down of tours and performances. I’ll be releasing my album post-coronavirus climate so I am really excited about what music has to come out after this exceptionally terrible time on earth and for all of us.
Shawn Mizzi / Angelcrypt
“I cannot imagine a heavy metal show with social distancing measures in place. It simply will not work.”
Heavy metal shows are all about getting all that anger and frustration out and unleashing it in the mosh pit… not an ideal scenario for social distancing.
The pandemic has had a huge negative impact on the music industry across all genres but even more on a niche musical genre like heavy metal. I was fortunate enough that my festival Shellshock Metal Fest was one of the last if not the very last local metal concert that took place before COVID-19.
My band Angelcrypt hasn’t been as fortunate. It was going to be a big year for us having signed with a German-based record label and launching our highly-anticipated full-length “Dawn Of The Emperor”. All shows got cancelled, most of the flights, accommodation, transport etc. were already booked, and although we’re fighting to get refunds, the band was dealt a huge financial blow.
We know that the pandemic will affect sales but it is not our priority right now. We wanted to give something back and that is our album.
John ‘Castiel’ Gatt / Decline The Fall
“It is a challenge that I’m not scared to face but I really can’t wait till we can gig again.”
Being a musician, COVID-19 has affected us drastically. A band’s main job is gigging and suddenly we’ve become an online band not knowing when we will do what we love again. As a band, it has changed our plans a lot and we’ve had to change our own album launch date.
When it comes to concerts in the future, I really have no idea. It’s kinda hard keeping a social distance especially when it comes to metal gigs.
Kyle Farrugia / GRUJ
“COVID season has affected me positively because I let myself dwell deeper into my own musical mind.”
I have taken this long moment as an opportunity to be more creative musically. I recently finished tracking the guitars for Mikaela’s debut solo album in which I welcomed many new influences that I never thought I would get a hold of.
Moreover, I am thinking of ways on how to make my debut release for my own project, GRUJ, to be as perfect as it possibly could!
Concerts will get back to normal as far as I’m concerned… everybody would love to get into a mosh pit once this situation dies down! Of course, it’s going to take a while until everybody becomes comfortable with getting up close and personal with other fellow metalheads in large quantities, but I’m sure it will not take too long.