The Heavy Metal Capital of the World!

Heavy metal never died, it just went to East Europe. A few years ago, while traveling across the Russian Far East, I kept spotting Dio promos in places like the Theatre of Musical Comedy in Khabarovsk, and learned the five-foot-plus singer was starting his tour in a place gulag labourers agonized to build seven decades ago. This year in Vladivostok, I dropped by a snooty CD store to ask about local bands, and a giant blond guy handed me a band called ‘Masters of Defecation.’ ‘It is death metal, very hard.’

Nothing beats Kavarna, Bulgaria though — perhaps the heart of the heavy metal world. It’s a crummy place, with aged housing blocks sweeping down a dramatic cliffside setting to a crummy beach. The sea name? Black of course. It jumped onto the heavy metal map when a headbanging mayor delivered, apparently, on his campaign promises by launching the Kaliakra Rock Fest, an annual three-day metal fest named for a dramatic cape nearby dotted with remains of Thracian and Roman forts.

This year Manowar, Alice Cooper and Slayer headlined the nights.

In town, the main road passes communist-era housing blocks with a twist. The murals of ‘workers power!’ have been whitewashed and replaced with full images of a few Bulgarian metal singers in the process of a fist-pump, plus Billy Idol (‘Mony Mony’ era). This is a town where John Lawton — singer from Uriah Heep and a Rock Fest regular — is more of a household name than David Beckham or Vladimir Putin.

There is more than your average share of turreted rooftops — essential for warding off dragons I hear. Down by a rather crappy beach lined with old buildings, some out of use, is a grey silo re-fashioned into a castle.

I didn’t stop for a pizza slice or seek out a local CD shop while passing through. And I already regret it. Deeply.

About Robert Reid

Robert Reid is a travel writer (Lonely Planet, New York Times, ESPN), travel expert (Today Show, CNN's Headline News), travel videographer (76-Second Travel Show) and travel artist (don't ask).
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6 Responses to The Heavy Metal Capital of the World!

  1. Today Duran Duran is history, and heavy metal is white-hot. Thanks to bands like Metallica, which sold 650,000 copies of its namesake album in the first week of its August release, every parent’s worst nightmare has become a record executive’s dream come true.

  2. Meeker says:

    I liked the report and assume you have more such material?
    If yes, so please post it because it is somewhat unusual for
    me at the present moment, and not for me, that is my own opinion.

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