Despite Coronavirus Restrictions, Zobens un Lemess Metal/Folk Fest to Happen This Weekend

(By Dethecrator) Better situation with Covid-19 than other countries allows Latvia's premiere metal and folklore festival Zobens un Lemess (“Sword and Plough”) to start on August 7 

(Note: despite Karametā being a Latvian metal music site, we sometimes publish news in English, if that particular piece may concern audience in other countries, too.) 

Restriction measures to prevent Covid-19 from spreading and killing even more people have cancelled or postponed almost all of this year's biggest metal festivals throughout Europe and Americas, including WACKEN OPEN AIR, SUMMER BREEZE, BRUTAL ASSAULT, KILKIM ŽAIBU and many more. 

Meanwhile smaller festivals are trying to adapt and continue under the current circumstances, including Latvia's ZOBENS UN LEMESS (“SWORD AND PLOUGH”) festival in Bauska town, near the Lithuanian border. 

“We were initially ready to go on with only 1000 ticket-festival, stripping bare of anything unneccessary, but now, luckily, the festival will be happening almost as usual,” Valdis BĒRZVADS, the chief organizer, tells Karametāls. 

From mid-March, all public events were banned in Latvia, then slowly resumed from 25 and 50 people allowed, getting to 1000 participants after Summer Solstice. “Our fest was rescheduled from early June to August 7/8 immediately when there was an opportunity coming up,” BĒRZVADS comments. 

As Latvia has been among the most succesful countries to combat the spread of Covid-19 (currently there have been only 32 deaths related to the coronavirus while almost all of other patients have been checked out of hospitals by now), Latvia has reopened its borders for free travel to Estonian, Lithuanian, Finnish and Polish residents and many others. 

Furthermore, the Cabinet of Ministers has allowed to raise the limit for live events to 3000 persons from August 1, which means ZOBENS UN LEMESS now have more tickets available. On the other hand, the social distancing has been shortened to one meter distance in public events, and the outdoor venue near the medieval Bauska Castle is huge enough for everybody to follow this measure — which, sadly, means socially distanced moshing in the pit and no Wall of Death this year at all. 

The festival this year will be headlined on Friday by BATUSHKA — the infamous black metal project based on mixture of Russian orthodox Christian litanies and black metal blastbeats, making themselves even more notorious by splitting in two BATUSHKAS after their 1st album. ZOBENS UN LEMESS will be headlined by guitarist Krzysztof Drabikowski's version of the band, which is considered “the true BATUSHKA” by most of the fans and gives live concerts only on very special occasions. 

On Saturday the festival will be headlined by Austria's HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY, Finland's VERMILIA, Lithuania's ŪKANOSE, national punk heroes INOKENTIJS MĀRPLS and, finally, SKYFORGER, who are expected to perform classics from their “Latvian Riflemen” album due to album being released 20 years ago and events being depicted in its songs (the First World War and Latvia's Independence War, which happened immediately after the WWI) reaching its culmination 100 years ago. 

Lineup also includes Estonia's BESTIA and THOU SHELL OF DEATH premiering their respective new albums, LIETIS and VELIU NAMAI from Lithuania, as well as local bands IRON WINGS, URSKUMUG, DELVE, EVERLUST and RYVENDIR. There will be history and ancient lifestyle reenactment clubs showing off as well. 

Meanwhile casual travellers from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, where the overall situation with the coronavirus is worse than in Baltic countries, are — in general — still banned from Latvia, meaning that Kharkiv's NOKTURNAL MORTUM and KHORS, which were planned to co-headline the fest, have been postponed to next year, the same with DOWNCROSS and GODS TOWER from Belarus. 

Foreign travellers may reach ZOBENS UN LEMESS by plane to Riga airport and taking a blue-white city bus number 22 to the central bus station, then finding one of the frequent busses to Bauska town and following the signs to the Bauska Castle upon arrival. (The latter applies also for those arriving through Riga by international bus routes.) Parking and camping is available, tickets both online and at the entrance. 


Festival info: 

Official page: 

Photo gallery from previous years: 

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