Slovenia—the hardest rocking country you’ve never heard of. Tucked away on the Mediterranean coast between Italy, Hungary, and Croatia, this humble country of about 2.5 million people will continually surprise you. Home of 2013 female world ski racer Tina Maze and prolific endurance swimmer Martin Strel, this small country has plenty of talent to offer. Plus, Slovenia kind of looks like a chicken.
Besides its budding athletes, Slovenia also boasts a very strong DIY music scene. With Ljubjana being its capital, naturally the alternative art, literature and music scene gravitates here. Metelkova is the space where all these communities intertwine. The venue Metelkova is housed in former military barracks and prison, but has since been turned into a strong alternative arts and music hub. Metelkova puts on most of the alternative arts and music exhibitions, and even when in 2006 when the local government attempted to demolish the site to perpetuate the threats of gentrification in the form of building shopping malls and parking garages, the community banded together to thwart the attack. Since then, the local government has recognized the strong community, and allowed them to continue to rock and roll. If that’s not metal as fuck, then I don’t know what else is.
Metelkova in Ljubljana, Slovenia
Two of the bands who regularly run this healthy underground scene are Ooral Sea and Suzi Soprano. Drummer Uroš “Bufo” Hlastan and Guitarist Ignac “Slavc” Bakše started Ooral Sea back in 2013. These garage rockers released their self-titled debut album in 2015, and since then Ooral Sea has been relentlessly touring the Balkan region, delivering their hard-hitting, upbeat drums and dynamic, crunchy guitar jams to every DIY, squat, music festival and skateboard event in the Balkan region.
Slavc and Bufo of Ooral Sea
Suzi Soprano is relatively new to the Slovenian alternative scene. The elements to Suzi Soprano are simple but essential. Heavy drums, driving strings, slowed down tempo and old-school hardcore inspired vocals make their music both subdued and in your face. This is their first release, and I am looking forward to hearing more from them.
Although the split alternates between songs from Ooral Sea and Suzi Soprano, the EP transitions easily from Ooral Sea’s chunky garage riffs and Suzi’s laid back grungy grooves. The first four tracks of the split keep the energy up. Suzi Sopranos songs “Poletna mrzlica” and “Proti Vetru” display Suzi’s ability to establish intensity, but also ways to insert space in their songs to keep everything laid back and subdued. Ooral Sea’s tracks “Sonic” and “Korado” is reminiscent of their earlier material. The constant driving drums laid down by Bufo lay the foundation for Slavc to play with different dynamics of distortion to build and release tension.
For every up, there is also a down, and the last two songs from the split displays these bands’ ability to produce not only heavy rock songs, but also slow instrumental music.“Relaksacija” nods more to space and airy riffs. These two songs focus on how little riffing guitars can achieve in order to establish mood, while letting grooving drums shine through and indistinct vocal screams ponder in the background like some sort of tortured dream or memory. These last songs have the ability to lull listeners into a deep and calm space, only to let up to make the listener snap out of their hypnosis only to realize the song is over. To punctuate the album, Ooral Sea’s “Ledvitza” lets the listener off on even ground with a driving rock song and chanting vocals. Welcome back to earth.
Ooral sea and Suzi Soprano on Tour
If this is your first introduction to Slovenian music, I would say this is a good place to start. The Slovenian scene is relatively small, but it offers a lot of different type of music ranging from Hardcore, stoner metal, Garage rock, and improvised new music. Their sense of community, do it yourself mentality and humble pride is quite invigorating. Anyone who is interested in underground community building would learn a lot from traveling to Slovenia. Go to Slovenia, you won’t regret it.