The first day of Milwaukee Metal Fest started pretty strong, considering doors opened mid-day on a Friday. Local favorites like Lords of the Trident, Illusion of Fate, and Macabre brought a decent turnout from their loyal fans, while larger bands like Blind Guardian, Kamelot, and Symphony X helped fill the space. Despite a lot of additional promotion this year, including band merch raffles and discount codes, the fest seemed to have lower overall attendance than 2023. This isn’t surprising, with a lot of people facing financial struggles under high inflation and the worn-off excitement of the first year the fest returned.

While the stairways were a bit easier to navigate, the fans still brought all of their energy. Despite the Rave’s infamous “NO MOSHING” cards patrons received at the doors; dancing, mosh pits, and crowdsurfing abounded. The Friday lineup was packed with power and heavy metal, especially on the IndieMerchStore ballroom stage, which brought out a slightly more reserved crowd than 2023’s more death-heavy lineup. The ballroom stage had some delays, with fans first being allowed up about 10 min after the scheduled start time of the first set, which started only a few minutes after that. Despite the delays, which cascaded across the day, the stage saw a decent crowd for every act.

The middle-floor Century Media stage hosted a range of black and death metal like Autopsy, Nunslaughter, and Bewitcher for most of the day, perfect for fans looking for an opportunity to join a more rowdy pit or crowd surf in a tighter-packed room. As usual, the MartyrStore bar stage brought the real chaos, hosting a slew of death and thrash metal bands like Macabre, Hellwitch, and Illusion of Fate. Being the smallest venue in The Rave, the bar always has one or two acts that get really tight. This fest was no exception, and by mid-afternoon on Friday, the bar was so full you could no longer enter, causing people to pile out into the lobby trying to catch a bit of Havok’s set.

This year Milwaukee Metal Fest showed a lot of growth in the fest organization this year. While there were still some stage delays, which are nearly inevitable in a fest this size, the increased variety of vendors and food trucks really improved the overall experience and The Rave’s new air conditioning was very refreshing amid all of the stair climbing and moshing!

Photo coverage was taken by Metal Insider’s Mar Morannon and special guest photographer Toast.

Gallery 1: Engineered Society Project, Uada, Lords of the Trident, Necrofier, Bewitcher, Night Demon

Lords of the Trident shot by Mar Morannon 

Gallery 2: Silva, Nunslaughter, Illusion of Fate, Visigoth

Illusion of Fate shot by Mar Morannon

Gallery 3: Profanatica, Ancient Entities, Eternal Champion, Overkill, Hellwitch

Photo Credit: Toastkvlt


Gallery 4: Hammerfall, Symphony X, Doro

Doro shot by Mar Morannon

Gallery 5: Kamelot, Macabre, Autopsy, Blind Guardian

Blind Guardian shot by Mar Morannon