|» Bandit Metal Fest 2007||
Special guests: Pain, Scar Symmetry, Machinae Supremacy, Clawfinger
When the Stockholm-based radio channel Bandit 106.3 were throwing a party just a few days before a certain Swedish rock festival, I first hesitated about going, and instead staying at home to save my strength. Then I noticed the four bands that were confirmed - and that for the measly price of a hundred SEK (roughly 14 $)! It didn't come as a surprise that the show was sold out. It also turned out to be a very pleasant evening with lots of good music (and free t-shirts!).
"Clawfinger, it's the band, the band with the Midas touch " That's how the concert begins, with a slightly amusing version of Shirley Bassey's classic Bond theme Goldfinger, but with certain words exchanged for comic effect. That's also, unfortunately, about as funny as the concert gets. The rest is an exhibition of clumsy industrial riffs complete with tired rapping, the sort of metal that you would have believed died out sometime in the 1800th century.
Clawfinger released the album Hate Yourself With Style (which was absolutely massacred in the press) in 2003, and the seventh release Life Will Kill You is expected this summer. There is little that suggests that the band's negative trend will change, since the set mostly consists of the same tiresome rap metal that Clawfinger has produced from the very beginning of their careers. Sure, the song Biggest & The Best has a certain nostalgic value, and vocalist Zak Tell deserves credit for getting the crowd to jump up and down on numerous occasions. But this is simply not enough. When the excessively cheerful keyboardist Jocke Skog is the most enjoyable part of the show, you know you're in trouble.
The most remarkable part with watching a Clawfinger-gig is that this was exactly what the guys in Rammstein did before their careers took off, and afterwards decided that they wanted their industrial sound to be just like this. Rap metal? Crap metal, more likely.
3 chalices of 10
(Sorry, no setlist)
Slowly but steady Machinae Supremacy are making themselves a name on the stages of Sweden. They may not have reached Sweden Rock Festival or Hultsfred yet, and until they arrive at those destinations there are clearly things in their live performances that could be polished. The most apparent flaw is the singer Robert Stjärnström - while his whiny vocals might give the band an own identity on the albums, his voice certainly doesn't hold up very well in the live format. One can only dream of how it would sound if songs like the energetic opener Rogue World Asylum and the dark Ghost (Beneath The Surface) were handed to a really powerful vocalist.
Secondly, it just feels wrong that Andreas "Gordon" Gerdin from now one leaves his keyboards at home, and instead plays the rhythm guitar that was previously handled by Robert Stjärnström - who now focuses solely on the vocals. This might gain the band's live performances in the long run, but the guys don't seem entirely comfortable with the new line-up yet. A personal favourite like Fury sounds scarily un-tight, for example. Machinae Supremacy obviously tries their best, but when the material on their recently released album Redeemer is so great they should be able to cram out more from a gig like this.
The concert is not without its points, though. When the lovely vocalist Erica Öberg (from the band Inja) makes a guest appearance (something that is "quite rare", according to Stjärnström) on the track Oki Kumas Adventure, there is a significant rising of temperature in the venue. Also, when the otherwise rather reluctant audience finally lets loose to the mesmerizing Through The Looking Glass (not so strange, since this particular track has been played a lot on Bandit 106.3 this spring) the concert is at its absolute best. The guys also make sure to nail Attack Music, the best song from the flawed but enjoyable first album Deus Ex Machina.
All in all, Machinae Supremacy made a rather unfocused performance this
evening, and they can certainly do better. But since they would be playing
together with the Royal Philharmonics at the annual Play-concert in front
of 1,770 people two days later, you'd understand if their minds were elsewhere.
5 chalices of 10
Rogue World Asylum
After one and a half hour of rap metal and videogame-influenced heavy metal, 40 minutes of solid, Swedish melodic death hit right where it should. I can imagine that some spectators were surprised to see the band finally come out and play. Scar Symmetry haven't exactly been playing in Sweden a lot since they formed the band, so this was a rare occasion. After two good (but not fantastic) albums in two years, they should have the right amount of material to get a great show going.
Scar Symmetry might not be the most entertaining musicians in the business to watch (except for the vivid bassist Kenneth Seil, who seem to have borrowed some of his poses from Soilwork's Ola Flink) but when the music is so captivating, it hardly ruins the experience. Beforehand, I was mostly curious about how well the transitions between Christian Älvestam's dark growls and clean vocals would work out. Surprisingly well, actually, even if he gets more than a little help from the guitarists Jonas Kjellgren and Per Nilsson. The teamwork mostly goes smooth, even if a track like Reborn apparently is difficult to get properly off the ground.
Even during a rather short set like this, some glitches in Scar Symmetry's song-catalogue become apparent. Sure, in my book this was the most impressive show of the evening, but if the guys want to take the next step there will have to be more standout tracks like Chaosweaver or The Illusionist in the repertoire next time around.
7 chalices of 10
How much Pain can you handle? Peter Tägtgren is quite the opposite of Scar Symmetry, regarding that he's played a lot in Sweden lately. This was my third Pain-concert in four months, for example. Those who were witnessing Mr Tägtgren for the very first time should have been mighty pleased afterwards, since the gig was built around all the singles Pain have released throughout the years up until now. Same Old Song, Zombie Slam and End Of The Line produce a mighty opening, while Shut Your Mouth, the final song as always, never fails.
But personally, I've started to grow tired of seeing these songs live, which is not that strange considering the circumstances. I had instead hoped for more new songs from the recent album Psalms Of Extinction, but due to a disappointingly short set length there weren't much room to experiment with the set list. With the exception of Zombie Slam, only two songs that are new to me were played, which felt rather cheap. It didn't come as a surprise that both Nailed To The Ground and Bitch were very enjoyable - easily the highlights of this show. Pain always delivers, but he sometimes makes the mistake of relying too much on old material and playing the same old songs.
6 chalices of 10
Same Old Song