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~ Reviewed by David

Gates of Metal is an idyllic festival in Hultsfred, deep in the woods of Småland. A place famous for the much bigger pop festival in June. This was the fourth year (and my third visit) and with a fairly good lineup the hope was to exceed last years attendance record. However, that hope should fail, since unfortunately there seemed to be a lot of space left on the small area. Time will tell if there will be a festival at all next year, and if so - if it's going to have a new direction or perhaps take place at another weekend (i.e. not at the same time as Wacken Open Air). I certainly hope that there will be a future for this perfect complement to Sweden Rock and Metaltown. Anyway, I missed the Friday evening this year. Actually I arrived just five minutes before one of my main priorities, Narnia. Sadly enough my second priority Paragon was playing at the same time. I also had to skip Destruction to go and listen to Hammerfall's new record, which you also can read about here on Metal Covenant. But still I managed to get a good dose of metal this Saturday.

Saturday- 5th of August

Band: Narnia

Narnia live is faster, harder and more aggressive than on record. More fun in other words. Christian Rivel sings with more strength and energy as well. When opening the Saturday at Gates of Metal, the band dedicated half of the gig to the new record Enter The Gate, which recently became 'leader of the pack' in Sweden Rock Magazine. A good choice, since it is a fresh and strong album. The new songs grew a bit further in the live format. And with the classic Long Live The King the crowd was really starting to wake up. Some technical problems did not disturb the experienced entertainers Rivel and Carl Johan Grimmark. But did they really need sunglasses in under the roof of Teaterladan? And why didn't they use the whole hour? At this time just about a hundred people watching seemed as a disappointment. But as the day went on, it became apparent that there were not many people on any of the concerts.

8 chalices of 10

1. Inner Sanctum
2. Back From Hell
3. The Mission
4. Into This Game
5. People Of The Bloodred Cross
6. Long Live The King
7. Another Day
8. Show All The World

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Band: Sabaton

Sabaton filled in for Savage Circus in the last minute and thus this became a pre-premiere for the coming tour. This was the fifth time I saw Sabaton live in just a little more than a year. One might think that there is not much new to add to the previous reviews. But actually this was their first gig after the release of Attero Dominatus. Although they played three new songs at Tivolirock in July, this was the premiere for the new full liveset. And sure In The Name Of God and Light In The Black did well in the live format as well. The mix of old and new worked great, although Primo Victoria still stood as the undisputed highlight of the concert. It was also the first time I saw them on a bigger stage, but certainly not the last. Just as on Tivolirock, Christian Eriksson from Skyride appeared as guest singer on Metal Crüe. This time in a streaking version, only covered by a sock on the sensitive parts.

8 chalices of 10

1. Panzer Battalion
2. In The Name Of God
3. Attero Dominatus
4. Nuclear Attack
5. Hellrider
6. Rise Of Evil
7. Into The Fire
8. Wolfpack
9. Back In Control
10. Light In The Black
11. Primo Victoria
12. Metal Machine/Crüe
13. Långa Bollar På Bengt

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Band: Helloween

One can't stop wondering how a sour looking fellow like Michael Weikath can write the happiest metal songs on earth. Well, it is great luck that Andi Deris and Sacha Gerstner always are smiling to even it out. Still this was one of the duller Helloween gigs I have witnessed. Not at all the same energy as in Lund this winter. There was too much focus on the old worn out hits from Keeper I+II for my taste. But I have to admit that the crowd still seems to get it on with Eagle Fly Free, Future World and I Want Out. However, to exchange Keeper Of The Seven Keys for Halloween was a plus. Not that I don't like the former, but it is always great to get some old stuff that you haven't heard live before.

King For A 1000 Years is maybe the best Helloween tune ever and became an early peak of the concert. Otherwise the star of the evening was Andi Deris. He did A Tale That Wasn't Right better than Kiske ever did and he nailed Halloween. But after that followed a part in the set where the tempo fell flat. Helloween did the same mistake as Whitesnake did on Sweden Rock Festival. They made the crowd bored with first a drum solo and then a guitar solo after just one song in between. And when Deris stretched out the sing-along part of Future World the great yawning was inevitable.

6 chalices of 10

1. King For A 1000 Years
2. Eagle Fly Free
3. Hell Was Made In Heaven
4. A Tale That Wasn't Right
5. Halloween
6. (drum solo)
7. If I Could Fly
8. (guitar solo)
9. Power
10. Future World
11. Mrs. God
12. I Want Out
13. Dr. Stein

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Band: Steel Attack

It was sad that only a handful of people found their way to Iron Stage to see Steel Attack. The bands latest record Diabolic Symphony is a great step forward and should have rendered a greater response if the world had been a fair one. Ronny Hemlin is also one of the best singers in the Swedish metal scene today. The band delivered an energetic performance, although there were just about thirty people watching. They concentrated solely on the material from the latest two releases, since Ronny joined the band. That is a perfect choice of course, since founding member and guitarist John Allan's new lineup has moved from a power metal band in the sea to a great powerful act with a strong character.

7 chalices of 10

1. Dead Forever
2. Enslaved
3. Embraced By Fear
4. Diabolic Symphony
5. Show Me The Way
6. Sanctemonious
7. Shallow Seas Of Hatred
8. Voices
9. Son Of A Thousand Souls
10. Invisible God

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Band: Ministry

Ministry was the only non-Scandinavian or German act on the festival. They were also a bit of an outsider musically compared to the rest of the lineup. Perhaps it was an experiment to attract a broader crowd. Anyway it did not work, since Ministry played with the sparsest number of people in front of the main stage. Visually the show was well worth to see, with large screens showing film clips in the back and the band strikingly dressed and made up. But musically their industrial metal only attracted a few.

-- chalices of 10

(sorry, no setlist)

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Band: Mayhem

I will not attempt to review or rate Mayhem. It is simply not music made for my ears. It is not lyrics made for my mind. And it is certainly not an image that fits into my world. But in a way it was still fascinating to see. 'Singer' Attila had skinned a pig and was wearing the bloody result on his head. Skinned skulls were standing on poles in front of the stage. In the back there was an arrangement with a crucified creature; and bones, flesh and blood were spread around the stage. The Norwegians certainly lived up to their macabre reputation. But I can't really see how this should have made anyone happy.

-- chalices of 10

(sorry, no setlist)

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Band: Hammerfall

Hammerfall came almost right out of the studio to play the only gig in Sweden this year. We got an impressive cavalcade of hits for a band that has only five records out yet. Templars Of Steel was back as the opening act. There was no hammer in the scene roof this time, and no armed Hector - but a load of pyrotechnics. Since there was no rehearsed show, the acting and posing got more spontaneous than usual. To my great satisfaction a couple of favorites from Glory To The Brave were taken back into the set: The Dragon Lies Bleeding and my personal all time Hammerfall song - Stone Cold. They also offered a cover on Roger Pontares När vindarna viskar ditt namn, which they also did in a Song Contest anniversary show on TV some year ago. In fact a great crowd-pleaser.

We only got on new song though, Fire Burns Forever, which is the song made for the Swedish team to the European Athletic Championships in Gothenburg. In the finale number, Hearts On Fire, the band was assisted by a special choir - Team Norberg, the Olympic champions in curling; who did a special edition video for this song before they won their gold medals. So are Hammerfall ready to be a headline act at a festival? Certainly! They have the hit songs and overall a broad material to chose from; they have the show and they have the live energy. Technically there were some things to work on here and there, especially for Anders Johansson, but we should remember that this was one of only two gigs this year.

8 chalices of 10

1. Templars Of Steel
2. Riders Of The Storm
3. Let The Hammer Fall
4. Legacy Of Kings
5. Hammer Of Justice
6. The Dragon Lies Bleeding
7. Blood Bound
8. (drum solo)
9. Fury Of The Wild
10. När vindarna viskar ditt namn
11. Heeding The Call
12. Stone Cold
13. Hammerfall
14. Renegade
15. Secrets
16. Fire Burns Forever
17. Hearts On Fire (featuring Team Norberg)

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See also: interview with Joacim Cans prior to the gig »»
See also: pre-listening of the new Hammerfall album »»

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