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~ Reviewed by Mozzy/Tommy
-----------------------------------

Last year, Swedish indoor festival House Of Metal had to acknowledge a negative financial result for the 2013 edition. The spirit of the organisers did not suffer, however, and hard work and planning commenced which finally led us to another long-awaited festival weekend this year. Plans of three festival days were scrapped, but the two days certainly still had room for a string of prolific acts, such as Hatebreed, Hypocrisy, Napalm Death and Raubtier. Also including popular bands like Enforcer and Civil War, this year's line-up was impressive, not least for a festival with way less financial muscle than the bigger actors in the business. Also, the line-up appealed to a wider audience, more so than in recent years, which was one of the strategies this time.

That this strategy paid off was evident early on, with many tickets being sold prior to the event. And it was clear for everyone to see during the weekend that there were more people than last year. Without doubt, the large attendance brought a more joyful feeling and atmosphere. Surely, the financial outcome was more positive this year, and there should be a good chance of a repeat next year, something which everyone is hoping for. This is a special festival, in that it is taking place indoors, in Northern Sweden, and during the winter. Once again, there were also things like music clinics, seminars and meet-and-greets on offer at an event where everything functions smooth and professionally. But there is also a special air around House Of Metal; a true, wonderful sense of hospitality, fun and camaraderie which simply makes you feel good and happy. These we recognise as characteristics of a great festival, and House Of Metal sure fits in that category.

Over the years, many artists playing at the festival have expressed their appreciation as well, and a prime example took place this year when Hatebreed singer Jamey Jasta thanked House Of Metal a number of times from the stage. The American also nailed it when he sincerely described the event as "a unity of all heavy shit; I don't care if it's death or black or whatever, as long as it's heavy". Offering different kinds of quality metal to its visitors is indeed something House Of Metal do well, and long may it continue.
~ Mozzy

Friday - February 28

Band: Vanderbuyst
Time: 19:45
Stage: Studion

~ By Mozzy
First band that is seen by Metal Covenant at this year's festival is Vanderbuyst from Holland. Currently on a European tour with Enforcer and Skull Fist, the Dutchmen are in style more similar to the older school of hard rock and heavy metal. The three-piece put in a tight, vigorous effort and serves us with a fine portion of the genre, with names like Thin Lizzy, UFO and Deep Purple coming to mind. There is some great groove, delicious guitar melodies and straightforward rocking going on, as in the fine number The Butcher's Knife. It all goes down well with the audience, but as the evening has just started the place is not exactly packed and the atmosphere is a bit quiet. Nonetheless, Vanderbuyst get things underway in a nice fashion.

Performance: 6 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
Best
: The Butcher's Knife
Worst
: There are not many tunes that stand out.

(sorry, no setlist)


Band: Skull Fist
Time: 21:00
Stage: Studion

~ By Mozzy
"We are Skull Fist from who the fuck knows where and we play heavy metal", quips singer Jackie Slaughter at the start of the show. A long queue with people has been waiting to get access to the Studion hall, and Skull Fist, who are in fact from Canada, are soon handing the gathering a highly potent dose of heavy metal. Often with a high tempo bordering on speed metal, numbers like Chasing The Dream and Sign Of The Warrior are blistering, catchy tunes, much like the rest of the material.

The crowd responds with approval, pumping fists and banging heads. Like their tour comrades Enforcer, Skull Fist's delivery onstage is energetic and passionate, and the Canadians possess the proper attire and moves. Frontman Jackie Slaughter is no doubt the focal point, displaying great stage presence, both with and without his guitar. He also has strong pipes and high-pitch capabilities. The excellent No False Metal is played at the end, and its title certainly fits the splendid celebration of heavy metal which is taking place. During the rest of the weekend, many people sporting Skull Fist shirts can be spotted, and we will surely hear about these young heavy metallers again.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
Best
: The all round heavy metal atmosphere
Worst
: ---

(sorry, no setlist)


Band: Napalm Death
Time: 21.45
Stage: Idun

~ By Mozzy
The booking of Napalm Death was described as a proud milestone by the organisers, having tried booking them before. One of the true innovators and most revered bands in extreme metal, the Birmingham band has attracted a large crowd that is waiting excitedly before the intro finally starts. Being modest and laid-back gentlemen offstage, the band transform into an untamed, dynamic beast onstage. Singer Barney Greenway fronts the band in his inimitable style, roaming the stage like a madman and giving his all, while being a likable, smiling chap between songs.

His bandmates are equally spirited, and it is obvious these men still have a passion for their craft. The show is performed with an intensity that is admirable, not least when you consider how long the band has been around. Musically, Mitch Harris' vicious guitar riffs, Shane Embury's scorching bass delivery and Danny Herrera's ruthless attack on the skins make up a devastating sound. Complemented with Greenway's characteristic, fierce vocals and Harris' screams, it is an annihilating musical assault, one which has the crowd in the standing area go apeshit.

There is a mosh pit already during opener Silence Is Deafening, and the place goes wild during a brutal version of Unchallenged Hate. The adrenaline remains during the remainder of the concert, with regular pits breaking out. There is high spirit and enthusiasm in the air, with fans letting loose completely and having wide smiles on their faces, not least when the explosive, classic numbers from the first two albums are played towards the end. The affection for this uncompromising music style is wonderful to behold, and the band show their appreciation for the support.

As for the setlist, it offers a terrific mixture of the different sides and eras of Napalm Death, and whether it's older or more recent material, the standard is high throughout. Both older, longtime followers and younger, newer fans can be seen in a happy state afterwards, having witnessed a professional, impressive onslaught by this cutting edge outfit, still at the top of their game.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
Best
: The trademark, brutal Napalm Death sound
Worst
: ---

Setlist:
Silence Is Deafening
Everyday Pox
Unchallenged Hate
The Wolf I Feed
Suffer The Children
When All Is Said And Done
Errors In The Signals
Breed To Breathe
On The Brink Of Extinction
Social Sterility
Protection Racket
Taste The Poison
Necessary Evil
Scum
Life?
Deceiver
The Kill
You Suffer
Nazi Punks Fuck Off
Greed Killing
Siege Of Power


Band: Enforcer
Time: 22:30
Stage: Studion

~ By Mozzy
Annoyingly, watching the whole of Napalm Death's set means I miss the first minutes of Enforcer. The Swedes are well into their stride when I arrive, performing with soaring energy and dedication, which feeds off on the audience. Something that is apparent straight away is that after a few years of committed touring, these boys are very comfortable in their stage personas. Each one of singer/guitarist Olof Wikstrand, guitarist Joseph Tholl and bassist Tobias Lindkvist has splendid stage presence and contact with the audience, and they put on an entertaining show, moving around constantly. Behind them, Jonas Wikstrand supplies some powerful drumming and is entertaining to watch as well. Together, the four of them form a well-oiled, exciting live act. Apart from playing and performing with a fiery intensity and passion, the band's heavy/speed metal sounds tight and simply great.

After a cool cover of Venom's classic Countess Bathory, the show is rounded off brilliantly: first an awesome version of Satan, the belter from the latest album, and then Midnight Vice, the gem and video track from Diamonds. Both band and crowd put in their last energy, and the latter show their love of the band. It will now be interesting to see if the massively talented Swedish group can take their career to the next level.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 8 chalices of 10
Best
: The quality stage performance of the band members
Worst
: ---

(sorry, no setlist)


Band: Hatebreed
Time: 23.45
Stage: Idun

~ By Mozzy
When it is time for Hatebreed to close the festivities at the main stage, there is a very large crowd waiting in anticipation. The American five-piece is no doubt one of the biggest acts to appear at House Of Metal so far, and that they are especially popular among the younger generation of metal fans is evident. There are many of these present, and they plunge headfirst into action when Hatebreed unleash their mixture of hardcore and metal.

Defeatist is an effective opener, going straight for the throat, and the old Empty Promises upholds the tempo. Drummer Matt Byrne and bassist Chris Beattie form a compact rhythm section, with the latter supplying a colossal low-end sound. On top of that, guitarists Wayne Lozinak and Frank Novinec provide razor-sharp, vicious riffs which slice the air. The combined ingredients result in a ferocious sound, one that is ridiculously heavy and full of muscle and testosterone.

Whether it's hard-hitting intensity or mid-tempo groove, Hatebreed's music has a catchy side to it which makes it impossible to be still. No wonder that there are frequent circle pits formed by the adrenaline that the music creates. The setlist contains a string of favourites that does the trick, such as To The Threshold and This Is Now. Vocalist Jamey Jasta once again demonstrates his frontman abilities, having the crowd in his palm. He gets them to raise their fists, orchestrates a singing contest and encourages circle pits, while instructing people to look after each other. The other band members are not thrilling to watch onstage, though.

To be honest, tonight's Hatebreed display does not feel like it's firing on all cylinders and the extra spark is missing somehow. Likewise, there are hardly any surprises for one who has seen the band before. That being said, this is a definitely a convincing performance by one of the leading bands in the genre, and the crowd sure appreciate it and gets an ideal opportunity to release their energy.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 8 chalices of 10
Best
: Hearing the tunes from the latest album for the first time live, such as Honor Never Dies
Worst
: ---

Setlist: (might be slightly incorrect)
Defeatist
Empty Promises
Put It To The Torch
Doomsayer
Call For Blood
Boundless (Time To Murder It)
Last Breath
To The Threshold
Facing What Consumes You
Spitting Venom
Proven
Beholder Of Justice
This Is Now
Burial For The Living
Live For This
Ghosts Of War
Honor Never Dies
I Will Be Heard
Destroy Everything

Saturday - March 01

Band: Raubtier
Time: 20.00
Stage: Idun

~ By Tommy
One of my absolute favorite bands since a few years back, and this was the fourth time I had the pleasure of seeing them in just as many years. Even though they haven't toured excessively over the years, they show that they indeed are a tight and massive unit.

The set was a balanced one with an almost perfect selection of songs from the new album Pansargryning that was released just weeks prior to the gig. Since the second song is among the least good ones they have released so far, hence in my ears a strange choice to place so early or even include at all, it doesn't really take off until the third song but from there on it's a smorgasbord of catchy, refrain based and industrial tunes with singer Hulkoffs characteristic voice, to say the least.

They drew a big crowd that sang along with them from the first note to the very last. The sound could have been a bit better at times but they managed to get the most out of the Rammsteinesque riffs on which they rely on. I was completely satisfied at the end but it was not quite the best gig I have seen with them, despite the best setlist.

Performance: 7,5 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
Best
: Dieseldöden
Worst
: A couple of questionable songs

Setlist:
Björnes Magasin (intro)
Det Finns Bara Krig
Från Min Kalla Döda Hand
Skjut, Gräv, Tig
Dieseldöden
Polarvargen
Dieselrök
Sveriges Elit
Achtung Panzer
Dobermann
Besten I Mig
Världsherravälde
-----
Pansarmarsch
Kamphund
Låt Napalmen Regna


Band: Civil War
Time: 21.45
Stage: Idun

~ By Tommy
You know the story: three members of Sabaton recently stepped off and, before long, teamed up with singer Nils Patrik Johansson (Astral Doors, Wuthering Heights, Lion's Share). The music and the lyrical concept followed the beaten path, but with an adequate amount of a personal touch to be interesting.

This was my first time seeing them and I have to say that I got what I expected, nothing more, nothing less. The guys all have massive routine stacked up from their previous bands, and that showed, but I have to say that I had expected more of a show. It felt at times more like a cozy and familiar garage rehearsal with the guys often just goofing around and seemingly cracking internal jokes.

All in all, an enjoyable hour with catchy tunes decently delivered, but what saves the band from the risk of getting stuck in the gray mid-line is really Nils Patrik Johansson. A monster vocalist who gave a great show this evening and as usual owned the stage.

Performance: 6 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
Best
: The vocal performance
Worst
: ---

(sorry, no setlist)


Band: F.K.Ü.
Time: 22.30
Stage: Studion

~ By Mozzy
Three years after their last appearance here, Swedish thrashers F.K.. are back at House Of Metal. That it is a welcome return is obvious from the number of people turning up in the Studion hall. However, the band has a different line-up tonight: guitarist Pete Stoooaahl is absent because of an eye operation, and his place is filled by G.I. Geez (the names of the band members are not their 'real' names, in case anyone wonders). It is indeed a bit odd to see a different face in F.K.., a group with a characteristic look onstage. However, when it comes to the essential, musical bit the substitute proves a tremendous choice, delivering sharp riffs and tight playing. This is all the more impressive as singer Lawrence Mackory tells us that the guitarist has had a mere week to learn the songs.

Otherwise, all is as usual in the F.K.. camp. One track after the other in the classic thrash vein is performed in a tight, aggressive and heavy fashion. It whips up a frenzy in the crowd, where an eager moshpit is going on. From the latest full-length, we get the catchy 112 Ocean Avenue, and A Nightmare Made Thrash is performed for the second time ever. The set also of course includes crowd favourites such as Twitch Of The Thrash Nerve and Pit And Poser, which sure enough generates thrashing fans and fun action in the mosh pit.

Yet again, Mackory displays a classy frontmanship. He delivers entertaining banter in English, spurs on the audience and shines with his great vocals. Being a perfect component in the band's thrash metal, his voice is aggressive and very capable in the high register, where he even treats us to a Rob Halford impersonation. All in all, an enjoyable time is had yet again with F.K.., a unique and entertaining quality act in the thrash family.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
Best
: The irresistible classic thrash attack
Worst
: The set is a little samey

(sorry, no setlist)


Band: Avatarium
Time: 00.15
Stage: Studion

~ By Mozzy
A new band formed by Candlemass mastermind Leif Edling, Avatarium released their debut album late last year, receiving glowing reviews. The time has finally come to perform the material live, and that it is House Of Metal that has the honour of staging the very first Avatarium concert is a treat. Unfortunately, Edling himself is missing tonight, being ill. In his place, the bass is handled by Tiamat's Anders Iwers, and he does a flawless job. The choice is also smart since his bandmate in Tiamat, Lars Sköld, also occupies the drum stool in Avatarium, thus forming a rock-solid rhythm section.

The duo contributes much to the songs' heaviness, which has Edling's signature written all over them, and guitarist Marcus Jidell delivers huge, awesome riffs. Playing and soloing with expertise and precision, Jidell takes much of the limelight onstage, and together with Carl Westholm on Hammond organ, he adds superb flavour, mood and melody. Indeed, these tunes are not all heavy but include beautiful and atmospheric parts too. And now, then, to the vocals: Jennie-Ann Smith impressed on record, and she does so live as well. Her voice has bags of power, feel and talent, and her showmanship has confidence and character. Her soulful and passionate performance makes it pleasurable to watch her onstage, and her looks cannot be unobserved either, one has to confess.

With all these components, the performance by Avatarium tonight is magnificent. The songs from the album, such as Moonhorse, Boneflower and Bird Of Prey are great in a live setting. The crowd is with the band from the start, cheering and applauding each song. The band feed off the energy and there is a brilliant atmosphere throughout with sincere affection between band and audience. There is also a marvellously epic feel in the music, and this is certainly the case in the subtle Lady In The Lamp, which is just wonderful, with Smith singing beautifully.

After finishing with an excellent, brick-heavy version of Avatarium, the quintet of the same name receive a very warm celebration by the audience after finishing their performance, and it is evident they are happy with how it all has gone. Edling, who despite being absent receives loud cheers during the presentation of the members, can be proud of his new project's debut on the live stage. In this writer's opinion, Avatarium was the highlight of this year's House Of Metal, and truly a great way in which to round off the most enjoyable weekend.

Performance: 9 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 8 chalices of 10
Best
: The classy epic songs
Worst
: After all, Edling is missed

(sorry, no setlist)


Related links:

www.houseofmetal.se