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~ Review and pictures by Thomas, July 2007

Metaltown, more brutal than ever.

The weather, somehow this is the number one topic prior to the festival, instead of the bands playing on the festival. At least when you speak with people not that initiated in metal you get a comment on "to make sure to wear something that protects you from rain". That is what people seems to be thinking of Metaltown, that it always coincides with bad weather, even though it only rained the first two years and last year it was instead hard to endure the extreme heat. Anyway, to end this weather discussion for good, Metaltown 2007, the fourth addition, was held under both a cloudy sky as well as sunshine, it was warm and there was no rain what so ever.

This year Metaltown had gathered the heaviest and most brutal line-up so far seen on its entire, despite former performances of Dimmu Borgir as well as Satyricon. To my huge delight, my personal heroes in Slayer headlined the festival and long time running highly respected Swedish acts in Candlemass, Entombed and Meshuggah were to be found on the bill as well. Further, among the other bands you could see hardcore in the shape of Raised Fist, black metal in the shape of Marduk, get a lesson in heavy riffing from Mustasch, satisfy your need of thrash with Machine Head, get swept away by the waves of Mastodon or get some Latin-rhythm spiced metal from Ill Niño. The only exception from the hard or heavy sound on the main stages was Hardcore Superstar that filled the position of sleaze and hard rock that is more basic.

Saturday - June 30

Band: Candlemass
Time: 13:30-14:15
Rock Stage

First band out this day was Candlemass, how strange to have the doom-legends as opening act, but how great it sounded. This was the first concert with new vocalist Robert Lowe from Solitude Aeturnus, which has replaced the charismatic frontman Messiah Marcolin. Robert as well as the band looked a bit stiff on stage and he is not as charismatic as his predecessor is but he can surely sing just as good, or even better. With him in the band, they get a lighter tone and even with the old songs, he made them sound perfectly natural for his voice. I might be damned for saying this, but I think the older songs got even better when they where performed by Robert Lowe instead of Messiah.

Only two songs from the new album were played, Emperor Of The Void and Devil Seed, and one would think that he could at least have learned the lyrics to those songs. What took away quite a lot from an otherwise brilliant performance from Candlemass was that Robert Lowe almost constantly looked down on the floor to read the lyrics of the songs. Nevertheless, Candlemass provided Metaltown of 2007 with a great opening performance, and I would love to see them on tour for an indoor concert, playing later in the evening with their new material and more old songs sung by their new voice.

6 chalices of 10

SETLIST: (might be slightly incorrect)
Well Of Souls
At The Gallows End
Devil Seed
Mirror Mirror
Emperor Of The Void
Black Dwarf

Band: Entombed
Time: 14:20-15:05
Metal Stage

No point to waste time or to compromise in anyway, that is what the guys in Entombed must have thought. This was a head on and a kick ass performance from a band that was apparently more focused and energetic compared to when they played at the same festival last year. But what could you expect from a band that is almost legendary with their death 'n' roll metal, and they really seemed to like it on the stage as they got a really good reception from the crowd.

Intense is the word that summons this concert up the best, and L-G Petrov did a fine job on stage screaming his lungs out, and whether you are an Entombed fan or not you could not have been in your right mind if you weren't captivated by this hellish action. Not than I am that well conversant with the Entombed discography, and I sometimes felt that it became monotonous, but I further felt this to be a good mix of old and new, and there is no doubt that this was a tight and well-delivered performance.

5,5 chalices of 10

(Sorry, no setlist)

After Entombed, it was time for a beer and with a gap in my schedule before the next band I wanted to see, I took a stroll to check out Syconaut that played on the smaller indoor stage sponsored by a Swedish metal magazine. But soon I realised that their hardcore sounding metal with more of aggressive screaming instead of growls, or any kind of singing for that matter, was not for me. Good work on the stage though from the guys, but this was simply not down my alley. Therefore, Hardcore Superstar got a share of my time instead, and these guys did a fine job on stage. You have to give it to them, they work hard and by every means available they try to work the audience, and I am willing to give them credits for their performance. However, their sleaze-influenced hard rock is not my personal taste even if they have a song or two that is irresistibly catchy. Raised Fist seemed to be pretty pissed off, but then they have been delivering their hardcore for a long time, but honestly, I went for another beer rather then to expose myself to this kind of music. After that it felt refreshing to listen to Sturm Und Drang, a band that has their time ahead of them. These very young Finnish guys with an apparent native heritage in their music looked a bit frightened on stage but they surely knew how to play. I didn't have time long enough to watch their entire set, and I didn't get to hear their "hit" song Rising Son, as I in order to be let in to the photo-pit had to be in time for the performance from Mustasch. However, from what I heard from my friends, Sturm Und Drang that started rough ended in a splendid manner, so look out for these guys in the future.


Band: Mustasch
Time: 18:00-18:50
Metal Stage

The hometown boys in Mustasch are surely masters of heavy riffing and creating groovy metal that has a sound of its own. The frontman of the band, Ralf Gyllenhammar is perfect for the role, he acts naturally relaxed with great confident and he is basically a funny guy, but perhaps he talks a bit too much between the songs at times. However, his harsh voice screams of authority when unleashed in singing over the heavy music that maintains melodic within the tuned-down riffing.

The band was in good shape and opened with I Hunt Alone from their debut album, and that set a good tone to their excellent set that consisted of at least all of their songs that I wanted to hear. The heavy stomping Black City came out really good as well as the groovy rhythm in Dog Wash showed some awesome riffing. And even if their latest single release Double Nature from their new album Latest Version Of The Truth contained pre-recorded strings it worked splendidly live, but then it has some of the better classic Mustasch riffing. Nevertheless, as always, Down In Black was the highlight for me, a killer song that can never fail. Moreover, Ralf showed his playful side when he made the crowd sing along to a different tune intertwined in Black City.

7,5 chalices of 10

(Sorry, no setlist)

Now it was time for the really complicated metal to come forward, two bands endlessly praised unanimously, but that I just cannot seem to grasp. The music from Meshuggah is insanely complex, and their vocalist surely looked insane to say the least when he made expressions with his face. Complex, heavy and death metal are all ingredients that should work in advantage for a band with me, but I just cannot get a grip on Meshuggah, they are simply too much for me. The same goes for Mastodon, they ought to suit me with their progressive and heavy riffing and ongoing music, and the Lord knows I tried to like them, live as well as on album, but I simply cannot see what the hype is all about, I just cannot get a grip on this band either.


Band: Sonic Syndicate
Time: 20:15-20:50
Close-Up Stage

Sonic Syndicate turned out to be better then what I expected, and not least it felt refreshing to hear them after listening to the demanding metal from Meshuggah and Mastodon. This was in no way a perfect concert from Sonic Syndicate, that did not impress on me much with their newly released debut album, and I had them quickly rejected as pale In Flames clones. However, Sonic Syndicate live was quite energetic and with their two vocalists it became really forceful with a band where half of the six members are brothers.

The good reception they got from the rather big crowd for being the smaller stage was well deserved, and both of their vocalists proved to be really good at their position at the front even if they are vocally not perfected. Harsh vocals, growls, screaming and melodic clean singing melted together well and Sonic Syndicate truly have their qualities as a live band, and they surely have the capability to go far. However, they have a long way left to travel before they reach any top, but the potential is there and they have songs that can help them on the way.

5 chalices of 10

(Sorry, no setlist)

Band: Machine Head
Time: 21:15-22:15
Rock Stage

Before Machine Head entered the stage you could hear the crowd chanting; Machine fucking head, Machine fucking head, Machine fucking head, over and over again. Obviously, it was more people than me that anticipated the performance from the Bay Area band. I did not think that they where as popular as they seemed to be, but they surely deserved the appreciation in my opinion, and you could tell that main-man Robb Flynn was seriously overwhelmed by the reception.

Most of the songs came from their two latest releases, and the start came with an intense performance of Clenching The Fists Of Dissent, which is the opening song from their new album The Blackening. Machine Head nailed this concert right on the spot and the guys were in excellent shape, not least Phil Demmel and Rob Flynn that delivered the guitars with an explicit teamwork. To hear them deliver the leads and harmonies in the crescendo of the song Halo was excellent, it was a pure pleasure to enjoy this sparkling performance. On the downside, they never got any real momentum, and it took a bit too long between the songs at times, but what an ending they presented. Last song out was Davidian, their bone-crushing break-through song from Burn My Eyes, one of the best debut-albums in my opinion, and that made me leave Machine Head feeling very much satisfied.

8 chalices of 10

Clenching The Fists Of Dissent
Aesthetics Of Hate
Take My Scars
Descend The Shades Of Night

Band: Slayer
Metal Stage

Without a doubt the heaviest and most aggressive band to have headlined Metaltown. Thank you, whoever had the explicit taste of booking Slayer. They might be the oldest band on the bill, but they play faster, headbang harder then most others, and they are still angry as hell and they made one helluva tight performance. With Slayer it is not always perfection, but the attitude is nailed perfectly and only to see them on stage got them very far with me. I do not know why, but I seem to be loving Slayer more and more as years pass, and lately I have found myself completely loving everything about them, so bare that in mind as you read, this is not objective, these are my reflections as a Slayer fan.

Disciple and War Ensemble, that is one good way to start off a concert, intense, brutal and heavy as hell was words that came quickly to mind. That many years have passed since they started out can only be told by the fact that Tom Araya doesn't have the same force in his voice anymore. It isn't anything that bothers too much though, and he surely has the aggression intact in his screams. Slayer played a nice mix of old and new and it was a great setlist if you ask me, but with a band like Slayer that has done so much during the years, there are always songs you will miss, but I am lucky as long as they keep Dead Skin Mask and Season In The Abyss in their set. Slayer is a band that never has compromised in any way, and they have stayed true to their cause all along, that is probably why songs like Die By The Sword and Show No Mercy from 1983 work just as fine as songs from this decade, such as Bloodline or Cult. Some bands should never change, and you do not want them to anyway. Motörhead is one, and Slayer is another one of those bands

Kerry King, that is ultra-coolness on stage, he does not make much fuzz about anything, he simply plays as hell and headbangs hard while he is looking grim, and that does it, ultra-coolness. He and Jeff Hanneman furiously delivered the guitars and Dave Lombardo was beating the living hell out of his drums while Tom Araya sung with full throttle, and there you have it, thrash metal about as good as it gets.

The ending was totally brilliant, a triple thrash treat in the shape of the classics Raining Blood, South Of Heaven and Angel Of Death made this a perfect ending from a perfect headliner. Some might say that Slayer was a bit too predictable, but so what, it's goddamn Slayer. They knew what the crowd wanted, and they delivered it convincingly, that is how I like my Slayer, so bugger off you who says differently.

9 chalices of 10

SETLIST: (might be slightly incorrect)
War Ensemble
Die By The Sword
Show No Mercy
Captor Of Sin
Mandatory Suicide
Seasons In The Abyss
Eyes Of The Insane
Silent Scream
Dead Skin Mask
Raining Blood
South Of Heaven
Angel Of Death


Better, but still not good enough

Much had improved since last year, but much still needs to be improved even further. Still there was a giant line just to get in to the bar area, it is not cool to have to wait for a long time when you would like to have a beer. Especially not when you do not have too much time before the next band starts and you cannot leave the bar area with the beer. The food, ok, now you could get food at more places, but still there was endless lines to wait in, and the burgers, well, don't get me started on those distasteful little bastards. Then it was way better with the toilets and the fresh-water posts. In all, most things are good at this festival and I sincerely hope that this yearly event will continue for many years to come. Musically this has always been a success in my eyes, good bands every year, and an organisation that works excellent as you as a spectator experience it with the great sound from the stages and the perfectly kept time schedule.

11.800 visitors did not mean that it was sold out, but nearly, and that number of visiting metalheads puts Metaltown on the map as one of the main metal events in Sweden. In related news, it can be mentioned that Metaltown got a sibling this year. The following day on the same area and on the same stages, but not with the same kind of music, Pier Pressure saw the light of day. Pier Pressure goes for the younger audience and the main acts this year included Avril Lavigne and My Chemical Romance. Two one-day festivals following each other must be a good way to ease the logistics and to keep the costs down but, although, that did not show on the ticket prices.

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Thomas, July 2007