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~ Review and pictures by Thomas, July 2008

Metaltown 2008, twice the fun

It is nice to see festivals expand, and also that there is a market that makes it able for the festivals to expand. Sweden Rock Festival has grown to a four-day festivity, and now Metaltown with this year's edition doubles the number of days. Instead of one, there were now two days of metal in the town of Gothenburg, Sweden. In addition, you could to this have added another festival, West Coast Riot, that took place at the same location and arranged by the same organisers only the day before and with a musical direction more towards punk rock.

Bigger is not necessarily better, but with the line-up Metaltown had gathered this year it definitely was, and they offered as usual a good mix of metal with Cavalera Conspiracy and In Flames as headliners. The festival area had moved slightly, but it was still held at the same address, if you like, at Frihamnspiren. But the area looked different and was better in most aspects since it was divided into two stage areas, one area for the two main stages and one area with two tent stages, one for the small stage and for the Brothers Grim Sideshow. The only negative thing was that the gate to the main area was a bit narrow and it easily became overly crowded there at the gates. But enough chitchat, lets get on with the goodies…

Friday - June 27

Band: Sonic Syndicate
Time: 13:30-14:15
Black Stage

"Sonic Syndicate truly have their qualities as a live band, and they sure 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." These were my own words from last year's edition of Metaltown where Sonic Syndicate performed on the small stage, I guess it is time for me to eat those words up by now. Because they are on the top now judging by the great reception they got, even if they where the first band out and a lot of people had not yet showed up, and it only took them a year to get here.

This band has grown to an impressive live-act in my eyes and performs as a very tight and lively unit. Even though I perhaps do not think of their music as impressive, I cannot resist to be fully captivated by their amazing performance, and how professional they appear to be on stage. The dynamic vocal duo is mainly to thank for their energetic performance since they make sure there are never any dull moments and they have learned greatly how to interact with the audience and how to hold them in their hand.

A new song from their upcoming album was performed, which I did not catch the name of, but there was nothing new to the sound of it, so expect Sonic Syndicate to maintain their climb to the really big stars.

6 chalices of 10

(Sorry, no setlist)

Band: Sabaton
Time: 15:30-16:15
Black Stage

I believe that Sabaton is bigger than what they themselves actually realise. They are humble on stage and look surprisingly overwhelmed by the fantastic reception they get. It was not long ago since I saw them at Sweden Rock Festival and apart from a half an hour shorter set it was not much that differed. Still they are an impressive live-act that acts with a great sense of confidence and with the natural leader in Joakim Brodén that you would probably follow into certain death if in war.

The band was enthusiastic on stage and it spread to the audience and it all felt like a grand festivity that ended far too soon, sadly. With their limited time and setlist, most of the material came from their new album The Art Of War starting off with the catchy Ghost Division which set the mood perfectly, followed by Panzer Battalion that made it all even better.

The stomping Cliffs Of Gallipoli became a mighty live track but still Primo Victoria will probably be their legacy when that time comes, it made the concrete rock and the whole pier shook.

7,5 chalices of 10


Ghost Division
Panzer Battalion
Rise Of Evil
Attero Dominatus
Cliffs Of Gallipoli
Primo Victoria
Metal Machine/Crüe

Band: Monster Magnet
Time: 21:30-22:30
Red Stage

It felt kinda sad to see a band where the expiration date had passed. Monster Magnet is since long past their former glory and I actually felt disappointed when they were done. The energy in the band felt to be lost. In addition to this, they played a selection of songs that felt lame and made me toss and turn and wonder where all the energy and attitude that I have seen before in this band had gone.

Nevertheless, it was great to see Dave Wyndorf back on stage and that he appeared to be doing well. If fate had wanted things differently it could have been another story now, after an overdose in 2006. Although it was not as great seeing a man without the energy and intensity but instead looking tired and old. This was simply no more than a day on the job from Monster Magnet, and perhaps not their best day either.

This went up and down with very few highlights for me, but when they arrived to Negasonic Teenage Warhead it should have done the trick, at least for me, but not even that great song could manage to lift their performance particularly high. Space Lord, on the other hand, did not seem to wake only me, but the entire crowd as it seemed. Now dammit, this was the Monster Magnet I was longing for, but alas it was the last song.

3 chalices of 10

(Sorry, no setlist)

One of the cancellations this year was from Job For A Cowboy who was forced to cancel due to illness, but the local band Avatar filled in with their thrash/death metal combination. I didn't pay much attention to them but instead used my time to get familiar with the festival area. But from what I heard, and have heard from them before, they still have a long way to go even though they can be quite enjoyable occasionally, and furthermore they seem to have a reputation that is way ahead of their actual status.

If you are visiting Metaltown, you can almost be sure that it will rain sooner or later, so Danko Jones was watched from the bar-area as it offered me refuge from the rain. The band started late since they got stuck in the traffic and perhaps it was because of that they didn't live up to my expectations? They did well, but not more judging by the standard they have set for themselves. I have seen them much better and with way more intensity than this, actually I was a bit disappointed at Danko Jones for the first time ever.

Even if Killswitch Engage did their job very well, I kind of had expected more out of them. The fact that they are a popular band was very obvious among the audience and they got a good reception, and it was perhaps the rain that made me feel a bit negative. But nevertheless - Holy Diver, holy shit what a good song that is, and I totally love their version of it, but when a band's best song is a cover, you start to wonder.

My first choice of metal music comes not from Hardcore Superstar and I am not exactly any major fan of them. Although I have the outmost respect for these guys, and it just keeps on growing. It is hard to find a more hard working band that fully gives all they got, at all times. Therefore, it was a bit sad to see that they had one of the slowest crowds during this festival.

The thrash/emo combination Bullet For My Valentine is yet another band that I find somewhat worthwhile. Occasionally excellent, and sometimes pointless. But even if they worked hard and well and got a good reception, this was something I found only somewhat enjoyable. If they were to stick to the thrash, more like Trivium do which are somewhat in the same division, they could become really great.

I just had to take the opportunity to for the first time check out Nifelheim, with the infamous brothers most known in Sweden for a commercial they did ages ago and for their loyalty to Iron Maiden. However, I have to say that the spikes and studs impressed me more than their black metal, but it was refreshing to see a band with such a passion for the music they performed.

All good things have to come to an end, and Cavalera Conspiracy got to end the first day. And if anyone has missed it, it is the two brothers Cavalera, formerly of Sepultura fame, that has re-united in a band of their own. And this surely has to be more Sepultura than what Sepultura is today. Inflikted, the title song from their "reconciliation" album started it all, and holy hell what a magnificent thrash anthem that is, and what an amazing song to start with. And the fact that classic songs like Territory and Refuse/Resist all came early in the set was surely to my delight since I was not able to stay and watch their entire performance. However, if they carried on in the same grand manner they opened, it must have been truly fantastic.

Saturday - June 28

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

If you are not Swedish, you will probably not have a clue about this band. LillaSyster is an extension of Rallypack, which is an extension of LOK, which gained some success some years ago in their native homeland Sweden. With a mix of hardcore, post grunge, and heavy metal with lyrics in Swedish, the hometown boys did not manage too well as they acted disoriented and the vocalist sounded even hoarser than what he usually does. As long as he went full throttle it sounded ok, but as soon he sung more calmly his voice cracked and sounded pale or disappeared completely.

The band nevertheless acted energetic and had a humble attitude toward the great response they got and the success they have gained. Songs came from both the debut from LillaSyster, complete with some old goldies from the time of LOK, and the song LOK Står När De Andra Faller was nice to get to hear again. Otherwise it were their tribute to metal, the song Hårdrock, and the splendid cover of Umbrella, originally done by Rihanna, which stood out at the best songs, even if they did not manage to deliver the latter with the same power or energy as on album. As a local patriot, I still liked this, perhaps more than what I should as a critic, still I do believe they can do much more better, but at least LillaSyster provided a decent start of the day.

4 chalices of 10

(Sorry, no setlist)

Band: Dark Tranquillity
Time: 14:30-15:15
Red Stage

Can you possibly ever be disappointed at this band? I don't think so, at least I know I have never been. There were only two things that bugged me about Dark Tranquillity this time; they played too early, and their time was too short. Nevertheless, apart from that it was splendid, and I always love when you see a band totally devote to the task at hand and Dark Tranquillity did just that.

Vocalist Stanne acts perfectly as a frontman, and he certainly has a voice that is out of the ordinary, even for a growler. The band performed a great set even though most song were new. The only thing that slowed the momentum down was Inside The Particle Storm that in my opinion should be removed from the set list. Since the last bunch of albums from Dark Tranquillity hold such a remarkably high level, there is nothing negative with mostly new songs and when Punish My Heaven as the only older song was included I felt satisfied.

Intensity, energy and melodic death metal that constantly seeks new borders, delivered by Dark Tranquillity live, is something that everyone should experience.

8 chalices of 10

(Sorry, no setlist)

Band: Amon Amarth
Time: 19:00-200:00
Red Stage

Amon Amarth have impressed me earlier with their live performances, as well as they occasionally have left me let down. Luckily this day they were at their best mood and performed a solid set where their powerful thick carpets of heavy riffing felt just so right in the warm evening sun. Their set was concentrated as they had limited amount of playtime, as most bands at Metaltown, so they didn't deliver any surprises, but instead some very expected highlights as Death In Fire and of course Pursuit Of Vikings.

This was nothing out of the ordinary, just a solid performance bringing out the best of their songs and some patented synchronised headbanging from the band. Amon Amarth started at a high and intense level and kept that going all the way through, you really wanted them to go on for a little bit longer when their time was up.

7 chalices of 10

(Sorry, no setlist)

Band: Nightwish
Time: 21:30-22:30
Red Stage

Nightwish has become an entirely new band with Annette behind the microphone replacing Tarja, or replacing feels wrong to say as it feels like they have started fresh. It it obvious that there is a newfound energy and passion in the band. Furthermore, now it is more of band on stage rather than five individuals. In addition, Nightwish has become so much more powerful and not least entertaining to watch.

Still they are professional to the bone, which they always have been, but this time it didn't turn out as magical as it did on their tour last fall, perhaps because now it was outdoors and with much more limited playtime. Even if there wasn't too much of the old songs, Annette brings a new dimension to them and the fact that the new songs work so damn well live feels unnecessary to mention. If you have seen Nightwish recently you know exactly what I mean.

This was a performance on a high level where the downs where few, if any even present, and Nemo was probably the song that drew the biggest reaction from the crowd and the reception was overwhelming. It is good to see that new vocalist Annette can take a crowd very well and that she has a beautiful voice not only on album but perfectly live as well. Even though her talks between the songs can be a bit peppy, it it easy to be indulgent with that when she and the band perform as great as they do.

8 chalices of 10

(Sorry, no setlist)

Soilwork had to leave room for food and coffee and by the little of what I saw and heard, I don't seem to have missed anything. Even though they impressed my quite a bit the last time they played at Metaltown, I felt compelled to follow my belly's call and it felt like I made the right choice.

The Finns in Finntroll brought out some good moods with their humpa-humpa metal even if it can turn slightly monotonous after a while. This was the first time I witnessed Finntroll with Lillmåns behind the microphone and even if he performs good at the front of the stage, he lacks the depths in his voice that his predecessor Wilska possessed. Still, Finntroll is as amusing as great to see and hear even though they have been better than what they where this time around.

Norway was represented with what is perhaps the most known kind of music from that country, black metal, and it came in the shape of Satyricon that filled in as replacement for Opeth that was forced to cancel due to illness, and Dimmu Borgir. Satyricon did not impress me much but it sounded good and the band seemed to have been in good shape. Dimmu Borgir on the other hand. that I did not see all of. seemed to have done great, and from what I saw and heard from a distance, it was splendid.

I thought freak-shows were something of the past, but here I was standing watching all kinds of deviant behaviour. And it was the Brothers Grim Sideshow, perhaps not a real freak show, but a little freaky it was though. 45 minutes of juggling with fire, swallowing swords, striptease, driving nails through arms, cripples displayed as freaks and what now. And sometimes it was as repelling as it was fascinating, freaks of nature live in the real world. You simply had to be there to see it with your own eyes in order to understand, I suppose.

Band: In Flames
Time: 22:45-00:00
Black Stage

I could tell you all about In Flames with simply one word: Outstanding!

I have seen this band many times, In Flames is one of the bands I have seen the most times all around actually, so I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. But spank me silly - I thought I had seen them as good as they could be, but obviously they could do even better, this was an outstanding performance. I have always loved In Flames as a remarkable live act, although I did not think they could be THIS great.

They must have spent a great deal of money on the pyrotechnics, too bad I missed a lot of it though. For the first four songs I could only hear In Flames as the photographers was not allowed in front of the stage during the first songs because of the pyro, so we had to wait beside the stage. But I can tell for sure that it appeared to sound really good even if it was hard to hear that well from where I stood, and the pyro was really, I mean really, god damn loud, standing right next to the stage. So unfortunately I missed the first four and a half song or so and can't tell that much about it but apparently it was a grand start I was told.

But from where I picked up it were all aces and the songs from their new album, perhaps their best album since Clayman, worked really well live, especially I Am The Highway turned out to be awesome performed live, a definite highlight for me. If the pier had rocked before, it was nothing compared to how it shook when Anders Fridén managed to make more than ten thousand metal heads jump up and down to Only For The Weak. Seriously, I thought the whole damn pier was about to sink into the water.

This was nothing but a victorious march from beginning to end, and In Flames are definitely prophets in their hometown. Since I missed quite a bit of the beginning concert I choose not to grade it, but what I saw was nothing but a perfect ten.

-- chalices of 10

(Sorry, no setlist)

Give me decent food!

Here I go bitching about this subject once again, as I have done all the other years as well. Perhaps I am being spoiled coming almost fresh from Sweden Rock Festival with a massive amount of food vendors to choose from, but come Metaltown and the choices are as slim as the burgers are tasty if you know what I mean. What the fuck, how bleeding hard can it be to provide some decent food?

Well, with that out of my chest we can continue with the things that really matter, that there was the biggest crowd so far with somewhere around 12-14.000 visitors. And it feels so damn good to see that there is room for one more festival to expand, and especially in Gothenburg where so much great metal has risen from, and even more especially that is so well organised. Metaltown anno 2008 was a splendid feast and I hope this will carry on for many years to come.

I would like to hand out a special thank you to the part of the security staff that was responsible for the photographers. You have my utter thanx for kindly making sure everything went as smooth as possible in the photo-pit, and for being understanding and kind even though there were more of us photographers than what could fit in the pit. However, you made it all work out really well, thanx.

See you all in 2009.

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Thomas, July 2008