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~ Review and pictures by Thomas

Metaltown/West Coast Riot 2009 - Double Nature

Three days, two festivals, one location, a unity combined of punk and metal.

This year, we at Metal Covenant expand our Metaltown coverage and also include a brief report from the West Coast Riot festival, which for the second year was held the day before Metaltown started. West Coast Riot had Social Distortion as their headliner while Metaltown presented Slipknot and Marilyn Manson as theirs, and with a rooster filled with established and well-respected bands this promised to be a good event. Especially since the weather was at an extraordinary good mood spreading sunshine and almost a scorching heat upon all of us metalheads at Gothenburg's Freeport Pier.

22000 visitors came to Metaltown this year, and I think it is cool that this festival has grown so much during the years since the start in 2004, with then just over 5000 visitors. Gothenburg is after all regarded as the metal capital of the world according to some, so I only see it fit that this town now has a metal-festival of high quality. It was so goddamn much people crowding the area this year, and even though the spirit was high, I suppose the weather played a major part in that sense, and that most of the bands seems eager to deliver their best. Moreover, I believe that the maximum of spectators for this area has been reached, but in an interview in a local newspaper with one of the responsible behind it all they are not afraid to change the location in order to grow even further if that would be necessary. That is a somewhat a shame, since it will probably be hard to find a better and also so central location in Gothenburg for this great event.

These two festivals offered so much to see and hear, and again the quality of the booked bands must be seen as remarkably high, whether you find them to be personal favourites or not, and there I was trying to cover as much of the performances as I possibly could and to photograph three days of festivities on my own. Perhaps this is not the most in-depth report I have done, but I hope you still find the quality as high as ever, but to start the concert in the photo-pit, get the pictures, and then out to the crowd, get a good spot and be able to take in the impression to hand out a fair judgement. It is not always easy, but I am not complaining; this is a privilege, and I am aware of it. So more pictures (you will find over a hundred pictures to look at) and fewer words (but still not just a few) is the recipe for this year, but I hope that I have managed to capture the essence anyway.

Thursday 25 June/West Coast Riot

Band: Suicidal Tendencies
Time: 15:00-15:45
Black Stage

I am not going to hide the fact that this was the sole reason why I wanted to attend West Coast Riot, and I was surprised to see them playing so early in the day. I thought they were going to have something close to a headlining status, perhaps it is only me that overestimates their current status, and furthermore I would have seem them more fit at Metaltown. Anyhow, I was lucky to make it just in time before they entered the stage, and thank some god for that.

I didn't knew what to expect of Mike Muir and his Suicidal Tendencies. Whether they would have become have-beens or if they still were in order to deliver the same great music that you loved many years ago. As this was my first time witnessing them, I was ecstatic by the feast of old classics they brought out, this was kick ass of old times. I mean, if you kick into action with You Can't Bring Me Down, and later follow it up with songs like Pledge Your Allegiance, Send Me Your Money and War Inside My Head for instance, I am hooked for sure

It is apparent that the band has aged, not least Mike Muir looks to have grown old, but you can not complain on the intensity or his ability to deliver to the fullest. The only thing to complain about is the time that they had to their disposal, forty-five minutes of Suicidal Tendencies weren't nearly enough. A further proof of the fact that the band is still going strong is that they will release a new album later this year, and they provided a taster of that in form of a new song, which probably will need a few more listening before any judgement can be dealt out, but sure to say they keep to their tradition and it surely sounded promising.

7 chalices of 10

(sorry, no setlist)

They still got the anger and intensity left, the guys in Sick Of It All, but still nothing for me this day since it wasn't even back in the days. I never quite grasped the New York hardcore scene as it exploded in the media in the early nineties, but it was nevertheless great to see a band that still can deliver and be vital even though it didn't attract me.

Band: Gogol Bordello
Time: 18:00-19:00
Red Stage

This was fun as the gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello brought on one helluva party. No boundaries, that is probably a good way of describing this band based in New York and lead by Eugene Hütz with members and influences from all over the planet.

This was also a first time for me, I guess in likeness with a lot of other people. Start Wearing Purple was my only prior experience of this band and I had no idea really of what to expect.
But with ethnic influences, violin, accordion, percussion, a colourful vocalist and a sense of madness, Gogol Bordello made me enjoy this rather well. There was always something going on at stage and the music itself can be very captivating, but it can also, if you are not familiar with the band, become monotonous.

Start Wearing Purple was to me one of the greatest moment of their one hour performance and Wonderlust King was also something that I enjoyed. But perhaps the ending crescendo that they built up was what I will remember most, when the music intensified and all I can describe it as is something like an organized chaos that was over the top, with Eugene Hütz as instigator.

5 chalices of 10

SETLIST: (might be slightly incorrect)

Wonderlust King
Tribal Connection
Not A Crime
Think Locally Fuck Globally
Start Wearing Purple

Friday 26 June/Metaltown

I surely expected more from Pain, but nevertheless it wasn't bad in any way. I rushed in and arrived almost perfectly in time for their performance, although I missed the start of the first song due to the overcrowded entrance to the festival that could have been working a bit more smooth I think. Peter Tägtgren and his band did a good job but apart from the flying confetti in the beginning, it never exploded on stage. Shut Your Mouth was the big attraction and the most crowd pleasing song I believe, along with Same Old Song.

Ultra fast, brutal and no bleeding compromise, that is Napalm Death in a nutshell. This is a band that I occasionally can enjoy, but I have to be in the mood for it, I wasn't this time. If you don't know what Napalm Death is you might experience this just as a load of noise, and vocalist Barney Greenway had realised this and explained to the less initiated; -"If you don't know what is going on, we are a band called Napalm Death and we have been doing this since 1983". The intensity from a band like Napalm Death is something you can almost touch and see. Barney Greenway looks like he is in a trance and that is also something that enhances the experience. When they had about ten minutes left Greenway said that they were through with their set, they had finished ten minutes earlier than what they usually do; -"That is speed for you", as he said and then carried on with another couple of songs to fill the slot.

Band: Trivium
Time: 16:30-17:15
Red Stage

This band only becomes better and better as time goes by, and I am almost ashamed of the fact that I used to repudiate them in the start of their career. Well, no man is worse than that he can change his mind, this was the third time I witnessed Trivium live, and if dismissed them the first time I will have to praise them by now.

This band has truly learned how make their way on stage and how to capture the audience in a great manner. The band immediately received a great response from the audience and they seemed to truly love the appreciation that they got. I really like the diversity they create in their music, and that they can deliver cutting riffs with blending melodies and vocal harmonies as well as they did live here. Kirisute Gomen from their latest release Shogun provides a staggering blend of the elements they possess and execute so well.

Only thing that I missed was some of the great songs from their former album The Crusade, my memory might fail me but I can't recall a single song from that album. And I think that it is a shame really, to leave out that album completely. Nevertheless this was no disappointment in anyway since Trivium delivered to the fullest and the band as well as audience seemed to be fully satisfied by the performance, and so was I, almost.

6 chalices of 10

SETLIST: (might be slightly incorrect)

Divinity I
Kirisute Gomen
Down From The Sky
Throes Of Perdition
When All Light Dies
Like Light To The Flies
A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation
Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr
One Winged Angel

Band: Children Of Bodom
Time: 18:45-19:45
Red Stage

Children Of Bodom probably did one of their best shows ever, at least it was one of the definite high-lights of this year's edition of Metaltown. Anyway I don't think I have ever seen this band acting this great before at any occasion. Their performance was on the edge, energetic and not least with a light tone and I saw a band that acted relaxed and that apparently had a lot of fun on stage. The Bodom boys were on fire.

The band can be moody at times, but not this time as they was all high in spirit and performed a great setlist in a flawless manner and also found the time to joke around between the songs. Janne Wirman on keys stood for the most fooling around as he started to play the intro to The Final Countdown, and wouldn't stop, and the audience was all play to this. Also later on, he paid a short tribute to Michael Jackson with playing the intro to one of his songs. This was energetic straight through and this was truly a perfect way to spend the early evening on a sunny Friday to watch and listen to a Children Of Bodom that was delivering at their maximum capacity. The melodies were nailed perfectly as was the interaction between the guitar from Alex "Wild Child" Laiho and the keyboard from Janne Wirman, as this made the balance between aggressive and melodic turn out perfectly.

Even though I am a huge fan of the band I didn't expect them to be received as well as they was from the huge crowd that all seemed to love the tunes from Children Of Bodom. The ending song Hate Crew Deathroll turned in to a perfect ending that brought the last of their set leaving you completely satisfied when they were done, yet it seemed you couldn't get enough.

9 chalices of 10

SETLIST: (might be slightly incorrect)

Needled 24/7
Bodom Beach Terror
Hate Me!
Living Dead Beat
In Your Face
Children of Decadence / Bed of Razors
Hellhounds On My Trail
Angels Don't Kill
Hate Crew Death Roll

This band does everything right, and the more I see or hear Volbeat, the more I seem to like them. This was the second time in a short period of time that I saw Volbeat and I can safely rule out that their performance at Sweden Rock Festival was a one time fluke. They actually are this good live.

Band: Disturbed
Time: 21:15-22:15
Red Stage

What a show Disturbed delivered, they surely made up for the disappointment I felt after the last time I saw them live. The common thread at this year's festival seemed to be bands that was compelled to deliver at their top of their ability. Well not all band managed to do so, but Disturbed definitely did, and how they did it...

Along with Children Of Bodom this was something that was one the absolute highlights at the festival according to me, and also with a setlist the leaves little to complain about.
The band made a superb performance and the only downside was the otherwise great voice from David Draiman that sounded to come out as a bit fatigue occasionally, especially in the parts where he sings with full lungs. Although it didn't came to be a disturbance, only a thing you noticed but if it would have been a bit worse it could have ruined the show.

Disturbed has created many good songs of their own to choose from but despite that it was with a cover of Land Of Confusion, originally by Genesis, that they brought down the biggest applauds. I can easily see why as it is a good song from the start that they have made even better, but of course, it still just a cover. Another song that came out no less than brilliant was Ten Thousand Fists In The Air, a song that is perfect for a live show, not only by the name that encourages play-along from the crowd. And I don't believe that there actually were only ten thousand fists in the air, well, I didn't count but I think you will have to try with something like forty thousand fists in the air.

8 chalices of 10

SETLIST: (might be slightly incorrect)

Just Stop
Meaning Of Life
Land Of Confusion
The Game
Inside The Fire
Ten Thousand Fists In The Air
Down With The Sickness

This could be sounding like a bad joke if you were to ask what you get if you put nine clowns on a stage. Slipknot is of course the obvious answer, and according to me they filled their headlining spot in a great way that the crowd seemed to love, as well as the band actually seemed overwhelmed by the massive response they received.

There is always something happening on stage with a band like Slipknot, it easily becomes ecstatic and surely it becomes entertaining as well, and by every album they make they get more and more songs that broadens their repertoire and adds a depth to their performance, which makes them better and better live as well. Especially since Corey Taylor gets to use more of his voice and show that he actually has a great and diverse voice perfectly suited for calm as well as brutal singing techniques. And with this performance Slipknot brought the first day of Metaltown to an end, and they did it in a brilliant way.

Saturday 27 June/Metaltown

Band: Evergrey
Time: 13:30-14:15
Black Stage

It felt a bit unfair that Evergrey should get the ungrateful job of playing the opening slot at the second day of the festival. At least to me they deserve so much more. Anyway, they took on the challenge and made a perfect start to my day with a concert performed honourful considering the early time they had been dealt.

The music from Evergrey can demand some attention from the listener, perhaps that in combination with the early time made out for the somewhat lack of enthusiasm from the crowd. In my opinion Evergrey should have had a larger crowd, they deserved to have more attenders. Regardless of those who weren't there, Tom Englund who is a frontman that surely can act with authority made sure that we got the best out of a Saturday afternoon, together with the rest of the guys in Evergrey. This was the first time I saw Evergrey with their new recruit Jari Kainulainen, formerly of Stratovarius, and his presence added a sense of even further professionalism to this already professional band.

The setlist lacked too much of older material to satisfy my conservative mind, nevertheless there is no need to complain about what was served as it came out perfect. Evergrey made a great start of the day for me, even though they never came to their fully right as the ambience needed for their music didn't come out right until the evening, and the fact that they would have needed more time on their hands.

6 chalices of 10

(sorry, no setlist)

I have given The Haunted a chance at several occasions now, and that includes live as well as on album. One thing is for sure and that is that I should like them, but why don't I? As far as I can tell they did nothing wrong and the appreciation they received was well deserved, but still I just can't put my finger on why I don't like them.

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

Now it was time for full speed ahead with six maniacs on stage, and whether you like them or not they bring a smile to your face. And in my case I love them so I found this to be bloody excellent, with the endless and ultra-fast guitar-masturbations that sounds like chirping birds combined with catchy power metal. How could one resist?

Dragonforce has been getting a lot of help from the videogame Guitar Hero since their song Through The Fire And Flames is featured there in one of the editions. And it showed when they performed it, kids you would never think to like a band like Dragonforce was happily singing along, but only to this song. And a band that hasn't always had it easy deserves the recognition they gets and the years of performance has only made them better on stage.

The joy and craziness they produce on stage passes on to the spectator and for me it is impossible to not put on a smile, especially when their craziness on stage doesn't get in the way of the music and the fact that they perform flawlessly in a speed that is fast, hats off to guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman there. Even though their compositions are long, and could easily become tedious, it doesn't and the band is continually firing up the crowd and in the final song vocalist ZP Theart jumps down in the pit between the crowd and the stage and sang from there to interact with the fans. And the award for ugliest stage outfit goes to keyboardist Vadim Pruzhanov.

7 chalices of 10

(sorry, no setlist)

-"It is a lovely day, and we are here to change that", said Aaron Stainthorpe of My Dying Bride, and how right he was. It truly looked deserted in front of the stage when they started, and it didn't exactly become overly crowded as they went along either, quite the contrary. My Dying Bride with their dark, gloomy and somewhat even pretentious doom metal seemed to scare most people away. Me as well, as I felt their performance to be boring and lacking enthusiasm and despite the fact that Aaron Stainthorpe appeared to sing with a lot of empathy, it never passed on to the environment around him.

Band: Mustasch
Time: 19:00-20:00
Red Stage

Mustasch is like clockwork, you can always rely on Riff-Ralf and his entourage to deliver, as well as that they spread a joy around them. It is almost as amusing to hear his talk between their songs as it is to hear them deliver their stoner inspired heavy metal. To experience Mustasch on their home turf is always a pleasure (even though there is only one out of four at the festival that actually lives in Gothenburg nowadays) and they started nicely right from the start only to increase as they went along.

The band has gained two new members since I last saw them; David Johannesson, previously in Sparzanza, on guitar and Danne McKenzie on drums. The band has gained in more than one sense with these changes and their performance seemed to be heavier and rawer than what at least I am used to. And even if half the band has been replaced it still sounds tight enough and it further still feels like it is the same typical Mustasch spirit that is present on stage.

A warm and sunny Saturday evening seemed to be the perfect environment for Mustasch and to down a few beers (not for me, though, since I drove that day) and most people seemed to enjoy this concert to a great extent. Especially towards the end with crowd-pleasures (if you can use that expressions) like Black City and of course Double Nature. Personally (and this seems to never change for my conservative self) I found Down In Black and I Hunt Alone to be the best songs from Mustasch, even if perhaps the air became its best with Double Nature.

6 chalices of 10


Bring Me Everyone
Down in Black
Teenage Pacifier
Accident Black Spot
Falling Down
I Hunt Alone
Black City
Monday Warrior
Double Nature

Another band that I am supposed to like according to myself but having problems with grasping is Opeth, on album I am starting to get the thing, but live it only becomes a big yawn. It is not exactly sing-along friendly refrains that are delivered and you could see people in the crowd loose focus as they played along. Their music is of the kind that needs practically your full attention and for me that are not that well initiated in the band it is hard to the digest them at a festival stage. I have loads of respect for Mikael Åkerfeldt and Opeth but I have to listen more to their albums and see them at an own headlining concert before I can really say anything about them.

Ending the whole shebang was the ever provocative Marilyn Manson, but after the initial songs it felt like his best before date had expired. Of course he is only human after all and even though his image might be somewhat larger than life his performance at Metaltown most definitely wasn't. Perhaps the expectations for something spectacular clouded my vision since this seemed to be a stripped down show suited for this festival. Although I think he would have needed the entire Marilyn Manson grand spectacle on stage since just him, a band and his songs don't measure up.

I am no fan of the music of Marilyn Manson, never has been, no need to beat around the bush with that, nevertheless I have always had the greatest respect for him as an artist and clever strategic moves he made. I guess many have troubles seeing through the façade but with his provocative style he has managed to gain more success the more he has provoked, even though musically it has been far from provoking. That works for selling albums perhaps, but to please people live you need to provide more than an uninspiring show in order to win over the not already die-hard fan, and I did not see that happen here. Although I didn't stick through until the end, but there you go.

Ten Thousand Fists In The Air

There were a lot of people this year at Metaltown, and I do mean a lot. 22000 metalheads is a proof that there is a need for this event in Gothenburg. West Coast Riot didn't have as many visitors, but I haven't seen any figures from either last year nor this year so I can't tell whether the festival went better or worse. The thing that struck me most was the ambience that was present this year, a much warmer and familiar feeling than there has been the prior years, and it felt like everyone was there for fun and game. The massive crowd response that seemed to welcome most bands made the bands perform even better and most bands seemed sincerely overwhelmed by the reception they got. In all, the spirit was simply a bit jollier in 2009.

Although the maximum visitor capacity seems to have been reached, everything seemed to have been working fine as far as I could see. As the festival has grown the organizational side to it as far as we visitors experience it seem to be getting better all along, still there is much work to be done but small steps are taken every year and in general I must consider myself to be satisified.

One downside is the sound-levels at the performances. There is not much the organisers can do about it though, since they only follow regulation set by law here in Sweden. A metalhead generally likes it loud but the maximum level on peaks might not exceed 115 decibel, while the average sound level during an hour of a concert can not exceed 100 decibels. At a festival where the spectators are spread over a wide area the sound might be seen a bit low at times, especially when there is wind present to disturb as well, and Gothenburg can be rather windy.

Finally I feel I might have let some readers down by not include this or that band, and especially the Japanese bands Dir En Grey, Mucc, and Girugämesh. I admit that I could have put some more focus on the Japanese bands as I know many people like them, but in my defence I have to say that shamefully, these kind of bands has passed me by totally and there wasn't much room in my head other than what has been written in this report.

At last I would like to hand out a round of applauds to all of those who worked with the stage security, especially he who took care of us photographers, for friendly kindness. These people do an enormous effort to make everything go by smoothly with little, if any, recognition. I lift my hat to you.

Thomas, July 2009

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