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The opening words

Metaltown seems to grow better and stronger with each year. Having the Thursday as a warm-up day with fewer bands is a good idea and I wouldn't mind a similar concept next year. However, putting all the bands on the same stage was a strange decision and this led to inevitable delays in the schedule, since thirty minutes between the gigs is not enough time to set up the stage and do a proper soundcheck. Alternating the gigs between the two large stages would have worked very much smoother.

I had a very good time at this year's festival, with lots of incredible gigs - as witnessed by my rather high scores - and I got to see nearly everything I wanted due to a very well-designed running order. Of course, it was a shame that Motörhead had to cancel on account of Lemmy's health problems, but it's hard to really complain about that. Let's just hope he recovers and returns with a vengeance.

When at Metaltown, I almost get the feeling that there's two festivals going on. I have a hard time relating to bands like Slipknot, Korn, Sabaton and every other metalcore band - but at the same time there are bands like Tribulation, Pentagram, Bombus and Marduk, bearing witness of a lot of fingerspitzengefühl in the bookings. So while roughly half of the festival lineup usually is music I can't stand, there are always enough bands of my liking to remove any doubt that I'm staying home. And I assume that's how it'll be again, next year.

Reviews by Bjorn

Thursday - July 04

Band: Bombus
Blood Stage 18:00-18:45

~ By Bjorn
It's hard to put a label on Bombus. They seem to transcend the boundaries of hard rock, stoner, thrash and hardcore, creating a unique mix that sounds like nothing else. Their stage set up was unusual but very cool, with the two singers/guitarists standing on each side of the stage and the bass player in the middle. The concept with two simultaneous lead singers with similar voices really makes the music sound intense, even more so live, and I was definitely impressed by their gig. Every song seemed to work great live and we were treated to a lot of songs from their upcoming album, which might be one of this year's strongest. On the down side, the sound could have been a lot better, but all in all it was a really good gig and a perfect start to the festival.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 5chalices of 10
: Biblical followed by Outsider is pretty hard to beat
: The sound wasn't really bad, but not good either

(sorry, no setlist)

Band: Clutch
Blood Stage 22:50-23:50

~ By Bjorn
Clutch's latest album Earth Rocker hasn't been met with anything but praise and the band indeed seems very pleased with it as well since they played it in its entirety save for two songs this night. It was a bold move which worked out great, with the swamp-rock ballad Gone Cold being my absolute highlight. It's a great song on the album but performed live it was amazingly atmospheric and just flat-out beautiful.

Neil Fallon is a fantastic frontman and his band mates played their instruments to absolute perfection, with Tim Sult nailing each guitar solo perfectly and JP Gaster and Dan Maines - on drums and bass, respectively - laying down a solid foundation for the groove that followed. Performance-wise, I honestly can't think of anything that could have been done better with this gig and with that in mind I see no reason to score the gig anything other than ten out of ten. Clutch is without a doubt one of the strongest live bands of today.

Performance: 10 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 9 chalices of 10
: Pretty much everything
: Pretty much nothing

Earth Rocker
Unto The Breach
Mr. Freedom
The Mob Goes Wild
Profits Of Doom
D.C. Sound Attack!
Crucial Velocity
Cyborg Bette
Oh, Isabella
The Wolf Man Kindly Requests…
Gone Cold
Electric Worry
One Eye Dollar

Band: Graveyard
Blood Stage 00:20-01:20

~ By Bjorn
Last band out for the night was Graveyard, a band which seems to grow even more professional with every time I see them. I had only seen them on smaller stages earlier so I had some initial worries about how well their intimate rock would work on a large, open-air stage. As it turned out I had no reason to worry - it was as good as always and the sound was good expect for Joakim's vocals which could have been higher. And the setlist could perhaps had been adjusted slightly; at such a late hour it was perhaps not a great move to play two slow songs, Slow Motion Countdown and Uncomfortably Numb, in a row. It brought down the tempo a little bit too much.

One observation I have is that Graveyard on album and Graveyard live are two pretty different experiences. While this isn't necessarily something bad - I love the intensity and adrenaline in their shows - some of the beautiful details and finesses from the albums are lost in translation. But the adrenaline bursts I'm talking about - wow! The way they wrapped up some of the songs, with the tempo increasing to the point where you're beginning to worry about whether the drums can take such hard and fast beatings, was absolutely brilliant.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: The insane amounts of energy
: Two slow songs in a row

An Industry Of Murder
Hisingen Blues
Seven Seven
Slow Motion Countdown
Uncomfortably Numb
Ain't Fit To Live Here
Buying Truth (Tack & Förlåt)
Thin Line
Endless Night
The Siren
Evil Ways

Friday - July 05

Band: Carcass
Blood Stage 18:15-19:15

~ By Bjorn
Being the third time I've seen Carcass since their comeback in 2008, everything is pretty much the same this time around. I mean, they of course have a lot of phenomenal songs that always are a pleasure to hear but for some reason they didn't play any songs from their upcoming album Surgical Steel, except for the intro 1985. I guess they're saving the new songs for the tour this fall, or they didn't want to play anything that's not released yet - although I personally would have loved to get a glimpse of what they have in store for us.

If this was anyone's first time seeing Carcass they definitely had a good time as the band sounded as tight as always and Jeff was on a really good mood. Catching a glimpse of Entombed's LG Petrov in the crowd, he began reminiscing about the good old days, sleeping on LG's mother's couch when touring in Sweden. So there was a lot of reminiscing going on, not just in the setlist.

Performance: 6 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Corporal Jigsore Quandary
: Nothing new

Buried Dreams
Incarnated Solvent Abuse
Carnal Forge
No Love Lost
Edge of Darkness/This Mortal Coil
Reek of Putrefaction
Genital Grinder/Pyosisified (Rotten to the Gore)
Exhume to Consume
Corporal Jigsore Quandary
Ruptured in Purulence

Band: Ghost
Blood Stage 20:45-21:45

~ By Bjorn
Playing the biggest stage at the festival in front of a massive crowd really shows much and how quickly Ghost have grown since their 2011 Metaltown gig at the tent stage. A lot of other things were different this time around - instead of the old scene décor with church windows and candlesticks, there was a huge red backdrop with the band logo and that's pretty much it. Also, Papa Emeritus II actually spoke briefly in between the songs, mostly thanking the audience which goes to show that he's a much nicer guy than his predecessor, Papa Emeritus I - who was a real hardass.

The gig itself was fantastic, of course. The band is incredible tight and Papa Emeritus II's movements on stage is amazing, with orchestrating, flowing hand gestures timed perfectly with drum fills, guitar melodies etcetera. The only complaint I have about their gig is that when the band left the stage there were ten minutes left of the scheduled time slot. I was expecting the band to come back out and play one or two more songs but to no avail. A shame, really.

Performance: 9 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 8 chalices of 10
: Year Zero and Ghuleh/Zombie Queen
: They could easily have played two more songs

Per Aspera ad Inferi
Con Clavi Con Dio
Secular Haze
Stand by Him
Year Zero
Ghuleh/Zombie Queen
Monstrance Clock

Band: Marduk
Close Up Stage 23:00-00:00

~ By Bjorn
Marduk never disappoint me with their live performances and this gig was no exception. I have however seen them do better, but that might be due to the fact that the audience was pretty passive this time, and the sound wasn't great. But the band gave it their all, as always, although vocalist Mortuus seemed a little displeased with the stale audience. Marduk usually mix up their setlists pretty well in between shows - a testament to what an amazing array of songs they have. Some of the highlights this evening, on my part, were Imago Mortis and Temple Of Decay, two of the slower songs in the set and, in my opinion, two of their best songs.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 5 chalices of 10
: Imago Mortis
: The sound

Serpent Sermon
Nowhere, No-One, Nothing
The Black...
Imago Mortis
Slay The Nazarene
Temple Of Decay
Christraping Black Metal
With Satan And Victorious Weapons
Womb Of Perishableness
Materialized In Stone

Band: Kvelertak
Close Up Stage 00:45-01:45

~ By Bjorn
When Kvelertak's second album came out I was disappointed by the weak production, and I felt it sounded less energetic than the debut album. However, watching Kvelertak live is a whole other story. Starting off with explosive versions of Åpenbaring and Spring Fra Livet, I can't help but wonder why they didn't bring that seemingly infinite adrenaline into the studio. Seeing them live really is an exceptional experience; I don't think I've ever seen a gig with such energy onstage, except for the first time I saw them.

For the entire duration of the gig, everyone in the band was in full-speed mode, either jumping up and down, running back and forth, throwing their instrument around or - in the case of singer Erlend Hjelvik - crowdsurfing while continuing to sing. This was really an extraordinary gig where new songs such as Evig Vandrar, Nekrokosmos and Kvelertak really came alive in a way I wish they'd done on the album.

Performance: 9 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 8 chalices of 10
: The insane amounts of energy
: ---

(sorry, no setlist)

Saturday - July 06

Band: The Sword
Fire Stage 15:00-15:45

~ By Bjorn
Having missed their gig the last time they were in Gothenburg in the beginning of the year I was glad to get a new chance to see The Sword at Metaltown and I was in no way disappointed. Their latest album Apocryphon is probably their best work to date in my opinion and it was great to hear some of the new songs live. It's always possible to have opinions about the setlist when a great band only plays for 45 minutes but the only song I only really missed was Tres Brujas, which should always be included in a The Sword setlist.

The guitar sound was probably the best I heard during the entire festival, and it really made it obvious how well the band utilizes their two guitars, with seemingly perfect harmonies and beautifully constructed solos. Singer J.D. seemed a little sloppy at times, however, and sang somewhat beside the mic several times.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 8 chalices of 10
: The guitar sound
: Some singing technicalities

Arrows In The Dark
The Veil Of Isis
How Heavy This Axe
Cloak Of Feathers
Dying Earth
To Take The Black
Maiden, Mother & Crone

Band: Danzig
Fire Stage 22:15-23:15

~ By Bjorn
While it was nice to hear old songs like Twist Of Cain, Her Black Wings and Am I Demon live, I got the impression that Glenn didn't really care to sing the songs properly. Some parts he did okay, such as the opening to Blood And Tears but many notes were off and at times he sounded more like a barking dog than one of the coolest, most characteristic rock singers of all time.

However, I left the gig about halfway through in order to get to Witchcraft's gig (This was basically the only overlap of interesting bands in the running order on my behalf, so kudos to whoever set the times) so I didn't get to see neither the Misfits set performed with Doyle nor the encore. So keep in mind, my score is only based on the initial Danzig set, and largely on Glenn's bad vocal performance.

Performance: 4 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Blood And Tears, perhaps
: Glenn's singing

Overture Of The Rebel Angels
Hammer Of The Gods
Twist Of Cain
Am I Demon
Her Black Wings
Devil's Plaything
Blood And Tears
How The Gods Kill
I Turned Into A Martian
Astro Zombies
Last Caress
Die, Die My Darling

Band: Witchcraft
Close Up Stage 23:00-00:00

~ By Bjorn
Witchcraft singer and main man Magnus Pelander definitely has a special style live - slowly walking in circles, staring blankly out in the crowd, crouching, stretching and so on. This made for a somewhat strange experience but I have to say - his singing was probably one of the best vocal performances I have even witnessed at a concert. While some singers take shortcuts live and skip the harder parts of the songs, Magnus did the opposite. Apart from singing the technically challenging parts perfectly, he actually sung many songs even more complicated than they are on the albums, adding a lot of flavour and really pushing himself.

The main focus tonight was naturally on their latest album, Legend, which has received enormous amounts of well-deserved praise. The first three albums were represented by one song each and the rest were all from Legend and this worked out great. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a Swedish club tour sometime soon.

Performance: 8,5 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 8 chalices of 10
: Magnus' phenomenal singing
: ---

Dead End
No Angel Or Demon
Flag Of Fate
Wooden Cross (I Can't Wake The Dead)
It's Not Because Of You
White Light Suicide
Ghosts House
If Crimson Was Your Colour

Band: Pentagram
Close Up Stage 00:45-01:45

~ By Bjorn
Last band to play the festival was Pentagram, one of my absolute favourite bands. I had the luck of seeing them live a couple of years ago when Victor Griffin was still playing guitar with the band, and sadly it wasn't the same without him this time around. Granted, seeing Bobby Liebling alive and well is great, and he has an incredible stage presence, constantly showing how much he loves being onstage. But while Matt Goldborough did a solid job as the new guitarist, some things - such as the Relentless riff - didn't sound 100% right. Greg Turley on bass was nothing short of excellent, on the other hand, working incredibly hard and really seeming to enjoy himself.

With this said, I definitely enjoyed Pentagram's gig - they could have played songs such as Forever My Queen, The Ghoul, When The Screams Come and Be Forewarned a capella and hungover and it would still be great. Wheel Of Fortune and Petrified aren't however among their best songs, in my opinion, although I appreciate that they mix around the setlist a lot in between their tours and to a certain extent between single shows as well.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 6 chalices of 10
: Bobby's amazing stage presence
: Victor Griffin is missed on the guitar

Forever My Queen
Wheel Of Fortune
The Ghoul
Everything's Turning To Night
Sign Of The Wolf (Pentagram)
When The Screams Come
All Your Sins
Be Forewarned
20 Buck Spin

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