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~ Review and pictures by David

Peace & Love was a new experience for me. As a three day music feast in the middle of central Borlänge it is a crossover between city festivals (which every Swedish city or village with some or none dignity have at least once a year) and music festivals like Sweden Rock and Hultsfred. A nice concept - a bit cleaner, more comfortable and more available, than the usual bush thing. But very confusing at first with all those small stages scattered around every open area in the centre and bands that seem to be playing all at once. And a bit hard to run between the concerts from one side of the far stretched area to the other in the crowded narrow streets. Especially the highlight of my interest, heavy metal, seemed to be put on either absolute end of the centre. Do the arrangers think that heavy metal fans need some exercise? Probably true though, in general…

Thursday June 28

The festival could have started better. But my bad travel there was not the not to blame on anyone other than Mother Nature. Due to flooding in south of Sweden I had to go of the train and go by bus on the few roads that were still open. It caused a couple of hours delay and all of my margins flew away. I had to go to the nearby town of Falun as well to check in at my Hostel. So it was a bit past seven p.m. before I finally entered the festival area to the sound of The Sounds. The early evening consisted of small but well-chosen appetizers. I started with Crashdïet - not enough to make a full review, but some remarks. New Finnish singer Olliver Twisted has a choreography just as bouncy as David Lee Roth and Vince Neil in their prime days. He sings quite okay. His talking was a bit worse. All excuses about replacing a dead singer are just bound to be embarrassing for all parts. Just speak with your appearance! Worth to mention as well was that the crowd sometimes was just as good reason for wearing earplugs as the band. As Mötley Crüe said it: Girls, girls, girls…

I went on to Backyard Babies, another band I have managed to never seen before. But apparently I haven't missed that much. Dregen and the boyz did a quite dull impression and I went further on to see a bit of Behemoth. Just to be sure they had been placed next to the Salvation Army. They also commented the nice name of the festival, since Behemoth 'is all about peace and love'… I cannot say I was too impressed by the Polish flagship either, but then I have never been a great black metal fan at all. Is it me or do all black metal act have bad sound on their gigs? Basically just a loud noisy mess. Or perhaps it should be that way? But I have to compliment the guitarist for the fastest headbanging on the festival. After a short metal break with Tomas Andersson Wij, I went on to the supposed highlight of the day.

Himalaya 22:30-23:15

Finally! Two long years without any Mustasch gig for me is at least a year too long. Unfortunately the first day's number ones only got 45 minutes, but they packed it full of hits to every single second. Just look at the setlist and you will find almost all classics and mostly single/video tracks. And still they had to leave out songs like The Dagger. Ralf Gyllenhammar, who nowadays has let his sideburns grow into a real mustasch (and beard), has an incredible charizma on stage. And that is needed, since the rest of the band actually acts quite lame. There is no specific show when Mustasch play, just pure tight heaviness and a bit of West Coast humour. Such as Ralf 'complaining' that the crowd was stinking of beer and sweat. He didn't quite manage to sound as aggressive as on record on the new hit Double Nature though. They left me wanting more, and that is always a sign of a great, intense show. I will try to see them again this summer. Just when you thought Mustasch couldn't be any better, it came a new version of the truth.

8 chalices of 10

I Hunt Alone
Bring Me Everyone
Down In Black
Teenage Pacifier
Black City
Double Nature

Eldorado 23:15-01:00

This was the fourth time in two years, the eight in total, that I saw Hammerfall. Always a great act, but of course it doesn't feel all too exciting every single moment when you now the procedure. Hammerfall always seem to love what they do and that usually pays off in the crowd. A few things were new however. Fredrik Larsson recently replaced Magnus Rosén as the band's bass player. Larsson kept a quite low profile on stage this evening. Most of the light fell, literally, on Joacim Cans and Oscar Dronjak. The latter added some balls to Riders Of The Storm through his growling backing vocals. The former continues to improve his singing, live as well as in the studio. A bit much talking between the songs though. (Hammerfall was at their absolute best at Metaltown two years ago when they only had an hour to go and had to speed up the process a bit.) Anders Johansson pounded his drums harder than ever, especially on Let The Hammer Fall. Maybe a bit slow version though. They sure has hits to fill their time as well. The problem with Hammerfall's hits is that they are a bit worn out by now. Is there really anyone who still wants to hear Hearts On Fire? I actually left after a little more than an hour, since I had a strange urge that something big was happening at the other end of the town.

7 chalices of 10

Templars Of Steel
Riders Of The Storm
Reign Of The Hammer (instrumental)
Glory To The Brave
Fire Burns Forever
Let The Hammer Fall
Crimson Thunder
Natural High

Himalaya 00:00-01:00

I just recently discovered Vader, through Impressions In Blood, and couldn't resist leaving Hammerfall for the Polish death metal attack. And, as far as I know it was the right choice. There were a lot of contrast to the party and fireworks of Hammerfall, when Vader stood on a plain dark stage in a distant corner of town. It made a rather spooky impression in the late hour. But the energy shining from the stage was incredible. Although a small crowd, they were sure enthusiastic about every single tune of aggression. My plan was to check out a couple of songs and rush back to the end of Hammerfall, but I stayed the whole time through with Vader instead. It was just what I needed, a nice positive surprise to explore further in the future. The more you get to know the metal scene, the more seldom you find a 'new' favourite band. But… although a nice effect on the headbanging, how metal is it to use a 'Carola'-fan?

9 chalices of 10

(Sorry, no setlist)

Friday June 29

The second day was not quite as heavy as the day before, so I had the time to walk around and catch some of Marit Bergman, DiLeva, Sahara Hotnights, Jerry Williams and Peps Persson. But three metal acts were on my schedule. Today's question of equality: the guy who sat on his girlfriend's shoulders during Sahara Hotnights.

Sonic Syndicate
Isis 17:45-18:30

When I saw Sonic Syndicate half a year ago at Växjö Metal Festival no one knew who they were, but someone told that they had a nice looking bass player… Since then they have won a deal with Nuclear Blast, and probably no one into metal can have missed the immense commercial campaign the record company has put on marketing their debut album, Only Inhuman. The sound is not anything original these days, melodic death metal mixed with elements of American hardcore. But there are much more than looks and marketing hype to it - the chemistry in the band (most of them are brothers by the way…) and the intensity on stage make them a top live act. The whole performance smells of both young enthusiasm and surprising professionalism. Since they played in the Isis pub, all under-aged had to take place in a fenced corner. And that made clear that Sonic Syndicate have a lot of under-aged fans… Nothing wrong with that, but it restrained the mood of the venue that they couldn't reach the stage. I missed the excellent cover of t.A.T.u's All About Us.

8 chalices of 10

(Sorry, no setlist)

Shangri-La 19:30-20:30

For the eighth time in two years, Sabaton stood in front of me on a stage. I think I have reviewed them all here on Metal Covenant. So what was new? Well, it was the first time I heard 7734 from recently released 'debut' album Metalizer. Joakim Brodén seemed a bit sour in his throat this time. But apart from that it was the usual party, which seems to follow Sabaton wherever they play. I have never seen them not being able to get a crowd going. It started with rain, but ended in sunshine, as usual. Maybe there is too much 'under the belt' humour sometimes, but it kind of goes with the package. I think I have mentioned it before, but why do they use Back In Control as sing-along-song? I can name a handful more suited candidates (with easier lyrics as well) in the setlist to fill that function.

7 chalices of 10

Panzer Battalion
In The Name Of God
Rise Of Evil
Into The Fire
Attero Dominatus
Light In The Black
Primo Victoria
Back In Control
Metal Machine/Crüe

Alice Cooper
Eldorado 00:00-01:45

An Alice Cooper concert is just as much theatre as music. And you know what you are going to get. A show like that doesn't leave that much space for variation or improvisation. But the old fellow knows what he is doing and he still does it with passion and perfection. At least he left the guillotine at home this time and brought the gallows. The setlist was mostly made up of the 70s catalogue. I would prefer the Alice from the 80s, 90s and 00s. Some Constrictor and Hey Stoopid, mixed with Brutal Planet and a bit The Eyes Of… But I guess I never will see that happen though. Alice of today plays Poison because he has to, and to that some other 'new' song like Lost In America and Woman Of Mass Distraction. Alice Cooper it the kind of artist who never do a bad performance, but always will be at his best the first time you see him. After that you kind of know the routine. Nevertheless, there are few artists who can perform with such intensity and sensitivity for more than one and a half hour and through 25(?) songs, without any single dead moment. Sure we got a guitar and drum solos, when Alice changed clothes, but they were of the shorter kind.

8 chalices of 10

(Sorry, no setlist)

Saturday June 30

A short working day, heavy metal-vice. I took the day off and arrived (a little bit later than planned, I had some adventures in Falun in the evening and the busses were not that regular as I thought they would be) about half past ten. I caught the most of the second half of Iggy & The Stooges. Fun to see such a legend (and legendary band) of course, but punk has never been my thing. Actually I hate it. But Iggy's theatrical movement on stage weighted it up a bit. I just briefly managed to catch a glimpse of Timbuktu and a bit more than that of the legendary bard Kjell Höglund. The latter thanked Iggy for acting warm-up act and thought that The Stooges were guys with potential…

Morgana Lefay
Isis 23:45-00:30

Actually, wouldn't it be for this review I probably would have chosen to se much more of Timbuktu and Kjell Höglund instead. After all, I like different kinds of music and I had seen Morgana Lefay three times already. But luckily enough this was not the case. Because the pride of Bollnäs did an incredibly energetic gig. In the intimate, sweaty Isis bar, in front of a humble crowd, they totally pulverized every soar limb in my body to pure wellbeing, with songs like The Source Of Pain and Hollow. The finish with Maleficium and To Isengard was so heavy that my legs (I did some sightseeing by foot earlier on the day in Falun - five straight hours of walking actually) felt ten years younger in a moment. Charles Rytkönen sang stronger and more maliceful than ever. To that a couple of half confusing phrases between the songs ("Now it's time… for Grehn to show his belly"). It has been said many times before, but one more cannot hurt - Morgana Lefay is one of Sweden's most underrated metal acts. And it's proven once again that intimate gigs are the best.

9 chalices of 10

(Sorry, no setlist)

And that was it for the day. I think. Well I saw half an hour of Hanoi Rocks as well, but not enough to make an individual review. After the blast delivered from Morgana Lefay, it could only go downhill. And I think it did. Well, Michael Monroe was as always in the mood. But the rest of the act was kind of dull - especially the 'new' guitarist Conny Bloom. And Andy McCoy has the same stage movement as Mick Mars. I left a bit early to catch The Ark closing the festival.

Closing impressions. A really nice and well organized festival, that I probably will visit again if the lineup comes close to this year's. But then I will not stay in Falun. The communications were not at all what I expected. Great during the days, but awful at night. No bus between nine p.m. and half past two and only 'slow' busses that went through every small village street on the way. And why put in the extra southbound train at four a clock in the afternoon, Sunday after the festival, when everybody seemed to want to leave early? Further, a bit crowded in the streets when you had to run between the stages. And although on the city streets, a lot of dust lying and flying around. Maybe a bit narrow area in front of the main stage, which became quite crowded a couple of times. Perfect weather through the whole weekend, a bit cloudy so that the sun wasn't slowing you down, but still warm and only a few occasions of light rain. Great diversity of food supplies (although the hot dog-fellows in Dalarna must be the slowest in the world). Last but not least some really nice, uncomplicated and helpful people working with (and around) the festival!

David, July 2007