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Sabaton Open Air 2014

My fourth consecutive visit to Sabaton Open Air, more or less formerly known as Rockstad Falun, but to be straight, I'm actually still confused of which name to use. I frankly wasn't the least impressed by this year's lineup, but when looking back at my three earlier visits, I recall this event as something great and decided to drive northwest for nearly three hours to Falun anyway.

This event is a smaller 3-day festival naturally based on the local boys Sabaton's participation and Sabaton was in fact the only band that had a somewhat larger audience in front of them. I have no numbers at all, but I reckon about 3500 saw the band play and I'd say that no other band had more than 2000, or perhaps as low as 1500, people coming down. Even if there is a killing competition in these days, which may reflect in the number of visitors, I believe that a lot of people were a little disappointed in the lineup and therefore decided to stay at home during this year's episode.

|Thursday| - |Friday| - |Saturday|

Reviews and photos by Tobbe

Thursday - August 14

Band: Revamp
Second Stage 19:45-20:30

(sorry, no setlist)

Band: Arkona
Second Stage 21:00-21:45

(sorry, no setlist)

To the top

Friday -August 15

Band: Trail Of Murder
Main Stage 18:15-19:00

(sorry, no setlist)

Band: Grand Magus
Second Stage 19:15-20:00

(sorry, no setlist)

Band: Masterplan
Second Stage 21:45-22:45

Multinational heavy/power metal act Masterplan seems to have established a solid lineup after a few members changes and pretty long periods away from the visible music business. Naturally this band could supposedly break up at any given point during unforeseen circumstances, but when looking at this live performance on the smaller of the two stages, I see nothing that could take this unit out in the near future.

They definitely have a good time on stage and lead vocalist Rick Altzi carries the legacy of Jorn Lande more by stage presence in favor of immensely talented vocal efforts. Lande is absolutely the greater talented one in terms of vocal skills, but Altzi is nevertheless more entertaining overall and he shows more appreciation, dignity and interaction to his crowd. Former Stratovarius bass player Jari Kainulainen shows energy and what a skilled musician he is and he fits right in with the boys. Being long-time veterans of the band, guitar player Roland Grapow enjoys his moment on stage and keyboard player Axel Mackenrott has great input with his sweeping pattern.

The band focuses immensely on the first and also eponymous record. 7 out of 11 songs is taken off that one and although it is seen as a defining masterpiece, it yet seems a little weird to pick that many songs off it, considering that Grapow is the only one in today's lineup that actually plays on that album. I saw Masterplan earlier this summer at Sweden Rock and I think that the band has stepped up a little with more gigs added to their pockets and probably also because a few of the less good songs were taken off the list of songs this time. 7 chalices to an enjoyable hour of metal.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Crimson Rider and Kind Hearted Light.
: Keep Your Dream Alive

Per Aspera Ad Astra (Intro)
Enlighten Me
Crimson Rider
Lost And Gone
Spirit Never Die
Back For My Life
Kind Hearted Light
Keep Your Dream Alive
Crystal Night
Crawling From Hell

Band: Testament
Main Stage 23:00-00:30

Friday's headliner entered the main stage at 11 P.M. before around 1500 fans and that number includes the people in the back, standing at the grass slope drinking alcoholic beverages or people keeping company with friends who do so. Long-time bass player Greg Christian left the band earlier this year and has a few times since aired his dirty laundry in public, concerning him receiving too less dough for his live performances, travel expenses and his imaginary hard work. I guess his successor, Steve DiGiorgio, who has played with Testament earlier, is no stranger to the business side of the band, because he plays like he's on fire up there and I believe no one in the crowd actually missed Christian's appearance.

Testament is one of the veterans of the Bay Area thrash scene and to many people a name for a potential Big 5. The band pretty much relies on experience and vocalist Chuck Billy launches his air guitar on his shortened mic stand about twenty times during the set, like he always does. Most things are the pretty much the same as always, as far as I'm concerned. Eric Peterson is still twice as much metal as his guitar partner Alex Skolnick and the band plays Practice What You Preach, which is a song I really can't see the greatness of. This unit is also one of few bands today that plays more songs in total from the latter half of its catalogue than from the first half. Impressive, if you ask me.

Gene Hoglan is, in his position in the back, one of metal's greatest drummers and he sets a standard tough to beat and he is one of the notable reasons that the band is able to form a great energy field on stage. This energy is unfortunately not enough to really induce a solid ongoing mosh pit tonight, even if a few hardcore fans are trying their best to create some rough activities. When Testament leaves the stage, ten minutes before appointed time, I nevertheless feel that this band, in this day and age, is definitely still something to reckon with.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 6 chalices of 10
: Drummer Gene Hoglan and The New Order.
: Dark Roots Of Earth and Practice What You Preach.

Rise Up
The Preacher
More Than Meets The Eye
Native Blood
Eyes Of Wrath
Dark Roots Of Earth
Into The Pit
The New Order
Practice What You Preach
Over The Wall
Disciples Of The Watch
D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate)
3 Days In Darkness
The Formation Of Damnation

Band: Rhapsody Of Fire
Second Stage 00:45-01:45

(sorry, no setlist)

To the top

Saturday - August 16

Band: Less Than 4
Second Stage 15:45-16:15

(sorry, no setlist)

Band: Alien
Main Stage 16:30-17:15

(sorry, no setlist)

Band: Twilight Force
Second Stage 17:30-18:00

(sorry, no setlist)

Band: Battle Beast
Main Stage 18:15-19:00

(sorry, no setlist)

Band: Morgana Lefay
Second Stage 19:15-20:00

(sorry, no setlist)

Band: Sabaton
Main Stage 22:45-00:15

Ten minutes early, the intros begin and people are getting excited for what's to come, since Sabaton has announced that they will play the Swedish version of Carolus Rex in its entirety. For the first time this weekend, the area in front of the stages is a little crowded, although a huge step from being overcrowded, but still it's highly evident what people has come down for.

This set, split into 3 acts, started with the Carolus Rex section and the band was able to bring forth a great deal of history with Carolean soldiers on stage and a great empathy overall. After a stage changeover, act 2 was on and this was mostly a part where the new album, Heroes, was displayed. Guitar player Yanis Petras of the Bulgarian tribute band Unbreakable was given the opportunity to leave his position in the crowd and join the band for Resist And Bite and this move shows that everything doesn't have to be dead serious in a Sabaton set. Act 3, or the encores if preferred, was rather cool as well. The band sort of reopened the set, as all guys on stage were totally focused to make this look like the set's opener. Joakim Brodén even opened up with his rather famous line "We are Sabaton…and this is Ghost Division.".

Brodén is indeed a great frontman even if his vocal talent is kind of limited. He really enjoys being up there and his appearance is immensely contagious. With bass player Pär Sundström and two guitar players, Thobbe Englund and Chris Rörland, who both really take part in the performance and not just being present like the former guitar players were, the new lineup of this band is way more entertaining than the old one. The band's live shows are experiences of smoke, fire and energy and this was definitely a great performance by a band that has come to stay.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Vocalist Joakim Brodén and En Livstid I Krig.
: Swedish Pagans, which isn't a good song to begin with.

The Final Countdown (Intro)
Dominus Maris Baltici (Intro)
Lejonet Från Norden
Gott Mit Uns
En Livstid I Krig
Karolinens Bön
Carolus Rex
Ett Slag Färgat Rött
Konungens Likfärd
Ruina Imperii (Outro)
Night Witches
To Hell And Back
Soldier Of 3 Armies
Resist And Bite
Primo Victoria
Ghost Division
Swedish Pagans
Metal Crüe
Dead Soldier's Waltz (Outro)
Masters Of The World (Outro)

To the top

The closing words

The two stages were placed side by side, since a rather large section of last year's festival area was now actually a work site to enhance the skiing stadium I reckon. Definitely something that happened to be a very positive element nonetheless, since I prefer a 20 second walk before a couple of minutes to reach the other side of the knoll. The bands started playing around 3 pm, but since a lot of people didn't come out that early, a few of the bands played before pretty small crowds. Just look at the picture below, where I reckon around 150 people decided to check out Less Than 4.

The bar area was expanded with possibility to get closer to the stages, but since the weather wasn't that great this weekend, this room wasn't fully utilized. It was still something great though, because if you decide to hang out in this area you will still be able to see the bands playing, without wearing a pair of binoculars. I enjoyed being in Falun this year as well, yet for the well-being of this festival, some bands with bigger attraction will probably have to be announced for next year's edition. Sabaton definitely did get good support, but they of course play this event every year.

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