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~Written by Thomas, June 2004

Sweden Rock Festival: Greater than ever.

Finally the waiting was over, Sweden Rock Festival was at last here. The festival grows bigger for every year and this years amount of tickets was set to 16.000 but when they eventually were sold out, another 4.000 tickets were added. But also those were sold out a long time before the start of the festivities of 2004. In other words the festival was a success already before it actually had started and no wonder with the line-up for this years festival. In my belief the line-up is easily the strongest so far with re-unions of Judas Priest and Europe among many other great bands. Sweden Rock Festival has the perfect blend of bands that suits probably all ages of rock fans.

Now that the table was set for a feast, but were the bands ready to deliver? Keep reading and find out.....

Thursday - 10th of June

Band: Abramis Brama
Time: 17.00-18.00
Sweden Stage

Abramis Brama has a reputation of being one helluva live band. And now that I've seen them for the first time I am ready to sign under to that fact - the fish kicks ass. Groovy and heavy hard rock with Sabbath riffing filled the fields and this was a perfect way for me to start the festival. Abramis was a perfect opener as my taste for hard and heavy music awoke with a great appetite. The band plays really tight and with the vocalist Ulf Torkelsson they have a charismatic character and leader on stage in his white costume and his bare feet with a hook for a hand. With their lyrics in Swedish and the heavy groove that they possess, this was nothing but highly enjoyable. The festival couldn't have started better for my part.

Vad jag säger
Säljer din själ
Kejsarens nya kläder
Mjölk och honung
100 dagar
Mamma talar
Men mitt hjärta ska vara gjort av sten


Band: D:A:D
Time: 19.00-20.15
Rock Stage

The time has passed D:A:D by, even if they did a great performance it is with the older songs they get the best response from the audience. It is with songs like Sleeping My Day Away, Marlboro Man and the likes of those their concert gets a pulse, otherwise it is good but not much more. Biggest moment was with Laugh'N ½ where Jesper Binzer and the guys seemed overwhelmed when the crowd took over the vocals, a really great moment. But those moments came too seldom, if they had stuck to more older material this had been much more better. Although Stig Pedersen with his two-stringed bass had definitely the coolest outfit of the festival, that deserves some extra credits.

Evil Twin
Camping In Scandinavia
Road Below Me
Soft Dog
Good Day
Scare Yourself
Something Good
Laugh'N ½
Everything Glows
No Hero
Bad Craziness
Marlboro Man
After Dark


Band: Helloween
Time: 21.15-22.45
Rock Stage

The setlist was similar to their latest turn in Sweden, nevertheless a selection of great songs.
Both setlist as well as their performance bare strong similarities with the concert they did last time in Sweden, at least with the one in Gothenburg in October. But as their performance then was solid and the setlist included classics like the mighty Keeper Of The Seven Keys and older ones like Starlight and Murderer, why should anyone complain? The interaction between Andi Deris and the enthusiastic crowd was more or less precisely the same as on the tour with the right side of the crowd competing against the left on which side was the loudest. The new found energy that was apparent last fall still hangs around with the band, the happiness from Sascha brings along Weikath and you can see that the guys enjoys their time on stage. Helloween sure knows how to deliver and even if all the pieces didn't fell into place, they have the song material to make a really good concert. Although they weren't at the highest top they did great, but then it is hard to fail with tracks like Future World, If I Could Fly and Dr. Stein.

The Keeper Of The Seven Keys
Eagle Fly Free
Forever And One?
Hey Lord
If I Could Fly
Dr. Stein
Open Your Life
Back Against The Wall
Sun 4 The World


Band: Judas Priest
Time: 23.00-02.00
Festival Stage

Rob Halford is the Metal God. If there were ever any doubts, those should have been wiped away now.
He acts with such certainty on stage as he owned the whole festival, and he did deliver with his voice. A great selection of classic Judas Priest tracks started with Hellion/Electric Eye and it was everything I hoped and wished for. It was truly a pleasure to see and Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing nailing those guitar parts while swaying back and forth in true metal manor. They ripped Painkiller in a great way as Halford was screaming his lungs out making and Tipton nailed the solo more or less perfectly. By the time of A Touch Of Evil I was thrilled, this was mighty. But it got even mightier.

In time for the encore the roaring motorcycle was heard from backstage, and then in a true classic Priest way The Metal God entered the stage on the bike and Hell Bent For Leather was blasting from the speakers. The Priest delivered many of the classics but just as many were left out. They have lots to chose from, and it is probably impossible to satisfy everyone. Breaking The Law was of course in the set as well as Diamonds And Rust and Turbo Lover among other favorites, and a great performance with Victim Of Changes. One thing that could be held against the band is that they didn't exactly move around a lot on stage. The used the space of the stage to the maximum to build a setting with ramps along the sides but why didn't they move around more? Halford moved slowly around but there was no real intensity and further on no real chemistry between the guys on stage.

But I was happy to just have got to see them and as long as it sounds as great as it did, they might as well been sitting down on chairs for all that I care.

The Hellion/Electric Eye
Metal Gods
Heading Out To The Highway
The Ripper
A Touch Of Evil
The Sentinel
Turbo Lover
Victim Of Changes
Diamonds And Rust
Breaking The Law
Beyond The Realms Of Death
The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)
Hell Bent For Leather
Living After Midnight
You've Got Another Thing Comin'

Friday - 11th of June

Band: Testament
Time: 18.15-19.45
Rock Stage

Damn what a discharge Testament did, it was pure thrash when it is as its best.
Chuck Billy and the guys did an outstanding concert delivering the best of what they had and it was a moment in thrash heaven there for me. Besides vocalist Chuck Billy, Eric Petersen is the only that has been around in the band for a while, but the other guys bailed for a solid thrash performance. Metal Mike Chlasiak, Steve DiGiorgio and Paul Bostaph all knows how to kick it in a serious thrash way, all great musicians that seemed to highly enjoying their time on stage.

With a great authority Chuck lead the band through an hour and a half filled with classic Testament songs. Alone In The Dark, Into The Pit, Practice What You Preach, Disciples Of The Watch, Electric Crown - they were all there. Throw in some newer tracks from The Gathering and you got a magic evening. And it got even better. As a special guest Steve Souza from Exodus joined Chuck Billy on stage and we had two great thrash vocalists delivering the song Burnt Offerings. That should have wiped out all the suspicious rumors circulating the internet about that it should be any bad blood between the bands. Old friends kicking it live and the crowd took in all they could, and Testament proved that this kind of music should be best enjoyed live.

This was without a doubt the most memorable concert I saw at Sweden Rock Festival this year.

Practice What You Preach
Sins Of Omission
The Haunting
Electric Crown
True Believer
3 days In Darkness
Burnt Offerings
Alone In The Dark
Into The Pit
Over The Wall
Dog Faced Gods
Disciples Of The Watch


Band: Monster Magnet
Time: 20.00-21.30
Festival Stage

Take one dose heavy rock'n'roll filled with groove and add coolness and a great deal of attitude, and that is the live version of Monster Magnet. Not only delivering good music but also a variety of poses from mainman Dave Wyndorf. With a great set of confidence Monster Magnet proved to be a solid live band but honestly they aren't that fun to watch, although they are great to listen to. Dave Wyndorf stands for most of the action on stage and he is a given leader for the band, the energy and intensity was really good but there were pieces missing in order to make a full performance. And just as on album it is those tunes from Dopes To Infinity that works best live in my opinion. But most of the crowd seemed to like the songs from the new album Monolithic, Baby best judging from the response.

(not in right order)
Dopes To Infinity
On The Verge
Elephant Bell
Dinosaur Vacuum
Unbroken (Hotel Baby)
Zodiac Lung


Band: Brainstorm
Time: 20.50-21.30
Spendrups Stage

Brainstorm stood for the biggest surprise in a positive meaning this evening.
The response they received from the crowd was massive, way better than what they had expected, and they deserved it. Singer Andy B. Franck lead the crowd with a great enthusiasm and cheerful happiness as he got the crowd going and singing along at several times. The music from Brainstorm comes out much better live then on their albums. It gets heavier and it sounds better in very way when the band plays as tight as they do. And most of all the sincerity from the band is genuine, the enthusiastic and happy feeling spreads from the stage and out over the crowd. When the last song of the encore was played Brainstorm was yet again called back by the audience that wanted more, the band was overwhelmed with the warm welcome they got but Andy showed that their time was out. And you could tell by the look on their faces that they just as the audience wanted more.

Shiva’s Tears
Blind Suffering
Doorway To Survive
Hollow Hideaway
The Leading
Highs Without Lows
Under Lights


Band: Exodus
Time: 21.45-23.15
Sweden Stage

In time for the concert Chuck Billy from Testament enters the stage to introduce his old friends from Exodus. And both bands sure know how to deliver thrash at a high level. When Testament focused more on older songs Exodus focused more on the newer stuff and played many songs from their new and great album Tempo Of The Damned mixed up with the classic Exodus tracks.

Their performance was a real adrenaline rush with tracks like Bonded by Blood, Piranha, and Toxic Waltz. Steve Souza fired up the audience really well and I don't think I ever seen a mosh pit at Sweden Rock Festival before. Exodus proved once again this evening just like Testament did earlier and Anthrax did last year, that live is the right way to experience thrash.

Scar Spangled Banner
Deliver Us From Evil
Black List
Till Death Do Us Part
Shroud Of Urine
Fabulous Disaster
And Then There Were None
Culling The Herd
Forward March
Only Death Decides
War Is My Shepperd
Bonded By Blood
Tempo Of The Damned
Toxic Waltz
Strike Of The Beast
Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap)


Band: Scorpions
Time: 23.30-02.00
Festival Stage

Scorpions did good, but they shouldn't have been headlining. An earlier time on a smaller stage would actually have been better as it is only of nostalgic reason they are interesting to watch. It is with the older songs it gets really good. The classic Scorpions anthems like Rock You Like A Hurricane and the likes get really great and you drift back in time. The new songs holds for a listening but from a headliner like Scorpions you don't want the new stuff, it is the old that gets you going.

If they had played a "best of" setlist they could easily have made it as a headliner but the big stage headliner is a number to big for this band nowadays. Scorpions acted with confidence and their routine was not to be mistaken and in the track The Zoo, for instance, it was really great. If it only could have been like that more often it would have been better than simply "ok".

New Generation
Love ´Em Or Leave ´Em
Bad Boys Running Wild
We´ll Burn The Sky
The Zoo
Deep And Dark
Coast To Coast
Through My Eyes
Remember The Good Times
Tease Me, Please Me
Bass/Drum solo
Blood Too Hot
Guitar solo ? Mathias
Big City Nights
Still Loving You
Rock You Like A Hurricane
Hit Between The Eyes
When The Smoke Is Going Down

Saturday - 12th of June

Band: Lost Horizon
Time: 16.20-17.00
Spendrups Stage

Lost Horizon probably gathered the biggest crowd in front of the Spendrups Stage. When they last played at the festival two years ago they did it at the same stage, why couldn't they have been given a slot at the bigger Sweden Stage this year instead? Lost Horizon is a great band that really deserves some more room. Although the band did a fairly good performance and they had no problems with getting the audience going, I must say that expected more from Lost Horizon.

Daniel Heiman has probably one of the best voices of the vocalists at this years festival but this time it sadly wasn't at top, even though it was still pretty mighty. And together with shifting quality in the sound it never got as good as the earlier times I've seen them. By the great musicians that they are and the really strong quality of the songs they pulled it off , but they do have more in them to give. You can't blame them for not going the full length with their "warpaintings" and intensity on stage, they are really an amusing band to watch. And finally Lost Horizon must get a bigger stage next time so that Daniel Heiman can get some room to sweep with his coat.

Denial Of Fate
Welcome Back
Again Will The Fire Burn
Cry Of A Restless Soul
Sworn In The Metal Wind


Band: Children Of Bodom
Time: 18.15-19.45
Sweden Stage

The Finnish guys from Children Of Bodom sure provided a great adrenaline rush with their fast melodic death metal. They suffered at the beginning from really bad sound but as their concert went on the sound improved and became no further problem. They started with Silent Night, Bodom Night and it was really great to see that the speed and intensity from their albums turned out so well on stage. The only weak point with their performance was the "duel" between Wirman and Laiho. All that their interplay did, was making me yawn.

It was way much better when they...well, kicked ass is probably the best way to describe it. It was fast and fascinating with the melodic sense still intact and the crowd was actually bigger than what I had expected to see. The interplays within the songs between Wirman and Laiho worked really great and despite the fact that the band was hung over and lacked of sleep it all seemed to be going great. As far as I could see both the band and the crowd seemed to be very pleased with the show.

(might not be correct)
Hate Me
Silent Night, Bodom Night
Bodom Beach Terror
Angels Don’t Kill
Trashed, Lost & Strung Out
Bodom After Midnight
Needled 24/7
Everytime I Die
Kissing The Shadows
Hate Crew Deathroll


Band: Nightwish
Time: 20.00-21.30
Festival Stage

This was on forehand supposedly to become one of my festival highlights and as it turned out it became just as great as I wanted it to be. Dark Chest Of Wonders from their brand new album Once opened up the concert and it was wonderful right from the start. The band has progressed greatly over the years and the interplay with Marco and Tarja has really lifted the band. With the classic musical piece The Phantom Of The Opera it is perfectly displayed while they share the vocals in a great way. Marco is a really good vocalist and I really like that he is getting some more room in Nightwish. Halfway through the show Tarja needs a break to rest her magnificent voice and Marco takes over with a cover of Megadeth's Symphony of Destruction, and the guys did a great and powerful version of it. A great discharge before Tarja returned to the stage and the beautiful music of Nightwish was picked up again.

Mentioned Phantom Of The Opera and Nemo along with Wishmaster was those tracks that got the best responses from the big crowd. Nightwish is a band that is gaining more and more fans with every release and even though it started to rain heavily halfway through the concert, the major part of the crowd stayed. It didn't matter if you got soaking wet, it was simply to good to leave. Nightwish is a band that likes to perform and it is in a very professional manner when they do it. And Tarja is simply irresistible. She's got the voice, she's got the looks, and she has a way on the stage - she is a goddess of metal.

Dark Chest Of Wonders
Planet Hell
She Is My Sin
The Phantom Of The Opera
Higher Than Hope
Symphony Of Destruction
Bless The Child
Sleeping Sun
Over The Hills And Far Away
Dead Boy's Poem
Slaying The Dreamer
I Wish I Had An Angel


Band: In Flames
Time: 21.45-23.15
Sweden Stage

You can always count on In Flames to deliver.
They have become a very secure and confident band and always delivers one hundred percent right from the start. It was easy to see that their popularity is constantly growing with the really big crowd that was there to watch them play. In Flames gets the most response with their newer material and Cloud Connected has become a real crowd-pleaser. They blend older tracks like Episode 666 with the newer like In Search For I and even though their sound might have changed on their albums it all works perfectly together on their live sessions.

As it is traditional for In Flames the band wears the same stage outfits and leaving the white shirts at home this time they all wore black t-shirts. And that the band has a sense of self irony becomes apparent when their shirts said: Sweden most overrated rockband ever. Sadly their concert collided with U.D.O. and even though I have seen In Flames several times before and will see them several more, I just had to see them this time as well, I will probably never be disappointed with an In Flames concert.

I had to drag myself from there to get over to see Mr. Dirkschneider….

(might not be in correct order)
Pinball Map
Episode 666
Embody The Invisible
Touch Of Red
Like You Better Dead
In Search For I
Only For The Weak
Cloud Connected
Coerced Coexistence
Behind Space
The Quiet Place
My Sweet Shadow


Band: U.D.O.
Time: 21.45-23.15
Rock Stage

Mr. Dirkschneider might be short but he is also mighty cool. I arrived from In Flames' concert just in time to hear some great Accept classics.
The first song I got to hear was Man And Machine followed by Up To The Limit and it sounded great. The crowd was ecstatic when the band delivered some old classics like Balls To The Wall, Princess Of The Dawn and I'm A Rebel. Udo himself was on fire singing those songs, and these were really memorable moments that I will cling to for a long time.

U.D.O. got a great response from the audience and to my surprise there were less people there than what it was at In Flames concert that I left in favor for the Germans. Nevertheless it was a great intensity on stage as well as it was with the audience, I guess this concert awoke many memorys with the listeners. With or without Accept Udo has more to give and hopefully he will return to Sweden in order for me to enjoy a full concert, this short taster left me wanting more. Wonder if he did Fast As A Shark? It would have been a bummer if I missed that one.

The bullet and the bomb
Metal heart
Independence day
Pull the trigger
Living for tonight
Restless and wild
Son of a bitch
Blind eyes
Man and machine
Up to the limit
Animal house
Balls to the wall
Princess of the dawn
I´m a rebel


Band: Europe
Time: 23.30-02.00
Rock Stage

Second big re-union on this festival and Europe definitely knows how to be as great as they was back in the days. It was no question about that they were a suitable last headliner, the crowd that they drew was the biggest ever for a concert at Sweden Rock Festival. They opened in a superb way with Seven Doors Hotel and it continued in a good manor with tracks like Wings Of Tomorrow, Superstitious, The King Will Return, Ready Or Not, and Stormwind among other well known favorites. Joey Tempest is really a great singer and he has also a great scene personality and by the looks of it is the older and heavier stuff that he and the band likes to perform the most. Not least when the peak of their concert came with perhaps one of their most aggressive tracks in Scream Of Anger, that was great hard rock from the early Europe times.

And John Norum is a genuine guitar-hero in my book, the way he plays in a Gary Moore kind of way and by the confident way he moves around on stage. Europe was never the same the time he was out of the band and I am glad to see this re-union with John on guitar. It was a grand feeling that they produced but I must say that I expected more energy from the band, although they seemed to be hungry again I really expected them to be more on fire and much more intensity from the stage. And also did I expect more chemistry from the band, they didn't interact as much but acted more like five individuals on stage, it felt like there could have been more of a band feeling amongst the guys. In the setlist we could also find the big crowd pleaser with the ballad Carrie, in my opinion it was the dullest moment of their concert but I cant ignore the fact that everyone else loved it and the sing along factor was extremely high, it really was a fantastic moment even though the song isn't that good.

The oldest tracks still holds fine to play today but some of the later songs of Europe struggles a bit and sadly they don't really hold up any longer. The expiration date has sadly been reached for parts of their back catalogue. After three days of festivities Europe ended this years festival with a taster from their new album with Start From The Dark. And then closed the edition of 2004 with the last of the songs of the festival being, none other than of course their biggest hit ever, The Final Countdown.

Seven Doors Hotel
Wings Of Tomorrow
Time Has Come
Ready Or Not
Heart Of Stone
The King Will Return
Scream Of Anger
Sign Of The Times
Guitar solo: John Norum
Open Your Heart
Trum-solo: Ian Haugland
Let the Good Times Rock
Yesterday's News
Rock The Night
Start From The Dark
The Final Countdown

Other sightings:

I also spent some time checking out Heart and they proved to be better than what I expected. My only reference to that band is the song Alone, and as it turned out it is in no way representative for the band. Heart played great (hard) rock that was perfect for listening to and just having a good and lazy time in the sunshine with a beer.

Carnal Forge sounded really great during the first one and a half song I listened to. Then the sky opened and the rain was pouring insanely down from the heavens as I took a resort in the beer tent seeking shelter. Their music was as brutal as the rain at that point.
Ritual is another band worth mentioning. I only watched them for a little while but I liked what I saw. Calmer, progressive music that also felt very suitable in the sunshine. I got to see more of them another time, that's for sure.

I also went by Paragon's performance for a brief moment. By the short look I got it sounded really well and they seemed to really be enjoying their time upon the stage delivering hard and melodic power metal. I really had a great time this year as well but I missed some concerts and that bugs me a little. But I am really happy what with I saw and you cant get everything all the time.

And another thing that I always gets fascinated with is how drunk can one get and still be able to stand on his feet? What is the use of spending a lot of money on a festival or concert for that matter and then get so permanently pissed so you don't remember anything anyway.
I like to drink beers when listening to and looking at heavy metal but I also would like to remember what the hell I spend my money on. But as always it is up every man to make his own decisions.

Also this year it was a great festival and I lift my hat very high and raise my chalice even further for a toast and screams out a cheer to the responsible behind SRF, they have done an outstanding well done job. Only one little thing to complain about and I am confident it will be solved until next year. The exchange for tickets to bracelet, waiting in line for two hours, how much fun is that. That waiting also made me miss Astral Doors that I was looking forward to see, bummer. And I also think that the limit has been reached for the area of the festival, if the crowd grows the festival area must grow even more, but I think they should satisfy with as it is now. Much people moving around in the festival area but still room enough to find all that was available according to food, beverages, toilets, freshwater supply and other stuff that was to find.

In short it was a great arrangement apart from some heavy rain but I'm sure they will have solved that to next year as well.
See you again next year, that's for sure.

Related links: www.swedenrock.com

Thomas, June 2004