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Sweden Rock Festival 2009 - Cold As Ice

I pity those of you who camped out in tents, even more this year than what my comfortable "I want a real bed" mind usually does. This year was cold, cold as hell, and probably more rain than what it has been combined the last years. For this time of year Sweden has not had it as cold since the nineteenth century. In over a hundred years! What ever happened to the global warming issue? I have had eight consecutive years at the festival now, and this was the first time I felt I could actually complain about the weather. Rain and cold is nothing that we are used to at Sweden Rock Festival, but what the hell - bring it on, we can take it. We let nothing stand in our way for what we love; the harder kind of music.

35200 people are the proof of the fact that we do not bow down for anything, neither trends nor bad weather since once again Sweden Rock Festival became the biggest festival in Swedish history. Last years record was improved with approximately 2000 festival attendees. One downside though is that the increasing number of visitors contributes to the decreasing sense of a warm and familiar atmosphere, even if it is still very much there. The weather, of course, also played a major part regarding this matter this year.

In Flames and Flogging Molly were rumoured to be experiments. As in; would the festival crowd accept these kinds of bands, especially when one of them was to headline? In Flames was the most aggressive headliner to date for the festival and Flogging Molly with their punk inspired Irish music was an odd bird, but did they work? Hell yeah! The supposed experiment was nothing but a pure success and I think with this new touch, the festival might dare to broaden their width in bands even further next year. Moreover, I for one welcome bands that are more aggressive and have a large audience, perhaps it is time for Slayer next year.

~ Thomas, June 2009

|Wednesday| - |Thursday| - |Friday| - |Saturday|

Reviews by Thomas/David/Niklas/Hawk/Mozzy
Photos by Thomas/David

Wednesday - June 03

Band: Deathstars
Sweden Stage 16:15-17:15

~ By Niklas
Sweden Rock Festival is evolving; one evident example being the fact that Deathstars is given a relatively prominent position at this year's edition. The band's vocalist Whiplasher Bernadotte says it best: "We are honoured that Sweden Rock is letting a metro sexual band like Deathstars open the festival. We would like to describe ourselves as a mix between (Swedish disco band) Alcazar and Manowar". For the uneducated it's easy to dismiss Deathstars as a craze that is mostly about image, since every member of the band wears corpse paint and Whiplasher Bernadotte wears shades even though he hardly risks getting sunstroke this cold afternoon. But let's not forget that the band has been around for eight whole years and released three albums, where the last two were both very good. Deathstars has nowadays no problem whatsoever to fill a whole hour with high-class songs, and even if the band seemed more focused and had better sound when I saw them in Stockholm earlier this year, it feels like time has passed way to fast when we reach the finish line with the terrific Cyanide and the sing-along favourite Death Dies Hard.

7 chalices of 10

Setlist: (might be slightly incorrect)
Night Electric Night
Mark Of The Gun
The Fuel Ignites
Trinity Fields
Blood Staines Blondes
Death Dies Hard

Band: Amon Amarth
Sweden Stage 21:00-22:15

~ By Mozzy
In January, Amon Amarth received a highly prestigious accolade - their Twilight Of The Thunder God was voted album of the year here at Metal Covenant. This was most deserved as the brilliant release was undoubtedly the Swedes´ best so far. That it got a great reception from the metal community, receiving terrific reviews everywhere, but also that the band themselves are satisfied with the album, stands clear when a good portion of the songs continue to be part of the set list live. Tonight, five songs out of thirteen are picked from Twilight Of The Thunder God, with the title track and Free Will Sacrifice opening the set. In fact, the songs from the album can already be considered staples of the Amon Amarth live set.

This feat is all the more noteworthy when taking into account the class of their previous material. Some older songs have to make way, but there still remain a string of fan favourites from the past; the finish consisting of The Pursuit Of Vikings, Cry Of The Blackbirds and Death In Fire - which includes flames shooting up at the end - is magnificent. Still, I have to say I have witnessed better shows with the band. Despite cheerful vocalist Johan Haegg's attempts to spur on the audience, the response is somewhat lame at times; clearly, far from all in this festival crowd are familiar with all of the music. Consequently, one gets the impression that the band's performance onstage is not quite as ferocious as usual. In addition, the sound at the Sweden Stage is definitely not top-notch, unfortunately. Nevertheless, it would take a lot for an Amon Amarth gig to be anything other than very good - which this is, after all.

As I write this, the Swedish Vikings have just won yet another prestigious prize - for best breakthrough act at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards. Being present at the event, I didn't meet the guys (I think…), which is why I use this space to congratulate on behalf of Metal Covenant.

7,5 chalices of 10

Twilight Of The Thunder God
Free Will Sacrifice
Varyags Of Miklagaard
Runes To My Memory
Thousand Years Of Oppression
Guardians Of Asgaard
Live For The Kill
Fate Of Norns
Victorius March
The Pursuit Of Vikings
Cry Of The Blackbirds
Death In Fire

Band: Blaze Bayley
Zeppelin Stage 22:15-23:30

~ By Mozzy
Blaze Bayley has certainly endured a difficult time during the last year. After being ill and falling into a coma, his wife Debbie eventually passed away in September. Crediting his wife for saving his life and getting his career back on track, Bayley swore to carry on, now handling all of the band´s business himself. Surely, when the hard-working singer roams the stage in his usual, manic manner, galvanising the crowd, his dedication is apparent for all to see. His voice proves to be in good shape as well. His band members, meanwhile, fit in great and suggest that this latest line-up will be a solid one. All in all, the band put on an energetic effort which makes for an enjoyable 75 minutes on this the first festival day.

Typically enough, the airing of a song from his stint as Iron Maiden singer, The Clansman - one of two from that era, Lord Of The Flies being the other - gets the loudest reaction. This is not unexpected though, and besides, there is also a good response when the band's own material is played. No fewer than six tracks from latest effort The Man Who Would Not Die are included, and these are completed by older tunes such as Born As A Stranger. Although they are not of a standard matching that of the premier names in the business, these are all very well-crafted, meaty heavy metal tunes of high quality. Add a genuine determination and passion for metal, and there is no doubt Blaze Bayley and his band will continue to deliver the goods for appreciative fans all over the globe, no matter how glamorous or unglamorous the conditions may be.

7 chalices of 10

The Man Who Would Not Die
Smile Back At Death
The Launch
Lord Of The Flies
Born As A Stranger
Tenth Dimension
Kill & Destroy
The Clansman
Voices From The Past

Band: Uriah Heep
Sweden Stage 23:45-01:00

~ By David
Wake me I'm sleeping! Well, there are things in life you just don't do if you have the slightest instinct of self-preservation. Don't walk on the highway with folded eyes, don't jump off a trampoline without checking the water level first, don't ever, ever play your new album in it's entirety when you are set to headline a festival. Not even if it's a good one. Certainly not if it's a dull creature, far from the old heydays. How Uriah Heep even got the stupid idea to play the whole Wake The Sleeper is a mystery, but certainly the booking committee at Sweden Rock must have pulled their hair when they found out.

The headline act on the start up day has a responsibility to kick off the rest of the festival with a true party feeling. There is one simple way to do that if you are a band with 40 years history or so - play the songs people want to hear. Do, for sure, pick out a few unexpected oldies for the true fans and mix them with a couple of new ones. But, again, do never play the whole new record!

Normally I oppose those who grumble about bands playing a few new songs (blame yourself if you are stuck in the old, and never took your time to check out the new material and give it a fair chance). I also liked what Iron Maiden did on the A Matter Of Life And Death Tour. They clearly stated their intention, they did it for their own fans and they had the record to back it up. Here we got a concert that only lived up every fourth or fifth song, when mandatory hits such as Stealin', Gypsy and Look At Yourself were presented. It didn't help that it was dark and cold and people started to get tired.

This said, I must admit that Bernie Shaw still did a great job. He sang far better than I expected these days. But the rest of the band seemed a bit old and tired, compared to for example UFO and Blackfoot. They did not manage to convince me of the quality of the Wake The Sleeper material. At the time of the (normally fantastic) final trilogy with July Morning, Easy Livin' and Lady In Black the battle against tiredness was already lost. The audience was sleeping.

4 chalices of 10

Wake The Sleeper
Tears Of The World
Heaven's Rain
Book Of Lies
Light Of A Thousand Stars
Look At Yourself
What Kind Of God
Ghost Of The Ocean
Angels Walk With You
War Child
July Morning
Easy Livin'
Lady In Black

To the top

Thursday - June 04

Band: Rage
Rock Stage 12:00-13:15

~ By Thomas
What a start of the day as the veterans in Rage entered the stage and delivered German metal in a splendid manner. The title track from their latest effort Carved In Stone served as a good start but the intensity grew quickly as they carried on with the crowd-pleasing Higher Than The Sky and a shortened version of Don't Fear The Winter. Some songs where cut short, and of course you would have liked to hear them in full, but perhaps this was better so you at least got to hear parts of them, I am still a bit undecided in that department.

This was the first time I saw Rage with their latest member André Hilgers on the drums, and even if he is not as colourful as his predecessor Mike Terrana, his drumming was perfectly suited for the metal of Rage. Peavy Wagner has been steering this ship called Rage a long time now and he manages to still breath life in his band with the honour, and even if he does not nail the high-pitch vocals as good any longer he can with small measures act as a confident frontman. Final man in the band, guitarist Victor Smolski has skills that are above and beyond, but sometimes I wish he would not have this tendency to overdo things.

Peavy and Rage has a mighty treasure-chest of songs to choose from, and they did a good selection as far as I am concerned. Especially enjoyable I found Nevermore and Firestorm from The Missing Link album to be. Although they initially had some technically difficulties with the bass it didn't disturb their performance. Nevertheless they did tend to lose a bit of the momentum they had built up towards the second half. However, with Gentle Murders and Soundchaser they got back on track to end it all in a fashionable way.

6,5 chalices of 10

Carved In Stone
Higher Than The Sky
Don't Fear The Winter
War of The Worlds
Set This World On Fire
Enough Is Enough
No Regrets
All I Want
Cradle To The Grave
Gentle Murders

Band: Pain
Zeppelin Stage 12:00-13:15

~ By Niklas
Pain is definitely one of the hardest working and frequently touring acts in Sweden today, but their Sweden Rock Festival debut has been kept waiting. As the front man Peter Tägtgren slightly bitterly (?) expresses it during the show: "They (Sweden Rock) have always said that we weren't good enough." It's hard to tell if he's joking or not. There is however no doubts that Pain takes this concert seriously, in spite of the hopeless stage time - already during the first song I'm Going In there are pyrotechnics and confetti to the extent that In Flames would be jealous. It's just a shame that there aren't more spectators around to see this, and that most of them who are here (myself included) seem to be suffering from severe hangovers. The start of the show is very powerful, with a string of great songs, but after half an hour there are a few uninspired and boring numbers like Stay Away and I Don't Care that drags the whole thing down. The concert picks up the pace towards the end again though, and during the closer Shut Your Mouth the drowsy audience finally wakes up from their slumber, especially when birthday boy Tägtgren gets two cakes thrown in the face from his band mates. Considering that the latest Pain album was a huge disappointment, this is a positive surprise, and one thinks that the band deserve a much better slot on their next appearance at Sweden Rock Festival.

6 chalices of 10

Setlist: (might be slightly incorrect)
I'm Going In
Monkey Business
Zombie Slam
Suicide Machine
Stay Away
Dancing With The Dead
Nailed To The Ground
I Don't Care
Just Hate Me
End Of The Line
It's Only Them
On And On
Same Old Song
Follow Me
Shut Your Mouth

Band: Volbeat
Rock Stage 15:00-16:15

~ By Thomas
I think I can understand what the hype is all about now. Volbeat seems to have grown massively in popularity since they played at the festival last year and made a huge success, even though I completely missed everything about them. I was now almost sick to disgust of Volbeat since radio-stations play a couple of their songs over and over and over again almost to the degree that it becomes ridiculous. However, on a stage, performing live, there is where this band has its natural place to unleash their Danish dynamite.

Michael Poulsen is an elegant dressed frontman with a voice that combines Elvis, Danzig, Keith Caputo and James Hetfield, and he knows how to lead his band forward and to capture the audience. The crowd was really large for this time of the day and even if I by now have heard their albums I was struck by how powerful they are live. When they kicked into action with Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood followed by Hallelujah Goat with their mix of rock 'n' roll and metal, damn, it almost knocked me to the ground.

The intensity Volbeat had built up with the start did not hold all the way through, but nevertheless it was a solid performance all the way. Volbeat gave us a taste of a new song as well, simply entitled A New Song so far, but I guess that one could use a bit more work before it is completed. Although, it can turn into one mighty fine sing-along song in true Volbeat style when it is finally put on the forthcoming album. In some songs Volbeat has female sung parts and instead of having them on tape they brought a guest with them that I didn't catch the name of to do those parts, and these kind of things always turns out well to further enrich the concert experience.

8 chalices of 10

Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood
Hallelujah Goat
Another Day, Another Way
Radio Girl
Sad Man's Tongue
Mr. & Mrs. Ness
Pool of Booze, Booze, Booza
Mary Ann's Place
A New Song
The Garden's Tale
A Broken Man And The Dawn
Still Counting
Caroline #1
Only Wanna Be With You

Band: Candlemass
Festival Stage 16:30-18:00

~ By Mozzy
Making their third appearance at Sweden Rock Festival, doom masters Candlemass open their set with an old favourite, Mirror Mirror, which duly gets the crowd going. Robert Lowe proves once again that he is an excellent replacement to Messiah Marcolin, possessing a strong voice which does not have the same range as Messiah but his own, appealing character to it. Then, when some technical glitches bring the show to an unfortunate pause, he handles the situation well by delivering some amusing comments to the audience. The American, however, is very much the opposite of his predecessor in that he is not at all as extrovert and dynamic onstage. Although it wouldn't hurt if he was a bit more lively, Lowe certainly displays stage presence, although in a different way, putting on a laid-back, theatrically demonic persona which fits well with the dark, gloom-laden compositions. Also, his more stationary approach gives the other members some room to shine, especially guitarist Mappe Björkman, who is all smiles and interacts with the fans.

The tracks taken from this year´s tremendous opus Death Magic Doom sound awesome: If I Ever Die bring some rousing up-tempo to the mix, while Hammer Of Doom and The Bleeding Baroness both consist of some momentous, monstrously heavy riffs characteristic of song-writer extraordinaire Leif Edling. Meanwhile, it is as thrilling as ever to hear the classics. The inclusion of the truly epic Samarithan is a blessing, while Solitude is simply captivating. A surprising but excellent cover version of Rainbow´s Kill The King concludes matters. Some hours later, when I bump into doom meister Edling himself in the backstage bar, praising the display, he comments: "yes, they say it was a good gig". Indeed it was, Leif.

8 chalices of 10

Mirror Mirror
Dark Are The Veils of Death
If I Ever Die
Hammer of Doom
At The Gallows End
Emperor of The Void
The Bleeding Baroness
A Sorcerers Pledge
Kill The King

Band: Tyketto
Zeppelin Stage 17:30-18:00

~ By Thomas
It was as if time had stood still, Danny Vaughn sung as great as ever, although this was the first time I saw them, but it was just as great as I expected it to be. My interest in Tyketto is limited to their debut album Don't Come Easy that saw the light of day in 1991. I loved that album then, and still do to this day, even though my musical taste has perhaps moved to more aggressive music and if Tyketto was to surface today I would probably overlook them.

I missed half of the first song since I for the first time in eight years went to the wrong stage, bummer, but when I arrived the spirit was already high and it was obvious that the band as well as the crowd was loving it. To my great delight, most of the songs in their set came from the Don't Come Easy album and to hear songs like Burning Down Inside and Wings made the nostalgia factor shooting to the roof for my own part.

That this band had their peak a long time ago did not seem to bother them nor the audience, and if they can carry on as hungry and vital as they where with this performance, I see no reason for them not to peak again. They also played songs from the album The Last Sunset, which is a collection of old songs that never made it to the albums, but hearing them for the first time live you kind of wonder why they never made it to the albums since they held up really well.

Normally this would nowadays be a bit too cheesy for me, but I couldn't help loving every moment. And with the final song Forever Young the atmosphere was ecstatic, what a great way to end the show. Tyketto probably made the biggest impact on me this year and was definitely one of the highlights for me. I couldn't get a grip on how many original members the band actually contained, since I was probably paying more attention to my camera then to listen when Danny Vaughn introduced the band.

8,5 chalices of 10

Setlist: (might be slightly incorrect)
Lay Your Body Down
Rescue Me
Big Wheels
Strength In Numbers
Catch My Fall
End Of The Summer Days
Sail Away
Burning Down Inside
Standing Alone
Till The Summer Comes
Nothing But Love
Walk On Fire
The Last Sunset
Forever Young

Band: Flogging Molly
Rock Stage 18:15-19:45

~ By Hawk
I was a bit curious how the crowd would react on Flogging Molly. After all, they are far from the typical Sweden Rock Festival act and even though they are known for brilliant live performances I wasn't fully convinced that the audience would embrace their mixture of traditional Irish folk music and punk rock. However, if there were non-believers in the crowd for starters Flogging Molly won them over instantly. From the beginning to the end the crowed was filled with moshpits here and there, people just danced, jumped and waved their hands in the air out of pure joy and happiness. This was the first time I saw Flogging Molly and to say that I was floored is the understatement of the year. The set were filled with sing-a-long hymns that injected energy to my frozen body and I left the gig with a big smile on my face. The most memorable moments in my opinion were Requiem For A Dying Song, Kilburn High Road and What's Left Of The Flag. Absolutely brilliant!

9 chalices of 10

Setlist: (might be slightly incorrect)
Paddy's Lament
The Likes Of You again
Requiem For A Dying Song
Selfish Man
Whistles The Wind
You Won't Make A Fool Out Of Me
Man With No Country
Drunken Lullabies
Kilburn High Road
Tobacco Island
Rebels Of The Sacred Heart
Devil's Dance Floor
Salty Dog
If I Ever Leave This World Alive
Lightning Storm
What's Left of the Flag
The Seven Deadly Sins
The Worst Day Since Yesterday

Band: Bullet
Zeppelin Stage 20:30-21:45

~ By David
After half an hour of suffering during ZZ Top I was finished with the bearded guys and looking for some action. I knew exactly where I could find it. Bullet has never failed me, the four times before, so this was kind of a safe card, although it was a couple of years since the last time. They have a new record out and a new bassist. Legendary Lenny Blade has left and Adam Hector has done his best to fill his scalp. The reason I did not prioritise Bullet from the start was simply that they play every single festival around the country this year, so this should not be the last chance so to speak. ZZ Top on the other hand, I had never seen.

Hector proved to be a true energy kick on stage, worthy the rest of the guys. The new songs did an even better impression live and melted nicely with the old ones. It is an impressive set of songs, to be taken from just two records. Very simple, very catchy. The retro designed lightning rig with the band name was a welcome newcomer as well.

I can only conclude that Bullet still has it. After the latest couple of years of intense touring they still shine of rock 'n' roll and simple fun as soon as they enter a stage. Unlike too many of the other retro bands that has popped up on the Swedish soil lately, they also have the talent to back up the pure enthusiasm. Dag Hofer for one has a distinct raw tone that only seems to get stronger for every year and beer. His speeches on stage has perhaps not improved that much (a lot of 'I love you' and 'thousands of thanks'), but it has it's charm. The kick of the year!

9 chalices of 10

Pay The Price
Dusk Til' Dawn
Leather Love
Turn It Up Loud
One Deal With The Devil
Heading For The Top
Speeding In The Night
The Rebels Return
Rambling Man
Rock 'n' Roll Remedy
Bite The Bullet
Bang Your Head

Band: Hammerfall
Rock Stage 21:45-23:15

~ By Thomas
Hammerfall is a reliable band that seldom delivers any surprises, and the story was the same this time around. The stage and setlist had changed since they last toured in Sweden earlier this year, and for me this was the first time I saw them since the latest change of a member. Somehow, with Pontus Norgren as the new person on guitar, Hammerfall feels more metal, more serious in a way as he makes a more solid impression and brings a stronger sense of authority to the band, and then we know since earlier that he is a remarkable string-bender.

Damn I must be getting old, since more or less every band is playing too much from their new albums and far less of olden goldies, and the same goes for Hammerfall as well. Nevertheless, I cannot say that it was a bad selection of songs apart from Life Is Now that I found to be too peppy and Between To Worlds that is just too much of a ballad for me. Better then with Any Means Necessary that turns out great live, as well as Last Man Standing. Hammerfall is always enjoyable to watch and to listen to as you see that they enjoy what they do, and this performance was more or less flawless, although it never quite reached the high level that they possess.

It was a solid set and Heeding The Call stands for my attraction of the concert even if the major part of the audience seemed to welcome Hearts On Fire the most, that song created a great ambience among the crowd as the final number for the evening. The band was in good shape and acted professional as well as amusing when Joacim Cans between the songs seemed to be in a particularly good and entertaining mood.

6 chalices of 10

Blood Bound
Crimson Thunder
Hallowed Be My Name
Last Man Standing
At The End Of The Rainbow
Heeding The Call
Life Is Now
Any Means Necessary
Between Two Worlds
Riders Of The Storm
Templars Of Steel
Let The Hammer Fall
Hearts On Fire

Band: Over The Rainbow
Sweden Stage 21:45-23:15

~ By Hawk
This is probably as close you can get to a proper reunion of Rainbow. Many had doubts about this gig; mainly those who not like me are in favour of Joe Lynn Turner. Personally I have always been a fan of JLT and looked forward to this happening a great deal. Jürgen Blackmore is far from the virtuous his father is but he did quite OK, he looked and sounded a bit nervous during the solos but I have no complaints about the overall sound and the rhythm guitars. Bassist Greg Smith impressed me immensely and worked as the reliable foundation for the band. The set list was almost perfect for my taste and I was a bit surprised that it wasn't fully based around the JLT-era of Rainbow. The fact that Mr. Turner did songs like Man On The Silver Mountain and Long Live Rock N Roll justice without losing their identity was also quite surprising. In total, a great gig with a BIG crowd that all seemed to be as pleased as me.

8 chalices of 10

Setlist: (might be slightly incorrect)
Tarot Woman
Kill The King
Street Of Dreams
Man On The Silver Mountain
Death Alley Driver
Eyes Of The World
Wolf To The Moon
I Surrender
Can't Happen Here
Jealous Lover
Drum Solo
Long Live Rock N Roll
Since You've Been Gone
All Night Long

Band: Twisted Sister
Festival Stage 21:45-23:15

~ By David
When you base your set on a whole record, almost everything depends on the weakest links of that record. Of course it works better to do it with an undisputed classic as Stay Hungry, than as Uriah Heep with the latest dull effort. But I must say that the time has not treated Stay Hungry kindly. Sure, We're Not Gonna Take It and I Wanna Rock are a bit worn out. But this fourth time with Dee Snider's SMF/Twisted Sister I also start to yawn at Burn In Hell, The Price and S.M.F. Left is a few songs that were not even that good back in the days. Actually, the only welcome add to the show is The Beast. And what is worse, to give room for the Stay Hungry set, we are bereaved of usual highlights such as: What You Don't Know Sure Can Hurt You, Destroyer, Like A Knife In The Back, The Kids Are Back, Ride To Live, Live To Ride, The Fire Still Burns and King Of The Fools.

Dee Snider sings as strong as ever and still has an energy level far higher than most other front men. But compared to the solo visits on Sweden ("Kalscham") Rock Festival 1998 and 2001, and last visit with Twisted Sister 2003, I think he actually has turned down a hardly noticeable notch.

The overall judgement right after the gig seemed to be that it was far tighter than in 2003. Not strange at all, since that gig was the first after the reunion (not counting a charity gig in New York 2001). I think it still is Dee Snider Show. "The last tour with the makeup", was the great marketing point before the festival. Hm… it is only Dee and Jay Jay French who wear any noticeable makeup anyway. Dee actually looked cooler in during his solo visits, in black hair, black leather and a nose ring. Jay Jay just looks sad. So, there is really nothing to be missed. And what's the point in being the whole original band (as both Jay Jay and Dee pointed out specifically) when half of the guys seem to want to be somewhere else. Better young, new and hungry, than an old fart doing his duty. It is therefore U.D.O. is a better band today than Accept, for example.

The price for the funniest thing said on stage during the festival goes straight to Dee however. When he pointed at a stand saying "Orientalmat" (meaning: oriental food) and shouted: "Wait… Who the hell goes to a festival to buy an oriental mat??? Hey honey, look what I bought…" I don't know if he even knew himself how funny that was.

7 chalices of 10

Stay Hungry
We're Not Gonna Take It
Burn In Hell
Horror-teria (Captain Howdy, Street Justice)
I Wanna Rock
The Price
Don't Let Me Down
The Beast
It's Only Rock 'n' Roll
Come Out And Play
Under The Blade
You Can't Stop Rock 'n' Roll

To the top

Friday - June 05

Band: Thor
Rock Stage 12:00-13:15

~ By Mozzy
When it was announced that THOR - one of the true cult names of the 80's metal scene - was part of this year's line-up, many no doubt anticipated a performance out of the ordinary. But few can have foreseen a spectacle like this. The man himself, Jon Mikl Thor, makes his entrance clad in a plastic armour and mask, whereupon he swings his hammer and breaks a tiny pile of bricks. From here on, we get to witness a stage show which is almost unreal. After eventually showing his face a couple of numbers in, the singer then uses an endless array of gadgets such as masks, weapons etcetera - all seemingly having been purchased at the nearest toy/masquerade store. Add to this further amusement like his trademark steel-bending with his teeth, and an absolutely hilarious encounter with a sidekick portrayed as Loke, in which Thor, after a dramatic duel, finally strangles his challenger with the microphone stand.

Safe to say, it would be the easiest thing in the world to write off the Canadian's antics like utter stupidity. But while the stage performance is over the top to say the least, it sure is highly entertaining, which cannot be a bad thing. And let us not forget the music; numbers such as Ride Of The Chariots, Let The Blood Run Red and Thunder On The Tundra are quite excellent, hummable tunes which stir up a warm reception from the spectators. In fact, it suggests that Thor, who proclaims from the stage that he "eats, shits and sleeps rock", ought to rely a bit less on the theatrics and more on the music. Then again, it has to be said that the stage show is entirely tongue-in-cheek, which is obvious from the frontman's smile and him fooling around with his band members - guitarist Steve Price is dubbed "the greatest guitarist in the world". It is also a pleasure to see Thor's genuine appreciation towards the fans, several shirts being thrown out over the barricades and even a fan banner being proudly worn by the vocalist. Surely, this performance will hardly be forgotten by those in attendance, and whether silly or not, it shows that things do not have to be so bloody serious all the time.

7 chalices of 10

Lightning Strikes
Ride of the Chariots
Knock 'Em Down
Let the Blood Run Red
Rock the City
Guitar solo
Rock the City II
Thunder on the Tundra
Keep the Dogs Away
We Live to Rock
Warriors of the Universe

Band: Jon Oliva's Pain
Festival Stage 13:30-14:45

~ By Hawk
Jon Oliva is a big man in all aspects. Not only regarding his body measurements, his voice and charisma are just as big. This was my first live experience with the Mountain King and I was extremely pleased about the great number of Savatage compositions in the setlist. Even though I missed a couple of Sava-tunes, such as Power Of The Night, Summer's Rain and Strange Wings for example, it was absolutely marvellous to hear classics like Hall Of The Mountain King, Sirens and Gutter Ballet. Jon's voice wasn't in the best of shapes, mainly regarding his screams, but apart from that the show was superb and left me more than satisfied.

7,5 chalices of 10

City Beneath The Surface
Through The Eyes Of The king
Of Rage And War
Maniacal Renderings
Tonight He Grins Again
Gutter Ballet
Jesus Saves
Hall Of The Mountain King

Band: Black Tooth
Gibson Stage 16:30-17:15

~ By Thomas
Black Tooth is a Turkish band that could just as well have been from the American south instead, judging by how they sound. These guys feed on groove, aggression and one helluva attitude and it takes them far in my book. Pantera is without a doubt the biggest inspiration for this band and they carry on in that tradition with the flag high.

The frontman Tuna might not have been as charismatic as Phil Anselmo, but he did one fine job with agitating the audience. It was probably more people than me that heard Black Tooth for the first time, and probably more than me that was impressed, since they received quite a good response from the crowd. For a guy like me that loves Pantera, Down and C.O.C., Black Tooth provided a solid forty-five minutes of entertainment, and even though they are very close in their sound to the mentioned bands, they do have some great songs of their own to unleash hell with.

They held the intensity high straight through only to raise the bar even further with the final songs, and especially with the very last one that was a cover of Pantera's Walk that they performed really well, and not particularly surprising, it was the one that got the most response from the audience. Black Tooth won me over as a fan and I will continue to keep an ear open for them, because this is a band I can easily listen to many times more. Nevertheless, concidering the cover versions of Yesterday Don't Mean Shit and Walk, is it really a good thing that a band is at their best while performing cover songs rather than own compositions?

6 chalices of 10

Rock Station
Drink Drive Go To Hell
Yesterday Don't Mean Shit (Pantera Cover)
Iron Clad
Goddamn It All
Walk (Pantera Cover)

Band: Kamelot
Rock Stage 18:15-19:45

~ By Hawk
When Kamelot stormed the stage in a sea of fire I had the feeling that this would be a great gig. No surprise though since they have spoiled me with this on numerous occasions. The band seemed to be loaded with energy, perhaps partly because the show was to be filmed. My initial feelings were however totally blown away during the show and I left the area extremely disappointed. There are three reasons for this but only two they can be accounted for themselves. The heavy rain that showered the audience during almost the entire concert was pure bad luck but nonetheless affected everyone in a negative way. Apart from that, Roy Khan had obvious problems with his voice, mainly regarding the higher notes which just couldn't reach. Either his voice broke when trying to reach them or either he compensated and sang in a lower octave. The last thing that actually made me quite annoyed was the disappointing setlist. Of course we got to hear gems like Center Of The Universe, Forever, Karma and March Of Mephisto but also a lot of sleeping pills from the poor Ghost Opera album. And why do they play the lousy Moonlight every single time? That's a big mystery to me. The previously mentioned highlights saved the show from getting a much lower grade from yours truly but still; a huge disappointment. Sad but true.

5 chalices of 10

Rule The World
When The Lights Are Down
Soul Society
Descent Of The Archangel
Center Of Universe
The Pendulous Fall
Love You To Death
The Human Stain
The Haunting
Ghost Opera
March Of Mephisto

Band: UFO
Sweden Stage 18:15-19:45

~ By David
I didn't quite know what to expect from a UFO without it's corner stone Pete Way, who is home curing his (hrrm - no shit...!) bad liver. Sure Barry Sparks was a decent stand in on bass that did not fuck anything up musically, but the stage presence of Way was missing. Add to that, that Phil Mogg has become sober. A fantastic step in the life and struggle of an alcoholic, that should not be mocked with, but nevertheless a bit of the thing with beer reeking UFO-fun on stage is lost. Unlike their contemporary fellow Brits in Uriah Heep, UFO placed their bet on a solid best of set. Just one new song, Saving Me. A bit predictable, with ten out of fourteen songs from the 1979 live classic Strangers In The Night, but you can't really complain against the hit parade of Only You Can Rock Me, Lights Out, Rock Bottom and Doctor Doctor. After all, UFO did their best to hold up the head during the heavy rain, even modified the setlist. Phil Mogg's voice still holds strangely strong. As he praised the new invented drink called water, which will not give you a hangover the next day, he entered the list of top three comments from stage during the festival. Another good one was that he forgot to stuff a sock in his tight pants…

7 chalices of 10

Mother Mary
When Daylight Goes To Town
I'm A Loser
Saving Me
This Kids
Only You Can Rock Me
Ain't No Baby
Love To Love
Too Hot To Handle
Lights Out
Rock Bottom
Doctor Doctor
Shoot Shoot

Band: Foreigner
Festival Stage 20:00-21:30

~ By Hawk
Many look upon Foreigner as an extremely cheesy act, this partly "thanks to" I Wanna Know What Love Is. This classification is a bit unjustified if you ask me. Just listen to their early records and you will hear melodic hard rock with edge and attitude. When Foreigner was presented on the bill for Sweden Rock Festival however I had my doubts. The sole reason for these doubts was that Foreigner without Lou Gramm isn't Foreigner in my eyes. Boy, was I wrong! Lou Gramm's replacement Kelly Hansen did an outstanding job and was probably the best frontman on the entire festival. Even more important was his brilliant vocal delivery that in fact is very similar in style with his predecessor. The rebirth of this band seems to have vitalized the songs with sparkling energy and I was very pleased that the setlist was based around Foreigners most edgy compositions. This year biggest surprise, without a shadow of a doubt! The new upcoming album might be something to long for after all.

8,5 chalices of 10

Double Vision
Head Games
Cold As Ice
Blue Morning Blue Day
Dirty White Boy
Feels Like The First Time
Keyboard Solo
Drum Solo
Jukebox Hero
Long, Long Way From Home
I Want to Know What Love Is
Hot Blooded

Band: Motörhead
Rock Stage 21:45-23.15

~ By David
I could almost copy and paste my review from the last Motörhead-show at Sweden Rock 2007. Just as they do with almost everything: setlist, opening phrases, solos, the flight of the Bomber rig… Every song in the setlist is not the same of course. But it is almost always about trading of one song from the last album for one from the latest. And some elements have been in the show every single time the last twelve years. I'm not talking about Ace Of Spades or Overkill, I can buy the necessarily involvement of those. But Stay Clean? Over The Top? Metropolis? And in recent years all the songs from Another Perfect Day, that no sane person really want to hear.

At the same time hits such as Born To Raise Hell and Orgasmatron have not been seen in years. Not to mention every other obscure track from the discography that would work just as fine and give some new dimension to the rather unvaried set. I could almost write down the last seven songs of the concert before they were played. As usual I made my way back with the first drums of Overkill, to get a decent place at the Festival Stage during the headline gig. Yawn… Motörhead boring? Where is the world going? By the way, did I see Phil Campbell move there somewhere in the beginning of the set? Almost like he was a rock star performing on a stage? Maybe, but soon he was back in his old tired feet again. Oh, did I forgot to mention? This was my Motörversary - the tenth time I saw the band. Actually the seventh at Sweden Rock Festival …

6 chalices of 10

Iron FIst
Stay Clean
Be My Baby
Rock Out
Another Perfect Day
Over The Top
One Night Stand
You Better Run
I Got Mine
(guitar solo)
The Thousand Names Of God
In The Name of Tragedy
(drum solo)
Just 'Coz You Got The Power
Going To Brazil
Killed By Death
Whorehouse Blues
Ace Of Spades

Band: Abramis Brama
Gibson Stage 22:00-23:00

~ By Thomas
If groove was something you were seeking, the Gibson Stage was the place to be when Abramis Brama entered the stage. After the live intro with Parentesvals, they kicked into gear with one bone crushing stoner-oozing track in the shape of Mamma Talar. The riff that the song contains can cut through stone and it set the tone splendidly. Even though stoner is not the genre representing Abramis, since Swedish seventies prog are more of the game for their sound, it is something that can be heard in their sound as groove seem to be a fundamental ingredient.

If I were to mention highlights it could be said that the entire concert was practically a highlight, although Mamma Talar with its riff is a standout song, as well as Bilder with the ending where the song builds up to a wonderful crescendo and also Säljer Din Själ with its raw energy. There is no doubt that this band has its place on the stage, there is a whole other level of energy and intensity present on stage that few other bands can create. Hard rock sung in Swedish can tend to sound affected and even silly, but not nearly in this case, Abramis Brama makes it sound perfectly natural, and they are actually more suited for their native tongue rather than with lyrics in English.

Abramis Brama has a new album out called Smakar Söndag, and they offered a couple of tasters from it with Kylan Kommer Inifrån, Sista Morgonljuset and Långsamt (ett troll i min hjärna). Safe to say the band seems to continue in the same grand way that they have laid out for themselves. I do not regret that I bought the album from the band when after they where done with their set stayed to sell their merchandise. After the set ended with the track Svart, Abramis Brama returned to the stage for the encore and to do one more song, sadly enough they were called off stage as their time was up. And it was more people than me that were a bit disappointed that we didn't get to hear more, but then it was out of the band's control so no blame should fall on them.

8 chalices of 10

Mamma Talar
Kejsarens Nya Kläder
Kylan Kommer Inifrån
Vad Jag Ser
Sista Morgonljuset
Säljer Din Själ
Långsamt (ett troll i din hjärna)

Band: In Flames
Festival Stage 23:30-01:30

~ By Thomas
In Flames is not the first Swedish band, but without a doubt the most extreme band to headline Sweden Rock Festival, and they did it as good as you could expect from this excellent live act. Right from the start with Delight And Angers from their latest album A Sense Of Purpose they showed that they earned their spot as headliners. It is aggressive, melodic, and so damn professional when they perform. But when they didn't perform, what was it with all the pauses between the songs? Maybe vocalist Anders Fridén was drunk or taken by the seriousness of the moment, but his talk between the songs was a bit incoherent to say the least. He complained that the crowd was not loud enough, but what can you expect when the band leaves the stage more or less between every song?

Apart from the gaps between the songs this was a victorious march from beginning to end as I see it. Even though guitarist Jesper Strömblad was still absent and replaced by Niclas Engelin, In Flames' many years on the road have paid off since as tight as they are, it is hard to find other bands that can perform with the same intensity, energy and tightness. Perhaps The Chosen Pessimist is a song that doesn't work that well live on a festival, but on the other hand; Cloud Connected, Only For The Weak, Alias, and I can go on and on with songs that really lift the performance.

I for one missed some more older songs, Episode 666 and Behind Space for instance, but then Coerced Coexistence, The Hive and Embody The Invisible is not all bad. In Flames had brought a surprise guest with them in the shape of Lisa Miskovsky for the purpose of the track Dead End that she sung on with Anders on the Come Clarity album. Things like these also helps to further raise the ambience, small things that stick out and lifts the experience, and this was probably the first and last time we got this song in this way. I am lucky I endured the cold and stuck around. But then again, I would never miss out on In Flames...

All things come to an end and with My Sweet Shadow accompanied by fireworks, In Flames ended their unusual long set with a bang. I have seen In Flames so many times by now, and not once have they failed me, they always seem to improve for every time around. I am thrilled to see that music that is more aggressive can be headlining and I hope for more of this in the future as In Flames filled the spot as headliners well, although the amazing concert at Metaltown festival last year is something that they probably never will top.

8 chalices of 10

Delight And Angers
Touch Of Red
Coerced Coexistence
Pinball Map
Come Clarity
Dead End
The Hive
Cloud Connected
Only For The Weak
Embody The Invisible
Square Nothing
The Chosen Pessimist
The Mirror's Truth
The Quiet Place
Take This Life
My Sweet Shadow

To the top

Saturday - June 06

Band: Tank
Sweden Stage 12:00-13:15

~ By David
To see Tank like this was a mixed feeling like nothing else. It was my first chance to see the band that I hold high in honour and that I have all the classic records with. But yet it was something terribly wrong that almost made me skip the whole thing. Algy Ward was not fronting the band. Algy Ward IS Tank. Just like Lemmy is Motörhead, Ronnie James Dio is Dio and Udo Dirkschneider is U.D.O. Doogie White might even be (or rather undoubtedly, is) a far better singer, but that is not the point. He even did a great job. I was fearing that it would be something (like someone said) to replace Lemmy with Joe Lynn Turner in Motörhead. It was not that bad. But it was like replacing him with Biff Byford. Not bad, but simply wrong.

Tank has always been a very decent copy of Motörhead. Now they have turned into a decent copy of Saxon, especially in their newly composed songs. And why they refrained to play the song everyone was waiting for - The War Drags Ever On - I don't know. Some said it might be because the new 'band leader', drummer Mark Brabbs, did not play on Honour & Blood. But both guitarists Mick Tucker and Cliff Evans did, and they still played the title track, so … But besides from all this, it was a decent gig, I guess.

6 chalices of 10

This Means War
Echoes Of A Distant Battle
Phoenix Rising
Walking Barefoot Over Glass
Honour & Blood
Great Expectations
Power Of The Hunter
(He Fell In Love With A) Stormtrooper
Don't Walk Away

Band: Riot
Rock Stage 15:00-16:15

~ By Hawk
The Tundersteel/Privilege Of Power-era is in my opinion by far the creative peak of Riot. I rank Thundersteel as a classic album and with that said you might understand the magnitude of expectations I had regarding this show. After the instrumental Narita Tony Moore entered the stage just in time for the fantastic Fight Or Fall from the previously mentioned album. My body was instantly filled with emotions of the better kind so to speak. I was a bit anxious if vocalist Tony Moore still could deliver the way he did back in the days but it was obvious right from the beginning that his voice were in a fantastic shape. Of course the setlist was based around the albums this line-up recorded together, and what a setlist my friends! Metal Soldiers, Sign Of The Crimson Storm, Flight Of The Warrior, Storming The Gates Of Hell, Bloodstreets, Thundersteel, all the classics were there! The only thing to complain about was the lack of movement on stage. Tony Moore could have done a better job as a frontman, but who cares when you get to hear all these gems performed in the best of ways really? To be honest, it's not easy looking back on this show with objective eyes and ears since the nostalgia factor was extremely big for me personally. But still, a fantastic musical journey that together with Foreigner and Flogging Molly was this year's biggest highlight!

9 chalices of 10

Fight Or Fall
On Your Knees
Metal Soldiers
Johnny's Back
Sign Of The Crimson Storm
Swords And Tequila
Flight Of The Warrior
Wings Are For Angels
Storming The Gates Of Hell
Dance Of Death

Band: Journey
Festival Stage 16:30-18:00

~ By Mozzy
During the Journey press conference, singer Arnel Pineda revealed that he was so nervous before his first concert with the AOR giants in Chile last year that he asked if he could go home. Receiving a firm "no" from Jonathan Cain, he then passed the daunting test, in front of 30000 people, with flying colours. Before the gathered media, Cain stated that it has been intriguing to watch Pineda grow into his role, guitar maestro Neal Schon also calling him Journeys' "golden boy".

Indeed, as the band take the stage it is soon apparent from the grins on the faces of Schon and co that they count themselves very fortunate to have the diminutive Filipino in their ranks, Schon having discovered him on Youtube. And Arnel surely impresses; there is no sign of inexperience as he makes use of the whole stage, bouncing around and sprinting from flank to flank and onto the middle ramp, while having the audience firmly in his palm. That he has an amazing voice he proved already on last year's excellent Revelation, but it is no less delightful to hear his remarkable vocal talents live as well, in gems such as Only The Young and Be Good To Yourself.

Surely, the energetic and cheerful Pineda brings a welcome portion of vitality to the Journey live show, making up for the fact that his fellow band members, legendary figures as they may be, are not the most charismatic onstage. Then again, when you have a repertoire filled to the brim with timeless rock songs, the need for a lively stage show is not as urgent. The response to the most beloved Journey compositions, such as Faithfully, Wheel In The Sky and Don't Stop Believin' is of course overwhelming, with scenes of pure joy in the sunshine in front of the main stage. Yet, one gets the feeling that the atmosphere was more rapturous last time the band graced this turf, in 2006.

Quite naturally, the momentum dips a little when the newer, lesser known numbers are played, but they nonetheless sound excellent. Obviously, the musical performance by these seasoned professionals is top-notch. Meanwhile, those who label Journey and other bands of the genre as purely soft are proven wrong - this seriously rocks and has an edge to it. What's more, the band also show that they aren't afraid of shaking things up a bit, breaking into short improvisations. As expected, one of the highlights of the festival.

8 chalices of 10

Setlist: (might be slightly incorrect)
Never Walk Away
Only The Young
Stone In Love
Ask The Lonely
Separate Ways
Keep On Running (Deen Castronovo on vocals)
Wildest Dream
Where Did I Lose Your Love
Change For The Better
Be Good To yourself
Don't Stop Believin'
Wheel In The Sky
Any Way You Want It
Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin

Band: Soilwork
Zeppelin Stage 17:30-18:30

~ By Niklas
During this year's festival I only managed to see six whole concerts from beginning to end, which almost solely can be explained with too long stage times. Short and tight stage times are in nine cases out of ten always to prefer, which is why Soilwork's show is clearly the most intense I witnessed during this edition of Sweden Rock Festival. No dull moments whatsoever, just an hour of hits and mosh-pits. The concert had some kind of special expectations from me beforehand, since Soilwork during the spring have let their fans vote online for songs that are then brought into their live repertoire. I am kept waiting in vain for Soilworker's Song Of The Damned and Shadowchild, but rarely played Like The Average Stalker is mostly welcomed, and we can only hope that the fabulous Distortion Sleep is back to stay in the setlist, since it's one of the band's most appreciated songs. You can always claim that it's a crime that a song like Bastard Chain is not performed, but as we made clear during the beginning of this text it's better to play too little than too much, which also makes me eager to see the band again when they're in town next time. In addition to this, it sucks that the guitarist Peter "Vicious" Wichers is not around due to family commitments (he is always missed), but the knowledge that he and the rest of the band has begun writing songs for a brand new Soilwork-album is comforting enough.

8 chalices of 10

Setlist: (might be slightly incorrect)
Follow The Hollow
Like The Average Stalker
One With The Flies
Chainheart Machine
As We Speak
Rejection Role
20 More Miles
Stabbing The Drama
Sworn To A Great Divide
Distortion Sleep

Band: Dream Theater
Festival Stage 20:00-21:30

~ By Thomas
Dream Theater is a band I adore because of their amazing compositions, their sense of melody and the fact that they can lay down an aggressive side, and of course also because they have a lot of awesome songs. Yet they failed to impress me this time around. However, my conclusion came to be that the more intriguing albums they make, the more I yawn when I see them live. I truly love Dream Theater and their albums are taken for quite some spins in my CD but live, it never really lifts.

In The Presence Of Enemies does nonetheless serve as a good start to their set, it contains practically every element they include in their music, and so far so good. But soon the musical excursions you love when listening to the albums became too much to watch live. And especially when vocalist James LaBrie leaves the stage every time there is a musical endeavour, then it felt like their performance stalled. Musically and performance-wise it would be wrong of me to complain, a band with better musicians is hard to find and they perform every note with excellence. Although they are almost constantly borderline to becoming pretentious but always know when to cut it.

Towards the end the momentum was picked up and with Constant Motion, the final song in the ordinary set, the pieces felt to have fallen into place, perhaps because that song is easier to take in and fits better live at a festival stage? And I know I sound like an old geezer on how it was better in the old days now, but more songs from, and in the likeness of those from Images And Words would have made me much happier. It became obviously apparent with the encore, Metropolis Pt. I, as it wasn't only me that welcomed that song way more than the other songs. Maybe it was the numbing coldness that made me hard to attract this time, but I felt that I expected much more of Dream Theater.

And where the hell did they put Pull Me Under? Not in the setlist at least. They have many songs to choose from, but with a performance at a festival, shouldn't they bring out their biggest "hit"?

5 chalices of 10

In The Presence Of Enemies Pt. 1
Beyond This Life
A Rite Of Passage
Hollow Years
Caught In A Web
Solitary Shell
Constant Motion
Metropolis Pt. 1: The Miracle And The Sleeper

Band: Europe
Rock Stage 21:45-23:15

~ By Niklas
After Europe's rather stiff reunion-gig at Sweden Rock Festival exactly five years ago, my expectations were not exactly sky high when going to this show, not only have they been downgraded a stage during the time that has passed, I am not really a big fan of their earlier material. But Europe doesn't do what is expected of them and turn this into a tired nostalgia-show, instead they dare to hold back on some of the classics in favour of songs from the later albums, and they even open up with the new single Last Look At Eden, which contains lots of drama and a sound that reminds of Rammstein's Mein Herz Brennt. The chorus is impossible to neglect, and I actually find myself wanting to check out the forthcoming new album, something I had not expected prior to the concert. Joey Tempest and the others most definitely feel more alert on a slightly smaller stage than on the huge Festival Stage, and the rawer material - by Europe's standard, mind you - from later years (Love Is Not The Enemy, Start From The Dark, Always The Pretenders) together with fan-favourites like Scream Of Anger give the setlist more oomph. As the final piece of the puzzle and to please the masses, there are obviously a string of classics performed as well, like Carrie (awful song - powerful sing-along), Rock The Night and the most obvious closing track ever made.

7 chalices of 10

Last Look At Eden
Love Is Not The Enemy
Scream Of Anger
Always The Pretenders
Seven Doors Hotel
Sign Of The Times
Let The Good Times Rock
Start From The Dark
Seventh Sign
Ready Or Not
Rock The Night
Gonna Get Ready
The Final Countdown

Band: Heaven & Hell
Festival Stage 23:30-02:00

~ By Mozzy
As Heaven And Hell kick off their headliner set, as the last band of the festival, it is nothing short of a veritable celebration of heavy metal as we know it, delivered by gentlemen who perhaps more than anyone live up to the epithet metal legends. Frontman Ronnie James Dio is in top form, while Vinnie Appice relentlessly punishes his massive drum kit. The interplay between long-time companions Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi, meanwhile, is flawless. The former delivers a his usual powerful low end, while the latter´s guitar riffing is so devastatingly crushing that you get all fuzzy inside. A marvellous rendition of I makes you feel like bowing down to your knees and thank the metal gods that there is heavy metal and that you are a heavy metal fan.

It can only get worse from here, and unfortunately that is exactly what happens. Iommi´s guitar virtually disappears, and when it does not come back except during short intervals, the prior euphoria is turned into aggravation, if not despair. Sure, it is still a treat to hear a jewel like Falling Off The Edge Of The World, not least because of the small but oh-so-mighty Ronnie James Dio who, at 66 years of age (presumably) continues to amaze us with his vocal capacity. But when the most important component of the band's music - the diabolical guitar riffs of Mr Iommi - is barely audiable, much of the experience is ruined. It is frustrating to say the least when you know that it should be so much more enjoyable.

And then, at the tail end of the set, it seems that the sound guys try to compensate the spectators in a peculiar way by turning up the overall volume to a totally unnecessary, absurd level, which makes it almost unbearable to listen. Quite brilliant as it is at times, because of the sound debacle this performance still must be considered rather disastrous. In addition, the decision to include Follow The Tears - perhaps the weakest track from the otherwise terrific comeback album The Devil You Know - instead of another golden oldie towards the end of the set is just wrong. This could well have turned into one of the more memorable concerts in the history of the festival, but it was not to be. Sad but true.

5 chalices of 10

Mob Rules
Children of the Sea
Bible Black
Time Machine
Drum solo
Falling Off the Edge of the World
Follow the Tears
Die Young
Heaven and Hell
Neon Knights

To the top

Coerced Coexistence

As always, the festival was very well organised and as far as I could notice, everything went well and according to plans. Almost that is, as the northern entrance that was removed last year was supposed to be opened again, only at another location in the shape of a bridge out of the festival area. However, as far as I know, the bridge was taken out of use before it even was used due to the fact that it did not measured up to safety regulations.

Despite the decreasing warmth of a familiar atmosphere, I did not see or hear about any acts of violence, luckily enough. To attend Sweden Rock Festival can somehow be described as going to a game of football where everybody supports the same team. It is a mighty feeling. And speaking of football, the qualifier-game between Sweden and Denmark was shown live on a big-screen and never does the Gibson stage get as crowded as at those occasions, sad though that Denmark won the game.

I can't believe that four days can fly by so quickly. Suddenly you find yourself realising that it is Saturday and that you only have a few planned concerts left to see. And even if you are dead tired, it feels a bit sad that everything ended so soon and that you have to wait a full year until it is time again. So if you wonder where I am between the 9th and the 12th of June next year, I can give you a hint; it starts with Sweden and ends with Rock Festival.

I might as well kick a boot at the phone company that has a number instead of a name. I was not alone so do not come telling me it was my phone that wasn't working. The possibility to communicate via phone and text-messages, in or out, was hopeless. It did not work save for only small brief moments, if you were lucky, that is. Most other phone-companies' customers seemed to have no problems and when in a crowd of 35000 people, text messages are a good way of keeping in touch, and this situation was not satisfactory.

~ Thomas

Related links: www.swedenrock.com