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In Union We Stand

2011 saw the twentieth anniversary of a festival that now has become one of Sweden's biggest festivals and further a well-established event and a solid festival with a good reputation that is well deserved. 1992 saw the start of a little festival in Karlshamn that didn't particularly focused on the same kind of music the festival does nowadays, the years passed as the festival grew and in 1998 it moved to the location where it is held now and the name Sweden Rock Festival was a reality a year later and now it started to grew within the hard rock and metal community.

Personally it was my tenth consecutive year at the festival and I have seen it grow from a two day event to a four day festivity where the number of spectators has grown from 10.000 up to the 33.000 that has been the maximum capacity the last years. For every year the festival has become better and better in all aspects, well, musically is hard for me say as that differs from person to person, but the organisation around it all with the area in itself, beer-tents, food bender, toilets and such things keep improving and tell that Sweden Rock Festival is an happening that is very much alive and well.


Reviews by Thomas/David/Tobbe/Mozzy
Photos by David/Tobbe

Wednesday - June 08

Band: Necronaut
Zeppelin Stage 22:30-23:45

~ By Mozzy
Having quit Dismember in 2008, Fred Estby returned last year with Necronaut, his own project boasting a string of prominent guests from the death metal scene. The record was well received, and when it then was announced that Necronaut would play at Sweden Rock - perhaps the only live performance ever - it was an event not to be missed. With Estby on the drum stool, the live band put together also includes two of his former mates in Dismember - David Blomqvist on guitar and Tobias Christiansson on bass - plus Robert Pehrsson on guitar. We then get to experience an impressive assembly of singers taking turns handling the vocals, such as sTompa Lindberg, Erik Danielsson, L-G Petrov, Hellbutcher and Tyrant from Nifelheim, Janne 'JB' Christoffersson.

All make good performances, and the songs from the fine album are very well represented live as well. Still, Danielsson's fiery delivery on Returning To Kill The Light stands out a bit extra, and it's also a treat to witness Andersson bashing the drums again, on The Lie In Which The Truth Is Buried. That's also where we get Estby himself on vocals, proving to be a capable singer too. Overall, it is most apparent that all musicians are having bags of fun and are eager to do their best and put on an entertaining show. This it sure is, not only because of the music but also the performers' talent and ambitious effort. The conclusion of the show is performed in style indeed: all participants take the stage, with Andersson on drums, to deliver a storming cover version of Death's classic Evil Dead, taking turns singing and headbanging enthusiastically side by side. Fucking brilliant! This was a truly memorable concert, and if it was Necronaut's only live performance ever, Estby and friends made themselves proud.

8 chalices of 10

(sorry, no setlist)

Band: Hardcore Superstar
Sweden Stage 00:00-02:00

~ By Tobbe
Headliners of the warm up day was Sweden's own Hardcore Superstar. A couple of weeks before the show we were told that they were going to play their most famous album, the self titled Hardcore Superstar, in its entirety. Heavy rain start to fell upon us 30 minutes before the show, but people showed up to support the band anyway.

As I was standing there with my rain coat wrapped around me and a pair of wet sneakers on my feet, the intro came out of the speakers, followed by the first song of above mentioned album, Kick On The Upperclass. Just as promised they played all twelve songs in a row and it really was a magic moment. With Vic Zino on guitar they have a perfect match to lead singer Jocke Berg, making this band jump to another level. All songs are played with a Rock N' Roll vibe and people in front of the stage enjoys every moment. Luckily for us the rain stopped about halfway through the show.

After a quick intermission the band plays seven straight songs from their latest release, Split Your Lip, kicking off with Sadistic Girls, making this feel like a new start on a different gig. Hardcore Superstar gets better and better for every gig they play and I will definitely see them again as soon as possible.

9 chalices of 10

Kick On The Upperclass
Bag On Your Head
Last Forever
She's Offbeat
We Don't Celebrate Sundays
Wild Boys
My Good Reputation
Cry Your Eyes Out
Simple Man
Blood On Me
Standin' On The Verge
Intermission: Dance The Night Away (1 minute recorded, Van Halen)
Sadistic Girls
Split Your Lip
Here Comes That Sick Bitch
Last Call For Alcohol

To the top

Thursday - June 09

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

~ By Thomas
Already with the first song something wasn't right. Competent on stage of course, but why on earth start with this kind of song from the new album that didn't measure up to, at least in my opinion, the high Queensrÿche standard? This is a very well competent band, but it was not as competent a deliverance this time around and an expected highlight became a grave disappointment. Queensrÿche struggled with getting the show going and to enthusiast the crowd, a glimpse appeared with I Don't Believe In Love early in the set but the highs where blended with deeper lows unfortunately as Geoff Tate had a terrible day with getting the high notes right, or has he lost his great range?

For me more songs from Operation: Mindcrime would have been appreciated, as for most people there I suppose, but then they somewhat balanced it all up with Real World that is a forgotten gem and also with a real killer version of Empire, if all had been like that I would have been as ecstatic as this band have been able to make in the past. Their new album judged by the two songs performed here does not seem to be anything less but a great disappointment, Getting Started was nothing but a bracket and All Around The World was nothing but the worst kind of "save the world" kind of ballads, not flattering at all for this band.

4 chalices of 10

Get Started
I Don't Believe In Love
A Dead Man's Words
Hit The Black
The Hands
At 30,000 Feet
Screaming In Digital
Real World
The Lady Wore Black
All Around The World
Walk In The Shadows
Silent Lucidity
Jet City Woman

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

~ By Tobbe
Since the return of Accept, with Mark Tornillo on lead vocals, there have been nothing but praises. At this gig, the band were forced to perform as a four-piece, caused by second guitarist Herman Frank's injury a couple of weeks ago.

Just like this past year Accept is still not afraid to play a lot of songs from their latest release, Blood Of The Nations. This show starts up with the monster, Teutonic Terror, which sets the pace for the whole show. The crowd is connecting with the band right from the start, which is an easy task this last year, due to constant happy faces up on stage. Wolf and Peter never played better and have probably never been happier up there. Mix this with hits like Metal Heart and Bulletproof and you get what you came for.

On a festival I was expecting a bit fewer new songs and a more hit oriented set and at the end of the show, when a pair of new songs are being played, you could see people turning around and starting talking to each other, taking focus off the stage. This was however a great gig, showing that Accept will be with us for a long time.

8 chalices of 10

Teutonic Terror
Bucket Full Of Hate
New World Coming
Restless And Wild
Metal Heart
Losers And Winners
Princess Of The Dawn
Up To The Limit
No Shelter
Fast As A Shark
Balls To The Wall

Band: Gwar
Zeppelin Stage 20:15-21:30

~ By David
To be honest, I wrote those lines mainly so that I would have an excuse to show the nice pictures. For this was a visual feast only. Musically, Gwar was among the worst constellations to ever put their hairy butts on the soil of Norje. But one could not resist watching the spectacle, while given the opportunity.

3 chalices of 10

(sorry, no setlist)

Band: Saxon
Rock Stage 21.45-23.15

~ By Mozzy
Just like fellow legends Motörhead, Saxon has been a common feature at Sweden Rock through the years, regularly seen as the festival's house band. This time around, they were asked to come up with something special, and thus it was decided they would play Denim And Leather, which celebrates its 30-year anniversary this year, in its entirety.

The show starts, though, with the opening track from Call To Arms, Hammer Of The Gods, which represents that fine new album well. After two Saxon classics, Heavy Metal Thunder and Motorcycle Man, we get another newie, Back in ´79, which in truth is quite an average song. Still, its lyrical theme sets the mood nicely ahead of the nostalgia trip to come. The performance of the Denim And Leather album is delivered in two parts, with four songs each, in order to save the title track plus Princess Of The Night for later. Fire In The Sky and Midnight Rider, according to Biff, haven't been played since 1982, while during the second segment other rarely played tunes are performed. To be honest, some of these numbers do not belong to the greatest Saxon tracks, but it is nonetheless a treat to hear them. As for the remainder of the set, one just has to inspect the setlist - classic anthems almost all of them.

With songs like these, a Saxon concert always turns into a terrific, fun party and a celebration of classic heavy metal. The audience gives a warm response with singalongs aplenty. But what's also makes this so brilliant is that the band playing the songs is still so bloody good. Biff Byford continues to be one of the best frontmen there is, oozing stage cool, experience and authority in abundance. Madman Nibbs Carter on the bass, meanwhile, is as usual entertaining to watch, being hyper-charged with energy and wildly whipping his locks around. And musically, Saxon again prove they are a most proficient live band, very tight as a unit. They sound vital, which is the case with Byford's voice as well. Coupled with the singer's energy and enthusiasm onstage (and long mane), it seems that he hasn't aged a bit over the last couple of decades. There can be no doubt this will be continue to be a house band at Sweden Rock for quite some time yet.

7,5 chalices of 10

Hammer of the Gods
Heavy Metal Thunder
Motorcycle Man
Back in '79
Never Surrender
Fire in the Sky
Midnight Rider
And the Bands Played On
Call to Arms
Rock 'n' Roll Gypsy
The Eagle Has Landed
Play It Loud
Rough & Ready
Out of Control
Denim and Leather
Princess of the Night
747 (Strangers in the Night)
Bass Solo
Strong Arm of the Law
Guitar Solo
Wheels of Steel

Band: Judas Priest
Festival Stage 23:30-02:00

~ By Tobbe
Thursday's headliners announced last year that this was going to be their final tour. Later that changed to no more studio albums and then all of a sudden, K.K. quit the band. Where they are at right now, nobody but themselves know. However we're told that they would play at least one song from every album, excluding the Tim Ripper Owens albums.

Five minutes before announced time they start the show with Rapid Fire and Metal Gods. Rob Halford's stage presence is there again, walking around and making eye contact with the crowd. Just as promised they play songs from every album and hearing songs like Never Satisfied och Starbreaker for the first time live really gave me the goosebumps. They play a lot of old favourites and with a setlist like this I don't think anyone even cared about K.K.'s departure, especially when his replacement look just like him, but some thirty years younger.

Ian Hill stands in his corner as always and during the song Prophecy, Rob gets his Nostradamus vibe back again, just facing the floor without any crowd contact. No wonder why last tour got bad reviews from everywhere. This was the only black spot in an awesome performance and it however gave me a chance to find the bar. The rest of the show was a parade of hits and an hour later I was near exhaustion. Judas Priest is back at the top where they belong.

10 chalices of 10

Intro (Battle Hymn)
Rapid Fire
Metal Gods
Heading Out To The Highway
Judas Rising
Victim Of Changes
Never Satisfied
Diamonds And Rust
Dawn Of Creation (Recorded)
Night Crawler
Turbo Lover
Beyond The Realms Of Death
The Sentinel
Blood Red Skies
The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)
Breaking The Law
The Hellion (Recorded)
Electric Eye
Hell Bent For Leather
You've Got Another Thing Comin'

To the top

Friday - June 10

Band: Agent Steel
Sweden Stage 12:15-13:15

~ By David
Hm… this was a bit awkward. One classic band was about to do their presumably last show with their legendary frontman and there were about twenty people or so hanging out in front of the stage. I could almost name half of them. Faithful people. But it got sorted out. During the instrumental The Day At Guyana the people started to gather. All of them wondering if it would be John Cyriis who would enter the stage, or someone else, or no singer at all… The twists and turns around the participation of Cyriis had made everybody, including the band and the promoters, uncertain until the last minute. But he came, he saw and he sang. Given that they never even had been able to rehearse together before the festival, the band did an impressively tight performance. Cyriis pitch was as inhumanly high as ever. After the gig he was so overwhelmed by the response that he suddenly wanted to continue with the band and do another record. That's the Sweden Rock spirit!

8 chalices of 10

The Day At Guyana
Unstoppable Force
Never Surrender
Children Of The Sun
Mad Locust Rising
Nothin' Left
Agents Of Steel
Bleed For The Godz
Guilty As Charged

Band: Mr Big
Festival Stage 13.30-14.45

~ By Mozzy
Following their reunion in 2009, Mr Big are no doubt a much-awaited addition to Sweden Rock, and the excitement among fans is apparent. To loud cheers, the often labelled super group enters the stage and kicks off the show in full swing, opening with Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy, complete with the famous use of drills on the strings. After a bit of a shaky sound initially, things are corrected and we are served a very enjoyable dose of melodic hard rock in the afternoon sun. The band play a well-balanced set, blending rockers with mellow numbers, such as the beautiful Just Take My Heart, accompanied by singing from the crowd. The material from comeback album What If, meanwhile, fit in splendidly, with Undertow a highlight in the early part of the set. There is a happy mood all around, among the crowd as well as the band members, who clearly enjoy playing together again.

And when it comes to the abilities of the same individuals, they are of course known as some of the biggest virtuosos in the business. Bassist Billy Sheehan especially is great to watch with his busy, jaw-dropping work on his instrument, which does not stop him from constantly jumping about and throwing shapes onstage. He forms an absolutely amazing rhythm duo with drummer Pat Thorpey, who is not as noticeable but who holds a steady, marvellous groove. Guitarist Paul Gilbert does not show off that much, but nevertheless makes it looks ridiculously easy to deliver top-notch guitar work. The frontman then, Eric Martin, seems to have not his best day singing-wise, at least not initially, but does a fine job nonetheless, also working the crowd as the pro he is. As for the solo spots, always a standard for this band and its much-gifted musicians, they fit in fine and are not dull as is sometimes the case with other bands. Both Sheehan and Gilbert demonstrate their dazzling skills in an entertaining manner and without going over the top.

After an awesome version of Addicted To That Rush, it is then time for Mr Big's most famous song to end it all. A song that has been ridiculed by some, and a song that often has come to be, wrongly, synonymous with Mr Big's music. All the same, To Be With You, in its simplicity, is also a revered tune among many, and it sure gets the masses to sing along in full voice. It is a brilliant, cheerful conclusion to a most pleasurable and appreciated performance by Mr Big.

8 chalices of 10

Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy (The Electric Drill Song)
Take Cover
Green-Tinted Sixties Mind
Alive And Kickin'
American Beauty
Just Take My Heart
Guitar Solo
Still Ain't Enough for Me
Road To Ruin
Price You Gotta Pay
Colorado Bulldog
Around The World
As Far As I Can See
Bass Solo
Addicted To That Rush
To Be With You

Band: Iced Earth
Rock Stage 15:00-16:30

~ By Thomas
Why? That is what I come to think when Iced Earth hit the stage and Matt Barlow starts singing. This completely amazing vocalist has declared that he will leave the band (again) after this tour and his successor have already been chosen, and as I see it it's nothing but a tragic loss to the metal community.

With a pretty fine setlist Iced Earth delivered more than well and it was obvious that they surely enjoyed their time on stage and really gave it all. This was one of the concerts when you just felt you wanted more and more as they delivered the next great songs after the other spanning over most of their discography.
And it comes as no surprise that this band is all about Jon Schaffer and Matt Barlow leaving the rest of the band look like extras, but still doing a mighty fine job.

Iced Earth did a solid and splendid performance but the icing on the cake was undoubtly The Something Wicked Trilogy with Prophecy, Birth Of The Wicked and The Coming Curse, this made Iced Earth's concert one of my top three performances this year.

8 chalices of 10

Burning Times
Declaration Day
Vengeance Is Mine
Last December
Travel In Stygian
I Died For You
The Hunter
Birth Of The Wicked
The Coming Curse
Iced Earth

Band: Alien
Rockklassiker Stage 15:15-16:15

~ By David
The melodic/poodle rockers Alien offered a moment of pure 80s nostalgia. Although Jim Jidhed had added a few years and pounds and lost his long dark hair since then, he had conserved his voice. Only One Woman made people literally dance tight together in the summer night. But also classics such as Tears Don't Put Out The Fire and Feel My Love did their job as crowd pleasers. The feelgood moment number one of this year's festival.

6 chalices of 10

Brave New Love
Go Easy
Tears Don't Put Out The Fire
Dying By The Golden Rule
Only One Woman
Jamie Remember
(guitar solo)
I've Been Waiting
Feel My Love
Touch My Fire
Ready To Fly

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

~ By Thomas
Phil Anselmo knocked everything and everyone down, completely. This was without a doubt the absolute best moment of the festival this year. From the opening Hail The Leaf to the closing Bury Me In Smoke, Down and particularly Phil Anselmo were in their absolute best mood ever what it seemed. The band and again especially Phil Anselmo was making good use of the stage, where other bands seems scared to use the catwalk more then on and off, Phil Anselmo took possession of it and gained a great contact with the crowd and was not seldom joined by the two guitarists Pepper Keenan and Kirk Windstein.

This was a strong display of power Down showed up with a really powerful performance with an immense energy produced on stage that further infected the crowd. The bulldozer attack was led by Anselmo that sung both with aggression and affection while he was flanked by Pepper and Kirk that was ripping everything. Perfectly backed up by Jimmy Bower behind the drums and bassist Patrick Bruders (like Kirk also to be found Crowbar) that was replacing Rex Brown as his whereabouts in Down seems to be a bit undefined at the moment.

Apart from delivering a massive attack from stage they were going with the flow and they also found time to joke around and further add some improvised moments while connecting with the crowd. It was easy to see that nothing was rehearsed but the songs and in between Anselmo went with the flow and improvised as he connected with the audience, no "hello Sweden, are you ready to rock?" standard clichés to be found anywhere. Perhaps one might think that Anselmo talked a bit too much between the songs with no direct goal, but you felt that they were there in the now, not just ripping of the songs and then only to leave the stage like an everyday gig, this was an exchange of energy from the band and the audience.

Although they could have squeezed in one more song or two, but I would not change anything, this was close to perfection according to performance, connecting with the audience, improvising and of course, a fine selection of great songs.

10 chalices of 10

Hail The Leaf
Lysergik Funeral Procession
The Path
Losing All
New Orleans Is A Dying Whore
Pillars Of Eternity
Ghosts Along The Mississippi
Swan Song
Temptation's Wings
Eyes Of The South
Stone The Crow
Bury Me In Smoke

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

~ By Tobbe
Mustasch. A band that never seem to have a bad day on stage. When you see them live, you know what you will get. A solid performance with lead singer Ralf in his prime and three other guys following his moves.

This show was no exception. The show's opener is Double Nature, one of their biggest hits in their native Sweden, followed by a couple of new songs. This start was far from the best I've seen with them, but when Down In Black is played early in the set, I wake up again. They still play a set based on their best of-album, released earlier this year and people down on the ground seems pleased with their choice of songs.

Songs like Bring Me Everyone, Parasite and I Hunt Alone are great songs, which go down well. I however felt that Mustasch played it safe tonight, without taking any risks. Their latest single, Angel's Share is well received by the crowd, but to close the show with Black City was not something I hoped for though.

6,5 chalices of 10

Intro (Eurovision Theme)
Double Nature
Deep In The Woods
Damn It's Dark
Down In Black
Tritonus (Prelude)
Heresy Blasphemy
Monday Warrior
Falling Down
Bring Me Everyone
Accident Black Spot
I Hunt Alone
Angel's Share
Black City

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

~ By David
One could not believe that the guys in Stryper are around their fifties. As young and fresh as in the 80s, they rocked the hell out of the people - again. The only sad thing was the choice of three cover songs in the set. I can deal with Heaven And Hell (great song, great performance and a tribute to Ronnie James Dio) and perhaps even Over The Mountain (as a tribute to Randy Rhoads), but Breaking The Law was an unnecessary cover to bring up at a festival where the original was played the night before. When I think about it, it is an unnecessary cover to bring up at all times. After almost 30 years in the business, Stryper have enough classic songs of their own.

Most of the set was otherwise built on their masterpieces Soldiers Under Command and To Hell With The Devil. But a few nice pieces were picked from other releases as well, such as All For One, Loud 'n' Clear and Murder By Pride. Nevertheless they could easily be more daring when choosing songs. Nevertheless the mood was high and the people shouted, applauded and picked up thrown out bibles as crazy. The gathered Swedish christian metal elite, with Ulf Christiansson (Jerusalem) and Christian Liljegren (Golden Resurrection, Divinefire, ex-Narnia) seemed pleased as well.

8 chalices of 10

Sing-Along Song
Murder By Pride
Loud 'n' Clear
Over the Mountain (Ozzy Osbourne cover)
The Rock That Makes Me Roll
Reach Out
Calling On You
More Than a Man
Breaking the Law (Judas Priest cover)
Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath cover)
All For One
The Way
To Hell With The Devil
Soldiers Under Command

Band: Rob Zombie
Festival Stage 20.00-21.30

~ By Mozzy
In recent years, Sweden Rock have slightly altered their successful recipe, which mostly consists of traditional hard rock and metal. The line-up has been a little more varied, to include more modern and alternative styles of rock and metal. This year, the booking of Rob Zombie - although his music is influenced by classic stuff as well - was a very telling example. It was also an appreciated booking, as Zombie has many followers and is known for an entertaining live show, which undoubtedly got many interested.

The stage is decorated with large images of famous horror film characters and skeleton microphone stands. Following a cinematic intro, the band come out wearing their own individual masks, which looks quite scary. Overall though, the performance does not really involve anything particularly scary. On the contrary, it has an aura of self-distance and humour, which is refreshing, and the aim is simply to entertain the masses. All of a sudden, beach balls are thrown into the crowd - quite a contrast to the horror theme, but it is proof of that relaxed attitude that characterises the show. Displaying the same attitude himself, Zombie also works hard as a frontman, constantly running around onstage and regularly jumping down to the barriers to excite the ones at the front. Great stuff. His repertoire also includes some very original and cool dance steps which are very entertaining and fit the mood of the music. On the other hand, his singing, although he is not regarded as a magnificent singer as such, is far from perfect. He sometimes seems a bit out of breath to be able to deliver every vocal line, but then again he is works hard physically.

Although the set includes some great anthems, Zombie does not really have that many of them at his disposal. That's not to say there are any bad songs aired, though. It is indeed a solid set that delivers a tremendous swing and groove, but it does not really take off and become brilliant, not even during the hits. This also definitely has to do with the fact that far from everyone at the Festival Stage know all the songs. Also, at the end, it feels like the band almost deliver their encores just because they have to, not showing any real enthusiasm. And even then, they don't play for the whole of their agreed time.All in all, though it does not quite live up to expectations, this is for the most part an entertaining show by a true entertainer, and it was a pleasure just to get the chance to witness a show by the horror-obsessed multi-talent and cult figure. However, it is a sure bet that the Rob Zombie experience comes across much, much better at an indoors show, with his own, complete stage show.

6,5 chalices of 10

What Lurks on Channel X?
Scum of the Earth
Living Dead Girl
More Human Than Human
Demonoid Phenomenon
Mars Needs Women
House of 1000 Corpses
Drum Solo
Never Gonna Stop (The Red, Red Kroovy)
Demon Speeding
Super-Charger Heaven
Thunder Kiss '65 (with guitar solo)
Encore 2:
Pussy Liquor
Encore 3:
Lords of Salem

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

~ By Tobbe
After seeing Helloween live at Rockstad Falun last weekend, I had high hopes for this show. This time they had fifteen more minutes of playing time, so I was curious of what they would play in that space.

The first three songs of the show makes the people on the ground go wild, but unfortunately they have decided to fill the above mentioned space with a guitar solo, a drum solo and another song from their latest album, making the crowd yawn for a while. Solos on concerts, and especially on festivals, can really ruin the moment. Apart from that they play a lot of songs from the Keeper Of The Seven Keys albums, including a fourteen minute medley of the three long Keeper songs, which is just as great as it was in Falun.

Future World and I Want Out again includes those long singalongs, which are too long for keeping the people's focus on the stage. However, this was a good gig when they actually played and if they had skipped the solos and cut the singalongs, it would have at least gotten one more chalice. Andi Deris is a great frontman who once again did a great job and at this point no one should question his status in the band.

7 chalices of 10

Are You Metal?
Eagle Fly Free
March Of Time
Guitar Solo
Where The Sinners Go
World Of Fantasy
Drum Solo
I'm Alive
Keeper Of The Seven Keys / The King For A 1000 Years / Halloween
Steel Tormentor
Future World
I Want Out
Dr. Stein

Band: Overkill
Sweden Stage 21:45-23:15

~ By Thomas
Overkill came to shred, and did they ever. Their performance at Sweden Rock Festival in 2005 is still the concert I hold dearest during my ten years at the festival, and even though this wasn't that great, is still was top of the line. I might think that they would have deserved a bigger crowd, although they seemed truly glad by the reception they got and why shouldn't they be when they delivered such greatness from stage. There was intensity and energy right from the start even if it didn't really take off until Rotten To The Core was kicked into action as the third song.

The selection of songs was a good one, but in my opinion there where a lot of obvious songs that was missed, but you can't get everything as always. But we did get to hear some rare tracks that hasn't been featured on any album, a couple of old demos in the shape of Deathrider and The Beast than came out extremely well if even they were from the bands early days, great fun to hear those. Blitz is a frontman with integrity and an amazing and extraordinary voice that you just has got to love and in combination with the pounding bass from D.D. Verni that is to die for they put the thrash from Overkill in the absolute front row among thrash bands according to me, and furthermore, they have the capability to deliver live better than most bands.

Overkill has apart from drummer Ron Lipnicki had a solid setting in the band for about ten years now and they have become an extremely tight outfit where Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer performs an excellent attack on their guitars. Many great songs where delivered but In Union We Stand and Elimination was the two biggest highlights in a set that you wished would have lasted at least for another hour. It was awesome to see and feel the intensity on stage and to see that there still is hunger in their eyes after all these years, awesome.

9 chalices of 10

The Green And Black
E.vil N.ever D.ies
Rotten To The Core
Give A Little
Bring Me The Night
Hello From The Gutter
Death Rider
The Beast
In Union We Stand
Old School
Fuck You

Band: Whitesnake
Festival Stage 23:30-02:00

~ By Tobbe
David Coverdale and Whitesnake have been around since forever. With a new album released this spring they once again were one of the headline acts at Sweden Rock Festival. By now you think they should know what to play to please this audience. I was dead wrong about that.

The show starts with a couple of songs which everybody is familiar with. So far so good. Then this show turns into something of the worst that has ever been played on the grounds of Norje. First three songs of the latest album, Forevermore, which actually are good songs, but ninety per cent of the crowd have never heard them. Then a seventeen minutes long guitar solo. Yes, that's right. A seventeen minutes long guitar solo! This solo is followed by another new song, which after a pair of minutes is interrupted by a drum solo. This part of the show is about 45 minutes long and a lot of people left the festival area.

When we think we are about to wake up from this nightmare we get Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City. A slow and bluesy song which had been good if they have played it somewhere else in the set. Now it just works as a potential wake up call. Three classics ends this show and finally I saw what Whitesnake can achieve. If it wouldn't have been for the start and the end, this show would have gotten an even lower rating.

3,5 chalices of 10

Best Years
Give Me All Your Love
Love Ain't No Stranger
Is This Love
Steal Your Heart Away
Love Will Set You Free
Guitar Solo
My Evil Ways (Part 1)
Drum Solo
My Evil Ways (Part 2)
Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City
Fool For Your Loving
Here I Go Again
Still Of The Night

Band: Ghost
Zeppelin Stage 00:00-01:00

~ By David
When Whitesnake started to flip out in a cavalcade of solos it was time to go and see what the hype of the year, Ghost, could do in the visual format. They did a nice debut album, no doubt, but to see them live was not as dramatic as expected. The secret, ghostly, shadows on stage were fun to watch for five minutes, and then the whole width of the experience was kind of grasped and outplayed.

5 chalices of 10

(sorry, no setlist)

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Saturday - June 11

Band: Raubtier
Zeppelin Stage 11:30-12:15

~ By David
Five minutes before Raubtier entered, the field around Zeppelin Stage was already full of people. Remarkable at that early hour. When Det finns bara krig started the set, the crowd was the biggest in front of the fourth stage at Sweden Rock that I have seen since Volbeat played there in 2008. Although a perfect take off, Det finns bara krig got shot down due to vocal sound troubles. It soon got better though.

The people was not just curious about a hype, they already loved every song, knew every lyric and sang happily along to the harsh party industry from Norrbotten. Hulkoff didn't seem to believe his mole eyes, when he saw and heard the response. But he instantly knew how to use it. The highlight was reached in Änglar, the definite soundtrack to the taste of Armageddon that is Sweden Rock.

Unfortunately, 45 minutes passes too quickly when having fun, and although Raubtier are just on their second album, they already have hits enough to fill much more. So Skriet från vildmarken was severely missed and the stage crew wouldn't even let the band finish with their greatest hit, Kamphund, although almost all the people stood their ground and demanded it.

8 chalices of 10

Det finns bara krig
En hjältes väg
Hulkovius Rex
Achtung Panzer

Band: Rhapsody Of Fire
Sweden Stage 18:15-19:15

~ By Thomas
When I first saw Rhapsody, then without "Of Fire" they were a rather boring live act, but that was some years ago and to my delight they well exceeded my expectations with their performance here. Rhapsody Of Fire has grown as a live band in all aspects and only to the better I must say.

Even though compared with other acts at the festival it was perhaps nothing out of the ordinary although it was an energetic and forceful performance they did as the entire band seemed to be inspired as the good solid effort echoed in my head for some time afterwards. Luca Turilli is to me the star of the band and he is a guitarist extraordinaire that every once in a while dazzled me with his impressive guitar-playing, as did Alex Staropoli behind the keyboard and at these times it was highly enjoyable. Fabio Lione has a great voice, and even growls are in his repertoire nowadays, but he seriously needs to work on his English accent. Or has his English skilled improved, as they ought to have over the years, but as he sung like that in the beginning it has become his trademark that he has to continue with?

Nevertheless it was too much of ups and downs to make an impressive impression on me and with the operatic part in Lamento Eroico it simply became too boring and the borderline pretentiousness just took a long step over the line in my ears. Honestly I must say that I had lost track of the band, but this performance indulge me to further dig into them once again. Finally, what strikes me as funny is that they didn't play one single song from their latest album From Chaos To Eternity that was set to release just a little more than a week after the festival. Wouldn't this have been a great opportunity to showcase at least one or two new songs, especially since the new album is good.

5 chalices of 10

Triumph Or Agony
Holy Thunderforce
The Village Of Dwarves
On The Way To Ainor
Dawn Of Victory
Lamento Eroico
Unholy Warcry
The March Of The Swordmaster
Reign Of Terror
Emerald Sword

Band: Rage
Rockklassiker Stage 21:15-22:30

~ By Tobbe
Rage's return to the grounds of Sweden Rock Festival was something different, since this gig was announced as an unplugged one. How this would turn out, we could only guess. To tonight's gig they had invited a guest, the wonderful Charlotte, making this trio into a quartet.

After a slow start with Lord Of The Flies, this gig reached higher levels. They nailed almost all the songs and I was delighted to see these new acoustic versions of songs that I thought was long forgotten. There's no reason to go through each song as they all had their special moments. Just to see and listen to Victor Smolski's guitar is something out of this world. He plays things on his acoustic guitar that are even tough on an electric one.

Songs like Empty Hollow and Days Of December, much to my surprise, even sounded better played unplugged. Victor once again showed his skills on string instruments when he picked up a cello called Mrs. Smolski on All This Time. You could easily see that the band had a good time on stage as there was much laughter. We even got an improvised one minute version of Don't Fear The Winter and as so many times before, they closed the show with Higher Than The Sky.

We all left with a smile and when I came back to the stage over ten minutes later, there still were a bunch of people in front of the stage still singing the chorus of that last song.

8 chalices of 10

Lord Of The Flies
Wake The Nightmares
Turn The Page
Deep In The Night
Days Of December
After The End
Through Ages
Empty Hollow
Her Diary's Black Pages
All This Time
Straight To Hell
Don't Fear The Winter
Higher Than The Sky

Band: Thin Lizzy
Rock Stage 21.15-22.45

~ By Mozzy
Since Thin Lizzy's last visit at Sweden Rock, the line-up has gone through a couple of significant changes. After John Sykes quit his role as vocalist/guitarist, Ricky Warwick became the new singer. Returning on bass is Marco Mendoza, and more significantly, old members Brian Downey and Darren Wharton are back, as drummer and keyboard player respectively. Scott Gorham's guitar partner is now Vivian Campbell, although he is busy with Def Leppard and has thus been replaced for the time being with Richard Fortus from Guns ´n Roses.

No matter how well-known the names above are, it is of course impossible to ignore the fact that Lizzy's leader, the late, beloved Phil Lynott, is absent, for obvious reasons. Therefore, many eyes are on Warwick. The former The Almighty man is of course no novice, working hard and competently in his role as a frontman. As for the vocals, he does not really try to copy Lynott's voice that often, but being a fellow Irishman he also shares some characteristics in his voice. Having Sykes on vocals in a way felt more genuine, as he was part of the last Thin Lizzy line-up, and he also did his best to imitate Lynott's voice. Still, although it is an understatement to say that he has a difficult task, Warwick definitely does a good job, using his own character and strengths when interpreting the classic songs, and being dynamic onstage, also as a third guitar player at times.

As for the other members, Fortus fits in well and sounds impeccable in tandem with Gorham. The big plus, though, is the man behind the drums. With Tommy Aldridge, the band had more of a heavy metal edge, which was rather cool as well. However, with Thin Lizzy's classic drummer Brian Downey back in the fold, it has a clear effect in that it sounds much more like the 70's Lizzy again, with Downey's recognisable, very appealing approach; a more laid-back and tasteful playing which offers a superb groove.

It is indeed quite hard to figure out how to judge today's Thin Lizzy. Without Phil Lynott, it simply isn't the same Thin Lizzy, and the band could never have the same appeal and charisma that it had during the classic era. At the same time, just look at the songs below: how could it not be enjoyable to be served such fantastic, timeless rock songs live? The crowd, a surprisingly massive one, greets the band warmly and many happy faces can be seen when classic after classic can be heard. As a tribute to the wonderful music, and Phil Lynott (who is saluted from the stage, just like Gary Moore), there can really be no wrong in going out and play these songs and give Lizzy fans an evening of joy.

6,5 chalices of 10

Are You Ready
Waiting For An Alibi
Dancing in the Moonlight
Don't Believe A Word
Still In Love With You
Whiskey in the Jar
Cowboy Song
The Boys Are Back In Town
Killer On The Loose
Black Rose

Band: Ozzy Osbourne
Festival Stage 23:00-02:00

~ By Tobbe
Ozzy is visiting Sweden Rock for the first time and there are people who still thinks he's the greatest frontman in the world and there are people who think he should have quit twenty years ago. I saw Ozzy last September in Stockholm and it was an awesome performance, so I had high hopes for this show.

The intro starts five minutes early and Ozzy and his band welcome us with I Don't Know. Ozzy is in a good mood as usual and he does his best to wake up the audience, who are a bit weary after four days of Heavy Metal and alcohol. The show starts with four straight songs off Blizzard Of Ozz and with such great songs, it's hard to do nothing but a great show. A couple of more great songs are played and then we have to suffer through fifteen minutes of solos and jams. We of course all know that Ozzy needs his rest, but voices were heard that the crowd is there for Ozzy and not his band.

About an hour into the show we get the first Black Sabbath song and we are back on track again. Still the audience is pretty lame though and even if Ozzy's trying real hard to get the crowd crazier, it does not work this time. Ozzy's voice is working just fine from time to time, but sometimes you hear that all those years of substances have taken its toll. This was a good performance and Ozzy's band are true professionals who know how to play all these old songs.

7 chalices of 10

I Don't Know
Suicide Solution
Mr. Crowley
Goodbye To Romance
Bark At The Moon
Road To Nowhere
Shot In The Dark
Guitar Solo
Guitar/Bass/Drum Jam
Drum Solo
Iron Man
Fairies Wear Boots
I Don't Want To Change The World
Crazy Train
Mama, I'm Coming Home

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Mama I'm Coming Home

Four days pass so damn fast while you are at the festival, and you are exhausted by all impressions (and alcohol) you have taken in during the time flown by when you leave the area late at the final day. Then you need a little time to sieve through what you have seen, heard and been through, and further time to recover. I kid you not when I say that the worst week of the year at work is the one after the festival, fatigue is the word that summons up my feelings by then.

A new food area expanded the festival this year; a great thing that made you able to slip away from the maddening crowd at times for a calm beer or whatever. And another festival went by without any major mishaps that I know of, ten years I have been there and not one single fight have I seen. The mood and ambience is nothing but friendly, and you simply cannot not have a good time visiting the festival.

The only thing that I question is what headliner is left to play at the festival? It seems like practically every band suitable for the task have been there, and with this year's line-up, Judas Priest and Whitesnake had headlined before while Ozzy was the only newbie. Bands like Metallica, Iron Maiden and AC/DC seems to be too big still to be headliner as they would sell out larger venues themselves, and bands like Ozzy, Judas Priest, Deep Purple will not be around for much longer while acts like Slipknot perhaps does not fit in the concept, yet. Still, In Flames has done the task with the honour so who knows how the festival will develop. But what else is left? Bon Jovi? Van Halen? Rush? And then what..?


Related links: www.swedenrock.com