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

The Opening Words

And so the long wait was over; time had finally come to once again enjoy what is the highlight of the year for many thousands of Swedish rock and metal devotees: Sweden Rock Festival. It is probably a favourite event for all those fans travelling from abroad as well; as usual, there were many nationalities represented this year - over 50 - from all over the globe. Tickets were selling fast early on, and were eventually sold-out.

This year's line-up had three very big names as headliners: Kiss, Rush and Europe. The bookings of the first two groups made big headlines, especially as it was long considered that they, or bands of that magnitude, were not going to appear at Sweden Rock. But here they were. While they were indeed big happenings, the headliner performances turned out to be a case of mixed fortunes, which can be examined below.

Otherwise, the bill was impressive as usual. Offering something for everyone, there were acts like AOR icons Survivor, doom masters Candlemass, modern metal stars Five Finger Death Punch, heavy metal veterans Saxon, thrash favourites Kreator, death metallers At The Gates, glam rock legends Sweet, and the list goes on. While there are a number of different genres represented, Sweden Rock also offers excellent variety in that long-established names are joined by rising stars as well as brand new bands, even demo bands.

With the tremendous line-up being accompanied by lovely weather this year - sunshine most of the time and no rain - there was a happy, excited atmosphere. Then again, the atmosphere is always great here - definitely a main characteristic of the festival. Another one is the awesome organisation - areas such as service, space, toilet facilities and cleanliness are some that come to mind - which is surely one of the best in the business. It speaks volumes when well-known bands regularly express wishes to come and play at Sweden Rock, because of the organisation, as well the audience.

And for us press people, the working conditions are very good. As always, there were many press conferences with the festival bands. For the one featuring Kiss, the tent was jam-packed and excitement was high before the masked icons finally appeared, showing great spirit and humour. A definite highlight and unforgettable experience for a long-time fan.

Regarding next year, it will be interesting to see if the organisers will go for a couple of major names again. There are not really many to choose from at the level Kiss and Rush operate in, and Sweden Rock has had quite a few already. One big name which has long been requested though - and certainly has been enquired about - is Van Halen. And would it even be possible to get a giant such as AC/DC, for example? Speculation has begun already.

Some names have already been confirmed, among them classic 80's project Phenomena and prog rock super group Transatlantic - two terrific bookings. We can sure count on another memorable edition of Sweden Rock Festival in 2014. Meanwhile, read below to find out how Metal Covenant rated this year's performers.

~ Reviews by Mozzy/Tobbe/Bjorn
~ No photos this year due to technical issues

Wednesday - June 05

Band: Vader
4Sound Stage 19.45 - 20.45

~ By Mozzy
In the last few years, Sweden Rock has opened up more and more for bands belonging to the more brutal fields of metal. In terms of brutality, Polish death squadron Vader certainly fits the bill. There is no compromise as they launch their punishing death metal, hard as a brick and full of pulverizing blastbeats. While the tempo is often breathtaking, there are also some tasty thrash parts. There are some favourites missing from the setlist, but then again, Vader have a vast catalogue to choose from by now. Either way, frontman Piotr Wiwczarek sings the songs with true conviction and in his commanding, trademark style.

This is indeed a well-rehearsed, professional unit that is playing. The songs hit you with full force, and given the music's tempo, a couple of untights spots can be forgiven. This being the Poles´ debut appearance at Sweden Rock, Wiwczarek expresses that the band are proud to be here, and one can tell it is a heartfelt feeling. While this may not be Vader at their truly best, and they are better suited indoors, it is indeed a fine display of death metal that is given. Vader get a good reception from the crowd, and their concluding tribute to Slayer's Jeff Hannemann, a cover of Hell Awaits, goes down a storm.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 6 chalices of 10
: Black To The Blind
: The stage sound is not great, particularly not for this type of metal

Vicious Circle
Fractal Light
True Names
Come And See My Sacrifice
Reborn in Flames
Silent Empire
Black To The Blind
Dark Age
Vision And The Voice
Hell Awaits

Band: Bullet
4Sound Stage 22.30 - 23.45

~ By Mozzy
When you're about to watch Swedish metalheads Bullet, you always know that you're going to get fine tunes and good entertainment. This time, however, if you haven't seen the band very recently, there is a major difference. Guitarist Erik Almström has left the band and has been replaced by Alexander Lyrbo. Almström had great stage presence, but Lyrbo, though not as outgoing, seems very comfortable, plays well and fits in well with his bandmates.

Otherwise, Bullet's recipe is the same as before: catchy, uncomplicated heavy metal which get a good response by the large crowd that reaches way back. The stage show is simple but effective: the logo is illuminated by light bulbs, and there is some very cool pyrotechnical entertainment, with flames going off frequently. The guys display their usual charming attitude, with vocalist Hell Hofer thanking the audience many times. Still, it feels like the energy does not reach top level this evening. The show is not that engaging, more like a day's solid work. That being said, Bullet's experience and capacity as a live band ensures that this is still a good performance.

Performance: 6 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Turn It Up Loud
: Too many songs from the latest album, for such a short setlist

Midnight Oil
Rush Hour
Turn It Up Loud
Full Pull
Rolling Home
Highway Pirates
Stay Wild
Dusk Til Dawn
Rambling Man
The Rebels Return
Bite The Bullet

Band: Candlemass
Sweden Stage 00.00 - 02.00

~ By Mozzy
The honour of closing the first festival day - traditionally functioning as a bit of a warm-up of what's to come but still with big names performing - is given to Swedish doom masters Candlemass. Apart from having devoted fans and having delivered a few celebrated gigs at Sweden Rock over the last decade, Candlemass are arguably in one of their definite career highs in terms of status as well as ability. They were recently voted Sweden's best band of all time by Sweden Rock Magazine, the country's leading magazine, and last year's Psalms For The Dead continued a run of terrific albums. In addition, the recruitment of Mats Levén on vocals a year ago has improved an already great live band.

That the band is excited and up for the task is visible straight away, with bassist and band motor Leif Edling stepping onstage with a smile and getting the crowd to wave their arms to the ominous intro piece Marche Funebre. With the stage tastefully adorned with fences, tombstones, crosses and candles, the show kicks off with Prophet from the latest album, going straight into the classic Bewitched. What follows is a splendid selection from the band's discography. Of the old material, tracks such as Under The Oak and At The Gallows End are just as great as always, with the former being totally epic tonight. With Ancient Dreams having its 25-year anniversary, we are also treated to a rare airing of Darkness In Paradise. As regards to the latest album, Psalms For The Dead, excellent versions of the title track and Waterwitch confirms that Candlemass are still at the top of their game. Too bad, then, that the album was branded their final one, but let's see what happens.

Levén, then, once again proves he is a terrific choice. He has an awesome voice, with great power, feel and range. And as a frontman, he is so confident and has very cool stage moves. If one could have any complaints, it is that his occasional high-pitch lines do not fit too well in Candlemass, plus he does not have that much contact with the audience. Overall, though, his voice and stage presence means that he should be here to stay. It is freezing and pitch-black when Candlemass take the stage, but the conditions fit the music and their opening day headline performance is certainly warming and engaging. It is a very impressive display that sees the fans worshipping and one which further cements Candlemass' eminence.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Under The Oak
: The bass sound is too dominant initially

Dark Reflections
Emperor Of The Void
Under The Oak
At The Gallows End
Darkness In Paradise
Psalms for the Dead
Black As Time
Crystal Ball

To the top

Thursday - June 06

Band: Demon
Sweden Stage 12.15 - 13.15

~ By Mozzy
When Demon last played at the festival, in 2009, the rain was pouring down, something which hampered an otherwise nice experience. This time, the conditions couldn't be more different - or better - as the sun is scorching. It kicks off in style with the magnificent Night Of The Demon, and the selection of songs which follows is a pleasing one. There are the classics such as The Plague, Don't Break The Circle and Sign Of A Madman, the latter being one of the highlights today. There are also the odd number you don't expect, like the splendid Heart Of Our Time. Finally, there are some newer material such as Standing On The Edge and Unbroken. The latter is the title track from the latest album, which is also represented by Fill Your Head With Rock, which is actually about Sweden Rock Festival. With singer Dave Hill dedicating it to the crowd, it gets a jubilant response, naturally.

One can tell the Englishmen enjoy being at Sweden Rock again. There is little to remark on music-wise, as we are treated to quality tunes with glorious melodies which are most enjoyable in the sunshine. The visual and entertainment aspects, however, leave much to be desired. Dave Hill is of course an experienced frontman and has a jovial, likable attitude, but his bandmates are far from an exciting bunch to watch, not moving much and barely looking at the crowd. And the energy level onstage as a whole is low, with the music being played well but not much else on offer. All in all though, a good time is had in the sun listening to some timeless songs.

Performance: 6,5 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Sign Of A Madman
: The low energy onstage

Night Of The Demon
The Grand Illusion
Sign Of A Madman
Standing On The Edge
Heart Of Our Time
Fill Your Head With Rock
Life On The Wire
The Plague
Don't Break The Circle

Band: Sonata Arctica
Festival Stage 13:30-14:45

~ By Tobbe
What the hell is main man and vocalist Tony Kakko and his Sonata Arctica thinking of when they decide what songs to play? Just take a look at the crowd in front of the stage, damn it. Songs like Full Moon, Replica and Black Sheep go down perfectly well, whilst shark baits as Losing My Insanity and Cinderblox from their latest release make the major part of their crowd focus on everything else but the band playing. I usually prefer that bands play their new material, but when those songs are so much worse than the old ones, then you totally have to rely on the older songs or simply just go back to your roots and play interesting and fresh music again.

The actual performance gets my full approval, but closing the set ten minutes ahead of schedule and their choice of setlist don't. With five songs off their latest release, Stones Grow Her Name, I'm after the show standing on the ground wondering why I didn't leave earlier. My best answer was that I really was waiting for those 3 or 4 songs that would make my day, but I can tell you I got denied, because they didn't. I know of no people who prefer their new more progressive stuff before their old classic power metal and also not one song was played off their greatest album, Winterheart's Guild. The Cage, guys, The Cage, remember that song? Major disappointment again.

Performance: 3 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Full Moon and Don't Say A Word
: Losing My Insanity and Cinderblox

Intro (Wildfire, Part: III - Wildfire Town, Population: 0)
Only The Broken Hearts (Make You Beautiful)
Black Sheep
Alone In Heaven
Losing My Insanity
The Gun
The Last Amazing Grays
I Have A Right
Paid In Full
Full Moon
Don't Say A Word

Band: Devin Townsend Project
Sweden Stage 18.00 - 19.30

~ By Mozzy
Whenever Devin Townsend Project takes the stage, you know that you're in for an amusing time. With the band taking the stage in Canadian hockey shirts, they are in a cheerful mood, and the one leading the team is of course Mr Devin Townsend himself. As the music kicks in, we get to witness his eccentric moves and facial expressions as well as an exemplary, close contact with the crowd down on the ground. The lanky Canadian is so enticing onstage that it's just impossible to takes your eyes off him. And in the field off banter onstage, Devin is one-of-a-kind. He makes fun of himself and the audience, and whatever the subject - genitals or more mundane things - it's never tasteless or disrespectful, instead bringing laughter and a constant smile on the spectators' faces. In short, the man is hilarious, both to watch and to listen to. And his acknowledgement that it is the Swedish national day, 'Sweden Day' as he calls it, is met with loud cheers.

And what about the music? You would think it is somewhat sidelined because of all the funny parts, but it does not. Townsend has a huge catalogue of wonderful music, and the songs chosen, containing sublime melodies as well as imposing heaviness, are played with much skill and dedication. To a festival audience, some numbers may be a bit too complex, dense and atmospheric to appreciate, but even those get a warm reception, the good-humoured character of the performance getting the crowd to sway along to the music. This does not match the performance at Getaway Rock in Sweden last year, but as expected, a very entertaining time is had together with the inimitable Devin Townsend.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Devin's humour
: One or two songs are quite complex for a festival crowd

(sorry, no setlist)

Band: Five Finger Death Punch
Festival Stage 19:30-21:00

~ By Tobbe
A lot of people say that Five Finger Death Punch doesn't play metal, but then in what category shall we place them? You tell me. Some voices also say that this is not a band for Sweden Rock, but I disagree to that bullshit as the festival slowly needs rejuvenation. This unit definitely resides somewhere outside of the classic metal boundaries and I strongly agree that they have symptoms of pop weaved in between, but it's still real heavy. Much of their music is naturally created to have a chance to be aired on American radio and in our inward community that generally is labeled as being sellouts, but what band don't want their paychecks printed with multiple figures?

They rock hard most of the time with angry vocalist Ivan Moody up front. This is the first time I see them perform and I must say that their music is rather headbanging friendly and occasional moshpits shows that some aggression is present. It's like a violent show without violence, as they rush through their set with mainly well-known songs. The only new song played, Life Me Up, was this show's top moment and a future classic in their live sets. A fairly good show all through, played in front of an attendance that was rather satisfying, considering many people raised their eyebrows when they found out that FFDP was playing the main stage on this multi rock and metal festival.

Performance: 6 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 6 chalices of 10
: Lift Me Up and Bad Company
: A bit monotonous

(sorry, no setlist)

Band: Amon Amarth
Rock Stage 21:15-22:45

~ By Tobbe
I always praise Amon Amarth's liveshows and I won't make an exception this time either. It's brutal, yet captivating melodic death metal from the Sweden natives from square one to finish. Their synchronized headbanging hold their crowd in a firm grip and with themes of Vikings and Norse gods, vocalist Johan Hegg screams his lungs out with his deep rumbling voice. Indeed the major part of this performance sounds pretty much the same to people that witness this band for the first time and I find it hard to see that all these people can hear all nuances emerge.

When this band was announced, we were told that they were bringing their dragon ship to heat things up. I've seen it before and it's not that impressive, with mainly a stem shooting its way from the drum kit and forward. Still a visual element though and I always enjoy when bands try to present their music in a package. The summer nights in June are bright even in Southern Sweden and the visual effects turned out greater when darkness slowly fell halfway through their set.

Amon Amarth gathers a greater fanbase with every record released and I see nothing that can stop this outfit. They never let you down, even if fans to their earlier albums probably long for more material from that era. Tonight we were pretty much presented a best of set, or if preferred, a festival set with one song off their new album, the title track Deceiver Of The Gods. To you who haven't seen Amon Amarth perform live, I encourage you to at least give them a shot when they're around.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 6 chalices of 10
: Deceiver Of The Gods and Cry Of The Black Birds
: Nothing really.

Setlist: (might be slightly incorrect)
War Of The Gods
The Pursuit Of Vikings
Destroyer Of The Universe
Live For The Kill
Varyags Of Miklagaard
The Fate Of Norns
For Victory Or Death
Where Silent Gods Stand Guard
Deceiver Of The Gods
Runes To My Memory
Cry Of The Black Birds
Death In Fire
Twilight Of The Thunder God
Guardians Of Asgaard

Band: Kiss
Festival Stage 23:00-01:00

~ By Tobbe
Almost all major bands are rated based on a different scale than smaller acts. Let's say, if Accept or Saxon had used all this gear and special effects, they would have ended up with great headlines for the visual experience. This is however Kiss and people demand a huge lightshow and everything that comes with it. Kiss' spider, also known as light rig with arms, was to be something extraordinary and was heavily pointed at when their European tour leg was approaching. In the end, it wasn't that awesome when thinking of their past shows, neither totally uncool. It was moving lights.

We got a good mix of songs throughout most of their career and the songs from the latest album was highly appreciated, since I'm fed up with hearing all those seventies songs all over again. A set with I Love It Loud, War Machine and God Of Thunder is something outstanding and I can't even imagine when all these three songs were played in one set before.

Nonetheless, most of the show was a standard Kiss show. Paul Stanley got ejected from stage and did Love Gun from the tower in the crowd's center and his voice wasn't working well. Gene Simmons did God Of Thunder on a platform on top of the light rig and spitted blood. Many old fans think that this band should call it quits because they eventually destroy their heritage, or already did. With hand on heart, I say they still have better shows than many bands on the scene, even if they apparently have aged and don't perform as good as they did before.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 6 chalices of 10
: Psycho Circus
: Paul Stanley's voice

Psycho Circus
Shout It Out Loud
Let Me Go, Rock 'N Roll
I Love It Loud
Hell Or Hallelujah
War Machine
Calling Dr. Love
Say Yeah
Shock Me
Outta This World
Guitar/Drum Jam
Bass Solo
God Of Thunder
Lick It Up
Love Gun
Rock And Roll All Nite
Detroit Rock City
I Was Made For Lovin' You
Black Diamond

To the top

Friday - June 07

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

~ By Tobbe
Melodic rockers Treat has announced a few shows this year to celebrate its 30 year anniversary and also supposedly put the band to rest. I always put real doubt into those statements about farewell tours and perhaps we'll see the band playing together again along the road.

Showtime: Noon. The Swedish band and its followers down on the grounds haven't really come together yet from last night's activities. Treat plays the gig with total joy though, performing much of their most well-known songs and songs off their latest and presumably last album Coup De Grace, which in many fans' ears is their absolute most brilliant release. It's no understatement that this band call it quits when they're on top. Despite this, the gig never tip the scale to something extraordinary, much due to the early hour and with the sun shining bright.

It was announced that they would bring a couple of guests to share the stage with. It didn't work out that well and they didn't take it too serious, singer Robert Ernlund said, but we eventually got current Candlemass and former Treat vocalist Mats Levén singing the much demanded Learn To Fly to an ecstatic crowd.

Performance: 5 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Roar and World Of Promises
: The medley and the early hour

Intro (Prelude: Coup De Grace)
Strike Without A Warning
Ready For The Taking
Medley: Rev It Up/Party All Over/Sole Survivor/Too Wild
Learn To Fly
The War Is Over
We Own The Night
Dancing On The Edge
Get You On The Run
Skies Of Mongolia
World Of Promises

Band: Firewind
4Sound Stage 13:45-14:45

~ By Tobbe
Boosted by main man and guitarist Gus G joining the Ozzy Osbourne band, Firewind had a fairly large crowd in front of one of the smaller stages on this sunny afternoon. Still a bit early for metal, but the band was set to go and rocked hard through the entire show.

There's no chance in hell you can mistake who's the man in this band. From start to finish most focus is shining on the above mentioned guitarist. He enjoys the attention of being in his own band and not functioning as a more withdrawn character behind Ozzy. This situation gets even clearer during his guitar solo and the fact that he also speaks to his audience occasionally.

The gig never got to the point where I enjoyed it to the full, as the songs' qualities varied from good to barely decent. Heavy metal meets power metal is something I often is drawn to and there were moments where my head started to bang, but it never hit me hard. Still a decent performance, although they never found momentum.

Performance: 5 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 6 chalices of 10
: Till The End Of Time
: The guitar solo

Setlist: (might be slightly incorrect)
Wall Of Sound
Head Up High
Destination Forever
Few Against Many
World On Fire
Guitar Solo
The Fire And The Fury
Till The End Of Time
Losing My Mind
Mercenary Man
Falling To Pieces

Band: Newsted
Sweden Stage 15:00-16:15

~ By Bjorn
Due to logistical miscalculations I got to the festival just in time for Newsted's gig, which I had looked forward to a lot. He has always stricken me as a very sympathetic person and he really seems to enjoy being back in the spotlight with his own project, as evidenced by the constant smile on his face during the gig. He did a really solid job, alternating between playing bass and guitar, and the rest of the band sounded tight and well-rehearsed. It was great to hear the songs from the Metal EP grow live - especially Godsnake was monstrous, and heavier than lead.

The weak point of this gig was really the fact that many of the songs that were played, five out of eleven, haven't actually been released yet. So even though these songs sounded very promising and made me look forward to the upcoming album, it put the gig in a kind of limbo where a large part of the audience seemed to lose interest. In contrast, the audience responded best when the band played some snippets from Metallica's Creeping Death and My Friend Of Misery, as well as Whiplash in its entirety. I guess that's the curse of having played in the possibly biggest metal band on Earth.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: The smile on Jason's face
: Many of the songs haven't been released yet

Heroic Dose
…As The Crow Flies
Long Time Dead
King Of The Underdogs
Twisted Tale Of The Comet
Whiplash (Metallica cover)
(We Are) The Road Crew (Motörhead cover)

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

~ By Tobbe
An awesome effort from the German metal queen. She's a package full of energy and lets it all out at the main stage this afternoon in front of an ecstatic crowd. Her stamina is fantastic as she spends ninety percent of the show out on the stage's center ramp, leaving her band on their own back on the stage floor, fifty feet behind her. The fans up front who have waited a long time for her show to start see almost nothing more than her back for the entire show. Her band can do nothing more than play for the first few rows of people, as the major part of the audience's focus land up on the frontwoman.

Not too unexpected, Doro's set contains mainly old glorious eighties Warlock songs and songs from her latest album Raise Your Fist. Songs like The Night Of The Warlock, Revenge and True As Steel go down excellent on this bigger stage, whilst her cover version of Judas Priest's Breaking The Law should be put to rest. She knows what to play though, to not make people lose their attention. An impressive performance and if she stays in this great shape, I'm certain that she'll be around for a very long time, or at least as long as people care for her.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Revenge and Doro herself
: Hero and Breaking The Law

I Rule The Ruins
Burning The Witches
Rock Till Death
The Night Of The Warlock
Metal Racer
True As Steel
Raise Your Fist In The Air
Für Immer
Breaking The Law
All We Are
Earthshaker Rock
Burn It Up
Metal Tango

Band: UFO
Rock Stage 18.15 - 19.45

~ By Mozzy
Listening to classic hard rock, in this case a truly classic group in the form of UFO, live on a sunny evening, holding a beer in your hand, cannot go wrong, can it? Of course not. There is a splendid atmosphere among the large audience at Rock Stage when gems like Lights Out and Only You Can Rock Me are played, and the band seem to enjoy themselves too. As usual, singer Phil Mogg delivers many amusing comments, thanking the festival organisers for "the generous gifts backstage; naked women and lines of coke".

Mogg's bandmates are not as outgoing onstage but they sure know their musical stuff. As Pete Way is still absent, having gone through serious health problems, handling the bass guitar is Rob De Luca, and he does a good job. Apart from Mogg, however, the one who steals the attention is guitarist Vinnie Moore, who is simply an extraordinary musician, excelling with heavy riffing, sublime melody work and blistering soloing. His long solo during Rock Bottom, however, makes the otherwise superb song tediously drawn-out. But when the show is then brought to the finish line via the glorious anthems Doctor Doctor and Shoot Shoot, the atmosphere is restored to one of pure joy.

Performance: 7,5 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Only You Can Rock Me
: The guitar solo in Rock Bottom is unnecessarily long

Lights Out
Mother Mary
Fight Night
Let It Roll
Burn Your House Down
Only You Can Rock Me
Love To Love
Rock Bottom
Doctor Doctor
Shoot Shoot

Band: Krokus
Festival Stage 20.00 - 21.30

~ By Mozzy
When studying the line-up before this year's festival, Krokus was surely one of the names many were looking forward to. The Swiss group - one of the really classic names of the 80's, when they enjoyed big success - last played here seven years ago. As Freddy Steady left in 2011, the drum stool is now occupied by Flavio Mezzodi. Of the classic line-up, which reunited in 2008, now remain Fernando von Arb and Marc Kohler on guitar, Chris von Rohr on bass and Marc Storace on vocals. And with talented guitarist Mandy Meyer, another prominent member in the 80's, rejoining once again last year, there is no wonder that there are large masses of fans waiting for Krokus to go on at the biggest stage.

Still going strong, Krokus released their latest album, Dirty Dynamite, this year, and four tunes from the album appear early in the set. Though these are fine examples of the catchy, groovy hard rock Krokus play, the first part of the set is not that memorable, although the classic Long Stick Goes Boom is always a treat. During the second half, then, we are served a handful of old gems such as Screaming In The Night and Bedside Radio.

That the audience enjoy themselves is apparent, with many dancing about with wide smiles when Krokus deliver their "krok n´ fucking roll" as Storace calls it. It takes a while for the show to gather momentum and there could have been more favourites from the past in the set. Also, although Storace works hard and has a good rapport with the crowd, the band does not feel ideally at home for 90 minutes on the vast Festival Stage. Even so, this is a delightful display of good ol´, straightforward hard rock.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Screaming In The Night
: The average start

Hallelujah Rock 'n' Roll
Go Baby Go
Long Stick Goes Boom
Better Than Sex
Winning Man
Dög Song
American Woman
Screaming In The Night
Tokyo Nights
Easy Rocker
Bedside Radio
Hoodoo Woman
Eat The Rich
Mighty Quinn

Band: Naglfar
4Sound Stage 20:15-21:30

~ By Bjorn
Naglfar is one of those black metal bands that never really made a big impression on me for some reason so I didn't really have any grand expectations when I went over to see their gig. Open-air stages are usually not ideal for black metal gigs but in the warm, setting sun the atmosphere grew thick and cold, paving the way for a phenomenally well-performed gig, where every song seemed to capture my interest.

When the final notes of Harvest echoed I couldn't believe that 75 minutes had passed and I instantly felt like driving home and listening to Naglfar on Spotify instead of hanging around at a measly festival. This was one of those gigs when I discovered how good a band is and afterwards when I listened to them at home I couldn't understand how I didn't love them from the start.

Performance: 9 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 8 chalices of 10
: Everything, I guess
: ---

Pale Horse
The Darkest Road
Bring Out Your Dead
Odium Generis Humani
The Perpetual Horrors
The Monolith
I Am Vengeance
The Brimstone Gate
Spoken Words Of Venom
Death Dimension Phantasma
A Swarm Of Plagues

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

~ By Tobbe
Saxon live equals to stunning quality. It doesn't seem to really matter what they do or what songs they play. All is mesmerizing, from awesome classics like Princess Of The Night, And The Bands Played On and Crusader to new killer songs like my personal favorite Stand Up And Fight. They always put up an outstanding performance and truly get your money's worth.

The packed festival grounds feel the energy of the band's excitement. Biff Byford's vocal cords feel rejuvenated, although his aging body pretty much don't. Still he keeps going decisively and gives everything he's got, although being sixty-two and not getting any younger. Impressive. Contrary to most bands, this outfit just gets better and better and there's just no way to stop this ongoing heavy metal machine, but instant death.

Guitarplayers Paul Quinn's and Doug Scarratt's laid back appearances stand in contrast to bassplayer Nibbs Carter's ravaging headbanging, making it a great visual experience somehow. Still current after well over three decades on the scene and no wonder they play all these European summer festivals each year by popular demand.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Stand Up And Fight
: Wheels Of Steel

Intro (Procession)
Wheels Of Terror
Power And The Glory
Heavy Metal Thunder
Made In Belfast
And The Bands Played On
I've Got To Rock (To Stay Alive)
Conquistador (incl. drum solo)
Solid Ball Of Rock
Stand Up And Fight
747 (Strangers In The Night)
Strong Arm Of The Law
Wheels Of Steel
Denim And Leather
Princess Of The Night

Band: At The Gates
Sweden Stage 21:45-23:15

~ By Bjorn
At The Gates did, as a surprise to no one, a solid gig. It's hard to think of any faults except that the gig might have felt a little bit more like another day on the job than the three other times I've seen them. Playing Captor Of Sin in memory of Jeff Hanneman was a nice gesture as well as some much-needed variety in the setlist which naturally hasn't changed that much since their reformation in 2008, since they have not and are not going to record any new material. Although the songs remain great, some breaths of fresh air are welcome.

The sound was far from great however - even after I tried moving around one of the guitars was way quieter than the other and the drums drowned out much of the vocals and guitars in general. Knowing most of the songs by heart this didn't ruin the gig for me but for someone who hasn't listened that much to At The Gates, I imagine it would be hard to keep the interest up for almost one and a half hours.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 5 chalices of 10
: Captor Of Sin (Reign in peace, Jeff)
: The sound

Slaughter Of The Soul
Terminal Spirit Disease
Raped By The Light Of Christ
Under A Serpent Sun
World Of Lies
The Burning Darkness
The Swarm
Forever Blind
Suicide Nation
Captor Of Sin (Slayer cover)
The Beautiful Wound
Unto Others
All Life Ends
Blinded By Fear
Kingdom Gone

Band: Europe
Festival Stage 23.30 - 02.00

~ By Mozzy
Europe's headline concert held high hopes. With the band celebrating their 30th anniversary, it was promised there would be some surprises in the set, plus guest appearances from Scott Gorham and Michael Schenker. The beginning is not very exciting, however, with three songs from the latest album. They are good songs, but neither the delivery nor the response feels that enthustiastic. With a good portion, 11 songs, picked from the post-reformation era, the band intend to show that the newer material stands up to the old stuff and that Europe are still relevant today. As Europe's comeback has been impressive, the newer songs sound great, and relevant the band certainly is.

Nevertheless, there are times when, anticipating another old classic, a newer song is played instead, taking the edge of the atmosphere a bit. As the band celebrate 30 years, one could feel that the emphasis should be even greater on the past, thus really celebrating the history of Europe. There are times when you can sense a slight frustration in the audience, who clearly should have preferred old gems like Stormwind, Cherooke and Ready Or Not - all played quite often in recent years but now absent from the set. And although there is nice surprise in the form of Paradize Bay from the debut album, and a long-requested Prisoners In Paradise, one or two more old gems would have been appreciated.

In the middle of set, we get a rendition of the acoustic Drink And A Smile, which just feels redundant. Although the acoustic part is intended to create some dynamics to the show, and also includes the beautiful Open The Heart (which would have been great to hear in its original version though), it kills the momentum somewhat. When this is followed by a golden oldie, Sign Of The Times, the way it is greeted reveals the crowd's preferences. Reservations about the setlist aside, this is most definitely a convincing live show, which is also enhanced by an outstanding stage show with cool lights and effects. The sound is really good too.

As for the band, the guys have a great band chemistry going. As a live unit, they are simply rock-solid, in sound as well as performing-wise. Joey Tempest' voice is strong and the singer is a bundle of energy onstage. His excitement and passion is obvious and he salutes the band's fans and their support, although it is not always unreserved tonight. Though not anywhere near as lively as the frontman, the others in the band are in a cheerful mood too and their musical tasks are fulfilled with skill, with John Norum once again showing that he is a stellar guitarist.

Towards the end, then, Norum is joined onstage by first Scott Gorham and then Michael Schenker. The renditions of Thin Lizzy's Jailbreak and UFO's Lights Out are great and the guest appearances are highlights, both for the happy Europe guys and the audience. During the second half of the show, there is for the most part a tremendous, celebratory atmosphere. The audience sings passionately along in Carrie, and rock out to Seven Doors Hotel and Let The Good Times Rock.

As Europe bring it all home with Rock The Night plus encores of Last Look At Eden and The Final Countdown they are the top of their game. Afterwards, it is a bit difficult to assess this Europe show, however. It's slightly disappointing in some ways and parts. And to be honest, near two and a half hours comprising 27 songs plus a drum solo is a rather testing affair, no matter how good the music is. As a whole, though, Europe demonstrate their greatness and receive love from the fans, although not all the time through the concert.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 8 chalices of 10
: Seven Doors Hotel
: Too many new songs

Riches to Rags
Not Supposed To Sing the Blues
Scream Of Anger
No Stone Unturned
New Love In Town
In The Future To Come
Paradize Bay
Girl From Lebanon
Prisoners In Paradise
Always The Pretenders
Drink And A Smile
Open Your Heart
Love Is Not The Enemy
Sign Of The Times
Start From The Dark
Wings Of Tomorrow
Seven Doors Hotel
Drum Solo
The Beast
Let The Good Times Rock
Lights Out
Rock The Night
Last Look At Eden
The Final Countdown

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Saturday - June 08

Band: Tankard
4Sound Stage 14.45 - 15.45

~ By Mozzy
Following up the double performance at the House Of Metal festival in March, German thrash crew Tankard are back in Sweden for their second appearance at Sweden Rock, having debuted 10 years ago. With just an hour's playing time, there are quite a few songs missing, but the setlist nevertheless contains a number of older as well as newer favourites from the Tankard catalogue. With limited time, the thrashers give their all onstage which is not really any different to a 'normal' Tankard show, but they are clearly on fire today. As usual, singer Gerre is a true entertainer, running around doing silly poses and spurring on the crowd.

The catchy thrash tunes and the band's excellent connection with the fans makes for a great party atmosphere, and the crowd is really up for a good time, headbanging, moshing and singing along. A young blonde is invited onstage for a dance with Gerre to the intro of Chemical Invasion, before two Tankard hits from different eras - A Girl Called Cerveza and (Empty) Tankard - nicely round off things. Once again, our German beer thrashers have delivered a show that is, simply put, great fun.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 6 chalices of 10
: Die With A Beer In Your Hand
: A couple of playing mistakes, which are not the end of the world though

Zombie Attack
Time Warp
The Morning After
Not One Day Dead (But One Day Mad)
Stay Thirsty!
Rules For Fools
Die with A Beer In Your Hand
Chemical Invasion
A Girl Called Cerveza
(Empty) Tankard

Band: Kreator
Rock Stage 17.00 - 18.30

~ By Mozzy
Beforehand, Kreator did not exactly stand out as one of the most anticipated acts at Sweden Rock. The Germans had played in Sweden as late as December and having been quite frequent visitors in this country, fans know what to expect. All the more impressive, then, that this turns out to be one of the more memorable gigs at the festival. One can sense straight away that this is going to be something special, as the band deliver awesome renditions of two tracks - the title track plus From Flood Into Fire - from last year's brilliant Phantom Antichrist album.

The other tunes from the album sound as great, with plenty of superb melody work. A little later, the already fired up fans go nuts to the Coma Of Souls/Endless Pain combination, with a wall of death and moshpit instigated by charismatic frontman Mille Petrozza. The chaos is upheld during a lethal Pleasure To Kill, and there is action in the pit for the remainder of the set.

Whether it's classics from the 80's or more recent material that is offered, there is a marvellous atmosphere throughout the concert. Every number is greeted warmly, and the moshpit participants' energy and happiness is awesome to witness. The band are clearly taken by the response, showing off wide smiles onstage. As usual, singer and guitarist Mille Petrozza leads his troops with a dedication that never ceases to impress. The man has a genuine fire and passion for his craft which you can really feel, and the crowd follows his every command.

Enemy Of God is dedicated to the fallen Jeff Hannemann of Slayer, and the response is as wild as it is heartwarming. The finale of the concert is a trademark, vicious Kreator attack: the outstanding Civilzation Collapse, a real treat in the form of Under The Guilotine and the usual conclusion with Flag Of Hate and Tormentor. With band and crowd feeding off each other, this is a bloody awesome performance and a triumphant celebration of thrash metal and the wonderful devotion which typifies it.

Performance: 9 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 8 chalices of 10
: The brilliant songs
: Time whistles by too quickly

Mars Mantra
Phantom Antichrist
From Flood Into Fire
Coma Of Souls/Endless Pain
Pleasure To Kill
Hordes Of Chaos (A Necrologue for the Elite)
Death To The World
The Patriach
Enemy Of God
Voices Of The Dead
Violent Revolution
United In Hate
Civilization Collapse
Under The Guillotine
Flag Of Hate/Tormentor

Band: Accept
Rock Stage 19:45-21:15

~ By Tobbe
Following Udo Dirkschneider's departure, Wolf Hoffmann stands out as this band's front figure as much focus lands on him. Leads, hooks and magnificent solos from an all along smiling Hoffmann as well as brilliant twin guitars split with Herman Frank and a rumbling bassplay is topped by vocalist Mark Tornillo's apt performance and his will to make the best out of every moment.

I wonder if there still are fans longing for Udo's return to the band, when his replacement shows a complete package, as he brings total justice to the eighties songs and the major part of the new material also rocks. Accept has a state of the art back catalogue, still they play seven songs off their latest albums Blood Of The Nations and Stalingrad, and they do it terrific too. A balanced setlist for fans who have seen this band before, although some every day fans probably would have preferred a set filled with classics.

I believe the reactivated Accept has never been more accurate and they still are a great force to reckon with. It's heavy, captivating and joyful. The band enjoys the moment to every minute and their crowd scream loud during the few sing-a-longs. I walk away with a sore throat and great satisfaction.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
:Metal Heart and Wolf Hoffmann's and Herman Frank's twin guitars
: They always close the set with Balls To The Wall

Hung Drawn And Quartered
Restless And Wild
Losers And Winners
Shadow Soldiers
Bucket Full Of Hate
Princess Of The Dawn
Up To The Limit
Fast As A Shark
Metal Heart
Teutonic Terror
Balls To The Wall
Outro (Bound To Fail)

Band: Skid Row
Sweden Stage 21:30-22:45

~ By Tobbe
This was one of my all-time favorite bands and still is to some degree. Their two first albums are fantastic and even some of their new stuff have great moments. Skid Row's show conflicts with Rush's performance on the main stage and tonight's attendance is to some extent suffering in numbers from that matter.

I've always supported singer Johnny Solinger since he joined the ranks well over a decade ago. On this night I however miss Sebastian Bach's attractive and ravaging appearance. The band is somewhat numb, although guitarist Scotty Hill plays his tricks and enchants the audience in front of him. The shows elapses in an everyday pace and feels like just a dutiful appearance.

Two songs are played from their latest effort, the EP United World Rebellion - Chapter One and these ones highlight, together with the opener Slave To The Grind. Monkey Business certainly doesn't, as I can't stand that extended middle section of it. Someone please tell them to ditch that crap and play one more song instead.

I don't want to call this performance bad, still tonight's show was the worst, or least good, I've even seen by Skid Row. Somewhat decent however, although I demand much more from this unit. With the treasure of songs they possess, I feel a bit let down when things don't happen the way I want to. I miss the devotion from this experienced band and I truly hope that this was an isolated moment.

Performance: 5 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 6 chalices of 10
: Kings Of Demolition
: The extended version of one of the world's greatest songs, Monkey Business

Slave To The Grind
Big Guns
Let's Go
Piece Of Me
18 And Life
New Generation
Makin' A Mess
In A Darkened Room
Kings Of Demolition
Psycho Therapy
I Remember You
Monkey Business
Get The Fuck Out
Youth Gone Wild

Band: Paradise Lost
Sweden Stage 00:00-01:15

~ By Tobbe
I can't recall seeing Paradise Lost this uninspired ever. I tried to keep my mood and spirit on top at the festival's fourth and final day. The band however made a rather flat impression and perhaps I should have left to see more of Tobias Sammet's Avantasia, which they had a conflict with, instead of staying the full seventy-five minutes past midnight. An unattractive and far from ravishing appearance by the Brits and I can't recall seeing them this plain before.

Paradise Lost usually gives a perfunctory appearance, which is and have always been their style. Yet they take it to new levels now and that wasn't in fact that amusing. Vocalist Nick Holmes had a somewhat terrible day and he really couldn't get the hang of it. The melodies of guitarist Greg Macintosh were stunning on the parts where you could actually hear them, as the sound was all but good from my position.

There were better moments though and all wasn't bad. The music in its foundations is certainly good, but a clear lack of force and killer instinct was evident. I left a bit disappointed, but I'm sure they'll regroup and come back strong until next time I see them perform.

Performance: 4 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 3 chalices of 10
: In This We Dwell
: Vocalist Nick Holmes didn't have one of his better days

Honesty In Death
Forever Failure
Soul Courageous
In This We Dwell
Pity The Sadness
Tragic Idol
The Enemy
One Second
Fear Of Impending Hell
Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us
Say Just Words

Band: Avantasia
Rock Stage 00.00 - 02.00

~ By Mozzy
When Tobias Sammet's Avantasia played at Sweden Rock in 2008, it was just the second live show ever for this all-star project. Therefore, it was a special performance for both the band and those who saw it, and the announcement of a return for this year's festival rejoiced many.

As always, Sammet has brought some very prominent guest singers. The first three songs are all picked from this year's The Mystery Of Times, with Pretty Maids' Ronnie Atkins delivering strong vocals and an energetic effort during the two latter numbers. Then, it's time for the revered Michael Kiske to shine in Reach Out For The Light and Avantasia, both from the debut album. Slowing the pace, Bob Catley appears for The Story Ain't Over and The Great Mystery with his wonderful voice and charming character. Then, Eric Martin takes the stage for a duet with Sammet in Dying For An Angel, one of the highlights of the show.

As expected, every one of these renowned, gifted singers do a splendid job throughout the show, and let's not forget Sammet himself, who also has a great, natural rapport with the audience. Nevertheless, the powerful pipes of Jorn Lande, who couldn't take part this time around, are missed. With the lead vocals supported by the most competent back-up singers Amanda Sommerville and Thomas Retke, plus guitarist Oliver Hartmann's voice, the vocal impact is indeed rousing. Combined with the bombastic music, it is a mighty sound that grabs you.

What is obvious, too, is that this ensemble of musicians enjoys each other's company very much, with lots of jokes and smiles as well as admiration towards each other taking place. It has an infectious effect and generates a merry atmosphere. Credit to Sammet, who has really managed to build a band feeling under the Avantasia banner.

Sammet expresses his pride to getting the honour to finish the festival, and there is no doubt that Avantasia is a terrific choice. Sammet states that these are "2 hours full of hits - it sounds cocky but it's the truth". He does so tongue-in-cheek, of course, but while there may not be 'hits' throughout, the set is packed to the brim with high-quality tunes.

Containing magnificent melodies and hooks as well as an upbeat spirit, any sadness among the audience that the festival has come to end is effectively swept away and replaced by joy, cheers and singalongs. Thus, this is a very fitting ending to Sweden Rock Festival 2013.

Performance: 7,5 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Farewell
: One cannot help but miss the vocalists on the studio versions of the songs

Invoke The Machine
Black Orchid
Reach Out For The Light
The Story Ain't Over
The Great Mystery
Dying For An Angel
Promised Land
Shelter From The Rain
The Scarecrow
Savior In The Clockwork
Twisted Mind
Lost In Space
Sign Of The Cross/The Seven Angels

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Related links: www.swedenrock.com