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

~ Reviews by Mozzy/Tobbe/Hawk
~ Photos by Tobbe

Wednesday - June 03

Band: Hell
4Sound Stage 19:45-20:45

~ By Tobbe
Hell is really a theatrical band at all stations and talented vocalist David Bower is for sure one of a kind. Although his 3 wingers on the floor put on a good performance as well, they can easily put their trust in him and his capacity to bring out the best of a play like this. Bower's real profession is acting and with his skills in the center of attention he has no problems to communicate with his audience through the lyrics.

Although half of the actual festival area is closed and only one third of the total amount of the festival goers are allowed entrance on this warm-up day, these Brits has indeed drawn some interest to themselves and a pretty large group of people has decided to come down for the one-hour show. Definitely more than I expected anyway and perhaps this unit finally begins to get more recognition.

The list of songs is basically split equally between the band's 2 records and I think almost each and every song in the set is going down well. The band tries to rise to the occasion and comes out successful on doing so, as the guys are able to bring forward a dark and empathic atmosphere, even if the sun is still shining and the last rays of daylight are hours away at these latitudes at this time of year.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Vocalist David Bower.
: Nothing really, but perhaps they should have closed the set differently.

See also: interview with the band the same day

Gehennae Incendiis (Intro)
The Age Of Nefarious
The Oppressors
Blasphemy And The Master
Something Wicked This Way Comes
The Quest
Land Of The Living Dead
End Ov Days
On Earth As It Is In Hell
The Devil's Deadly Weapon

Band: The Quireboys
Sweden Stage 21.00-22.15

~ By Mozzy
To help kick off the festival in an uplifting manner, few fit better than The Quireboys with their good ol' traditional English rock. A merry atmosphere is instantly created among the big crowd, with loud singing, especially when the numbers from the debut album are played, and more than half the set comes from there. One cannot complain, as these tracks are just brilliant. Frontman Spike's raspy voice is clearly not in its best shape tonight, as it is a bit lower than usual, but it is still an unmistakable and vital element of the sound.

Having some obligatory sips from a glass of something strong, Spike expresses that The Quireboys have long felt loved by Sweden, and our country certainly has a soft spot for the Brits since said debut album was successful here. As the pleasurable set has reached the end and it's time for Sex Party, everyone one is in a party mood indeed. The Quireboys have yet again done what they do best, namely get a live crowd in a good mood.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: The tunes from the debut
: ---

Too Much Of A Good Thing
There She Goes Again
Roses & Rings
This Is Rock ´N` Roll
Mona Lisa Smiled
Whippin´ Boy
I Don't Love You Anymore
Tramps And Thieves
Hey You
Beautiful Curse
Sweet Mary Ann
7 O'Clock
Sex Party

Band: Evergrey
4Sound Stage 22.30-23.45

~ By Mozzy
I had not seen Evergrey in some years, so I was looking forward to their appearance at Sweden Rock. That Hymns For The Broken was one of the finest albums of 2014 also whetted the appetite. King Of Errors is as great an opener live as on the record, and we then get four more tracks from the album, plus older quality songs such as The Masterplan and Recreation Day. The Swedes' music is a joy to listen to when it's at its best, offering grandiose, overwhelming parts of drama and melancholy as well as beautiful melodies where Richard Zander's keyboard has a major role.

Tom Englund's singing is tremendous, filled with passion to get the serious lyrics across. The sound is muscular with prominent guitar which brings a solid dose of heaviness and metal as well, and a great light show in different colours enhances the experience.

It is nice to see drummer Jonas Ekdal and guitarist Henrik Danhage back in the band after a few years away, and with the talented Johan Niemann on bass making up the last piece this really feels like a strong unit. It is evident they have a good chemistry onstage too. Evergrey get a warm response by the big crowd at the 4Sound Stage, and their terrific performance, rounded off with an epic The Grand Collapse, is the definite highlight of the first festival day.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: The characteristic, epic Evergrey compositions.
: The stage sound suffers sometimes

King Of Errors
Leave It Behind Us
The Fire
Black Undertow
The Masterplan
Wake A Change
A New Dawn
When The Walls Go Down
Recreation Day
Broken Wings
Guitar Solo
A Touch Of Blessing
The Grand Collapse

To the top

Thursday - June 04

Band: Fish
Sweden Stage 14:30-15:45

~ By Hawk
Derek William Dick, aka Fish, somewhat refuelled his career with the brilliant album A Feast Of Consequences (2013). I have witnessed two fantastic concerts on his touring based on that particular album. Recently Fish sadly announced that he is planning his retirement after recording and touring one more album. He also announced that prior to the recording, there would be a summer tour entitled "Farewell To Childhood". A tour where his most successful album with Marillion, "Misplaced Childhood", would be played in its entirety to celebrate the 30th anniversary of that record.

The show on Sweden Rock Festival started off with the rarely played Pipeline and the brilliant title track of his latest album. A fine start for sure but when Fish announced the Misplaced Childhood-suite; "This is the last time you'll ever hear this album live" something happened. When the first notes of "Pseudo Silk Kimono" were played I witnessed a bunch of grown men get something religious in their eyes. The performance hereafter was nothing but magical and the sing-along factor were deafening. Personally, I felt goose bumps all over from start to finish and there were moments when tears flooded my eyes.

This was a fantastic show but not entirely without flaws. The sound wasn't as perfect as preferred and playing in daylight reduced the sense of awesomeness a bit. This show in a dark club with top notch sound would have been just perfect. But definitely one of the best gigs on this year's festival!

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 6 chalices of 10
: The entire Misplaced Childhood-suite
: The daylight

A Feast Of Consequences
Pseudo Silk Kimono
Bitter Suite
Heart Of Lothian
Waterhole (Express Bongo)
Lords Of The Backstage
Blind Curve
Childhoods End?
White Feather
Internal Exile
Market Square Heroes

Band: Children Of Bodom
Rock Stage 14:30-15:45

~ By Tobbe
Long-time guitarist Roope Latvala parted ways with the band this spring and we now see keyboard player Janne Wirman's brother and fellow Warmen companion Antti filling his spot on stage. There's been no word thus far if he will be a permanent member of the band or just a temporary replacement and touring member, but if he will eventually become a part of this band, I surely hope that he cheers up a little, because his performance was really expressionless and unemotional visibly.

The set performed was loosely based on the Hate Crew Deathroll album with 4 songs and on earlier stuff as well. I didn't mind their choice of songs to play, because I think that this unit has gradually kind of lost their greatest moments on the albums. The band's music is absolutely stuffed with energy, but the word energy is definitely not a word suitable for the guys' appearance during this afternoon.

Perhaps the crowd's somewhat weak response affected the melodic death metallers in a negative way, because the group of men undoubtedly looked uninspired and it seemed like this was just another day at work. The experienced Finns are probably not used to having a slot this early and in broad daylight, but that would be a lame excuse for not moving around a little. They even ended their set 10 minutes before scheduled time and that isn't too common.

Performance: 4 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Hate Me! and Halo Of Blood.
: The overall performance was too indolent this time.

Hate Me!
Needled 24/7
Silent Night, Bodom Night
Are You Dead Yet?
Scream For Silence
Hate Crew Deathroll
Everytime I Die
Halo Of Blood
Angels Don't Kill
Lake Bodom
In Your Face

Band: Airbourne
Rock Stage 17.30-18.45

~ By Mozzy
When Airbourne played at Sweden Rock in 2008, they were hot newcomers. The Australian rockers' awesome, high-energy live show was quite a sensation back then, and in the following years they have toured relentlessly and built their profile. That they have become popular is clear when seeing they huge crowd that have gathered in front of the Rock Stage. The sun is basking, and when the quartet appears onstage and kicks in with the first riff in Ready To Rock, everyone is up to do just that, not least proven during the loud crowd chant during the middle section of the song.

The effort from the band is as usual 100 percent, with sweat dripping from the flying manes of singer/guitarist Joel O´Keefe, guitarist David Rhoads and bassist Justin Street. The setlist is slightly altered since the band's appearance in Sweden last year, at Getaway Rock. Chewin´ The Fat, Blonde, Bad And Beautiful and Bottow Of The Well are new additions, and it makes for a good change.

During Girls In Black, it's time for the frontman's regular mischief as he climbs high onto one of the side rigs to play some guitar up in the air. He and his bandmates keep the pedal to the metal and the response from the crowd up for a party is great, not least during the usual concluding fan favourites. Overall, this gig does not quite have the same impact as Getaway Rock last year, but it is certainly another ass-kicking rock ´n´ roll display by the Aussies.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: The band's usual infectious energy.
: A gig and crowd this size is not the best way to experience Airbourne.

Ready to Rock
Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast
Chewin' The Fat
Blonde, Bad And Beautiful
Girls In Black
Cheap Wine & Cheaper Women
Black Dog Barking
Bottom Of The Well
Stand Up For Rock 'n' Roll
Live It Up
Runnin' Wild

Band: Toto
Festival Stage 19.00-20.30

~ By Mozzy
That Toto, one of the giants in the AOR/melodic rock field, had not performed at Sweden Rock before is somewhat odd, so when they were announced to do so last autumn it was most delightful news. Going onstage at seven o´clock in the evening, with the sun shining, the scene is set for something wonderful, and the audience awaiting the Americans is huge. Opening number Running Out Of Time is excellent, with Joseph Williams singing great.

Something that is impossible not to bring up when it comes to Toto is of course the outstanding musicianship - the amazing individual skill as well as the extraordinary interplay between the members. From start to end, the sound is rich, smooth and warm and it is simply pure joy to hear these men - reinforced by two excellent back-up singers - play and sing. Although some ignorant critics claim otherwise, Toto is not just about the level of musicianship, however. This is also a group that has produced a long string of glorious tunes containing superb melodies and harmonies.

As David Paich and Steve Lukather start the familiar opening piano melody plus guitar riff to Hold The Line, it's impossible to resist and the chorus is sung loudly by the audience. A similar reaction is given to Pamela, another 80's jewel, a few minutes later. It's also fun to see just how these legendary gentlemen still enjoy themselves when they play music. There is also a serious moment, however, when The Road Goes On is nicely dedicated to deceased former members Jeff and Mike Porcaro and Fergie Fredriksen.

While this is a most enjoyable happening, some frustration still appears. When finally getting to see Toto at Sweden Rock, everyone is surely waiting for more revered hits from the past. I'll Be Over You, I Won't Hold Back and Stop Loving You are all overlooked, to name some of the most obvious omissions. To be robbed of the latter pearl, especially, is disappointing. This feeling within the band was probably that in order to fit in among the other acts at Sweden Rock, the emphasis had to lean more to the rockier side of the catalogue.

That is an understandable view, but at the same time not the wisest one, as a few more hits would have gone down a storm among the fans. A bit unfortunate, then, but there is no doubt that Toto's appearance at Sweden Rock 2015 will still be a cherished memory. The ending of the concert with mega hits Rosanna and Africa, the latter being monumental, has everyone grooving, beaming and singing along.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 8 chalices of 10
: Africa
: The absence of Stop Loving You

Running Out Of Time
I'll Supply The Love
Never Enough
Stranger In Town
Hold The Line
On The Run/Goodbye Elenore
Caught In The Balance
Without Your Love
Little Wing
The Road Goes On
Great Expectations

Band: Exodus
Sweden Stage 20.45-22.15

~ By Mozzy
Since Exodus' last visit at Sweden Rock, a major change has taken place: Rob Dukes has been replaced by the returning Steve ´Zetro´ Souza on vocals. A new, excellent album with Zetro was released last autumn, and the two first tracks from it open tonight's thrash fest. It's nice to have Zetro back, not only because of his characteristically vicious vocal style but also because he has more charisma than Dukes onstage. The frontman spurs on the audience and there is soon action in the mosh pit.

Unfortunately, band leader Gary Holt is missing, as he "is playing with that other band" as Zetro puts it. At first, one is bummed out, but Holt's replacement Kragen Lum is now looking comfortable in the band, much more so than Exodus' last appearance in Sweden at Getaway Rock two years ago. Also, Zetro´s return can now make up for lost stage presence when Holt is away. Exodus is a strong unit tonight and they sure deliver the goods musically.

The second half of the set starts with Metal Command - an awesome inclusion with its rallying metal lyrics. From here on, your Metal Covenant scribe just cannot resist diving into the moshpit, and much fun is had thrashing about (plus taking part in the 'wall of death'!) to the remaining thrash pearls. Hearing Blacklist, War Is My Shepherd and The Toxic Waltz being sung live again, like they were on the albums, by Zetro is also a treat.

An excellent display by our precious thrashers Exodus, better than their last appearances in Sweden, and Zetro certainly is a main factor. The band members seem happy too, also clearly amused to see the mayhem going on below the stage.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Metal Command
: Body Harvest

See also: interview with the band the same day

Black 13
Blood In, Blood Out
Children Of A Worthless God
Salt The Wound
Pleasures Of The Flesh
Body Harvest
Metal Command
The Last Act Of Defiance
A Lesson In Violence
Bonded By Blood
War Is My Shepherd
The Toxic Waltz
Strike Of The Beast

Band: HammerFall
Rock Stage 20:45-22:15

~ By Tobbe
As many of you might know, HammerFall took a year off a few years ago and when seeing them play live nowadays, I think that that decision made them all good in the end. Lead vocalist Joacim Cans has recently lost some weight for sure and all guys behind him seem more focused on the performance again. Perhaps everything isn't communicating in best way possible, but they're still very capable of bringing kind of the best out of every moment. Although the band has lost some of its popularity, I guess that these Swedes are, from a fan point of view, on a bunch of wishlists for the festival lineup anyway.

It's still heavy metal to the bones and they are able to keep a solid momentum all throughout the show and they never lose a greater deal of tempo even in the instrumental part. A HammerFall gig without ballads is usually a greater experience than a gig including one or two, because, to put it simple, most of them suck balls, and therefore I applaud the choice to only play real metal songs on this evening. Personally, I think that this definitely was one of the most enjoyable shows during this 4 day event.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 8 chalices of 10
: Templars of Steel and Last Man Standing.
: Any Means Necessary and Live Life Loud.

Hector's Hymn
Any Means Necessary
Blood Bound
Heading The Call
Let The Hammer Fall
Live Life Loud
Guitar Solo/Instrumental Medley
Last Man Standing
Templars Of Steel
Hearts On Fire

Band: Bloodbath
4Sound Stage 22.15-23.30

~ By Mozzy
After the lesson in violence just given by Exodus, it's straight off to the 4Sound Stage to be assaulted by some good ol' death metal. It comes in the form of Bloodbath, who last year released the fabolous Grand Morbid Funeral, their first album in six years. The contrast towards Def Leppard playing at the Festival Stage at the same time could not be much bigger as the band arrive onstage smeared in blood and unleash Let The Stillborn Come To Me. It is followed by another killer track from the latest album, Mental Abortion, and there is no fussing about as one crushing number after the other is delivered.

The effort onstage is dedicated, not least from guitarists Anders ´Blakkheim´ Nyström and Per ´Sodomizer´ Eriksson, the latter playing shirt-less making the blood effect more striking. It's of course exciting to see the band with Nick Holmes for the first time, and the Paradise Lost singer does well, proving just like on Grand Morbid Funeral that his old growl is still potent. Wearing a long coat, he is not very outgoing onstage, focusing on his vocals, but his persona is a good fit and he also interprets the older songs well in his own style.

With darkness outside and the stage fittingly bathing in a red light throughout the gig, the setting is excellent for an old school death metal show. The atmosphere at the 4Sound Stage is awesome, with the crowd headbanging passionately and roaring their approval, not least at the end when the monstrous Mock The Cross and Eaten are played. This is a slaughtering death metal performance by Bloodbath and one of the highlights of the festival. Now one cannot wait to see the band again at Wacken Open Air.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Eaten
: Sometimes one still misses the original vocal styles of the older material.

Let The Stillborn Come To Me
Mental Abortion
So You Die
Breeding Death
Cancer Of The Soul
Weak Aside
Soul Evisceration
Unite In Pain
Like Fire
Mock The Cross
Cry My Name

Band: Def Leppard
Festival Stage 22:30-00:15

~ By Tobbe
The British veterans Def Leppard truly know how to make a gig explode right off the bat. 4 songs into it, I'm really stoked by the opening of the show. A couple of less good songs (Armageddon It excluded), a boring cover song and a pair of immensely lame ballads later I'm not that impressed anymore. But rest assured, the band is absolutely able to get up on 9 and a half with Rocket and ends the show with 45 minutes of quality time.

Guitarist Vivian Campbell looks a little weary and torn following his cancer treatment and can't really give it all tonight. At least I thought that this was the case, until he recently broke the bad news that his cancer regrettably has returned, and that statement really explains the whole deal. The other guitarist, Phil Collen, sometimes seems more interested in showing off his vegan body than actually focus on the actual performance, I think.

Lead vocalist, Joe Elliott, has lost some of his greater vocal abilities, but still manages to come out valid in the end. He did the acoustic version of Two Steps Behind alone on stage and I'm beginning to sense a bit of lead singer syndrome, but perhaps it's nothing to worry about. Something worrying however is the fact that they didn't play anything more recent than 16 years old material, because even if the show was good, it's like saying that all of our newest stuff is a load of crap and we have become just a nostalgia act today.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 9 chalices of 10
: Foolin' and Rocket.
: Rock On and Love Bites.

Rock Rock (Till You Drop)
Let It Go
Paper Sun
Love Bites
Armageddon It
Rock On
Two Steps Behind (Acoustic Version)
Bringin' On The Heartbreak
Switch 625
Let's Get Rocked
Pour Some Sugar On Me
Rock Of Ages

To the top

Friday - June 05

Band: Dark Tranquillity
Rock Stage 12.00-13.00

~ By Mozzy
Playing already at noon is a tough task and somewhat unfair for a band of Dark Tranquillity's stature, but someone has to fill those early slots. And as it turns out, the Swedes' gig is a terrific start to the third festival day, also in an energizing way when you are a bit weary from the festivities the previous night, so to speak. On paper, the band's dark, dramatic and melancholy take on melodic death metal is not a perfect match to the lovely, sunny weather, but in reality it does not matter at all.

The guys take the stage in a good-humoured manner as always, with singer Mikael Stanne sporting his wide smile, and kick into their set. Second number White Noise/Black Silence gets a good reception and then fan favourites like The Wonders At Your Feet and The Treason Wall really get the momentum going. A marvellous atmosphere spreads at the Rock Stage and all tiredness is now gone.

Stanne's cheerfulness, contact with the fans and energy onstage is as always infectious, but it is Dark Tranquillity's splendid music that seals the deal. In an hour's playing time, we get a dynamic set filled with the band's great trademark qualities, ranging from beautiful melodies to intense and heavy parts.

There are two new faces onstage today: on guitar, Eric Jacobsson is filling in for Niklas Sundin who is on parental leave, and Anders Iwers from Tiamat is playing bass. Both do a good job and are enjoying themselves. As a magnificent Misery's Crown closes the set, the crowd shows its love for the band and it is clear that Dark Tranquillity's early gig is a triumph which gets us in the mood for the rest of Friday's schedule.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 8 chalices of 10
: The band's great music, simply put.
: One hour is too little time.

The Science of Noise
White Noise/Black Silence
The Silence in Between
The Lesser Faith
The Wonders at Your Feet
The Treason Wall
Through Smudged Lenses
State of Trust
Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive)
Final Resistance
Endtime Hearts
Misery's Crown

Band: Alestorm
Sweden Stage 14:30-15:45

~ By Tobbe
Alestorm pretty much means Scottish fake pirates with one of the world's goofiest backdrops. The music is party inspiring and holds a good amount of energy in a kind of funny way. Christopher Bowes is really this outfit's sworn frontman and most things certainly circulates around his presence. With his keytar and his hoarse and unpolished voice, he's always set to frolic on stage and factually he's somewhat of a clown.

A clown in a good way though, because this unit should in terms of live performances never be taken too seriously and if you can't take it, the fact of the matter is that you can't distinguish crazy and fun from sonic seriousness and therefore Alestorm won't in a million years trigger your musical key senses. The rest of the boys seem to know quite well their fixed roles in the band, meaning to let the center of attention entertain the audience in best possible way and let's just do our best to give him sufficient space for his actions.

Sonically this experience was a bit of a letdown and the sound that was coming out of the speakers was quite a mess occasionally. I tried to stand at a few different places in order to see what would happen to the quality of the sound, but every time I got denied of a supposed perfection. The band played a great number of its bigger songs, but quite a few kind of ordinary and scanty songs too and even if I can see the point lyrically in ending the show with Rum, I honestly think that it's one of their worst songs.

Performance: 5 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 4 chalices of 10
: Nancy The Tavern Wench and Captain Morgan's Revenge.
: The poor sound quality and to close the set with the song Rum.

Walk The Plank
The Sunk'n Norwegian
Magnetic North
That Famous Ol' Spiced
Back Through Time
Wooden Leg!
Nancy The Tavern Wench
Wenches & Mead
1741 (The Battle Of Cartagena)
Wolves Of The Sea
Captain Morgan's Revenge

Band: Dokken
Rock Stage 17:30-18:45

~ By Hawk
Dokken played a huge part of my teens since I loved their mix of strong melodies and George Lynch's perfection in the guitar riff department. Despite this fact I have never witnessed a single Dokken show and I really looked forward to see them on this year's festival. The expectations however wasn't that high since I know that Don Dokken himself has lost his vocal abilities quite a bit and that he has a tendency to be a bit grumpy and uninterested on stage. Add the fact that George Lynch isn't a member in the band anymore.

The above expectations were surpassed however since we witnessed a quite happy frontman who seemed a bit overwhelmed over the great reception from the fans. Jon Levin also delivered great guitar work in the vein of Mr Lynch himself. Don's vocal range isn't what it used to be at all but as he used it within his limits and he thankfully didn't try to overdo things.

The setlist was a dream come true for me. All the desired hits were there and only the long and quite boring Too High Too Fly with the following guitar solo lowered the overall feel. All in all, a good show with a big nostalgia factor.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Into The Fire
: Too High To Fly

Intro (Without Warning)
Kiss Of Death
The Hunter
Dream Warriors
Breaking The Chains
Alone Again
Too High To Fly
Guitar Solo
Paris Is Burning
It's Not Love/All Right Now
Just Got Lucky
Into The Fire
In My Dreams
Tooth And Nail

Band: GloryHammer
Rockklassiker Stage 18:15-19:00

~ By Tobbe
GloryHammer is a power metal outfit under development and also Christopher Bower's second band besides Alestorm and since he doesn't sing any lead vocals in this group and practically plays the keyboards only, he keeps his appearance on a low scale throughout the gig and lets the other boys in the band handle most of the visual duties.

The music is thriving and they are able to merge energy and joy together and besides the musical aspect of it, this unit shows how to run a great performance by also donning some type of medieval clothing and also kind of reliving the fantasy attributes of that time. If the finances were unlimited and we were to travel back to the 80's, I bet you this band would have had a castle on stage taken out of some fairytale.

The guys in the band aren't too grave on stage and bass player Hoots drinks a few beers before a chanting crowd in the big tent. The backing vocals are mainly pre-recorded and what's funny is that the voice of lead vocalist Thomas Winkler was audible there as well. A fun and nice gig at the end of the day and when their new album releases this fall, I will be eager to check it out as quickly as I can.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: The overall performance.
: Maybe a little bit too small variation in the songs as a whole.

The Unicorn Invasion Of Dundee
Quest For The Hammer Of Glory
Magic Dragon
Hail To Crail
The Epic Rage Of Furious Thunder
Angus McFife

Band: Opeth
Festival Stage 19.00-20.30

~ By Mozzy
That the Festival stage is not the most suited stage for a band like Opeth is obvious. The long ramp in the middle creates a gap between band and audience, and neither the ramp nor the vast, wide stage is used by the members to move around on. They simply hold their positions onstage and let the music do the talking. This is of course always the case with Opeth, and what music they are capable of delivering.

The two first tracks from last year's Pale Communion - Eternal Rains Will Come and Cusp Of Eternity - provide an excellent opening which instantly demonstrates the vast musical skill the band possesses. It is then time for two treats in form of two older numbers, both over the 10-minute mark: The Drapery Falls and The Moor. It is quality progressive metal indeed, and the rest of the set offers a great selection in the same field.

The musicianship is top-notch, just as Mikael Åkerfeldt's vocals whether it's the clean or the growl kind. As usual, Åkerfeldt also delivers some entertaining banter. Tonight it includes some comments directed towards Backyard Babies and Mötley Crue, both playing later in the evening. This is as expected a very good performance by Opeth, but the circumstances make it not quite as memorable as is often the case with this top band.

The intimacy and atmosphere is a bit absent because of the stage but also the light summer evening. Also, while the band receives deserved warm applause after the concluding, colossal Deliverance, far from everyone gathered are knowledgeable of Opeth's music which prevents the concert from lifting to usual heights.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 8 chalices of 10
: The Drapery Falls
: The not ideal stage.

Eternal Rains Will Come
Cusp Of Eternity
The Drapery Falls
The Moor
The Devil's Orchard
The Lotus Eater
The Grand Conjuration

Band: Backyard Babies
Rock Stage 20.45-22.15

~ By Mozzy
When Backyard Babies are about to go on, a massive crowd has gathered in front of the Rock Stage. Not surprising, given the success and popularity the quartet enjoyed in their home country until they went on hiatus five years ago, and the appearance at Sweden Rock is in fact their comeback gig. It is quite a way to return and it's evident just how up for it the band members are.

Not surprisingly, guitarist Dregen is particularly on fire, constantly jumping, posing and running about. It is nice to hear tunes like Highlights and Brand New Hate again, and the group's catchy mix of rock, punk and sleaze goes down great with the party-minded crowd this nice summer evening.

However, there is no question that a big festival stage is not the ideal setting for a Backyard Babies rock show, as the distance between band and audience hampers the connection and electricity of the whole experience. One cannot help thinking back to past smaller gigs by the band where the impact and rock 'n' roll feel was much superior to this, and I have to admit that I even escape the jam-packed crowd for a while to check out Pat Travers over at the Sweden Stage.

As a whole, although there is nothing remarkable about it, this is an enjoyable comeback to the live scene by Backyard Babies, as well as a good warm-up for future headline tours.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: The catchy material.
: The jam-packed crowd.

Th1rte3n Or Nothing
The Clash
U.F.O. Romeo
Brand New Hate
Dysfunctional Professional
People Like People Like People Like Us
Made Me Madman
Ghetto You
Star War
A Song For The Outcast
Heaven 2.9
Bombed (Out Of My Mind)
Look At You
Saved By The Bell
Minus Celsius

Band: Mötley Crüe
Festival Stage 22.30-00.15

~ By Mozzy
Ten years after first playing at Sweden Rock, Mötley Crue perform for the last time here. It is an event that cannot be missed, and as usual the stage show is eye-catching from the start, containing pyro and dancers. Song-wise, On With The Show is a nice inclusion, sandwiched between killer tracks Looks That Kill and Too Fast For Love, and Smokin In The Boy's Room, not always played either, is fun to hear.

The second part of the set includes a string of Mötley anthems which get the party going. Naturally, a good time is had hearing such hits attached to your brain. But yet again, much of Vince Neil's vocals to the music have a negative effect. It is nothing new that Neil is not the best of singers and that he has left quite a lot to be desired for many years now, but it is always annoying to experience. He frequently skips words and sounds rather strained from time to time. Lack of passion and attitude, combined with lack of fitness and stamina, is probably the reason behind this reoccurring nuisance.

As for the other members, guitarist Mick Mars does an admirable job given his fragile body, delivering sharp riffs, while Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee still has lots of energy and are still cool as fuck onstage. Sixx also sings into one of the coolest microphones ever seen, hanging from the ceiling of the stage.

As a whole, this appearance is not really inferior to the band's last one at Sweden Rock, in 2012, but the sense of excitement is frankly not high this time. For someone who has not seen the band before it is probably much more exciting, of course, but there is nonetheless an all-round feeling that Mötley Crue have now reached the finishing stage of their career, which they also have on paper.

As Home Sweet Home concludes it all, one cannot avoid thinking that this was most probably the last time (although the band will play one more gig in Sweden later this year, which Neil informs us) one got to see the one and only Mötley Crue, boyhood heroes of many thousands in the audience. At the same time, it feels only right that the time has come for buddies Neil, Sixx, Lee and Mars to wrap up their career in order to be remembered for their illustrious past.

Performance: 6 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Looks That Kill
: Vince Neil

Saints Of Los Angeles
Wild Side
Primal Scream
Same Ol' Situation (S.O.S.)
Looks That Kill
On With The Show
Too Fast For Love
Smokin' In The Boys' Room
Mutherfucker Of The Year
Anarchy In The U.K.
Dr. Feelgood
In the Beginning
Shout At The Devil
Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
Guitar Solo
Live Wire
Too Young To Fall In Love
Girls, Girls, Girls
Kickstart My Heart
Home Sweet Home

Band: H.E.A.T.
Sweden Stage 00.15-01.45

~ By Mozzy
Making their fourth appearance at Sweden Rock, H.E.A.T. have been upgraded to a bigger stage. Not only that, but they also have the privilege of closing Friday's live activity on the Sweden Stage. It is another proof of the Swedish group's rising profile, and it is obvious they are eager to make the most of the opportunity tonight as they put in an energetic and animated performance.

Vocalist Erik Grönwall is full of adrenaline as always, constantly bouncing and running around, banging his head, and during Inferno, he jumps down from the stage to greet the front row. His singing is immaculate, and his bandmates' instrumental input is great too. Eric Rivers once again proves his skills and that the departure of second guitarist Dale Dalone does not affect the band.

The setlist is based around the excellent live album Live In London, released earlier in the year, with virtually the same songs and order. It's a set comprising top-notch melodic rock and infectious tunes. Apart from the songs from the live album, we get a couple of other treats as well. It's great to have Heartbreaker back in the set, as it is seriously rocking and engaging live, and Beg Beg Beg really gets the crowd going. Then it's a sharp turn to the melancholy ballad All The Night, where Grönwall's passionate vocals make the hair stand on your neck.

The late night darkness also allows for more of a stage show from the band, with some elegant lights. The main thing though is the fact that H.E.A.T. are an awesome live band, and with slots at huge festivals like Download and Graspop this summer, more and more people will come to the same conclusion.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 8 chalices of 10
: The quality material.
: ---

Point Of No Return
A Shot At Redemption
Better Off Alone
It's All About Tonight
The Wreckoning
Tearing Down The Walls
Mannequin Show
Late Night Lady
Beg Beg Beg
All the Nights
Enemy In Me
Breaking The Silence
Living On The Run
Laughing At Tomorrow

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Saturday - June 06

Band: Mustasch
Rock Stage 12:00-13:00

~ By Tobbe
The stoner metallers of Mustasch were given the honor of singing the Swedish national anthem before their set at noon. You actually don't have to be dead serious when singing this tune on a rock festival, even if you certainly will have to give it a respectful appearance, and I think that they pulled it off somewhat well in the end, although most things as usual pointed at the band's frontman Ralf Gyllenhammar.

The band has had some rough times during the latest years, but at this point it seems like things are starting to shape up and the band is merging into a well-oiled unit again. At the same time, for most part, the latest material doesn't have the precise impact that the songs from the earlier records had and I wonder if they ever will be able to return to what they did achieve in the past.

I still think that they came out pretty solid and especially when taking the early hour into account. A lot of the lyrics are about Ralf's life and this man really enjoys being the center of attention on and off stage. The hit oriented set went down rather well with the crowd and I believe that this gig was a satisfactory opening of the final day for a lot of the festival goers. I surely enjoyed parts of it and I really hope that they sooner or later are able to come out with the same intensity that they did a decade ago.

Performance: 6 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: I Hunt Alone
: I have never liked the song Heresy Blasphemy and I still don't.

Swedish National Anthem
Double Nature
Black City
Thank You For The Demon
Feared And Hated
Bring Me Everyone
Heresy Blasphemy
Down In Black
I Hunt Alone

Band: Exciter
4Sound Stage 13:15-14:30

~ By Tobbe
Canadian speed metal outfit Exciter in its original lineup with guitarist John Ricci, bassist Allan Johnson and drummer/vocalist Dan Beehler used to be one of my favorite acts. When shit hit the fan later and the band continued with different lineups, I basically lost my highest affinity to these nowadays veterans and it wasn't until they recently announced their reunion that I kind of picked up my interest again.

I really didn't know what to expect from a unit that hasn't been together in this exact formation in 30 years and therefore I had to set the bar of anticipations low. As earlier announced, they played only songs off their three inaugural albums, but still I can't say that I was blown away by the band's performance. It was neither a bad experience though, but it seems like the songs haven't really aged like a nice vintage wine and the songs one to another go from great to decent quite rapidly.

The band performed on the smallest outdoor stage and its attendance wasn't particularly large considering that this was a long awaited reunion. Perhaps those 3 decades made people ultimately forget about the band and its whereabouts? A 5-minute break late in the set due to problems with John Ricci's guitar made them eventually shorten their performance a little and I think that this misfortune pretty much sums up the whole gig, because it was like they had their opportunities, but they weren't able to convert in the end.

Performance: 5 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 6 chalices of 10
: Heavy Metal Maniac
: The band wasn't able to really execute.

Stand Up And Fight
Heavy Metal Maniac
Iron Dogs
Victims Of Sacrifice
Delivering To The Master
Violence & Force
Black Witch
Pounding Metal
Guitar Solo
Beyond The Gates Of Doom
I Am The Beast
Long Live The Loud
Evil Sinner

Band: Riot V
Rock Stage 14:30-15:45

~ By Tobbe
In case someone has missed it, Riot V comprises a few older band members who together with a pair of new and younger guys continue the legacy of Riot, although its main man and founder Mark Reale passed away in January 2012. Playing in the afternoon on the last day out of 4 is sometimes a tough job in terms of filling the grounds with fans. People are doubtlessly a little tired after 3 days of music and festivities and quite a few fans decide to hang around a little longer in their camps or in their hotel rooms instead of coming down to the festival area.

Riot's biggest asset live is definitely its song material and its high energy level during the show. The set contains mainly songs off a few of the classic albums, songs from the Thundersteel era and also 3 ones off the latest release, Unleash The Fire, which was the first record to not feature Reale in any way. The material performed is a mixture of hard rock and power metal, with emphasis on the latter, and no matter which tempo the songs have, they still come out great.

The new singer, Todd Michael Hall, has indeed filled the shoes of Tony Moore and the rest of the former lead vocalists. He is really starting to get the hang of it and he leads the troops behind him in a great way. Personally I think that this was a very pleasant performance, yet it's hard to really connect to and to appreciate a gig when there's too much space between people, even if you're almost standing front row.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 8 chalices of 10
: Lead vocalist Todd Michael Hall and the song Take Me Back.
: Road Racin'

Ride Hard Live Free
Fight Or Fall
Metal Warrior
Sign Of The Crimson Storm
Black Leather And Glittering Steel
Johnny's Back
Angel Eyes
Take Me Back
Flight Of The Warrior
Road Racin'
Swords And Tequila

Band: Ace Frehley
Festival Stage 16:00-17:15

~ By Tobbe
Former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley has undoubtedly had a long career with several ups and downs. Nowadays he looks like a bag stuffed with hay and living life hard has indeed taken its toll on him. Either way, he unmistakably seems to enjoy what he is doing on stage at this point and I wished that I had enjoyed these 75 minutes as much as he did.

Some of the songs performed are actually somewhat bad and some are arguably really poor and particularly a group of songs in the middle of the set, which in the end really takes the edge of this gig. On the contrary, some of the songs are immensely amazing and sometimes I don't know which foot to place my weight on, as I ask myself if it's really worth standing there and listen to a number of crappy songs, just to have a great time occasionally.

The man in focus doesn't sing the entire set on his own, because I believe he sometimes wants to concentrate solely on his guitar playing. Drummer Scot Coogan does Love Gun and bass player Chris Wyse does Strange Ways and Ace's old guitar partner Richie Scarlet takes care of Breakout and 2 Young 2 Die.

To be frank, the actual performance and the band's efforts were definitely okay, but with this amount of insufficient songs played, the band wasn't able to come out strong and convincing in the end. If Ace decides to return to the festival in a few years, I personally would prefer if he was given less playing time, in order to ditch the worst songs, which would make his set turn out less bland and make it a more valuable experience.

Performance: 4 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 6 chalices of 10
: Rocket Ride, Love Gun and Deuce.
: Breakout, Snow Blind, Strange Ways, New York Groove and 2 Young To Die.

Fractured Mirror (Intro)
Rocket Ride
Gimme A Feelin'
Love Gun
Snow Blind
Bass Solo
Strange Ways
New York Groove
2 Young 2 Die
Shock Me
Guitar Solo
Cold Gin
Rip It Out

Band: Nuclear Assault
Sweden Stage 17.30-18.45

~ By Mozzy
I have to confess that I was never that into Nuclear Assault, since I did not own any of their records, although I had heard their stuff, of course. As they are of the classic thrash names from back in the day and this was their first visit to Sweden since 1989, the booking of Nuclear Assault was one of this year's coolest and their gig was a must-see.

Three out of four members from the classic 80´s line-up are still present: singer/guitarist John Connelly, bassist Dan Lilker and drummer Glenn Evans. Accompanied by guitarist Erik Burke, the quartet works hard to produce a great sound from the stage - forceful, raw and sharp. Old numbers like Brainwashed and Justice are appealing with their uncompromising feel and catchy riffs. A couple of tracks taken from new EP Pounder also appear, with the title track fitting in the best.

Connelly still has his distinctive bite in his vocals, although he has some problems once in a while with the lyrics to some songs, which is a bit strange. On the right side of the stage, it is a treat to get to see the lanky Lilker, a cult figure in the metal scene and certainly one of the coolest. The crowd is not that big, but the die-hard fans gathered seem happy with the occasion. Connelly and Lilker repeatedly express their gratitude for the support, and the gig by Nuclear Assault, although not without flaws, is certainly a nice feature during this year's Sweden Rock.

Performance: 6,5 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: The uncompromising sound.
: A few dips in the set.

Rise From The Ashes
New Song
Critical Mass
Game Over
Butt Fuck
Stranded In Hell
Analog Man
Died In Your Arms
Price Of Freedom
Wake Up
When Freedom Dies
Torture Tactics
My America/Hang The Pope/Lesbians
Trail Of Tears

Band: Refuge
Rockklassiker Stage 19:45-20:45

~ By Tobbe
Refuge is actually a side project and equal to the lineup that the German metallers Rage had in the late 80's and the early 90's and this period is by many fans also considered to be the greatest era of the band. I think that the organizers should have made it more clear that this in fact was an older version of Rage performing, because I know a few people who found out about this matter on the actual time of the event and later on I've been told that there were lots of people who didn't know about this thing at all.

The attendance inside the Rockklassiker tent wasn't embarrassingly scarce, but I've never seen as few people in front of a Rage concert on a festival in Sweden. In all honesty, Five Finger Death Punch played simultaneously on the Festival stage, which too may have been a contributing factor to this question. The ones who were present did nevertheless get their money's worth and I personally rate this as one of the festival's best gigs.

Most songs played are definitely great efforts on any given day and even if the snare drum during the first couple of songs sounded like someone was banging on a tin can, it sonically became much better as the gig proceeded. This was without a doubt a unit of 3 who had great fun on stage and you could definitely see how main man, bassist and vocalist Peavy Wagner was thriving and living for the moment in the presence of his old friends and companions, drummer Chris Efthimiadis and guitarist Manni Schmidt.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 6 chalices of 10
: Enough Is Enough, Firestorm and Refuge.
: The low attendance.

Solitary Man
Death In The Afternoon
Enough Is Enough
Invisible Horizons
Light Into The Darkness
Shame On You
Baby, I'm Your Nightmare
Don't Fear The Winter

Band: Judas Priest
Festival Stage 22.30-00.15

~ By Mozzy
When Judas Priest were announced as one of the headliners, it was of course met with approval given that it was simply Judas Priest, with no explanation necessary. At the same time, there were definitely many whose expectations were not that high, because of doubts regarding the potency of Judas Priest anno 2015. After a solid start with Dragonaut, the heavy metal smorgasbord arrives with Metal Gods which is followed by Devils Child, a track not always played and thus awesome to hear.

Next is the colossal Victim Of Changes, and by now, it is evident that The Metal God himself, Rob Halford, is in fine form. Although he still sounds strained once in a while (which is only natural given his age) the high notes sound a lot better than what has been the case in recent years and his effort is very impressive and honestly surprising.

The heavy metal feast continues with new tracks, revered standards and more unexpected gems like Love Bites and Jawbreaker, and one can only rejoice. As for the band members, they have stated that KK Downing's replacement Richie Faulkner has injected fresh energy, and it clearly feels like there is more spirit and passion about this Sweden Rock performance compared to the one in 2011. Faulkner is indeed at home onstage for real now, forming a great partnership with Glenn Tipton.

All in all, this concert makes you reassess earlier indifferent thoughts about Judas Priest today. Judging by this form, the legendary heavy metal masters may just have some prolific years in them yet.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 8 chalices of 10
: Jawbreaker
: The tunes from Redeemer Of Souls are average compared to the golden classic stuff.

Metal Gods
Devil's Child
Victim Of Changes
Halls Of Valhalla
Love Bites
March Of The Damned
Turbo Lover
Redeemer Of Souls
Beyond The Realms Of Death
Breaking The Law
Hell Bent For Leather
The Hellion
Electric Eye
You've Got Another Thing Comin'
Living After Midnight

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Related links: www.swedenrock.com