So a new festival was born out of the ashes of Getaway Rock Festival in Gävle, Sweden. They have a bit of a heavier approach, and this is their first year. With a lineup like this I had to check it out.
Friday, 15th July 2016
So opening the festival was this Death Metal all-star band. I really enjoyed their album so was really looking forward to this gig so a great start of the festival! Unfortunately it was pretty windy so the sound got a bit wobbly, but that didn’t seem to affect the performance too much. The band consists of veterans and you can really tell. Super solid show, and with LG as the excellent frontman he is you get a win. The big surprise of the show was LG doing some clean singing (and it sounded really good!). Had no idea he had that in him!
So this was the third time I saw this particular Norwegian, and this time he had some really young musicians with him. Made you wonder if he had abducted them from some musical school or such! Anyhow, I’ve had pretty mixed experiences with Ihsahn live before but this time was really good. He stayed away from the really wonky stuff and stuck with the great riffs and a nice mixture of styles. Sometimes it sounded like Enslaved and sometimes it was pure Black and then it’d turn into the most Heavy Metal riff you could imagine, you’d almost expect Jörn Lande to come out and sing. I guess that means third time counts!
Ahhh, Obi! One of the bands I was looking forward to the most on the festival! Just a shame they played so early. Having seen them several times before I know they always delivers exactly what you expect them to. It’s ballcrushing heavy riffs and attitude all the way. No exception this time! Without a doubt one of the highlights for me on this festival. Always a pleasure seeing the Tardy brothers with friends delivering. Great set of songs as well, and I still think it’s so cool that they start the set with 4 minutes of instrumental Death Metal (Redneck Stomper). Not many bands would do something like that, but it just sets the tone for the rest of the set. So good!
I had heard this name mentioned a couple of times so decided to check it out. I actually don’t even remember what they sounded like, sorry!
I do remember going to the other stage checking out Arkaid instead though. Unfortunately it wasn’t a very good memory that either. Ohwell, I needed a food break anyway.
Back to the good stuff! This was actually the eight time I managed to see Amorphis live, second time this year. After the excellent show earlier this year the expectation was really high of course but I also know that they’re another one of those bands that always delivers. And well, it was a good show but it was also an outdoors festival show. It has it’s ups and downs! Still very good!
Ahhh, Destruction! It was really long since I last saw them so was really looking forward to this one! Although they would play Eternal Devastation in it’s full and that’s not a favourite of mine, but at least it’s a short record so should be time over for some good songs… They had some serious issues getting to the show actually, with delays and Schmier’s bassguitar got lost in transit. To make things worse Mike’s guitar broke down in soundcheck. Great start! I think it really got to them, because they had no energy on stage at all and the show got really tame. Even after they finished Eternal Devastation and kicked it off with one of my favourite songs (Nailed to the Cross) the energy just wasn’t there. That’s a shame really. So I left for the small stage instead.
At first I felt bad for Tyranex since they had to play at the same time as Destruction, a much bigger band in the same genre… But after that disappointing performance from Destruction it was a nice change seeing these guys and girls again! Because what Destruction were missing in energy Tyranex delivered triple-fold! It’s good to see Thrash being delivered the way it’s meant to be, fast and aggressive with no compromise! Linnea has such a huge drive in this band with her perfect falsetto screams and then following up with blitzing fast guitar solos. Great show as always!
At the Gates
And then time for another one of the giants. At the Gates who simply continues to go from clarity to clarity. Super solid performance, great setlist, and great presence. If you’ve not seen At the Gates live, you should make sure to do so. It’s not something you want to miss.
And then some more Thrash! Ice Age is one of the few really old Swedish Thrash bands, and this was their comeback show! So that means their fourth show in 29 years… Yeah, some breaks are longer than others hah! It’s a bit slower kind of Thrash focussing more on groove than aggression and it’s pretty nice stuff. You could also tell the band thought it was really fun to play again, and in fact while rehearsing they had so much fun they started writing new songs for a new album that’ll come out later this year. They played a couple from that one, and it sounds really good. Seems they’ve evolved despite the long break!
So Overkill really isn’t my kind of thing. I kind of watched them with half an eye while waiting for the next show in the small stage. It sounded like Overkill usually does and the crowd seemed to go pretty crazy so I suppose it was a good one.
After a lot of aggression during the day Myrkur was a nice calm break in the storm. The indoor venue was actually really atmospheric and suited this kind of music really well. Really good show this time as well, but I would really like to see her in a smaller venue. Both times I’ve seen her has been kind of largish, and I think a smaller venue would just add even more to the atmosphere. Still really good!
Abbath has a Motörhead cover band if you didn’t know. Abbath started the show by declaring they had to wait a bit because their drummer had to take a piss. I think that sums up the show pretty well. 😛
Anthrax is another one of those bands I never got into, so much like with Overkill I “watched” them mostly because it was hard to avoid it. It was actually the first time I saw them live. Didn’t feel like I’ve missed much though.
And in case you haven’t noticed already there were a lot of giants at this festival. Behemoth, much as the name suggests, was another one of them. I watched them from pretty far away because I wanted to make sure I could get in time for the next band at the limited space indoor stage, but turns out that was a good idea because apparently the sound was really bad up front. While where I stood the sound was pretty good. So for me this was another good Behemoth show. They’re just one of those bands who dominate the stage and seem to never have an off day. Far from the best I’ve seen them, but then again I wasn’t in the middle of it either so missed some of the energy. Still good show!
And then finally, the last band of the day. Sportlov! I don’t think this band makes sense for anyone outside of Sweden. It’s a cult band, and it’s really hard to describe for non-swedes. “Sportlov” is the Swedish version of “Spring Break”… But in Sweden it means (like the name suggests) to go out and do winter sports. Then you combine this with the most TRVE Black Metal you can imagine, and the result is something like Sportlov. It’s brilliant. You’d think it was impossible to mix the classic phrases from skiing commentaries with Black Metal, but you’d be wrong. It works perfectly. This was their first gig in 12 years, and I must such I was really impressed. This not being the most serious band, I expected it to be kind of crap but funny. But it was actually great. And funny. If you know Sportlov this was everything you’d expect. Super fast blastbeats, grim vocals, corpsepaint and winter hats, blueberry soup break, ski pentagrams, and some of the best lyrics ever written in Metal. Excellent. The True Sportlov is no joke.
Saturday, 16th July 2016
First out on the second day was this English Death Metal band, who I guess is mostly famous because of their Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride connections. Personally I wanted to see Adrian Erlandsson again, but looked like they had a different live drummer (and considering At the Gates played another festival this day so…). Still it was a pretty nice show, entertaining talk and good performance. Nice start of the day.
After that things got a bit faster with the crazy Belgians. I always find Grindcore on open air stages in the middle of the day a bit odd, but alas! They blasted away as usual with pretty much the same setlist as they had earlier this year. But that’s okay, as it’s a nice set supporting the latest album and mixing in some older stuff. If I wasn’t awake before this, at least I was after.
Ahhh, another Thrash oldie! Last time I saw Holy Moses it was kind of crap. This time I saw Holy Moses it was… Kind of crap. I don’t know what was up with the Germans on this festival but they really had some troubles to deliver. It all felt so tame. Thrash is supposed to have an edge right? At least Sabina gets some credits for inviting people up on stage, still a rebel at her age!
So instead of watching all of Holy Moses I went to the indoor stage and watched some oldschool Swedish Death Metal. Seen them before, and as before they’re alright. As far as I could see they didn’t spit as much on stage as usual, perhaps they were told they’d have to clean up after themselves this time? 😛
Ahhh, this band I’ve seen mentioned a lot lately for some reason. In my experience two man bands are rarely good live. This wasn’t an exception. Monotone and lots of distortion, not really my kind of thing.
So I checked out this band on the indoor stage instead. Pretty good singer, but the music was driving me nuts. Especially some beeping backing tracks they seemed to have on most songs, I’m not sure if that was part of the songs or just their metronome leaking out in the speakers… Ohwell.
Misery Loves Co.
So one of those teenage angst bands. Except the band members are like 40. Guys, it doesn’t work. OK?
This is certainly more interesting, some Sludge/Doom Metal with a touch of Black! It’s the second time I saw them, and it’s heavy and it’s dirty. It’s raw, really raw. But it works quite well. I do think it’s something you have to be in the right mood for however, as it’s not something I’d sit down and listen to at home. But right there, in that place at that time it was really good.
Ahhh, Vader! Another band I’ve never been disappointed in live! And this time was no different. Opening up with Wings and then just continued from there. Doesn’t get much better than that. They had some sound issues though, but still could deliver their high energy show. And it’s always so good to see Peter on stage, he seems so genuinely pleased to be there. It’s like there’s no other place in the world where he’d rather be than right there and then. And that just adds to the great show.
And yet again Candlemass are playing on the festival I’m at! I kind of feel like they have been on every festival I’ve been to the last couple of years! But that’s okay, because they’re just so damn good. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the addition of Mats Levén added so much to this band. And that says a lot considering a bunch of great singers in this band. But it’s not just the voice, it’s the persona on stage. And how every piece of the music just fits in. And how Mats Levén wails are fading into the crying guitar solos of Lasse Johansson. And then comes the super heavy riffs crushing everything. So good.
This show was also the only one in Sweden on the 30 anniversary tour, so they invited Papa Emeritus III from Ghost to sing “Well of Souls” with them. Which was really cool actually. I’ve not heard him sing that high before (Ghost tends to be much lower key) so I was surprised how well he pulled it off.
I’m really happy with how the sound that had been a bit varying quality during the festival really shaped up for this gig. Candlemass are one of those bands that really benefits from a massive sound-scape. Truly epic. And when they as usual end the gig with “Solitude” the hair on my body is standing straight up. So good.
And after that we sped it up a bit. It was a bit odd seeing them with the new line-up missing all the old faces, but they’re still unmistakably DT. Stanne was his usual happy self bouncing around like he’d never run out of energy and just being everywhere. Pretty cool song choices as well, some unusual ones in the mix always nice to see. The only downside for me was that after Candlemass I was really not in a mood for this type of music…
… Luckily Avatarium was next. Leif Edlings other project! This one obviously has a lot in common with Candlemass, and it’s hard to not hear when some riffs are being reused again. But that’s okay, because the setting is different and gives a slightly different feel. And then there’s of course Jennie-Ann Smith who is excellent on stage. Such a persona. She really is the centrepiece of this band, and she carries it really well. Great voice, great performance. It’s funny, because sometimes she almost looks a bit shy but then suddenly she explodes into motion and she just seems to belong on stage. Really good show.
Ah then back to speed again. And finally the German curse is lifted! Kreator is another of those bands that never seem to do bad shows. They’re just really good at making the crowd pumped up, and then release all the energy at once. And as usual they had the biggest moshpit of the festival. It’s just what Kreator does. Like Behemoth I watched it a bit from the distance though, so lost some of the energy that way. But still, Kreator delivers as usual. Really nice set of songs as usual also… but they’re the kind of band who can make a set list with only hits… And then replace 50% of the songs on the next tour and still only plays hits! So much good material, it’s hard to go wrong there!
And finally I saw Frantic Amber. I had not seen them with this line-up which is much changed since last time I saw them. And their sound has evolved quite a lot. With Mac on drums they’re much heavier, but they lost the groove Erik has. But this heavy sound really suits them well. Elizabeth told me the night before she was feeling a bit ill… but you couldn’t see a trace of that. That’s one thing that certainly hasn’t changed! She still dominates the stage, as ever before! She’s so good at that. And also they really surprised me ripping out a cover of “Hammer Smashed Face”! I really didn’t see that coming! Complete with headspins and all!
After that I decided to take an “early” night and skipped Abbath, but I must say this festival was really good. I’m very impressed by the arrangement, the line-up, the area, the crew. Really great all around! And with bands like Sodom, Arch Enemy, Taake, Deströyer666 on the line-up for next year already it looks like I might have to come back…