Copenhell Festival 2017 at Refshaleoen Copenhagen, Denmark

Thursday

Copenhell has a history of heavy rain and we think it’s rained during the festival every year we have been there however this year the forecast called for sun. Due to the border controls between Sweden and Denmark and the large amount of people headed to the festival, I (Anders) left pretty early. The first day featured bands like In Flames, Carcass, Invocator, Saxon, and System Of A Down performing. It went well getting to the festival and the shuttle buses came regularly which made it pretty smooth getting around. It also didn’t take long to get my press pass and I was inside the festival at 3.30. The first band for me to see was In Flames.

Since they released their SIREN CHARMS album, a lot has happened in the band beginning with the departure of long time drummer Daniel Svensson. New drummer Joe Richard plays on the 2016 album BATTLES and after being a session member he’s now a solid part in the line up. At the end of last year we also got the news that bass player Peter Iwers also left the band as was replaced by Bryce Paul. Today it’s only singer Anders Fridén and guitarist Björn Gelotte that remain from the original line-up. Svensson and Iwers have got a beer brewery together and after leaving In Flames, Iwers joined the Cythra project together with the old In Flames guitarist Jesper Stromblad. Many weren’t pleased with the sound on the two previous albums but whether you like it or not, the band is one of the largest metal bands at the moment.

In Flames

The members all walked on to the stage during the intro and fired off the first songs, which were “Wallflower”, and “Alias”. The rowdy crowd sang along and instantly started to do some crowd surfing. In “Before I Fall” guitarist Gelotte urged the fans to clap their hands, which everyone did. In Flames consists today of:

Anders Fridén – lead vocals
Björn Gelotte – guitar
Niclas Engeling – guitar
Joe Richard – drums
Bryce Paul – bass
Niels Nielsen – keyboard (session player)

The majority of the crowd really sang on the top of their lungs during “Leeches” taken from the old but brilliant album COME CLARITY from 2006. Gelotte, Engelin and Paul moved around on stage while Fridén mostly stood still focusing on his vocals. “All For Me” followed and when I got out into the crowd from the photo pit I really experienced the craziness that was going on amongst the fans by witnessing a lot of crowdsurfing. The security at the front of the stage was quite busy to say the least, helping people over to the pit. Fridén had a little formation to stand on which made him come up a bit above the stage floor and as he was standing there he urged the fans to go more crazy while singing on his command. A lot of smoke covered the stage and it was sometimes a little hard to see what was going on up there. It was the fans that stood at the front of the stage that was the most edgy ones, the audience that stood further in the back took it more slow, after all the clock had only just struck 4.30 when the band kicked off their show and many hadn’t even finished their first beer by then.

Fridén said in Swedish that he wanted the fans to give the security a warm hand because it’s them that looking after you all. “Where the Dead Ships Dwell” followed and after that it was time to hear “Moonshield” and instrumental piece “The Jester’s Dance”. Fridén wanted the fans to clap their hands to the single guy that crowd surfed in between the songs and the crowd laughed. He asked how the first day at Copenhell had been and if we were doing alright, now we want to see everyone going crazy he said and urged the people across the stage at the hill to jump up and down with the band. “Only for the Weak” followed and it was one of the songs the fans had been waiting to hear. Fridén noticed a little kid standing in front of the stage and told the security he wanted to have the kid up on the stage. The little guy was maybe 9 or 10 years old and Fridén said that he probably had a better time with the band up on stage rather than in the crowd. So the kid came up, sat down in front of the keyboard podium and was handed the mic to sing in. The guy screamed into the mic of pure happiness and even though it was nice of the band to take him up on stage I wonder what parent that takes along their kid on a In Flames show standing front row? The audience was pretty fierce and the kid could have been hurt.

“Cloud Connected” followed and Fridén sat down with the young fan lending the mic to him once again. He screamed so loud and angry into the mic that Fridén lost his face and started to laugh and lost the lyric. The young fan filmed the entire show with his phone but the band didn’t mind that. “Deliver Us” followed and when Fridén asked where the kids father was he pointed him out and the Dad was also brought up on stage. The Dad was handed a beer by Fridéns own daughter, and he sat down beside his kid and the both enjoyed the show from the stage. “Here Until Forever” followed and then came “The Truth” which Fridén said was a dance song and said that everyone had to dance to it. Fridén wanted to hear the fans scream for him but that didn’t go so well, instead he introduced “Paralyzed” and showed with his hands he wanted the fans to form a circle pit.

Fridén said that it felt like the clock was 22.15 rather than 4.15 when he introduced “The End” in which a larger circle pit formed. “Take This Life” was the last song out for the band and the fans formed a wall of death. The song woke up the majority of the crowd and with this song I thought In Flames really proved why they are one of the biggest metal bands in the world today. That song ended the 60 minute show this early afternoon. “Black Hole Sun” was the outro for the night and it was a nice gesture to honor Chris Cornell.

I like the later albums with In Flames and appreciate the fact that I think they have moved in a little more keyboard-based form of music. I have to say that the band sure are one of the best live acts around. It’s refreshing to see a band that dares to step out of their comfort zone and try on new things. However I do like the middle-era of the bands music the best with CLAYMAN, REROUTE TO REMAIN and SOUNDTRACK TO YOUR ESCAPE. I lacked a few personal favorite songs in the set list but was surprised how well the current songs worked. It was a great way of beginning the festival to see In Flames as the first act.

Set list
Wallflower
Alias
Before I Fall
Leeches
All For Me
Where The Dead Ship Dwells
Moonshield
The Jester’s Dance
Only For the Weak
Cloud Connected
Deliver Us
Here Until Forever
The Truth
Paralyzed
The End
Take This Life

Next up on the agenda stood Carcass which meant it was time to move to the Hades stage. Carcass was about to kick off their show at 5.45 so I had some time to kill. The legendary Carcass was founded in Liverpool England back in 1985. The band was put to rest in 1996 but brought back to life in 2007, this time without drummer Ken Owen. The band is regarded as pioneers of both grindcore melodic death metal. Today the band consists of the two remaining original members Bill Steer and Jeff Walker paired up with new musicians. Comeback album SURGICAL STEEL was released 2013 and the year after followed an EP. It’s not often Carcass chooses to tour in Scandinavia and therefore many of the people at the festival turned up to see the rare show opportunity.

The closer it got for the show to start more and more people started to turn up in front of the stage and the photographers were let into the pit where three stacks of amps was placed which made it pretty crowded.

Carcass

As soon as the band turned up the fans screamed at the top of their lungs and it was full speed ahead with “316L Grade Surgical Steel”. People began to crowd surf immediately. “Buried Dreams” followed and with all the people being lifted over to the safe side by the security it got pretty crowded in the pit. Walker put out his best poses for the photographers as “Incarnated Solvent Abuse” followed and the tempo kept on being raw, hard, fast and consisted all throughout the show. Carcass consists of:

Jeff Walker – lead vocals, bass
Bill Steer – guitar
Daniel Wilding – drums
Ben Ash – guitar

Walker thanked the fans for turning up and asked how Copenhagen was doing this afternoon. “Carnal Forge” and “No Love Last” continued the show and the stage was so filled with smoke it was hard to see the band. In “Unfit For Human Consumption” a circle pit was formed and Walker looked happy when he thanked the fans for turning up supporting the band and it was no doubt that the fans loved what they were witnessing. “Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System” and “Captive Bolt Pistol” kept the momentum going and the guys kept the mean machine running. “Eagle Of Darkness/This Mortal Coil” followed as a medley which was followed by another medley consisting of “Exhume To Consume/Reek Of Putrefaction”. By now I was blown away by the bands skills and speed and I suddenly remembered why I loved going to Carcass shows back in the day.

The excellent “Symphony of Sickness” and “Corporal Jigsore Quandary” made the fans scream even louder and the circle pits kept flowing. Walker said that Carcass definitely had the best fan base ever and thanked Copenhell for booking the band, – we’re about to leave you now but before we do that let’s play one last song – Walker said and the final song was the epic “Heatwork”. What a way to end the show!! Walker wanted the fans to scream and shout even louder in the song and the 65 minutes of metal madness came to an end with that song.

Carcass delivered a solid and brilliant show but I hadn’t except anything else from them either. Ash and Wilding did a great job and Carcass proved they still are a force and one of the best bands in the grindcore genre ever! I really do hope the band soon is coming out with a new studio album because I want to hear more and much more of their epic music.

Set list
316L Grande Surgical Steel
Buried Dreams
Incarnated Solvent Abuse
Carnal Forge
No Love Lost
Unfit For Human Consumption
Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System
Captive Bolt Pistol
Edge of Darkness/This Mortal Coil
Exhume To Consume/Reek Of Putrefaction
Corporal Jigsore Quandary
Heatwork

There were a lot of European photographers at the festival and a rumor was spreading that not everyone was allowed to take pictures of the last band System Of A Down. It was also uncertain if everyone was going to be let into the pit to cover Prophets Of Rage and with 25 minutes for the show to start everyone started to get a little anxious about that. A little later information regarding the matter came out and we were told that you had to have a special pass in order to get into the pit and it was only selected magazines that could cover the show. The ones that had special photo-passes were the bigger Danish media. Maybe the festival could have shared that information way before 10 minutes until the show started? For some reason the festival wasn’t fast about telling the photographers about the new restrictions that came up during the event. Since I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of the show there will be no review of Prophets Of Rage. I spoke to a few other photographers that shared my frustrations over the lack of information regarding the restrictions and that it wasn’t handed out in time.

I went and met up with Ulrika and together we went over to the press area in order to wait for Saxon’s show to start. Drops of rain had started to fall and dark clouds gathered over the area but there was no heavy rain yet. We took a walk across the premises and the area looked pretty much as it did last year with a path behind the Hades stage all the way to the Pandemonium stage. Compared to last year the metal market had a little more to offer and it was nice to have everything placed together. Just as previous years a lot of shirts, boots, clothes and jewelry were on sale but not many CDs, vinyl, and so on. It was better this year but far away from a broad range of merchandise. The hangar underneath the wolf’s head beside the Hades stage was open and in there you could buy drinks and food and rest your legs a bit. The area felt all together a little more open and spacious this year.

So was it time to head over and see Saxon which is a pure metal institution by now. Their debut album came back in 1979 and their latest studio piece was dropped in 2015. The guys are still going strong and god knows how many times they have toured their way through the world by now. People started to gather in front of the Helviti stage as well as on the hill across the stage and the mood were high, and finally at 9 o clock it was time for the Saxon’s to enter the festival.

Saxon

“Battering Ram” was the first song out and it set the tone for the rest of the show. The band was greeted warmly by the fans and it was obvious that they were really loved. Byford asked if we were ready for some “Motorcycle Man” and the song really woke up the fans. The classic piece was followed by the more current “Sacrifice” and we couldn’t but admire the strength and stamina the band still show on stage. It was pretty crowded in the photo pit with a lot of photographers as well as bass speakers that were standing on the ground. The line-up in Saxon is still the same:

Biff Byford – lead vocals
Paul Quinn – guitar
Nigel Glockler – drums
Nibbs Carter – bass
Doug Scarratt – guitar

Byford wanted the fans to sing along with him in “Power and the Glory” and it was hard not to get carried away by the music and the energy the band projected out on the crowd. Byford and company were brilliant on stage and its fun to see that after all these years they still seem to have great fun together at work. A pair of glasses was thrown up on stage and Byford took them on and asked who they belonged to, “I don’t need them”, he laughed. He said it was now time to play songs from the 90’s and said the crowd could choose between “Rock N’ Roll Gypsy” or “Solid Ball of Rock”. The crowd chose the latter one and sang along with Byford the entire time. Byford introduced Quinn who did a solo and next up was “Battalions of Steel”. Byford thanked for the support saying the fans looking really beautiful after which he kicked off the 1994 song “Dogs of War”. He thanked for the applause and said he missed Lemmy a lot and that he had wished for Lemmy to be on stage with Saxon this night. The next song “Heavy Metal Thunder” was dedicated to Lemmy and the fans screamed on the top of their lungs. The next song was written about the first festival the band ever played on and the song was of course “And the Bands Played On”. Byford is a brilliant front man and he and especially Quinn seemed to be having a good time on stage together.

It was now time for Quinn to kick off another classic in “Crusader” and Byford wanted the fans to throw their hands in the air. This song was definitely one of the most wanted songs this night and the crowd went totally crazy during it. They also sang the first verse on their own after which Byford took over.

Anders: After having seeing the band for so many years I’m pretty tired of hearing “Crusader” and think it’s time for the guys to incorporate some other song in the set list. But it seems like every crowd loves the song and I guess it’s going to stay put.

So was it time for some ’80’s rock n roll in “Wheels of Steel” and Byford wanted to see everyone jumping up and down. “Come on,” he said, “I’m way older than all of you and I can jump!” “We have time for one more song”, Byford said and fired off the epic “Denim and Leather”. “Sing with us”, he said and the crowd sang as loud as they could. In the middle, Scarratt and Quinn showed off on solos and Byford took up his phone and filmed the crowd as they were shouting. Byford asked if they had time for one more song and he got a go and it was time for another monumental classic in “Princess of the Night”. Byford let the fans take over the chorus and it sounded quite massive. Byford thanked Copenhell and wished everyone a happy festival and then the band left after having delivered 65 minutes of magical music.

When Saxon is on stage nothing can go wrong, the band is legends and this night they once again proved that they are really hard to beat in a live situation. I had wished for a little more current material but besides that and the heavy amount of smoke on the stage the show was amazing. And I was really happy they had taken out “Eagle Has Landed” from the set list.

Set list
Intro
Battering Ram
Motorcycle Man
Sacrifice
Power And The Glory
Solid Ball Of Rock
Battalions Of Steel
20 000 Ft
Dogs Of War
Heavy Metal Thunder
And The Band Played On
Crusader
Wheels Of Steel
Denim And Leather
Princess Of The Night

The raindrops that fell during the show increased and the sky opened up. Sadly it’s still a fact that it always rains during Copenhell. That didn’t stop us or the rest of the visitors. Most people now loaded up for System Of A Down but since the rumors were circulating that we weren’t going to have a photo pass we weren’t sure if we were going to cover that show. Again no information could be seen in the press tent and we had to wait for the security at the pit to tell us more before the show. As we guessed, only specific magazines were allowed to take pictures of the show and therefore we chose not to write about System Of A Down.

The last acts out on the first night were Ministry on the Hades stage and Architects on the Pandaemonium stage at the same time. We chose to see Ministry that was going on at 12.15 at night. I don’t think Ministry needs any further introduction; the band set the standard on what would be named industrial metal and leader of the pack is Al Jourgensen.

Anders: I lost interest in the band a decade ago and haven’t heard their latest album. However it’s always exciting to see the band, and especially Jourgensen live, so I didn’t let the rain stop me.

A large TV screen was put behind the drums on the stage and a smaller one was placed down below, besides that the usual gear was all that was on stage. It felt like many people left the festival after System Of A Down’s show as there weren’t many lining up to see Ministry. When it was a few minutes left one of the presenters came on and introduced the band and after that it was time for Ministry to take on Copenhell.

Ministry

Jourgensen was the last to come on stage and the show kicked off with “Psalm 69”. The crowd went berserk from the start and the mood stayed high throughout the show. “Permawar” followed and during the song the video screen showed images of president Trump and Hilary Clinton. The tempo was raw, fast and furious, just as it should be when Ministry puts on a show. The band didn’t use as many sampled parts as they used to which was good, and the darkness and rain painted the perfect gloomy background to the music. “Punch in the Face” followed and the fans were given nothing to complain about. When Jourgensen took on a guitar and fired off “Antifa” the crowd gave up a roar. Since the rain had started to invade the area pretty hard, Ulrika went to the press tent to get cover. I (Anders) remained put and continue to enjoy the craziness Jourgensen and crew treated the fans with. The line-up in the band is:

Al Jourgensen – lead vocals, guitar
John Bechdel – keyboards
Sin Quirin – guitar
Cesar Soto – guitar
Jason Christopher – bass
Thomas Holtgrave – drums

(If the names in the line-up are correct I’m not sure of since Jourgensen often trades members)

“Senor Peligro” and “Lies Lies Lies” continued the rainy night and to my surprise Jourgensen seemed to be quite happy on stage. He’s usually quite moody on stage but tonight he seemed to be a little happier than I’ve seen him before. Rather than talk in between the songs he let the music do the talking and that maybe depended on the limited amount of playing time. The band felt solid together and Jourgensen had some really good vocals going on. “Bad Blood” and “N.W.O” continued the show as the rain showed no mercy. Jourgensen once again took on his guitar and said that the next song “Just One Fix” was a song we might recognize.

“Thieves” and “So What” ended the show and Jourgensen thanked the fans, ending the 60 minutes of Ministry music. Now the clock was 1.15 at night and I was really happy with what I just saw. I thought Ministry put on a really solid and enjoyable show and treated the fans with some really good songs. The only negative thing with the show would be the constant amount of smoke on stage as well as the poor lighting but that has nothing to do with the band.

Well, this show ended a pretty rainy first day of the festival for us and after having waited a while in the press tent for the rain to calm down we headed over to the shuttle busses that took us in no time to the metro station and further on home to the train back to Sweden and our longed for warm beds. The following day we were looking forward to see Airbourne, Black Star Riders and Powerwolf to mention a few acts. But first it was time for a shower, a meal and some sleep.

 

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