Article and pics by Arto Lehtinen and Marko Syrjälä
(Addiotional comments by J. Huovila – Thanks)
Wow! This is the seventh time that the Finnish Metal-Rules squad made an invasion to the mighty Swedenrock festival. Almost 70 bands descended upon the southern area of Sweden for a festival that turned out to be an utter blast from the beginning to the end! The bill of Swedenrock festival 2007 covers a wide range of metal styles and even classic rock stuff such as Kreator to Black Oak Arkansas and everything between. Therefore, there was at least something for everyone who attended the festival. As usual, the whole festival was once again sold out with around 30,000 people at the area every day. The Swedenrock festival has always had tremendous luck with the weather every year. Once again the gods of weather had given their blessing for this rocking metallic heaven on the earth with an extreme hot and sunny weekend that burned red the skin of several festival goers.
As written in the first sentence, this is already the seventh time that the Swedenrock festival has been featured in the site of Metal-Rules.com, so it is quite logical for us to give an in-depth article of several bands performing at Swedenrock. However we are not able to cover every band, but hopefully you will have a pleasant reading moment… Enjoy !!!
Thursday June 7th
The Swedish viking death metallers conquered the third stage. Even though the playing time wasn’t ideal, and especially typical, the Swedish viking death metallers had pulled quite a huge crowd.
The vocalist Johan had remembered to take his shirt off as typical and his bulged belly was hanging over the belt. The five piece outraged a killer set by covering plenty of songs picked up from their most recent albums. Songs played included “Fate Of Norms”, “Victorious March”, “Cry Of The WarBirds”. However Amon Amarth would work much better during the night time surrounded by cool looking and vicious Viking battles.
AXEL RUDI PELL
After a short respite, one of the days most expected artists takes on the festivals second biggest stage entitled “Rock Stage”. The band is of course none other than Axel Rudi Pell, featuring it’s virtuosic German namesake on guitar and the Americans Johnny Gioeli and Mike Terrana on vocals and percussion respectively. Gioeli has a exceptional voice and has probably never missed a note in his life. With the setlist comprising of close to an hour and a half of classic Axel Rudi Pell material capped with a superb renderition of Rainbow’s “Temple of the King”, there isn’t really much room for improvement. A special mention must also be given to Mike Terrana for a cool drum solo. Hopefully the touring plans for Europe later in the year actually materialise.
Regrettably due to conflicting schedules we were only able to catch a fleeting glimpse of the famed Swedish band, Lion’s Share, now featuring in their ranks the exulted Nils Patrik Johansson [Astral Doors, Wuthering Heights, ex-Space Odyssey]. What we did see, however, was impressive as is their newly released album “Emotional Coma”.
One of the most interesting names at this year’s Sweden Rock was Quiet Riot. The band, founded in the mid ’70s, really hit it big with their 1983 release “Metal Health”, the very first hard rock album to top the U.S. charts. The album sold millions and and spawned hit singles “Bang Your Head” and Slade cover “Cum On Feel the Noize”. While the bands next two albums “Condition Critical” and “QR III” sold pretty well, by the late ’80s Quiet Riot had disbanded. Since then, during the past twenty years, the band has been resurrected and gone through numerous lineup changes while releasing a bunch of albums in the process. The latest incarnation of Quiet Riot includes founding member and singer Kevin DuBrow, drummer Frankie Banali, bassist Chuck Wright and their freshly recruited guitarist Alex Grossi.
Kevin DuBrow looked rather funny in his colorful velvet clothes, but bad fashion sense aside he’s truly a great frontman in every respect. His voice was in fine shape and physically he looked younger than many of his colleagues of same age. Drummer Frankie Banali seemed to enjoy himself and although his drum set is pretty modest, he’s still able to create a drive and feeling that many can only dream of. Kevin and Frankie both talked between the songs, and Frankie even mentioned that he’d been to Scandinavia with W.A.S.P. in the early ’90s. Chuck Wright has a long history with the band and even played the original bass lines for the title track of bands biggest classic “Metal Health”, and it was great to see him with them again. While Alex Grossi did a good job on the guitar, but there were certainly times that Carlos Cavazo’s unique guitar sound was sorely missed.
This was Quiet Riot’s first ever show in Scandinavia. Some might say they’re twenty years late, but better late than never. Intro tape “Mission Impossible” started playing and then suddenly the band was on stage and started off with “Put Up or Shut Up” from the “QR III” album. Quite an odd song to open a show with, but at least the crowd seemed to know it. Things got much better with the next song “Slick Black Cadillac”, but during the next couple of songs from their new album “Rehab” the atmosphere sure flattened a bit. Slade cover “Mama We’re All Crazy Now” sounded good as always as well as the whole last third of the set with the band doing all their ’80s classics from “The Wild and the Young” to the set closer “Metal Health”. All in all, a good, if not brilliant show. It would have been nice to hear at least something from the years 1986-2006. Hopefully it won’t take another twenty years for the band to return to Scandinavia.
Intro:mission impossible theme
Put up or shut up
Slick black cadillac
South of heaven
Mama We’re all crazee now (slade)
Red light mamma,red hot (humble pie)
Run for cover
Old habits die hard
Sign of the times
Bass/drum solo:chuck & frankie
The wild and the young
Let’s get crazy (inc:guitarsolo:alex grossi)
Cum on feel feel the noize (slade)
Metal health (inc:messin’ with the kid (junior wells))
Next up were the American progressive metal giants, Symphony X, one of the greatest bands in existence. Commanded by Messrs Michael Romeo on guitar and Sir Russell Allen on vocals, the band were slated to appear at last years festival, but alas were forced to cancel. Now they were back in full force and, with several tracks from their awe-inspiring new album “Paradise Lost” featured in the set, gave arguably the best performance of the entire festival. Sir Russell Allen is among the most charismatic frontman ever to walk the Earth and a possessor of an enourmous stage presence, not to mention a golden voice. Michael LePond on bass and Jason Rullo on drums make up one hell of a rhythm section, while Michael Pinella on keyboards gives the band’s unique sound the finishing touch. With every album from “The Divine Wings of Tragedy” onwards represented in the setlist and no less than three new songs, namely “Domination”, “Set the World on Fire (The Lie of Lies)” and “The Serpent’s Kiss”, the show finished with a spectacular renderition of the 24 minute epic title track from “The Odyssey”. Regardless of the scorching heat, equally great as Symphony X’s performance was the enthusiasm of their audience, who were LOUD and a bit crazy aswell, it would seem.
Of sins and shadows
Inferno (unleash the fire)
Communion and the oracle
Smoke and mirrors
Set the world on fire (the lie of lies)
The serpent’s kiss
Sea of lies
The Swedish black metal assault hit the smaller fourth stage when the four piece led by Morgan Hakansson unleashed the demon and spread unholy blasphemic tunes all around the area. The band raged with the ultimate steel inferno through the whole set by covering the stuff from the last albums and above all the latest ouput ROM 5:12. Before concluding their 45 minute intensive death march, the blood like liquid was thrown from the holy grail to the audience. The current frontman Mortuus is definitely an excellent frontman giving a real nihilistic performance and assault. His relentless rage only describes his passionate and dedication to the unholy black metallish delivery on the stage. Marduk was tight as hell and always worth to testify on the stage. Darkness It Shall Be!
The black metal onslaught continued after Marduk when the Norway’s biggest Black Metal export, Dimmu Borgir, took to the second main stage. Shagrath welcomed the audience to have a lesson in violece with Dimmu Borgir. In general, the Norwegians have gained kind of routine grip on what comes to the stage performance. Dimmu Borgir is such a band dividing the audience to either like of hate them. However well oiled and tight playing didn’t help Dimmu to put more effort to the show. The band has become a little bit monotous.
Even though the stuff off IN SORTE DIABOLI should be more on the night’s setlist, but as for the set, there were a bunch of songs picked up from other releases. Of course a couple of songs were selected from STORMBLÅST. It seems “Mourning Palace” has and will obviously remain pernantly the song to conclude every DB show. The daylight turned to dusk and nightfall was setting, the lights were becoming and giving more dimension and perspective to show. The upcoming tour with Amon Amarth will be waited here for sure.
Looking at the festival billing before hand, the odd man out would certainly have seemed to be Mr. Meat Loaf. Sandwiched between Symphony X and Thin Lizzy, Meat Loaf would certainly qualify as a surprise choice for the next to last artist to take on the “Festival Stage”. Biases aside, the performance and the whole spectacle was to prove very interesting and damn entertaining. Special mention goes to the rather hot backing singers. Even in his old age, this old bat out of hell sure has still got the pipes. There was also a very nice pair (of pipes) on the female antagonist as well. Interestingly featured in the lineup was ex-Anthrax guitarist and ex-Dan Spitz’s technician, Paul Crook, who himself was featured on a couple of Anthrax albums. Hardly suprising though considering that Anthrax’s Scott Ian is in fact married to Meat Loaf’s daughter. Who would’ve thought.
Next up on the “Sweden Stage” wass the so called “Thin Lizzy”. The band kicked off their set with “Jailbreak” followed by “Waiting for An Alibi” and got an amazing response from the crowd. The setlist, while consisting of such classics as “Rosalie”, “Black Rose”, “Bad Reputation”, “Don’t Believe A Word” and “Boys Are Back in Town”, provided no suprises whatsoever and has pretty much remained constant since the band’s “reunion” in the early ’90s. Always a highlight of the show is to see Sykes play his one and only Thin Lizzy composition, the chilling Cold Sweat. Sykes has got a good Lynott -like voice and a good rock n’ roll presence, while Scott is still the king of cool and the seemingly ageless drummer, Tommy Aldridge, didn’t disappoint either. As for the lineup, sure they’ve got Scott Gorham from the “classic” and John Sykes from the “final” lineup and Tommy Aldridge and Marco Mendoza are no bums either, but still they might just as well call it “Whitesnake” and play “Still of the Night” and what have you. Dedicating every single song to Phil may also be a little over the top aswell, but all in all a nice tribute. One can’t also help but wonder, why such a gifted musician as John Sykes would choose to “waste” his time with a cover band and instead of concentrating on his solo career, Blue Murder or something entirely new?
Waiting for an alibi
Don’t believe a word
Are you ready
Dancing in the moonlight
Still in love with you
The boys are back in town
Rosalie (bob seger)
HEAVEN & HELL (BLACK SABBATH WITH DIO)
After a short cooldown, the band that most had been waiting for, in some cases for years, was about to hit the main stage. Together Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Ronnie James Dio and Vinnie Appice make up the lineup of Black Sabbath, now dubbed Heaven & Hell, that completed the “Heaven and Hell” tour, recorded the classic “Mob Rules”, “Heaven & Hell”, and “Dehumanizer” albums aswell as the double live album “Live Evil”. In the intermediate years drummer Vinnie Appice has helped out Sabbath a couple of times, first with Rob Halford on the microphone and later on the European leg of the “Reunion” tour.
Since reuniting last year this lineup has recorded, as Black Sabbath, three new songs entitled “The Devil Cried”, “Ear in the Wall” and “Shadow of the Wind”, which were included on “The Dio Years” compilation released by Rhino. Of late, a limited edition CD of the bands performance at the Hammersmith Odeon on the “Mob Rules” tour was also made available, but sold out instantly. Next August the band will in addition release a double CD, aswell as a DVD, recording of their exclusive performance at the famed Radio City Music Hall in New York City back in March of this year.
On the 2nd of June the Heaven & Hell world tour finally landed in Europe and now on the 7th of June they were ready to bring down the proverbial roof at Sweden Rock. The expectations were mounting and in all fairness they were fullfilled to the maximum as it is doubtful that anyone was let down by these masters of all things heavy. Regrettably, the setlist has been slightly trimmed for the European leg of the tour, but still over and hour and a half of classics is nothing to complain about. While the whole set was amazing, highlights included “Children of the Sea”, “I”, “Voodoo” and “Die Young”. Only one single time, during the chorus of “Computer God”, did Ronnie’s ever powerful voice show any sing of human weakness. Pretty incredible, but then again he’s not hailed as the best of the best for nothing. Iommi’s guitar sound was crushing and solo’s blistering and precise. Geezer’s rhythm was unwavering as always and Vinnie Appice pounded the life out of the skins of his drums and even put in an exceptionally inspired solo, a rarity these days. Black Sabbath with Dio, four or perhaps three and half giants in full force, always a pleasure and a fine conclusion to a very special day. Magic.
The mob rules
Children of the sea
The sign of the southern cross
Falling off the edge of the world
Shadow of the wind
Guitar intro:tony iommi
Heaven and hell (inc:guitarsolo:tony iommi)