Hammer Battalion North Tour
12/3 – 2009
Reviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Live pictures by: Anders Sandvall
It was finally time for the Swedish old school death metal icons in Unleashed to go out on a Scandinavian tour. The tour began in Estonia at the end of February and the band also visited Finland, Sweden and Denmark. Unfortunately, the band didn’t stop in Norway so the Norwegian fans were an unlucky bunch this time. Unleashed had brought along Devian and Belphegor on the road and Diabolical was supposed to be supporting the band, but for some reason were replaced by Guillotine. Unleashed is currently out supporting their latest brilliant album HAMMER BATTALION.
So once again it was time for me to head over to Copenhagen and the excellent venue The Rock. The club is open after the shows on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until 5 o clock in the morning. This particular night was a Thursday and because of the large amount of bands and because the club was gonna run the night club after the show, the venue opened a little earlier than normal. The first band was scheduled to go on at 8:30 and the headline act was supposed to end their show at 1.00 at the latest.
I met up with Unleashed a few hours before the show and all of them were really nice guys. I was allowed to go inside the venue with the band because of the horrible weather. The first thing that I laid eyes on was a huge back drop with the Guillotine logo. I asked the guys if they were gonna play any older material and they said that because they don’t tour much in Scandinavia they were gonna play material from all of their albums in order to try to please everyone. I also asked the band why they had to cancel the show the day before when they were supposed to play at Debaser in Malmoe. The guys said that the band would never cancel a show but that Debaser had cancelled the show because of low ticket sale. Then it was time for the band to do sound-check and I went over to a small café to wait for the night to come.
My main priority was to see Unleashed in action but I was also looking forward to seeing Guillotine which is a thrash act from the northern parts of Sweden. Two of the members are also members in Nocturnal Rites. When I got back to The Rock in the depressing weather I saw a small but brave line of people waiting for the doors to open. Shortly after my arrival the doors opened and we were let into the warmth of the club. More and more people arrived as time went by and many of them were Swedes. First up on stage was the support act
Fredrik Mannberg – lead vocals, guitar
Efraim Juntunen – drums
Nils Eriksson – bass, b-vox
Daniel Sundbom – guitar
The band kicked off instantly and gave us music that totally ran us down. Their old school thrash sounded brilliant and it’s always fun to see a band of this caliber live for the first time. The only negative thing with the show was the small crowd that kept in the background during the entire set. Singer/guitarist Mannberg had really harsh and brutal lead vocals that fit perfectly together with the aggressive and very brutal music the band performed. He stood solidly behind his mic as did Sundbom. The only one who moved around on stage was bass player Eriksson. A few songs into the set Mannberg got tired of seeing the crowd only standing so far away from the stage. He encouraged everyone to come closer to the stage but only a few people did do that. The band didn’t let the small amount of people destroy their show; instead the band pummelled us with their furious old school thrash metal. It was a really great show the guys pulled off and I was hooked right away.
Devian has gotten a lot of attention and that is mainly because the band consists of ex-Marduk member Legion and Emil Dragutinovic. Devian used the same equipment as Guillotine and the only thing that changed was the backdrop. I have totally missed Devian and to be honest I don’t think I missed too much. The tempo was fast, furious and brutal and all the members headbanged through the entire show. Legion had total control of the audience and all of the four front men used the stage fully. Legion also went down in the crowd and stood on a table back at the bar and sang.
Devian’s death/thrash metal seemed to be appreciated by the fans and the crowd that now had become larger, stood in front of the stage during the entire show. A small mosh pit was also created in front of the stage and it sure looked like Devian was loved by the Danish people. Legion thanked everyone for the warm welcome and said that this show was the first one Devian ever did in Denmark but that it sure wouldn’t be their last one. After 40 minutes Devian’s furious set was over.
The change of gear went really fast and after about 15 minutes it was finally time for the band that many had waited for. The amount of people had increased quite a lot. The curtain unveiled and on stage stood Belphegor.
The audience exploded when their favorite Austrians came on stage and the band had the crowd in the palm of their hands right away. Belphegor’s music is different from the opening acts because it’s faster, darker and heavy as lead. Compared to Devian the members in Belphegor stood solid on the stage and didn’t run around at all. Belphegor is:
Helmuth – lead vocals, guitar
Morluch – guitar
Serpenth – bass
Lille Gruber – drums
The crowd sang a long with Helmuth and the band did a solid and tight show. It was easy to tell that the band was highly loved by the crowd. Belphegor sped their way through 40 minutes of mad music and by then was I really eager to see the main attraction for the evening.
It didn’t seem like the crowd was there to see Unleashed because straight after Belphegor had left the stage many left the venue. After about 20 minutes it was time for the Swedish giants to go on stage. The music faded out and the curtain dropped and there they were.
Johnny Hedlund – lead vocals, bass
Tomas Masgard – guitar
Fredrik Folkare – guitar
Anders Schultz – drums
Hedlund went straight to the mic and saluted us with the words “Good evening Vikings” and kicked off the show with the intense song “The Greatest Of All Lies”. Hedlund stood in the middle with Folkare and Masgard on each side and they used the same equipment as the bands before did. But Unleashed has the biggest and mightiest backdrop of all of the bands this evening. The show moved on with “Never Ending Hate”, after the song Hedlund said that it was real nice to be back in Copenhagen and to play for all the Vikings that had come to The Rock. A mosh pit was formed and again, there was a lot of head banging going on. Hedlund introduced the next song by telling us that this is a world for metal Vikings and no one else. The song was “This Is Our World Now” which was followed by “Winterland” and “Don’t Want to Be Born”.
Despite the huge space on stage the band didn’t move around much at all, it was mainly Folkare and Hedlund that moved around a little in between all the head banging. Hedlund’s voice sounded brilliant . The band sounded really tight and ran over you like a tank. Hedlund spoke in English in between the songs which was a smart move even though there were a lot Swedish fans in the audience. He said that Unleashed celebrates 20 years as a band this year and the audience thanked the guys with cheers and screams. “In Victory Or Defeat” and “Into Glory Ride” continued the show and Hedlund said that he was proud of his fellow band members who had been with the band through highs and lows and of all the fans as well.
The audience kept on screaming for “Midvinterblot” and when Hedlund said that “yes, and here comes the song you have been waiting for, Midvinterblot” everyone one in the venue went ballistic. The entire crowd sang along with Hedlund all the way through the song. One thing that struck me was that even though Unleashed plays old school 90’s Swedish death metal they have managed to make the music a bit melodic and that makes the music interesting to listen to. The guitarists had some really nice twin guitar attacks going on and Unleashed have really managed to create their own musical style and approach that makes them stand out a bit from other bands in this genre. The songs also went a little faster live than they do on album and it’s impressive that Hedlund actually have the time to sing the lyrics during the enormous speed.
Hedlund continued with saying that there was no Hammer Battalion in Denmark and asked us if we wanted to be in Hammer Battalion, which everyone of course wanted. And then he wanted us to sing along in the lyrics in “Hammer Battalion”. When it was time for the chorus all of the people in the house screamed the words on the top of their lungs. After the song had ended Hedlund wasn’t satisfied and wanted us to sing another chorus. The band played and the fans screamed Hammer Battalion Denmark and after that Hedlund and the rest of the band were happy. The last song in the ordinary set list was “To Asgaard We Fly” but once the song was finished and the band had went off stage the mad crowd screamed for more and more.
Unleashed came back and Hedlund said that the following song described what the band has tried to achieve during the time they have been around. The song was “Death Metal Victory” which was followed by the last song for the evening, “Before The Creation Of Time”. By then 80 glorious minutes had passed and both me and my sore eardrums were quite happy and satisfied. Folkare and Schultz went down on the floor to talk to the fans and I also noticed that the other three acts sat in the bar so that the fans were able to talk to them.
Unleashed did an amazing show and it was really nice to finally have seen one of my long time favorite acts. Both sound and lights were perfect and I congratulate the band on 20 years in the business. The only minor negative thing was the fact that they had three support acts. It had been enough for one or maybe two, three was overkill. But I had a really nice time at The Rock and I have to say thank you to the booking people who brought the Unleashed package to Copenhagen.
A big thank you to the boss at The Rock Nils Kroyer for help with press/photo pass, and a thank you also go out to the nice staff and security at the venue.
More info about the band
The Greatest Of All Lies
Never Ending Hate
Your Children Will Burn
This Is Our World Now
Don’t Want To Be Born
In Victory Or Defeat
Into Glory Ride
To Asgaard We Fly
Death Metal Victory
Before The Creation Of Time