June 11th – 13th 2014
Review and photography by Ellen Norvang
This year’s fifth version of the metal showdown and largest metal festival, in Denmark in the heart of the Danish capital, delivered a line up dominated by black metal and nostalgia.
Not only is it the fifth anniversary, it is also quite special that the rather intimate festival this year had the opportunity to add the icon’s Iron Maiden to the bill. That requires some sacrifices though and the festival was this year not a weekend happening. The festival stretched from a Wednesday to a Friday. Does it show on ticket sales that job and exams might have to step aside? No. Iron Maiden is quite a big thing.
Wednesday evening takes it´s slowly start with Arch Enemy (5/6) entering the second largest stage. When you say early summer in Scandinavia you must say rain and there ain’t such a thing as a Scandinavian festival without rain. The schizophrenic weather brings back sunshine just in time for Arch Enemy. The new Canadian singer, Alissa White-Gluz who was formerly in The Agonist, is a lively energy bomb who knows how to interact with the crowd. It ain´t easy filling out the shoes of the iconic Angela Gossow, but White-Gluz is trying her best, not only to promote the new songs, but to also keep the back catalogue intact in a worthy way. Arch Enemy proves that they are more than just a hyped female-growler orchestra and that the torch definitely can be carried further.
Iron Maiden (5.5/6) has the pleasure of closing Wednesday night on the main stage. It is rare to see a band of this caliber on a rather small festival. It is also unusual to be surprised by this band if you have already seen them live once, but at least you know what to expect; hits galore and a whole lot of Bruce Dickinson running back and forth on stage. And tonight it is exactly what is being delivered; 2 hours of greatest hits and pure entertainment with as many different Eddie puppets and installments as you can possibly imagine. One can help but smile when Dickinson shouts his classic “scream for me” and acknowledge the fact he has entered Viking territory by putting on a Viking helmet. And one needs a heart of stone to not be impressed or entertained even though the heroic genre might not please every metal fan.
The setlist was a pure dig into the past with every hit song fans might imagine and it was a dig into the record “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” that opened up for songs on the setlist that die-hard fans might not have heard or will hear in the nearest future performed live.
Iron Maiden proved they were worth turning the whole festival upside down for and not many could have gone to bed that night disappointed so who cares about a hangover on a Thursday morning!?
Thursday is dominated by brutality and there is something for every metal lover. Whether you are suited with stretched plugs in your ears and a bad sense of humor or attracted to the Norwegian woods the program serves something for you. For the first mentioned category Suicide Silence’s new front leader plays macho and demands the youngsters to form a wall of death as they were spreading a pussy wide open. Swedish Watain on the other hand decides to throw a lit torch into the audience. Landing and consequences unknown.
My Dying Bride (5/6), who has not visited Denmark for a very long time as they are, with own words, a lazy band who does no tour, but play shows when they want to, enters the stage long after the sun has set. It really can’t be any other way as their atmospheric doom metal deserves utter pitch black skies. Frontman Aron Stainthorpe’s whimping vocals lingers in the air and crawls under the skin as the show slowly reaches from great to brilliant. The peak enters at the last two songs, “She Is The Dark” and “Cry For Mankind” and sets the audience back the early 90’s. Maybe it is the rare opportunity to catch the English men live, but a sense of nostalgia and impression stands out.
Behemoth (4.5/6) are one of the greatest and most talented bands at the moment which not only shines through on their records, but mostly at their live performances. For every one seeing the band for the first time live this afternoon two things unfortunately kills the show and the vibe. The wind overrules and destroys parts of the sound and the ability to be part of a proper mosh pit without being covered in dusty mud is impossible. And what a shame to put the Polish beasts on stage at 16.30 when the sun is high in the sky. Not only is the band’s pyro-show destroyed by the wind, which no one can be blamed for but the bright daylight does not work in advance for the effects. As someone in the audience points out: “I think the sun goes down as soon as Behemoth enter the stage”. Wishful thinking, but in spite of this the band knows how to entertain and all members seems to be in good shape. The band played the smaller stage 5 years ago when Copenhell began and are now headlining on the main stage. This proves how far the band has become.
Denmark is small-sized, but the Copenhell folks takes this in favour. The food is not just lame burgers, they are served straight off the grilled animal and comes off as “fucking crispy”, as one of the food stalls calls themselves.
Denmark´s heritage, the Vikings, goes hand in hand with a few metal genres and this is recognized as the Vikings have a whole section with sauna, axes and what else a proper Viking needs. Great headliners and zero % violence and crime for 3 days, see that is how a festival is done!