Skogsrojet is one of these newer hard rock / metal festivals organized in the promised land of festivals, Sweden. The two day event is held in the outlying village of Rejmyre and the nearest town is Norrkoping about 40 kilometers away. The festival was held for the first time in 2006 and it has been increasing steadily year by year. Last years line-up included Alice Cooper, Doro, Testament and L.A. Guns and now the fans were treated to Twisted Sister, Helloween, Pretty Maids and Lita Ford. As you can see from the list of names, the event organizers rely heavily on traditional hard rock spiced with a few heavier acts. I don’t know if this kind of concept would work anywhere else, but in Sweden, but it works. This year, the festival again gathered thousands of participants who were eager to rock hard!!!
Review by Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs
Photography by Tess Donohoe
It may be some people’s epitome of hell, Michael Buble fans I’m looking at you, but for the metal/rock community Hellfest’s towering gateway looks positively pearly. This year’s line-up is so jam-packed that I was looking for the little glass jars and labels. You’d make a fortune if you could bottle any number of the diverse scope of bands on the bill, with the riffs left in natch, but I’d like them to play their sets first.
Once inside that gateway the layout is much the same as last year, and that isn’t meant in a well-they-clearly-couldn’t-be-arsed sense, because Hellfest could teach most others a thing or 20 on how to put together a fan-friendly festival. Except when it comes to the number of toilets on site that is.
Whilst the Hellfest tree still dominates in its stark simplicity, the hidden beer gardens have gained a snazzy gateway of their own, which invites you into the woodlands. Instead of a fairytale monster at the end of the path though, you’ll find a winebar, which is win-win really. And at night the scrap-metal merch stands and bars still glow with their own rooftop fires.
Stage-wise we’ve got Main Stage 1 and 2, which continue their staggered times so that as one plays, the other sets up, and vice versa. The result is no waiting around for soundchecks or bands to start, just back-to-back bam-bam-bam metal. A similar set-up is in place at the Altar and the Temple, where you can find black metal, death metal and the like, then there’s the Valley which is home to the stoner and doom types, and the Warzone where the punk and hardcore drops.
Hellish Rock Part II:
HELLOWEEN & GAMMA RAY
Pakkahuone Tampere Finland
The 30th of March 2013
The leading names in German power metal conquered Finland yet again with Hellish Rock Tour Pt II. Hellish Rock Pt II will be crisscrossing the global the whole year, in Europe, Asia, etc. All the three gigs on the Finnish soil were totally packed as over 4000 people had arrived to witness Gamma Ray and Helloween on the stage again. Both the bands truly enjoy a loyal and even a bit of a fanatical following amongst the Finnish metal fans. That could be witnessed at the Tampere show, when the venue was nearly to explode when over 1000 fans had crawled in. Therefore, moving to any side was more or less a “mission impossible” task. The night was definitely full of triumphant power metal as both Gamma Ray and Helloween delivered a fistful of power metal with catchy melodies.
German band Helloween is one of the pioneering forces and most successful bands in the power metal world and its related subgenres. The band was originally formed in 1984 by Michael Weikath, bassist Markus Grosskopf, vocalist/guitarist Kai Hansen and drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg. Their early albums KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS I and KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS II, which featured vocalist Michael Kiske, are considered masterpieces of the genre. The band went through a large number of changes during the late 80’s / early 90’s. Hansen left in 1988, formed his own band Gamma Ray and was then replaced by Roland Grapow. Kiske and Schwichtenberg were out of picture in 1993 and they were then replaced by drummer Uli Kusch and current vocalist Andi Deris (ex-Pink Cream 69). The renewed lineup re-established the bands popularity and the album THE TIME OF OATH (1996) still remains as their best-selling album to date. Despite the continuous success, the band went through another set of changes starting in 2001. Today the band consists of Deris, Weikath, Grosskopf, guitarist Sascha Gerstner and drummer Dani Loble. This line-up has released altogether 4 studio albums and it seems that Helloween is now even more popular than the so-called “heydays” in the mid 80’s. Three sold out shows speaks for itself when the band arrived to Finland in late March as a part of massive “Hellish Rock II” tour which also featured Gamma Ray. In Helsinki we were fortunate to sit down with the bands guitarist/founding member Michael Weikath and discuss about various topics including the current tour, the latest opus STRAIGHT OUT OF HELL, Helloween’s 30’TH Anniversary and re-union rumors… Read on!
Long-running German metallers HELLOWEEN are offering up track-by-track commentary of their entire new album each day for the next 13 days. Straight Out Of Hell, is due for release in North America on January 22nd.
Check out the first track description, ‘Nabataea’, below:
Helloween recently released the official video for the first single from Straight Out Of Hell. The six-minute opus for ‘Nabataea’ develops on several levels, including 3-D animation at motion picture level. The legendary kingdom Nabataea provides the atmospherically dense reference for the strong first release from Helloween’s new album.
Helloween have documented how this future could look like, or rather sound like, on Straight Out Of Hell. It’s a work full of speed and toughness, with optimism and great joy of playing, featuring complex arrangements, strong hooks and plenty of catchy melodies. Or, to let the facts speak for themself: 13 mostly fast-paced songs that turn out to be impressively multi-layered and will completely delight all Helloween fans, due to the different songwriters Andi Deris, founding members Michael Weikath and Markus Grosskopf, and guitarist Sascha Gerstner.
Weikath: “Straight Out Of Hell is the consequent development of the two albums before. 7 Sinners was recorded more or less in the wake of Gambling With The Devil, while the new songs are a continuation of the 7 Sinners directives, only a little less doom bound and noticeably more positive. These songs will kick even the laziest listener’s ass.”
Helloween’s guitarist is referring to tracks such as ‘Make Fire Catch The Fly’, ‘Far From the Stars’, ‘Church Breaks Down’, the title track (written by bass player Markus Grosskopf), and the straightforward ‘Years’ – all of them racing through the terrain at full speed. In addition, there is the complex and passionate ‘Burning Sun’ by Michael Weikath, which Deris refers to short and sweet as “one of Weik’s highspeed masterpieces” (the limited edition will feature a special Hammond version in memory of DEEP PURPLE’s recently deceased organ player JON LORD). ‘World Of War’ by Sascha Gerstner convinces with thrashy guitar riffs, demonstrating Helloween’s impressive virtuosity.
Deris: “What’s so special about this band, is the fact that we were always allowed to do anything we wanted, or – even if we allegedly weren’t – did it anyway. Even the at the time slightly tabooed The Dark Ride initially earned us negative reviews, but ended up with multiple Gold Awards. That’s the kind of freedom you feel on Straight Out Of Hell as well – we didn’t let anybody or anything put pressure on us.”
But Helloween wouldn’t be Helloween if Straight Out Of Hell would not feature the band’s other, slightly more groovy side as well. With ‘Waiting For The Thunder’ Deris has – in his own words – contributed “a rock song reminding of the old PINK CREAM 69 tunes”. Gerstner lets off steam on ‘Asshole’ and complements the album with “Hold Me In Your Arms”, a wonderful ballad, providing the desired antithesis to the otherwise extremely energetic record. Speaking of energy: the determination that has always been an integral part of the Helloween camp was captured perfectly by their producer Charlie Bauerfeind at the band’s own MiSueno studio in Tenerife. Bauerfeind consciously created a raw sound, keeping the edge of Helloween’s new songs and working without computer-controlled devices.
“With a world-class drummer like Dani Löble in the studio you don’t need click tracks or computer support”, Markus Grosskopf praises his drummer. “Thanks to Dani, the whole album breathes pure authenticity, which distinguishes Straight Out Of Hell from lots of other artists’ productions. In addition, the new album sounds more compact and homogeneous than 7 Sinners has, and is one of the fastest releases in Helloween’s history.”
Also, there are significant differences in a number of topics Helloween tackle on Straight Out Of Hell. The best example of the ability to think outside the box of pure metal cliché is their first single release ‘Nabataea’, which Helloween’s singer wrote during a holiday. The song is about the legendary kingdom, located in today’s Middle Eastern region, where the first real democracy existed over 3000 years ago. The secret Nabataean city Petra, hidden behind a cliff scenery and only discovered at the beginning of the 20th century, is the origin of many myths and legends.
Deris: “We took the liberty to tell this exciting culture’s whole story, although the song therefore lasts more than seven minutes. Truth be told, if there had been more to tell, the track would have been even longer.”
Straight Out Of Hell tracklisting:
‘World Of War’
‘Far From The Stars’
‘Waiting For The Thunder’
‘Hold Me In Your Arms’
‘Wanna Be God’
‘Straight Out Of Hell’
‘Make Fire Catch The Fly’
‘Church Breaks Down’
Limited Edition bonus tracks:
‘Another Shot Of Life’
‘Burning Sun’ (Hammond version) – dedicated to Jon Lord
The Hellish Rock Tour in 2007/2008 featured HELLOWEEN and their very special guests GAMMA RAY, which played 95 shows in 34 countries and left ecstatic metal fans in Europe, Asia, North and Latin America in their wake. Hellish Rock Tour Part II has been announced and will start in February 2013 in Europe and go around the globe, once again featuring Gamma Ray.
Dates for Russia and Japan have now been confirmed. They are as follows:
1 – Moscow, Russia – Arena
2 – St Petersburg – Kosmonavt
5 – Tokyo, Japan – ZEPP
6 – Yokohama, Japan – Blitz
7 – Tokyo, Japan – Shibuya AX
9 – Osaka, Japan – IMP Hall
10 – Nagoya, Japan – ZEPP
Previously announced dates for Europe, featuring SHADOWSIDE as support, are as follows:
“Nabataea”, the first single from “Straight Out Of Hell”, the new album from German power metallers HELLOWEEN, can be streamed using the SoundCloud player above. The track talks about the fabled high culture whose secret city, Petra, was only discovered at the beginning of the 20th century, and is the origin of many legends and myths. HELLOWEEN singer Andi Deris was inspired to write the song during a holiday.
“Straight Out Of Hell” will be released in Europe on January 18 and in North America on January 22, 2013. The cover artwork was once again created by Martin Häusler, who previously worked with the band on the “7 Sinners” and “Gambling With The Devil” CDs.
“Straight Out Of Hell” is described in a press release as “a work full of speed and toughness, with optimism and great joy of playing, featuring complex arrangements, strong hooks and plenty of catchy melodies. Or, to let the facts speak for themself: 13 mostly fast-paced songs that turn out to be impressively multi-layered and will completely delight all HELLOWEEN fans, due to the different songwriters Andi Deris, founding members Michael Weikath and Markus Grosskopf, and guitarist Sascha Gerstner.”
Says Weikath: “‘Straight Out Of Hell’ is the consequent development of the two albums before. ’7 Sinners’ was recorded more or less in the wake of ‘Gambling With The Devil’, while the new songs are a continuation of the ’7 Sinners’ directives, only a little less doom bound and noticeably more positive. These songs will kick even the laziest listener’s ass.”
“Straight Out Of Hell” track listing:
02. World Of War
03. Live Now!
04. Far From The Stars
05. Burning Sun
06. Waiting For The Thunder
07. Hold Me In Your Arms
08. Wanna Be God
09. Straight Out Of Hell
12. Make Fire Catch The Fly
13. Church Breaks Down
Limited-edition bonus tracks:
14. Another Shot Of Life
15. Burning Sun (Hammond version; dedicated to Jon Lord)
On the live front, meanwhile, HELLOWEEN (fresh from appearing at prestigious Japanese festival Loud Park) will be returning to the road in March 2013 — the first part of a world tour set to kick off in mainland Europe, with GAMMA RAY as special guests. The follow-up to the “Hellish Rock” tour of 2007/2008, this extended outing (“Hellish Rock Part II”) will bring the band to the U.K. on April 16 for a one-off date at the London Forum.
THE FOLLOW-UP to their 2010 ‘7 Sinners’ release, ‘Straight Out Of Hell’ is the latest studio album to be issued beneath the celebrated Helloween banner – a banner first unfurled back in 1985.
Set for release via Spinefarm Records on January 21st 2013, ‘Straight Out Of Hell’ has been produced by CharlieBauerfeind, who also worked on ‘7 Sinners’, and sees the five musicians maintaining a rawer edge throughout, working quickly in the studio (MiSueno Studio in Tenerife) and delivering 13 brand new compositions that, in the words of founding member, guitarist Michael Weikath, will “kick even the laziest listener’s ass!”
Bristling with positive energy, songs such as ‘Make Fire Catch The Fly’, ‘Far From The Stars’ and the title track itself, written by bassist Markus Grosskopf, show that when Helloween push their collective foot to the floor they are never too keen to ease off the gas ; and they take chances, ever willing to use their well-documented virtuosity to break out of the mould..
Says singer AndiDeris: “We’ve always followed our own path when it comes to music… and if someone had ever tried to stop us, well, we’d have done what we wanted, anyway! Some of our moves have attracted negative reactions at first, but in time they’ve gone on to reap success and reward, and that’s the kind of freedom you can feel on this new album – we don’t allow ourselves to be put under pressure…”
With Deris, Weikath, Grosskopf (also a founding member) and guitarist Sascha Gerstner all providing material, ‘Straight…’ is a passionate, multi-layered affair, complete with a limited edition premium package featuring a special Hammond organ run-through of Weikath outing, ‘Burning Sun’ – this version conceived as a tribute to Deep Purple’sJon Lord.
As for first single / video, that’s now confirmed as ‘Nabatea’ – a seven minute-plus composition about the legendary kingdom, located in today’s Middle East, where the first real democracy existed over 3000 years ago. The secret Nabatean city, Petra, only discovered last century, is the backdrop for many myths and legends, and here it provides the ideal subject matter for a set of lyrics far removed from the rock ‘n’ roll norm.
On the live front, meanwhile, Helloween (fresh from appearing at prestigious Japanese Festival, Loud Park) will be returning to the road in March 2013 – the first part of a world tour set to kick off in mainland Europe, with Gamma Ray as special guests. The follow-up to the ‘Hellish Rock Tour’ of 2007 / 2008, this extended outing (‘Hellish Rock Part II’) will bring the band to the UK on April16th for a one-off date at the LondonForum.
Hamburg, Germany-based metal legends HELLOWEEN have announced January 18th, 2013 as the release date for their new album, Straight Out Of Hell.
An update from the band states: “What Charlie Bauerfeind has been producing at the MiSueno Studios throughout the last months is the consequent follow-up for 7 Sinners. Matching the tour motto and even more so the hellish new songs, the upcoming album is called Straight Out Of Hell. It will be released worldwide January 18th and will turn winter 2013 into a pretty hot affair.
At this time, Charlie and the boys are giving the finishing touches to the production. Straight Out Of Hell will also be featuring a limited version with bonus tracks and special packaging… more infos to come!
The ‘remake’ of the Hellish Rock Tour of 2007/2008 is taking shape. The bookers are working at full blast and can already announce the first dates of the upcoming world tour under the colors of Hellish Rock Part II.”
Confirmed Hellish Rock Part II tour dates with GAMMA RAY include:
21 – Bratislava, Slovakia – Sport Hall
22 – Prague, Czech Republic – Tesla Aréna
23 – Zlín, Czech Republic – Hala Euronics
24 – Brezno, Slovakia – Sport Hall
26 – Krakow, Poland – Studio
27 – Warsaw, Poland – Stodola
29 – Helsinki, Finland – The Circus
30 – Tampere, Finland – Pakkahuone
31 – Oulu, Finland – Teatria
2 – Oslo, Norway – Rockefeller
4 – Stockholm, Sweden – Arenan
5 – Karlstad, Sweden – Nöjesfabriken
6 – Gothenburg, Sweden – Lisebergshallen
Who doesn’t remember the crazy “Hellish Rock Tour” in 2007/2008? HELLOWEEN and their Very Special Guests GAMMA RAY played 95 shows in 34 countries and left ecstatic metal fans in Europe, Asia, North and Latin America in their wake! Those who didn’t have the chance to be there, can now breathe in deeply and make the ‘Remake’ twice as unforgettable! The conditions are right: Booking wires are running red-hot for the “Hellish Rock Tour Part II”, which will start in March 2013 in Europe and go around the globe, once again featuring GAMMA RAY. Watch out for the full-on ‘Metal Ax Made in Germany’ and you can start betting on what kind of awesome final Weikath, Deris, Grosskopf & co. together with Hansen have come up with this time!
Michael Weikath: “The atmosphere on stage and backstage was very special last time, we will be repeating the party and are looking forward to the tour already!” … and his former companion Kai Hansen adds: “‘The Hellish Rock Tour’ definitely was a highlight of our band’s history, we’ll absolutely go wild once again!”
Russell Allen (SYMPHONY X, ADRENALINE MOB) & Mat Sinner (PRIMAL FEAR FEAR, SINNER)
Mat Sinner (PRIMAL FEAR FEAR, SINNER) recently announced an as-yet-unnamed project with vocalist Russell Allen (SYMPHONY X, ADRENALINE MOB). He has checked in with the following update:
“We’ve chosen eleven great tracks and these guys will record with me and Russel in the studio:
Roland Grapow (MASTERPLAN/guitars, lead guitar), Randy Black (Primal Fear/drums), Alessandro Del Vecchio (keyboards, vocals) and Alexander Beyrodt (Pimal Fear, VOODOO CIRCLE/additional lead guitars). Produced by Mat Sinner and mixed by Achim Koehler, with a release on Frontiers Rec early 2013. Watch out, this will be a huge album!”
Randy Black has also checked in with the following:
“Off to a great start recording the drum tracks for the forthcoming Russell Allen and Mat Sinner project. Killer tracks on this one, keep an eye out for it to be released on Frontiers Records. At the helm in the studio engineering the drum recordings is Nikolai Wurk (DUSKMACHINE). First recording session with the new custom Pearl Masters Premium Legend kit… and it’s sounding spectacular!”
As previously reported, Black has been confirmed as the man behind the kit for the upcoming ROCK MEETS CLASSIC 2013 tour, which will run through Europe in February/March next year. Black joins his Primal Fear bandmates Mat Sinner (bass/master of ceremonies), Alex Beyrodt (guitars) and Ralf Scheepers (backing vocals) as part of THE MAT SINNER BAND.
According to Metaltalk.net, HELLOWEEN are in talks about reforming the band’s classic Keeper Of The Seven Keys-era line-up of Michael Kiske on vocals, Kai Hansen on guitar along with long-time band members guitarist Michael Weikath and bassist Marcus Grosskopf. Drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg took his own life in 1995 so current Helloween drummer Daniel Löble will likely retain his position in the band. The possible reunion is not planned to take place until 2015 and the current line-up of Helloween are in the studio recording an as yet untitled new album.
In a recent update Michael Weikath stated: “Right now we are busy with finalizing the songwriting process and are getting ready to take the accumulated ideas into a final selection for the new record. Everybody in the band is excited and eager to take what we have worked on so far to the next level.”
According to a press release, “The new production will again be helmed by long-time producer Charlie Bauerfeind and will of course contain all the trademarks. Already in this early stage the new effort promises to be much more than a fine follow-up to the highly acclaimed Gambling With The Devil and 7 Sinners albums. Bombastic epic pieces have been worked on as well as ultrafast heavy songs and mid-tempo anthems.”
heck out video footage of first-day drum recordings at this location.
The self-titled debut studio album from UNISONIC — the band featuring former Helloween vocalist Michael Kiske and guitarist Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray, ex-Helloween) alongside guitarist Mandy Meyer (Asia, Gotthard and Krokus), bassist Dennis Ward and drummer Kosta Zafiriou (both of Germany’s Pink Cream 69) — will be released in North America on May 22, 2012 via Eagle Rock imprint Armoury Records.
Unisonicwas recorded at ICP Studios in Brussels, Belgium. The offering features 11 tracks, plus a bonus live version of Helloween classic “I Want Out” only available on the domestic edition, cover art by Martin Häusler (Meat Loaf, Gotthard, Helloween, Motörhead) viewable HERE, and marks the first musical union between Kiske and Hansen in 23 years!
Unisonic Track Listing:
2. Souls Alive
3. Never Too Late
4. I’ve Tried
5. Star Rider
6. Never Change Me
8. My Sanctuary
9. King For A Day
10. We Rise
11. No One Ever Sees Me
12. I Want Out (Live)
Check out the band’s video for album opener/anthem “Unisonic” below. The clip was directed by Häusler in Heidelberg, Germany.
UNISONIC released its debut EP, Ignition earlier this year. After the addition of Hansen to the group’s lineup in early 2011, UNISONICcontinued the songwriting process for its debut release, incorporating Kai’s talent for writing great anthemic rock songs into its existing material. Hardly Keeper Of The Seven KeysPart 3, the UNISONIC collective effortlessly fuse the many sides of heavy music they know and love. The band’s music is versatile and takes a broad approach to heavy rock without sacrificing the power and strong, catchy melodies that characterized the band members’ previous projects.
UNISONIC: Michael Kiske – Vocals Mandy Meyer – Guitar Kai Hansen – Guitar Dennis Ward – Bass Kosta Zafiriou – Drums
“On September 20th, the pumpkins concluded the final part of their 2010 /2011 7 Sinners World Tour with a great show in St.Petersburg, Russia. This marks the end to a very successful tour of almost one year taking the boys throughout 36 countries, playing more than 80 shows in front of several hundred thousand people all over the world. There have been far too many great moments in this period of time to be mentioned here.
A big ‘thank you’ goes out to the guys of STRATOVARIUS, who have contributed their part by being far more than a ‘very special guest’ on the tour!
Now, the pumpkin-heads will go on a well-deserved break before entering the studio in the beginning of 2012 to work on the new record. Last and foremost, Helloween wishes to thank you – all the pumpkin-maniacs all over the globe – for your enthusiastic support at every single show.”
Blitzkrieg Metal Magazine recently conducted an interview with drummer Dani Löble at the Wacken Open Air festival. Excerpts from the interview can be seen below:
Blitzkrieg Metal Magazine: You’ve been touring for the last nine months; just as you did after the Gambling With The Devil Tour, are you planning to take a break now, or are you going back to the studio?
Dani Löble: “We’re already discussing ideas for the next album, which we plan to release by the end of 2012. When this tour is over we’re heading to the studio to write some new material so that it’s ready for that album (and tour) at the end of next year No rest at all, we got a lot of rest after the Gambling… tour, and I think it’s enough rest for the next 10 years!”
Let Me Hear You Scream Sweden Rockkkk.Well the annual roadtrip to Swedenrock by the Finnish Metal Rules.com team is already into it’s 11th year! The 2011 line up presented a wide range of metal and hard rock in the line-up. Over 70 metal and rock bands offered one hell of an experience for the attendees. Sweden Rock has been successful during the past ten years as the festival has always been sold out. This year wasn’t any exception as the fest was sold out despite the lousy economic situation worldwide and the ticket price had risen a little bit. ver these 11 years of coverage, it has become quite logical for us to give an in depth article of several bands performing at Sweden Rock to all the readers out there. The weather once again showed positive and negative aspects like in 2010. It either rained or was windy with a little sunshine. But we were there for bands, not for having some beach party crap. Unfortunately, we are not able to cover every bloody band, but hopefully you will have a pleasant reading experience… Enjoy or die!!!
Sauna Open Air Festival 2011, 9th-11th June Tampere, Finland
Review by Luxi Lahtinen, live pictures by Luxi Lahtinen & Terhi Pihlaja
The 8th Sauna Open Air festival was celebrated in a very sunny and warm weather, unlike in some other years – and this year the festival also broke their own record, welcoming as many as 26,000 people within the three days.
The SOA festival has truly found an important place among the other Finnish summer festivals, concentrating mostly on old-school Heavy/Thrash Metal and Hard Rock bands – and turning the festival around for the past 3-4 years or so, by booking many internationally big names for the three-day Metal feasts; from Kiss to Megadeth to Dio to Whitesnake to Scorpions to Type O Negatíve – and the list goes on.
This year, the festival organizers had very special grins – wider than ever before, spread all over their faces – and for some very good reasons. Two of the biggest headliners, Ozzy Osbourne and Judas Priest, arrived at SOA for the first time, with bands like Saxon, Accept, Doro, Cavalera Conspiracy, Joey Belladonna and many others proving to be good company to them.
Read on – the following article is based on the seven most interesting and musically satisfying bands of this year’s festival from your truly point of view.