SWEDEN ROCK 2017: SATURDAY
Lionheart might not be a worldwide known name, but if you take a closer look and see who the band members are, you surely want to know more about the band. Lionheart was formed in 1982 by guitarists Dennis Stratton (Iron Maiden) and Steve Mann (MSG, Eloy), bassist Rocky Newton (MSG, Wildfire), vocalist Jess Cox (Tygers of Pan Tang), and drummer Frank Noon (Def Leppard), who was later replaced by Clive Edwards (UFO, Wild Horses). The band released only one album, HOT TONIGHT, in 1984 before splitting up two years later. Lionheart was reformed in 2016, and currently, the band is finishing its second album, SECOND NATURE, which will be out in the summer of 2017. The place was not packed when the band hit on stage and opened with the new album track “Give Me the Light.” Next, the group went back to the HOT TONIGHT album and performed the title track, “Wait for The Night” and “Die for Love.” The band’s sound is something between NWOBHM and AOR, and it fits perfectly on the festival like Swedenrock. It seemed that the guys had a really good time on stage. Stratton and Mann did some excellent guitar work through the set, and the rhythm section of Edwards and Newton was solid as a rock. The new vocalist Lee Small (Shy, Phenomena), did a good job too and worked hard, but maybe he was missing some stage charisma, to be honest. The setlist was, of course, built upon HOT TONIGHT, but the band also performed five tracks from the upcoming album. The new material sounded a bit heavier and more guitar-oriented than the old stuff, which is only a good thing. Surprisingly the highlight of the show was the old McAuley-Schenker Group classic “Anytime.” Steve Mann and McAuley write the song, and to this day, it’s one of the biggest hits that Schenker Group ever had. The song sounded fantastic, and then even people who didn’t know Lionheart material came back to life. All in all, Lionheart did a solid performance, and it’s going to be interesting to hear the new album when it’s out in a few weeks.
Candlemass of nowadays is like a wounded animal because Leif Edling is out, and Messiah Marcolin exited the band years ago. The current frontman, Mats Leven, is a fabulous singer with a splendid voice and great stage character for sure. But both the known voice and the heart have been ripped from the chest, so the band is more like a cover band of its own. Especially now when the second Candlemass Nightfall album was played entirely. Of course, it sounded bombastic, and the material sounded ageless and stood up to the matter of time for sure. Besides the NIGHTFALL material, Candlemass did so-called evergreen songs such as “Mirror, Mirror,” “Solitude.” However, Candlemass still sounds like Candlemass even though they mostly focus and cover the 80’s stuff, which is undoubtedly the most respected and adored.
How many of you still remember when the Italian Rhapsody kind of hit the power metal fans by releasing LEGENDARY TALES back in 1997. The album was and still is awesome in every aspect for sure. When the band started getting more successful, the band collapsed and was divided into two different camps; Rhapsody Of Fire and Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody. That was quite a messy Italian soap opera, to tell the truth. Some members of Rhapsody Of Fire wanted to bury the hatchet and go out with Luca Turilla. The most interesting thing about the line-up is concerned is that the keyboard player Alex Staropoli wasn’t involved in running his version of Rhapsody Of Fire with new members. Luca Turillli ran around the stage like a Duracell Bunny and how he even managed to touch strings while having that kind of ADHD symptom. However, Rhapsody sounded bombastic, powerful, but melodic. Fabio Lione has a truly impressive and recognizable voice with an Italian accent. The set was based on the material from albums such LEGENDARY TALES and POWER OF THE DRAGONFLAME. It was a pity how things got messed up in the Rhapsody camp, and the unicorn of power metal is pretty much gone now.
Venom feat. Cronos with the backup guys this time to avoid any confusion. Cronos’ Venom unleashed the black metal blitzkrieg on the main stage ten years ago. The volume had been turned to reach the maximum level, making the ears ring for the next days. Back in 2017, Cronos’ Venom returned to spread the black metal hymns with the current backup forces. Even though Venom is known for the immortal cult songs from the heyday of the early ’80s, but instead the legendary three-piece concentrated on having a lot of newer material from albums such as FALLEN ANGEL, FROM THE VERY DEPTHS. Of course, these classic ones had been placed in the mid of the set. For obvious reasons, the songs off from FROM THE VERY DEPTHS were strongly present in the set. Playing “Satanachrist from the POSSESSED album was without any doubts a nice surprise as Venom has constantly avoided playing songs from that output. As for their gig, the band could have been a bit more brutal and had more energy-filled playing, and the feeling, the band’s presence, was quite phlegmatic, missing the rage and aggression. Cronos seemed to be enjoying being on the stage. Venom is meant to sound evil and barbaric, but instead, it was more a normal rock band with those aspects.
Carcass made the first visit to the Sweden Rock app ten years when reuniting the nearly classic line-up. Ken Owen indeed sat behind the drum kit by performing a short solo. However, ten years have passed by and Steer, and Walker has got a bit gray to their look, but the music still rules for sure. Carcass did an absolute strong performance with the best of the best kind of set. The set covered all the way from the debut album up to the latest studio output. Carcass sounded groove, yet brutal and still technical. Walker’s growling is still there and hasn’t lost an inch, as sounding quite reek of putrefaction. Carcass is a killer act on the stage after these years. Hopefully, the band will be able to bring a new album out soon.
There is one sentence that describes Treat best, and it’s definitely “the masters of hook and choruses.” Although these Swedes have never made it big time outside of their home country, they have arranged many excellent hard rock anthems during their 30 plus year career. The Treat show in Swedenrock had no perfect timing because In Flames was playing on the main stage simultaneously, but there was still a good number of crowd in the place. The band opened up with the title track of the latest Treat CD, THE GHOST OF GRACELAND, and ’80s classic “Ready followed it for the Taking” and the previous COUP THE GRACE album hit single “Paper Tiger.” The band was literally on fire, and vocalist Robert Ernlund sounded fantastic. A special mention goes to the band’s latest addition, bassist Pontus Egberg (King Diamond, The Poodles), who did an excellent and super energetic performance on stage. It’s a fact that the guys in the band might not be that young or pretty anymore, but musically they all nailed it perfectly. The medley of Treat’s 80’s hits was amazing, although it would have been great to hear the full songs instead. However, Treat was brilliant, and it was a total pleasure to follow the band’s performance from start to finish.
In Flames divides the metal crowd into several different camps: The band is either worshiped by the younger metal generation, disliked by the metal puritanism, ignored by the older heavy metal fans. But still, the band pulls the massive huge crowd today, bigger than Aerosmith’s. However, In Flames enjoys the tremendous following and success in their home country for sure. Seeing all these young metal fans in the frontline was unexpected but a pleasant surprise, cos the average age for the attendance of Sweden Rock is between 40-50 years old. In Flames’ line-up has gone into total turmoil when long-time members have stepped down during the past few years. As for these new fellows, well, it is kind of hard to judge them after playing them in the rank for a short time. At least the current drummer Joe Richard handled the duties professionally and was a good replacement for Daniel Svensson. The latest addition was some programmer guy on the stage. Was it necessary to have a programmer? Those Whoracle years are long gone, and In Flames have stepped forward into the world of a bit annoying approach. Friden’s wannabe angst and desperate act on the mic looked quite entertaining but also embarrassing. It has to be admired how In Flames have been capable of becoming such a gigantic name in the metal world, where the old but dying dinosaurs still tame the land. In Flames’ set was based on the material released after 2000, leaving the 90’s catalog to rest in the peace and gather the dust. In Flames still, dominate the metal world for years to come, that’s sure. Why not? They appeal to the metal crowd all around the world.