Strength In Numbers Scandinavian Tour 2017
Witchery – special guest
Kulturbolaget, Malmo, Sweden
23/9 – 2017
Live pictures and review by: Anders Sandvall
The Haunted were out on a highly anticipated tour throughout Scandinavia this Fall. The tour reached 12 cities and for 3 of them, Witchery was the support act and luckily, that was the case for show in Malmo. Originally there was going to be one more opening act, Akani, but they canceled the tour. No one was happier than me when the show was announced in Malmo and the choice of venue was Kulturbolaget. I met the bands during the day and when I asked The Haunted band leader Patrik Jensen where Witchery bass player Sharlee D’Angelo was, he said that he was out touring with Arch Enemy. Therefore Gustaf Jorde (ex- Defleshed, ex-Raubtier, Evocation) replaced D’Angelo for this tour. Witchery was scheduled to be on stage at 8 because the night was going to end at 11; after that it was time for the night club to kick off.
A lot has happened within Witchery during the past few years. Drummer Martin Axenrot quit the band in 2016 and was replaced by Chris Barkensjö, Angus Norder replaced Emperor Magus Caligula as vocalist, meaning today the band contains three original members. The latest album released is 2016’s IN HIS INFERNAL MAJESTY’S SERVICE, the follow up to 2010’s WITCHKRIEG. As you can see the band hasn’t been highly active the past few years. In November we can look forward to the release of a brand new album, I AM LEGION, and two singles/videos have already been released so far (“True North” and “Of Blackened Wing”). I saw the band live many years ago together with Moonspell and Kreator and it was still the original line-up back then.
Since there was no photo pit in the club, I secured a good spot pretty early before the show.
It was a little hard to see the members when they walked out because the stage was so dark. The first song out was “Lavey-athan” and straight after followed “Oath Breaker”. The speed was hard, fast, and furious from the very start. “Netherworld Emperor” continued the show after which singer Norder thanked the crowd and said that the band really loved being on stage in Malmo this night. Next up was a song from the latest album called “Nosferatu” and while the sound system was great, the lighting was poorer and the band stood playing in almost pitch black. “A Paler Shade of Death” taken from the 1999’s DEAD, HOT, AND READY followed. Norder then said it was time for a really old song in “Awaiting the Exorcist”. The members mostly stood solid on their spot and nothing but music really happened on stage. The line up in the band is:
Angus Norder – lead vocals
Chris Barkensjö – drums
Richard Corpse – guitar
Patrik Jensen – guitar
Gustaf Jorde – bass (session member)
The crowd was pretty calm and laid back and clapped their hands nicely after each song was over. You’d have thought there would be some jumping around and maybe some mosh pits happening, but no. “The Storm” followed and it was clear that Norder was a bit new when it came to handling a crowd. He didn’t really know what to do with himself on stage as he mostly walked back and forth in front of the drums when not singing. He didn’t give a solid impression at all, sad but true. He looked a little younger compared to the rest of the guys so I guess he maybe hasen’t gained as much confidence and stage presence as the rest of the band yet. However his lead vocals were impressive and no shadow should fall on his efforts there. “Are you ready for some “Witchkrieg”?”, Norder asked and the song seemed to be really popular amongst the fans.
“The God Who Fell From Earth” followed and then it was time for another song from the new album in “True North”. The song sounded really promising but really, what can go wrong when Jensen is involved? Instead of talking, Norder let the music be in focus as the show proceeded and shortly the band only had two more songs left to play. First came “Restless and Dead” which really woke up the crowd and after Norder had thanked the crowd, “The Reaper” followed and 40 minutes of Witchery was over.
The band members all did a solid job, however if felt like Norder needs to gain a little more live experience in order to be the front man Witchery needs. He was the weakest link and even though he did the best he could, I missed the good old days when Toxine handled the mic. The lighting was also bad, which is strange given the club’s typical capabilities. The set list was great and it was fun to see Jorde live in action again. I had wished for a little more action from the crowd, that would have made the Witchery experience even better.
A Paler Shade Of Death
Awaiting The Exorcist
The God Who Fell From Earth
Restless And Dead
After the crew changed the stage gear, more people arriving was it time for The Haunted to work their magic again. I was really looking forward to seeing the band again, this time with the mighty Marco Aro behind the mic, who also took care of the vocals on the previous album. The past few tears haven’t been the best in the band’s history and members have come and gone, but a new album, STRENGTH IN NUMBERS, was released this year and is a totally brilliant album. Excitement was in the air as the crew prepared the stage for the band and at 9.10 it was finally time for the thrash legends to make their way on to the stage.
One by one the members walked on to the stage and the first song out for the night was “Fill the Darkness With Black”, which is the opening song on the new album. One member was still missing but he made his way on the stage in “Brute Force”; the fans all screamed when they saw Marco Aro’s entrance. “99” followed and the fans had no time to catch their breath. Aro stood with one foot on the monitor as he shouted his vocals and it was so nice to see the big Aro back in the band again. As the band played the intro to “Trespass” he shouted “Lets go!”, and the fans shouted back at him at the top of their lungs. It started to get a bit hot inside the club and the fans were really out there, at least if you compare it to how they acted during the Witchery show. An oldie from 2006 in “The Flood” followed and the line-up in the band today is:
Patrik Jensen – guitar
Jonas Björler – bass
Adrian Erlandsson – drums
Marco Aro – lead vocals
Ola Englund – guitar
Aro looked really happy to be on stage and to see the fans’ reaction to the band. The members, and the crowd, started to get really sweaty and the show was really intense. Aro asked if the fans were ready for some more mangling music in “The Medication”. It was great fun to hear that old classic tune again and it was quite bold to fire it off so early in the show. Aro did a great job connecting with the crowd and it felt like the fans had missed him while he was away. In “Preachers of Death” the crowd woke up and went crazy; the fans seemed to love the new material right along with the classics. Aro took a sip of a beer as Englund changed guitars, saying “the crowd looks really beautiful tonight, thanks for your support”. “Spark” followed and as I moved to the edge of the crowd I saw a circle pit taking shape; it wasn’t big but it was there. However I estimated the club only to be half full which was strange given who was performing this night. The fans who were there gave their all and it was nice to see such a dedicated fan base. Aro said that this show was “the best Malmo show the band ever did, but we also had a great show in Stockholm [to which the fans booed because there’s always rivalry between the biggest cities in Sweden], but you guys want to be better than Stockholm right? You all know that Adrian is from Skåne (the county Malmo is located in)?” The fans all shouted for Adrian while Aro asked if we remembered the album EXIT WOUNDS, before the band laid into “Time (Will Not Heal)”. Englund took care of the lead guitar parts and the fans again formed a circle pit.
Aro smiled as he said it was time for some sing along in “All Against All”. The fans obeyed Aro and shouted as loud as they could. Aro had the fans jump up and down and clap their hands, shouting “hey hey hey”. That ended the song but there was no time for the fans to catch their breaths because the next song “No Compromise” followed instantly. The classic tune turned the club up side down and the fans showed no mercy as they started crowd surfing. So was it time to “slow down the tempo”, as Aro said, with “Hollow Ground”. “If I say Hollow you say…”, “Ground!”, shouted the fans back at him. For some reason the lighting wasn’t better now than during the Witchery show and it was hard to take pictures of the band. “This is the End”, “D.O.A” and “Guilt Trip” followed in which Aro joked and said it was Jonas’ time to sing. Jonas didn’t look too happy with the decision and Aro said “OK let’s kick off the song instead”. The fans loved every minute and shouted “Haunted Haunted”, as loud as they could. The circle pit came alive and the ones who didn’t want to join had to stand back. “Dark Intentions” continued the mayhem and the two songs that ended the ordinary show were the epic “Bury Your Dead” and my personal favorite from the debut album, “Hate Song”. “Malmo, you have really outdone Stockholm this night!”, Aro said looking really happy. “But it’s always the last song that counts, so raise your voices in “Hate Song”. The song ended the show and 70 minutes of excellent thrash metal and the band thanked the fans and walked off stage. The fans instantly began to shout for encores and after a few minutes the band returned and Aro asked if the fans wanted to hear more. Aro turned around to see if the band was ready to kick off some more songs and said “OK lets do this !”, and “Eye of the Storm” followed.
Jensen and Aro talked briefly after the song and Jensen took on his guitar and fired off “Bullet Hole” as the final encore and once again the fans went nuts. There was energy left for a circle pit and it formed in front of the stage. The encores made the show last for another 15 minutes and even though the fans were totally exhausted, they and I wanted to hear more. Sadly the time was over for the band and they thanked the fans for coming. “We love you all”, Aro said before they left and the fans thanked the band with applause and cheers.
The Haunted put on a brilliant show and it was so much fun to see and hear Marco Aro air his throat in the best thrash metal band in the world again. The members all seemed to be enjoying themselves and together with the fans they built up the perfect atmosphere in order to deliver an extraordinary show. Straight after the show the guys went out amongst the crowd to meet the fans and talk to them. Not many bands, sweaty and tired, do that! Respect! With all this meet and great shit that fans have to pay to meet bands it is refreshing to see bands like The Haunted that doesn’t suck money out from fans.
The only negative thing regarding the night, which I’ve already mentioned, was the poor lighting. And it wouldn’t have hurt with one more song 🙂
It’s not often The Haunted is performing live nowadays so if they are in your neighborhood, make sure to catch them in action. Thanks to Kulturbolaget for booking the band, this show was one of the best this year.
Fill The Darkness With Blacks (intro)
Preachers Of Death
Time (Will Not Heal)
All Against All
This Is The End
Bury Your Dead
Eye Of The Storm
Thanks to head of Kulturbolaget Totte Lundgren for help with press/photo pass
Thanks to the always friendly staff and security at the club.