Yes it’s that time of the year again. The Sweden Rock Festival is one of the most important European festivals and it’s always a great pleasure and honor to travel 1200 kilometers to witness and review what is happening in the rock scene in 2019. The festival always presents a great variety of bands with each year fitting headliners. This year they serve us Kiss with their End Of The Road Tour, Def Leppard en the famous Ritchie Blackmore with a unknown version of Rainbow. Even the first day has a serious headliner in the form of Skid Row.
New Jersey heavy metal band Skid Row achieved commercial success in the early nineties with their first two albums respectively Skid Row and Slave To The Grind. Even Subhuman Race scored high but couldn’t top the previous two. Singer fort his wild bunch back then was a tall blond guy called Sebastian Bach. By the end of 1996 this band sold over 20 million records. Since 2017 former DragonHeart singer ZP Theart is handling the microphone and to be fair and honest, does a good job. The Sweden Rock setlist kicks of with the Skid Row song of all times Slave To The Grind and the crowd is getting into it right away. Playing six songs from their first and four songs from their second showcases the importance of both albums. 18 And A Life To Go, I Remember You and final song Youth Gone Wild just sound beautifully. From Slave To The Ground songs like Monkey Business and Slave To The Grind sound as heavy as they did in the early days. Throwing in a cover by The Ramones makes the party complete. Great set, great band, great fun.
Bay area trashers Death Angel started out back in 1982 and up until this day they released nine studio and two live albums. The only two members appearing on all records are guitarist Rob Cavestany and singer and Mark Osegueda who joined the band in 1982. They supported giants like Megadeth, Slayer and Metallica and are often regarded as the leaders of the second wave of trash metal. Nevertheless here at Sweden Rock a lot of fans gathered around the 4 Sound stage to watch these guys trash their heads out…and they do. Tracks like The pack, The Mot hand Father Of Lies gets everybody moving and banging their heads. What an intense show, truly great and honoring the trash metal movement!
Joe Lynn Turner needs no introduction but we’re gonna do it anyway. This American born singer started his career with Fandango, a band playing a mix of pop, country, jazz and electric rock. After their split he got a call from the great Ritchie Blackmore and he became the vocalist for Rainbow. After Rainbow he recorded his first solo album called Rescue Me. In 1987 he sang background vocals on Michael Bolton’s album The Hunger and that same year Swedish guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen recruited him to front his Rising Force. In 1989 he joined Deep Purple on the record Slaves And Masters to play with Blackmore again. Was in the progressive rockband Mother’s Army together with Jeff Watson, Bob Daisley en Carmine Appice. Worked with Bulgarian guitarist Nikolo Kotzev in Brazen Abbot, formed a singing pair with Glenn Hughes in the HTP project, collaborated again with Hughes in the Michael Mann Project, performed in a project with Pink Cream’s bassist Dennis Ward called Sunstorm, teamed up with Blackmore’s son in Over The Rainbow and appeared on the Avantasia album The Mystery Of Time. An impressive list wouldn’t you say. Today’s set consist of tracks from his Rainbow, Purple and Malmsteen years. The choice of songs is beautiful but when it comes to performing them Turner and his young band are letting us down with the exception of the guitar player. JLT sings out of tune most of the time through classics like opening song Death Alley Driver, Street Of Dreams and Can’t Let You Go. The tribute to he great Ronnie James Dio in the form of Long Live Rock And Roll is in fact a complete disaster. Turner simply has an off day. Not memorable by any means!
Gathering Of Kings is what one might call a supergroup but with a Skandinavian touch. Their first album called First mission was released in January 2019 featuring a diversity of singers such as Rick Altzi from Masterplan, Björn Strid from Soilwork amongst many others. Other musicians include bass player Nalle Pahlsson from Easy Action and Stefan Helleblad from Within Temptation also amongst many others. Despite the diversity in singers the show they bring tot he Sweden Rock Festival sounds quite coherent. Standing out on vocals are the phenomenal ApollonPapathansio formerly from Firewind with Saviour and Angel and the great – no introduction needed – Altzi with Love Will Stay Alive, Heaven On The Run and Passing Rain. One word just beautiful! Lots of respect of the other musicans for adapting their playing toe ach individual singer. This is and remains a project but sounds like a real band. Well done my Swedish rockers!
Vocalist Dave Hill is the only remaining and original band member for the UK band Demon. Till this day they are still considered as one of the important bands in the New wave Of British Heavy Metal. Their first release Night Of The Demon is one of the best Demon albums ever made and withstands the test of time. All other studio albums were above standard but never reached the success that was tasted with their firstborn. The band eventually split up in 1992 to reunite again in 2001 with a completely different line up. Today’s setlist for Sweden Rock shows, strange enough, a big focus on their second album The Unexpected Guest represented by eight songs, two from their debut and one track from the 1991 album Hold On To Your Dream. The band plays tight and straight forward but without ever standing out. Great to see them at the festival but by no means memorable.