First major headliner for this year’s edition of Sweden Rock are Def Leppard. This is Def Lep’s fourth appearance at the festival and 2015 was the last time they played Sweden. What to say about this show? Well it wasn’t as good as the last one they rocked at the festival. Songwise everything seems A+ but singer Joe Elliott really performs far below average. He doesn’t seem to reach the higher notes anymore and that’s been the case for some time now. The other musicians seem to be going through the songs on automatic pilot. Something doesn’t sound right. Still the Sweden Rock audience gets to hear some great tracks as opening song Rocket, Animal, Foolin’, Let’s Get Rocked and many many more. Playing seventeen songs from seven different albums and a cover Rock On by David Essex for a crowd of 30000 people isn’t nearly enough to send people home or to their tents with an overwhelming feeling. What a pity!
This is it! Slayer is performing in Sweden fort he last time ever. Yes they are saying goodbye with their final tour ever…but we’ll see about that. The band is in great shape. The show is huge , spectacular lighting and fire flames are shooting from left to right. Even the setlist doesn’t rise any questions. Starting of with Repentless from the album with the same title it seems nothing can go wrong. Playing songs from every era of their career true Slayer fans are having a ball. Tracks like Evil Has No Bounderies, World Painted Blood, Mandatory Suicide, Raining Blood and Angel Of Death are performed with such conviction they are the true kings of trash metal. Farewell, you treated us fantastic!
Deadland Ritual is what in heavy music is called a supergroup. Consisting of vocalist Franky Perez (singer for Apocayptica), guitar slinger Steve Stevens (Billy Ido land Michael Jackson), drum animal Matt Sorum (The Cult and mostly known for Guns ‘n’ Roses) and last but not least former Black Sabbath bass player Geezer Butler. Originally formed by Sorum in 2018 Butler was the latest addition tot he band. For Sweden Rock they selected ten tracks and much to our surprise as much as four Sabbath songs are played next to a Velvet Revolver song and the obligatory Rebel Yell from Billy ‘Mr Punk’ Idol. As most band members come from a different background is really interesting how these tunes are performed live. Keep an eye out for Deadland Ritual as this won’t be a one time event. Excellent!
Then there’s the odd one called Tenacious D. This duo consists of famous actor Jack Black and the less known Kyle Gass. The last one taught the first one how to play the guitar and Tenacious D was a fact. The music they play is acoustic rock filled with gags and humor…and this works even for a large crowd like the Sweden Rock audience. Performing songs from each album they succeed to pull everyone on this train of laughter. It’s hard to pinpoint highlights because there are no lows but if we have to we would say Kickapoo, Wonderboy and Fuck Her Gently are amongst the highs. For festival occasions they are supported by a complete band but they are still able to make it sound like it’s only Jack and Kyle playing. Playing seventeen songs it’s been a real treat to have these guys rocking SRF even in Jack Black has put on more than a few pounds.
Melodic Viking metalband Amon Amarth is hitting with such intensity you can feel across the whole field. They have been around now since 1992 and took their name from JRR Tolkiens fictive Middle Earth. These five Swedish rockers are well known for their powerfull style with lyrics rooted in Skandinavian mythology and today’s Sweden Rock’s performance is no exception. Rocking out to three songs from their latest baby Berserker, another three from Jomsviking, two from Deceiver Of The Gods an two from Twilight From The Thunder God and then one each of Fate Of Norns, Sutur Rising, The Avenger, Versus The World and With Oden On Our Sides provides a perfect balance between the old and new stuff much appreciated by the fans. The sound is clear, the music performed tight. What more can one want from Amon Amarth.
Johanna Sadonis formed Lucifer only in 2014 in Berlin. She’s the only constant member in the band. Playing alongside her for the moment is multi instrumentalist and husband Nicke Andersson. He’s playing in so many bands and projects it’s hard to keep up. Lucifer is producing doom metal so to speak and the band is taking listeners on a journey of one hour under a very sunny Swedish sky. Kicking of with Faux Pharaoh this band sets the tone for the next sixty minutes. Johanna’s voice is certainly compatible with the doom rock this band brings and that comes across very well in songs like Dreamer and Anubis. Only downside is the Black Sabbath cover Snowblind. Musicians should know not to even try or attempt to play songs the great Ozzy once recorded, it’s just impossible and you always miss the unique sound of the Madman’s voice. Nevertheless Lucifer sounds so repetitive and so this music maybe is not the best kind to be performed for a large festival crowd but the true die hard fans don’t give a damn. They’re enjoying their portion of doom under a blazing sun.
Since Alissa White-Gluz became the singer for Swedish melodic death metal band Arch Enemy, replacing German vocalist Angela Gossow, their fanbase seemed to grow with more than a few. Gossow replaced original singer Johan Liiva and remains the band’s manager up to this day. Formed back in 1995 its members were in bands like Mercyful Fate, Carcass, Spiritual Beggars and Nevermore amongst a few others. Arch Enemy is serving us fourteen tracks from a variety of albums providing a perfect mix and match between old and new. Alissa is performing the oldies as if they were originally sung by her, so amazing. With As THe Pages Burn, Stolen Life, War Eternal and You Will Know My Name their latest release is well represented. Add to this three songs from Will To Power born in 2017, two from their 2003 album Anthems Of Rebellion and two from their 2005 Doomsday machine and few more from even older albums and as fan you get a well balanced overview of their career performed with such devotion and stamina no one can go around this gig.
Next up are the Swiss rockers from Krokus. Founded back in 1975 as a progressive rock band they soon turned to more traditional hard rock and introduced vocalist Mark Storace to record with them in 1979. In the eighties they were really popular but the refrence to this Australian haunted them throughout their career and is indeed hard to ignore. Still they went their way and produced many singalong hardrock tunes. Thirteen of these beauties are served on a silver platter and amongst them are Long Stick Goes Boom infused with a little bit of Pinball Wizard, Hellraiser, Hoodoo Woman, Bedside Radio, Easy Rocker and Live For The Action. Add to this a Neil Young cover by the likes of Keep On Rockin’ In The Free World and you and up with classic Krokus performance. True they are not running around the stage like they used to anymore but what your ears get to hear still stands as a rock.
What is it with a band like Powerwolf? These German power rockers seem to attract more fans than shit does flies. They aren’t bad but what they bring isn’t that sublime either. They are writing, producing and playing power metal as do so thousands of bands in this genre. Or is it simply the combination of power metal, performance, costumes and corpse paint? Who can tell? Still today on the Sweden Rock festival a very large crowd has gathered before the stage each and every one trying to grab the best ‘seat’ in the house. Opening with Fire And Forgive from The Sacrament Of Sin and whipping out four more songs from that same album they completely ignore their latest trick called Metallum Nostrum. What the hell is that? With three more songs from Blessed And Possessed, two from Bible Of The Beast, two from Blood Of The Saints and two more from Preachers Of The Night no one seems to really care and are banging their heads like never before. Still many critics believe it is a missed opportunity. Shame on you Powerwolf!
Atlanta Georgia rockers Blackberry Smoke consisting of Charlie Starr on lead vocals and guitar, Richard Turner on bass, Brit Turner on drums, Paul Jackson on guitar and Brandon Still have been around for many years but are not that well known in Europe. In the United States they toured as headliners as well as support for bands like ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd. With six studio and one live album under their belt they try to convince a Sweden Rock audience to gather around the front of the Festival Stage. It’s still early and not that many seem to be interested to hear what these guys have to play. The rock they bring is somewhat southern influenced but doesn’t convince at any moment.
You can understand why they haven’t toured around here that many times. Still it was enjoyable if one sat on the ground with a beer in one hand and a burger or what have you in the other.
Former Iron Maiden singer Blaze Bayley isn’t the world’s greatest vocalist but his performance is always two hundred percent. He always goes al the way to please his fans and this time around he does it again. Although he’s not as successful as in his Maiden days he has written and put out albums on a regular basis. Everyone believed he would be lost without the safety net of the great Iron Maiden but nothing less is true. The Birmingham based rocker stands his ground but today he’s taking the easy way out with a setlist only consisting of Iron Maiden songs but can you blame him? A festival this size and performing well known songs from a well known band can’t go wrong or can it?