It’s 2022 and the Sweden Rock Festival is back after a two year hiatus. We all know the resaon why and we’re not going into that. Everyone is extremely happy to regain freedom while turning back to normal life and let’s just leave it at that. The Sweden Rock Festival has done his ultimate best to put together a great line up for the next four days with headliners by the likes of Megadeth, Volbeat, In Flames and the almighty Guns N’ Roses alongside acts like Honeymoon Suite, Night Ranger, Within Temptation, Hardcore Superstar, Lee Aaron and many many more. There truly is something for everybody and everbody for something!!! We will be reporting the highlights in writing and viewing for four days of festival heaven.
There’s no better way imaginable to kick of a first festival day after a two year break with a headliner holding the name Magadeth. Above all bandleader Dave Mustaine seems to be in a good mood. David Ellefson has been replaced by the ‘great’ James LoMenzo who used to rape his bass in White Lion, Black Label Society and Slash’s Snakepit. The new record The Sick The Dying and The Dead is set to be released somewhere in August so Dave informs us headbangers they won’t be playing any new stuff because the are not allowed to do so by the record company.
So immediately after the intro the band is trashing out Hangar 18, followed by The Threat Is Real and Dread And The Fugitive Mind. Setting the Rock Stage on fire with Sweating Bullets, The Conjuring and Trust they decided to slow things down a little bit with a perfect rendition of A Tout Le Monde only to go out with a bang with Symphony Of Destruction, Peace Sells and Holy Wars. Megadeth is a worthy headliner to end the first real festival day in two years.
Victory is a German based hard rock band operating from Hanover and was formed in 1984. From 1986 until 1995 and again since 2005 former guitar slinger from the well known band Accept (performing on this year’s festival) joined this band who established themselves through extensive touring. Most recent addition is singer Gianni Pontillo who is a fantastic singer but doesn’t add anything to the heavy music Victory brings. Nevertheless they rock out well with songs from the back catalogue and especially from the 1990 release Temples Of Gold. Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids Forever, Rock The Neighbours, Standing Like A Rock, Take The Pace and the album title song sound very much like the late eighties but with an upgrade and 2022 feel. Much to everyone’s surprise they don’t play any new songs from the latest relase back in 2021 holding the name Gods Of Tomorrow.
Raubtier, meaning predator in German, is a Swedish industrial metalband from the north. Some of the headbangers we’ve met actually called them hillbillies from the north. Anyway back to the music. Singing in their native language makes it very difficult for people to understand what songs are about but they don’t care and try to appreciate music brought by the violent bunch up on the Rock Stage. Everyone seems to enjoy themselves and that’s all what matters.
Narnia is yet another Swedish metal band put together by guitarplayer Carl Johan Grimmark and singer Christian Liljegren. Starting out in Sweden back in 1996 and breaking up in 2010, they reformed in 2014. Their music is referring to the well known Chronicles Of Narnia by CS Lewis. Many fans are gathering around the Silja Stage long before the band is scheduled to go on. Performing ten songs from six different studio albums shows the diversity Narnia brings to the stage. The performance is up to standard but at moments several band members seem to drive on automatic pilot!
It’s a stone cold fact and undisputed that Warner E Hodges is one of the most recognisable guitar players ever. His passion for country music comes from his father and mother. While serving in the military in Germany he soon joined his parents in their band where he played the drums. His older brother introduced him to Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. When his father took him to see a band called Deep Purple Warner switched from drums to guitar and the rest is history. Influenced also by AC/DC and The Sex Pistols he played in lots of Nashville based punk bands and eventually joined Jason And The Scorchers fusing Hank Williams and The Ramones. He even joined Dan Baird And Homemade Sin to start a solo career back in 2010. Hitting the Rockklassiker Stages Warner and his band bring a mix of everything he has done in his musical career. From opening song Riff Raff from AC/DC to War Pigs from Black Sabbath, Take Me Home Country Road from John Denver, Holidays In The Sun by the Sex Pistols and Rockin’ In The Free World by Neil Young he’s serving songs from his solo catalogue in his own definitive style with much force and persuasion.
Evergrey, another band from Sweden, was born in Gothenburg in 1995 and play progressive power metal opposed to the melodic death death metal this town is well known for. With thirteen albums, including their latest release A Heartless Portrait; The Orphean Testament they try to conquer the Rock Stage under a blazing sun. Starting with a new one called Save Us nothing can go wrong. The fans are there, they are back playing live again. What more can one ask for? And they seem to enjoy themselves. Following Weightless from the 2019 Atlantic release they burst out yet another one from the new record. Midwinter Calls is blasting through the speakers. With Blindfolded they are slamming number three from the last record to play on lots of tracks from seven different studio albums. With that amount of albums is getting harder by the year to compose a setlist where everybody is happy, band and fans. Impressive performance by these Swedish progressive power metal bangers!
Jean Beauvoir is the odd one here at Sweden Rock Festival. He is an all American singer, songwriter, bassist, guitarist, multi intrumentalist, producer and entertainment executive. Today at the Sweden Stage he’s practically only singing. He came into the picture in the early 1980’s with the punk band The Plasmatics and collaborated later on with the likes of Little Steven, Kiss, The Ramones and many more. Nowadays he is mostly performing as a solo artist.
Starting of with Are You Ready, Dying For Love and Hike It Up (three Crown of Thorn songs) Beauvoir sets the tone for the rest of his performance. Diversity, diversity and again diversity. Lying To Myself is a solo effort before engaging in the Ramones tracks Pet Sematary and My Brains Are Hanging Upside Down, songs he co wrote with the Ramones. Standing out in the crowd are the Kiss cover Uh All Night and his own Feel The Heat from Drums Along The Mohawk. Please do come back to the festival again Mr Beauvoir!!!
Freedom Call originated in 1998 back in Germany. The current line up still includes two original members from the early days. With vocalist and songwriter Chris Bay the band recorded ten studio albums and uptill now two live albums. Freedom Call is a true live band in the actual sense of the word. The band is having fun onstage, seem very relaxed and are enjoying themselves as much as the audience does. If not mistaken, they performed songs from every album they ever put together.
Sweden Rock Festival gives a lot of Scandinavian bands the opportunity to perform on this amazing festival. The reason for this is so simple. There are a lot of great bands with equal talent and ability floating around these northern countries. Art Nation is no exception to the rule with their Gothenburg melodic rock. They are going to add a lot of melodic minded souls to their fanbase today. The band is fairly new since the birth in 2015 but they toured or shared stages with bands like DAD, Sabaton, Twisted Sister and Europe amongst others and it shows onstage. They are experienced, show confidence and believe in what they brings to our ears and eyes. Great set!
Danish headliners for the second night of the Sweden Rock Festival are Volbeat. They emerged onto the scene in 2001 after Michael Poulsen left his former band Dominus. Their music is metal but with the influences Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Metallica. It’s kinda like rockabilly meets heavy metal or vice versa. Tonight they are serving us twenty one songs from seven different albums and on top of that a medley and one cover. The last recorded album Servant Of The Mind is represented with six brand new recordings such as The Devil Rages On, Temple Of Ekur, Shotgun Blues, Becoming, The Sacred Stones and Wait A Minute My Girl. Such a treat because their last one just comprises fantastic songwriting. Every bandmember is playing their ass off and especially American born guitar player Rob Caggiano. Closing down the set with the encores The Sacred Stones (from the new one), Die To Live, For Evigt (making its tour debut) and Still Counting (from their thrid album) they are sending everybody home with a sensational feeling and squeaky ears! Mission accomplished!!!
Nightwish from Kitee Finland started out back in 1996 by the most important songwriter and keyboardplayer Tuomas Holopainen, guitarist Emppu Vuorinen and former lead female singer Tarja Turunen. Anette Olzon replaced Tarja in 2007 who went on to pursue a solo career. Eventually Nightwish parted ways with Olzon in 2012 and convinced Dutch female vocalist Floor Jansen to join. Jansen sang in bands like After Forever, Revamp and worked with Arjen Lucassen from Ayreon, Star One…on several occasions. A women with a heavenly voice! It seems Nightwish is bigger than ever with Floor in their ranks. Tonight they are bringing a perfect set with four songs from Human Nature II, their 2020 release. The sound is what we call spectacular and craftmanship they show is proof they are worth closing down the Rock Stage. Maybe in a few years they will be able to secure a place on the Festival Stage, perhaps even as a headlining act!!
Dropkick Murphys is one of those bands who really don’t need an introduction. An American playing Celtic punk and where singer and bass player Ken Casey has been the only constant member. With ten studio albums in their back pocket the are always extremely confident and eager to hit road anywhere in the world. The also released their latest studio effort Turn Up That Dial in 2021 and they can’t wait to play songs from that release live. The Sweden Rock audience gets treated to six of those newborn babies. Two songs each from Blackout, Signed And Sealed In Blood and The Meanest Of Times together with covers from Gerry Cinnamon and The Fureys and then one each of Do Or Die, The Warrior’s Code and 11 Short Stories Of Pain & Glory. Evenly spread so to speak. And all songs, without exception, are executed brilliantly with a youtfull flair added to the mix. Hats off to the boys from Massachusetts!!! See you on your next passage to Sweden!
Accept, metal machine from Germany and conducted by original member and guitar player Wolf Hoffmann, played the Sweden Rock Festival a few times gathering a large crowd in front of the festival. Die hard fans still believe there is no Accept without Udo Dirkschneider but American born vocalist Mark Tornillo is doing a fantastic job since 2009 and almost makes us forget the legendary frontman. Like many other bands they also released a studio album called To Mean To Die with a little help from our ‘friend’ Covid 19. Starting of with a new one they are taking us down memory lane with heavy metal classics like Fast As A Shark, Balls To The Wall, Metal Heart, Restless And Wild and I’m A Rebel alongside more recent tunes if you like Shadow Soldiers and a medley. They are kicking ass what results in a very dynamic public involded set. If you missed them at Sweden Rock Festival try and catch up with them further on down the road.
Canadian singer, songwriter, guitar player and record producer Devin Townsend’s career started when he founded the extreme metal band Strapping Young Lad. His career gets a serious boost when guitar wizard Steve Vai asks this strange young man to sing lead vocals on his Sex And Religion album. An opportunity he doesn’t ignore. Over the years he recorded solo albums and many for different kind of projects like The Devin Townsend Project, The Devin Townsend Band and Casualities Of Cool. He doesn’t look like a rock star, he doesn’t feel like a rock star and his music isn’t always that accessible but he delivers the goods. People who appreciate complicated but structured music pieces from the brain of a weirdo are in the right place. Playing song live from all projects and bandfs demonstrates he truly is a ‘whole’ musician and the fans thank him for it. Come again even when you’re coming of age!
Orphaned Land from Israel are well known for their interesting fusion style of metal. They are truly the master of mix and therefore blend progressive, doom and death with a sauce of middle eastern folk. According to the band itself, they are the inventors of oriental metal. Singer Kobi Fahri and bass player Uri Zelcha are the only two original members and were there from the beginning. The Silja stage is on fire. It almost looks like they are preaching their own oriental metal. It’s fierce, it’s hard, it’s loud and that’s just what their fans want and need. By the way don’t you think Kobi looks a bit like Jesus but then in black? Many think they deserve a bigger stage to preach their psalms!
The sun is shining bright, the beers are cold and everybody is in a relaxed mood. So the time is right for some 10CC. The band played here before on the Sweden Rock Festival and represents the ultimate example for what is generally called poprock. The band goes way back to 1972 and produced some wonderful feel good songs like Dreadlock Holiday, Wall Street Shuffle and The Things We Do For Love. So if you want to take a load off, this is it. Sometimes their music comes across like cheesy but if you listen well you can discover the genius in songwriting. If you like it you’re in the right place. If you think ‘I’m Not In Love’ get the f… away and run like hell to one of the other stages!
Canadian born singer Lee Aaron, real name Karen Lynn Greening, is back at the Sweden Rock Festival. The Metal Queen likes Sweden and the band she’s touring with consist of Canadian musicians including her husband, father of her children and drummer John Cody. Being a product of the eighties hardrock scene she felt the urge to change course and record some poprock oriented music later on. Today she is mixing old and new and it seems to blend effectively. The fans still love her and so she brings the titel track from Metal Queen, Sex With Love and Some Girls Do from Some Girls Do alongside Fire And Gasoline from the album with same name and Diamond Baby from Diamond Baby Blues. The band sounds tight and experienced and Aaron still has the voice to sing the heavy rocking songs as well as the more poppy ones. Standing out is the Janet Jackson cover Black Cat. Too bad they experienced several technical blackouts!
Party time with the Scottish guys from Alestorm. Always good fun with the animated pirate metal and the giant duck onstage! They have only been around since 2007 but in that time up till now they gathered a large fanbase in Europe if not all over the world. Their happy pirate sailor songs are giving a lift to everyone in the audience. Nearly everybody is singing along to Mexico, Drink, Shipwrecked and many more except for those headbangers too drunk to party!
To close down the third festival day In Flames was chosen as a headliner on the festival stage. The band playing melodic death metal originated also in Gothenburg and came onto the scene in the late eighties. Music from In Flames is influenced by Iron Maiden, old school death metal from Sweden and original Swedish folk music. These last few years they seem to attract the mainstream metal audience because of new influences distracted out of nu metal. Anyway in Sweden they are big enough to take the headliner spot. Tonight the are serving a mixed platter of songs of almost every album they released over the years. The fans are going out of their minds and the excitement builds up with each song they perform. Only point of criticism is that they came onstage to do their thing half an hour late and to our knowledge they were the first band to do so and without any explanation. The die hard fans didn’t seem to care and had the time of their lives!
Praying Mantis from the UK has been around for nearly five decades. The band was a part of the famous New Wave of British Heavy Metal but seem to evolve into a more melodic and AOR sounding direction compared to other and more famous bands in that musical stream. Formed by the Troy brothers they seemed to be really huge in Japan and kinda missed the boat in Europe and the United States. In 2013 two new members were introduced by the likes of singer John Cuijpers and Hans in ’t Zandt hitting the drums. Both are from the Netherlands but it must be said that Cuijpers owns a spectacular and great sounding voice adding a new dimension to the Praying Mantis music. Tonight’s dinner is served with an emphasis on the very first album playing three songs from that release. Nevertheless the band is making music on a great level and fans are having a great time rocking their asses off!
Ross Friedman is up on the Sweden Stage. Better known as Ross The Boss he earned his fame as founding member of the almighty Manowar who by the way are known for charging enormous ticket prices for their shows. They are not the Rolling Stones are they? Anyway Ross The Boss is a welcome guest at the festival and the area before the Sweden Stage is truly packed. It seems he can’t let go of Manowar because the setlist consists almost exclusively of songs he wrote with this band and that’s a shame because he has written tracks for four solo releases and there are some fantastic tunes on those records. Sad to say but this is kind of a missed opportunity but the true die hard Manowar adepts don’t give a damn!
Saxon is performing on the festival stage again. They played the Sweden Rock Festival several times and were even here in 2019. They always deliver the goods and this time is no exception. Sweden Rock loves Saxon and vice versa. The setlist seems to be a copy of the 2019 gig and there are no songs from their latest release Carpe Diem but who cares? With Denim And Leather and Princess Of The Night, Motorcycle Man and Wheels Of Steel, Heavy Metal Thunder and Stong Arm Of The Law entwined with more recent stuff from Battering Ram and Thunderbolt they seem to find a good balance between old and new. A flawless performance where Biff’s voice still sounds amazing and the rest of the band playing as tight as can be. Still performing a one and a half our show they deliver the goods and we welcome them back on a future edition!
Opeth is a unique progressive metalband from Sweden. Added to the genre are acoustic guitars and influences from jazz and even blues. On top of that frontman and guitar player Mikael Akerfeldt is able to sing with two different technics. He sings clean as well as he grunts. The combination of death metal and melodic progrock makes them sound so unique. On top of that he writes songs with a poetic meaning and is not afraid to touch topics such as beauty, pain and depression. With a large back catalogue to choose from they perform eight songs from eight different studio albums so you get a decent view of progresssion through the years. Only point of criticism is that they would sound even better on a smaller scale stage because sometimes the music sounds so intimate. Otherwise a superb performance!
Jesus f””” Christ!!! What could one write about the Kingdom Come performance without using words you don’t want to use in a review. Many (including Rockemotions) believe this is one of the worst performances from a band ever. It’s not a celebration of thirty years of Kingdom Come but a blasphemy. By the way a celebration of 30 years of Kingdom Come should have been with original member and vocalist Lenny Wolf who sadly enough wasn’t involved. The performance was uninspired and to say the least uninteresting with lengthy and unnecessary guitar and bass solos. Drummer James Kottak who was dismissed from Scorpions duties because of alcohol abuse didn’t seem to have learned his lesson and looked severely intoxicated slowing down the pace of the songs performed. If asked back please invite Lenny Wolf to sing these otherwise great songs and get rid of Kottak!!!
What a treat on the Festival Stage! Denmark’s DAD, Sweden’s next door neighbours are hitting the stage in full with merry go around and everything. They used to go round as Disneyland After Dark but after problems with the Disney Company they changed the name to DAD. Founded by the brothers Binzer they are celebrating their 40th year in the business next year. They seem to be more popular in Sweden than in their home country. Sweden loves the music DAD produced over the years and with the remarkable Pedersen on the two string bass they seem to combine strong hardrock tracks with a good sense of humor. Playing and enjoying tracks from different era’s brings the large crowd into motion. This performance is truly a celebration of music in the deepest sense of the word. Maginificent!!!
Eric Gales is a blues and rock guitar player born in Tennesseeand is mostly known as a session musician. He even collaborated with Dug Pinnick from King’s X who was guest on one of the previous Sweden Rock Festivals. He has been playing music since he was sixteen years old and is here to present his latest 2022 release Crown playing seven songs from that album and doing a fantastic jobs live. In between songs he shows his gratitude for the warm welcome he receives in Sweden because as a black man that’s not always the case around Europe.
Amaranthe yet another Swedish band from Gothenburg is combining poprock with death metal and they have been doing that trick since 2008. Their debut album simply called Amaranthe had some moderate success in Sweden, Finland and of course Japan as did their second one with the name Nexus. With the third release Massive Addictive they found chart success in new territories including Germany and the United States. Performing songs from all releases they put the emphasis on the 2020 Manifest release with five tracks. Aside from some backing tracks everyone is running around the stage with pyrotechnics in broad daylight and doing what they are supposed to do. Sometimes the music comes across as somewhat organic but the large crowd gathered around the Rock Stage doesn’t seem to care, they are just headbanging away!
Powermetal from Finland is the start of Sweden Rock’s third day at the Rock Stage. Not that many headbangers in front of the stage because counting two days of heavy drinking and beautiful weather is taken its toll. With a limited playing time it can be difficult to select appropriate songs for a setlist but Sonata Arctica does a great job. Performing eight songs from different era they are able to represent what they’ve been doing all those years. Sticking out by far are opening song The Wolves Die Young, Kingdom For A Heart and The Cage. Just such a shame not more people are there to witness their performance!
Probably the most notorious band in the world is closing this year’s edition of the Sweden Rock Festival. Much anticipation surrounds the band’s performance just to witness if they still up to standard. They are starting off on the wrong foot because they show up on stage about a half an hour late. Photographers were not allowed except for their own and that confirms the state of mind of one Axl Rose. Kicking off with It’s So Easy and Mr Brownstone tells us right away the band is not performing as a whole. Everyone seems to be strutting their stuff as there were three solo artists onstage. Rose isn’t the voice he used to be, McKagan is looking straight ahead without a smile and Slash is only looking down at his guitar. Even tracks like Welcome To The Jungle, Double Talkin’ Jive, Estranged and You Could Be Mine can’t convince. On top of that they are throwing in seven cover songs and that is just a bit too much even if it is a well known AC/DC cover! Nice moment in the set is the dedicated to the Ukranian people Civil War composition. Not even final song Paradise City is able to pick up the pieces. It’s just a crying shame that a band with that status can’t bring a fulfilling feeling to a hungry crowd!
Long before the symphonic Dutch metalband Within Temptation is set to go, thousands of fans are trying to reserve the best spot at the front. The stage setting looks damn right gigantic and impressive. They are one of the most succesfull bands in their genre and they have been active since 1996. Lead female vocalist Sharon den Adel is the only remaining original band member! They are well known for their vibrant and energetic live performances and today is no exception. As for many bands it is so difficult to put together a setlist where both fans as band are happy but they manage. From opening track Our Solemn Hour to final song Mother Earth they are giving it all they got with a prominet role for Sharon den Adel who is singing like angels from heaven. See you next time at the amazing Sweden Rock Festival!!!
Walter Trout is what you would call a survivor and a true bluesman at heart. He played with Canned Heat, John Lee Hooker and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers before starting a solo career in 1989. Surviving cancer in 2014 was the biggest battle in his life but with help from friends in the business he made it. In his seventies he is still performing two hundred times a year and today Sweden Rock is happy to welcome him and his Radicals onto one of the stages. He is still one of the most active artists in the genre and presents a blend of old and new with such blues energy you hope he will be around for many more years to come. Excellent gig!!!
Sweden’s hardest rocking metal outfit is back at the Sweden Rock Festival and this to impress on the Festival Stage. They are a hard working band who released eleven studio albums since they started out way back in 1996. Today’s focus is on their latest 2022 release Abrakadabra with the title song from that album, Catch Me If You Can, Forever And A day, Weep When You Die and Influencer. Great hard rocking hard rock tunes in combination with the older stuff from Hardcore Superstar, Split Your Lip, You Can’t Kill My Rock’n’Roll, Bad Sneakers And Pina Colada, C’mon Take On Me and Dreamin’ In A Casket is significant proof they are so ready for the next step in their career. Great rocking performance and hugely enjoyed by many!!!
It’s been ten years to the day Night Ranger played the Sweden Rock Festival and what a joy it was. Back then Joel Hoekstra who’s performing with Whitesnake these days, was still in the band. Today Kerri Kelli who used to play with Alice Cooper, Slash, Vince Neil and John Waite joined the Night Ranger ranks in 2014. The band is playing one gig and the Sweden Rock Festival is the place to be. Kicking off with the world wide hit You Can Still Rock In America the jetlegged band feels adrenaline rushing in and sets the tone for what is to follow. Touch Of Madness, Four In The Morning and Sing Me Away are performed with such youthfull spirit it’s hard to believe they have been around as long as they have. Why there are two Damn Yankees covers on the setlist no one knows except Jack Blades being singer and bass player for that project. They could have done Rumours In The Air, Eddie’s Coming Out Tonight or another great tune from the back catalogue but who cares if your having fun. Closing down the set with the power balled Sister Christian and Don’t Tell Me You Love Me marks a great ending to 75 minutes of pure melodic American rock music. Hope to see you again at one of the next editions. Don’t wait another ten years!!!
German based heavy metal band Rage was formed by bass player Peter Peavy Wagner back in 1984. They were part of what is called the big four of the heavy speed power metal scene alongside Grave Digger, Helloween and Running Wild. Over the years thirteen musicians were part of the line up but the most notable one was with Mike terrana on drums and Viktor Smolski on lead guitar. Never mind because Rage is still going strong with tracks like Resurrection Day, End Of All Days and Higher Than The Sky.
Clawfinger from Sweden has been bringing rapcore to the stage since 1993. Their repertoire is agressive but melodic with lyrics handling foremost about anti racist themes written by frontman Zak Tel. Today is business as usual and one thing that strikes us all is that the band doesn’t take itself that serious. Many fans seem to know all lyrics by heart and therefore lots of tracks like World Domination, The Price We Pay and The Truth are sung or rapped together with this unique band in his genre.
The Halo Effect is what you call a band of friends. All band members were at one point in time involved in third day headliner In Flames. Putting out a single in 2021 and a full album called Days Of The Lost they are new to the scene but packed with a huge amount of experience. Singer Mikael Stanne still fronts that other band Dark Tranquility. Putting a setlist together is the easiest part because of the only release so far. Proving yourself as a ‘new’ band could be diffuclt but the audience gives them the positive response they deserve altough many don’t know the songs…yet!
The Canadian based rockers from Honeymoon Suite have been around since 1981. They are not that popular in Europe but at the Sweden Rock Festival it looks like they have a steady die hard fanbase. The band’s name was a nod to the fact that Niagara Falls is the unofficial honeymoon capital of the world. The setlist consist of the better known Honeymoon songs such as Say You Don’t Know Me, Stay In The Light, Feel It Again, Lookin’ Out For Number One and New Girl Now and this is much appreciated by the fans.