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Sweden Rock Festival 2005 - filled it's head with rock for three days
This year received acreditation for Sweden Rock Festival 2005, in Sölvesborg, Sweden. Since this was probably the most beautiful line-up in rock n roll since years, there was no second thought to the "hell yeah" that was shouted out after hearing the good news. was there to check out one legend after another, and see about a thirty concerts in three days time in total. Furthermore experienced the remarkable festival atmosphere that this mid-sized festival with the king-sized line-up has. Where the facilities were no more than normal, and there was no festival decoration what so ever, the 24.000 people from all over the globe that rocked for three days made for an amazing feeling of respect, friendship and above all: rock n fucking roll! If there is one festival that wants to recommend to you for 2006, it has to be this one! Fill Your Heads With Rock in Sölvesborg, Sweden!

Thursday June 9th

Day one started off at the smallest stage, the Spendrups (a Swedish beer-brand -ed) Stage, located across the festival entrance, with the Swedish formation Crystal Eyes rocking to the small attendance present at this early hour. This band has been around since 1991 and has released three albums to date, but were unknown to me personally. Their every-day Heavy Metal was a nice way to start the day off, but despite the good vocals of Daniel Heiman (ex- Lost Horizon), it never turned into a very exiting performance.

Same story for the once again Swedish hard rockers of Hellfueled, who opened the third stage of the Sweden Rock Festival, the Sweden Stage. Nice, entertaining, but quite average. More crowd responce here than with Crystal Eyes, which has to be a sign that the band is quite popular is this country. Once again a good singer, by the way.

On to the first band to play the biggest stage, the Festival Stage: Napalm Death! Believe it or not, the godfathers of Grindcore, as extreme as their music may be, actually got quite a crowd to play to this morning! The most extreme and loudest band of the day, a testamony as to how broad the taste of most Sweden Rock's visitors seemed to have. More than an hour of grindcore is not easy to stomache for most people, but seeing the number hands reached the air when another song was announced it was clear that this band is not unfamiliar to Sweden.

As for the gig itself, Napalm Death obviously served a mixture of the old and the new, so Suffer The Children was present, just like the new stuff like The Code Is Red..Long Live The Code or The Great Of The Good (with Barney Greenway filling in Jello's vocals). Hardly surprising yet very satisfying was the familiar "Scum" row of songs at the end of the set, so within 3 minutes Napalm Death ravished through Scum, Life, The Kill, Deceiver and You Suffer, to end off with the fantastic Dead Kennedys cover Nazi Punks Fuck Off. 75 minutes of extreme grind, thats the kind of stuff one needs to wake up, I tell you!

After Napalm Death, getting a good spot for the Anthrax gig wasn't very hard, since the Rock Stage is located oposite to the Festival Stage. As you might know, Anthrax is touring in their legendary Among The Living line-up with Frank Bello, Joe Belladonna, Charlie Benante and Dan Spitz. As seen on the Dutch Dynamo Open Air festival, this works out great. And not just because Anthrax recorded their finest music in those days. Seeing these oldies rocking out like they're eightteen is a great thing to apreciate. And speaking of the Dynamo gig, the Sweden Rock one was very similar. Which means: fucking a! Opening with the Blues Brothers intro tape, flying into the title track Among The Living without delay, crushing the audience with Caught In A Mosh and War Dance, rushing through all the great albums everything from Fistfull Of Metal to State Of Euphoria.

And just like on Dynamo, the hilarious rap song (hailing from as far back as 1991 most likely to be the very first evidence of Rap Metal ever) I'm The Man was present, and pleased the audience. Once again I was impressed with the state of Belladonna's vocals, he still sounds like he does on the records! Fantastic.

Back on the Spendrups Stage, the very much hyped girls of Crucified Barbara were playing.

Well what can one say? The girls sure look fine, and seeing a slender chick with a flying-V sure ain't a bad sight. But when it comes down to the music the curiosity was soon dimmed. Boring rock n roll that is played like some one just died. Sorry girls.

One band I was looking forward to, had to be Dave Mustain Solo, er I mean Megadeth. And not just because the man has some legendary works of metal on his resumé, but even more because of the never ending controversy that surrounds this strange man. Selling his soul to Christ, selling his guitars to John Doe, firing one band-mate after another, recovering from mysterious hand injuries that should have left him incapable of playing any music.... It would be enough to base a complete episode of Dallas on. So there was the burning question in front of me: will Mustain proove everyone wrong, silence them and rock like a motherfucker?

Well... I'd love to say he did. But after a couple of minutes it became more and more clear that ol' Dave has lost it. He sang like he had to much to drink last night (holy water?), he just stood there like a bag of bricks and he managed to present a very dissapointing gig. Mister Mustain had every kind of aire surrounding him that he had no intention whatsoever to rock anyone tonight. It took 45 minutes for one of the faster songs to emerge, and when that happend, he still looked like the same bag of bricks, and he never bothered to say anything to the massive audience turnout the Megadeth show gathered. And at that point, there is no use in playing the very, very old stuff off' Peace Sells.. Dave man, just quit.

On the Sweden Stage the biggest Dutch band of the moment, Within Temptation played their familiar set, that seemed much more refreshing to the Sweeds than to your Dutch reporter who has seen this band way, way to many times.

The Swedish audience however apreciated this gig big-time, and had a gigantic party upto way beyond the sound tower. Hands raised to the sky during Ice Queen, Angels and Memories. Within Temptation came, played and conquered. Just like they have won over the most of europe so far, Sweden is without a doubt the next on the list for a chart topping.

The Viking Metallers of Thyrfing had some stiff competition! On the Sweden Stage Within Temptation packed about five or six thousand, while Saxon, playing the Rock Stage, probably had three times that attendance. So you've guessed it, a sparsely scattered bunch of people were hanging around to hear Thyrfing's exellent slab of Viking Violence. A good show, even though I too had to desert the Spendrups Stage area after hearing two songs from the Vansinnesvisor album, to be able to see a part of the Saxon gig.

As said, most people on the festival area at this moment turned out to be rocking out at the Rock Stage for some ancient NWBHM action. I've actually seen these kick-ass gramps play a couple of time before, but I must say this was their finest moment I witnessed to date. Besides the fact that Saxon played in their familiar, unrelentless "do not disturb - we rock" kind of way that is always pleasing to the eye and ear, in front of them there was one hell of a party going on! Once again Sweden Rock proved to attrackt a very cool audience that bares tons of respect for the legends in rock, and whilst Saxon might not be the most famous surviving band of the New Wave Of Brittish Heavy Metal, they sure were treated in such a fashion in Sölvesborg.

Biff and co must have had the time of their lives, especially when they kicked in their classic Wheels Of Steel, the song that started it all back in the early days of Metal. Tens of thousands of hands reached for the sky and every word was sung. And when the absolute hit Crusader is kicked in way beyond their sceduled playing time, the Sweeds let loose all energy and the place turns into a absolute madhouse. Fantastic!

The Festival Stage housed the 70's melodic rockers Styx. With all the metal and hardrock action going on, their sweet sounding almost poppy songs came as a cool and refreshing change. I understand this was actually the first time the heavily Beatles-influenced rockers played on Swedish soil in twenty years, and a half full field in front of the stage awarded that fact. Styx are still active in making and recording music, and some newer material from their 2003 release Cyclorama and their latest effort entiteled Big Bang Theory was presented, but you will not be surprised to hear that most anticipation went out to the classic songs such as Too Much Time On My Hands, Snowblind and the wonderfull balad Lady. Good perfomance.

Morgana Lefay were one of the bands to play the Sweden Rock Festival this year that sounded interesting. Like many other bands on the Spendrups Stage this weekend, they never got the field packed with people. But more important, the band kicked some serious butt. A quite unique blend of classic Heavy Metal versus Pantera and Prong style mosh-metal. Heavy loaded metal for headbanging purposes that would impress more on a bill with less intimitating competition, I'm sure.

Some bands have been around. Some have been around for long. Other, however are called Nazareth. The band that has been making Rock since the stone age had to compete with Motörhead, who were playing at the same time on the Rock Stage. Still they drew a nice crowd. And well, I have to be honest with you, how much I actually like Nazareth's music, the anticipation of watching Motörhead and their classic Bomber-tour show made me leave early, and I think I wasn't alone in this. But somehow I do not think this was a big concern for the band, as they seemend to apreciate every soul that came out to see them and rock out to the songs I did witness, amongst which was Razamanaz, and some new song of which I forgot to write down the title (sorry). It was good to see Dan MacCafferty was still rocking out with a good sence of humor and thrice my age. But sorry guys, I really gotta run now...

...cause Motörhead were well into a third of their set! And instant satisfaction is awarded to anyone who made it to the Rock Stage Thursday night. Racing through one song after another, the ever sunglass-wearing Lemmy Killmister, witty and entertaining as ever, along with his Motörhead proved they are still "louder than everything" and it turned out to be a fantastic way to enjoy a sunset.

Just before they left the stage ("just scream and we come back, you know how it works"; ) Lemmy spoke the touching words of dedication to DeeDee, Johnny and Joey Ramone and Dime-bag Darrel before kicking in R.A.M.O.N.E.S., and a very with a very loud applause awarded drum solo from Mikkey Dee (who is ofcourse, Swedish). After the "unexpected" return on stage the show broke lose, half naked girls with torches, and the gigantic bomber rig being lowered before hoovering over the band. Four more songs and it's over.

A Swedish guy told me why he likes this band so much: "Motörhead is one of those bands that you never really have to catch up with, you know that in five years time your entire life has changed, but Mötorhead will still be playing your local club by then". That's one fine way of summing up this band, I think.

After beeing blasted away it was, besides getting extremely chilly, time for the headlining act this night that was, to my surprise, the German re-united Hardrockers of Accept! I had no idea this band's popularity took on this kinds of magnitude outside their home-country Germany! The number of Accept t-shirts were remarkable, and everyone was wearing them, from 12 year olds up to 60 year olds! Amazing! And the gig itself? Well, don't come and see a reunion show for surprises. First of all the big bummer, Udo's vocals seem to be down to their last straws. But as for the enthousiasm, 100%, along with the entire band that is. And even though Udo is a visual combination of Joe Pesci and a Dutch actor that is known for his love of "slagroomtaartjes", he is still one cool dude. He's a Breaker! Speaking of Breaker, a large portion of the setlist was complimented with songs from that very album. Burning, Run If You Can, Breaker and Midnight Highway were all crammed into the long set list that got the best of me after about an hour and a half. But Accept still rules, even though this is not a perminent reunion as I understand it.
After that it was a matter of hugging the matress at once, since it was a matter of getting up early to be able to check out the first bands, Friday morning!

Friday June 10th

The band to open the Friday was Sabaton, a Swedish Heavy Metal formation that sounded great and had a profesional stage perfomance. Performing classic Metal in the tradition of the greats of the 80's, with a singer with some raw rock 'n roll qualities. The one thing that seemed very amusing to me was the cordless keyboard with a shoulder-strap that the keyboard player was wearing like it's the coolest thing around.

Thank god the band kicked some ass this morning at this early hour, and I've been told the band already has two releases out there on Black Lodge Records, go check em out, it's worth it!

Ready to bang my head to Arch Enemy as I was, I was surprised to hear something completely else coming from the Rock Stage as I approached it. Sounds famliar.. Sounds like stoner rock... Wait a minute I know this... And when I found a good spot I saw the backdrop that read "Mustasch". Holy fuck! I love this band, I even own an album by them that I bought during their last show on Dutch soil (at the Paaspop festival 2004)! As I soon found out, Arch Enemy had canceled their entire tour, and Mustasch were replacing them on Sweden Rock Festival. This made me very happy since as a Dutch you do not get that many chances to see these superb Stoners in action.

In case you do not know this Swedish band, they play a fantastic combination of extremely heavy Stoner in Kyuss or Monster Magnet tradition with some side orders of Metal (even a guitar duel or two) and some southern or blues influences. Fantastic, bands like these are the kind that make the Swedish rock scene as cool as it is. Just check out the great song Homophobic Alcoholic (highlight of the set) and you'll hear what I mean.

Back on the Sweden Stage The Lizards were playing and just like me you're vert likely to have never heard of this band. Witnessing the meager audience turnout to this part of the festival grounds, I was not alone in this. But research soon learned I should be ashamed of this fact. Because the line-up is quite something else.

The drummer, Bobby Rondinelli has played for Rainbow AND Blue Öyster Cult, and the singer is none other that Mike DiMeo, of Riot fame! Wow! That sure gives this show a spin. Even though I lingered around Mustasch for quite a bit, and therefor I managed to catch about twenty minutes of this performance, I feel grateful to have seen this superb band in action.

The music that The Lizards play is your classic 70's hardrock, bluesy, groovy and heavy at the same time. And despite the pink shirt that guitarist Patrick Klein was wearing, it was all worth seeing. Keep you eyes open for The Lizards, I know I want to see a full setlist of this, for sure!

Time to run to the Festival Stage to notice the simply fantastic stage setting that Zakk Wylde and his Black Label Society have set up for the show. A stylish and cool red and black backdrop with the letters "BLS", with the L replaced by a 30's revolver, skulls all over the place and, ofcourse, five pints of beer waiting for the band.

Never losing a sence of humor and detail, a guy in a biker-vest walked on stage and flipped a tiny sign that read "Pub Open", and the intro tape (of the Godfather, being the tour that supports BLS's latest studio album "Mafia"; ) starts off, before Zakk and co walk on stage to be greated with great enthousiasm by the mostly motorcycle-fanatic audience, who apreciate Wylde's loyalty to this scene more than anyone else. After some solo stuff, including squeeling amps and roaring guitars, the set kicked in and roared on without any delay through the sceduled one and a 75 minutes playing time.

And what can one say? The obvious stuff (old and new material)? Let's just keep it at the fact that BLS is still one of the better acts to play in the sunshine, whilst watching them with a beer in your hand. Like Motörhead I reackon this band is as reliable as anything and will be there in 2025 playing their heavy hard-rock with same passion.

Lana Lane is called "the queen of symphonic rock", and is known for her collaboration in the Dutch Ayreon project. But to be honest, watching her and her band perform on the smallest stage at a cloudy moment with about a hundred people attending, didn't add up to the atmosphere, and the Queen went down in a symphony of dissapointment. Too bad. Sound quality was poor too, by the way.

The only show in Europe! That goes for Helix, from Canada, that played a long setlist on the Rock Stage. Their every day hardrock didn't impress me too much, and the talking to people around me, I got the impression that I was not the only one who had never heard of this band that is supposed to be popular is Sweden (with even some chart succes). To me, being as young and naive compared to these rockers (that go as far back as to 1975!) it was a big mystery why they got such a prominent spot on the bill, but then again you're never to young to learn.

Ah, Overkill know there´s one band I can understand! The band with one of the most charismatic and funny frontmen of all the metal scene, Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth, was slamming their way through their gig as I entered the Sweden Stage field, with quite a crowd following.

And just when I found a good spot for taking photos, Ellsworth announced that Overkill drummer Tim Mallare was about to switch seats with "a much lesser drummer", to be known by the name of Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater! Personally I'm not a fan of the progressive rockers of Dream Theater, but it was a nice surprise noneotherless.

After that the set was entertaining as ever watching Overkill perform, with loads of jokes like "are we in Denmark?", and getting the audience to shout "Fuck" in the afternoon is always a good crowdpleaser. There you have it, once again one of those extremely reliable bands, if you want a good night of metal fun, go see Overkill. But you knew that already.

The straightforward Heavy Metal of Symphorce was a nice way to follow up to the Overkill gig, with another fantastic rock n roll singer in the form of Andy Franck (also known from his work with Brainstorm). This is one of those German traditional metal bands that sounds unmistakenbly German, but no one can explain where this comes from.

Strange huh? Anyway there is nothing wrong in sounding German, considering the magnitude of great heavy bands that hail from that country. And Symphorce may not be that one special band that sticks to mind due to originality, they sure bring quality. The big dissapointment for the band must be that, once again like many times before and to come on Sweden Rock, the Spendrups Stage had a meager audience attendance this afternoon. So I'll tell you what you've missed: great metal! Check em out if they're in the neighbourhood.

Onto the Festival Stage again for one of the most anticipated performances (anticipated by me, that is) of the festival: the legendary prog rockers of Kansas. Where most progressive bands forget to write some simply beautiful simple songs to water down the indigestability of it all, Kansas combines wonderfull complex melodies and arrangements with stunningly beautiful rock ballads, the most famous ofcourse being Dust In The Wind, that song that your local Classic Rock radio station still plays to date.

But as said, Kansas offers more than just that. And when Magnum Opus is kicked in one can either run away by the inaccesibilty of that work of art, or marvel its beauty. To me, Magnum Opus, as hard to follow at some points, is as close as rock has ever gotten to classical music arrangments. The 50+ year old rockers take the about 10.000 attendants on a beautiful multiple high and low rollercoaster ride as the tune is played with near perfection that one just has to admire. And if that "tune" was a little to much of a good thing for you, the band served you the famous tunes like Dreamweaver, Carry On My Wayward Son and, how could they forget it, Dust In The Wind. Fantastic, the absolute highlight of the Friday!

A small step from complex prog rock arrangements to evil and extremely vile satanic metal, right? Well it takes some adjustments mentally but after getting hold of my stomach I got in the groove for the legendary Swedish Black Metal of Satanic Slaughter.

And even though there was a chick in army trunks with a d-cup almost headbanging her bra off, I managed to focus on the music. Because the problem with many extreme and black bands is that they get so extreme that goes beyond "headbangable", but this is never a problem with Satanic Slaughter, who have a perfect balance in sounding grim and fast, but still maintain a full-on metal assault feeling to their music thanks to a bunch of speed/death and thrash influences with a drop of (who else) Venom. Neck injuries gallore!

Dream Theater to me is a band that is hard to review, because to be honest with you, D.T.'s music has never really been my style. Which resulted in a frantic crowd respons during which many hands were thrown in the air in an explosion of joy and recognition, after announcing one song after the other that didn't make sence to your reporter at all. All I can say is that Dream Theater are obviously very popular is Sweden (like anywhere I'd think) and that standing there in with my cup of coffee in the Swedish sun, it sounded quite allright and ik could have been worse. Wish I could update you on a setlist or something but alas, I can't.

Sounding like early Maiden, Priest or Saxon, Diamond Head have been the founders of the New Wave Of Swedish Knäckebröt Metal. Which would have made it an incredible honor to see them finally perform a live set!

Nah, just kidding, never heard of them before. Heck, they're probably not even Swedish. Just happened to run in to them, and it sounded good. So there you go, Diamond Head. Woohoo!

On the big Festival Stage Hammerfall, who appear to be as big as any of the international acts playing this weekend, were already slamming through their setlist. First visual thing you'd notice is the beautiful stage setting, with icebergs and nice backdrop and even the monitors covered in "ice". Good work in the art department! As these famous Heavy Metallers shoot one classic after the other into the audience (the fabulous song Renegade), that is enthousiastic as ever, it is not hard that profecionals are at work here. The audience, as said, loves it and has a big party in front of the stage. And rightly so, Hammerfall kicked butt this afternoon.

For the close down act of the Spendrups Stage, a good crowd of somewhere around thousand people turns out to see what I consider the best Death Metal band since Morbid Angel, Behemoth.

The Polish heavy-as-fuckers with their cool face-paint that started out Black Metal, have a reputation for being a good live band, and this was proven once again today. Truck loads of heavy shit was dumped onto the audience with the mission to crush them, and so it did. My god this band is heavy!

A comparison with Morbid Angel's later work is in order and has to be considered a absolute compliment. And when Demigod kicks in the absolute highlight as far as extreme music goes is marked for this weekend. Hell yeah.

Slightly middle aged ladies in leather pants rocking out and playing very ordinairy hardrock. That's Vixen.

I have no Idea where they came from, when they were popular, but obviously they have their share of popularity in Sweden. I could care less though. Guess one should have been there?

On the Rock Stage the ultimate party band as far as rock has gone, Status Quo was doing just that: creating a party for the audience. Dancing drunken Sweeds invade the fields, and were all jumping, airguitaring and shouting like mad. In the mean while Quo was giving the standard setlist with every predictable angle imaginable, but who could critise such a thing when seeing ten thousand frenzied Sweeds partying like there was no tomorrow? Exactly. Good job Quo, good job Sweden!

If one act today had to be nominated for best onstage scenary, it has to be the legendary Red Rocker Sammy Hagar and his Wabos. The former Van Halen singer performing the Sweden Rock Festival was one of the big pride and joys for the festival-organisation, and mister Hagar sure did not hold back to decorate the stage. A huge beach cabo, with drink pads, a big tribune in the back for his Swedish fans to be able to enjoy the show on stage, cocktail waitresses bringing Sammy drinks, it was all very nice to look at. And outside being somewhere around 8 degrees Celcius, looking at a sunny show like that sure does warm you up a bit.

As the show kicked in a awesome lightshow took off, and mister Hagar and his Wabos sounded just like you'd expect from American monster acts: crystal clear! Best sound quality I heard all day. Hagar gives a hundred percent and tries very hard to entertain the cold and tired audience, but it seems like Status Quo has gotten the best of most of the audience, and only the very front rows really let loose. Too bad, cause Sammy had some cool songs line-up for Sweden, including: Theres Only One Way To Rock, Serious JuJu, Give To Live, I Can't Drive 55 and Why Can't This Be Love. So clearly a mixture of old Van Halen stuff and some rarities here and there. But as said, the audience seemed to cold and tired to party. A damn shame, and I felt slighty sorry for Sammy Hagar, the Wabos and the people who brought the giant stage-setting. At least they tried, and I enjoyed the show, but in the end the cold got the best of me and once again I retired to the campsite before the end of the show. Sammy's cool though.

Saturday June 11th

The final day of the Sweden Rock Festival started out with another promising band, this time from Oslo, Norway. We make a fine combination of hardrock, spacerock (think Monster Magnet and Hawkwind) and top it off with American glammour. And even though the singer wore a hat that only southern-Dutch wear for four days in the winter, this Raad-Van-11-Metal worked out very well.

The band is immensly popular in their home-country and listening to the music it is not hard to guess why. Catchy as fuck! Look out for We the coming years, there might just be some potention here that could bring them popularity in more places in Europe.

The Sweden Stage hosted the act that I've been told by quite some visitors of the Sweden Rock that I spoke, that I should miss, nomatter the circumstance. And that act was Shakra, a Czech melodic hardrock band that released a debut in 2003. And was all the built tension justified? Yes! Fine super-sounds of the eighties hit my eardrums and satisfied my need for good music this morning. And the people who hung around the Sweden Stage seemed to think the same, lots of love for Shakra this morning. Like We, Shakra needs to be kept an eye open for.

Where Spacerock (We) and Hardrock (Shakra) are easy to digest early in the morning, full-on bombastic over-the-top orchestral metal is a whole other story. Therion is a very strange event this early a day, and even though the stage was crammed with classical singers and every herz that were spilling from the speakers was filled with a note or tone, it was completely the wrong time of day for this. This would have been better somewhere in the evening, I'm sure.

Why Kim Mitchell filled a slot on the biggest podium of the festival on the last day, is anyones guess. Even though his songtitle "Fill Your Head With Rock" is the festival's motto that decorates every poster and t-shirt, Mitchell is a completely unknown person in Europe, and Sweden is no exception considering the people who even came to ask me who the hell this was playing with that giant Canadian flag. Later I learned that Fill Your Head With Rock was written especially for the festival, which explains at least some parts of his slot. But the every day hardrock that nowhere gets special never convinced me to buy an album or check his music out. I'll never be a Kim Mitchell fan, sorry.

A whole other league on the Spendrups Stage, with Defleshed playing there hard to follow extreme-speed Death Metal. Fourty minutes of near non-stop blastbeat trembled the grass and scared away a large portion of the people who were entering the festival ground during this gig. That's Death Metal for you.

Anyhow what remains to be said is that Defleshed played tight, delivered their sick-speed shit with propper devotion and rocked the people who could stomach it. But after half an hour, it does get boring that nonstop blastbeat thing.. For insiders only!

When climbing the hillside that lies in front of the Sweden Stage to get a good spot for the Sebastian Bach, I was shocked how crammed this piece of festival ground was. Obviously the former Skid Row and current star of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, should have played the Festival or Rock Stage! Thousands tried to get a glimpse of the singer that used to front one of the best 80's hardrock bands that seemed forgotten in time. Not on Sweden Rock they haven't! Just counting the number of Skid Row t-shirts would amaze most people. All the freaky hairspray girls found their way to the front barricades to sing to absolute classic rock (mostly Skid Row) song like Big Guns, Here I Am, Piece Of Me and the two songs that made Skid Row immortal to many: 18 and life & the anthemic Youth Gone Wild. Sweden Rock treated Sebastian Bach and his superb backup band (with members from Rob Halford's former solo band!) like a headlining act, and it is not hard to imagine Bach coming back to Sweden Rock on the Festival Stage coming years. And rightly so. Because maybe Bach's voice is not nearly as good as it had to be in the 80's, his input and enthousiasm made up for it for sure. Fantastic, another highlight for the 2005 Sweden Rock Festival!

A band that sounds like Pantera playing Machine Head songs in a rehearsal booth, and looks like Propain. Strange that a loaded metalcore band is playing this festival, since they are the very single band that sound like this in the entire line-up.

And it isn't even that good. Rather boring and undynamic even. Face Down went down allright.

Solo's that can take up to ten minutes. Entire songs that consist of guitar virtuosity. You gotta love it. And legendary Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen has many followers and lots of them were present on Sweden Rock today, that much was clear. Personally I like a good solo, but when it takes on extreme shape like it does with Malmsteen and his band, it soon becomes way too much of a good thing. But as said, it is impressive stuff with enough elements of exitement to give the thousands hanging out here shivers down the spine today. A succesfull show in that respect.

Sonata Artica played their typical Finnish (think Stratovarious) power metal with great success. The Sweden Stage enjoyed a good crowd and crowd response. The dreamy music of Sonata was unfortunatly not supported by the dreary weather, but the band made up for it tonight with a fine selection of their almost 10 year existent catalogue.

One thing the band still has to work on if you'd ask me is the stage presentation, especially (by the way very talented) singer Tony Kakko made a bit of a scared and fragile impression, as he walked around the stage back and forth in very nervous fashion. But this was no problem to the majority of attending rockers, as they received the enthousiasm they deserved.

What better way to enjoy your evening dinner with a decent piece of Southern Rock at the Rock Stage? Blackfoot (that band with singer Ricky Medlocke, who was not present due to his busy scedule with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bobby Barth replacing), made some jokes about the short break they took ("just a short 18 years since we've been here", and furthermore focused on playing some exellent music. Crowd response gallore, although I was not charmed by the request to hit someone over the head who was not willing to clap along during one of the songs. However the performance did add some warmth to the cold day in Sweden.

As it kept on getting colder, the right mood was set for a live gig from one of the godfathers of Doom Metal, Candlemass.

I'd never expect such a big audience turnout for a kind of music that appeals to a select group of people in my home country, but it was justified by the sheer excellence of the show itself. Since the band is reunited with their original and only true Candlemass frontmen Messiah, the band is strong as ever.

Wearing his stylish robe, the big ass motherfucker of Doom stomped his feet, screamed and chanted, in other words soon carried the audience in the palm of his hand. Only thing that was a bit of a shame to me and other non-sweeds attending tonight were the Swedish jokes Messiah was cracking with the audience, something that stayed unclear to me throughout the show.

However, a beautifull performance with a dark atmosphere in broad daylight, a shame I fucked up my notepad an hour earlier so I can't give you any song titels, except for the amazing At The Gallows, I wrote that one down in my phone. Candlemass kicked some Doomed Ass!

After running to the campsite to wear a third t-shirt, a second sweater and grabbing a cup of "kaffee" at the bar, I found an exellent spot for the absolute highlight of this weekend. And I'm talking about the man who's been in three legendary bands, and contributed largly in all three. I'm talking about the man that is half my length and thrice my age, but will kick my ass without too much trouble. Who else can I be talking about that Ronnie James Dio. Or, as I like to call him: Ronnie James FUCKING Dio.

Probably my favorite metal singer (sharing that position with Bruce Dickinson), the man has made so many legendary pieces of Metal Art it would take another page to mention them all, but just cropping it down to saying that Ronnie Dio has, besides the band thats playing today, DIO, fronted both Rainbow and Black Sabbath in his time, should do. Anyway on to the gig, that rocked like a motherfucker from hell. Using the most beautiful backdrop Dio owns, the cover to the Holy Diver album, the band put on a show like no-one else that weekend. Everything from the brilliant Holy Diver, newer songs like Shivers (very apropiate title!), the magic beauty of a song like Don't Talk To Strangers (best kick-in ever!), the anthemic and bangable We Rock, and ofcourse closing down with the anthem that every metalhead around the world should know, Rainbow In The Dark. When that song kicked in, I looked over my shoulder and the sight of probably 80% of all the visitors hanging out here and screaming at Dio gave me Goosebumps.

The massive turnout, the charismatic Dio ("you're probably sick of bands telling you to clap along so we'll just play music" -hail Dio!), the amazing set... All in all it was crystal clear to me that Dio should have headlined this festival. Especially considering what happened when the final act of the day stepped on stage....

...Because, boy. Does Mötley Crüe suck. I mean, the guys had a huge show, half naked girls on stage, fireworks, the whole shabang. But they managed to ruin their moment and the festivals final party so profoundly I do not even want to talk about it anymore. Just check out the collumn I wrote on this happening, it sickens me!

However! I can honestly say that after three days, somewhat thirty-something bands I've seen, I can only say that Sweden Rock Festival is the most beautiful thing I have ever experiences as far as 100% rock festivals go. It was worth the trip from the Netherlands without a doubt. With it's amazing collection of legendary bands, the fantastic free atmosphere, the pretty Swedish girls, the rediculously big cd and lp market, and sufficient accomodation for press and guests, I can only say: metalrage will be back at Sweden Rock!

last note of editor: I apologise for the quality of the pictures, for all photgraphs had to be taken from audience viewpoints. I wish I could offer you some cool pics of the headlining acts, but unfortunatly this was not possible.
Details Written on Saturday Jan 1st, 2005
Writer @Lex

Tags: #Sweden Rock Festival 2005