Norway Rock 2011 – Day 2 review

A photogallery of the whole festival can be found here.

The second day in Kvinesdal announced itself quite unstable weather wise, but it turned out better than expected. The shows were opened by the local Norwegian progressive band, Pagan’s Mind whom I haven’t notice to have too many shows in their home land. But I noticed quite some enthusiast fans among the few ones gathered in the mud in front of the stage. With an album out at the beginning of the year, Heavenly Ecstasy, the band played a mix of songs from this release but also hits that previously brought them media attention and recognition. The audio was really good from where I stood and even if due daylight their light show had an impact close to zero, it was not a boring show as every musician in the band is equally talented and a joy to watch when they perform solos and riffs.

I’ll briefly go through the bands in the small stage and then go back to the main stage. The biggest surprise of the festival for me were the Norwegian/Swedish mixed band Saint Deamon who uses ex Highland Glory singer on vocals. Their power metal that avoided any sign of ridiculousness and sounded close to perfection. Especially the vocals. But also the fun on stage was something that easily made the crowd love the show. After the festival I saw some videos of the vocalist Jan Thore Grefstad who participated in the Norwegian Idol show and left everyone with their mouths wide open after his performance. It had the same effect in Kvinesdal. His voice is so versatile, strong and melodic and is backed up by a very pleasant power metal sound that doesn’t exaggerate with any instrument, yet all of them can easily be noticed and appreciated. Do all you can to listen to this band. Later on I checked out few songs from the hardcore/punkish Blood command and was pleasantly impressed by the their tiny singer, Silje, and her powerful voice. Yet, I don’t remember being too much caught by their music, so I left quickly. Even later on the day I watched a bit of the performance of the Brits from Quireboys’, who used to be famous at the beginning of the 90s and who had one hour to deliver a fun hard and heavy metal show and keep the spirits up between two concerts on the main stage.

After the progressive opening from Pagan’s Mind, it was time to really wake up with the punk/hardcore four piece from Canada, Cancer Bats whose singer – Liam Cormier – I don’t recall seeing him in the same place for more than 5 seconds. Everyone in the band feels like living for playing live and gives each atom of energy in their body for this show. There’s roars, screams, pounding riffs, low notes, fast grooves and harmonies, and the drummer seems ready to break some world records. Cancer Bats sounded heavy as hell. For more musicians who love to be on stage we get to experience the Swedes extreme metallers from Meshuggah. Intense headbanging, although the rhythms of their music are so atypical that it’s hard to keep track, especially when each of the drummer’s limbs seem to beat at a different rate. Their music belongs to a genre that they pretty much pioneered, with slight touches of jazz at times and vocals that sound almost robotic at times. Jens Kidman took his time to joke with the crowd at times and altogether created a great mood during their show.

A band that was promised for 2010 and who couldn’t make it, returned in 2011 to the excitement of the fans: Black Label Society. For over 20 years their frontguy has served as Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist and he is one of the biggest men I saw performing on stages. They were allowed 75 minutes to deliver their sludge/heavy and groovy metal to the enthusiast crowd. It all started with Zack Wylde coming on stage wearing an indian feather headdress and then he kept on changing guitars that seemed like Barbie dolls accessories in his big arms. The setlist consisted of band’s its that got the crowd singing at all times and cheering whenever a familiar tune would start pouring from the speakers. The man must know most of the tricks needed both when singing and when delivering solos, so that he fascinates everyone who witness his concert.

The second night had a current Danish sensation as headliners – Volbeat. I’ve seen this band live quite few times now and each time it’s almost like they’re playing one of their first shows. The songs and their rockabilly metal rhythms are powerful, the energy is at max, everyone keeps making funny faces, expressing the lyrics of the songs or simply smiling and laughing at something they’re pointing at in the crowd. The vocalist (maybe the second biggest singer at the festival), Michael Paulsen, has an incredible pitch being able to mix elements reminding of famous singers that inspired him, such as Elvis and Johnny Cash. Their songs are catchy, can be danced on and as well can lead to madness in the crowd. I am not too fond of the new album yet, but I only heard it a couple of times. Yet the songs they picked seemed to fit very well in keeping an amazing mood all along their show and made many people dance and sing on the way to their tent. By the way, I think Volbeat was the most listened band in the camping for the duration of the festival.


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