Depeche Mode live in Oslo

Going to a concert of a band you used to listen to sometime like 15 years ago (even if back then I was on the ‘haters’ side) is one fantastic emotional roller-coaster. This is maybe the thought that followed me for the entire duration of Depeche Mode’s concert at Telenor Arena in Oslo. Prior to this, there was an opening band called Big Deal, but after the first two songs in which they didn’t show energy enough to warm up the first row in the crowd, I minded my own business of sorting some ticket for a friend and helping people find each other. So they were a little deal for me that evening.

When the lights turned off and the small flashlights showed the way the artists should walk on stage, I did get a good amount of goose bumps, followed by a big smile when I saw Dave Gahan entering the stage via a neverending pirouette and happy to look at the remaining 3 original DM members in flesh and bones. My enthusiasm shrank a lot when I saw that there are 3 keyboards on the stage, besides the drumkit. I quickly understood that if I am to rate the stage show of the artists, I can’t give them more than a 2. Later on it turned into a 3 due Dave’s constant dancing and ass shaking.

But if you ignore the static part of their show – afterall, their music is not based on guitar solos and fast headbanging tunes – then there’s plenty to enjoy. They have pretty skilled designers for their light show and the projections chosen for various songs. They must have melted the hearts of many by projecting puppies during ‘Precious’. And I really liked the live effects added to the musicians’ movements, especially when they were switching insanely quick between live images.

Dave Gahan’s voice sounds great and he knows how to get the crowd wrapped around his little finger by allowing them to sing famous chorus parts and then directing their ‘Ooooohhh’s. Or simply by taking off his jacket, followed by his vest and exposing his tattoos. Martin Gore can also sing the band’s ballads and the acoustic moments that he’s performing only with one of the keyboard players are quite touchy. That is, if you don’t focus on his outfit and try to figure out whether he is an alien or a character from the Wizard of Oz. But yes, the ballads are working great with his vocals.

The first part of the concert was well balanced between old hits and new songs that I personally never heard prior to the concert. But 2-3 songs before the comeback and all 5 after the comeback were some of the band’s biggest hits and that’s when the whole crowd in Telenor arena turned into a fantastic sight. I was dancing like crazy during ‘I just can’t get enough’ and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face when I saw that hundreds of people were doing the same. This is the perfect concert spirit. I also smiled when one guy managed to climb the stage and started happily waving at us until the security guys took him down in a rather harsh way (or so it looked from where I watched).

The intro of Personal Jesus was nicely mixed and kept us in a bit of doubt for a while. Enjoy the silence was more or less the highlight of the evening and I never thought that Never Let Me Down Again can be such a perfect concert end. It got even better with lovely company after the show and a fantastic display of nature’s beauty during a heavy snowing session long after midnight. Perfect to, once more, enjoy the silence.

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CONCERT COMBO IN COPENHAGEN

The last weekend of September 2013 meant a trip to Copenhagen, initially booked to go to a new Leprous concert together with a bunch of awesome music enthusiasts whom I meet here and there in Europe for concerts. And not only. And mainly for Leprous concerts. The venue where the event took place, Beta 2300, offered a combo ticket for both the Leprous concert and the Orphaned Land and support acts the day before. Sounded good. It sounded even better when Leprous has announced that Vulture Industries will be their support act for this part of their tour, meaning I’d end up seeing this band three times in two months. Absolutely no reasons to complain, since I don’t think there’s too many current bands in Norway who top the live performances of neither Leprous nor Vulture Industries.
bilocated02bilocate01

We skipped the first band of the first evening due logistic reasons and arrived sometime during the second show by the French band Klone. We saw a bit of the show, then went around to check the merchandise and figure out where things are around the venue and what the beer choices are, and the concert seems to end in no time. There’s talent in the musicians and the music sounded pleasant, but it didn’t seem to be catchy at that moment in time. They deserve another chance though. A really cool surprise came from the next band though, Bilocate, having its origins in the big supplier of metal music, the country of Jordan. Leaving the joke aside, I remember shaking my head in approval many times. Their music is like a rollercoaster as it walks you through a very interesting mix of doom/death and Oriental sounds, but dwelling enough in what specialists might also call progressive. The voice is good, it sings beautifully or growls the hell out of your brains. There’s a lot of surprises in the way they build the songs, nothing seemed boring, all has a proper atmosphere. So, thumbs up and they’re already added to my playlists.
Orphaned_land01Orphaned_land02Orphaned_land04Orphaned_land05
I have heard a bit of Orphaned Land’s latest release, ‘All is One’, yet, I am more familiar with the previous releases. And I got a feeling of inferiority when, during each song, whether old or new, the crowd around me would know the lyrics and sing along or jump or clap and know just about every beat. I should have expected it though, considering the amount of tshirts and hoodies with the band name. I heard many good stories from other friends who attended their concerts before and I can only agree with them. The band from Israel is very charismatic, has so much groove and intensity in the sound and, above all, is really acting like a warrior for peace. I usually like the friendly atmosphere at metal concerts, but when the main act is telling you how we all are brothers, and despite the idiocy of the politicians and the media, a band from Israel is able to share a tour bus with one from Jordan and travel the world in peace and good mood, we should all just do the same. And after that, it really feels like a brotherhood. We also got to hear some jokes during the time one of the guitars got fixed and it turned out that the singer is not actually JC. But he still has his charisma. Unfortunately, I left after the first half of the concert so I don’t know how much hotter it got in the small venue, but it’s always uplifting to see such an enthusiast crowd. Even if it is so difficult to swim through it towards the exit.

Saturday begun sometime after noon with good mood, good food and stories that were harder and harder to believe by the time we got to the venue. Once there, we started continuing the beer inspired debates until we got interrupted by drum noise, about 15 minutes prior to the expected concert time. We all thought it was a soundcheck, but it sounded too familiar so I decided to run to the stage and to actually realise that Vulture Industries had started their performance. They chose to do so with ‘Lost Among Liars’, a song for which they recently released a video and which feels a tad lazier than the avalanche of madness that they delivered for the rest of their performance. Wearing their classical dirty worker uniforms with mandatory suspenders and mainly bare footed, the five Norwegians have slowly acquired the interest of most of the audience by offering us the last drops of energy they spared for their final show of the tour. No compromise were made and after, the warm-up ‘ballad’, the band’s singer, Bjørnar E. Nilsen decided the scene is too small for all five of them so he started wandering among the crowd and singing straight into their faces. At some point, during one of the pretty dancy parts of their melodies (I’d guess it was Blood don’t Eliogabalus), all of the band members left the stage and followed the singer through the crowd. They have to find a way to take the drummer with them as well. Anyways, it’s not only the crazy actions and expressions that this band is good at. They do have some of the most interesting songs I heard lately and their recently released album, The Tower, is a piece that shouldn’t miss from your collection. There’s so many beautiful guitar parts, there’s a lot of groove in the bass, there’s very interesting drumming parts with nice, even unexpected tempos; all of them are backing up some very special type of vocals that can do just about anything they want, from clear and beautiful singing to dark and mad growls and to macabre psychotic whispers. A voice that also held us a very inspired speech at the end of the concert, saying that the CD is for sale for those who liked the music but as well for those who hated their music, since it makes a perfect present for a person you hate. You can watch the final song, including the inspiring speech, here

After finding out that I know the bartender’s brother during one of my 50 requests for a glass of water, it was time for Leprous to take over the Danish stage to perform an extended set. I already saw the band’s new bass player and I knew he would do a great job, but I didn’t know that the drummer they are using for this tour, Baard Kolstad, a drummer I saw playing solos in the middle of the night on the main street of Oslo. This practice brought him some serious skills, but it took me a while to get used to how hard he is actually hitting the drum kit. It was quite impressive to see him doing it for the duration of the whole concert.

I feel like I’m always saying the same thing about every new Leprous gig that I review, but I can’t do anything about this feeling: each show simply is above their previous one. They are a very hard working band, they have invested more and more in their image and stage appearance and for this Coal tour they brought along a pair of TV screens and their own lights that build the exact atmosphere the band desires. But there’s not much time to actually understand what the purpose of the visuals is. They are disgusting, intriguing, sad, depressive, fast, colored…but the band itself is too interesting to watch and your attention has little time to perceive anything else. Leprous is still a young band, after all they started making a name more or less three years ago. And I have a big dose of respect for them for managing to have their second headlining tour in such a short amount of time. They probably attract more and more fans through the fantastic energy that emanates from their show. When they headbang, it looks like they’d soon break into pieces due the force they put in their moves. By the end of the show, their clothes are more wet that if they had spend time outside in the rain. Plus, they also have a fantastic way of rearranging the songs live and adding some of the coolest passages ever. Dare You, a song from their first album, is a good example of such a live refinement. With each tour it makes me curious to see how far they go with the rearrangements. In a way, I can’t wait for their next tour, mainly because of this reason. The only improvement I’m expecting is the re-introduction of the song ‘White’ in their playlist. I know I have the support of other members of the audience for this one.

So, if you haven’t seen these bands live, keep an eye on their websites and make sure you don’t miss their future tours. They’re worth every cent or dime or øre or pence or whatever you use as currency subdivision. In the end, here’s a clip filmed during the Leprous performance in Copenhagen

Greatest show on Earth, as it is in Hell

Full photo gallery can be found at http://andreutza.biz/zenphoto/2013/hell

Hell live in Derby

Hell live in Derby

I can’t remember exactly when in 2012 I saw a poster of the band Hell announcing that in February 2013 we are invited to attend the greatest show on Earth (as it is in Hell, obviously). It didn’t take me long to buy plane tickets, book a hotel and a concert ticket. It sounded too special to be missed, and I cannot congratulate myself enough for the investment I made. An investment in some of the most awesome live experience ever. I still haven’t found the proper superlative to use for describing how the greatest show on earth turned out. Luckily, the venue in Derby also hosted a bunch of guys with video cameras who captured every moment of the madness and sooner or later a DVD will be available for the whole world to watch.

The whole Saturday in Derby should have been captured on video, I’d say. After locating my hotel and where the Darwin Suite/Assembly Rooms venue was located, I headed to the ‘The Outstanding Order’ pub which was a cool mix of regulars watching sports on the big screen and a way more numerous amount of Hell tshirt bearers (one of the reason to gather there was the fact that they were serving a 6.66% potion brewed especially for the event and called The Devil’s Deadly Weapon). Seriously, at most concerts I go, there’s a certain percentage in the audience wearing the band’s tshirts. And then a big number with classic Maiden, Slayer, Metallica etc (call classic what you want here) and then some neutrals. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen something close to 90% wearing the main act’s logo on their clothes. And out of the remaining ones, a certain part was the kind to make you turn your head on the street: a Jesus Christ costume with the adequate thorns crown; a non JC costume, yet an adequate crown and face paint; crown, red contact lenses and face paint; only face paint. An interesting bunch of folks, nevertheless. Oh, and not to forget the one who had a 666, Hell style, tattooed (or well, drawn at least) on top of his skull.

Hell live in Derby

Hell live in Derby

Before entering the venue, we (the photographers) were handed a letter warning that there will be BIG pyro effects on stage and we are not outside the 4 meters safety range (or so), hence we are not covered by insurance. And something else about mortar gargoyles. But prior to facing the dangers of being so close to Hell, we were treated ‘normally’ by the two opening acts, A thousand Enemies and Winterfylleth. The first one, a local melodic hard rock metal band, with good potential and stage presence and the second one, a black metal act from Manchester, but less convincing on stage due their lack of black metal ‘look’. But very interesting music wise, since I never heard a black metal British product. With all due respect to the young musicians, I was so thrilled and excited about the main act, that I could barely focus on their performances for more than a couple of songs.

I was probably packed with adrenaline by the time they dropped down the big curtain hiding the pedestal with the 666 labeled drum kit, the background with Hellish drawings on stained glass, the huge band logo, the ramps leading up to the drums, the organ, the gargoyles and the countless other details one hardly has time to notice and that built the perfect church of Hell for that evening. Before everything turned dark and two silhouettes covered in black robes stepped on the stage with torches and lit some big candles, we had a spokesman who wisely invited all the sinners and fornicators of all present nations to make their choice for the night. The answer was loud as Hell! And as obvious as that.

Hell live in Derby

Hell live in Derby

The rest became quickly an unforgettable legend. At least for those present at Darwin Suite. It’s hard to imagine the amount of work behind those 100 minutes that we witnessed. Besides the setup of the stage itself, the directing of all the pyro effects, the stage movements, the costumes, the lights, the sound, the…everything. Probably everyone backstage at that concert deserves a round of applauses. Yet, we only got to see the final product delivered by the British quintet: David Bower – Vocals, Kev Bower – Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals, Andy Sneap – Guitar, Tony Speakman – Bass and Tim Bowler – Drums.

The vocalist deserves a 10 pages review, and then you’d need 5 more to fully try to evoke the theatrical aspect of such a show. It’s in the way they picked the clothes and the face paint and the contact lenses. Then the way there’s a thorns crown worn by the singer. The way the guitarists do synchronised head banging, body bending and small jumps. They even turn into fakirs for a short moment when they had to ‘spit fire’. But most of the show is stolen by Dave Bower’s art of acting. He’s good at it. He’s one of the best I’ve ever seen. He probably manages to make everyone in the crowd feel like at least once they established eye contact with him. After that, they are bound to follow his every move. Whether he kneels on stage, whether he points up, down, left, right, whether he comes dressed as a priest, as a plague collector or as a demon walking on stilts covered in black fur and wearing massive horns on his head and a trident in his hands. And the trident spits fire and sparkles and it’s being rotated in the air so that the white sparkles fill the stage. On the next song he’s back to his normal size, goes up in the pulpit where his face is lit in green and from where he spits more fire from a big cross he’s holding. The same pulpit was used to throw out more fire out of a gigantic Bible. Actually, I believe that everything Dave held during the show ended up spitting fire or sparkles. Except a red whip. He only used that to, well, whip himself and then threw it in the crowd for one of the dedicated fans to go on the tradition.

Hell live in Derby

Hell live in Derby

He must have made the Swedes present in the audience really happy when he borrowed their flag and wrapped his chest in it. But overall he made everyone happy with his performance. Everyone I talked with after the show was mind blown, even if they had seen the band live before. Actually it felt like everyone in the band just set new standards for what a high quality show means. I’ve previously seen metal shows with way more pyro and way more stuff happening on stage, but they were all on those big stages and you ‘share’ the band together with 50.000 other people. I never saw such a majestic event together with so few other people and I doubt any full stadium will ever beat the familiar feeling you get by being part of that evening’s crowd.

Let’s try to say a bit about the music, which the band didn’t compromise at all. We didn’t miss any of those catchy solos, we didn’t miss the creepy playful intros on songs from Human Remains. We didn’t miss new materials either. Actually some old and some new, since, as far as I understand, at least one of the ‘new’ songs was previously heard live. But we got to hear Darkhangel, Something Wicked This Way Comes and Disposer Supreme. For me, Bedtime was also a first audition and for everyone it was the ending tune of the evening. Tune dedicated to the band’s previous frontman, Dave Halliday.

I don’t know if my words have even remotely managed to tell you how impressive the performance was. But I know for sure that if this is how it is on Hell, then may it always be like that on Earth! It’d be a much better place!

Here’s some of the photos I snapped during the gig, more to come on my page, andreutza.biz/zenphoto

Gotthard live in Oslo – concert review

Even if they’ve been around since 1992, I only discovered Gotthard’s music this year at Graspop festival and I quickly fell in love with the voice of their current frontman, Nic Maeder. That’s why I gladly decided to go to their Oslo show, held at John Dee venue, but I was less glad today before the show as the day before I attended few other insane concerts and the amount of headbanging made it impossible for me to move much on Sunday. So I witnessed the Gotthard concert from way back, stiff like a plank of wood and very annoyed by that. Plus I also missed the first band, Gotham Saints, a Norwegian-Swedish mix of glam metallers. But I got in just in time for the opening tune of Gotthard, ‘Dream On’.

I was glad to see a pretty active Oslo crowd, who bothered to lift their hands in the air, sing along and applaud often. But then again, the singer has a lot of charm and energy and easily gets the audience to do ‘Oooohh’ and ‘Aaaaahs’ in any way he wants. He gets good support by the two guitarists and the bass player who do a lot of faces towards he crowd, inciting them to applaud or to sing, or they simply come forward and play a guitar solo in a fancy way, enough to trigger even more intense applause. They’re really cool to watch, even if after my Saturday’s concerts, where each band was trying to break a bunch of musical rules and patterns and would come up with a unique sound, Gotthard’s solos and rhythms felt kinda dull. I don’t mean to say they make bad music, yet, if it hadn’t been for the lovely voice, I’d simply have considered it another hard rock band that is cool live and that’s about it. But since the taste is a subjective matter, I’d much rather focus on enjoying the whole live experience and most of all, of being glad when a band succeeds in being so acclaimed by the Norwegian crowd.

The playlist probably followed the pattern of most other shows they played, trying to cover most of their discography but also to promote their 2012 release, ‘Firebirth’, with some decent time dedicated to a very intense ‘Hush’ cover. Like they did at Graspop, the ballad ‘One life, one soul’ was dedicated to the band’s original singer, Steve Lee, who died in a motorcycle accident almost two years ago. Then the sound gets a bit heavier with some of the tunes from the new track, especially with the presence of a double necked guitar during the rhythms of ‘Give me real’. Each song is a good example of good band communication and chemistry, as the smiles are always present and the guitar duos are often and done with good mood. Another funny moment of the show was when they announced ‘Mountain Mamma’ as the next song, yet the singer had to stop his colleagues as they were playing the wrong song intro. It’s obviously a rehearsed act, but it’s efficient in building a good mood. ‘Mountain Mamma’ was followed by ‘Right on’, songs during which the guitarist, Leo Leoni used a talk box to modify his voice and make robotic sounds and speak oddly to the Oslo audience.

They left the stage after ‘Right On’ and I’m pretty sure there was a comeback, but it was really frustrating not to be able to even clap nor sing along, so I just left and hope to make up for the missed fun next time I see them.

Pain of Salvation and Cryptex live at John Dee, Oslo

With two ‘Road salt’ albums released until September 2011, Pain of Salvation has embarked on an European tour with the support of the Germans from Cryptex. The stop in Oslo was in the small ‘John Dee’ venue, which led to a rather compact crowd in front of the stage and a nice atmosphere altogether. I got inside during the Cryptex show, not having any idea what the opening band is about and didn’t even know their name at the time. I remember crossing the hall, quickly grabbing a drink and then after few seconds of staring at the stage, I felt like dancing and trying to catch the rhythm. Because what Cryptex was doing on stage was really catchy.

First, I noticed their stage placement and the fact that they were only 3. A blonde big bloke on the right side, surrounded by all sort of keyboards and also doing the vocals, reminding me somehow of Jon Oliva’s way and even voice. Then one piece guitarist on the left of the stage, wearing a tuxedo and having an outburst of energy manifesting in excessive head movements. Then, in the back, a drummer wearing a white shirt with black braces and being amazingly groovy on his kit. I was sold by the end of the first song I heard. The guys had everything needed for a cool performance and show: a singer with a versatile voice who also knew how to entertain the crowd, even if he sometimes used clichés. But as long as you have the personality to use them and they don’t feel over rated, that’s your gain. It was a loss for the Norwegian crowd though who, despite cheering really loud between songs, are very hard to be convinced to even clap if they don’t know the band.

Anyways, besides the singer (who, by the way, was wearing a kilt I believe), the music was so…simple, constantly growing into advanced and intense stuff, old, yet new, I don’t even know how to describe it with as few words as possible. I was either thinking that ‘hmm, maybe Pink Floyd might have had a song like that’ ‘No wait, it was maybe Zeppelin’ ‘Oh, here it sounds like they’re about to start a Maiden cover’. There were many bands coming into my mind, each time the Germans changed their sound. And they did it quite often in their songs. Plus, they changed instruments constantly, being quite a big surprise to see that a support band bothered to bring on stage a didgeridoo, harmonicas, hand drum (or drums) and some sound making devices that I couldn’t recognise. All of them completing some sort of journey through rock’n’roll, jazz, pure rock, heavy metal, hard rock, blues, folk. The guitars were distorted at times, clean and cozy at others, there were songs growing so cool from a drumline kept by hand drumming to a furious and loud stick smashing of the snare drum and toms.

Did I mention the good mood? It didn’t leave the band for one second and I am pretty sure it overwhelmed the crowd in the end. They did offer a lot of cheers and I am sure I wasn’t the only one feeling sorry that the band ended their performance. Having a quick look at their nicely displayed merch stand (another rare thing for a support band, to have their own stand), I noticed that the cover of the CD and all presentation materials don’t let you get your mind off the idea of a band who works intensively behind the music, being careful with their dramatic image that is guaranteed to offer you a good time when you see them live. Plus, they have the decency to greet you with the title of their release ‘Good morning, how did you live?’

The usual instruments break change and Pain of Salvation start their show after the 20th Century Fox tune plays in the speakers. I must confess from the very beginning that half of their show my mind wandered back to the first concert, hence I might not be completely objective in my review, since I really wished Pain of Salvation would leave the stage and let the first band come back. But this doesn’t mean they had a bad performance. Far from that. I just didn’t get so inspired by their music that was less daring and more standard.

One can obviously note the stage experience and the professionalism of the band and its crew. Lights very well synchronised with the sound, meant to create anything from incendiary to dramatic atmosphere. Overall decent clean sound, except a song or two when someone mistakenly pushed the volume too high, and then quickly lowered it too much. It felt like the guitars were changed after almost each song and the band’s vocalist, Daniel Gildenlöw, alternated between softly strumming the chords and going nuts on them, plus headbanging like crazy, using each mic on stage or each spot available for sitting or standing on it, making plenty of dialogue between songs and just looking good overall.

It was my second concert within 5 days or so when the drums are placed on the right side of the stage and the crowd gets to see the drummer in action pr study the funny mini cymbals placed on top of the regular wide ones. I really love that placement for drums and would be cool if it became a trend. A bit risky with stage diving though. With the drums in that position, the keyboard was mainly hidden to my view, somewhere in the back. This doesn’t mean I didn’t see anything of the keyboardist, since he ended up in front of the stage several times, especially for the KISS cover in the encore when almost everyone changed role in the band: the singer played drums, guitarist sang and played guitar, bass played another guitar and keyboardist played the bass. It worked pretty well actually. It was quite a cozy moment when they played ‘Healing now’ and everyone was brought some sort of banjo, or mandolin or lutes which added to the worldwide/folk feeling of the evening. I also bet the singer enjoyed the moment when he had to introduce the song ‘No Way’ for the crowd in Norway.

Overall a very good energy on stage, too bad that it seemed pulled back by the softer parts in the band’s music. Yet, these parts outlined beautiful vocal skills. Pain of Salvation is a nice live experience, I’m glad I got to see them, and probably if I hadn’t been so much under the spell of the opening band, I might have been way more enthusiast.

Interview with Steffen Kummerer from Obscura

Touring Europe at the time of the interview, in order to promote their latest album, ‘Omnivium’, the band Obscura made a stop in Oslo for a night under the series of events ‘South of Heaven’. The review of the concerts can be found here, while the band’s official webpage is http://www.realmofobscura.com/, so that you can keep yourself updated with news about Obscura. Prior the Oslo concert, Steffen Kummerer, the band’s singer and guitarist accepted to sit down for a chat and below you find the transcription of the interview. You can read about the band’s future plans, tour experiences, musical backgrounds and before you start enjoying the lecture, I would like to thank Steffen for his time and the tour manager for fixing the interview on the spot.

Me: So what’s happening in the life of Obscura besides the fact that you guys are on tour right now? The latest album was released last year, right?
S.K.: Actually we just re released our old demos. We had a couple of ideas to make this one a bit more special. We didn’t want to go by the usual record label way and it was a self released compilation, made out of our self released demo in 2003, ‘Illegimitation’, a preproduction of ‘Cosmogenesis’ which we did in 2006 and three cover songs, one from Atheist, one from Death and one from Cynic. It’s like an overview of everything we did so far. We just released this first of March and the special thing about this is that we released it via crowd funding. We made a kickstarter project, I am not sure if you’re aware of that platform. It’s basically where people come with an idea, it’s like for start-ups. It’s more common for underground movies. You register there, you can pay anything from 5 dollars to back up a project or go up in price and add anything you’d wish. We’ve been one of the death metal bands to do this at all, we managed to raise about 14,600 US dollars for old demos and we were also able to press some vinyls, few t-shirts, etc.
When it comes to reason why we did that, well, if a label releases a compilation it’s always viewed as they or the band wants to make money. We are not too fond of such compilations so we thought that if people really want to have it fund it themselves. If we reach about 3000 dollars then we can make it as it would cover the costs for pressing the CDs. The feedback was that impressive – almost fifteen thousand US dollars. In the end, the decision of releasing the old demos belonged only to the fans, it was completely out of our hands. We didn’t have any say in whether it was worth the money or not. We are very happy about that. In the end, it’s a fair result both for the fans and for ourselves.

Me: Since 2004, Obscura has only released 3 full studio albums, while the trend nowadays is to release an album, tour for it, record new material next year. Or at least everything seems to be in a rush. How did you survive with so few releases and how easy is it to keep the crowd’s attention without new materials?
S.K.: We actually toured for between one and a half and two years to support ‘Cosmogenesis’. And the same for ‘Omnivium’. This is more or less the last biggest tour for this album and the first head lining tour. In Europe we did two tours actually, the previous one being when the album was just released, in March last year, and it was as support for Hate Eternal. We did two US tours, a South East Asia tour, now we’re going to Japan in June and such a schedule takes a lot of energy. Hence, I guess we cannot release an album every year or so. I also believe that it’s more than enough to release an album every 2-3 years. Besides, the material is ready whenever we are satisfied with it. I mean, we could put out new materials much more often, but they would totally lack the quality.

Me: Then how does the writing process go? Do you set a goal to have things done by that date or do you sit down and jam together and see how it flows?
S.K.: We never jam. It’s not possible, we live too far away from each other. We compose all the material on computer, send each other different ideas..

Me: Some sort of offline jamming?
S.K.: Kinda’. As soon as there’s a certain part of the song or the whole song ready, everybody has to learn it then we meet and practice together.

Me: Is it you who starts the creative process and who comes up with new ideas?
S.K.: We’re pretty democratic. There’s three main song writers so far, Christian Muenzner, Hannes Grossmann and myself and whoever has the best ideas, it means that the song will make it on the album. Doesn’t matter who originated it. For one and a half-year now we have a new bassist, Linus Klausenitzer, and guess he will also bring some inputs to the next album.

Me: You are the original founding member of this band. How hard do you feel it is to change members as often as you did? How easy or hard it is to get them to adapt or is it usually a natural process? Is it trending or is there always the joy of discovering new people?
S.K.: It depends. Somehow both. When we started, we were all going to school, life was changing pretty fast at those years. It was just natural that some members left for universities in other parts of the country or even other countries, some had to start working and were not left with too much time for the band. I also tried to push the band more with each year that passed and I remember that in our first European tour in 2006, even then it was too much for some of the band members at that time. I was always trying to push a bit further, but even so it was only a few times that there were any tensions. I still have a very good relationship with most of the previous members and we’re still in touch. For example, for the old demo recording I had to call most of them for all the rights and it was quite interesting to meet again.
It is of course, frustrating if you reach a certain point and somebody leaves, then you have to go again through all the time needed to get a new member involved. And not only musically, but on a personal level since playing in a band is a 50-50 mix of being a skilled musician and having a good relationship with the other guys. I am very glad to play with the 3 other ones in Obscura right now. It works quite well. There’s always so much stress when we’re on tour, like yesterday for example when we had to drive twelve hundred kilometers from Berlin to Sweden, we took two ferries and we had one hour at the venue for the sound check, so that we could allow time for the first band of the evening as well. Such a situation is incredibly stressful, but it worked. It worked because everybody is focused on their work and that contributes to everything functioning well.

Me: Both in the reviews about your albums and when one is listening to them, especially the last one, Omnivium, we notice a lot of elements that could be rather surprising for a death metal band with some, let’s say, less traditional instrument and types of sounds for this genre. What’s the story behind this experiments?
S.K.: It’s an overall natural process. If we feel that there can be an acoustic part, it’s gonna be one. If one goes through the Omnivium album, he’ll probably notice resemblances with Atheist, Dissection, Dream Theater, Symphony X. So I guess the essence of all of them is what we, in the band, agree among ourselves. Then we just add some blasts.
We try to make our own thing, without denying our roots. And all this experimenting, it has obviously been done before. Overall, we are a metal band with a singer, guitarists, bass and drum players. And I would say we are a death metal band with prog influences, but when we compose the music we just put all the ideas in, we all come up with what we like, there’s no planned directions. If we end up with something unusual, it doesn’t matter, as long as the idea is good and it sounds good.

Me: Does it happen often to hear from people complains about what you do in the music and how unacceptable it might be? Or in today’s metal people are more open to all sort of experiments?
S.K.: The feedback is mainly pretty good, as without it, without people to enjoy our music and buy our albums we wouldn’t play tonight in Oslo. There’s obviously people who don’t like this or that, but those who listen to the music carefully will always find something for them to enjoy, rather than just hunt for stuff they dislike. Obviously every band is getting bad critiques or complaints, but if you’re satisfied with what you’re going and there’s enough fans and friends who really like it…

Me: You happened to play all over the world, from US, Europe to Asia and Australia. What’s the best and worst in your experience so far if it comes to compare the continents?
S.K.: It’s too hard to compare. Just from touring to Europe to US, is something completely different. In Europe the clubs treat you pretty well, they take good care of the bands, while in the US you just get little money per each evening, between 8 and 10 dollars, for which you need to get food. Hence you always end up in fastfoods due the lack of time, plus you don’t know where to go or you just have to drive huge distances, while you only have half an hour and around the corner there’s anything from McDonald’s, Wendy’s, etc. But, musicwise, people are a little bit more open minded in US. First they listen to the music, and then they either complain or they like it. Especially in Germany, we have a pretty hard standing. People see that you’re not wearing an old jacket with patches from Celtic Frost and Kreator, so you must probably suck. That’s before you have played.

Me: As for Asia?
S.K.: There’s big differences between each country. In Japan, everything just works. You just come there, the backline is there, maybe you make some adjustments, you play the show. Then the next day you go to the next city and the nice Japanese people put up everything with exactly the changes from previous day and the EQs are set exactly in the same way. Everything it’s like a dreamland for touring there. In Thailand it was really weird, they are completely crazy. Also Singapore or Indonesia, even if not too far away from each other, there’s still big differences in how people react there.
We also played in Dubai and it was fantastic to hear about people flying over from the countries around the region, just to see our show. They were extremely enthusiast since there’s not many shows of this kind there and we really hope to get to play there again. I must admit I would also love to play one day in South America or in Mexico. We’ve never been in Russia either and that would also be interesting to experience.

Me: How ironic is it to get famous with a band called ‘Obscura’?
S.K.: Not too ironic really, it’s quite normal.

Me: And where does this name come from?
S.K.: I got this super weird album from Gorguts many many years ago and it made me thought that the CD player was broken or something. It’s a very unique sound, you hear it once and you recognise it again no matter what. I also didn’t know of any other band with that name, easy to remember, just one word, so, there it was.

Me: If we look at the current line up, are the people in the band musically educated or the kind of musicians who learned by themselves?
S.K.: Christian has a degree in Jazz guitar from Freiburg and a diploma from Munich guitar institute where he studied metal and fusion guitar. It was a private school though, since official studies only offer classical stuff, no jazz or anything else. When we checked at least. Linus, the bass player, he’s educated in pop music in Hamburg and also has a degree from a regular music university. Hannes took classes for many years (eight or nine) from a professional drummer, learned to play the piano for thirteen years. He comes from a very very musical family. I personally played piano for many many years and had a scholarship for a music school, like a boarding school where I started when I was nine and been there for a couple of years. There I learned a bit of arrangements, little bit of harmonies, I had to sing in a choir, a thing that you cannot tell today.

Me: Is there anything in the direction of a new album for Obscura?
S.K.: We have something in mind, but we’re certain we won’t go in the studio this year. Maybe next year.

Me: If we look a bit at the lyrics and the particular interest in science, occult
S.K.: When we started to write the ‘Cosmogenesis’ album, we had a contract for four albums so we decided to make like a quadrology, so ‘Cosmogenesis’ represented the beginning. Then came ‘Omnivium’ which mainly deals basically with evolution in many different ways, like biogenesis, but also on a religious side. We have the concepts for albums number three and four, one it’s going to be about two philosophers, Goethe and Schelling, while number four is going to be a requiem, like a real classic requiem out of the classical music, just in a death metal way. I am not sure if it’s going to happen, it depends on the finances, but we’re hoping to get an orchestra on that one, like in the way of Emperor’s ‘Prometheus’ album. So that’s what we’re going to work in the next years.

Me: You told me earlier you don’t get to jam together, so I am rephrasing my next question to something like do you prefer to sit down and think, play and/or compose music, or would you much rather be on stage?
S.K.: A hard question as it’s not possible for us to jam at all. We all like to just stand up early in the morning, have breakfast, get the guitars and then start working on a tune. That’s actually one of the most likely thing to happen, especially if the circumstances are nice, for example like on this tour. If you have the whole day stressed out, like in the US tours. For example, I recall when we were support with Cannibal Corpse or other bands, everyone in the band was very nice, no doubts there, but it was very very very stressful, all those extra expenses, you are super tired, you eat bad. Then you are on stage, have to play complex material until your brain feels like fried, well, in those circumstances it’s not something very funny to do.

Me: Some words about the current ‘Omnivium’ tour
S.K.: We’re very happy with the choice we made, I think each band has its very own style, all very technical. Exivious are maybe on the fusion edge, Spawn of Possession are the most brutal band ever, with nothing repeating at all. I listened to them for like five days in a row and I just don’t get it. I could never play this stuff. Then Gorod and Obscura, a little bit smoother technical death metal but a lot of melodious work. But it’s a nice package and the response we got when we announced it was very very positive. I am just curious how it will go from now on. Until now, everything went cool, everybody helped each other. Even if a lot of equipment got broke, even our guitar tech damaged his foot from the first day and now walks with a crutch and sits on a chair while he does his gig with Span of Possession. There were broken strings and I’m actually curious on what will happen today.

Me: How do you spend time on tour when you’re not playing nor rehearsing?
S.K.: Today was actually the first day with one or two hours when we didn’t have to do anything. Always the first few days of a tour are stressful, you have to organise everything, get a rhythm with everyone, especially if you don’t know each other. All these take some time. For example, today the best thing of Oslo was to go to a cafe, sit down there enjoying a cup of coffee, eating a cake and reading the newspaper. Small moments of solitude like that are very treasured on tour. Another cool thing about this tour, well, usually there’s this one dude in each tour that you can’t get along with. I am still looking for him. Couldn’t find him yet.

Me: Any vital information at the end of the interview?
S.K.: Like I said earlier, we are going to Japan in June, first time for ‘Omnivium’ and first time as headliners. Everybody in the band is stoked about this and we’re looking forward for the experience.

South of Heaven: OBSCURA + Spawn of Possession + Gorod + Exivious live in Oslo, March 2012

Obscura’s 2012 tour aimed at promoting their latest release, Omnivium, brought the Germans to the smaller stage of Chateau Neuf in Oslo, together with their 3 support acts: Exivious from Netherlands, Gorod from France and Span of Possession from Sweden. For me personally the event started earlier than the moment when the first tune was played on stage, since I had the chance to conduct two interviews prior to that. One with Dennis Röndum from Spawn of Possession and one with Steffen Kummerer of Obscura. Besides finding out more or less new stuff about the two bands, some insights of the current tour or some general ideas about life, the two chats left the impression of a very good mood among the bunch of people stuck together for about a month on the roads and through the bars and clubs of Europe. It also set some expectations for a quality show that could easily fry your brain, both turning out quite true. It felt like I was seeing bits of a ‘Big four’ concert, centered on technical Death metal.

I was a bit surprised that an event with such names on the bill wasn’t held in the main hall (aka Betong) at Chateau Neuf, as previous editions were, but I must admit the organisers set up everything right in the small Klubbscene. The opening act, Exivious, came with an instrumental set that managed to set up high standards for the quality of musicianship for that evening. Their fusion style filled with witty riffs and fills and bass lines didn’t leave you much time to decide whether it’s metal or jazz pouring into your ears, but whatever it was felt genuine. For those interested in more than music, Exivious also offers the chance to see Cynic members live.

If, for any reason, fans gathered to see/hear an authentic death metal show didn’t enjoy the first act, their reasons to complain ended as soon as Gorod entered the stage. The deep growls took over, the drums started blasting and it felt like the speed of the guitars gained a gear or two. I am not familiar with the band’s music, but I bet they have tried to promote their latest release, A Perfect Absolution. But whatever album they were playing from, it was an impressive organised chaos that mixed high quality death metal with beautiful melodies and solos, leaving the overall feeling of well composed materials.

I think the next band was really inspired with the name they picked, since indeed it sounded as the darkest of demons might emerge at any time from a stage corner and take over the show of Span of Possession. They are also proudly promoting their latest release, Incurso, a 5 year awaited album that seems to be very well received by fans and critiques. For guitar solos on the album, the band used Obscura’s guitarist, Christian Müenzner, but due some problems he was not able to play both shows live, hence SoP used a replacement for the tour. It seems to be a rather doomed position in the band since the poor guy damaged his leg and has to walk around with a crutch. He brought a chair on stage, but by the time the show started he decided it’s better to stand up and hit the lights on the ceiling with his head. Brutal and high quality music; insane and plenty of guitar solos; tight, powerful and fast drumming with small, almost cozy technical jazzy fragments that were delightful; strong vocal support and neat high paced bass line. Plus a constant feeling of originality, as the band never bothers to linger much in the same pattern. Or at least it’s how it felt. These are just small details of the show of a band who seems happy to be back, both on stage and with a new release that is so well appreciated.

Another quick instrument change, sound check and all is set for the evening’s headliners, Obscura and more minutes of brutality and technicality for those who had the brain to digest some more of it. While the previous two bands would stay more within what one might set as death metal boundaries, the Germans are not shy in playing around with unexpected sounds and beats that define their progressive line, bringing epic elements that you encounter more often in other genres. Visually, Obscura gets the first prize, as they used small fans placed on the floor in front of the stage to enhance the hair ‘flow’. I actually kept thinking that the band should be sponsored by a conditioner producer, since all the three members in front have long hair and enjoy headbanging. The band’s music has something for everyone, especially for bass lovers since there seemed to be very cool bass parts all over the songs. The virtuosity and tightness in guitar playing makes one wonder if they decided to somehow bring the best guitarists of the genre in one evening. On top of the speedy power riffs, one cannot miss the soft intermezzos, usually plain beautiful pieces. I got captivated quite often by the drumming style with its intensity and constant usage of the entire drumkit. To the crowd’s delight, we got treated with a brilliant drum solo.

As I was saying at the beginning of the review, I started the evening with the impression of a good and positive mood and nothing has changed by the end of the evening. Every stage ‘change’ in between bands was done very relaxed, everyone played with joy and smiles on their faces and all these, plus the really high quality of the music and the musicians on stage, made the South of heaven event another special experience. The sad part was the the number of present people was not too high. But well, their loss. The tour is still going for few weeks in Europe, so I highly recommend you go and catch this combo at a venue nearby. And get good earplugs.

Leprous – Bilateral release concert

I had listened to the full album few weeks before its release concert on September 14th at club Blå, in Oslo. But not all of the songs were new to me. I either heard some of them live even more than one year in advance or as recent online streaming from the band. Leprous has chosen to perform some unreleased ‘Bilateral’ songs live during their 2010 tour with Therion and Loch Vostok. Listening to some youtube videos from that time and comparing to the final product on the CD in 2011, I can only say it was a brilliant idea. While the main music line and vocals seemed to have stayed the same, there’s so many tiny details in the instruments that were refined, building up to an album that should be a musical lesson for 2011. I’ve pretty much fallen it love with every song I heard live prior to the release. The final release only filled in the gaps with even more thrilling tunes blended with the ‘familiar’ ones, whose evolution was rather interesting to follow. I recall how surprised I was to hear ‘Forced entry’ at a concert in August 2010 in Sweden. And how impressed I was by how it got perfected on the recording.

The release concert was my 10th Leprous concert (without counting the ones when they support Ihsahn), so I also think I witnessed the evolution of their stage show, from 5 people who would hardly move away from the 1 square meter around their pedals to a full blast of energy that can be harmful for your neck or feet at times. But they have kept the same funky outfits idea (vests, bowties, red shirts or pants) and I think this is working very well in the direction of building a certain band image. For this concerts the band has chosen to fully perform ‘Bilateral’, following the tracks’ order from the album. What was new to me were the two monitors on stage where they had some projections, but I was too captivated by the rest of the show (combined with my attempt at taking photos) to actually recall more than an image of the album cover and some rather gross motion pictures before the music started. Nor did I notice if they were on for the whole show.

Anyways, the song bearing the album title is really fit for a concert opener, as well for summarising the whole album – a journey back and forth between two musical sides. From calm, mellow parts with soft singing and backing vocals to a drumming bonanza, with outstanding rhythm shuffles from Tobias Ørnes Andersen, backing up the tight, yet groovy, guitars of Øystein Landsverk and Tor Oddmund Suhrke and the bass of Rein Blomquist, while Einar Solberg’s voice does a great job at keeping the screamed words very melodic. After an entry so full of force with the first three songs, it’s time for the special guests to come up on stage: Ihsahn who sang some parts on ‘Thorn’ and Vegard Sandbukt who plays some mysterious sounding trumpet on the same song and later on, on ‘Painful Detour’.

A slower moment is brought by Mb. Indiferentia’s six and a half minutes, although it’s probably not the easiest song vocalwise. Finally then it was time for the song I was so looking forward for: ‘Waste of air’. It starts so intense that it’s almost breath taking and then it seems to slow down only to trap you into a very inspired blending of instrument sounds, a blending that slowly builds up like a tension up to the explosion of the scream ‘You are a waste of air’. A very noticeable detail about this song is the special ‘dance’ that the guys came up with, lowering and raising their bodies along with the music, mainly climbing on the drum stand and ending up with a jump from there. Speaking of climbing, another detail I recall from the concert is that the bass player was very fond of some speakers located back on his side of the stage and he kept climbing on them, making room for the others to go wild in front of the drum kit.

The final 4 songs bring up more of what makes this album so versatile: some rap-like idea during ‘Mediocrity wins’, beautiful slow vocal parts, nifty guitar solos, polyrhythms and catchy grooves on drums and a bass line that while not aiming at being fast, is so tight and smoothly synchronised to enhance everything else in the music. A plus goes to Tobias Ørnes on drums who used his computer to bring up some effects and it’s probably not the easiest thing to do while you have to keep track of your timing and beats.

After the album was fully played and the deserved applauses were offered by the audience – which was quite international as far as I herd, I personally having a friend from Denmark over for the concert – the band took to a short break and came back to perform several songs from ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’, their previous release. I was surprised that they started with the album title song, which I never realised until then how groovy it actually was. They also played Passing which always tricks the crowd with its dramatic silence towards the end. It was followed by ‘Dare you’ if I remember correctly and to our disappointment the show ended here. But the people had their chance to hang around with the band members, even if they had to leave for USA early in the morning for supporting Ihsahn at the ProgPower festival.

Leprous is going to play together with Amorphis in November/December 2011 and January 2012, so if you have a chance to make it to any of these shows, do not hesitate to go and catch them live. It’s an awesome concert experience and a high quality way of spending an evening.
A full gallery of images from the concert is available here.

Norway Rock 2011 – Day 3 review

A photogallery of the whole festival can be found here.

The night from Friday to Saturday was not the driest one I ever experienced, hence the mud and fixing whatever was damaged overnight was probably the main reason for the little amount of crowd gathered to watch the black metal band who participated in the pre selection for Eurovision, Keep of Kalessin. Of course, I guess the blame can also be shared with the ingested liquids. They play a rather melodic black metal with a lot of technical elements, perfectly fit for their fast windmills which make for good photo material. I didn’t spend the whole concert in front of the stage, but from what I heard towards the end when they played some of their hits, the audience gathered more members and they were awake enough to cheer and clap. We went on with musicians from Trondheim on the mains tage, this time the a Norwegian hard rock/glam metal band TNT, with a history of 12 albums since they formed back in 1982. It was a nice time with good heavy metal/hard rock rhythms on the main stage and really powerful harmonies scattered along the songs. I was even hoping for a second that their previous singer, Tony Harnell, would show up on stage as I saw him live on the same stage the previous year. It didn’t happen though, but this doesn’t mean it was less of a show. Alas, due the fact that the skies opened and it was raining like crazy, I ran to the cozy cover of the press area a bit after the second song or so.


But I returned to watch another German power metal legend in the person of Tobias Sammet who performed now with his Edguy band (he is also the creator of the metal opera Avantasia). A very charismatic appearance in himself, with a fantastic voice that conquered the hearts of the public after few seconds of singing. He got even more popular because the sun started shining right when they begun playing and also by stating that Norway is the most beautiful country he saw (with the shittiest weather, of course) and that he’s going to release an album which will be the best in the history of rock. The band even performed a song from the upcoming album. The backdrop was representing a huge castle and it fit very well with the atmosphere of the music. I wish I didn’t have to run away for few songs and dry camera and all, since it seemed like a very nice and cozy performance, with a vocalist who really knows how to press the right buttons to set the right mood. And I enjoyed watching how the drummer keeps throwing the stick in the air most of the time and trying to always catch it back.

I had seen Brits from The Darkness few weeks before Norway Rock in Austria, at Nova Rock. I had no idea about them or their music, but I found their show extremely funny, hence I spent some time listening to their glam/heavy rock/metal in between the two festivals. It’s not my all times favorite, yet catchy enough to make you go back to it occasionally. And to surprise you that the singer, Justin Hawkins, actually manages to hit those high notes during his live performances. Some might say that the tight pants do help with that. I have to admit that their stage presence is rather genuine,w ith their hippie like looks and especially the singer’s silly behavior on stage – ‘egyptian walking’ body stances, funny jumps, standing on his arms by the drum kit, the way he throws and spins the microphone, the way he dresses and especially the way he takes his voice to some high notes, almost unknown for majority of mankind.

The only band I saw in the tent this day was Mongo Ninja, a project of a Norwegian famous character, Kristopher Schau. I have seen him in Kvinesdal last here with another project, the Cumshots. Actually he even mentioned on stage that he played here in 2010 and since Gary Moore was still playing and his band couldn’t start singing, he got all the crowd to scream ‘Fuck Gary Moore’. And then G. Moore died. But life and music go on anyway, and despite the sad memory, he did the same insane show as he does each time I see him live. It usually starts with coming on stage smoking a cigarette, then spending most of the time during shows doing tricks with the microphone stand, jumping around and joining the other members on stage in acting crazy. All these don’t really stop you from hearing some very interesting riffs in their heavy music that makes you feel closer to the apocalypse with each drum beat.

2011 edition of Norway Rock festival was ended in an amazing fashion by a 63 year old Vincent Damon Furnier whose show, no matter you want to call it cheesy, creepy, lovely, awesome, scary, etc, it’s one of the most extraordinary I ever witnessed on a stage. He had 90 minutes to deliver us with his famous hits from Brutal Planet, Billion Dollar babies, to Poison, Elected and Shcool’s out spiced with Pink Floyd rhythms. I remember the presence of guitarists on stage, I don’t recall anything sounding bad or wrong. I recall a great drum solo during which the drummer was making quite fancy stick tricks. But all these really faded away in front of all the stage crops, effects and acting used. It started with Alice Cooper having spider arms/legs spreading from his back during the first song. Then a walking stick with which he stabbed a guy who was wearing a ‘Rock press’ jacket. Actually this guy got quite often kicked from the stage. Then Alice Cooper was holding a dog on his legs and singing to her. Then he summoned Frankenstein who was walking on the stage from one guitarist to another. Then he got decapitated. Then he came on stage with a jacket saying ‘new Song’ and took it off and the shirt was saying ‘I’ll byte your face off’. We got huge balloons floating over the crowd during School’s out. And probably few hundred more things happened on stage that I simply don’t recall due how overwhelming the whole experience was.

So that was my side of the story on how the festival went this year. Talking the next day with some friends and reading comments online I saw a lot of negative feedback related to the way the security is handled when it comes to people accessing the festival area. People have to wait too much in queues and as well as I understand that security people have to do their job, yet when people are on their way to enjoy a concert and especially after having had had some drinks in the camping, well, any such delay is not a pleasant experience. On the other side, during the Alice Cooper show and idiot threw a light stick, luckily not in the audience but between the fences. Such behavior leads to increased security unfortunately. I hope the issue gets fixed soon and it won’t have an impact on the festival’s future editions.

For the end, I feel like sending big thanks to everyone who worked to make the event possible, to those responsible with press who helped us with a neat press area, but most of all to those who actually spent time in that area and made the moments between concerts so full of fun and laughter. Would really love to meet the same crew again.

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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