Entombed, Grave Digger and more at Silja Galaxy (2009)

Silja Galaxy (Silja Galaxy, Sweden)

Entombed, Grave Digger, Pink Cream 69, Dream Evil, Witchcraft, Guilliotine
Organizer: Source: Sweden Rock Magazine So, it was time again to set sails towards our […]
By Erika Wallberg
July 2, 2009

Organizer: Source: Sweden Rock Magazine

So, it was time again to set sails towards our eastern neighbor again on the brand new Silja Galaxy. The massive ship can take about 3500 people but I don't know if it was the lineup or if people are starting to get tired of these events because for the first time the boat wasn't sold out. Still, everything was just as hectic as at the Terminal. The Silja-people missed to send the food and drink coupons by post so it took a while to get that sorted out. And then to try and keep a bunch of 50 thirsty metalheads together in the gangway showed to be an impossible mission. No one was left behind at least.

Day 1 (Stockholm towards Εbo)

DREAM EVIL was first band on stage and I have to admit that my past impressions haven't been very good. I've never taken them for a real band, rather just a bunch of good musicians writing songs they think people will sing along to. They've done that successfully for some years now so I guess they must have done something right. Still, I must say I was pleasantly surprised this time. I did not get the cover band-feeling at all and it was actually very pleasant to hang out in the Starlight Bar listening to Metal. Opportunity or not but DREAM EVIL suited perfectly as a kick-off of the cruise so let's call them party boosters. Perhaps I need to listen more to DREAM EVIL because songs like Crusaders Anthem and Kingdom Of The Damned can't really be classified as rip-off's, they actually really good Metal songs. The thing I have to complain on this time though was the lack of action on stage. A thin line between parody and seriousness I guess and I absolutely prefer the lazy version of the band but it's more fun to watch the action. Especially when the action is the addition of Snowy Shaw on stage that appeared on guest vocals on The Book Of Heavy Metal. Bands just need a character like that.

Even if PINK CREAM 69 sounded amazing I couldn't wipe away the image of the local heroes at the pub at the corner of the block. The music is professional, no doubts about that but it was something with their appearance that was so amateurish and coarse. I find it very strange that a band in PINK CREAM 69's caliber can ignore their stage show completely. Presence is the most significant thing when you're delivering music and how they managed to keep that in the music and fail completely visually is nothing but a mystery. Normally those two go hand in hand. Still, I never expected that they would appeal to me as much as they did. PINK CREAM 69 are high quality melodic Metal with hit potential and a lot of catchy chorus lines. I guess that recipe was perfect at the cruise because a lot of people joined in with the band and sang along to songs like Talk To The Moon and Livin' My Life For You, so did I.

Sometimes it's hard to see which band is really the headliner. Seeing the lineup I would have guessed that GRAVE DIGGER were the main attraction rather than ENTOMBED. Afterwards I can't but agree with the Sweden Rock Magazine's crew, everything were in order. Still, GRAVE DIGGER really impressed me with Ballads Of A Hangman earlier this year and judging by the crowd, more people have taken that album to their hearts. The chanting started immediately and after a while the voices from the crowd drowned the music coming out of the speakers. Perhaps the melody wasn't familiar to all people but where to shout Hangman everyone knew. I can't say I've been that big a fan of this band before. I don't think that I've given them a fair chance either but I must say, it was a lot more fun to see them on a small club stage rather than a festival one. This was my first real GRAVE DIGGER concert and it beat anything I've known about them before. Quite a lot like PINK CREAM 69 GRAVE DIGGER mostly roamed the stage in a pretty slow pace but the attitude coming from Chris Boltendahl and the rest said something completely different than the band on before them. GRAVE DIGGER has presence and they deliver it directly in your face. What also was so fascinating is that a biased band like these boys can serve a concert that felt very dynamic, balanced and intense at the same time. Sure they have a wide selection to pick from but I've really underestimated this band. GRAVE DIGGER truly impressed me and they were the highlight of the cruise.

I felt a little stupid when realizing just how big ENTOMBED really is. I can't believe I doubted that for a second. Persistence is a winning concept and ENTOMBED has stuck to their standards and delivered evil Metal for about 20 years now. Talking to L-G (Petrov, vocals) the day after, complementing him on their performance the night before his only comment was: Did you really like it? I was so damn drunk. Yep, no one can deny that and normally it sucks when bands waste their time on stage but with ENTOMBED it is different. Yes, L-G was drunk that was clear and anyone could see that, but it didn't affect the performance at all. He still had the same amazing attitude, perhaps he was smiling a little more than usual though. But that sort of belongs to a concert that starts well after midnight. And I bet half the crowd was even more drunk than him anyway.

One thing with ENTOMBED is that they always add some humor to the show. Introducing the gig, Satan Is Real sounds like any brainwashed American preacher trying to convince his people that his way is real. Strange thing you might think, at least until you really listen. Of course, this dude talks about Satan. Then it made perfect sense. The latest edition of ENTOMBED, as a four-piece, sounds great and this is simply amazing. The advantage is, as mentioned before, that the sound don't get brick wall thick. It's still extremely heavy and evil but there's a lot more structure in the music nowadays. Both new and old material sounded amazing though the old has a huge touch of the new version of ENTOMBED in it. And that's what I really like about ENTOMBED too, they still play the old stuff. With a mixture of nostalgia and raw energy the night felt young. There's just no better partybooster than ENTOMBED.

The Starlight Club emptied quite fast when the music died out and now it was clear that the boat wasn't sold out. Or perhaps people were even more tired than me and went to bed early. It might have been the tax-free booze from the supermarket that made people hiding out in the cabins instead of the bars. No matter what the boat felt quite sleepy in the early hours of morning. It was not at all the endless urge of breaking the beer-drinking record from the last cruise or shaking some butt at the dance-floor (that has nothing to do with Metal if you ask me). So the party ended quite early to be an event like this, breakfast wasn't even called out when my head hit the pillow.

Day 2 (towards Stockholm)

The next day, after the traditional, well, for me at least, huge steak brunch at the Sailors Grill it was time for some more music in the Starlight Palace. GUILLOTINE shook the last sleep (and perhaps hangover) out of the crowd. If EXODUS ever think of sacking Rob Dukes, I know who they should hire instead. Fredrik Mannberg, that normally abuses a guitar in Swedish pride NOCTURNAL RITES showed off his talent as a singer this morning. His voice really is a perfect mix of Paul Baloff and Steve Souza. Old School Thrash is a good way to wake up, especially when it holds GUILLOTINE's standards. Sure, the band wasn't 100% serious to start with; rather something like a tribute to the old school and yes, that can be heard but small things like that doesn't matter when the songs are good on their own, the band kicks ass and are a lot of fun to watch. And GUILLOTINE are no different than many of the new bands in the genre, they hold high standards all the way through and can absolutely compete with bands like FUELED BY FIRE, BONDED BY BLOOD or WARBRINGER. For me, it came as a little surprise that GUILLOTINE was as good as they were. I've only seen these guys playing a lot more melodic stuff with bands as NOCTURNAL RITES and PERSUADER, still absolutely flawless of course, but they sure as hell mastered Old School Thrash too.

Last band standing on this cruise was WITCHCRAFT. It was the first time I saw them and I've heard so many great things about them. It's hard to point out what was wrong. Wrong is perhaps not the right word for it. WITCHCRAFT sounds great, Jansson is doing one hell of a job behind the drums and really lifts the band. He sure is one hell of a groovy drummer. And I guess they look exactly as they should too but there's something missing for me. I lost interest after a few songs and headed to the bar. There, in the other end of the place they actually caught my interest again and I went back to the stage with a fresh beer in my hand. But again, the same thing, I just felt bored after a little while. Maybe the stage was too big, perhaps WITCHCRAFT was as hungover as the rest. I don't know but I still found it a little strange that a band that sounds amazing, both groovy and very much alive can be so dead when you look directly at them.

Another cruise reached the Swedish shores again early Friday evening. People strutted out in various shapes and states, some even crawled. Just as always but at least most seemed happy and satisfied with it all. I don't know if it was this new boat that is way bigger than the old one but it doesn't feel like the same crazy party anymore. Listening to the stories on the way out, it seemed to have been the same though. I guess the space spreads the parties in a wider area. Still, the benefit is the new stage, the real stage. The gigs are absolutely more fun if you can see the band but still, the feeling of being out on the sea is a little lost with Silja Galaxy. But be sure, I'll check in the next cruise too.

(photos by under the Swedish Jolly Roger Erika)







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