Europe, Sonic Syndicate and more at Kilafors (2008)

Kilafors (Kilafors Herrgard, Sweden)

Europe, Sonic Syndicate, Helloween, Paul Dianno, Mustasch, Entombed, Bloodbound, Crazy Lixx
Kilafors is a small village about 350km north from Stockholm basically located in the middle […]
By Erika Wallberg
July 18, 2008

Kilafors is a small village about 350km north from Stockholm basically located in the middle of nowhere; just a few miles away from MORGANA LEFAY and TAD MOROSE-land (Bollnos), so the area has some true Metal Culture to start with. You'll probably miss it if you don't slow down in time though. They have a supermarket, gas-station and a tool-shop. Well, with the environmental thing going on the railway station is open again too, but that's about everything. Of course, there's the Kilafors Manor too and that was the host of 'Rockweekend'.

The New Wave Of Swedish Sleaze has infected the scene for a while now and I can't say I'm a huge fan of neither sleaze nor CRAZY LIXX. I think Sleaze should be filthy and mean but maybe I've gotten this all wrong. Ok, they have a few decent songs but I think it's a little bit too nice to be that type of music. Still, CRAZY LIXX draw quite a crowd and they get a great support from the same too, especially considering they were the first band on the bill. New guitar player Andy Dawson is a lot more Hard Rock than Sleaze in his way of playing and that makes them even more nice and tidy. But he is a great guitar player and visually he fits in. I'm probably not the one to give CRAZY LIXX a fair review because I hate them but the other ones present seemed to love it so maybe it was just me...

BLOODBOUND with their roots in Bollnos were this festival's local heroes. I guess it's just as much an advantage as a disadvantage to have your friends and family in front of the stage when you're playing. Pro's first; a lot of friends make a big crowd that has seen the band before, listened to the records and know the songs and are more than ready to sing along. The bad things; a little weird response from the crowd sometimes... Rip it of Johan even if it was a hot day, bass player Johan Sohlberg didn't look eager to please the crowd and ignored the request and kept his clothes on. Super vocalist Urban Breed (ex-TAD MOROSE, now also in PYRAMAZE) took command from the start and I'm really glad they've dropped their old image with corpse-paint and vampire outfits. That didn't feel really suitable to the music. BLOODBOUND served a really fine set of classic Heavy_Power-Metal. Everything sounded good, looked cool but that little extra was missing. It was absolutely above average. Especially, Urban, who is an awesome singer and a great performer but musically it didn't stand out at all.

Then some old School Swedish Death Metal from a band called ENTOMBED. Well, they're not at all Death Metal anymore. Brutal sure, but not Death.

Of course, they were called sell-outs in the underground when they started to change their style more towards Rock than Death Metal but what difference does a label make when a band can keep creating quality music and hold on to that their spirit year after year. I've seen them a couple of times since the beginning of their career and it has always been good. This concert was ridiculous. From the first notes of Chief Rebel Angel to the last of Left Hand Path, it was great all the way. I just wanted to scream from the start and for When In Sodom it got impossible to take pictures. Headbanging and photography do not combine so it took a lot of effort to focus on work.

L-G Petrov captivated the crowd in his own typical way, with humor but without losing himself. He is a truly great frontman. It's fascinating that they could play both new and old material, making it into a big lump of clay without changing the old songs. The differences between Left Hand Path and Serpent Saints are huge but it all fits so well together in the live show. Nowadays ENTOMBED are a 4-piece, guitar player Uffe Cederlund wasn't replaced at all when he left and that too is to their advantage. They're still as fat and heavy as they've always been but it's not that massive wall of sound anymore. The riffs came out a lot better and the songs were more dynamic. Best on the festival? Yep!

I don't know how far outside the borders of Sweden MUSTASCH have reached but here they're huge. That's because they've managed to balance on the thin line between Hard Rock and Mainstream for years.

Musically, it's absolutely heavy but the hit-songs they've been spitting out over a decade appeal to almost anyone the least into Rock Music. And this day, as always there were a great mixture of people waiting by the stage. But to me, MUSTASCH fit much better on a small club-stage rather than on a huge festival stages. All since Ralf Gyllenhammar both plays guitar and sings. On that huge stage, with limited movement made the show lack action. That's not a feeling associated with MUSTASCH on a Club-gig. No matter how great it sounds, if there's no action it's not fun to watch. On the other hand, if there's not much to look at, there's time for other things.

Looking around people enjoyed a day in the sun, drinking beer, dancing to Down In Black, I Hunt Alone and Double Nature and making fools out of themselves. Just as a festival should be! A few weeks ago, guitar player Hannes announced his departure from the band. He was replaced by local (from Bollnos) boy Martin Boman. It's always strange to see new people in a band. Martin fitted in good though but he didn't look fully comfortable on stage. That too had an impact on the visual experience. But MUSTASCH were the perfect band on the festival that afternoon. Their SABBATH_DANZIG-esque music works equally well as party music in the background as for headbanging in the front.
This was not the first time that I've seen both IRON MAIDEN and PAUL DIANNO the same week. They're not comparable at all anymore but they're both always fun to watch. Though it felt like Paul had lost a little of his spirit he can sing, that we all know but at too many occasions he just barfed out the lyrics, Hardcore stylish rather than with the good Metal-voice he possesses. As usual, Paul served a bunch of IRON MAIDEN-classics, I love that. But Paul has also some really nice records in his sack under other names and it's such a shame he doesn't play more from those. The first two BATTLEZONE-records are amazing, well accompanied with KILLERS � Murder One and DIANNO - Nomad (Or The Living Dead as the re-released version is entitled). And frankly, even Paul must be bored with the set he's been playing for years now. Paul's backing band is very energetic and fun to watch, and sure they're a decent cover band but I absolutely liked the line-up with Cliff Evans & co a lot more. That felt like a real band, this felt like a cover band and I think Paul deserves more than that.

Happy, happy Power or dark decent Metal? What would HELLOWEEN bring this time? The opener of the night Halloween gave promises of a darker set.

It is a truly great song and I love that they've added that one to the live-set. Still, it's exactly the same as on the 'Hellish Rock Tour'. Sole Survivor, March Of Time, A Tale That Wasn't Right, Eagle Fly Free... HELLOWEEN kept serving one highlight after the other and I guess that was the best way to do a festival gig. One long list of hits were performed, a lot of them from the Keeper 1 and Keeper 2 era. Of course, that was a really good way to get the crowd's attention but it's a shame they play so few songs of Gambling With The Devil, that's such a great album and they really shouldn't neglect it. But as always HELLOWEEN were great. I don't miss Michael Kiske at all. I don't want him back with HELLOWEEN.

Andi Deris is an amazing singer and has a great ability to write good music. He's also a really good front figure. I can't understand the Metalheads that have counted out HELLOWEEN nowadays. Most people I met this days haven't seen or heard them in a really long time but they still were really skeptic. Luckily, HELLOWEEN proved they're a band to be reckoned with. In a performance perspective they couldn't be better, the chemistry between Weiki and Sascha grows stronger for each tour and they're always a joy to watch. Markus is one of the Metalworld's most underrated bass player so they're one hell of a team. HELLOWEEN would easily have won this festival, if it hadn't been for the setlist. I'm not complaining in any way but it would have been fun with a small change from last tour.

ARCH ENEMY canceled and SONIC SYNDICATE stepped in. Not really a worthy replacement since SONIC SYNDICATE have been playing most everywhere the last year. The visual evidence of ARCH ENEMY though has been very limited. But I'm sure a whole bunch at the festival was pleased by this. And SONIC SYNDICATE did a good job. There were action on stage, the choreography were great. But that's what it felt like. Very much settled and rehearsed, every move, every expression and looking at them a while the patterns of movement were repeated over and over again. But they sounded good, looked ok and were fun to watch as usual. And musically I found them very boring, as usual.

About 20 years ago most of my friends were madly in love with either Joey Tempest or John Norum. Yes, EUROPE were thee teenage idols of my town! I didn't really get it though. Sure they had a few decent songs but just as now I was absolutely more into Thrash and Heavy Metal. I still feel the same about EUROPE today even if my taste in music has developed over the years. But I have to admit that EUROPE really rocked the stage this time. They all sounded amazing, almost a little too perfect.

Joey's voice is still top notch and he sings with so much passion. The rest of the band had of course something to do with the sound too but this was Joey's show, he struts around and swings that thick white mic-stand and looked completely pleased. On stage left bass player John Levin looked mostly bored, not showing any facial expressions what so ever. On stage right, John Norum made funny faces and played like the true guitar hero he is but it felt like he was nailed to the stage floor.

Ok, Mic and Ian are sort of locked behind their instruments and can't move very much so I shouldn't blame them for the lack of action on stage. Anyhow, EUROPE did a great show. Most of the songs still hold today, it's not like you'll stand with your arms crossed and look angry when songs like Ready Or Not and Seven Doors Hotel comes out of the speakers! Still it was the ballad Carrie that got the strongest response. Joey performed most of it all alone with an acoustic guitar and turned it into a free-jazz (ok, a small exaggeration but he was whaling a lot) version. I like the original a lot better that's for sure but acoustic or original didn't matter at all for the rest of the crowd. I'm pretty sure EVERYONE was singing along. Is EUROPE back to stay now? They are as big as they were in the glory days and they've managed to do a really decent record that even I appreciate. And I'm not alone here, a lot of people believe the same. Like, I've never liked EUROPE but they were great this time right? Right!

(photos by Wolverine Blues Erika)









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