at Rockefeller Music Hall, Oslo, Norway, April 20, 2004


Due to a very early concert start (a good thing indeed, though), I missed most of Caliban’s performance. Still, what I saw was not bad indeed. They played a relatively Swedish style of Death Metal, with both brutal and melodic parts included. Although I was in no way overwhelmed they seemed solid, and they presented a mighty punch and groove. The singer also did a good job on stage, while the rest of the band tended to look like they were packing down after every song – I caught myself believing that the gig was over after the three last songs. Still the music sounded promising, and Anders Friden, In Flames’ singer, also seemed to enjoy what he heard, too, as he stood sipping a can of Battery (sipping Battery FROM the can, that is, he wasn’t standing there licking the actual can. And that is good, otherwise he could easily have been Breaking the Jaw, or suffered a serious attack from Can-nabis).


DevilDriver, the new band of former Coal Chamber singer Dez Fafara, was next on the bill, and they surprised me quite a bit. At first I thought they were relatively brutal and intense (not Morbid Angel, but the heaviest band of the evening), but anonymous. As they played on, though, they presented what sounded like some fairly good tunes – “I Could Care Less” (I think it was) with its cool guitar work, “The Mountain” with its haunting calm part and moving moods, and “What Does it Take (To Be A Man)”, a working-class Death Metal hymn about Dez’ childhood. I’ve written “Death Metal-rap?” in my notes about this one, and as I despise that form of presenting of words that is not necessarily a compliment, but as those same notes also read “cool track” I guess it’s not that bad.

I also noted a drummer with a sick haircut, and a band who looked like they enjoyed the evening. Lead guitarist Evan (it that’s the guitarist without hair) didn’t move around too much, but all in all they did a good job. They also took the time to thank In Flames for including them on the tour, a nice detail indeed.

In Flames

The headlining Swedes also certainly delivered the goods. The set-list they presented was dynamite all the way, with very few exceptions, and they performed ultra tight and professional throughout. The show opened with the killer “Dead Alone” from their latest album, quickly successed by “Pinball Map” and “System,” and everything was just how I’d hoped. The sound was a tad unbalanced at the very beginning, but these problems were quickly solved. “Episode 666” was next, and this is an all-time classic in the history of popular music. The opening riff is majestic, and the feeling down my spine every time I hear this one live is cannot be described (although that’s what I just did). A thing I noticed throughout was the role the lightning played, as the lightning technician was very good at catching the moods of the music and adjusting the colours and degrees of lightning to that, and “Embody the Invisible,” “Clayman” and “Square Nothing” (all of which are top-of-the line songs) are examples where this was especially evident.

“Square Nothing,” with its lighter-waving intro and mighty ending part was one of the highlights of the evening, along with “Episode 666,” “Gyroscope,” “Embody…,” and “Pinball Map.” Neither “Cloud Connected” nor “Touch of Red” is among my favourites on record, but they also worked very well live. The songs from “Soundtrack to your Escape” too surprised me a bit, as they all came out great live. Among the disappointments were “Only for the Weak,” “Coerced Coexistence” and “Clayman.” All three are killer songs, but during these the band experienced some sound problems which cluttered things a bit. The melody guitar tended to disappear in between, and the chorus on “Coerced…” was unfortunately not at all as mighty live as on record.

Also, there’s one more thing. I’ve commented that the band was very professional and experienced, and I couldn’t help thinking that this was maybe a bit too evident in their performance. They lacked a bit of the childish flair they possessed some years back, and, there was none of the “magic” you sometimes experience during great live performances. We got a random grin and some head banging (“Clayman” was a highlight hair-slamming-wise), but I couldn’t help wanting a bit more enthusiasm.

Also – where is the early albums? Not one single song from “The Jester Race”? We’re talking the Unforgiven III here guys, this cannot be repeated. I want “Moonshield,” “The Jester Race,” “December Flower” and “Subterranean” NOW!

Still, I had fun. The performance was spot on – it was great to see Jesper and Bjorn (Stromblad and Gelotte, respectively) doing two-guitar harmonies again, and drummer Daniel Svensson went completely bonkers behind the drums showing why I hold him as one of the best out there today. Anders Friden also impressed me – the clean vocals were in tune 99% of the time, and his screamy and growly voices are always impressing. Adjust the sound, play some old shit and put a grin on your face guys, and perhaps you will be the biggest in the world (as bassist Peter Iwers told me they wanted to be). Friden announced that “this will be the best night in your lives”. That it wasn’t, but sure it was fun.

Btw – the guys promised us a DVD next year. Whoopee!


Dead Alone
Pinball Map
Episode 666
Embody the Invisible
Watch Them Feed
Coerced Coexistence
Cloud Connected
Square Nothing
Touch of Red
Like You Better Dead
In Search for I
Only for the Weak
Behind Space
The Quiet Place
My Sweet Shadow


  • Torgeir P. Krokfjord

    Torgeir was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. After hearing Malmsteen's "Vengeance" on a guitar mag CD at the age of 12 or 13, he began doing hopeless interpretations of Yngwie licks and it just took off from there. After shorter stints at other zines he was snatched to Metal Express Radio in 2003. Alongside Yngwie, Savatage, WASP, Symphony X, Blind Guardian, Emperor, Arch Enemy, In Flames, Opeth, Motörhead, Manowar, and Queensrÿche are a quick list of musical faves. Torgeir is also guitarist in the Heavy/Prog/Thrash outfit Sarpedon.

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