at The Subway, Edinburgh, Scotland, May 2, 2005

To set the scene, The Subway in Edinburgh, Scotland could be described as “intimate,” and with a stage no more than 9 inches (23 cm) higher than the main floor, crowd participation was the order of the day. To Carnal Forge, who have played to thousands all over the world, they must have felt like they had taken a step back in time to their pre-signed days as they flogged their way around the clubs and bars of their native Sweden. A disappointing crowd turnout due to the concert falling on a holiday didn’t help either. However, despite all of this, Carnal Forge played their socks off with a performance that would have pleased a crowd at any stadium anywhere.

Before getting to Carnal Forge’s stunning performance, a few words about the support bands is in order. First up was the local band Sons Of Slaughter, who have recently signed to Retribute Records. Over the years these guys have matured into a Death Metal band that could support any of the big name Death Metal bands on the scene today. Drummer Matt Holland started off with an awe-inspiring rip around the drum kit, with triggered double-kick so fast you could have thought you were being machine gunned. Once the dual guitar assault of Tim Rasmussen (Lead) and Jonny Hall (Rhythm) blasted in at a squillion miles an hour, Matt’s double-kick pace just rocketed off the scale. Vocalist Gregor Meldrum screamed out the song intro in typical Death Metal style before lunging into the crowd in a flurry of dreadlocks, wild eyes and vocals that were so low, he must have brought them up from some sub-basement of his soul. Prowling through the audience like some demented Troll, he would occasionally target someone with a full-face screaming vocal assault before bouncing off through the Mosh Pit, dreads and other appendages whirling like windmills, and rest assured, getting a face-full of Gregor’s whirling dreadlocks is not funny.

Meanwhile on stage, the downtuned guitars, (C sharp if any guitarist is wondering), are riffing along at warp factor eleventeen, with Tim firing off the occasional solo. Their technical playing style, speed of chord changes, and melodic flourishes within the riffs make the need for solos almost redundant, and too many would interrupt the fluidity of the music. Keeping the beat going at this frantic pace is former band vocalist Carlos Carcia on bass guitar. An imposing figure, his shaven head in stark contrast to the rest of his bandmates, his presence dominates the position front and center of the stage. The speed of Carlos’ playing is jaw-dropping, he’s one of a few bassists who can actually ‘Shred’ on a bass guitar.

Their set consisted of a mix of some of their newer material; “Lead Us Not,” “A Just Prevalence,” and “Unmarked,” with a few old crowd favourites; “Domination Of Power,” “Scattered To The Four Winds,” and “Reap The Whirlwind,” finishing on a high with the brutally fast, “Bloodblind.”

As they left the stage, reminding all that their debut album will be ready for release in the autumn, you felt an aura of disappointment from the crowd that that’s it, and the realization that you’re not getting any more. They shouted, chanted, clapped, and stamped their feet, but, that really was it. If their job was to leave the crowd wanting more, Sons Of Slaughter had done their job extremely well.

Next up was Stand Aside. Billed as Death/Thrash Metallers, they had some Nu-Metal sounds worked in to their material, which didn’t seem to hit the spot with the crowd. The singer doing some Kung-fu high kicks and thrashing about the stage like a whirling dervish made the crowd take a large WTF step back. His vocal abilities were also rather minimal, staying up in the high screeching range, which made things kinda monotonous.

With a reputation for kicking off their own Mosh Pits, the small crowd didn’t give them much to work with. However, there were a few who entered into the spirit of things, and, thankfully, there was plenty room for them to go berserk without creating too much carnage.

Musically, Stand Aside played a tight set, though with only the one guitarist, it sounded rather thin. This may be because you had just had a dual guitar assault on your senses. Had they played first, they might have caused a different take on things. As it was, they were, unfortunately, like a lo-fat filler in a big meaty sandwich. They played well, but not memorable, and when the set finished, you found it difficult to remember what they’d just played.

Then it was time, Carnal Forge, the reason everybody was there! Taking to the stage, vocalist Jens C Mortensen commented to the crowd, which seemed to have swelled somewhat, about his newly acquired Hibernian football (soccer) shirt. There are two football (soccer) teams in Edinburgh: Hibernian and Heart Of Midlothian. Jens was assured wearing a Hibernian shirt to the Edinburgh gig would either win over the crowd, or earn himself a severe ass-kicking. As it was, it was a crowd full of Hibernian supporters, and they even let him off relatively lightly when he said it was great to be here in England (an unforgivable sin to any Scotsman). Order was soon restored as they kicked off with “I Smell Like Death (Son Of A Bastard)” from their 2000 Firedemon album, followed in quick succession with “Sacred Flame” and “Burn Them Alive” from their latest release, Aren’t You Dead Yet.

Jens was soon out into the crowd, giving anyone close enough a vocal thrashing, getting the headbanging going, and generally pushing up the crowd adrenaline level, stepping back onto the stage, leaving moshing mayhem in his wake –- Job Done! Jens has an amazing vocal range, from deep bass growls to nails-down-the-blackboard screaming, and the lung power to almost make the microphone unnecessary. He also has tremendous stage presence. He’s a big guy with waist-length dreadlocks and a stare that could warp wood. He grabs hold of the audience and doesn’t let go until he’s ready to, leaving you feeling kinda used and abused, but in a good way! Jens replaced Jonas Kjellgren around July/August 2004, and though many an old Carnal Forge fan would think it would be difficult for someone to fill Jonas’s shoes, they can be assured that Jens not only fills his shoes, but may find them a bit tight!

The Kuusisto brothers, Jari, on 7-string and Petri on 6-string, ripped out some amazing technically challenging riffs relentlessly throughout the whole set. If anyone is wondering how can a 7 and 6 string guitar work together, all you need to do is listen to Carnal Forge! It must be a Carnal Forge secret for the fans to figure out, but man can they make it work. Not content with giving it large on stage, Jari is soon out in the crowd giving one-on-one headbanging lessons, riffing away like a man possessed, while Petri is having his own little shredfest, ripping out some wild solos.

Lurking in the back, drummer and backing vocalist, Stefen Westerberg battered out the beat using what looked like a modified Tom as a Snare drum, such is the depth of the beast. Whoever says size doesn’t matter obviously hasn’t heard Stefan beat the snot out of this Snare! Meanwhile, Lars Lindén, the other half of Carnal Forge’s Rhythm Machine, prowled about the stage, manhandling his bass guitar like it was made of balsa wood, his picking hand just a blur hammering out sub-sonic tones that could burst your spleen if you got too close.

The majority of Carnal Forge’s set was from their past two albums Aren’t You Dead Yet with “Inhuman,” “Waiting For Sundown,” “Exploding Veins,” and “Decades Of Despair,” and the 2003 release The More You Suffer, playing “Ripped & Torn,” “Deep Rivers Of Blood,” “Baptized In Fire,” and “Divine Killing Breed Machine.” Apart from “I Smell Like Death …,” “Hand Of Doom,” from their 2001 Please… Die! album, was the only song in their set not from their two most recent albums.

Returning to the stage for their encore, Jens got everyone to take a step closer to the stage and got all the ‘Wall-Huggers’ to come forward and join the mayhem. This seemed to raise the bar on both the band’s performance and the crowd participation; it was something tangible you could feel in the atmosphere, like you could hear in color and see sound. Whatever it was, “Totally Worthless” (Aren’t You Dead Yet), “H.B.F. Suicide” (The More You Suffer), and “The Other Side” in closing from their 1998 album Who’s Gonna Burn, tore by in an explosion of sound that left everyone drained and wrecked, but again, in a good way.

The band left the stage to raucous applause and appreciation, then ran the gauntlet of awestruck Metalheadz by shaking hands, slapping backs, and baying for more. The crowd drank up and slowly filtered out the door, many with their heads still nodding to that tune that’s going to be stuck in their heads for some time to come. But there is one thing that will stick in everybody’s head who was there, and that was the night that Carnal Forge came to town and kicked Heavy Metal ass upsidebackwards!


  • Ross Swinton

    Ross was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. His first recollection of listening to Rock music was at a party in the early '70s, and Thin Lizzy, Electric Light Orchestra, The Who, and Nazareth made him pick up his first Air Guitar and Rock-On! He spent 23 years, from the age of 16, in the Army and wandered around the globe getting paid for travelling to far, sometimes near, exotic, though sometimes dangerous, lands and had a blast whilst doing it. Since leaving the Army in ’98, he has settled near his hometown, just a few miles from Edinburgh, Scotland. Here he helps local bands by recording demos and albums; building them websites; helping put on gigs for them, and generally helping them build up a fan base.

    View all posts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.