Sölvesborg, Sweden, June 9-11, 2005

ANTHRAX (Live at Sweden Rock Festival 2005)
Photo: Odd Inge Rand


Yes, they’re back! And boy do they sound the same. And that’s all good, of course, starting their set with “Among The Living,” just as in the good old days.

Joey Belladonna looks exactly the same, at least from a couple of hand lengths. And, yeah, Dan Spitz still looks like a schoolboy. The latter did not touch his guitar at all for years, but now he sounds like he has lived with it under his pillow since he blasted out his final chords on the 1993 tour.

The setlist was, of course, a treat. “Madhouse,” “N.F.L.,” “Medusa,” “Caught In A Mosh,” “A.I.R.,” “Antisocial” … all of them were present, and also the Turbin-era classic “Metal Thrashing Mad.” Many of these songs never seeing the light of day in the Bush-days. Charlie Benante didn’t leave his kit on “I’m The Man,” but other than that – this was exactly how you would have remembered Anthrax from the good old days. So the final question is: what happens next guys? (Odd Inge Rand)

Listen to the interview with Anthrax here!


Megadeth, or rather “Dave Mustaine With Friends,” was the first big attraction for the bigger crowds at this year’s festival. With the new line-up of former Iced Earth and Demons & Wizards bassist James MacDonough, and the Drover brothers Glen and Shaun on lead guitar and drums, respectively, ‘deth delivered a good performance in the Swedish sunshine. The set list included several highlights – “Holy Wars” and “Set the World Afire” worked very well, as did the Countdown to Extinction duo of “Symphony of Destruction” and “Sweating Bullets.” Mustaine’s voice sounded especially wicked during the latter, and both he and the band were in very good form this afternoon.

Among the tracks that maybe didn’t work that well was “My Darkest Hour” and “Wake Up Dead,” but it was obvious that several others in the crowd will disagree with this writer in that statement. This may have something to do with the sound, which wasn’t as good as during several other gigs later on in the festival – Drover’s lead sound, for example, was a bit too screechy at times. Still, this couldn’t stop the band from delivering a very good gig … an excellent introduction to the festival for those who arrived a bit late for the grand opening. (Torgeir Krokfjord)


The bill for the first day of this year’s Sweden Rock Festival was a dream. Going from Anthrax to Megadeth and then to Saxon – with 15-minute breaks in-between. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?

Saxon was also in a good festival mood this day. They entered the stage while the sun was still high on the sky. They have a decent new album out, Lionheart, but ignored it completely.

In other words, it was all classics this evening, with 90 minutes of all their great stuff, including “And The Bands Played On,” “Dallas 1 PM,” “Motorcycle Man,” and the set closers “Denim & Leather,” “Wheels Of Steel,” and the mighty “Crusader.” Need anyone say they enjoyed themselves? Guess not. (Odd Inge Rand)


One of this year’s big surprises was seeing Styx on the bill. Europe hasn’t exactly been their playground, but they have indeed an audience here – and many of them have waited a long time for their late 70’s heroes to show.

At Sweden Rock Festival, they certainly made up for the long lost years without their presence. With an energetic and ever-so-young Tommy Shaw upfront, the Styx show contained great versions of “Blue Collar Man,” “Too Much Time On My Hands,” “Snowblind,” “Lady,” “Come Sail Away,” and “Miss America.” The vocals are still top notch – still without founding member Dennis DeYoung, but with AIDS and cancer-sick Chuck Panozzo entering the stage halfway, the crowd went nuts.

Their current album of cover songs was unfortunately visited a few times, resulting in a fairly o.k. version of “I Am The Walrus” and “I Don’t Need No Doctor,” which kind of was a cover of a cover song, sounding just like W.A.S.P. version from 1986. Nevertheless, it was a joy experiencing Styx, and it was not difficult to see that the crowd agreed on exactly that notion. (Odd Inge Rand)


After having seeing Motörhead a lot the last few years, MER took the trip to the Sweden Stage to see if Nazareth was still on top of their game. Well, that’s almost as it turned out.

With only Dan McCafferty and Pete Agnew remaining from the original fold, they still offer you a great “Razamanaz,” and McCaffery’s singing sounds as it always has: raw and heavy. “Dream On” proved that he is still handling the mellow songs pretty well, but as always, it was the real rockers that made their set worthwhile, with “Bad Bad Boy” and “My White Bicycle” as stand-outs. (Odd Inge Rand)


Accept are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, since it is … er … 26 years since their self-titled debut in 1979. As Udo Dirkschneider hinted to Metal Express back in October 2004: “We might do something special.”

Indeed this is special — touring Europe and Japan this summer. No USA dates are planned, which makes this even more exclusive. The line-up included, of course, Udo Dirkschneider alongside all-time members Wolf Hoffmann (guitar) and Peter Baltes (bass). Further on, Restless And Wild and Balls To The Wall second guitarist Herman Frank and drummer Stefan Schwarzmann completed this year’s line-up.

Reading all of the banner’s in the audience, many came from all over Europe to see Accept, and I’m sure not one of them were disappointed, simply because Accept delivered an explosive set, sounding just like they did in the 80’s, even though both Hoffmann, Frank, and Baltes aren’t working as musicians anymore.

The set? Try everything, for starters. In other words, all the classics from the opener “Starlight,” then “Living For Tonite,” “Metal Heart,” “Breaker,” “Fast As A Shark,” “T.V. War,” “I’m A Rebel,” “Princess Of The Dawn,” “Neon Knights” … yes, the works. If you completely ignored Accept’s 3-album comeback in the 80’s, you wouldn’t have to worry. The setlist was made up of all songs between ’79 – ’86.

To say that Accept’s concert was a huge thrill is an understatement – to say that it was one of the Hard Rock events alongside Mötley Crüe would be more appropriate. If you still have the chance to go see them – don’t even think twice. (Odd Inge Rand)


First out on the second day (Friday) were The Lizards, last seen in these parts touring with Ian Hunter in April. In the meantime, The Lizards have done a German tour with UFO.

With singer Mike DiMeo, formerly of Riot, The Lizards really have an ace up their sleeve. He sings really well, and he is good with the audience. However, even though Patrick Klein and bass player Randy Pratt are top men musically, they are lacking a bit of stage presence.

With Bobby Rondinelli looking half interested (although we all know he really is), the key for making The Lizards a good live act is Mike DiMeo, and with the excellent songwriting these guys have going with Cold Blooded Kings, The Lizards have grown to be a great band – and the hour-long set at Sweden Rock Festival was really worth watching. (Odd Inge Rand)


Sweden Rock Festival message board is full of debates and people not agreeing with each other. But before the festival, they all agreed on one thing – they wanted Black Label Society for this year’s event. So, there you go.

Even though mid-day isn’t exactly prime Zakk Wylde-time, surely not for himself – the set was indeed a good one. Serving songs from all of his career, and a great deal from Mafia, it was an ear-bleeding joy to see the man throw great guitar licks in your face for 90 minutes. (Odd Inge Rand)


The day before gave the fans two great bands from the Thrash-era. Friday indeed gave everyone another, with Overkill blasting out all of their great gems from their whooping 14-album catalogue.

But, you may say, that quantity has overshadowed quality on a few occasions in Overkill’s history. Nevertheless, they picked a great setlist for the festival audience to enjoy. “Wrecking Crew,” “Rotten To The Core,” and “Hello From The Gutter” are all Overkill classics. They also threw in “Thanx For Nothing,” and a surprise was in the works when Mike Portnoy from Dream Theater handled the drums on “Elimination.”

Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth is still an energetic piece of art, and alongside his band he gave the audience a great show. (Odd Inge Rand)


Alongside Styx, Kansas was the other band that made a great surprise when they were presented on the ticket earlier this year. It has been quite a while since the veteran Prog Rockers have visited these parts of the world, but now they were back; which was a pure delight, of course.

With a line-up as close to the original as it can get, Steve Walsh and Robby Steinhardt were ready to show Europe and Sweden what we have been missing all of these years. With “Point Of Know Return,” “Icarus,” and set-closers “Dust In The Wind” and “Carry On My Wayward Son,” Kansas revealed themselves as a great-sounding band with all the backup vocals intact. (Odd Inge Rand)


With the good, but not great, new album just out in the stores, there were some expectations connected to Dream Theater’s performance at this year’s festival. There is not point in delaying the conclusion – these expectations were definitely fulfilled.

To take the downsides first – the band were just as stellar as usual, if not worse, when it comes to stage appearance. James LaBrie showed some tendencies – during “As I Am,” for example, where he seemed to try to underline the lyrics by gestures and body English – but for the most part they were as just as lively as you’d expect them to be. Also, LaBrie has lately begun to look a bit too arrogant on stage. Any performer should have a certain hierarchical distance to the crowd – that’s what makes people look up to stage performers in the first place – but things should not go overboard.

These are minor complaints – things worked very well this night (and they usually do when Dream Theater hits the stage). The sound was good, although Jordan Rudesses solos could have been more upfront in the mix, and the band performed awesome musically (no surprise of course), led by a very inspired John Petrucci who was basically on fire this night, and the set list was class A. After the opener “The Root of All Evil,” they followed up with “Just Let Me Breathe,” “Panic Attack,” “As I Am,” and – lo and behold – “Peruvian Skies,” “Pull Me Under,” “Spirit Carries On,” and “Metropolis” like pearls on a string. These final 30 minutes may very well be the most notable highlight of the festival this year, and the crowd responded with a cheer very unlike Berklee.

This was far better than, for example, the 3-hour concert in Oslo last year, and one of the festival’s very top performances. (Torgeir Krokfjord)


After two Prog Rock outfits, it was straight on to the Status Quo old boogie-woogie exercise. With all their white guitar stacks and lightning gear, Status Quo did’t leave anything behind, even though this is festival season.

After seeing Status Quo in Oslo this year, the only difference this time was that the fans didn’t have any roof over their heads. In other words, it was the same setlist, the same jokes, the same … whatever. But, as they say, if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.

“Caroline,” “Forty-Five Hundred Times,” and “Hold You Back” came early, and even though Status Quo were pretty radical from the bands before – they really got the crowd going. Unfortunately, Status Quo focuses still a bit too much on Heavy Traffic, and the horrible “The Oriental” were the low points in an otherwise good show.

Ending it with sincere classics like “Rockin’ All Over The World,” “Whatever You Want,” “Big Fat Mama,” “Paper Plane,” and “Roll Over Lay Down” was a wise decision – again. (Odd Inge Rand)


Putting Sammy Hagar as a headliner in-between Accept and Mötley Crüe caused a few grins on many faces before the festival, and this was the time for good ol’ Sam to convince them wrong. Did he pull it off? Actually not.

Of course, the man knows how to party and put on a great show – but the material isn’t top notch to carry a great-looking show. Even though he started with the Montrose classic “Bad Motor Scooter,” and revisited familiar Van Halen material with “Right Now,” “Top Of The World,” and “Why Can’t This Be Love” along the way – it just wasn’t good enough.

His own material, spanning from the original picture soundtrack from Rockstar — “Stand Up And Shout” — to songs easy to recognize as his own from the Van Halen tours like “I Can’t Drive 55” and “There’s Only One Way To Rock” were good, but not good enough. He also placed them right next to each other, making parts of the show good and other parts a big bore, and that doesn’t open the doors to Europe wide enough … (Odd Inge Rand)

Listen to the interview with Sammy Hagar here!


Swedish Goth-Death-Sympho-Heavy Metallers Therion drew a surprisingly large crowd at the Rock Stage this sunny Saturday morning, and with three singers and a four piece choir dressed in authentic Medieval costumes, things got really cosy. Both the latest effort, the very listenable double-platter Sirius B/Lemuria, and earlier classics like Theli and Vovin were represented, and at times very complicated works were presented in a good manner.

Lead guitarist Kristian Niemann especially impressed with some very fiery chops – anyone into sweep arpeggios and fancy-funky Shrapnel-style lead lines should check out this fellow – and mainman Cristoffer Jonsson looked as comfortable as always. The vocalists did a good job too, very important for this style of music.

The mighty “Seven Secrets of the Sphinx” stood forth as a possible highlight in a very even performance, and the crowd went ballistic when the band decided to close the set with a tremendous cover of the Mercyful Fate classic “Black Funeral.” (Torgeir Krokfjord)


It was pretty obvious that these Swedes were playing a home game this night. The band, led by a very inspired Joacim Cans at the mike, was in gay spirits as they joked around for a good hour and a half, as well as speaking entirely Swedish throughout, possibly a bit frustrating for the great number of foreign Metalheads who every year travel quite far to experience the festival.

The set was suffering from sound problems during the first few songs, as the guitars sounded awful and Cans had some problems cutting through the mix. Luckily, this was fixed after 15 minutes or so, and the rest of the set went by without major letdowns. Things never got ecstatic, though, and Hammerfall has delivered far better gigs than this beforehand. The set list was a mix of old and new – “Hammerfall,” “Templars of Steel,” “Let the Hammer Fall,” “Blood Bound,” “Fury of the Wild,” “Glory to the Brave,” “Secrets,” “Renegade,” and “Crimson Thunder” came off as pearls on a string (of steel, of course …) and things were okay, but nothing more.

During the 9-minute ballad, “Glory to the Brave” – a great song, by the way – guitarist Stefan Elmgren decided to have some fun as he went off into a complete guitar frenzy, including some very dedicated baldheaded headbanging to his take on the Malmsteen classic “I’ll See the Light Tonight.” Cans calmed him down with “relax Stefan, Yngwie doesn’t play until tomorrow,” before the band jumped into a version of “Enter Sandman.” If nothing else, this performance showed the world that only James Hetfield is James Hetfield – interpret that in any way you want to …

All in all, an okay performance, but nothing more. (Torgeir Krokfjord)


Saturday, the final day of Sweden Rock Festival started with two Norwegian bands on the Svendrups Stage. First out were We, a critically acclaimed 70’s Stoner Rock band who knows how to entertain.

After driving the whole night, the Vikings were given 40 minutes to prove to the Swedes that the trip was worth making, and that with their latest album Smugglers not being distributed in Sweden at all.

However, everyone attending the show, probably many Norwegians, were satisfied with their own brethren – who delivered a strong set. (Odd Inge Rand)


This Norwegian Prog Metal quintet was originally not scheduled to play this year’s festival, but was called in to replace Angra when the Brazilian’s couldn’t make it. Pagan’s Mind has played this festival before, but it was obvious from the size of the crowd that the band has grown quite a bit since then. The band played a set, for the most part, consisting of songs from their two latest studio albums – with the rest being instrumental solos. There has to be a very good reason why they chose to include guitar, keyboard, AND bass solos in this 45-minute set … anyhow, this kinda punctuated the mood a bit.

Still, the band performed well throughout, and when they rounded off their spot with “Enigmatic Mission” and “Through Osiris’ Eyes,” things got quite cozy, but this did never become the spectacular session a lot of the attending Norwegians expected it to be. (Torgeir Krokfjord)


An incredible amount of people gathered round one of the festivals smallest stages to see if Sebastian Bach had anything to offer 10 years since his last decent album (with Skid Row’s Subhuman Race, that is).

And, as predicted, Sebastian hadn’t forgotten his Skid Row-tricks, starting with explosive versions of “Slave To The Grind” and “Big Guns.”

His voice is not so well taken care of, and was often out of tune, but the energy kind of overshadowed that problem. It was one of those concerts you really could enjoy, but if you were given a bootleg of the show afterwards, the best thing you could do was toss it in the thrash.

Saying that, I hope Sebastian never gets the chance to hear “Wasted Time,” a song he sang with a Swedish Pop-babe named Sofia, who has covered the song on her debut album. This was the most horrible moment of the whole event. They hadn’t decided who should sing where, and both of them were way off tune throughout the song.

Beside that event that almost caused many heart attacks, Sebastian put on a great show. He also announced his return to these parts this fall after releasing an album he is currently writing with Halford/Testament/PainmuseuM-guitarist Metal Mike Chlasciak, which is being recorded in early September. (Odd Inge Rand)


It was a fresh and slender Yngwie who entered the stage, and his renewed physical fitness had obviously affected the man’s temper too. One could sense it at a very humoristic press conference earlier on, and when he ran onto the stage his face was full of a youthful enthusiasm, formerly long gone with the Swedish maestro. After the compulsory opener “Rising Force,” songs like “Don’t Let It End,” “Masquerade,” “Demon Driver,” and “Never Die” came as pearls on a string. Especially a song like “Don’t…” was a pleasant surprise, and the impressively large crowd knew to appreciate this.

Yngwie was in a rather exhibitionistic mood this night, as his extended solo was more than extended enough for most of the crowd. Maybe it was a bit too much, but at least he tried to make it more entertaining by including several well-known themes, such as the Swedish National Anthem. This sounded awesome with Malmsteen’s fat Strat tone and full band backing, by the way.

After his unaccompanied solo, it was time for another very pleasant surprise – namely the incredible “As Above, So Below” from the legendary Rising Force platter. This has to be one of Yng’s all-time highs, and it was incredible to hear it live again. Doogie White also pulled off a great Jeff Scott Soto imitation on this one. Doogie, by the way, sounded great throughout, and had obviously seen more than one Dio live video as all the 70s Hard Rock poses and moves were often flashed throughout the show, and together with the rock solid Mick Cervino on bass and Jocke Swalberg on keys, as well as the hyperactive drum wiz Patrik Johansson in the back, he delivered a very good performance.

Swalberg’s solo’s were not as prominent as the ones of Mr.’s Olausson and Johansson, but that may be just as much due to the mixing as to his playing. An extended “You Don’t Remember, I’ll Never Forget” – with Doogie hitting Mark Boals ranges in the chorus, and Deep Purple’s “Demon’s Eye” included in the middle jam part – and of course “I’ll See the Light Tonight” ended the set. The latter made the crowd go completely wild, although the crowd had been screaming loud and strong throughout.

Despite a bit too long solo spot and too few songs on the set list, this was definitely an awesome performance, better than Malmsteen’s 2002 Sweden Rock Festival showing. The man was in top shape, and Doogie and the gang did a great job keeping up. (Torgeir Krokfjord)

Listen to the interview with Yngwie here!


Sweden’s own doomsters, Candlemass, have made a comeback that earned them the second to last slot on main stage. A huge crowd crammed together to see the men in black hit the stage with “Black Dwarf,” the set’s first new song.

The band brought out four crosses as a part of the new stage design, replacing the old candle holders (after all these years, the band still forgets to buy the candles before the show, so a smart move …).

No stage is too big for singer Messiah, where he runs around presenting song after song about death with a glimmer in his eye, and sometimes he stomps the stage with his doom dance so hard it looks like the whole place is coming down. “This is a song about…DEATH!”, and later on: “Here’s a song about…DEATH!” – as you should know by now, Candlemass’ songs are mainly about dying.

Backed up by a band of more than solid players, Mappe Björkman and Lasse Johansson on axes from hell, Janne Lindh keeping track of the time to die, and the master of doom and depression himself, Leif Edling, killing with his four strings – Messiah and his funeral gang deliver one of the best gigs they have ever done. The monk himself sings flawlessly, and one can’t help but smile when the truth is displayed once and for all: The new songs fit perfectly together with the old, both in style and quality. Actually, the highlights of the doom mass were “Seven Silver Keys,” “Assassin Of The Light,” and “Copernicus,” the latter a song people were surprised to hear live. (Frode Johnsrud)


To write a Dio review is a simple task. You can almost write it before you attend the show, because you always know that good ol’ Ronnie delivers big time – every bloody time.

Need to say that he did this time as well? Thought not. Nevertheless, after a brief press conference, where everyone told everyone how great it was to work with Ronnie, an unbelievable amount of people gathered in front of the stage to see Dio.

They started off with “Killing The Dragon,” and that particular track along with “Shivers” from the current album, Master Of The Moon, were actually the only ones written and recorded after 1987. With the usual Rainbow and Black Sabbath numbers intact, including a very heavy and laidback full version of “Heaven And Hell,” he also threw in a surprise after playing the Long Live Rock’n Roll masterpiece, “Child Of Babylon.”

Two highly unnecessary solo spots from Simon Wright and Craig Goldy were the only low points in Dio’s set – pleasing the crowd from beginning to end with “Man On The Silver Mountain,” which he dedicated to his friend Ritchie Blackmore, and of course “Holy Diver,” “We Rock,” “Rainbow In The Dark,” and “Don’t Talk To Strangers” from his very own catalogue. A great performance from the Godfather of Heavy Metal. (Odd Inge Rand)


Then the moment all had been waiting for, the jewel in the crown, the triumph of … well, you can think for yourself. 20,000 people, waiting to see the band they had been waiting for for like 15 years. The mighty Mötley Crüe – Vince Neil, Mick Mars, Nikki Sixx, and Tommy Lee.

With this show, Sweden Rock Festival also delivered their most spectacular in it’s history – complete with a pyro show, bombs, and, yes, a midget. They started off with the Generation Swine version of “Shout At The Devil,” before giving the crowd more from their two first albums with “Too Fast For Love” and “Red Hot.”

The set was steamin’ with Crüe-classics, including a surprise in “Louder Than Hell,” with the another surprise in the form of the “On With The Show” cut out from the setlist from the night before. But, of course, “Looks That Kill,” “Ten Seconds To Love,” “Wild Side,” “Live Wire,” “Home Sweet Home,” “Dr. Feelgood,” “Same Ol’ Situation,” “Kickstart My Heart,” and “Girl, Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)” … they were all there.

Mötley Crüe delivered a great set, with Vince hitting all the high notes, and Mick Mars actually moved around and looked like he had a good time. Tommy Lee is the powerhouse of it all, and during “Girls, Girls, Girls” his bass drum pedal broke – leaving the number a little amputated. Other than that, it was a delight to see the foursome sweating out classic after classic.

The titty cam-session was there, the usual bullshit talk, the “really glad to be back” monologues and so on … but most importantly; Mötley Crüe is a fresh band with fresh people (no really) in 2005. Even though their 2 new songs aren’t that good (they were done in a hurry), the live version of “Sick Luv Song” was indeed not a low point in their two-hour show.

It makes you think what they are gonna do next. Another album, another tour … or another big fight? (Odd Inge Rand)

Listen to the interview with Mick Mars here!


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