at Rockefeller Music Hall, Oslo, Norway, May 27, 2006

JORN (Live at Rockefeller Music Hall, Oslo, Norway, May 27, 2006)
Photo: Per Olav Heimstad

Review by Carl M. Engstrøm


The first band of the evening was Witchhammer, the Power/Thrash semi-legends who have taken up gigging again following the re-release of their classic album 1487. Gloomy church bells opened their set as the lights faded, and the band stepped forth on a stage decorated with skulls, a Witchhammer logo, and a witch riding her besom as a backdrop.

The band opened with “Hallow’s Eve” -– a song that lyrically fits the aforementioned props very well -– and this track indeed gave the gig a very good start. “Kill All In Sight” was next, followed by “The Burning Court,” which saw the return of the church bells from the intro, and “By this Axe I Rule.”

The band took the time to talk a bit between the songs, and singer Per Ståle Pettersen, dressed only in a pair of shorts, maintained good communication with the very lively crowd throughout. The band did suffer a bit from sound problems; the guitars fell out at times, but this was dealt with very well and did not let the performance down in any significant way.

“My Execution” and “Transylvania” followed, and the latter was probably the highlight of the performance -– the strong riffs and enchanting mood makes this a phenomenal track. “Enola Gay” took the pace down a bit, but on this night it was the faster songs that worked best. The band was indeed tight, and never sounded mushy, even during the hardest Thrash riffs. After “Touch Of An Angel,” the band was given the great news that they are confirmed for the RagnaRock festival, to be held in Oslo in August. This added an extra spark to “Curiosity About Death,” which closed Witchhammer’s set. The band impressed a great deal, and in retrospect, they were probably the very best band this evening. Most certainly a band to watch!


Circus Maximus has become a household name here at Metal Express Radio. The crowd was singing along from the first lines of the killer track “Sin,” which, as usual, opened the band’s set, and things worked very well from the beginning. The band members are all exceptional musicians, and it’s especially entertaining to watch drummer Truls Haugen bang his head and sing backing vocals, while at the same time laying down some very tricky grooves. Unfortunately, the rest of the band does not keep up with Haugen’s level of showmanship.

CIRCUS MAXIMUS (Live at Rockefeller Music Hall, Oslo, Norway, May 27, 2006)
Photo: Per Olav Heimstad

Some of the songs, however, tended to sound too much alike. The songs sound like they’re built along a very similar structure, and although there’s no doubt the band possesses a considerable amount of talent, there’s still work to be done. The crowd ate from the band’s hands, though, however, singer Michael Eriksen has to work on his interaction with the crowd. He has adapted James LaBrie’s very annoying habit of playing maracas during the longer instrumental parts -– maybe it would have been wiser just to leave the stage for a while and make the instrumentalists take the driver’s seat for a while.

The band did play a new song this night, which sounded quite good, although staying very close to the 1st Chapter sound, and the band rounded off their set with the solid tracks “Imperial Destruction” and “Alive.”

Overall, the band has to work on their stage performance, and there’s also no doubt the band still has work to do in creating an identity of their own. Both live and on record, they are still a derivative of Dream Theater -– just look at the trademark Petrucci poses and facial expression of guitarist Mats Haugen, but there’s unquestionable potential in this highly competent quintet.


After a little break, the stage was covered in smoke, and JORN finally entered the stage for a solid dose of no-bullshit Heavy Metal. Jørn Lande immediately became the centre of attention — this is a true front man –- and Tore Moren and Jørn Viggo Lofstad impressed greatly with their melodic playing. Willy Bendiksen, who actually celebrated his birthday this night, was as steady as ever, and although bassist Morty Black was absent, temporarily replaced by Fredrik from Tömmermenn, this was an impressive ensemble indeed.

“We Brought the Angels Down” opened the set, and the band pulled off a very entertaining show consisting of material from both JORN and The Snakes (“Gonna Find the Sun”). Lande was in gay spirits, joking a lot with the crowd, but bad microphone sound unfortunately made it very difficult to hear what he said. Both guitarists and Willi Bendiksen had their own solo spots, and although the boys played well, this was a bit of an instrumental overkill.

Songwise, the highlights were “Out To Every Nation” and “Young Forever” from Out to Every Nation, as well as “Stormcrow” from The Duke, the band’s last effort. The set closer, “Tongur Knivur” from Worldchanger, also has to be mentioned. Lande and his men delivered a very strong performance, only let down by the aforementioned sound issue and the fact that 3 solos in a 12 song set is a bit too much.

This was a great night of Metal, which featured three very competent, although very different, Norwegian bands.

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