Sölvesborg, Sweden, June 8, 2007


Pretty MaidsDanish rockers Pretty Maids started just as Friday saw afternoon under a hellish sun for the audience. Whereas veteran bands often settle for primarily older material when playing live (especially at a festival), Pretty Maids offered a reasonably even mix of new songs from last year’s platter Wake Up To The Real World, like the title track and “I Am The End,” as well as early tracks from the group’s well-loved Red, Hot And Heavy and Future World releases. Opener “Back To Back” had the crowd on its feet from the get go, and of course “Love Games,” “Yellow Rain,” and both said releases namesakes were performed. Songs from the discography in-between were also scattered throughout, of which “Please Don’t Leave Me” didn’t sit particularly well in the summer heat.

In doing so, it became apparent how well the majority of material from whatever era flows together. Despite producing a string of commercially radio friendly material throughout their existence, Pretty Maids never really broke through to the absolute mainstream, and thus have a sort of underdog status, but nevertheless drew a sizeable crowd especially for going on so early in the day. Most important of all; the band readily enjoyed themselves, which naturally rubbed off on the audience. The only puzzle was that of the back-up guitarist who was not allowed out in front of the stacks for whatever reason. (Patrik Gustavsson)


Swedish Prog outfit Anekdoten started out in the early 90s and has a number of album releases on to their credit. Their music is a brand of King Crimson-oriented, dark, Progressive Rock with many eerie and soaring passages and much mellatron involved, and one would think that they were capable of producing a good, interesting show. This was not the case. Anekdoten are by all means proficient musicians with a wide selection of good songs, but they will never ever be considered a great live band by any standards whatsoever. Barely taking the time to thank the audience between the songs, vocalist and guitarist Nicklas Berg appeared crushingly indifferent at best. Accompanied by what may well have been Sweden Rock 2007’s most introverted band, Anekdoten left many an audience member gnawing in frustration that they weren’t at home listening to one of their albums instead, which is a far better option to get to know this band -– they certainly didn’t win any new hearts on this day. (Carl Engström)


Things have happened quickly for Norwegian Prog prodigies Circus Maximus — their 2005 debut album The 1st Chapter quickly creating a devout fan base. Said fan base and more were all present before the Zeppelin Stage this afternoon, and the band made sure not to disappoint. The material from their soon-to-be-released second album Isolate are considerably darker and heavier than what they introduced to the world with their debut, and were very well-received by the Sweden Rock crowd. As avid acolytes are accustomed to by now, the characteristic “Sin”(tro) are obviously there to stay -– being one of the band’s strongest works, it is a very apt opening sequence.

“A Darkened Mind” from Isolate and the crowd-pleaser “Why Am I Here” followed suit, proving the band’s extravagant musical skills. Especially bassist Glen Cato Møllen seems fit, flashing his brilliant technique and still finding time to run a few laps around vocalist Michael Eriksen –- honoring the occasion by speaking some form of bastard Swegian, causing much merriment in the crowd. The rest of the band seemed mainly focused on the musical tasks before them; Lasse Finbråten producing very tasteful keyboards, Truls Haugen being his usual dependable self, and his brother Mats, the band’s musical mastermind maestro, making it very clear that he is aware of the existence of a certain American guitar player named John.

The further highlights were the title track from The 1st Chapter, the US bonus track from said debut “Imperial Destruction,” before the show was brought to its conclusion by “Alive,” leaving connoisseurs and laymen alike impressed and content. (Eirik P. Krokfjord)


Renowned German bulldog Udo Dirkschneider is starting to become one of the real Sweden Rock favorites, making his fifth appearance since 1999 – three of these with his solo outfit U.D.O.. Though being a constant provider of heartfelt performances and uncompromising Heavy Metal releases, he has risen to become a respected and much-loved character by the international Metal crowd.

His last studio album, Mastercutor, (2007) being such a release, the crowd surely knew what it was in for this sunny afternoon by the Rock Stage. Starting out with the title track from said album and later following with “Wrong Side Of Midnight” and “We Do – For You”, U.D.O. powered through his stout message in customary fashion with a band as tight and entertaining as always. Guitarists Igor Gianola and Stefan Kaufmann were as playful as ever -– Kaufmann even proved to the world that one has no need of picks when one has five square feet of iconic German Metalkopf standing at the ready.

The band held true to their tradition of pleasing the crowd with Accept classics as well as their own, and favorites like “Bullet And The Bomb,” “Thunderball,” “Holy,” and “Man And Machine” were followed by “Metal Heart” and “Princess Of The Dawn” before the guitarist from the Accept cover band playing earlier were accepted (snigger) into the ranks for the final number “Balls To The Wall.” Yet another arse-kicking performance from U.D.O., aptly ended with a ‘Thank you Sweden Rock! See you next year!’ Without a doubt, there are many who will. (Eirik P. Krokfjord)


Thrash veterans Kreator seldom deliver bad performances, and their Sweden Rock show was no exception; this was a quality gig through and through. A very inspired Mille Petrozza led his troops through a good hour of rock-solid Thrash Metal, with “Pleasure To Kill,” the fantastic “Enemy Of God,” “Phobia,” “Betrayer,” and “People Of The Lie” -– complete with Mille’s compulsory anti-politician speech –- being just some highlights of a very strong set. The band sounded tight, tighter than the last time this reviewer saw them, and seemed to have a jolly good time in the Scandinavian sunlight. After a while the crowd responded to the frontman’s appeal for a proper mosh pit, and the crowd should indeed be happy — Kreator delivered one of the very strongest sets on the entire festival, and hopefully the warm greeting brings them back in no time at all. Impressive indeed. (Torgeir P. Krokfjord)


Jonny Solinger Every time Skid Row is mentioned, most people inevitably get a large, neon-glowing picture of Sebastian Bach inside their heads singing “18 And Life.” Him being kicked out in ’96 for being too difficult to work with caused the band to break up for a while before they formed up with new frontman Johnny Solinger to relaunch their career, and this version is the Skid Row presented at the Rock Stage Friday evening. The band is clearly excited about their first visit, and have even decided to treat the audience with plenty of ear candy from their first two releases of the Bach era (no, not the 17th century), Skid Row and Slave To The Grind.

This did not at all seem to bother the crowd, roaring away to “Get The Fuck Out,” “Slave To The Grind,” “I Remember You,” and, of course, “18 And Life” itself. Solinger did an admirable job in doing these Rock icons justice, making the absence of Bach a non-issue. He is also probably one of the humblest and most amiable frontmen around, giving the crowd his expressed gratitude for being accepted so openly as the new frontman and ultimately symbol of Skid Row, addressing his heartfelt appreciation for being able to perform at Sweden Rock. This was and is always well-received by bona fide Metalheads, making Skid Row one of the definitive peaks of Sweden Rock Festival 2007. (Carl Engström)

SKID ROW (alternative view)

Here’s a band that has hopelessly fallen into the “nostalgia trap.” Unintentionally so, it is to be presumed. While people bitch and moan about the absence of former vocalist Sebastian Bach, both albums featuring replacement Johnny Solinger have at large slipped under the radar where any broader audience or critical success is concerned; many people’s failed acceptance is a factor, but also because of lack of truly great material produced on these releases. Sure enough, as a result or not, Skid Row live settles on material mainly off it’s first two, by far most successful, albums, with three songs total off it’s Solinger-fronted CD’s, and only “Beat Yourself Blind” from the criminally underrated Subhuman Race, present.

It all ends up feeling kinda sad, because Skid Row really do deliver as a live band. That’s saying something for anyone lucky enough to have experienced them live during their heyday as well. Solinger sings the old songs with much ease and reaches the notes Bach himself failed to reach when he performed at the festival two year’s prior. To boot, Solinger also seems comfortable fronting the band despite much critique, and many people on this night were probably converted at least to the idea of a Bach-less Skid Row. It really is a shame Skid Row seems unable to write anywhere near as strong material as they used to. (Patrik Gustavsson)


Sweden Rock’s main attraction this year were none other than American Glam legends Aerosmith, renowned in every clique of the Metal audience for their amazing abilities as entertainers and songwriters. Atypical of so-called ‘oldie’ acts, they have held on to their original line-up since their beginning (except for the period in 1982 when guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford missed out on the recording of Rock In A Hard Place), and when one has so many years of experience and 13 studio albums on ones conscience, there certainly is a vast collection of great Rock music to choose from when compiling a set list. Aerosmith did by no standards fail to satisfy the crowd – “Dude Looks Like A Lady” launched the crowd into ecstasy from the first chord, and the highlights just kept on coming.

The band was tight and steady, and everyone was in a great mood -– especially Steven Tyler, being his usual iconic self. His voice was in amazingly good shape after all these years, even if he did chicken out on some of the highest notes, and the crowd followed every movement he made with his amazing mouth, through his microphone camera (not that it would have been especially difficult without it). The show did however feel a bit stressed, there being almost no small talk between the songs. But apart from that it was spotless. Hits like “Crying,” “Falling In Love,” “Don’t Want To Miss A Thing,” “Eat The Rich,” and “Living On The Edge” made it almost impossible to feel disappointed. And even if Joe Perry’s extensive Blues improvisation was somewhat superfluous, singing along to “Sweet Emotion” brilliantly completed the Friday. (Carl Engström)


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

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