Notodden, Norway, Saturday, August 18, 2007

Review by Carl Engstrøm


Freak Kitchen entered the stage for their trademark of Funky Metal and stand-up comedy. Mattias Eklundh’s tongue is unstoppable, and bassist Christer Örtefors’ baseball-layer-meets-US-Marine-outfit will never ever go out of fashion.

”Porno Daddy” opened the set, and “Silence,” “Blind,” and the jaw-droppingly amazing “Speak When Spoken To,” “The Rights To You,” and “My New Haircut” made this performance an instant classic. Örtefors made an adequate vocal impression during “Razor Flowers,” and whether planned or not, it really didn’t seem to matter that Eklundh forgot the lyrics to “Snap.” Eklundh had, of course, brought his dildo (Paul Gilbert go s***w yourself …), and this, together with the fact that the band made sure to end at precisely at the set time … even though this meant that the band had to quit in the middle of the aforementioned “Snap.” Funny? The crowd thought so, at least.


Tony Laureano, formerly in Nile, God Dethroned, Malevolent Creation, Angel Corpse, as well as his present full-time band Belphegor, had replaced Hellhammer this night, due to the latter undergoing minor surgery. Although the Hammer is one spectacular drummer, his intense trigging make him sound far too much like a machine on stage, and Laureano’s more organic approach served this band well. Dimmu Borgir does namely come out almost too professional on stage –- the performance is so programmed, with so little spontaneity, missing the Rock ‘n’ Roll spirit if you’d like, that it’s almost not funny anymore. This impression is supported by the fact that Shagrath chooses to speak English to a 99% Norwegian audience, and this was also commented by crowd members shouting “snakk norsk!” in between several of the songs.

The set list was however not a thing to complain about; “Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse” set the standard before, among others, “Vredesbyrd,” “Cataclysm Children,” “Kings Of The Carnival Creation,” “A Succubus In Rapture,” followed leading into the mighty ending with “Spellbound (By The Devil)” and “Mourning Palace.” It was a pleasure to (finally) hear Vortex sing in tune, and the band also did well playing-wise. Still — Dimmu Borgir has to make some major adjustments to their stage philosophy if the want to compete with the really GOOD live bands out there …who knows if they dare?


After a well-deserved hour-long break, DHG (also known as Dødheimsgard) took the stage as the first band of the second serving of this deep-fried Metal feast.

Having been together since 1994, the band is considered a veteran among Black Metallers, but with only Vicotnik (guitars) left from the original line-up, the crowd did not count up to more than a few hundred fans this evening. Those who actually had showed up did, on the other hand, get their money’s worth of grim and grotesque Black Metal, with singer Kvohst strangling himself with a piece of cloth while painted in red from head to toe, Vicotnik painted in blue (with his teeth painted black and blue as well), and keyboardist Jormundgand in a very well-done corpse paint with red blood-like stripes down his face.

“Bluebell Heart” (off the Monumental Possession album), opened the show, and “Vendetta Assassin,” “Apocalypticism,” “Final Conquest,” and “21st Century Devil” also stood forth as the milestones they are in the legacy of modern Black Metal. Although a tint too brutal for the majority of the festival goers, DHG were worth the ticket price alone. Fantastic stuff.


The crowds did on the other hand gather when the mighty Nevermore took the stage.

Chris Broderick (Jag Panzer) made for a ridiculously skilled guitar duo together with mastermind Jeff Loomis, wielding a total of 14 powerful strings, with a hometown substitute stepping in for an absent Jim Sheppard on bass, joining Van Williams in the rhythm section. Songs like “I, Voyager” and “Born” made the crowd go WILD, and although vocal god Warrel Dane’s chit-chat when Loomis dealt with some technical problems almost managed to take some of the intensity out of the performance, “This Godless Endeavour,” “Deconstruction,” “Inside Four Walls,” and “Enemies Of Reality” brought the band back on track … almost. Yes, the crowd was more lively than the band itself this time, and although this was a very good performance, Nevermore are still able to take it up even further a notch; this band is capable of Magic –- this was just a mere great Metal concert.


Headlining this last day, as well as the entire festival together with Queensrÿche, are legendary Thrash Metal mammoths Testament, sporting Nick Barker on the drum stool alongside the classic line-up of Billy, Skolnick, Peterson, and Christian.

As were told by the promoters before the band went on stage, it is actually due to Testament that Metal Heart was arranged, as På Scenen, the promotion agency behind it all, were offered the band and then decided to base a festival around them. Nice touch indeed … even so despite a soundcheck almost of Metallica-like proportions, attempting to tire out even the most diehard fan present.

It soon became apparent that Testament had planned this night to be a greatest hits marathon, not a bad decision considering the fact that the band has not released an album since 1999. ”Practice What You Preach,” ”Over The Wall,” “D.N.R.,” and the majestic “Low” marking a clear “high” in the set -– this was Thrash Metal at its very best. The happiest man in Notodden this night was undeniably Pål “Athera” Mathisen, the singer in Norwegian Black/Thrash outfit Susperia, who, as a birthday gift, got to sing “D.N.R.” alongside Chuck Billy. Still, he was definitely not the only person walking out of Tapperiet with a big grin on his face, as this gig, and the festival as a whole, cannot be labelled as anything but a big success.

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