Tyrol, Stockholm, November 22, 2008

As sure as June each year sees Sweden Rock Festival, the preceding kick off party early each winter has become as sure a happening as the festival itself. It basically consists of a few bands playing shorter sets, with announcements of the first confirmed bands scheduled for the festival in between. For the second year in a row, the selected place to hold the party was Tyrol, located by the grand old amusement park Gröna Lund in the beautiful surroundings of Djurgården in the Swedish capital.

L The Tyrol venue is helluva nice, though not ideal for a happening such as this – Draken (Swedish for “Dragon”), where the party was held a few years ago was probably better for socialising – its hard to keep a conversation going with the loud music at a constant and no foyer to speak off, and the beer sold is friggin’ expensive to boot. That apart, Tyrol is ideal for regular gig happenings.

Famed film critic Ronny Svensson served as main presenter on the evening, with the aid of Europe drummer Ian Haugland, to present the first six confirmed bands, with the more famed bands presented as the evening continues. Names such as Torch, Stormzone, Enforcer, Seventh Wonder, The Outlaws and Uriah Heep are spilt before the first band takes to the stage.


LOn platter Bullet is kinda like a second rate 80’s AC/DC (ironically, 80’s AC/DC was a second rate to themselves) ; monotone and screechy, but live, the concept works surprisingly good. Then, the band are only on stage for half an hour, which is still enough, for there is not much difference between the likes of “Bite the Bullet, “Road King” and “Heading for the Top”. “Bang Your Head” probably works as the group’s best anthem for now.

Bullet was also among the next batch of presented bands for next year, and this would serve for Blackfoot and Hammerfall as well, which works very predictably. The Tubes and Soilwork was also presented, before spilling out classic Bay Area Thrash greats Forbidden. A surprise indeed, seeing as the band wasn’t booked for the festival on their comeback tour. Melodic Swedish rockers Europe will mark a return to the festival (their second visit). But, hold your horses: Riot! Yes, the legendary US Metal band will not only perform their first gig in Scandinavia ever, they will do so with the re-formed Thundersteel line-up! After this announcement, it was all smiles for yours truly.


LVery few people in the audience were probably born when Blackfoot formed in the late sixties. They are a funny looking bunch; a mash of a biker-alike frontman, a hippie in a Western shirt and an Apache Indian. Oh, and a drummer that must be slightly younger than the rest. Blackfoot’s slab of Bluesy-Boogie Heavy Rock marked a nice change of pace from Bullet and the True Metal that Hammerfall would serve. As such, the reception the group got was also more laid back. “Wishing Well”, which was also recorded by Gary Moore back in the 80’s, especially got the groove going, but then, after a while, the group’s knack for guitar doodling, especially before a long rendition of “Highway Song”, one can’t help but think the band should had used their stage time more effectively. Very nice vibe, though.

Marillion was presented, along with Amon Amarth and Lita Ford. Also Hammerfall, who took to the stage next.


LThe Gothenburg based, True Metal warriors played what was a much too short set, consisting of a few odd choices, after the opening of “Hearts on Fire” and “Legacy of Kings”. Seeing Hammerfall perform Skid Row’s “Youth Gone Wild” was odd indeed, even bizarre. Likewise, “När Vindarna Viskar Mitt Namn” must have been chosen for audience participation. As singer Joacim Cans says, Hammerfall has grown with Sweden Rock, having played there several times since their debut ten years ago. Hammerfall seemed in good spirits, with the line-up now consisting of original bassist Fredrik Larsson and ex-The Poodles guitarist Pontus Norgren, the bands performance seemed more spontaneous and not nearly as choreographed as it used to be.

L After the radio program’s awards, where H.E.A.T. won for newcomers, and In Flames for band of the year, the last set of bands were laid out; In Flames will make their debut on the festival. The same can hardly be said for Motörhead, but seeing as they didn’t play this year, one could only automatically assume they would be booked for next year. Foreigner has also been booked, and the much popular Dream Theater will make their return. The first confirmed headliner is Heaven and Hell, who will this time around have a brand new album to present. If it’s anywhere near as strong as the bonus tracks on Black Sabbath’s The Dio Years, festival goers will be in for a massive treat.

The already confirmed bands makes up a varied and strong line-up, and, with some fifty more bands to be added, Sweden Rock Festival 2009 is sure to be a grand party as always!


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