Sölvesborg, Sweden, June 6, 2009


LAs Tim “Ripper” Owens finally hits the road as a bona fide solo artist, he certainly does so with plenty of ammo; choice of musicians to back him up are legendary names in themselves. There’s really no need to dwell deeply on Owens’ vocal capabilities, which are well documented by now, and the man’s pipes showed no signs of wearing off on this gig. With musicians such as Chris Caffery (ex-Savatage), Dave Ellefson (ex-Megadeth), Simon Wright (ex-AC/DC/DIO) and Owens’ Beyond Fear comrade John Comprix rounding off the line-up, things were bound to sound pretty ‘kin good as it were. The problem is the, at large subpar, material at hand featured on Owens’ even more star-studded solo debut, Play My Game. The outing is further more disappointing considering the excellent Beyond Fear release. Thus, what were largely presented were mediocre Metal songs performed by way above average Metal musicians. The gig was savoured by the man’s back catalogue of bands; material from Owens’s stand in Judas Priest, which surely won’t be performed by Priest themselves any time soon. If anything, further digging from Jugulator and Demolition would have been appreciated. Best of all was the Beyond Fear material. Its a shame Owens probably still bears too much of a grudge from his time spent in Iced Earth to perform songs from that era, and he probably sees the Winters Bane debut too obscure to let out in the open. Last song performed was “The Green Manalishi”. Isn’t it an irony when a cover of a cover got the crowd going the most? (“St” Patrik Gustavsson)


ImpellitteriMain man Chris Impellitteri enters the stage sporadically and starts to noodle on his guitar. This goes on for a couple of minutes. Is he warming up, or has the show started? Actually the latter, as it would turn out, as vocalist Rob Rock entered. Needless to say, Impellitteri’s onstage behaviour is very much the opposite of his flashy playing. The band launched into “Eye of the Hurricane” before treating audience to nuggets from various eras of the band, including of course newbie Wicked Maiden. The band would eventually go all the way back to the self-titled 1987 EP with ”Lost in the Rain” and “Burning”. Most surprising was the inclusion of material from the disjointed Pedal To the Metal release, whereas the likes of “Countdown To The Revolution” and “Father Forgive Them” were more expected, as was of course “Warrior” – the song that Rock has sung in various incarnations over the years. Impellitteri carried out a, if not mind blowing, professional first gig on Swedish turf. (“St” Patrik Gustavsson)


LAnother lengthy career – yet first time in Sweden, for this legendary New York band. The current line-up of Riot is again the one responsible for two of the band’s most beloved albums; Thundersteel (1988) and The Privilege Of Power (1990). Thus the main course of the set, after kicking off with the instrumental “Narita”, was built around these two works. Worries regarding how the voice of returning vocalist Tony Moore has held up since the 15 plus years that has passed since he last sang these songs, was pretty much shattered to pieces in the first few songs alone, as “Fight or Fall” and “On Your Knees” was impressive enough, yet the even tougher “Sign of the Crimson Storm” and “Dance of Death” was ran through with great effort by the whole band, with only very little slippage from Moore being heard on the former. From a visual standpoint, the band gave quite a stale impression, taken into account this was only the second gig, counting a warm-up show in May. For now, focus was probably on the audible side. It will be interesting to witness future gigs, once the band kick into motion, if this was indeed the reason. (“St” Patrik Gustavsson)


LUnlike Twisted Sister, Forbidden, by performing Twisted Into Form in its entirety, was not celebrating an even anniversary. Or perhaps starting a year early, like Judas Priest and their British Steel tour. Nevertheless, the band opened by running through this entire majestic display of Melodic Technical Thrash Metal, would serve as one of the highlights of the festival. Oddly enough, Forbidden’s last visit on Swedish soil was when Twisted Into Form was just about to be released, on their joint tour with Bay Area friends Death Angel. Russ Andersson showed he was capable, covering most scales of yesteryear, staying shy of just about the highest notes.

LWhat was left, was a pretty healthy, six songs dose of the classic debut Forbidden Evil, with the band promising material from later works Distortion and Green on next visit. As guitarist Craig Locicero would put it; “We know there are some of you who actually like those albums”. A little self irony never hurts, indeed. (“St” Patrik Gustavsson)


Facing stiff competition – from Symphony X, Circus Maximus, Pagan’s Mind, and more – and stiff (but not necessarily well-deserved) criticism – from music critics worldwide, the world’s biggest Prog Metal band actually might find themselves with something to prove. At least that’s how it looked as the band returned to the festival they last visited in 2005. John Petrucci in particular was completely on fire, as he, together with drum wiz Mike Portnoy, guided the band through awe-inspiring versions of ”Hollow Years” (with a slightly extended bridge part), ”Beyond This Life”, ”Constant Motion”, ”Voices”, ”Erotomania”, and ”Metropolis pt. 1” – as well as several sneak peaks into their strong 2009 release Black Clouds And Silver Linings. The entire loudspeaker system broke down a few songs into the set – not affecting the band at all, as the experienced quintet just continued doing what they do best (in the world?). If that was their intention, Dream Theater proved once again why they are, and deserve to be, the world’s biggest Prog Metal band. (Torgeir P. Krokfjord)


LLast year’s show at Rock Weekend was an unfocused Europe on display. So what would this have in tow? Well, an opening of new single “Last Look At Eden” would serve slightly symbolic; something new, and more vitality shown, again. “Superstitious” was next, and thus the first in a row of substantially recognisable tracks on offer this night. This is Europe’s, and indeed most acts, predictable take; one can tell in advance what songs will be picked from each album. That aside, the entertainment value of a Europe show lies almost solely on front man Joey Tempest. Sporting smiles and showcasing natural energy, he’s genuinely needed in that sense alone, for what would otherwise risk displaying an all too tidy live act. That said, at the same time, Europe come across as one of those rare bands where every member really brings their own to the table, and not truly replaceable in that sense, which was well proven during the year’s of guitarist John Norum’s absence. (“St” Patrik Gustavsson)


LAt the Heaven & Hell press conference, because of the law suit being filed at Tony Iommi by Ozzy Osbourne, representatives are asked not too ask questions about the Ozzman or Black Sabbath. Other than the conference resulting in a bore fest with the most unimaginative questions that could be imagined asked, it further suggests Heaven & Hell as a somewhat separated band from what this line-up was originally, and even more so having less in common with any other line-up that consisted in Black S…that other band. On to the actual gig, which was being doomed a flop by many in attendance; apparently Iommi could not be heard very well due to a quarrel between the bands soundboard engineer and its crew backstage. However, proportion of this mishap very much seemed to depend where one stood.

LFor yours truly that ended close upfront where Iommi resided, the guitar was very much audible overall. Speaking of Iommi, the man moves and smiles so much nowadays the old, dark image other than the given dress code, is being in danger, while old companion Geezer Butler is in a world of his own, hardly moving and eyes shut at times. While a jammy nineteen minute version of “Heaven and Hell” might be nice to indulge in watching a DVD at home, on a last, darn chilly night at a four day festival, it’s a mixed experience at best. With that and a drum solo that felt flat from the otherwise steady Vinnie Appice, more room could had been left for further material performed, especially so lifted off solid comeback The Devil You Know and the excellent Dehumanizer. Where frontman Ronnie James Dio is concerned, despite sharing this last day at Sweden Rock Festival with other gifted veteran singers, his vocals still managed to stand out as at times spotless. Overall, feelings were left positive, leaving hopes for this band to stay active, never mind lawsuits and all. (“St” Patrik Gustavsson)


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