Wednesday 5th June

Threshold - Sweden Rock Festival 2013THRESHOLD – Sweden Stage (6/10)

To my knowledge, this was the first time ever that English progressive hard rockers Threshold have visited Sweden (except for a boat cruise in 2008, but that doesn’t count) and as pretty recent fan of them (I discovered them with their 2007 album Dead Reckoning), this was one of the bookings that I had looked forward to the most. As our trip from Stockholm down to Sölvesborg ran late, it looked like I was going to miss some of their set, but luckily enough for me, they had also ran late which meant that I got to see their whole gig. Unfortunately, it became a bit of an anti climax as my expectations of the band was sky-high. What I first noticed was that their sound was really bad. It was low and damp and I never got the spark at all. Also, the band themselves aren’t that fun to watch as they really don’t move that much and there is no show to write home about. Still, they have the songs – I have never heard one bad Threshold track – and had the sound been better, the gig would probably had risen above trivialities like how they act and their show, because their music speaks volumes for itself. Still, I think they got themselves a good reaction from the crowd – it looked like they were a wished for bunch judging by the size of their crowd – both on the songs from their new album March Of Progress, like “Don’t Look Down” and “The Rubicon”, but the biggest cheers was from their older stuff like “Pilot In The Sky Of Dreams” and “Slipstream”. A few things stand very clear, though. Singer Damian Wilson is a very good singer, but he is no Andrew “Mac” McDermott (RIP, he died in 2011 from kidney failure). He doesn’t have the same range and it shows on the earlier stuff, Threshold has a much bigger fan base than I (and probably they as well) had expected so they will probably come back to us and with a better and bigger sound they will rock our heads off. I’m looking forward to that gig.

Sister Sin - Sweden Rock Festival 2013SISTER SIN – Rockklassiker Stage (8/10)

As Threshold’s gig was running late and Sister Sin were about to go on directly after them, I missed the first song of their gig, but that’s alright because the knock out Sister Sin was about give us was more than enough in the rest of the songs that I did watch. The Rockklassiker Stage was very crowded, to the point that it was actually hard to make your way through. If SRF is about to book them again, a bigger stage is needed. I guess after a gig like this, their popularity will increase a great deal. Their brand of heavy metal meets sleaze is extremely effective in a live situation and every song is like a punch right in the gut. Lead singer Liv Jagrell doesn’t only have one of the best voices in metal, her attitude and presence as a front woman is breathtaking. Also, it really shows that the band have done some intense touring lately as they are musically tight as a brick wall. The songs they played this evening were a good mix of new stuff like “The Chosen Few”, “Hearts Of Cold” and “The Fight Song” off their new album Now And Forever and older stuff like “Beat ‘Em Down”, the U.D.O. cover “24/7” and “Outrage” from True Sound Of The Underground and “On Parole” and “Ten Out Of Ten” from Switchblade Serenades, all of them went down like a storm. This was the first time I have seen a whole gig with the band, but it sure as hell won’t be the last. Impressing, to say the least!

Sweet - Sweden Rock Festival 2013SWEET – Sweden Stage (7/10)

To call this Sweet is really nothing but sacrilege. The only consisting member of the line up that ruled the world in the 70’s is guitar player Andy Scott, but the fact is that Andy isn’t an original member as he replaced Mick Stewart who replaced Mick Torpey in the late 60’s. But, Andy Scott was a huge part in the Sweet sound, both as a songwriter and singer, especially his high-pitched backing vocals, which he still manages to hit. But the rest of the band doesn’t hold up as personalities. Keyboard player / rhythm guitarist / sometimes lead vocalist Tony O’Hora does a fine job and is flawless and so is drummer Bruce Bisland. I mean, he is replacing Mick Tucker, one of the best and most original drummers of the 70’s, right up there with Ian Paice, John Bonham and Cozy Powell and the whole lot and it’s easy to tell that he can’t play the way Tucker did (Tucker died back in 2002 from leukemia), but he doesn’t really do anything wrong. Which is hardly the case with lead singer / bass player Peter Lincoln. He sings the songs without any feel or conviction and he frankly doesn’t do them justice at all. You are replacing Brian Connolly (who died from renal and liver failure and several heart attacks in 1997), for God’s sake, one of the best damn vocalists ever!!! Besides, he plays a Hohner Headless bass and they weren’t even cool in the 80’s. But as an old Sweet fan, I can’t slag off a band with a treasure chest of songs like this. When all those oldies like “Hellraiser”, “The Six Teens”, “Blockbuster”, “Love Is Like Oxygen”, “Action” and “Fox On The Run” comes along and you’re out there in the sun with a cold one in hand and a few inside then at least I couldn’t help but screaming along with a big smile on my face. And their really old pop stuff like “Wig Wam Bam” and “Little Willy” really holds up well with their hard rock stuff. But with only 75 minutes and 12 songs to play, why on earth would they wanna play us covers like opener “New York Groove” (which was made famous by Kiss’ Ace Frehley) and “Fanfare For The Common Man”? Yes, I know they have a new covers album out, but who cares? They could and should have given us two more classics instead. But til the next time, please find a new lead singer.

Candlemass - Sweden Rock Festival 2013CANDLEMASS – Sweden Stage (8/10)

Another band out on a farewell tour are Swedish doom Gods Candlemass. I have never been a huge fan of the band – to be honest, doom metal has never been my thing and I get bored with it quite quickly, but my views on the band has changed. I saw them at Sweden Rock Festival back in 2009 as I was just walking by Festival Stage and they were so damn good that I watched the whole gig and since then I have found myself really liking them a lot. This time, though, there has been a change in the lead singer spot. Singer Robert Lowe has gotten the boot due to his alcohol problems and has been replaced by Mats Levén (Krux, Yngwie, Treat, Therion), a move that fits the band like a glove. It only takes a couple of songs before you’re wondering why he hasn’t taken that spot years ago. I mean, it’s no secret that he sings on Leif Edling’s demos and seeing them live like this, he’s perfect for the band and I don’t think anyone can be disappointed by Levén’s interpretations of the old Candlemass songs. The band has a reputation for being one tight unit and tonight’s headline gig is no exception. Guitar players Mats “Mappe” Björkman and Lars Johansson creates a wall of guitars as band leader / song writer / bass player Leif Edling and drummer Jan Lindh keeps things steady and heavy. And Mats Levén has one of the best voices Sweden has to offer. Hell, he is one of the best singers this world has to offer – and there are quite a few of them out there. Their latest album (and last?) Psalms For The Dead from 2012 was well represented here with opener “Prophet”, “Waterwitch”, “Psalms For The Dead” and “Black As Time”. They were very well received by the crowd and felt really at ease together with real oldies like “Solitude”, “Crystal Ball”, “Under The Oak” and “Dark Reflections”. To be honest, it’s a shame that the band are disbanding now, because I believe that they are better than ever and this line up is so good that they deserve to do at least one more album and one more tour before their final goodbye. That said, if they really are gonna call it quits, then this was a great way to do it. Salute!

Jon Wilmenius

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