Monday, June 6, 2016

Muskelrock Festival, Tyrolen, Sweden June 3-5th, 2016

Muskel rock is a small heavy metal hard rock festival about 2 ½ hrs from Copenhagen that occurs the weekend before Sweden Rock. This is the 8th year and the first time I have ever come. They are really dedicated to get a lot of 80s bands so it will be cool to see bands like Vardis, Tysondog, Mindless Sinner, Satan, Deathhammer, Lonely Kamel, Sabbat (Japan), and others… Also a good chance for young new Swedish bands to debut to a larger audience (maybe...).

12:00 I am on the train to the festival now and there are not too many for the festival. Maybe they came last night or earlier. First band (Seven Sisters) starts at 13 today. I really want to be settled and see Lecherous Gaze at 17.. I will meet up with my friends Anders and Christer and stay with them in their camper area. I met a group of 8 danes (3 girls, 5 guys) and they are already drinking quite heavy and nearly drunk and we are not even there yet…   The weather is totally amazing. It will be a hot weekend. Lots of sun and around 25C and only down to 10C at night…   I hope to meet some others that I know like Martin, Tiago, Nils.. We will see.

I arrived at Christer’s mobile home and he had a signup for me, which was cool. Anders and his girlfriend would arrive around 14.. It was really hot now but he had a great place with some shade which was nice. I must have already drank 3 bottles of water… Mostly just people listening to music and getting blasted.  I went and got my wristband and a small card that allowed me to take fotos up in the front for the first 3 songs. I had a walk around the festival site. A very cool place. A pizza place outside and once inside (no drinks allowed inside or any kind but empty bottle to put water in was ok to take in or out), where is a stage to the right, the main stage and then a permanent circus like tent but made of wood. There are some booths for buying arts and crafts, a big merch area table, two places to buy drinks and 3-4 places for buying food.  A pretty small place.

Seven Sisters
Seven Sisters (UK) started things off. I saw the first few songs and it was dual guitar NWOBHM inspired stuff. Young guys, played well but nothing new at all. They did not excite me much. There was a small crowd of 60 or so watching them.

Aggravator were a four piece thrash band that reminded me a lot of Kreator or Sodom, this sort of sound but with two guitars. The singer’s voice was a lot like this. They played well also and I guess about the same number were watching them but it was much hotter inside this wooden tent.. I had to get out and get some air and go help Anders, who had arrived up the tent connected to their van (very old German one), where I would sleep.  Anders and Anna-Carina did most of the work as they knew how it all went together. IT was fucking hot out.

Zex, a Canadian melodic punky hard rock-metal band were next. I saw a few songs but this was not my thing. The female singer was dressed very much like for a goth-leather-sex party. They were all in the direct sun on this stage and I can imagine how hot it was. She was off the stage ever chance she could to sit down and drink some water. People seem to enjoy this more..

Lecherous Gaze was the first band I was really looking forward to see. They were so much fun last time. The singer is kind of crazy.. He came out with a hanger stuck in his shirt behind is neck with a beer can hanging off it like an earring. Gloves on, a cup of wine and a beer…. Uttered some crap and off they rocked…. IT was a really fun set. The lead guitar player is really excellent. They have a replacement rhythm guitar player at the moment from Australia. I had a talk with the leader of Whitehorse, as he was touring with them. He said they had an split EP out soon and a new LP next year and will tour Europe end of next year, he hopes.  Anyway, LG totally kicked ass and had cool songs, fun energy and bizzare and entertaining leader… People had a lot of fun..

Set List: Animal, Birdman, Rav, Bag,Baby, Skid, New D., Dale, Night, Grasp/Re

Tysongdog, a old UK band from the 80s was next on the hot outdoor stage. They were all dressed in black and long pants and it was hot. Looks like they could have three original members as a few of them were graying… This was straight up 80s HR/NWOBHM stuff with ok songs. I was never a big fan of them in the 80s and this reaffirms sort of why they never got much bigger. Songs are ok but pretty average HM. It was not for me. Some of the crowd really loved them.

I missed Taiwaz, as I needed some rest from the sun and to get some food so the next band I saw was Vardis! Wow.. I really thought I would never see this band. I own most all their 80s records and singles. A cool blues inspired with a bit of boogie at times. They were not one of your more normal NOWBHM bands. The people who liked QUO and Spider, were probably Vardis fans. Anyway, they were excellent and really rocked. They played all old songs except one called Back to School from Red Eye. Think this was a poor choice as it just a very standard rock song with a poor chorus and nothing special. Apparently the new record is very diverse, with rock, blues, funk, etc… My faves were If I were King and Situtation Negative. Steve can still really play guitar took many long solos which was great.. Best band so far of the day for me. I got the set list signed but the whole band!
Set List: Move Along, Lion’s Share, Radio Rockers, Dirty Money, Mods & Rockers, Jolly Roger (Paranoia), Situation Negative, Lose, Back to School, If I were King, Let’s Go.

Flight, were young 4 piece band and I thought they were playing all instrumental music as I could not hear any singing until I came into the tent and it appears there were some problems with the vocal mics. They had some really good songs with trading guitar solos but I did not like the singer’s voice at all. They had a pretty decent crowd now. Seems there was never more than 200 people seeing any band.

Rock Goddess started at 22 and had a decent crowd but not a very good sound. The bass was way too loud up front where most of the people are drowning out guitar. It was all loud bass and drums to start and vocal. I had seen them at Sweden Rock during the day and they were really excellent. I think they play the same set more or less but today (singer, guitarist) was really off I felt. They just did not have the groove, tightness and never caught it. I was quite disappointing and this shit with getting the crowd to sing along every 2nd song was very annoying. Just play the fucking songs and rock out. That is what people really want.

I left to go see Black Magic in the small tent. This was insane. The temp had dropped outside but it was still nice out but it was hot in here and the energy level was so high. The band was playing inside a metal cage to protect them from the audience, which they needed as the people were wild. The music was pretty cool and good as well. I had never heard them and heard about 20mins and it was over. I went back and joined Rock Goddess for the rest of their set starting at HM Rock and Roll (getting audience to sing again!) and ended. A few songs below were dropped, I think as their set was less than an hour.

Set list: Satisfied and Crucified, One Hot Night, Two Wrongs, This Time, You’ve got Fire, To be Betrayed, Flying, Take your love Away, Make my Night, Drive you Away, This is the Day, My Angel, Back to You, HM Rock and Roll.

Antichrist (US), a US band plays here every year and the crowd must love them as well as the tent one was packed. Crazy stuff.. Super fast thrash.. Just one song after another of this killer tight heavy thrash. Singer was nothing special but the drummer.. fucking hell… He had to work very hard as nearly every song is 100 miles an hour. I only saw half the set and then went and sat down and watched Satan soundcheck and had one last beer. The festival beer is really good hoppy ale with chili in it! Interesting for a festival beer. I liked it but spoke to others that did not. 70kr though!!   They have cheap 30kr beer from 12-18… 500ml…

Satan was the last band that I saw and they totally had the audience in their hand. People really liked them a lot and they played a mix of mostly songs from Caught in the act and their new album, Atom to Atom. They played one called Ruination that Ross announced they had only ever played 2-3 times. It was a solid set. The guitar stage left (not the younger guy with the strat) was much louder in the mix, which was not that well balanced. You really noticed when he soloed and was way out front and the other guy was more buried but you could hear him still. A cool set but I was too tired to see Witchhazel, which my friend Anders described as something like a folky Wishbone Ash with a blind drummer! They all wore white as well. It was a fun day..
Day 2
It was insanely loud around the camp last night. Right side of us people with a generator who never go see any bands and just party and listen to music. Then the night rock disco thing in the tent, where Black Magic played, was loud rock music until 5am! IT has only been semi-quiet for about 3-4 hrs. It is partly cloudy, which is nice otherwise it would be really hot already. I need to jump in the lake or shower.. It was cool to hang out with Corey (Ex-Radio Moscow, Blues Pills) and his Swedish girlfriend some yesterday. 

 Live music starts at 14 with Banditios. Before that they have some music auction and an arm wrestling competition for the macho folks.. Saw later that a Brazilian guy had his arm broken during the competition, ouch!!

14 Banditos from Alabama were an awesome way to start the day.A 6 piece US band playing Americana-rock and roll. The heavy set female front singer was great. She was so into it and had a great voice. It they were a bit more rocking they could remind you of Big Brother and the Holding company with a banjo and two guitars. Really good songs and the vibe was perfect for the sunny start of the day.  I really liked them a lot and even bought their vinyl LP! The audience really had a good time and the version of I put a Spell on You was amazing. The singer came down into the audience and sang part of it. Coo…. Later, the singer wrote me out the set list and signed it a swell. Cool people.

Set List: Waitin’, Cry baby Cry, Old Ways, Thick and Thin, Visionland, Goin’ all Night, No Good, Golden Grease, Still Sober (after all these beers), Bruce, I put a Spell on you.

The Temple fro Greece were first off in the tent stage. This 4 piece band played melodic doom rock with a lot of dual melody guitar parts and not many single leads. The opening was a slow track and then the next one was more uptempo but they were having a lot of sound issues. PA was going in and out, singer, was not very strong or did not have a very interesting voice. I watched a few more songs but lost interest and went and got an ice cream. The audience was pretty small.

Salem, an old UK band from like 1981were next. The audience was starting to grow a bit more for some of the bands. I am still surprised that 80% of the audience are just out in the camping area all the time. It is only in the evening that a band can get a crowd of 500 or 1000 people. Anyway, Salem had a couple of the old guys and a singer that reminded me Marc Storace from Krokus. They had a mix of some cool songs and really average metal stuff. I found some shade to hear the rest of the set. They played a mix of their really old stuff like Fools’s Gold and stuff from the tow recent CDs they have made.

Second Sun, a new young 4 piece band that sings all in Swedish was next. They are young with a female organ/synth player who also does some backing vocals. The lead vocal by the guitar player. They drummer really rocked. They had some cool songs with sometimes a bit of that Swedish folky melody thrown in like Agusa.. I mostly missed that they had very few guitar solos. I few keyboard solos but not that many, Short songs but often some cool stuff. A lot of people showed up to see them. Sadly, they suffered from poor sound. Drums and snare were louder than the guitar!! Pity..


Ambush, were a 5 piece that sound just like Accept meets Saxon…. Nothing original going here but a true tribute to the masters of heavy metal. They were decked out in the leathers, the studded wrist bands and all the attitude and moves. The audience was totally into it and even knew a lot of the choruses to their catchy 80s HM… They borrow some riffs from Saxon, Accept and Priest and turn them into their own. Great show and energy!

Wucan from Germany was one of the highlights of the day for sure. Four piece band with a talented and very charismatic female singer who also played flute, theremin and guitar. She had an awesome voice as well. They describe themselves as Heavy Flute Rock.. They don’t overuse the flute though; it is music mostly built on really good guitar riffs and songs.  Lots of good heavy 70s hard rocking sounds but they mix it up really well. I wanted to buy their record but I need to save some Swedish kroner… I am sure you can find it on the net. I especially loved this one track that had a very funky guitar riff and she played some theremin and guitar as well Great show and band…

Set List: King Korea, Owl eyes, Franis Vikarma, Dopetrotter, (with Crazy train tease), Looking in the past, Father storm, Wandersmann

Neon Rose are an old Swedish band that was around from 1972-1978 and until this year had not played since 1978! They had what looked like the original drummer and lead vocalist/guitar player. The sound guy did a poor job here as well as the 2nd lead guitar player could hardly be heard for most of the concert, especially if you were even a little to the right. Sound guy is often doing a poor job. Drums are all too loud and guitars too low where all the people are standing. Wish he cared more about his job.  Neon Rose was a mixed bag Some good songs and then some that just did not come across well anymore, All were good players and the band was best on the two slow songs and then they rocked out the most at the end. Not bad but not blowing us a way either.. The set list below is what they played in Jan 2016 and was pretty close but not as long.

Dead eyes, Night birds, Too long, The race for knowledge, Julia's Dream, A Dream of Glory and Pride, Waiting for the train, We work all day, Reload, A man's not a man, Don't mess with me, Dust and rust

Lizzies from Spain were a fun band but musically I did not like them Four females with a lot of attitude and great guitar riffs. The small guitar player looked a bit funny with the large Flying V but she riffed like a master. The female singer had a great outfit and sand with a lot of attitude but was more a pop singer than a metal singer and their songs were all too melodic and catchy even if they had some heavy riffs. It was not really for me but the audience loved it and had a good time.

Metal Lucifer a band from Japan played with three Japanese guys (Vocal, lead guitar and drummer) and two German guys. This was the most fun I had all weekend at this concert. The audience was crazy and really fun. All the songs were heavy metal anthems…. HM Iron Fist, HM Chainsaw, HM Drill, HM Samurai.! IT was so funny and intense high speed speed metal. The small singer was very charismatic and said funny stuff… He was going down to the pit every other song to get the audience to sing along. A lot of cliché again but super fun band. I loved it. A true highlight of the festival.

Heathens from the North, a Greek, Heavy Load cover band was the last band I saw as I was just too tired and needed to try to fall asleep before the others get back and party more just outside my tent! Anyway, this band was excellent and the original singer from Heavy Load who only sang on the first EP and had not been on a stage for 30 years, sang two songs early in the set and then cae bk out later for 2 other songs… This band was tight and really rocked these old songs. Stronger than Evil Singing Swords, etc…. A great set and a large crowd.

It was a great day. Better than the first day.

Day 3

Up at 9:15.. Will go swim in the lake again to get clean. It was not as hot yesterday and we had some clouds on an off. Still most of the people are hanging out in the camping and not seeing many of the bands.

I should comment about the beer. Excellent.. Before 18 you could get half liter of TT eco pilsner that was really good and refreshing for 30kr and most of the bar staff fill it to the top. Also, the Muskelrock beer was excellent, a hoppy ale with chili. Yum..the other great choice on tap was the St. Erik IPA. This beer was so awesome but cost 70kr so I only had two at the festival.  They had some other good beers in bottles as well but for 70kr also.

12 Witch Hazel were doing an short show in the church up the road so after breakfast we walked up there to check it out. A decent number of people were hanging out. I went into the church and looked at the program while the guitar player was playing some really nice music but then I realized it was really a Christian thing and the priest was going to talk and they were going to sing psalms, etc.. and the band was only going to play 5 songs and a few Christian things so I left. That is not for me. I don’t believe in religion (the Romans invented Jesus Christ… check out the link..) it is all to control people. Always has been except the old Norse and Pagan religions which were really intuned with the earth and trying to explain the world and surroundings.. Anyway. I left and went for a swim in the lake with Christor and Martin… So nice..

The music day started off with Tornet on the main stage at 14. This is a new young Swedish band. The name translates to The Tower, not to be mixed up with the other Swedish band called The Tower.. Five piece band with a charismatic female singer that danced and sang and played Harmonium on one or two songs. It was a bit like the Finnish band Seremonia but not nearly as cool. Christor said they had a bit of a Kebenkase vibe (old Swedish band). They had two guitar players but they rarely ever played any guitar solos. I was hoping for a bit more variety in their sound. They are young and I hope the develop a bit more.

Lonely Kamel from Oslo was next. This is a bluesy stoner rock band that I really like but I had never had a chance to see. This was just want I needed. The did not have that many people watching, less than 100. The bass player had some problem with his bass and was going to switch the E string it looked like from his other bass but then seem to find another solution. While he was doing that the two guitar players broke into a bit of the old Muddy Waters song, Champagne or Reefer. That was cool. The set was a mix of songs but surprisingly not many from the new record. It was a great set but I wished they would jam a bit. All the songs were more or less 4-5mins each.. Christor told me they jam some if they have a longer set.. Great band.

Set List: Prophet, Champagne and Reefer (part), Shit City, Feel Sick, Seal, Freezing, Evil Man, Stick

Maida Vale was a huge surprise for me and one of the highlights. This all female band was so cool. They started out with spacey jammed out track where the super cool female singer also played a floor tom to add to the rhythm and worked great with the tall bass player. The small blond female guitar player really played awesome and cool leads and she likes her wah pedal!!  There was something really special about the band and especially the singer. I loved her mix of spoken word like vocals and real singing. I really was blown away by this band and so cool the way they groove and play and have lots of lead guitar and instrumental sections as well. Great job girls… Nice people as well. I spoke to them a bit and got them to write me out the set list… They are from Stockholm.

Set List: Gallows Hill, (If you want to Smoke) Be the Fire, Colour Blind, new song, Standby Swing, Restless Wanderer, The greatest story ever told, Find what you love and let it kill you, Dirty War

King Witch was next from Scotland. Anders had the CD-EP and was a big fan and played some of it. They are a four piece with a very intense female singer. She had some pipes!! It was a bit of doomy epic metal stuff. Some cool guitar sections on some of the songs but mostly really heavy riffing stuff with very intense vocals. She was a bit too intense for me. They played and rocked hard for sure.

Set List: Shoulders of Giants, Carnal Sacrifice, Full Moon King, Solitary, Hunger, Lucid

Lethal Steel are a new Swedish classic five piece metal band. IT was a mix of classic dual guitar metal and hard rock. They had all the dress and moves for sure but the music was too average for me. Ambush were much better at it. People had fun and liked it but not too many people were there.

I went to get some food and had a nice chat with some Swedish guys and ate a pizza and then went back to the camp and had a beer with Anders, Christor, etc..
Hällas was next. I did not know them at all and only caught their last two songs. It was more of a classic prog rock with two guitars, and a keyboard player who also had a MS20 mini. This was really good actually but I did not like the singer at all (he also was the bass player).

Now was a band that I had waited 30 years to see, Mindless Sinner.  I was a big fan of this band and even pulled out my 30 year old Turn up the Power t-shirt. I met the singer, Christians, son when we noticed my old shirt. I covered them in three issues of my magazine, Metal Madness in the 80s and even put them on the cover in 1986.. I loved Turn on the Power and this year was the 30th anniversary and the band actually played the entire record (but not in order)as well as one or two new songs and they ended the set with …. Of evil from the first EP.. It was a great concert. He can really still hit the notes and the guitar players are great. Funny to see these kids that were not even born singing along to some of the songs. Great concert!

Next was the 2nd secret artist of the festival and I was blown away that it was Slough Feg… I had never heard this band live before but I was turned onto them by my friend Ray Dorsey years ago.. The band was really happy to be back to the festival and really enjoyed themselves a lot. They play full on galloping epic battle metal… Fun lyrics and stories and just high energy all the way with cool guitar solos from both guys.  The tent was really packed.  They played for 75mins and this really threw the schedule off as Diamond Head was supposed to start at 22 but there were like 25 people in front of the big stage so they waited until 22:15 when Sloug Feg had just finished to come out and play.

They have released a new album that got good reviews. I met the new Danish singer, Rasmus and Brian Tatler earlier in the day and had a chat. I have to say I was not impressed when I saw them as Sweden Rock in 2005 and hoped they would be better today but sadly that was not the case. I have to say this was the most disappointing band of the whole festival. I love the old Diamond head records and 7” releases but this sounds like a bad cover version of the original band. They are much heavier with the 2nd guitar player but I also think he ruins the original sound. The old songs just don’t sound right. IT is like the band is trying to sound like Metallica playing Diamond Head and it just does not work for me at all. I think the 3rd song of the set was a new song and some guy yelled out that was the worst song I have ever heard and the singer yelled back and you have the worst face I have ever seen…. Play it Loud, Shoot out the Lights (I think) started the show. I heard the whole show but I thought it was awful and sounded nothing like Diamond head. When they played Am I Evil, the new singer sings it just like James Hetfield and not at all like Sean Harris… a paraody.. sadly…

Deathhammer from Norway was super intense. Wow.. this is a band that sounds like Slayer with the Kreator singer, Milli…  I only saw a few songs but they were really intense thrash metal. People were really into it and they had a great crowd.
The last band for me was Sabbat. The old Japanese band, sort of. I also wrote about these guys in my fanzine in the 80s. It was only the drummer and bass player from Japan. I think the other two guys were from Germany. This was a band that played classic black metal songs but with really tight bass and drum grooves. IT was a powerful sound and people were also into it. Pretty cool..

Sadly for me, the festival ended with Kikagaku Moyo, also from Japan playing at after 01 in the morning. I had to get a train early in the morning so I did not see them but Anders said it was the best band of the festival and they blew everyone away. People loved the heavy guitars with the sitar and more spaced out sound. Pity. I did buy the new record at least..

It was an amazing festival and I highly recommend this one. So relaxed and a great program. Congrats to Jacob the organizer. My friend Jim Powell would love this festival.  Great times and thanks to all my friends and people that I met and stayed with. I had a great time… Peace…


  1. If you consider The Temple as a doom ROCK band, then you have a problem dude.

  2. That is how they described themselves.. Doom rock from Greece.. They were not traditional doom, that is for sure..

  3. I was there! They said, we play Doom metal! Apart from that, it was epic traditional doom metal! Now, we can continue with your ice cream!

  4. Was a great festival in the sunshine...first visit to Sweden for Salem UK....some good bands on the bill....hope to play there again!!

  5. Salem uk is same line up as 1980-83

  6. he singer’s voice was a lot like this. They played well also and I guess about the same number were watching them but it was much hotter inside this wooden tent.. hard rock music