Thursday, June 30, 2016

CopenHell- June 24-26th, 2016

This is the 7th edition of CopenHell, a true Heavy Metal festival that is about 15mins from where I live on bike. I had never been to this festival before, mainly because it was always the week after Sweden Rock and often some of the same bands and a more metallic focus than my current musical tastes. Anyway, could not pass up seeing Alice Cooper, Scorpions, and Black Sabbath. plus many other cool other bands and maybe discover something new that I like.

I headed out to the festival at 14 and could walk around and check out the really cool site and people. Wow.. What an amazing place but probably not if you are Christian. Lots of references to Satan and Hell, etc. Love it!!!!

Blind Guardian was the first band that I saw at 15. This German melodic metal band has been around for many years now and the singer said this was the first time they have played in Denmark in 20 years!! They played well, had good sound and the audience was into and singing some of the songs. Singer had a great voice and connection with the audience.
Set List: 9th Wave, Requiem, Nightfall, Fly, Tanelorn, Time stands still, Imaginations, Bard’s Song, Valhall

Black Peaks, from the UK were next on the Pandemonium Stage (the smallest of 3 stages). The small crowd was digging this young band that just released their first album this year. Singer was pretty intense at times as was the music. Sort of indie rock meets hardcore. Poppy soft vocals mixed with angry stuff. The sound mix was not that good. Guitars way too low and it would be like this for all the bands. Not sure what was up with the sound people?? Drums were always way too loud all day on this stage.

Set List: Glass Built Peaks, White Eyes, Intro, Set in Stone, To take the first turn, Drones, Say you Will, Saviour

Dropkick Murphy’s were the first band on the main stage and had a huge audience. The band has been playing in Denmark for 20 years and has a strong following here. I had last seen them many years ago at the Roskilde Festival. Probably 15 years ago. They played a solid show but had a not very well defined sound. You could rarely hear the guy playing bagpipes or penny whistle, etc… Voices, drums and bass were ok but the two three guitars etc. had no definition. They have a lot less energy and play more melodic normal rock sounds than what I remember when they were much harder and punkier… aged????

Norma Jean, from the USA were some really angry folks. Singer was quite amazing with his vocal abilities but the music was nothing very special for me. Very angry…. Lots of angry bands these days.  Been done much better before by bands like Agnostic Front, COC. Etc.

August Burns Red was next up on the Hades stage and I had never heard of these guys. A mix of angry metal, some technical guitar wizard stuff but mostly very angry energetic metal with some good grooves at times. I was worn out by the vocalist though by the end. The guitar player with the green guitar played some really cool stuff sometimes. The audience was large and seem to know the band and be into it, which was good but the sound was awful. The drums were 70% of the sound. 

Alice Cooper…. Wow. What can you say?? He was amazing at Sweden Rock 2 years ago and fucking great today and a few different songs and covers including Ace of Spades by Motorhead and Suffragette City but David Bowie and I really enjoyed Elected at the end of the show with Donald Trump and Hillary beating each up and then making up and leaving… Great show and what a killer band he has.  A bit too much the same…. Has not changed 70% of the set in 30 years but what the hell…

Set List: Vincent Price Intro, The Black Widow, No More Mr. Nice Guy, Under My Wheels, Billion Dollar Babies, Woman of Mass Distraction, Guitar solo Nita Strauss, Poison, Halo of Flies, Feed My Frankenstein, Ballad of Dwight Fry, Killer, I love the Dead, Pinball Wizard, Fire, Suffragette City, Ace of Spades, 18, Schools out, Elected

I saw a 10 mins of Converge but it was now pissing down rain and everyone was trying to find shelter and there is not a whole lot here. I managed to get into the main beer tent and get a seat. Had a chat with some folks from York, UK while people sang, and headbanged to the DJ who played Metallica, Slayer, etc… eventually a band started to play in the tent and did Paranoid, Master of Puppets, etc.. I finally had to leave to go pee so then I just walked around in the rain and not a cheap rain jacket. Luckily for us it was very warm out. My feet were totally soaked and most of my clothes but I was not cold.

The Scorpions started at 22:30 and the rain, wind, thunder, lightning all came as well as they blew into town. Killer visual show and sound. Having Mickey Dee on drums gives that band an extra kick in the ass. What a drummer. The band played a cool set. My fave part was of course, the 70’s medley with Top of the Bill, Steamrock Fever, Speedy’s Coming and Catch your Train!

Coast to Coast was excellent and another mostly instrumental track that a young guitar player, Ingo came out and played with the band. Mathias’s son, perhaps?? The middle part of the show was a downer for me with all these ballad songs but people loved it and sang along and then they rocked hard again with stuff like Dynamite, Black out, No one likes you, Rock you like a hurricane.. Klaus Meine still sounds really good but has only 25% of the power in his voice he used to have.  Great band…. Very wet now..

Set List: Going Out With a Bang, Make It Real, The Zoo, Coast to Coast, Top of the Bill / Steamrock Fever / Speedy's Coming / Catch Your Train, We Built This House, Send Me an Angel, Wind Of Change, Rock 'n' Roll Band, Dynamite, Drum Solo (by Mikkey Dee), Blackout, No one like you, Big City Nights, Still loving you, Rock you like a Hurricane.

With the Dead was slow and heavy compared to everything else and like before, guitar was too low. Very bass heavy sound.  I had seen the band at Roadburn and they were great. Still very good today but the vibe was so different and I was not really in the mood… Cool new band… Great day one

Set List: Crown of Burning Stars, The Cross, Nephthys
Living With the Dead, I Am Your Virus, Screams From My Own Grave

Day 2

I missed the first two bands, Solstafir from Iceland and Monuments. I arrived to see about 1/3 of the Tremonti concert. This was their last show on their European tour. Tremonti is the side project of the Alter Bridge guitarist. It was heavier than Alter Bridge and less catchy and melodic. Some cool stuff and some great guitar playing.

I caught a few tracks of Beartooth but this was nothing for me. Angry aggressive metal. Not much more to say… It was really hot today, around 27C and much less wind. They say we will have rain again in the late evening..  No sign of it now…

Amon Amarth had a killer stage set up as all the bands on the main stage would today. Super cool with dragon’s heads and huge rune stones. I really love the lyrical content of this band and they are very powerful but it all sounds too much the same. Very powerful Viking like death metal. The drums were so loud for these guys you could hear almost nothing but drums, bass and vocals. Guitars were so buried. Shit sound…. Heavy and so double bass drum all the time just pounding your brains out… Terrible…. Ruined it for me and I had to leave.

Amon Amarth
There was nothing going on so I just cruised around and found my friend Stefan and we hung out for 45mins and had a great chat about his music, family, etc.. so nice..

Epica, a female lead melodic speed metal type act with these new age/Hollywood movie pad keyboards most of the time, but some lead synths every now and then and two ripping guitar players and an opera singer. They suffered also from double bass drum overload and way too heavy drums, It just destroyed their music. Pity….  Crowd was into it. I saw the first 3rd of the show and the last part when I returned to hang out on the hill after seeing a bit of Entombed AD.

Entombed AD, finally a metal act with a groove of sorts! This was the largest audience I had seen at the festival on the smallest Pandemonium stage. Entombed AD is not the real Swedish Entombed band but the original first singer playing old Entombed stuff and new material that they write. Crowd was really into it and they sounded great.

Megadeth had a super cool futuristic stage set up with great high resolution screens. They had just played CopenHell 2 years ago but they always draw in the fans. I had not seen them in 7 years or so when they were at Sweden Rock. The crowd was huge and the sound so much better but still very drum heavy but at least not totally destroying the sound. Megadeth are very cool. They have a lot of variety in their songs and super cool movies and visuals for every song. The kind of lead guitar playing is the least variable as their fast ripping leads start to sound all the same. Dave does not talk much, just gets down to it.  I saw the entire show and it was great. Respect..

Set List: Prince of Darkness, Hangar 18, The Threat Is Real, Tornado of Souls, Wake Up Dead, In My Darkest Hour, Dystopia, Sweating Bullets, Fatal Illusion, Dawn Patrol, Poison Was the Cure, Poisonous Shadows, Symphony of Destruction, Peace Sells, Holy Wars

Kadavar were next and I had something to eat (Warpigs BBQ) and the meet and greet was right next to it so I said hello to the guys before their show started. I have met them several times and they are really nice people and great players. They also had a pretty large crowd at the small stage and a very drum and bass heavy mix but you could hear the guitar but it was the lowest instrument and the vocals were a bit buried. It is so rare at this festival that there is great sound. Pity.. Anyway, this is a really solid band but they lack any sort of fun, danger, risk… all too well planned and executed and they play the same songs every time you see them, often in the same order. I will wait 5 years to see them again and hope it is not the same old thing… They have so many great songs, pity they play such a limited range. Lack of confidence? Just take the easy way and play it safe do the same set all the time? Don’t know..

Trivium was next on the Hades stage and had a super cool stage set up but again suffered from bass drums death curse with this being way louder than all the other instruments. Such a pity. I found that if you were way off to the side though it sounded quite good but anywhere where in the middle was 75% drums and bass… Powerful band…

I missed Redwood Hill and hung out to rest the legs on the hill waiting for King Diamond. I thought I saw an old friend of mine, Mikael in the distance but did not think he would be here, so I did not pursue him. When I went up front on the left side for King Diamond there he was and it was him! How cool.. I had not seen him in years.. not a lot of time to catch up before the KING started. 

 The King Diamond show was an awesome piece of musical theatre! Super cool stage, actors, great sound up here in the front and a great mix of his solo songs and one Mercyful Fate track.  I had a great time but about 4 songs into the concert it started to rain again and it rained the entire rest of the fucking concert and sometimes quite a lot. I had a rain frock this time though but my feet were still very wet. Best show of the day for sure. Great time..

Set List: Out from the Asylum, Welcome Home, Sleepless Nights, Halloween, Eye of the Witch, Melissa, Come to the Sabbath, "Them", Funeral, Arrival, A Mansion in Darkness, The Family Ghost, The 7th day of July 1777, Omens, The Possession, Abigail, Black Horseman, Insanity

Abbath, the singer from Immortals, side project were on at 00:45 and it was a bit of a mess now especially as in front of the Hades stage was a huge lake. I found a place close to the barrier to start and thought about leaving as I was wet and tired but I stayed and glad that I did as this was my 2nd fave show of the day. Powerful stuff but some slower songs as well. They also had low guitar and too high drums, which seems the norm for this festival and probably why I won’t come back again. I need better sound than this. What a let down that it is so consistently bad.

Artillery, the old Danish thrash band, and close the night off started at 01:15. I did not think I would make to see them and only made it through half the set. It was a lot of new material that I did not know at all. I only have the first 4 records. A decent crowd of a few hundred but pretty small. Most people left after the soaking at King Diamond.

It was cool day but I was wet and tired again…

Day 3

I got off to a bit later start today and missed I’ll be Damned, Tribulation, Grusom, Hellhorse, Bombus.. First band I saw was the Swedish rap metal industrial band, Clawfinger, who played on the main stage.  I think these guys were pretty big in the 90s in this part of the world. They were having a good time on the stage and with the audience. The lead singer came out into the audience once by walking and the other time stage diving!  This sort of rap metal industrial cross over was never my thing but people enjoyed it.  I just hung out with my friend Stefan.

Next up was Shinedown. They had some pre-recorded pop song that people were singing along to as an intro and that was a bad sign for me. I did not like this band at all. They had a pretty big crowd and people singing their indie-pop-punk-metal hybrid… not sure how to describe it but it was too slick.

Havok, from the USA, were a straight up thrash metal band. NO fucking around.. 80s thrash and played super well. They had really positive lyrics and also what he said between the songs. They played a new song called Claiming Certainty and this was dedicated to George Carlin (A US comedian and political commentator, who most of the audience probably did not know).  Blind Faith is a mental prison was the message.  Singer reminded me of Mille from Kreator at times. Excellent band and great sound on this stage today. Different sound man, perhaps?

Rival Sons was next up on the big stage. It had been 4-5 years since I had seen them at Sweden Rock. They now have a keyboard player. The band played a very well crafted and planned set of classic rock with blues. Very Led Zeppelin inspired at times but with out the danger or excitement. The polished made for TV version of Led Zeppelin.  The singer was by far the best I heard at the entire festival. He really is fucking great. The band is solid and they have some really great songs but the two new songs they played were not very good (Hollow Bones, Tied up).  The blues ballad that followed was very emotional and excellent. They rocked out more after that. Cool band but not growing in the way or direction I like. but that is just me..

Set List: Electric Man, Secret, Pressure and Time, Hollow Bones Pt. 1, Tied Up, Baby Boy, Where I've Been, Torture, Fade Out, Get What's Coming, Open My Eyes, Keep On Swinging

Decapitated was next on the Hades stage. FUCK.. This was so insanely loud!! They must have been 20% louder than any other band at the entire festival. The guitar player was super loud in the mix to start and the sound balance was way off but by 3 songs the sound guy had the most massive and LOUD sound of the entire festival. Unreal.. They were also super intense Death metal. Wow…

We did not see Bersærk or Dark Funeral (who I was told were really cool). Black Sabbath was next and we were pretty excited. I hung out with Nils and Anders and we got in the front section about 15m back, dead center from Iommi’s stacks.. You could hear guitar directly from his amps!

The show opened with a really cool intro movie that ended with Satan exploding out of an egg like structure and wrecking havoc on the world. Intense! Then, Black Sabbath opened the show. Always a classic opening song. The audience was totally into it and the sound was great. Guitar could have been a bit louder as the bass and drums were quite heavy but very high definition sound. You could hear all of Geezers bass notes clearly. Did not hear that with any other band at the festival. Ozzy sounded great but was his same crazy self.. Not sure what to say to the audience except, how are you doing? Having a good time? Over and over… I get very annoyed that he gets the audience to sing or clap over all the guitar solos for just about every fucking song, when Tony takes his solo, then Ozzy gets everyone to block your view with clapping, waving your arms back and forth, yelling or some shit while Tony is solos. Annoying.

Anyway, what a blast to hear these classic songs- After Forever, Into the Void, Snowblind, War Pigs, Fairies wear Boots, Behind the walls of Sleep, Iron Man, The Warning (only 1min before the drum solo), Children of the Grave, and of course Paranoid. During Dirty Women, Tony got to take a really long guitar solo and it was so nice to hear him just play. Wish the would play All moving parts stand Still instead of Dirty Women from Technical Ecstasy. The 90mins went by way too fast and it was a pity we did not get to hear Hand of Doom. Not sure why they dropped it at this show.  A really fun show. Had a great time.. Black Sabbath is one of my all time favorite bands and songs like After Forever, Into the Void, etc.. have such killer guitar riffs… Ozzy can’t sing them anymore but what the hell. We had fun.

The last band of the festival was Bombers, as Norwegian Motorhead cover band lead by Immortal front man, on bass and vocals. Nils, Jesper and Magnus and I had a fun time and the sound was great and a pretty good and drunk crowd. A lot of wasted people at 01.30 in the morning. The weather was great now and all the rain from Black Sabbath was gone. It rained half of their set or more but not that heavy like the previous days. Anyway, they opened with Bomber and they play fucking fast. Way faster than the original songs. It actually does not work very well as although he can usually sing it that 20% faster and the bass and drums work ok, the lead guitar parts are played at normal speed and it just sounds off…  It was a great set of songs and we had a blast but they would be better if they slowed it down.  The stoned vibe of Motorhead is totally lost when put on so much speed.  Fun way to end the festival.

Set List: Bomber, Stoned Dead Forever, The hammer, Shoot you in the back, Over the top, stay clean, killed by death, Orgasmatron, Iron Fist, metropolis, We are the road crew, Ace of Spades, Overkill

CopenHell is a great festival. 20,000 people this year, which is double the normal size. It was a lot of people but it worked. Never a problem to get food, drinks or pee. No huge cues… Well organized. My biggest complaint is the poor sound for 50% of the bands.. Way too loud drums just ruined it for so many bands… Great job from the organizers to pull this one off. Super cool place where you can disappear from your normal life for 8 hrs or so…. Awesome..

here are some more fotos of the festival site... and cool, strange people....

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Soft Hearted Scientists-Golden Omens 2CD (The Hip Replacement 009)

Golden Omens is the 7th album by this Cardiff based Welsh band.  I have reviewed some of their material in the past. The album, although only about 60mins of music (in 27 tracks), it is split over two CDs.. not sure why, but that is the way it is. There are a lot of short instrumental tracks that tie the other tracks together. Principal Edwards Magic Theatre style 60s music for the modern ear with lyrics reflecting today and the past! Lots of interesting and short vocal tracks mixed with instrumental ones. The album goes by pretty fast when you listen to it and it has a great sound production. Below is a link for a recent live video of one of the bands rare live performances. None of the tracks from this album are yet available for streaming that I am aware of.

One hundred copies of brand new double CD album “Golden Omens’ plus free A2 poster is available direct from the band from 1st June. Cost is £12 including postage in the UK; £14 outside UK.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Ulysses- Law and Order (Black Glove Recordings BGCD002)

This is a fairly new UK band from Bath. They have one full length and EP released prior to this record. The band really wears its influences on their sleeve, so to speak. Borrowing or stealing great ideas from a lot of old bands. Some of it is quite cheesy 60s-early 70s Sweet, The Monkees feel to it and other times just great rock and roll… The title track starts things off and is a pop rock track, quite funny and catchy. Smiling reminds me of Mungo Jerry. Lady has a bit harder guitar riff but returns with another catchy chorus that is very much like the Stones. Track has a nice guitar solo but short. Crazy Horses ride the Snake reminded my wife of Badfinger! Dirty Weekend is a catchy foot stomping, hand clamping track with some slide guitar. A bit Sweet and then an AC/DC vocal at the end (Dirty Deeds done dirty cheap). Mary Jane (not about marijuana) is a lot like the Sweet, especially the chorus parts and the slightly harder guitar riff at times. Song that has to be Sung features Rosalie from Purson on vocals in addition to Luke. It is a more laid back track with acoustic guitar to start but then really rocks out after 2 mins. Typical Scorpio is another short catchy number. Come on this City’s Gone has a more foot tamping tempo and a tiny refrain that reminds of Thin Lizzy and more handclaps! Yellow Sunshine #1 and 2 are next and remind of the late 60s the way that the vocals are sung. Yellow #2 is a funky track but continues the lyrical thread of the previous track despite the musical departure. This is also the only track on the album with a long guitar solo. How Long is the last track on this CD and a more hard rocking track but with some beach boys like choruses A quite varied album with a lot of borrowed elements but pretty fun in the end. Check them out!!!