TONS OF ROCK 2014 – Day 3 – Halden, Fredriksten Festning

TONS OF ROCK 2014 – Day 3 – Halden, Fredriksten Festning

Saturday started again with some wind and sun, making you always think that you’re wearing the wrong clothes and then having you change your mind the second you add/remove some. Good ol’ Norwegian summer weather. But let’s not complain, it could have been way worse.

Bergen’s hard rockers Audrey Horne opened the day for me and they’re always an intense bunch with a good amount of show off, guitar skills and singer madness. They act as if they’d be electrocuted should they spend too much time in one spot and they deliver a great performance to start the day with. But after that, the main stage was taken over by the almost locals from Kampfar – the banded was formed 20 years ago in the Østfold area. It was the first time in many years that Kampfar played on home ground and the first time ever that the singer Dolk was performing in front of his extended family. I’ve seen Kampfar countless times and I believe that the previous mentioned ‘first timers’ were the reason why this one particular show felt even more intense than ever. Dolk is a man to give it all on stage, but Saturday he gave all and a bit more. Plus, they had pyro on stage. I’ve never seen Kampfar with pyro and it was quite a nice addition to their show. It also probably added few extra worries, but they were well dealt with.

FORK live @ Tons of Rock 2014
(Photo: Andrea Chirulescu)

From Kampfar I ran back to the small stage Huth where the band Fork played together with Kenneth Kapstad (Motorpsycho, GodSeed), making it a project with two drummers, one guitar, one bass and four vocalists, everyone working hard to put together a cool intense punk sound. I love watching drummers and having two talented ones on the same stage was a great bonus. Watching them sing in the microphone was even more interesting as I can only imagine the amount of energy it takes to sing and drum punk at the same time. It was a good show with good mood and luckily a bit better promoted so that it gathered way more people than the previous day.

SLEGEST live @ Tons of Rock 2014
(Photo: Andrea Chirulescu)

I also remembering running down to the tent stage during Saturday to watch Slegest, the project of Ese, former guitarist of Vreid.. I read great reviews about them so I was more than curious to see with my own eyes why. I enjoyed their slow paced dark metal which is somewhat lazy, yet very intense and is spiced up with hard and classic rock, a mix that ends up rather appealing. I’m glad to have put the band on the lists of ‘acts seen live’ and can only hope for at least one bis of the event.

One of the festival’s and the day’s big names is Sepultura. While it is far from the Sepultura we think of as ‘the original’ act, I personally enjoy what this lineup does on stage. They have a vocalist as big as a mountain and that feels like things are getting a new level of seriousness. The drum machine Eloy Casagrande is simply insane and, even if not satisfied with some cymbal or hi-hat position at the beginning of the show, he goes on and hits the drumkit as if it’s his last day on Earth. I don’t mind that in this context, especially when he still manages to make it sound groovy. but it’s true, no matter how many new materials are released by the new lineup, the crowd will always be at its best when old Sepultura hits are being performed.

Up next were the local legends Backstreet Girls that pulled together quite a lot of enthusiast fans. Few minutes prior to the announced starting time, we all heard a guitar sound coming out of nowhere, and then we realized that the guitarist was playing it back stage. Then he entered the stage and performed alone for few minutes, looking a bit like a one mad man show. Then he was joined by the rest of the mad men and they performed a good setlist of more or less loved songs. Not really my cup of tea, but one can easily see the band is quite loved.

ANTHRAX live @ Tons of Rock 2014
(Photo: Andrea Chirulescu)

Not as loved as Anthrax though. The American thrashers probably got the loudest cheerings for the day and how well deserved that was. When the frontman simply covers the stage 50000 times during the concert and tries to interact with everyone in the audience, everyone else in the band seems to have an extra level of energy. The start of the show was a tad ‘soft’ – as soft as it can be in thrash metal – but then the whole madness got unleashed and was unstoppable until the last sound of ‘Antisocial’. The concert raised in intensity when the band played a cover of ‘TNT’ and the emotional level reached quite a high peak when two big images of Dio and Dimebag Darrell are displayed on two huge banners on each side of the drumkit. Someone in the audience has the inspiration to throw a Pantera tshirt that gets placed by Joey over the Dimebag image. And then he raises his horns up, followed by everyone in the audience. That surely was a goose-bumps/hair raising moment. This concert worked brilliantly and it was a joy to watch.

SABATON live @ Tons of Rock 2014
(Photo: Andrea Chirulescu)

Up next there’s a new batch of Swedes taking over the other main stage. Sabaton and their pyro effects that ended up being a tad too many by the end. I don’t deny the guys have fantastic energy and charisma and they’re one of the happiest bands I’ve ever seen, but I can’t get over the feeling that they’re not changing the songs at all during the setlist. But I ignore this part and I applaud them again for the energy and for the way they built the drumraiser – afterall, how many bands bring a tank with them and put it under their drumkit? They even used it as a joke that them as Swedes are invading Norway with a tank and the crowd is asking for more. And that they should put the Swedish flag over that fortress. I kinda think this sort of broke the good mood as the crowd tended to be a bit more silent after this.

Not sure if because of Sabaton or because of tiredness or beer or whatever reason, the crowd was one of the lousiest I’ve ever seen during a Slayer concert. And usually the crowd is the only interesting thing to watch during a Slayer concert, since the band has long lived their glory years and now they’re just having another hour int he office while on stage. But I also must admit I’ve never seen Araya grinning so much. Nor headbanging so much. Yes, he moved his head. And his hair. That’s a big bonus. But again, disapponting to not see any mosh pit or hardly any jumping or screaming.

But this ending below expectations is easily forgotten when one looks at the big picture of the whole festival. I consider it a very successful first edition during which everyone, from organizers to participants, had something to learn, something to love and something to dislike. And if everyone learns their lesson and focuses on the many good sides of this event and its fantastic location, I’m pretty sure we can witness many Tons of Rock to come. And I cross my fingers for that.

 Andrea Chirulescu



The first installment of Tons Of Rock festival in Halden had some mighty impressive signings for their debut run.

Located on the Fredriksten Festning the environment worked very well with two stages located opposite each other so that you just had to turn your head 180 around to follow the program. It was also a third tentstage located nicely close to the food and merch stands.

First band to start of the saturday was doom metal startups Purson. All dressed in happy 70´s hippie outfits the female fronted act got of to a good start but with some technical difficulties and a quite monotone set it got mildly boring after a couple of songs. The around 50 people who attended seemed to have a hard time getting into Pursons well played form of early doom.

The next act to follow was no other than formidable doom legend Leif Edling of Candlemass fame newest band Avatarium. Also fronted by a women with a very heavy voice and active stage presence Avatariums music worked out well. The started out only a year ago and the S/T debut have gotten some nice reviews but I´ve had never heard any of their material before and their set ended up being a positive surprise.

AUDREY HORNE live @ Tons of Rock 2014
(Photo: Andrea Chirulescu)

Bergen´s own hard rockers Audrey Horne should not be needing any introduction and now it started getting quite crowded in front of their stage. With a powerfull musikal performance and some mildly amusing stand-up moments from vocalist Toschie their set turned out to be quite enjoyable. Their material consisted of both old and new and the sound was good. Top notch!

KAMPFAR live @ Tons of Rock 2014
(Photo: Andrea Chirulescu)

A band like Kampfar (from Fredrikstad) with their pyro and energic vocalist Dolk should have gotten a later spot (or had their set in the tent). Necro black metal in bright daylight loses some of the punch it can deliver. I´ve witnessed  Kampfar before and their form of black metal works much better under more dim conditions. With a new album released earlier this year, there was no way they boys where going to let a little sun stop them from destroying and destroy they did!

Their set was intensive and formidable both in quality and quantity of the materail. Given the circumstances Kampfar´s set ended up being an massive performance of unholy extreme metal.

Next up was a band I´ve been looking forward to witness for the first time. Devil from Nes have just released their second full-lenght "Gather The Sinners", a massive doom metal output in the veins of the old school. Their brand of occult doom metal worked out very well under the dim setting on the tentstage. The wall of sound hit you like a heavy brick right between the eyes and for me personally the performance of the day so far.

The attendance was not that impressive unfortually but everyone there got what they came for, uber heavy doom metal done the way it´s supposed to be.

SEPULTURA live @ Tons of Rock 2014
(Photo: Andrea Chirulescu)

As the evening started to enter the crowd attendance in front of Sepultura´s stage started to get massive. Sepultura should not need any introduction and even though their more recent material does not compare to their 5 first records (relatively) new vocalist Derrick Green delivers the job live without doubt.
Luckily we got what we came for, a set consisting of mostly old classics like Arise, Roots, Territory and so on… A shame they only had about an hour. A band like Sepultura should get more time.

The pit started going and the beginning of the rest of the evening was let loose. Sepultura ruled from the stage and if you´re wondering if they can manage without Max, let me assure you, Derrick got what it takes, nuff said.

After the mighty Sepultura it was the norwegian cult boogierockers Backstreet Girls turn to keep the flame of rock burning brigth. The Oslo group have existed since way back and their AC/DC brand of rock´n roll is king of the hill. BSG started out back in 1984 and both vocalist Bjørn and gituarist HP Baarli are still loaded with pure energy the way they where some 30 years ago.

Their setlist contained both old-old and new-old material and you could see that the above 30+ young enjoyed what they got. Vocalist Bjørn is the closest we got an rock´n roll icon and he proved that once again this sunny saturday eveneing.

When BSG was done doing their thing, the now fully packed arena turned around to witness the first of two "big 4 of thrash" get ready. Anthrax has been true to their thrash roots all the way and now that original vocalist Joe Belladonna is back in the fold this was primed to be an legendary evening. Founding member and cult icon Scott Ian does NEVER dissapoint and when the setlist is packed with old but never forgotten gems like Indians, I´am the Law, Time and so on, the mosh pit really started going. Joe ordered the crowd to get the circle going and people of (almost) all ages banded together and all hell brooke loose. A work of beauty and the perfect warm up to the evenings main event, Slayer.

Again, also here it felt like they should have gotten more time. 65 minutes is not enough for a band that formed back in 1981. Next year give the headliners more time!

While we where getting something to eat we stuck our noses into the stagetent to give the finnish retro glam rockers Reckless Love a chance and to be honest, we all came out a little surprised. The quartet took the old glam game to the max and put out an extraordinary baffling performance in both skilled musicianship and party factor.
Hanoi Rocks may have their heirs lined up here beceause Reckless Love was just amusing. The front man looked the part of 1987 and in contrary to many of the vocalists of the (dreaded?) glam erea he got an actual voice. The biggest surprise of the evening!

SLAYER live @ Tons of Rock 2014
(Photo: Andrea Chirulescu)

The festivals main event was of course Slayer. The (in my book) biggest of the "big 4 of thrash" visited Oslo just a couple of weeks ago and delivered an (as usual) mind blowing set of satanic thrash metal the way it´s supposed to be.

Sadly only one half of the original line-up are active in Slayer p.t but both the replacements do their jobs very well. Guitarist Gary Holt (of Exodus fame) manages to keep the riffs the way we know and love them and for that he´s been well accepted into the hard earned hearts of Slayer fans.

Their setlist of the evening had no surprises from the Oslo set and all the classics was of course present (personally I´am glad they play God Hates Us All even though the majority of the fanbase does not feel the same way).

King and Araya are well seasoned men and they know how to handle the crowd to their fingertips. As usual everthing hit home and the sound was much better than in Oslo.

Slayer finished off an long and exhausting day at the magnificent Fredriksteen Fortress.

Tons Of Rock can only be decleared an formidable success and hopefully the festival economy makes it possible to repeat next summer.

Jørgen Garmann