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13.07.2019

TONS OF ROCK 2019

Anmeldt av Karina Noctum/Andrea Chirulescu

 

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Tons Of Rock 2019
Photo by Andrea Chirulescu

 

I remember vividly the first time I attended Tons of Rock and that was in 2017. It was a pretty special show that Friday, with that Emperor had to offer. They hadn't played in 10 years in Norway. Prior to their show, we had a pretty good rock concert with Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons. They were playing Motörhead songs which always rule. I remember how cool it was Silver Machine from Hawkwind. That day Slayer headlined as well and in spite of rain it was a pretty good night in the Fredriksten fortress in Halden, Norway.

What's new this year is that the festival has gotten bigger as it was moved to Ekebergsletta, Oslo, in a wider but less pitoresque area. In spite of all the changes, I think the organization ran as smooth as possible. There were lots of stands and this made the lines to buy food. for example, not that long. I do not drink beer so I can't really say something about it, but I guess there is always going to be a need for more beer stands regardless.

462d5e910c1d04274ed848d87f0caafe.jpgWhen it comes to the music, this year the festival has not changed in the way they combine genres. The line-up consisted of a mix of pretty successful metal acts, special performances and a good dose of timeless rock bands.

2019 marks the first time the festival will take place in Oslo and so it had to have a grand opening. I was pretty lucky to be a part of it at the Opera house in Oslo. It is not every day one can see the symphonic orchestra wearing skeleton costumes while playing along with heavy metal legends like Accept. I really like many Accept songs, like Metal Hearts and Balls to the Wall, which are hits, and it was incredible to see those riffs reinforced with the symphonic sounds. It is also a pretty excellent mixture to combine heavy metal and classical music. Those two musical genres do mix well together so it was a delight. I got to sit at the balcony and had a good vantage point from above to see drumming technique in detail. All in all I can't think of a better way to open this year's edition.

 

DAY 1

68f074c9cdd24a731052ebb5e6883809.jpgThe first day I wanted to come to Ekebergssletta early to not to miss Perturbator, the Dark Electronic French band that promised to be a good opportunity for me to dance. I even got some glimpses of the Black Debbath show, who deliver their yearly dose of amusement and irony for the Norwegian crowd. Perturbator's performance was all in all a pretty good concert, made of many great dark wave moments that take its inspiration not only from dark electro but the mix had lots of rock and even more punkish new wave inspiration. Riffs from Christian Death, Alien Sex Fiend, The Sisters of Mercy all came to mind. After that cool show, it was time for me to enjoy an entire set of Behemoth, since the previous attempt for me to see their entire set was truncated by a series of unfortunate incidents. Behemoth did play at 16 and it is perhaps a bit early, but anyways it was a good mixture of their more recent Black Metal endeavours from their latest album I Loved You at Your Darkest songs like Wolves ov Siberia, God=Dog and the old familiar crushing Death Metal songs Conquer All and Chant for Ezkaton 2000. Other songs that are favorites with the crowd were the most catchy ones Bartzabel and Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel.


888a5af5b14b804a505ef5913405d1af.jpgThe Norwegian act Djerv has made their come back after almost 6 years without live performances. Sadly, some technical issues made it start with quite a delay and ruined a bit of the excitement, but Agnete Kjølrsrud and her band members gave everything on stage and made up for the bad start. 

But what I was really looking forward to since I heard of it many months ago was the Satyricon show. Rebel Extravaganza is to me one of the best Black Metal albums there is and it was a dream come true to see it performed live. It is an album that has quite intricate songs and drumming moments that are pretty difficult to top in our metal world, in my opinion. So to witness it being performed live was a pretty special occurrence. It was the perfect show. Supersonic Journey has always been one of my favorite songs and I don't see it being performed live enough. I think I have seen a couple of Rebel Extravaganza songs in a tour many years ago but there is nothing like seeing the whole album performed. So that concert will for sure remain the highlight of the whole festival.


daff597fdb8213e2ea14389b0282b111.jpgThe good thing with Tons of Rock is that I get to see the big rock headlining bands. In other big festivals I attend to I never get to see the rock bands because of the metal headliners. This time around I got to see the Dropkick Murphy's show - during which the Bostonians must have been frying well in their black outfits. They are a band that has become bigger and bigger with a pretty unique mix of sounds and it was pretty interesting. They play a cool combination of punk and folk with Celtic influences. I even got to see Kiss even though I'm not their biggest fan. Their show was interspersed with images from old shows that really put into perspective how long time they have been doing this. They are definitely a part of rock history and we are lucky that are able to still witness their shows all things considered.


Another band with a historical name and who performed that day was Ulver, whose experimental musical direction might not fit everyone's taste, but still a band who comes out with strong compositions and cool tunes. They rely heavily on a detailed lights show during the concert, and the addition of Stian Westerhus on guitar gave the sound a very dramatic touch.


DAY 2

92db419c4e319f9d93e1553f0c318c0c.jpgDay two was opened by the Mongolian act The HU, who are on a wave right now as they do deliver an impressive performance with the traditional instruments, combined with modern sounds, throat singing and catchy riffs. Their stage presence is not bad at all, so I'm pretty sure we're going to hear more from them in the near future.


Then I ended up spending sometime at the Hällas show and witness their groovy rock performed in gloomy outfits that must have been very warm in the well heated tent. But as I've seen this Swedish band a couple of times before, yet I had not seen the Norwegians Conception, so I decided to go to the main stage and check the band out. It was a really good show. Pretty neat progressive riffs. I do appreciate the vocals in progressive bands that tend not to be that high pitched even though they are clean. I think the sound seemed pretty balanced. The good thing was that the audience was big enough in spite of the band not having a huge name like others that were to play later that day. So that's a sign people haven't forgotten about them, despite their lack of activity for many years.

b0a1a4b90f80a24ad707ec00a465660a.jpgThen I was ready for the two main acts for me this day and that was Vltimas and Mayhem. Vltimas is a pretty special supergroup with Rune Eriksen (ex-Mayhem, Aura Noir), David Vincent (Morbid Angel), Flo Mounier (Cryptopsy) and this was their first performance in Norway. I had seen a previous show of theirs and I think they are so seasoned and completely professional that even though these are their first shows with Vltimas, it already looks and sounds perfect. To have David’s elegant and dark voice singing songs that remind you of the subtle dark and innovative Mayhem riffs composed by Blasphemer is probably one of the best ideas that the metal world has seen of late. Everything fits perfectly! Vltimas was incredible. Then we had the pleasure to witness the Demon Anthology set from Mayhem. Starting with the best of Mayhem Wolf's Lair Abyss then Grand Declaration of War, a couple of songs from Mysteriis Dom Sathanas and to end that awesome night the stage was drenched in blood red and the traditional pigheads to play Deathcrush. It was perfect as possible but it could have been even better if Mayhem had gotten the main stage as they deserve.


The Australian act Wolfmother took the main stage prior to Mayhem's show, and despite them looking initially too out of place on such a big empty stage, their groovy music and incredible energy has quickly conquered everyone's hearts and you would soon see plenty of people dancing and smiling for the entire performance.


499544c1cf44e362f2be4d50de2db87a.jpgAfter that show it was Slayer's turn. By this time no one really knows if this is going to be really their final tour, but it has to be enjoyed as if it was the very last. The hits Seasons in the Abyss, Dead Skin Mask, Payback, Mandatory Suicide, Raining Blood, War Ensemble are songs that one would always enjoy, but this time around I got to see Captor of Sin as well, which is truly awesome. So that's how an already awesome experience with Mayhem only gets amplified.


Possessed delivered more nostalgic moments for the thrash and death metal lovers and it's always thrilling to watch the energy of Jeff Becerra in his wheelchair and how elegantly the show is delivered by everyone else int he band. Hats off for keeping up at such a level.The night ended with a treat for rock fans with Volbeat which seemed for me to have many heavy metal undertones that make it quite interesting to see. And you can never go too wrong when you can pull off a Johnny Cash cover


DAY 3


fee731bf9021f9a9d30376343e44564e.jpgThe third day started with a good dose of insanity on the Vampire stage tent. First off, Black Viper crushed the place with their well executed heavy & speed metal. This was followed by an excellent Obliteration show, who never have a dull moment when they are on stage. They were awesome and it was really good to see them again on a bigger stage. It was one of the shows I was looking forward the most for the final day of the festival. Their combination of pretty cool old school riffs and the more recent songs that are really cool to see live due to a high skill level was the perfect start for me.


The first act on the main stage was the Norwegian act The Dogs, and I am well aware they deliver pure insanity, but it was simply way too hot and I prefered to spend more time in the shade. Yet, I heard everyone talking highly about this performance.


fa6eab826ee475bfeee306cd95c432b4.jpgPrior to the show in Norway, Powerwolf were touring the huge Knotfest and performed at pretty big scenes and had many props and a visually impressive stage arrangement so they had to downsize a bit for their first show ever in Norway, but still it was cool. I mean even though it wasn’t that impressive visually, still you get the advantage of having a closer experience and the concert is more lively in a medium-size stage. The crowd really loved Powerwolf it seemed and I think that what makes them so successful is their abilities to properly lead audiences into singing along to their pretty singing friendly songs and get people to move. Their songs filled with catchy riffs and audience friendly lyrics are conceived to give the audience such experiences. Another good thing for power and heavy metal fans is that Powerwolf were a pretty good warming up for the Dream Theater show that was to come.

 

Continuing with the fine thrash bonanza I got to see Testament. The audience was considerably larger and as responsive as the one at Powerwolf who preceded them. The thrash metal machinery was grinding to the ears and perhaps one of the best shows. Testament are pretty awesome to just let yourself go and headbang to the groovy rhythmical riffs. The coolest songs were the old ones I think The New Order, Into the Pit, Over the Wall.


9771c22026241267be91460eeff9ba5f.jpgI admire Dream Theater and I had already seen them on this same tour. They are a good school for anything progressive out there, but in spite of all this I had to give Kalmah the priority this time around since I had never seen them and I was wondering how the live experience was. I like the guitars and how rhythmical it is. It's a good example of finnish melo-death that is so influenced by heavy metal. The thing with Kalmah is that the melody has a neo-classical symphonic vibe to it without it being overdone or overly complex so it is broad audience friendly.


Later that afternoon I had the opportunity to finally get a good spot to enjoy Carcass. On previous occasions the stages were pretty big and I hadn't been so lucky in terms of getting a good spot so Tons of Rock became a really good opportunity for me. I got to have them closer and it definitely adds a lot to the experience. This time around I think the more melodic songs from Heartwork and Swansong fit the mood best after the Kalmah show.


2344bfda3d5f0a3df16705c4cc9e7486.jpgThe festival’s end couldn't have been better. I really like Def Leppard and it's like everyone has listened to the songs at one point or another in life so it is all quite familiar. I liked pretty much how the main stage changed with every song from Rocket and the 70's vibes reminiscent of the space race, the Las Vegas motifs as well. It's cool to be kind of submerged in a different atmosphere entirely for a brief time. All in all is a pretty cool show that I'm glad I experienced. I like the fact the songs have so much feeling and after several days of skull crushing metal it's good to take a brief respite with songs like Two Steps Behind, Bringin' on the Heartbreak and Love Bites.



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