This is the third time that SunHill Productions have arranged the mini-festival called Stockholm Rocks. Although not as strong a lineup as the first time when it included Pretty Maids, Eclipse and Brother Firetribe it still bolsters an interesting roster. This time around it has been labeled “Summer Fest” and slotted to pick up concert goers who are in town and were already committed to the now defunct Väsby Rock Festival which was planned to be held in Stockholm on these same two days.
The line-up is made up of mostly Swedish bands, a German, and a Finnish band but also as a headliner on the first day; US legendary shouter Joe Lynn Turner. As I had everything set up for Väsby Rock Festival it seemed like the natural thing to do to attend this festival as well. Joe Lynn Turner, Dynazty, and Iron Savior were bands I wanted to catch.
So why not do a thing for Decibel Geek as well? I applied for press accreditation in advance and was awarded a “photo pass” which did not work out at all. I was not on the list when I arrived (which was promised by the organizers) so I had to cope with typing and camera handling inside the concert area at Göta Källare, in the southern part of Stockholm. Fortunately, I left the computer at the hotel room this time around. This could have been done more professionally by the promoter in my opinion.
Anyhow, I put that problem aside and settle in for Friday’s opener Hysterica. I don´t know so much about them and haven´t listened to their albums in advance. I know they are an all girl band from Stockholm playing heavy metal from gathering some info on them beforehand. They enter the stage on time at 6.15 pm and a lot of the visitors are not in time to catch them which gives me a lot of space to take pictures. They kick off with a song called “Heels of Steel” from their latest outing The Art of Metal. The song features growls from lead vocalist Anni De Vil. The song is a really heavy metal song with a clear chorus. In spite of the few people in the crowd the girls really rock it out and they ask the crowd to move up to the stage. Most people stand reluctantly waiting in the middle of the floor. The crowd soon move up to the stage as they continue with their anthem “Metal War” which is also the title of the debut album.
They sound tight and heavy, with some growls thrown in for good measure. They plough through songs like “You´ll Remember My Name” from their recent EP All In which engages the crowd in some sing along games. They blast into songs like “Wreck of Society”, “Halloween” and “Bless the Beast”. There is also a song that I don´t recognise in the middle of the set. More people arrive as the gig continues on and they end with the song “We are the Undertakers“. De Vil has an impressive range and handles everything from high pitched screams to growls and behind the drumkit is the hard hitting drummer Hell’n. Although not entirely my cup of tea the girls do a great job to get the festival off the ground but if you are into heavy metal with female vocals and growls this can be something for you.
I retreat to my own little corner in the cellar, change memory card in the camera and prepare myself for the next act Dynazty. These Swedes debuted on the American label Perris Records way back in 2007. Since then they have put out another four albums. The most recent is called Titanic Mass and came out this spring. Musically they have evolved from a hard rock act to a more metallic edged band bordering on power metal. A “maturation process” not increasing their popularity in my mind. They also did a cover of Swedish Eurovision song contest winner “This is My Life” and last time I caught them at Sabaton Open Air several years back (2012 to be exact) they ended the show with that song. This night that song will not be played as it turns out and the emphasis is on the two latest album on which “new” bass player Jonathan Olsson performs.
Just before Dynazty enter the stage I catch up with my friend Anders who of course wears the first Dynazty T-shirt ever printed for the occasion. They hit the stage to the Titanic Mass opener “Human Paradox” which also happens to be one of the stronger cuts off the new album. The sound is a bit unbalanced with being a little bit heavy on the bass and very distorted on the guitars. Shouter Nils Molin seems to be in good form. The crowd is filling up and more and more people come up to the stage at this point. They quickly continue with “Cross the Line” and “The Northern Light”. Nils greets everybody and says it´s great to play their hometown once again. He also declares that they have a new album out and will play a couple of tracks from that now. They plunge into “The Beast Inside” and then go on with my favourite track from the new album, a song called “I Wanna Live Forever”, an excellent melodic hard anthem. I am a fan of the more hard rocking tracks compared to their heavier material. It is also those songs that sound the best live. On the annoying part, you have the pre-recorded acoustic part of “I Wanna Live Forever” and it is something you just have to get used to – most bands use it all the time. They go on with “Break Into the Wild” before we get a lengthy drum solo from Georg Härnsten Hägg. With the emphasis being on the new album it only feels natural that they fire off the title track straight after the drum solo. The sound quality gets a little better towards the middle of the set. They rock on with the fast paced “Incarnation” which also contains a bass solo for Jonathan Olsson. Personally, I´m disappointed that they don´t play “The Smoking Gun” which is the last song on the album and sort of a power ballad but definitely one of the strongest tracks on Titanic Mass.
The gig ignites when they dust off the older song “Raise Your Hands” from 2012´s album Sultans of Sin. The response from the crowd is genuinely positive and invites to some crowd singing on the chorus. Nils Molin then declares their time is up and that they will close the gig with the single and video from previous album Renatus, namely a song called “Starlight”. I think it is maybe an odd song to end the gig with and not their most known song. I would have expected “This is My Life” or some older classic cut.
The Dynazty show is energetic and Nils is a great frontman that can handle a crowd. On the positive side, I would say that the band is a tight-knit unit. Shouter Nils Molin has a voice that can shatter glass but is very often on the border of what he can handle vocally. I would have preferred a couple of more of the older songs in the set and in my opinion it became a little heavy on songs from the latest two albums. On the other hand, I can understand that they want to promote Titanic Mass as much as they can. The sound was a little better during the Hysterica gig than the sound during the Dynazty set being a bit heavy on bass and the guitar way too distorted at times.
After the gig, the band show up at the merch table and I had the chance to get some CDs signed and talk briefly to axeman Mike Laver. Dynazty has a couple of gigs booked in Spain for October opening for Joe Lynn Turner and are booking shows continuously to promote their latest outing.
The break also gives me the chance to speak a bit to Johan from Rockweekend AOR Festival, the editor of Planet AOR and part of the Firefest crew. It seems the guys are working on a second leg of Rockweekend AOR scheduled for early next year. I leave Johan with this positive news and a wish list for some bands to book for that.
Sounds from the stage make it clear that Joe Lynn Turner is about to enter the stage. This will turn out to be an excellent gig. Not being a big fan of his solo stuff I am rewarded with a lot of Rainbow songs, two Deep Purple cuts, and one each song from Rated X and Sunstorm (new album). On bass, he has multi-instrumentalist Chris Laney (Randy Pipers Animal among others). I have no idea who the drummer and guitarist are though. Joe seems to be happy to be there and kicks off his performance with the Rainbow songs “Death Alley Driver” and “Power”. The band sounds tight and Joe‘s voice seems in great shape. Mr. Turner then takes the opportunity to interact a bit with his audience and by this point, the club is almost full of rockers. He says he has contracted some kind of virus and just flew in from Spain where he has been performing recently. This makes him cough and he apologises for the shape of his voice. He tell us not to go anywhere near him to prevent us from contracting the virus. He announces the Rated X track “This is Who I Am” as the next song and when they kick it off there is no way hearing the alleged problems with his voice. This is a bluesy rocker but not one of his most known tracks and the real surprise of the evening.
Time to visit another important piece of JLT history and Joe says that even Richie Blackmore admits that the Deep Purple album Slaves and Masters is one of the best in the band’s discography. From that album, Joe picks the excellent song “King of Dreams”. The response from the crowd is immediate and huge. Everything is in place and it is one of the highlights of the whole festival. Joe seems to be in a really good mood, despite the virus, and it transmits to the audience. I don´t think I have seen Joe this good before and when he focuses on his history nothing can go wrong it seems.
Then it is time for him to introduce the new Sunstorm album. He tells us that the song “The Edge of Tomorrow” is about the current world order where bankers rule our lives and that it needs to be changed. Joe is becoming a little bit political here in this part of the show and it is a new feature for me. I do not own the new Sunstorm album but this cut is a really good melodic hard rock song. Maybe I have to check that album out a little bit closer?
The remainder of the show Joe dedicates to his Rainbow legacy and one classic tune is played after another. He cuts through “Can´t Happen Here” (with a huge crowd roar), “Moondance”,” Street of Dreams” (definitely the highlight of the evening!!), the mega-hit “I Surrender” and “Spotlight Kid”. After this song he announces that they are out of time but it seems he would like to continue for another hour. Indeed it is strange that curfew has been decided to 10 pm but I am later told it is because the venue normally is a house club and that part starts at 10 pm. Surprisingly he announces the RJ Dio fronted “Long Live Rock n Roll” as the last song of the evening. Personally, I think the song is being played way too many times in all kinds of different environments. I would have preferred to hear one or two songs from his Yngwie Malmsteen era. “Heaven Tonight” would have been a much better gig closer in my humble opinion.
All in all, it is a great performance from Mr. Turner and it makes the ticket worth alone. He also proves why he is the headliner of the day. I am not a fan of his “softer” solo CDs so I leave the venue with a smile upon my face and high hopes for a great second day as well.
LIVE PHOTOS BY: Mikael Svensson