MOTALA METAL FESTIVAL #8
@ Folkets Park in Motala, Sweden - May 1st, 2004by Vincent Eldefors
The 8th edition of Motala Metal Festival took place on May 1st, 2004, at the usual venue Folkets Park, a community venue that exists in different versions in almost all Swedish communities. As the weather was wonderful most people probably would have preferred an outdoor festival but keeping it indoors is both easier and safer. As Motala is only 30-40 kilometers away from where I live it didn't take long before we arrived there in our car.
People who arrived early enough, among them us, had the chance to stroll around the merchandise market with plenty of cheap (and expensive) cds, magazines, clothes and vinyls. I bought two death metal classics myself - Sepultura's "Beneath The Remains" and Edge Of Sanity's "The Spectral Sorrows". There were many other cds I wanted to buy as well but I need to hold on to my money a little now that it's so close to the summer, a time when us students don't have a lot of money.
People who arrived real early (the doors opened at 11 am) could also get something to eat in the restaurant which is a very nice arrangement for the visitors. Another very good thing is that there is no age limit for this festival. The only place with an age limit is the bar where you have to be 18 to enter. As this was the day after a traditional party day I don't think the bar sold as well as they could have this time though.
Once again the guys at TPL Records, a great metal shop in Motala, had done a very good job signing an impressive handful of bands for the festival. The line-up consisted of Beseech (Sweden), Amon Amarth (Sweden), Falconer (Sweden), Majesty (Germany), Witchfynde (UK) and Marduk (Sweden). In other words, a good mixture where everything from traditional heavy metal to black metal was represented.
At 4 pm it was time for Beseech to hit the stage. I actually saw them live this January so I knew pretty much what to expect from their show. They had more or less the same set list this time, concentrating on material from their two latest albums "Souls Highway" and "Drama". The show was a show of few words, the male vocalist Erik Molarin only taking a few breaks between the songs to explain the meaning behind "Higher Level" and "Bitch", the first one dealing with "kinky sex games which we all indulge in" and the latter dedicated to a former girlfriend.
I enjoy their creative blend of gothic metal quite much but I think it would have given their show more credibility if it had been a bit darker inside but perhaps that wasn't possible. Some people obviously found the band too happy in their appearance. Do you have to fall down crying on stage to play gothic metal? I don't think so myself and I'm glad they didn't. Once again I got the feeling that the female vocalist Lotta Höglin wanted to move more on stage than she did and her movements seemed a little controlled and stiff at times. I could be wrong though.
Beseech did well and they are the only Swedish band in this genre who have made a lasting impression on me so far. If you decide to check them out I would advice you to listen to "Souls Highway" first because that is in my opinion where you will find their best material to this date, including a bonus track - a cover version of Abba's "Gimme Gimme Gimme" which was luckily part of their live set in Motala as well. It would perhaps be wrong to say that it's their best song but it is indeed one of the best at least. If you get the chance go see them this summer when they will appear at 2000 Decibel (May 21st-22nd) and Sweden Rock Festival (June 4th) in Sweden, Tuska Metalfest (July 16th) in Finland and Summer Breeze (August 19th-22nd) in Germany.
Next up was Falconer, the "new" melodic heavy / power metal band with folk music influences which was formed by former members of the viking metal band Mithotyn as they dissolved in 1999. They have released three full-length albums already and material for a fourth one will probably be finalized during the rest of this year. Their self-titled debut album with their old vocalist Mathias Blad is still my favorite but the two following ones are very good as well. Today the line-up is quite different with the former Destiny vocalist Kristoffer Göbel fronting the band but the core members Stefan Weinerhall (guitars) and Karsten Larsson (drums) from the old Mithotyn line-up are still around.
This was the first time I got to see Falconer live which means that I don't have much to compare with but I can tell you one thing for sure. They have found a very charismatic and majestic (he is very tall!) front man in Kristoffer. He moves around very much on stage and also knows how to speak to the audience inbetween songs. He sometimes tend to forget about the microphone in his hand though. Stefan has found a very good live line-up for Falconer now but I am afraid you will have to wait to catch them live until after the next album if you haven't already had the chance. A very vivid and colourful live show took place which was highly appreciated by the audience. The crowd also had a nice surprise coming as Wolf vocalist Niklas Olsson stepped onto the stage to share the vocals with Kristoffer in the final song.
Now it was time for the close to legendary UK band Witchfynde who were a leading force in the NWOBHM in the late 70s and early 80s. They existed between 1976 and 1986 but reunited again in 1999 as there was a growing interest for metal of all kinds. I must admit that I have not heard much material from this band before but they did quite well for a bunch of guys around 50 years old. Apart from presenting a lot of old songs they also played a track called "Play It To Death" from their upcoming as yet untitled studio album. Old fans don't need to worry as it is heavy as hell and pretty much in the same style as their older songs.
Front man Harry Harrison entered the stage in a monk's dressing, taking the band's early satanic image rather seriously. He soon lost his cloak though as it probably became a little bit warm. He was probably the most talkative front man taking on the stage during this evening and promised everyone who bought him a beer in the pub a "free" t-shirt. Speaking quickly with a British accent didn't always make it through to the kids in front of the stage though who have been brought up on American English through TV shows and movies. It was fun to have seen Witchfynde live but unfortunately their songs seemed a little lifeless to me. The first 30 seconds or so were often highly impressive but then they quickly died in some mysterious way.
Swedish death metal with a touch of viking spirit now entered the stage in the form of Amon Amarth who had travelled here from our capital city Stockholm. They did pretty much what was expected from them - a show which was tight, powerful, intense and rock hard. This is also a band who has a frontman well suited for their image. Vocalist Johan Hegg looks like the viking stereotype in his big beard and long hair. He also has one of the most impressive death growls there are.
Amon Amarth are veterans on the Swedish metal scene and have been around since 1988 (at first under the name Scum until 1992 when they adopted their current monicker). It showed that they have a lot of experience on stage as well and it was one of the highlights of the evening for most visitors. This was the first band where it started to get real crowded in front of the stage. Amon Amarth were kind enough to do most of my favorite songs, delivering both new and old material. They have a very hectic live schedule in front of them as well. In July they will play at the Rock The Nations festival in Istanbul, Turkey and in August it is time for Wacken Open Air. In early September they will do two album release shows together with Metal Blade label mates Fragments Of Unbecoming in Germany. Then follows a Scandinavian tour with Cannibal Corpse and Spawn Of Possession and in October a headliner European tour with Impious and one other band.
From Germany hails the "true metal" band Majesty who was now to conquer a Swedish stage for the very first time. They have quickly grown to become a very important band in this genre, having recently supported U.D.O. on a slew of dates in Poland and the Czech Republic in late March this year. They will continue touring with U.D.O. (and Crystal Ball on the latter dates) during the rest May, visiting Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary. Several festivals are lined up for the summer as well.
This is another band which I am not very familiar with from before but their set started very nicely with some very good songs with fast and melodic power metal and sing-along choruses. The response they had from the audience was very good. The metal sterotype lives well within this band as they wore leather and studs. The lyrics are perhaps slightly pointless, words like metal, fight, power, glory, war etc. appearing a little too often. With three albums behind them entitled "Keep It True", "Sword & Sorcery" and "Reign In Glory" you know pretty much what to expect from the band.
The power metal fans in the audience appreciated Majesty's show very much and sang along to the choruses all the time. They have several good songs and a very good singer in Tarek Maghary who is also a very charismatic front figure, running in and out of the stage all the time. It was however also a sad day for the band who did their final show with their founding member and guitarist Udo Keppner. I think Majesty will be able to go on as usual anyway without major problems as their other guitarist Rolf Munkes is a very talented and experienced musician who have played with Empire and Vanize in the past and also has his current side project Razorback. His solos were pretty nice to hear although I am generally not a big fan of solos unless they are extremely good and fit in perfectly. This was not always the case here. Majesty started out with several great songs but towards the end it became a little repetitive. A good stage show though.
Closing off the evening it was time for the Swedish black metal warriors of Marduk to show the audience what they are capable of. This was the first show for them with the new vocalist Mortuus as their previous long-time front man Legion was fired in December 2003. Fans don't need to worry as he is obviously more than capable of filling the void. It took forever, or so it seemed for most people close to the stage, until the band entered the stage after the long orchestral intro but soon they got their reward for waiting. One reason why it took longer than necessary to get the band on stage was some idiots in the audience screaming "Sieg Heil".
In full make-up Marduk did their show without unnecessary talking and provided the audience with high quality Swedish black metal. They didn't do any of their slower songs which should please those of you who want your black metal fast, violent and intense instead of slow and atmospheric. Mortuus also presented a brand new hymn which will be on their next full-length album. I can tell you that this album will be one of the most intense releases in the band's history and definitely should mark their status as one of the world's leading black metal bands for good.
The make-up soon started dripping off Mortuus but he showed the audience that he was now a full-worthy member of the Marduk legion (pardon the pun, it was not intended...). The band will play the Rock Hard Festival in Germany on May 29th and the Rock The Nation Festival in Istanbul, Turkey, on July 3rd-4th, but there will be no other shows until they have recorded their ninth studio album during the summer. This album will also contain a track in collaboration with the militant industrial band Arditi, featuring Mårten Björkman (ex-Algaion) and Henry Möller (Puissance).
Summing up the festival it was a very good mix of bands from different genres. I don't think it's a good idea to specialize in a specific genre, especially not when arranging a metal festival as metal is not a huge genre itself. Therefore Motala Metal Festival should suite all fans of metal, no matter if you listen to power, death or black metal. This was the first time the company Festivalbussen arranged bus trips to the festival from several Swedish cities which made it a lot more accessable as Motala is not very well located for people who travel far unless you're going by car.
I just have one piece of advice for all bands - try do something fun and entertaining with your live shows. Even though this was a rather small show for most bands it would be very easy to add a little bit of a stage show. For example, Beseech could have done something with their sex games song and Amon Amarth and Majesty could both relate to sword battles I'm sure. It would make the audience happier and more interested to come see you live I think.
If you have not visited this festival yet then do so next time because it can't get much better. It is very cheap (the ticket only costs 220 SEK), you can buy cheap cds, you get to see a bunch of great bands and meet lots of nice people. Thanks a lot to TPL Records, the bands, friends and everyone else for making MMF #8 a pleasant experience!
|©2001-2004 Vincent Eldefors||BACK|