Think for yourself a metal village in a green valley, an area filled with people living out their metal lifestyle, offering peace from the dull world outside.
Honestly, having to deal with civilisation again after 4 days of rocking at Kvinesdal is, this year too, going to be an ordeal. I have arranged time to come down and continue the fun, starting by writing this, continuing by picking up the axe in order to reminisce the festival and get out inspiration.
This year's Kvinesdal was once again an orgy of rock n' roll, starting by camp CQ9-14. Ah, thank you guys and girl (the other one) for good times!
Norway Rock Festival 2010 (hereafter referred to as NRF) is the 5th , and it will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the best, if not the best this year in Norway, that only the line-up at Hole in the Sky XI (www.holeinthesky.no) could pretend beating for its choice of legendary bands. NRF's line-up was to satisfy all by its range of metal genres and choices of bands gathered in one festival, in such a small place, as varied as Motörhead, Sabaton, Epica, Sebastian Bach, DevilDriver, Bullet for my Valentine, Queensr’che, Gary Moore...
See the program for yourself and check what you've just missed!
The infrastructure at the festival follows the same recipe as last year: addressed camping spots, good place to wander between the rows, parking place in the near vicinity of the camp, frequent tidying rounds on the camp. Other good things: variety of foods, good held schedules. Great and informative home page! What we could have wished: more toilets, better toilets (like last year's and the ones on the scene side), lower prices of both food and official NRF merchandise (let's remember the staff is composed of volunteers!) and longer playing time for the main bands.
The sound: variable from concert to concert, from spot to spot, unstable, a bit hasty sound checks this year.
For professional pictures, I recommend you go to the following address: www.norwayrock.no , section Bildegalleri on the top menu.
The highlights of the festival:
Wednesday, July 7th 2010
would have delighted all Rammstein fans, especially the ones bearing a love for the linguistic delicacies of the Norwegian language, the band singing Rammstein's lyrics translated into the theoretical language based on the old dialects from Westside-Norway. As the language freak I am, the translated texts are delectibles. Rammsund get a large audience to turn up, though they are opening the festival and playing relatively early, and a short time after many's arrival, and in the rain. At the beginning of the show, I wonder what planet the audience are on: no hands in the air, no singing along. Thinking back, I think it was just bewilderment. The band's resemblance with Rammstein as a presence onstage is obvious, though the scene show is more limited this time, reminding me of Rammstein anno 1997.
The gitars are great and always keep up, the vocalist gets the chance to be Till Lindemann for 5 minutes as the band draws «Pussy» in its original English text.
Rating: 85/ 100
It will have to be a rather short set for the legendary band. Saxon's performance is neat, stylish, a bit clinical, but effective for its audience. Saxon owns the characteristics that make a band's popularity last forever, with its unique, unmistakable sound, an enigmatic frontman in Biff and an integrity that crosses time and space.
Rating: 72/ 100
is today's heartfelt choice, as I've been into the band most of my life.
I'll have to rip off some words from my previous live review of them (Oslo, February 2008) regarding the show's harshness and focus. Tthe band makes a brilliant show, no need lingering to come out with it. The band leads the audience into a turmoil without making any effort, and the three string-players sharing the job are in total accord. David Ellefson's comeback is a big thing in itself, and Chris Broderick has gained a lot in confidence, it is as if he had always been in the band; meanwhile, Dave Mustaine always has his half-hostile signature grin on place and still looks like himself in 1984 (though I couldn't make it). As goes for the musical part, tonight's performance is, temporarily speaking, close to the Rust in Peace tour, and we get as expected half the 1990's record's in tonight's set. The show goes too fast, but hey, that's usually what happens when one's having fun.
Rating: 90/ 100
Tonight's headliner is for me and many other younger metal fans, a great surprise. We might have been watching old videos, read interviews, we might know about the prosecutions from censorship groups by heart, I never expected to be compelled by TS's show musically. The sound is clear and loud, the drummer gives us real spectacle with his solo in the dark, Dee Snider stands for the rocking,
and he's doing great, the set is varied and well-constructed, the show plain but efficient, the contact with the audience successfull (of course, you from the pit know what you get, and so does Dee from
his fans). Thumbs up!
Rating: 96/ 100
Thursday, July 8th 2010
Amon Amarth's performance is a solid, rocking one, and the attending audience, breathing in the stormy air coming from the stage, is standing still; it although feels like there's a presence in the pit and enjoying the show. This one is steady from end to end and culminates from both the band's and the audience's side in Death in Fire, the second last of the set. I'm positively surprised by Amon Amarth, which I happen to find more interesting live than I have before on record.
Rating: 75/ 100
I only catch a glimpse of the Over the Rainbow due to various festival activities, a pity, but I'm glad for what I manage to hear from the super band that grant the festival guests with their presence. This orchestra of musicians with three or more decades of experience of rock know how to capture the attention of their audience by their musical and communicative skills, what a suprise.
«Sometimes, a band needs to shake things up to stimulate themselves and their fans, all the while retaining the signature sonic hallmarks that have defined their sound.» This is what is being said of KSE's 5th album in the band's 8 years of existence. KSE, who notched a Grammy, only 3 years after its formation, is known for memorable live performances. I feel like the one off-track at the concert, as both the style, the body language that follows are to me as exotic as Portuguese disco to most, but I feel this is a good enough performance from the band, though not as spectacular as expected.
Rating: 77/ 100
Did you know that eskimos have 22 words for snow in their language while Immortal has 23? The Norwegian masters of winter black metal make their first apparition at Kvinesdal; maybe not a traditional choice of band, but a well-attended one it is. Immortal released their 8th LP, the great All shall fall, which I am very eagerly expecting to hear several songs from at today's concert. No disappointment there, but the bass is so overwhelming that one really has to be well acquainted with the band to recognize the songs on the spot. The performance is a bit lukewarm; I have to admit that today, Apollyon on bass is stealing the show.
Rating: 70/ 100
Five old Gn'R songs performed ala old Gn'R musically. The vocalist does a great job, Slash seems quite unthankfull, and neither solos nore set reach a level that satisfy my expectations. Overrated!
These Norwegians, tough men singing about soft things in their mother tongue, have never deceived live. What is a shame tonight is the bad sound balance, masking the band's musical originality. Of course the task of giving a proper sound to Tömmermenn cannot be seen as of the easiest, as the band's name suggests it, you are to achieve a state of tingling in your head, as if tiny men were hopping around in your brain after partying heavily.
The set list is very new and fresh, and the upcoming record, Morgengry (Dawn), is to be checked out by every open mind at the end of the summer.
Rating: 79/ 100
Swedish hardcore oriented rock Lillasyster is a fantastic experience by the end of this long day. The music is unique in its form and performance. Nothing can stop the vocalist Martin Westerstrand from rocking, not even a severe prolapse. Now, that is metal! This band sounds like they have an extensive experience, given the way they juggle their audience. In reality, Lillasyster is 4 years old. No doubt they are here to stay. A fun fact: the show reaches its peak when the band perform what is their most well-known song: the cover of Rihannas Umbrella, at a metal festival. Don't ask me why it's always like that...
Anyway, I highly recommend you to check these out.
Rating: 88/ 100
Friday, July 9th 2010
After two full days of festival, one could think the eagerness would have vanished a bit; well, it is no understatement I wake up on this third morning with a fresh enthusiasm and take an early stroll around the camp and concert area. The weather is getting better and better, the camp is peaceful, new concerts are awaited: this is Life.
I'll never tire seeing Enslaved live. The prog viking-metal band from Norway make today a new worthy apparition at Kvinesdal. The set is rather short but well-conducted, the songs well-chosen, and if it isn't that different from last year's concert at Hove Festival (the last time I saw them asfar as I can recall), the mood in which they perform is different; this must have to do with the fact that the band addresses a more comprehensive audience. The guys seem to tackle the hasty schedule of the day quite well and deliver a commited show. The pictures tell it all.
Rating: 84/ 100
Cavalera Conspiracy is today again one of the highlights of the day. The super-experienced band manages in the matter of seconds to let a mosh circle form in the pit. This is the rule with Sepultura's founders, Max and Igor Cavalera. The show is pure dynamite. The bassist and the two guests (Max's step-son Richie who fronts the band Incite on vocals and Max's son Igor jr. on the drums) distinguish themselves by their skills and presence.
Rating: 85/ 100
I can tell you the dirty headbanging youth of today can be compelled by 35 year old blues rock, at least when performed by Gary Moore. The legendary Gibson player knows how to enthral, and without too much talking. A real spectacle for the ears. By the way, Gibson is quite on at the festival this year, which isn't any unpleasant, by the way.
Norwegian dirt-core-metallers fronted by radio/stuntman Kristopher Schau delivered too, and were granted by unison growling from the crowd. Check'em out!
Saturday, July 10th 2010
The most busy day at the festival for many; on this last day at the festival, the sun is shining bright, and makes our daily bath in the river by the camp feel more like a choice than like a duty. Do check out pics from Kvinesdal, and see if you're not tempted to give this river a try next year, it's too awesome to let it flow, no matter the weather.
Anvil opens the day and what a smiley concert they make! Most entertaining, in best Anvil thrash and trash style, it's like going 30 years back in time. The band that the debuting Metallica, Slayer, used to idolise, is not only legend. A wonderful contact with the audience, a humility and devotion to what they stand for, the performance of this praised band is the heartfelt moment of the day. At the moment I'm writing these words, The Story of Anvil DVD is on its way to me. Support the ones who truly deserve it!
Rating: 93/ 100
My fellow critics say Nightwish did the same better 10 years ago. I agree on some points, but only partially. I wasn't expecting to enjoy Epica, but caught myself daydreaming a bit through their show. They have great growling vocals balanced by the soprano (only), a cutie pie of a vocalist, who rocks the audience without trying desperately, using a recipe of self-confidence, a reserved charm and steady skills, though I could fancy more depth and range in her vocals. When 40 minutes has passed, I feel the concept of nature that Epica vehicles more than the musical expression of it itself. There is more for the eye than for the ear after a while, but all in all a show worth attending.
Rating: 77/ 100
Never give up the smile and humor! Sabaton had bad time and it wasn't their fault. The set was shortened a lot in comparison to what they were hoping on playing, but I think they managed well. Good set, well-represented were the newer songs (from The Art of War and the upcoming Coat of Arms), as well as people's all-time favourites (Panzer Batallion, Primo Victoria). Love your professionalism, do not ever forget it when you get big, boys!
Rating: 83/ 100
U.D.O. 's appearance at NRF is beginning to be casual, but not repetitive! One could have thought the band would run from inspiration, but well, you know what you're going to get when you see U.D.O.: chills down your spine! Is the set isn't fundamentally different from last year's, the performance is very coloured by the moment. Udo the man is good at letting the whole band participate, and the guitarists' show is big entertainment for all metal guitar lovers. The small minus I notice: too many songs are stretched after the same recipe: bridge and main riff played a looong time to the audience's singing along; at the same time, it isn't a bad thing either, if only the audience had been louder :D
Rating: 81/ 100
Sebastian Bach actually delights other than the 30 year old girls who've been listening to Skid Row since their teens. All get drawn to the timeless singer whose energy onstage cannot be topped. Sebastian delivers a show of a great variety, with the best moments of Skid Row, a couple of songs from his new record Angel Down, a Skid Row ballad seldom if ever played on stage (In a darkened Room), and last but not least a big hail to Ronnie James Dio who would have been 68 that day, in form of Heaven and Hell; great choice of cover, if you ask me.
Sebastian's ability to draw the public will never ever fray, and the big kid lost somewhere in the 90's does still have a voice that covers an extensive range, though this doesn't always come out live: more shrieking ala Axl Rose, and Sebastian doesn't always give himself the time to breathe in the rush he likes to put himself in. All new to Sebastian and Skid Row hail the band that give us an hour of pure rock n' roll; we could have done f.i.n.e. fine with a couple of hours more of Baz!
Rating: 94/ 100
Motörhead was a guest at NRF two years ago too. Tonight's headliner play a louder than loud version of their previous show. This is Motörhead, you know what you get, and I think what you get from them is good. When I ask people, one of the memorable moments is still the sudden apparition of Sebastian Bach during Born to raise Hell: the hyperactive rock n' roller has got the opportunity to jump onstage and hail his colleagues, as if he was one of us mortals, and he shows his enthusiasm by jumping and running from one end to the other of the stage. Knowing him, he couldn't have missed the occasion of popping up for anything in the world; the man can do two things at a time, and his glass of wine of course following him onstage. I think I understand the hour long pause between his and Mötorhead's show, in case he needed to do some talking beforehand/jumping up and down until Motörhead had to yield, you know ;)
Lemmy's not the only one to do the talking, and gets great show help from the rest of the band; incredible that a three-man orchestra can create such an atmosphere, just the same I use to say about Immortal. I know some find the show tedious this time, but I really don't. It takes a great amount of professionalism to deliver this sound, and keep the old rock songs alive.
Rating: 86/ 100
Black Debbath (black debate) is definitely THE best way to conclude the festival. The witty Norwegian band with Ozzy like vocals, bigtime groove, ironical, political, and immensely humoristic lyrics in Norwegian are the kings of the small scene this year. The whole show is, in best Black Debbath style, with rock quiz fraom the band to the fans and jokes between the songs. Also known as «the fifth estate» ("No case is small enough for us to debate"), Black Debbath is one of Norway's most original heavy bands. You English speakers can check them out through the old Welcome to Norway album for a further introduction, and should you be interested in translations you can't find on the net, don't hesitate (and mail me)!
Rating: 97/ 100
Year five of NRF is no more due, almost one whole year till next time, hope number 6 will be exactly the same as its predecessors.