Aalborg Metal Festival 2018 - Day III

Date: 3rd November 2018 - 3rd November 2018
Event Type:

Oh, the stress of making everything come together. I had an ambition of finishing up the review and pictures from Thursday evening before leaving for the third and last day of the festival. I did it, but the consequence is that we miss out on the first band of the day and instead arrive just in time for Swedish Mercyful Fate/King Diamond fanboys PORTRAIT. We’re talking a serious case of 80s revival here; studs and leather, Flying V’s, twin guitars, high pitched vocals and all that. It’s a bit much for the Aalborg audience here at three o’clock on a Saturday afternoon, it appears. The response is lacklustre save from a few punters in the crowd.
To be fair, Portrait put up a fight and a do reasonable job. The singer, Per Lengstedt, complains about the brevity of the gig and how that isn’t a real heavy metal concert. Put a sock in it, please, and do the best you can with the allotted time, alright. This is a decent take on 80s metal, but it won’t really ignite.

This changes dramatically with the next Swedish band on stage, BULLET. The response from the audience goes from politely positive to almost ecstatic. Why? I can’t quite explain it, but I’m the same. Objectively speaking, Bullet are no better musicians that Portrait, and they exactly the same kind of retro, studs, leather, twin guitars and all, but perhaps it’s simply their more positive and fun music that makes the difference. The fact that singer Dag Hell Hofer sounds a lot like Udo and that Accept/Priest and possibly AC/DC might have a lot to do with the sudden appearance of the party atmosphere. Good times!

Bullet setlist:
01. Speed and Attack
02. Ain’t Enough
03. Rogue Soldier
04. Riding High
05. Fuel the Fire
06. Dusk til Dawn
07. Stay Wild
08. Highway Love
09. Bite the Bullet

If you want to be somebody in Danish metal today, you find a Danish name! BERSÆRK is no exception, and they are one of the hot, newer names. Their style? New Nordic Stoner? Their lyrics are in the Danish language, and they explore themes both of our Viking past and the existential questions of the present.
Live Bersærk deliver their material with great presence and intensity. Singer Casper Roland Popp has charisma in abundance and constantly strides around the stage, communicates with the audience, shares his beer and his lyrical wisdom on top of the solid, sludgy groove of his comrades. Impressive performance.

Bersærk setlist:
01. Nordenvind
02. Tordensol
03. Fimbuls børn
04. Skyggeland
05. De glemte
06. Mørke
07. År nul
08. Nattesyn
09. Frost & flammer

I’ve really been looking forward to seeing SATURNUS. I was massively impressed by their performance here in Aalborg back in 2012, and I’m of course hoping for a repeat of the master class in doom metal we were given back then.

The odd thing is that the latest release from the Danish kings of doom is from that year. Nothing’s been heard from them since. Even more intriguing is the fact that the band is celebrating their 25th anniversary this year and, as front man Thomas A.G. Nielsen points out during the set, this is the first concert they play this year. The singer is by the way an extremely sympathetic character, calm and chatty. He praises Bersærk whom he never saw before and talks about the lacking activity of the band and how they ought to celebrate the anniversary.

Thinking back on the 2012 gig, Saturnus are a bit rusty in comparison, that much is obvious. But the songs are still mountains of woe and never fail to mesmerise one minute and then tear you out of the dream the next minute with its heaviness.
Would be interesting to hear more new material from Saturnus soon!

Saturnus setlist:
01. Litany of Rain
02. Empty Handed
03. Forest of Insomnia
04. A Father’s Providence
05. I Long
06. Christ Goodbye

For the next band, I need a break – it gets too black for me. Let’s hear what Phil has to say about them:
When we talk about NECROPHOBIC, my knowledge has its limits as I only have and listened to the record Hrimthursum (2006). After a Saturday full of good metal vibes, but without highlights as far as my humble tastes are concerned (100% subjectivity, of course), I haven’t expected so much from this gig. I do not know if it simply is a case of ‘right time, right place’, a nice mix of aggressivity and melody, of black and death, but it works well on my poor soul and I actually have a very good time.

The Swedes do not revolutionize the extreme metal, and do not intend to. But their solid riffs coupled with intros and bridges, which remind me of Kirk Hammet’s mesmerizing part at the beginning of ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’, have something pleasant and entertaining about it. To put ‘Blinded by Light, Enlightened by Darkness’ on the track-listing, a catchy song from the album I was referring to, is also a wise choice. Last but not the least, our Swedish friends are not ‘dark posers’ and they connect with the audience.

Necrohobic setlist:
01. Necrogram
02. The Crossing
03. Tsar Bomba
04. I Strike With Wrath
05. Revelation 666
06. Blinded by Light
07. Darkside
08. The Nocturnal Silence

The next band on the bill is in my view not a metal band. ELDER play stoner rock. It’s groovy stuff and the musicianship and energy is impeccable, but the focus on long, long instrumental parts are like stretches of desert for me. Nick DiSalvo is, to put it bluntly, not a great singer. He’s a guitarist who has been forced to sing, or at least so it seems. Elder could be so much greater with a real singer, methinks. But right now, I’m just bored.

Pathetic or just a sensible business move? True or simply kitsch? Opinions may very about ROSS THE BOSS, but you know what? If I’d written or partly written some of the best heavy metal songs ever to have been released, I’d bloody well want the credit for them – and possibly also make a buck or two from those songs.

The thing is that no one seems to give a hoot tonight whether it’s Manowar or Ross the Boss who delivers the songs. Jawohl, Marc Lopes does a decent job indeed, although he isn’t Eric Adams. He tends to let the audience take over the singing too much, which is a shame, I find. If there had been two thousand people in front of him, it would have worked, surely, but there isn’t. Mike LePond (a phenomenal bass player as he may be) isn’t Joey DiMaio and doesn’t get every little detail right, but the songs are nevertheless celebrated with true dedication by the major part of the audience tonight. This music has been part of the lives of many of us here, and for that, Ross the Boss, both the man, Ross Friedman, and the band are applauded loudly.

Only one song on the setlist is a Ross the Boss song: ‘Fistful of Hate’. One could have mistaken it for a Manowar song, of course, and that is, I reckon, natural and how it’s supposed to be. Great songs, great gig.

Ross the Boss setlist:
01. Blood of the Kings
02. Death Tone
03. Wheels of Fire
04. The Oath
05. Sign of the Hammer
06. Fistful of Hate
07. Blood of the My Enemies
08. Thor (The Powerhead)
09. Kill With Power
10. Fighting the World
11. Battle Hymn
12. Hail and Kill

DECAPITATED have a completely different and much more hard-hitting offer for the Aalborg Metal Festival audience. It’s now past midnight, and we’re hit head-on with a lethal dose of strobe light and pulverising tech death. The first five songs, ‘DeathValuation’, ‘Kill the Cult’, ‘Post Organic’,  ‘Day 67’ and ‘The Blasphemous Psalm…’, almost blend into one because they come across equally intense. It’s a bit like the sensation I’ve felt at Meshuggah gigs where you think that it’s a bit much, but at the same time it’s fascinating and you have to stay and watch.

The audience usually tends to leave bit by bit after midnight here in Aalborg, and the barrage of sound from the Polish deathsters could have something to do with that effect taking place this year as well. But it’s not as if the venue is empty, and the remaining folk are in the best of moods.

Decapitated are a killer live band, there should be no doubt about that. Once a tad more variation is introduced into the setlist, everything is just perfect. Rasta, with his metre-long mane, is a convincing front man, and in particular drummer Michal never fails to impress. Powerful stuff.

Power is something we don’t have much left of as the last tones of Decapitated ring out. After three days of very different expressions of metal, of the usual great sound here in Aalborg, of chatter with fellow metallians from near and far (many of whom we see here every year), our ears are ringing and our limbs are weary and want for rest. But it’s been another fine year here at Aalborg Metal Festival, and the only thing left to say is this: ‘Thank you for the music – and see you next year!’

Decapitated setlist:
01. Deathvaluation
02. Kill the Cult
03. Post (?) Organic
04. Day 69
05. The Blasphemous Psalm to the Dummy God Creation
06. Nest
07. Mother War
08. Spheres of Madness
09. Homo Sum
10. Never
11. Earth Scar
12. Amen


Thomas Nielsen
About Thomas Nielsen 1345 Articles
When my old buddy Kenn Jensen asked me if I wanted to contribute to the new site he had created, then called powermetal.dk, I didn't hesitate. My love for metal music was and is great. I wrote my first review during the summer of 2004 (Moonspell's 'Antidote' album). In 2015, I took over the editor-in-chief role.