Copenhell 2018

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Right, it would seem that I’m destined to get very little sleep during this festival – even if I actually have a proper bed at a friend’s house. This morning, his f¤%&#% cat opens the door to the room I sleep in and whisks its bloody tail under my nose! Aaargh! So, another night with three hours of sleep.

This morning is also when the terrible news of  Vinnie Paul’s untimely passing reaches us. This of course means that dedications to Paul are heard from the Copenhell stages throughout the day, something which is only natural when someone who has meant so much to so many people in our community passes away.

The infrastructure of Copenhagen and the picking up of another friend on the way to the festival means that I only get to witness two songs by up-and-coming Danish band LIVLØS‘s early afternoon concert. They’re a strong crew, the young Danes, and their brand of melodic death metal is effective. Front man Simon Olsen is by now a recognised shouter in Danish metal circles, and he’s also paying his dues as the singer of Beast. By the look of it, this afternoon seance is another victory for Livløs. Good on them!

What comes next is unique. In front of thousands of metal fans, the AARHUS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA plays a number of classical pieces used in films or film scores. And they are not just any films; they are all films related to comic books, with the exception of 2001, Star Wars and Indiana Jones. The guy who selected the repertoire is none other than the 60-year-old JAKOB STEGELMANN. For non-Danes his name probably doesn’t mean a thing, but for us he’s a cult figure. Since the 80s, he has been a sort of spokesperson for children when it comes to comic books, cartoons and games via his television programmes and books. Judging by the reaction today, the veneration for this man is a big as ever. The chant of ​​’Jakob, Jakob, Jakob’ resounds several times during the show between the superbly performed tunes. Stegelmann shares his thoughts on difficult questions like ‘what do you prefer, Marvel or DC’ and his views on Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Tom & Jerry, etc., and presents the music from various versions of Batman, Superman, Avengers and many more.

The most fantastic thing about this concert is the reaction of the audience. They (we) are all smiles, laughter and appreciation. The symphony orchestra seems to be having a ball of a time as well. When the Superman theme is played, crowd surfers do it Superman style. And look at this reaction when the orchestra plays Grieg’s ‘Hall of the Mountain King’ (which we as metal fans all know from e.g. Savatage):

Excuse my finger shadow there! Shit happens. Anyway, as you can tell, people are having a great time. Things don’t get less amusing as the crowd decides to do a wall of death when the orchestra plays the ‘Imperial March’ from Star Wars. When is the best time to run? Where is trigger? You judge:

Tricky, right?

What an amazing experience in the Saturday afternoon sun!

STEEL PANTHER is all about platitudes. It’s by and large all about sex, cocks, breasts, venereal diseases, drugs and rock’n’roll. In a sentence: It’s hilarious!  
I’ve never experienced this LA hair metal parody band before, and what a shame that is. With titles such as ‘Goin’ in the Backdoor’, Gloryhole and ‘Asian Hooker’, you kind of get the direction. Thing is, it’s all cleverly put together, the punchlines are in place, the timing is good, the dialogue between the band members is a riot, and, lo and behold, they actually play well.

Things get even wackier as singer Michael Starr is looking for a volunteer to get up on stage A woman, naturally. Young Kasia dares to get up there, and even if she refuses to show off her advantages, she gets a song and a hug. After this, all the women who’d like to join are invited. Guitarist Satchel would like to point out that hot women who like to take it in the arse are preferred. But of course!

Now we get much more serious on the Pandemonium stage with SUFFOCATION . I have great respect for the technical abilities of the New York death metal combo, but truth be told, I have a hard time listening through an entire Suffocation album. However, what the New Yorkers accomplish here today is no less than grandiose. I haven’t seen this band live since the 90s, and I am completely awestruck by their technical sublimity, tightness and brutality as a live band. It’s crazy.

‘Infecting the Crypts’ concludes a far too short set of only 45 minutes. This gig is a true triumph in my humble opinion.

As a side note, I can’t help noticing that  Corrosion of Conformity singer/guitarist Pepper Keenan and guitarist Woody Weatherman witness most of the set from the wings of the stage. Interesting.

On the Hades stage, I catch the last couple of songs by Danish KELLERMENSCH. They are very popular here, and I can see why. They are most definitely different from the typical metal band, and probably more of an avantgarde sludge/noise thing, dressed very neatly and with a violin and all that.

I’m not sure why, but I can’t help thinking about Elvis when WASP hit the stage. I guess it could have something to do with the general appearance of Blackie Lawless and the fact that he looks slightly unhealthy, with an excess of 15 kilos or something. Yes, yes, the man’s almost twenty years older than Elvis was when peanut butter and drugs took him to the grave, but, still… The way Blackie’s pointing into to audience and pretending to talk to people is just funny – or perhaps this is just genuine showmanship, I’m not sure.

No matter what, Lawless’ characteristic voice is still in good shape, and songs like ‘Inside the Electric Circus’,’The Real Me’,’LOVE Machine’,’Chainsaw Charlie’,’Wild Child’ and ‘I Wanna Be Somebody’ still kick arse. WASP never were huge in Denmark, which is why the reception isn’t euphoric, but certainly decent. I’m sure that if Blackie and his crew in their much too tight shirts had played later in the evening, it would have been a much bigger party.

WASP setlist:
1. On Your Knees/Inside the Electric Circus 
2. The Real Me 
3. LOVE Machine
4. Idol
5. Pleasure Arena
6. Heaven’s Hung In Black
7. Chainsaw Charlie (Murders in the New Morgue)
8. Wild Child
9. I Wanna Be Somebody

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY is a band I know from merely one album, which I bought back in 1991 0r 1992 (Blind) and listened to quite frequently back then – and never listened to again. But I’m determined to see what they are like live. It turns out to be a good experience. Pepper Keenan, Woody Weatherman, Mike Dean and Reed Mullin sound a lot like Black Sabbath, that’s for sure. And it’s just as plain to see where some stoner bands found their inspiration.
Keenan is the natural focal point of the band, but it is bassist Mike Dean who fascinates the most with his curly, fluffy hair and totally stoned appearance.

















After the concert, Pepper and Weatherman return to the stage with the Suffocation guys to do a toast for Vinnie Paul. ‘I’m Broken’ is played across the field. Can you bang your head in a heartfelt way? Some of us do this time.

A toast for Vinnie:

The next live experience brings me and at least one of my good friends to a state of near-orgasm.
HELLOWEEN show everyone what true power metal is like I’ve never seen it before.

This show is in truth a parade down memory lane. It feels like skydiving into my youth and my first years as a metalhead. The concept of bringing all line-ups of Helloween together in a united package is a stroke of genius. Hansen, Kiske and Deris delivering songs together from all phases of the band’s career is brilliant and amazing entertainment.

Either the many members of Helloween on stage are fantastic actors, or they are actually having fun as well. It looks like it, and it is contagious. In the audience you see lots of old farts like me, smiling and banging their old heads – because we can’t help it.

I’m certain the cynic would say that they are simply there to cash in on the concept, but I say to hell with it – the songs are good, the musicians too, and it is like a big celebration of power metal. In Helloween’s version, I’m loving it.

Helloween setlist:
1. Halloween
2. Dr. Stein
3. I’m Alive
4. If I Could Fly 
5. Starlight/Ride the Sky/Judas/Heavy Metal (Is the Law)
6. Power
7. How Many Tears 
8. Invitation
9. Eagle Fly Free
10. Keeper of the Seven Keys
11. Future World 
12. I Want Out

A much darker note is struck on the Pandemonium stage a couple of minutes later as SATYRICON take to the stage. Satyricon is a band I’ve always thought I didn’t like. And therefore I’ve stayed away from their music and the shows. My mistake!

This show is a small revelation for me. Satyricon are a fantastic live band. So dark, so intense, så professional and cool, this is simply grand. I don’t know the songs at all, but especially three songs (which I figure out are called ‘Black Crow on a Tombstone’, ‘Now, Diabolical’ and ‘KING’) are complete and utter hit songs. Wonderful surprise!

The midnight hour belongs to Swedish rock phenomenon GHOST. Tobias Forge a.k.a Cardinal Copia has accomplished to capture the hearts of both rock and metal fans of all breeds and kinds – from death metal to rock fans. Tonight gives you a pretty good idea of the broad appeal of Ghost. You meet all sorts in the first rows (yes, I’m there with my good friends, simply because we want to be close to the Satanic preacher…or just because Ghost’s music is the dog’s bollocks) and it is as if Copenhell greets Ghost as heroes who have finally returned home.

The stage is set up as the inside of cathedral with glass mosaics, in several levels, which allow the Cardinal and his Ghouls to walk up and down and around to create a more dynamic stage show. It all looks amazing. And not only that: The band sound amazing. This is the third time I see Ghost live and it’s by far the best sound I’ve experienced at one of their shows.

It may be that Forge is a peculiar geezer who may or may not be a ego-centered bastard who only focuses on himself, but fact remains that his music strikes a nerve right here and now, and it sounds great.

The one weak spot I have to point out is the Cardinal’s desire to listen to himself speak. He talks too much. The introduction of the band during the concert is far, far too long – I can’t be sure, but it feels like a ten-minute intro where Forge takes us through the role of each Ghoul. The joke is funny the first couple of times, but after five minutes or so, it kind of dies. I’d rather have one more song, please!

But, that said, with songs like ‘Rats’, ‘Absolution’, ‘From the Pinnacle to the Pit’, ‘Cirice’, ‘He Is’ og ‘Mummy Dust’, forgiveness is always close at hand. What a show!

Ghost setlist:
1. Ashes
2. Rats
3. Absolution
4. Ritual
5. From the Pinnacle to the Pit
6. Faith
7. Devil Church
8. Cirice
9. Miasma
10. Year Zero 
11. Spöksonat
12. He Is
13. Mummy Dust 
14. If You HaveGhosts
15. Dance Macabre
16. Square Hammer
17. Monstrance Clock

Despite the fact that my original plan was to witness crush the remains of SODOM Copenhell’s senses to pieces after this, I have to admit to myself that I can’t do three hours of driving back home after that. So, instead I drive my friends from Copenhagen home and head towards west in the dark, which is soon to turn into dawn. Behind me I have my Copenhell debut and a feeling that I just might be coming back a year from now.

Don’t forget to have a look at Tommy’s fine pictures from Copenhell 2018 in our photo section!

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, 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.