In Fredericia, Denmark, a once tiny one-day underground festival has now become a three-day event with around 40 bands. It’s still for the most part the underground of metal that’s at work at the Metal Magic Festival, but there are also two or three bigger names on the poster. This year Uli Jon Roth will close the festival on the Saturday, whereas tonight will be graced by the riffs of two pioneers of metal, namely Michael Denner and Hank Shermann of Mercyful Fate fame. Reason enough to visit Fredericia and see what’s going on there, wouldn’t you say?
My fellow Power Of Metal.dk colleague Jørgen and I head off from work a bit earlier to catch some of the afternoon’s programme. We make it just in time for TOLEDO STEEL’s show. Although this is not exactly my type of metal, there is clearly a nice and big Iron Maiden element in this, and singer Rich Rutter has a truly amazing voice. Approved gig by the Brits on the outdoor stage.
Moving to the indoors stage, ZOM, a three-piece from Dublin put on a sludgy attitude and make a lot of noise. It’s somewhere between black metal and death metal, I suppose, but frankly, it’s mostly noise and as such not very interesting. This is a great time to find some well-deserved grub!
Back to the outdoor stage where none other than Neil Turpin, mostly known for his appearance on the first Anthrax album, ‘Fistful of Metal’, takes the stage with DEATHRIDERS. If you stopped liking Anthrax around 1985, you might want to check out this band! Apart from a few (very few) DeathRiders songs, the setlist consists of songs from ‘Fistful of Metal’, the ‘Armed and Dangerous’ EP as well Gung Ho, which Turpin shares the writing credits for, although it wasn’t actually used until Anthrax recorded ‘Spreading the Disease’ with Joey Belladonna. A part of me thinks that this is a bit sad the Paul Di’Anno way (‘Hey, I was in this band thirty years ago, and they got famous whilst I got kicked out, and I’m living off the songs from back then’), and the other part of me is really enjoying listening to these songs that Anthrax don’t do live anymore – and here they are actually song by the man who recorded them! Can’t help finding it a bit cool.
VIRCOLAC from Ireland are getting ready indoors. The stage is bathed in green light – and remains that way all way through the set. There is no change in lights whatsoever throughout, and as dull as that may sound, it actually adds to the slightly enigmatic atmosphere. You can hardly see the face of front man Laoghaire at any time because the (green) lights are always behind him. The five-piece, whom I’ve never heard of before, turns out to be the big positive surprise of the evening. Gritty and heavy, the Dubliner crew drag us through a cathartic dose of death metal mixed with grind and something I can’t quite put the finger on. Enticing stuff, I like!
Some would call me ignorant (Jørgen), and I probably am. MANILLA ROAD is a name I know, but their music not. Throughout their fine set, not a single song makes any bells ring. As I said; it’s a fine and enjoyable set. All is well-played, professional and good. Good songs too, for the most part, just too bad I don’t know any of them, could have made the concert a great one. Manage to eat a hotdog during this one. Not bad.
IN AETERNUM from Sweden sound like…oh, I don’t know. Sepultura a billion years ago. Yeah, that’s it, a copy of early Sodom. We’re beginning to look very much forward to the next concert on the outdoor stage.
And here it finally is, the gig we’ve been waiting for: DENNER/SHERMANN have not only re-found each other, they have also re-found the style of music that made them a pioneering name in metal. Along with them are Cage singer Sean Peck, bassist Marc Grabowski and tour drummer Jens Bergild, who all turn out to be a formidable team to back the two veterans. If anyone were worried that this wouldn’t fly with King Diamond, then forget it. It works like a charm. I’ve only managed to listen to the ‘Masters of Evil’ album a couple of times before tonight, and although my first impressions of the album were so-so, I’m completely convinced of the quality of the songs off that album now. These are songs that are meant to be played live, and they fit in perfectly with the songs of yonder years, classic tunes like Curse of the Pharaohs, Evil, Desecration of Souls and Black Funeral, the four Mercyful Fate songs that are played tonight to the endless joy of the crowd.
The two grand old men flank Peck, who’s delivering a first class performance (although he’s mixed a bit too low at times). What a voice. The two guitarists are focused and concentrate on their instruments, although also being conscious that they are in the spotlight tonight. You get a feeling that they’d rather stand back and just play, but they have to move to the front and show they mean business. When the applause and the ‘Denner, Denner’ and ‘Shermann, Shermann’ shouts resound in Fredericia, the two almost seems as if they feel awkward about it. Modesty is a virtue for people who’ve had such a big influence on others, methinks. In bassist Marc, the band has a real stage mover and audience entiser – he’s constantly moving about and banging his head. This concert is everything I hoped it would be. Great stuff!
Perhaps it’s because these two old men are getting tired after a long week when the clock strikes midnight, or perhaps it’s DESTROYER 666 who aren’t that interesting? A combination of both, I’d say. The Australians have played many times at festivals I’ve been to, but I somehow managed to miss them, probably because there was something else I found more interesting at the same time. Now I can say that I have no regrets in that sense. Although intense enough, the quartet’s blackened death thrash is rudimentary and very nineties. Potentially not at all a bad thing, however, it doesn’t really capture this metal heart tonight. Apparently the rather drunk fronter K.K. Warslut got into a bit of a physical dispute after some rantings about Scandinavians just after we’d left. Too bad we missed that!
Although it could’ve been fun to see the Greek Manowar tribute band who’ll play later at a nearby pub, the two old farts know each other well enough to take one brief look and determine that the other one can hear a bed that’s calling somewhere in the distance. So off we go, into the rainy night, with Mercyful Fate playing on the car stereo. ‘Melissaaaaaa….’