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Metal Merchants - Day 1 @ John Dee, Oslo (NOR)

TANK, THE LAMP OF THOTH, LAMENTED SOULS, SOLITAIRE, ANIHILATED
in Friday, 29 January 2010 at John Dee
by Erika Walberg

It’s no understatement to say that ‘Metal Merchants’ is one of the best events around in Europe today. Besides the really nice line up, John Dee just as last year’s Kanonhallen are very nice venues. Big enough for major events but still small enough to be intimate, no matter where you stand you’re still close to the stage but still there’s space to move and breathe inside. The only thing to complain about is perhaps the price of the beer.

SOLITAIRE’s flight was canceled so they were re-booked on a flight leaving Finland 2 hours later than scheduled, due to that they couldn’t make it in time to their slot. Instead ANIHILATED stepped up and opened this year’s Festival instead. Again it’s fair to question if it’s fun to see these reunited bands or if it’s just pathetic. In this case it was fun! ANIHILATED are basic 80’s Bay Area Thrash with a huge touch of Slayer and very British and just oozed fellowship from ages ago. I must say, even if they haven’t had any gigs in 20 years, besides two warm-ups before this event ANIHILATED didn’t feel like the band been lying to rest for such long time. Sure, mixed with the rest of the soccer-fans on the local pub in Ipswich it would be extremely hard to pick these guys out, they looked very much like any English middle aged men. But that doesn’t matter if a band can deliver like this. It sure showed they had a good time and then it’s ok.They set the standard high for the rest of the band. A cool start of the Festival and absolutely a band I hope to see more of in the future. At least if they can keep the spirit up.

ANIHILATED setlist:

  1. “Blood Of The Martyr”
  2. “Scorched Earth Policy”
  3. “Dark Eyes”
  4. “Predator”
  5. “Southern Cross”
  6. “Cruel Twist Of Fate”
  7. “Despair And Retribution”
  8. “Death And Decay”
  9. “Bitter End” “Ace Of Spades”
SOLITAIRE made it in time for ANIHILATED’s slot so the running order didn’t have to be altered more than switching the first two bands. With the gig at Bryggeriet Metal Club fresh in mind I really looked forward to this gig. SOLITAIRE did a really great gig then and I couldn’t settle for less now. The thing against them as well as ANIHILATED though was the sound. ANIHILATED got away with it better but now nothing came out of stage. A common phenomenon when the volume on stage is turned up a little too loud. The volume in the venue is deafening but there’s no bounce or pressure what so ever. Very unfortunate I think because SOLITAIRE seemed to enjoy themselves here too. Even if the sound wasn’t terrible a little floss like this can destroy the whole impression even if the band does everything right. And of course, with my senses fully stuffed with the excellent concert a couple of week’s back this wasn’t enough to rise to that level. But SOLITAIRE sure is entertaining to watch, a little freaky but in a good way. It’s always nice to see a band that puts a little extra into the performance. And SOLITAIRE is a good example that you don’t need to do much to boost the show a little.

SOLITAIRE setlist:
  1. “Spin The Saw”
  2. “Rat Studded Maniac”
  3. “Countdown”
  4. “Open Season”
  5. “Murder In The Broad Daylight”
  6. “Steel Against Steel”
  7. “Wipe-Out”
  8. “Rising To The Challenge”
  9. “Predatress”
  10. “From Hell To Horizon”
LAMENTED SOULS was the only band I wasn’t familiar with prior to the Festival, at least until they were added to the bill. I had a mixed idea of what’s was to come since the variation in the music I got access to was quite huge. Mainly my researches resulted in a curious mind. And LAMENTED SOULS sounded great, in fact a lot better than the now quite old recordings I was listening to prior to the concert. That doomy music had a clear Swanö touch, like GODSEND but also perhaps some old SOLSTICE. They had a little groovier touch though which more reminded of DANZIG and BLACK LABEL SOCIETY. A very pleasant mix of styles and LAMENTED SOULS showed off a whole bunch of nice songs. But it’s so hard to believe a band when it feels like they are a little embarrassed to be on stage doing their thing, this whole After Ski feeling with plucky jokes (which sounds even feebler in Norwegian) and not really giving the right performance to the music really bummed me out. Really, it was mainly vocalist ICS Vortex (aka. Simen Hestnaes) who stood for the jokes, the rest of the band looked really great but sometimes it’s hard to look past the aggravating things. That’s a shame really, because the sound was straightened out and everything sounded really good and Lamented Souls really moved with their music.

Sometimes I can’t but wonder if the cult status or true-factor of a band weighs a lot heavier than how they actually sound. THE LAMP OF THOTH drew the biggest crowd for the night but I can’t say that was the band that moved me the most. On such a small venue with limited equipment the sound can be unbalanced, especially if the band only features one guitar player. THE LAMP OF THOTH sounded quite one dimensional. On the other hand, that’s the way of the 70’s and there’s a lot about this band that is retro. “I Love The Lamp” though could easily be pointed as one of the best moments of the Festival though. And most of the set was really good, very well played even if the drums could have been a little more powerful. But compared to other bands on the bill, both musically, technically and in performance I don’t think THE LAMP OF THOTH was the best so I don’t agree with the rest of the crowd here. I think all other bands deserved the same or even more support than this band.

Then TANK, or I don’t know, is it right to call that band Tank? With Doogie White at the microphone nothing really sounds like Tank with Algy Ward used to do and there’s not much left of the original line-up. Cliff Evans and Mick Tucker have been in there for a long time though. It’s not the lack of original members that is the hassle, it’s more that this lineup sounds like a complete different band that bothers me a bit. In one way it’s a little sad that it would be almost impossible for this band to get decent gigs under a different name. Cliff, Mick and Doogie should be names enough to draw attention, shouldn’t it? Sure, it will take a lot of time to work a new name known but wouldn’t that be better than taking all crap about this not being TANK? Everything sounded awesome though, as much as I liked the old version of TANK this sound they shape today is amazing. TANK are vital and vibrant, both visually and musically. The old classics like “This Means War”, “Echoes Of A Distant Battle” and “Power Of The Hunter” got a completely different life with Doogie singing them, that’s true. But there’s now question about it, this sounds amazing. Different from what TANK used to be but absolutely great. I for one is really curious to see what the future holds for them, new album and so. TANK served a great ending of the first day, Doogie charmed the crowd with his extreme Scottish accent, telling stories and joking. Perhaps some of it got lost since it’s quite hard to understand sometimes. After approximately an hour and a half at least I’m convinced it’s right to continue this as TANK. First because it was a great concert, second because the new material “Phoenix Rising” and “Great Expectations” really sounds amazing and really what can be expected of TANK.

TANK setlist:
  1. “This Means War”
  2. “Echos Of a Distant Battle”
  3. “That’s What Dreams Are Made Of”
  4. “Walking Barefoot Over Glass”
  5. “Phoenix Rising”
  6. “Honour And Blood”
  7. “Great Expectations”
  8. “Power Of The Hunter”
  9. “(He Fell In Love With A) Stormtrooper”
  10. “Don’t Walk Away”
At the end of the first day I was really wondering how much it matters if a band sounds great or not or if it’s just the hype around them or what the great critical mass is preaching rather than listen to what actually comes out of stage.This night it was THE LAMP OF THOTH that mattered which I don’t agree with one bit. Ok, all bands did great but TANK won, doubtless.

(photos by the Hunter Erika)


ANIHILATED








SOLITAIRE








LAMENTED SOULS








THE LAMP OF THOTH








TANK










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Edited 03 April 2020
 

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