Ifernach – Gaqtaqaiaq (Black Metal)

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From Canada there is a one-man army in Finian Patraic who has his own band Ifernach. Since the first EP dropped in 2016 he has managed to do not one, not two, but SIX albums (including this one). That’s quite insane really. I haven’t managed to listen to all of them but I was interested to hear how the quality has been seeing he has released so many so quickly. From what I heard non of them were bad, some were worse than others and Finian could probably skip an EP or two to make a full-length with the better songs in his favour but it is still admirable to do what he does, as a solo artist.

So what kind of music does Ifernach play? While it’s old school black metal at its core that doesn’t tell the whole truth. Gaqtaqaiaq offers a lot of different styles. Be it the atmospheric passages that makes one draw parallels to Lord of the Rings infused metal a la Summoning, or the more savage yet melodic parts that’s more within the second wave of black metal from Norway with the likes of Gehenna, Immortal or Emperor. That’s also where the strength of Ifernach lays. How all these ambient, acoustic and raw elements comes together to create a rather wicked and chaotic black metal experience. While I still think there are some ups and downs (I tend to skip “Elle danse avec la mort” for example as that songs seems out of place to me) during the almost 30 minutes of playtime Gaqtaqaiaq is Ifernach best offering yet. During these two years he has honed his craft and for those out there that want some savage spiritual black metal then this will be an album to check out.

I do wonder do how many albums Ifernach can release before starting to repeat himself too often or drop in quality though. Finian is a talented musician that’s all for experimenting and improving his craft. Giving time, trimming the fat and you got yourself not just a good but a great underground black metal act. Fans of old Immortal or waiting for a new album with Gehenna should have a good time here.

Label: Nekrart Productions
For fans of: Immortal and Gehenna
Release date: March 28th, 2018
Favorite song: Extinction
Score: 3/5

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Kuilu – Monumentti (Black Metal)

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Finland, a land of a thousand lakes but also a land that many says have a bit of a melancholic feel to it. It’s dark, gloom environments and weather can do that to a person. Kuilu knows this all too well and their black metal can only be described as melancholic black metal at it’s finest. If I didn’t know any better I would have had a hard time telling this is a debut album because this seems to be the work from seasoned musicians. Formed in 2010 Kuilu have certainly bided their time and honed their craft to create a well written debut that I’ve revisited many times by now. At first I wasn’t in the right state as I was expecting more furious and heavy hitting black metal in the veins of Sargeist or Baptism. While Monumentti wasn’t that at all I came back to it only weeks later, had a new mindset, and found the doom elements, dark and melancholic tones along with the fitting vocals to be nothing but great. Think more Wayfarer and Uada type of black metal and you’re way closer than your “typical” Finnish black metal acts.

This is an atmospheric album that pulls you in if you let it. It might take a few listens but I’ve come to really enjoy Monumentti and as it is right now it stands as one of my favorite black metal albums released this year. Hopelessness, a melodic and melancholic void that’s really sweet music to the ears if you’re in the right mindset. The guitar work especially is something I need to highlight. It’s really captivating and one of the main reasons I enjoy spinning this album from time to time. Kuilu showcase a style of black metal I find very fitting for a Finnish band and they definitely go straight to the higher tiers within this realm of black for me alongside previously mentioned bands Wayfarer and Uada. Question is of course if they can do an equally good or even better album next time around (something for example Uada in my opinion failed to do). One of the best debut albums this year that challenging the listener and worth revisiting many times. Hopefully it doesn’t take eight years for a new full-length but word on the street is they are working hard on their second album already! From now on I will also include the Spotify links in my reviews if I can as sometimes I review an album before it’s out or it’s not on Spotify.

Label: Deviant Records
For fans of: Wayfarer and Uada
Release date: May 5th, 2018
Favorite song: Sisyfos
Score: 4/5

Soreption – Monument of the End (Technical Death Metal)

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I’m going to be honest, Monument of the End has been one of my most anticipated tech-death albums this year together with Revocation and Beyond Creation. As a Swede Soreption have always been extra close to me and even though I wouldn’t exactly call them top tier versus the likes of, well, Revocation and Beyond Creation for example they have released two really solid albums with Deterioration of Minds and Engineering the Void. Since their latest release Engineering the Void a lot has happened within the band though. The four-piece that had stayed the same since the creation in 2005 went down to two original members as Rikard Persson (bass) and Anton Svedin (guitars) are not a part of Soreption anymore. Now we enter a new era of Soreption with Mikael Almgren and Kim Lantto on guitar and bass respectively.

The line-up change has definitely shaken things up as Soreption are now closer to the mighty Swedish giant Meshuggah or Decapitated in the chuggy groovy riffing on tracks like “The Anti-Present” and “King of Undisputed Nonsense”. Whereas on “Nothingness Becoming” there are some The Zenith Passage vibes on the intro. A fitting step for the band in my opinion. Add the fact that a lot of things seems to have leveled up a notch. Fredrik Söderberg has his best vocal performance to date and Tony Westermark is as good on the drums as he has always been. The album also contains one of the best songs the band has released in the closer “The Entity”. There are a few negatives though, for one the album is a bit short. They could, and should, have had a couple more songs as 33 minutes is on the short side of a full-length. I also feel they do the same trick with the tempo changes and riffs a few times too many on Monument of the End which lowers the score somewhat. The album can become a bit dry after several playthroughs due to this.

All in all this is another solid album from Soreption, a new beginning for the band where you can hear how the band is transforming, evolving into something new with the new blood. They aren’t fully evolved yet (this isn’t even my final form!) but they are on the right path. It didn’t fully live up to my hype but I am not disappointed either. It’s a different Soreption and while I think this is their best album to date they got things to improve on in order to hit the highest of tech-death tiers. Tech-death fans who like it a bit groovy will have a good time with Monument of the End though that’s for sure.

Label: Sumerian Records
For fans of: Decapitated and The Zenith Passage
Release date: August 3rd, 2018
Favorite song: The Entity
Score: 3/5

Skullcrush – Visions of the Firestorm Eclipse (Death Metal)

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Old and filthy. Not only do I feel so myself but that’s the quickest way to describe Skullcrush and it’s only within the death metal genre that’s a good thing! There is no over-produced stuff in here, just pure no-bullshit crushing death metal. With a name like Skullcrush I should have imagined that would be the case though. Even the artwork on the album screams of savagery as what looks like Conan is battling a creature. Basically this is underground death metal the way it’s meant to be played.

The three tracks “Spectacle of Suffering”, “Entrails Ablaze” and “Hellwater” offers very different experiences as well. Where I first thought those three songs would be Skullcrush showing one type of move on their debut EP they instead go for showcasing a varied death metal approach. I bit surprising but at the same time really good stuff and I don’t know what I would expect from a full-length as they can go in any direction, or keep changing it up. The opener “Spectacle of Suffering” is death metal candy in the veins of Blood Incantation or Undergang, the really heavy stuff from the purest depths of the underground. “Entrails Ablaze” ups the tempo a bit, is shorter and adds a bit of an Entombed flavour to the album. Then the closer “Hellwater” is both the longest and slowest of the tracks, downtempo death with some doom elements going towards Finnish death metal acts Corpsessed and Krypts.

A really solid debut from Skullcrush. A varied album that shows a lot of promise for what is to come from the band. Underground death metal candy that I devour with ease and I am sure many underground fanatics will too.

Label: Camo Pants Records
For fans of: Blood Incantation and Corpsessed
Release date: July 6th, 2018
Favorite song: Spectacle of Suffering
Score: 3.5/5

Carnal Decay – When Push Comes to Shove (Brutal Death/Slam Metal)

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Let me start with saying I really enjoy Carnal Decay. Last years full-length release You Owe You Pay from them didn’t make my top lists but in all honesty the album has only grown on me and I still spin it from time to time. It’s easy to headbang to, a user friendly brutal death metal, with some slam to it, album if you can call it that which is sometimes more than enough. When Push Comes to Shove follow the bands head-on approach with three murderous songs that are just as heavy as their previous releases. The opener and title track “When Push Comes to Show” is a slower but brutal track that’s insanely catchy. Of course there are a few breakdowns and tempo-changes that eventually ends in a faster finisher. Perfect start to get you going. Next track is a lot faster from the get go and here Carnal Decay brings a friend with them as Igor Fil from Katalepsy does some sick guest vocals. “We All Bleed Red” ends these short but intense ten minutes. It instantly becomes a Carnal Decay favorite of mine as it shows the band on form with some of their nastiest riffs and breakdowns.

I have to say Carnal Decay sure got a way to even make even the easier breakdowns and tempo-changes get you hooked up, it’s an art really that gets you in the groove with ease. The music does exactly what it intends to do, no bullshit just pummeling metal and they aren’t sorry for it. They know what they are all about and deliver it. If you want a quick fix to your brutality and slam addiction then When Push Comes to Show is just about perfect.

Label: Rising Nemesis Records
For fans of: Acranius and Ingested
Release date: July 20th, 2018
Favorite song: We All Bleed Red
Score: 4/5

Construct of Lethe – Exiler (Death Metal)

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Like death metal? Check! Like juicy riffs? Check! Like Immolation? Check! Hell from the get go Construct of Lethe knows how to rub me the right way. There are definitely worse bands out there to gain influences from than the mighty Immolation but at times I do think Construct of Lethe sounds a bit too similar to their peers. It’s not like the whole album is an Immolation clone either, Construct of Lethe does bring a lot of their own game to the table as well as some darker Horizon Blaze or Ulcerate elements here and there. I just wished they did it more often as it would make them stand out more to me. No denying this is music I like though and the 40 minutes Exiler offers is a joy to listen to which I’ve done so for many spins while writing this. I’ve said so before and will say so again, music doesn’t have to be insanely innovating and groundbreaking in order to be good.

All that aside there are a couple of songs I started pressing the old skip button on as I disliked them more with each listen. Those two are “Fugue State” and “Terraces of Purgation” who both started becoming a snoozefest the more I heard them. In the end it’s a good album with flaws and positive sides to it, a better start than finisher in my ears. Exiler is very different than their debut Corpsegod was, which is for both good and bad. This is instead closer to their EP, The Grand Machination, but with a better vocal performance. They do lack some of the heavy crushing sound they had going on back then. Which is a shame but at the same time the song-writing has improved. I think Construct of Lethe can do way better than this though. If they mix up the good parts from their different albums they will have something really great going. It’s not an album that will land on my best of the year lists and at times it seems like an Immolation light if I am being very rough to Exiler. However it is worth at least a couple of spins to anyone out there who likes death metal.

Label: Everlasting Spew Records
For fans of: Immolation and Horizon Ablaze
Release date: June 20th, 2018
Favorite song: The Clot
Score: 3/5

Copenhell 2018

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It’s been just about three weeks since I visited Copenhell and I did promise to write some lines about my festival experience. Sorry it’s taken so long but here it goes!

Warm-up day

As me and my wife wanted to get a good camping spot, get to know the site some, and of course see one or two band early we had purchased the tickets including warm-up. Lucky for us we had three friends (two which I’d never met before actually) that had saved good spots already. It was really windy, terrain not the easiest (the soil was hard) to put up a tent on but hey we did it and started drinking beer, cider to get ready for Mustasch. I was actually a bit surprised how many people had turned up to see Mustasch, not because the band is bad or unknown but because it was a warm-up day and they started rather early. A lot of people were already in high spirits and Mustasch is a great live band with a lot of energy on the stage that was a fitting act to get the crowd going. Have to add that Ralf Gyllenhammar is a really good frontman who always seem to perform great while also making the crowd be with him. Sadly I didn’t get to see any more bands this day as I in all honesty had such a good time at the Biergarten drinking beers, taking shots, and listening to some funny metal karaoke that I stayed there until I was basically too drunk to remember how I got back to the tent the day after.

Day 1

As some sort of a festival miracle I was not hungover at all when I woke up so I could instantly go up to buy some coffee and breakfast. Once I got that in me and my energy was back up I could even start chilling with some beers while listening to some of the upcoming bands for hype. The first band we went to see this day was none other than Parkway Drive, first time ever for me. Due to the wind and how dusty everything was every moshpit or circle pit turned the area into a big cloud of…..you guessed it dust. Even though it was kinda cool the sound and visual experience was a bit of a downer at times due to it however Parkway Drive did a splendid job at the stage, a superb opening act for the main stage Helvíti. Winston McCall is a killer vocalist, one of the best in metalcore, and it showed. They played both new and old material which pleased the crowd. Next up was Zeal & Ardor where we catched a couple of songs, they were all good mind you. However as my wife is a fan of Asking Alexandria (I was too years ago) we decided to only watch 15 minutes of Zeal & Ardor then go to the Hades stage to watch them. Asking Alexandria have not aged well with me, their old songs were butchered with just clean singing and the new material is…. well not good in my opinion. Even my wife wasn’t happy with it and we eventually decided to go and eat instead before Nightwish started. I’ve seen Nightwish before but this was the first time I would see them with Floor Jansen. Even as a Swede I didn’t really feel Anette Olzon unlocked her full potential and didn’t continue the Tarja legacy well at all (who can blame her though, Tarja is one of the best). With Jansen I now feel Nightwish has got their frontwoman. She sings really, really good and she just radiates confidence on stage while having the crowd in her fingers. Nightwish played songs from many different albums where of course songs like “Wish I Had An Angel”, “End of All Hope” and “Nemo” were the highlights. A pleasant surprise to see a Nightwish that now feels complete again.

To follow it up we had to rush to the smaller stage Pandemonium in order to watch the band I looked forward to the most on day one, Thy Art is Murder. I’d seen them once before, two years ago at Graspop. However back then the band didn’t feature Chris “CJ” McMahon, it just wasn’t the same. Now with McMahon holding the reins it was a whole other beast on stage. It was crushing to say the least, the energy, the crowd, the viscous pits. It had it all I hoped for. When the deathcore classics “Reign of Darkness” and “The Purest Strain of Hate” came on I was as happy as a fan of that band can be. They delivered and are now back in full force, best band I’d seen at the festival so far. By the time Thy Art is Murder had finished Arch Enemy was already under-way with their set, we saw the end of it and it was good. I’d already seen Arch Enemy a few times before so I knew what to expect. It seemed like a normal day at the office for them and as one that things their latest album is one of their weaker ones I wasn’t of course too keen on them playing a lot of new material (which was to be expected). Arch Enemy are professionals inside and out, they did a good show, as they always do but they were better the times I’ve seen them in the past, mainly since they played more songs I liked. After Arch Enemy came the band I was looking forward to the most besides Thy Art is Murder, Avenged Sevenfold where we went to the very front row. I have a story to share. My mom passed away a few years ago and since then there is a song I’ve wanted to experience live more than any other “So Far Away”. I’ve seen Avenged Sevenfold live three times before Copenhell and they’ve never played it (first time I saw them was when their self-titled album had been released though, so couldn’t have obviously). Avenged Sevenfold opened up great, showed Copenhell a good time and as always M. Shadows (who’s gained a lot of weight) showcase what it means to be a good frontman with his stage presence. Then there it was, everyone attention went towards the screens as clips of The Rev started showing. I knew what was coming up, my wife knew too as she started to cry. I finally got to hear “So Far Away” live. What an experience it was for me emotionally and hell even though I’ve in all honesty seen Avenged Sevenfold doing better live performances (with Disturbed 2017 for example) and I really missed “A Little Piece of Heaven” in their set this blew me away just because of that one song. It is indeed an experience of a lifetime for me. Next up was Bullet For My Valentine but by this time it was actually really, really cold and we were both hungry and tired so we went to get some food, listening to the band at the meantime but not paying too much attention then went to bed. Hey I am getting old you guys! Eight hours of drinking, moshing etc does that to a guy haha. From what I heard Bullet For My Valentine did great, a good mix of old and new material. Me going to camp early does mean that I missed Soulfly though, which is a shame as I’d never seem them before. Next time I guess?

Day 2

Day two (or day three, depending how you count) started early there finally being some black metal on stage. It was time to finally see the Icelandic atmospheric black metal band Auðn. Even though it was early, very hot and not much action from the crowd initially Auðn did their best and eventually got everyone headbanging and waking up. Good start to the day and they did a good job, for myself me and my wife was just sitting on the hill, catching some sun, drinking some beer while listening to good music and softly headbang. So I can’t really say I did anything to add to the atmosphere but to me it was a good way to get going. Only negative with sitting so far back and it still being windy is the sound disappears at times due to it, that’s just the way it is at festivals though. If you want to see a band for real you need to go to a concert, different experiences for sure, but for sound alone it’s the best. From black metal to thrash and Exodus. I’ve seen them before but like eight years ago but damn they don’t seem to age. Still full throttle on stage and never slowing down. Exodus showed they still got it and cemented their role as one of the thrash giants for me even at their later years. From Exodus it was time for the band I wanted to see most this day, At the Gates. Standing at the front row, headbanging, helping crowd suffers and getting into a mosh for a while was sick. It was only a bit passed 3pm but hell I was super pumped. At the Gates have never disappointed me and didn’t do so today either. They played anything from the classics like “Cold” and “Slaughter of the Sould” to their new, superb, album “To Drink From the Night Itself”. Always fun to catch one of your favorite bands live and dig to every single song they perform. Due to At the Gates ending around 4pm I missed most of Orm’s performance. I did get to hear two songs by them which sounded well and I definitely need to look into their discography some as it seems to be good Danish black metal, they had a lot of the home crowd with them for sure. After Orm we went to eat what we found being THE best food at the festival, a simple burger with fries but it was well made and we hoped we would have found it earlier. Anyways as we needed to rest some (didn’t want to go to camp early another day) we sat there eating, drinking and chatting giving Deftones a miss (never been a fan of them anyway truth be told) and waited for Japanese band Crossfaith. We honestly only went to see them because “they came all the way from Japan so we have to show them some support” but damn am I glad I did. They surprised me a lot with both the music, the energy and how they got the crowd going. When they played their cover of “Omen” they asked the whole crowd to get down and get ready to jump on his command. Just three years ago Slipknot tried to do the same, with a very average result on people doing it, but Crossfaith seemed to get EVERYONE doing it and it was insane to witness. I think Crossfaith had the most attendance on the Pandemonium stage as well from what I saw. A band I, from their live performance alone, am now a fan of.

After Crossfaith we went around the merchandise stands where I eventually bought an Suffocation, Naglfar and Enslaved shirt. By the time we came back we saw the last few songs by Alice in Chains with one of the songs being their famous “Man in the Box”. Was alright but I am not a fan of the band so was happy just to hear those few songs. At the Hades stage I was now ready for Kreator. They did a good job but I had more hopes actually, not sure why but in my mind I had thought Kreator would be one of the best experiences for me at Copenhell and they were solid just not great. Compared to for example Exodus they seemed more tired, I thought it would be the other way around. Can’t put my finger on it though, they played my favorite songs, it sounded good and the crowd was hype I just didn’t feel it. A day at the office for Kreator it seemed like. Then we had Ozzy Osbourne, well what can I say. I saw him at Sweden Rock Festival 2011 and even back then I thought it was just a big Zakk Wylde show. There isn’t much wrong with than to be honest as Zakk Wylde is the best guitarist in the world for me but it’s too much of the good at the same time if you get me. This show was the same as back then, granted now I could see Tommy Clufetos go at it some on the drums so in a sense I guess this was slightly better show but I do find it good Ozzy is calling it quits, he should have years ago in my opinion. Now I’ve seen both Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne farewell tours at least, that’s quite cool! I did win a meet and greet with Zakk Wylde by the way, however sadly he wasn’t feeling to well so a tour guy came and told us ten that had won it wouldn’t happen as he needed rest in order to go on stage and finish the show. Bullshit or not I don’t know, was a bit angry about it but at the same time you win some you lose some. Zakk did do amazing solos and all that on stage and that’s all that matters. Last band I saw was Enslaved who started close to 1am. While I think they pulled of a great show I came to a weird conclusion, I am not a big Enslaved fan overall. I like some of their albums and songs, but usually their earlier work and when they played a lot from their latest release I was just standing there going “meh this is too proggy”. First time I saw them and happy I did but I would much rather have seen Enslaved ten years ago or something for the sake of them playing more songs I enjoy haha.

Day 3

The last day had just as much on my schedule as the two days before. Both me and my wife felt a bit under the weather today though which made us being less hyped of course and we said that if we don’t feel much better after Alestorm had played we would go home (meaning we would miss Ghost, Tsjuder and Sodom). That aside we went to see a Danish band called Livløs. Having heard little about them besides that some friends of mine in Faithful Darkness had been supporting a show with them weeks before Copenhell said they were good we decided to go check them out. This, again, turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Not only was the weather really good today, less windy, more sun etc but the frontman Simon Olsen was also full of energy and seemed insanely happy to play in front of his home crowd at the big stage. He even crowd surfed while singing and even though I knew zero songs they did such a good live performance that I basically started listening to them the day after I got home. An upcoming band for sure that I recommend anyone who can to see live. From a local death metal act to the least metal but yet so right act on the festival, namely Jakob Stegelmann & orkester. Oh wow was this a fun experience. You heard themes from Spider-Man, Batman, Star Wars, you name a classic movie or series theme and most of them were performed live. This was really cool and I like how Stegelmann interacted with the audience, telling stories on why he had chosen then songs and what they meant for him. Also how freaking awesome isn’t it to see moshpits and crows surfing to the imperial march!? Following Stegelmann was Steel Panther, one of my wifes favorite bands and we had just seen them a couple months ago in Copenhagen. A shame that they played almost an identical setlist, same jokes etc. For people who saw them for the first time it was probably cool and funny but for us it was a bit “meh seen and done that before”. Guess that’s why you don’t usually see a band twice on the same tour right?

What came next was the heaviest show on Copenhell, the mighty Suffocation! Hell do I like this band and the sheer brutality they showcase live. I might have been feeling a bit ill so I wasn’t at the front but my neck was sour from all the headbanging I did at the back. Man do these guys crush. From what I saw there were several moshpits going on and everyone had a good time. This was the second time I’ve seen them and they were just as good now as last time. One of the best death metal bands in the world and one of the best performances I saw at Copenhell. From Suffocation came another classic band but on a whole other scale W.A.S.P.. It’s a band I’ve grown up with hearing from my dad and I went mainly to catch a few songs as we went to eat in the meantime. They did such a good show we had to eat fast and get there though. Who would of thought these oldtimers would had it in them? I know they are a world class band but my expectation of them were small and they outdid that by a mile. A great show where they played all the good classics and showed me just why they are world class. Igorrr, that weird French band that I’ve never know if I like them or not, can’t place them. I had to go and witness them live to see if I could finally make up my mind if I hate or love them. Fact is I still can’t! My wife though is a fan now and listens to them quite often at home, I just can’t grasp their music though and after a show with them I was left there confused. Do I like or dislike them? Hell do I know, it’s weird music, cool performance that everyone should see at least once, that’s all I know.

Another old school famous band that I’ve heard from an early age were up next. The German power metal kings Helloween. Wow was this a show any fans shouldn’t miss! Getting songs from each era, with the different vocalists (!) is just awesome and I hoped some other bands could do the same sometime. I’d never seen anything like it before and from the start to finish Helloween were class, great stage presence, told stories and interacted well with the audience. Played some sweet power metal (only power metal act at Copenhell I think) and overall just did everything I had hoped for and more. By now my wife was actually feeling better, while I felt worse, so before Alestorm came on we said we would leave after their show. What a show that was to end with though! First time either of us had seen them live and they put on a killer party. Pirate metal in all it’s glory. There were countless of moshpits, circle pits and even fucking row pits all over the place. People were dancing, singing alone, drinking themselves silly and had a jolly good time! I even read afterwards that Alestorm set a record for the most crowd surfing to ever happen at a show in Copenhell at 700 or something silly like that. Insane ending to the festival for us and the best live performance I saw there, one of the best in years even. Alestorm knows how to part and I am all down with the pirate metal fans now after being somewhat reluctant at first.

Our ride home was a hell, not getting a cab for an hour we decided to take the bus. Sadly we missed out train home (was full) so had to wait an hour at the central and overall took us almost three hours to get home, knackered. It was all worth it though. We had a great festival, good food, great company with new friendships made, quite a few beers, shots and of course a lot of good music. This is actually one of the festivals I’ve been to with the best average performances. Most bands did really well and only a couple disappointed me. Copenhell as a festival overall has also improved drastically since we were there three years ago. Better toilets, bigger area, more variety in food and drinks. Next year Copenhell celebrate it’s ten year anniversary I advice everyone a go. Welcome to hell.

Five quick takeaways:

Best live performance: Avenged Sevenfold due to “So Far Away”, otherwise Alestorm on overall performance
Worst live performance: Asking Alexandria
Bands I missed: Soulfly, Ghost and Tsjuder
Biggest surprise: Crossfaith
Biggest letdown: That I didn’t get to meet Zakk Wylde