Sabaton is one of my top bands to see live - the energy is just amazing, everyone gets so pumped. And to see them touring with the mighty Iced Earth, with Floor Jansen's band Revamp and my local favorite A Sound of Thunder in support, was a lineup hard to beat. Most amazing of all, before the show I interviewed Joakim of Sabaton for Shockwave Magazine! :D (I'll post links and/or info once the interview is published :) )
Needless to say I was not missing any of this lineup (besides, I had to be there early for the interview). So I was there when A Sound of Thunder came out to the chant "Hail, Queen of Hell." They were loud, thundering, just how I like my heavy metal. The drums seemed a bit too loud at times, though, but the vocals were clearer than usual. They played a lot from their newer releases, Time's Arrow ("Time's Arrow," "I Will Not Break," "Power Play") and the Queen of Hell EP ("Queen of Hell"), not necessarily my favorite songs to hear live, but the songs were all upbeat and energetic. We got to hear them play a new song, "Udoroth," from their upcoming album for the first time ever live. It was a charging heavy metal song, with some shouted vocals thrown in. They closed with my fave song of theirs, their anthem, "A Sound of Thunder." The other songs were good but this one was great - it was much more intense, really bringing the thunder. Overall, they sounded nice, but I wish they'd played more older songs ;) This show had the biggest crowd I've ever seen for A Sound of Thunder - the floor was pretty full and people on the sides and at the bar seemed to be paying attention, too. Nina's guerilla marketing seems to be working ;) Anyway, good for the band, the crowd seemed very pleased with them.
Next up was the Netherlands' Revamp, which features Floor Jansen (now the singer of Nightwish, too). I don't think I'd heard anything of theirs before the show. They were heavier than I expected, and I know I keep saying that about gothic-symphonic bands, but these guys really were astoundingly heavy. Most of the songs started with rampaging heavy metal riffs - the last song with churning riffs you'd expect from a much more brutal band. Then they'd launch into a melodic segment that melded perfectly with Floor's soaring vocals. I was surprised to hear her doing harsh vocals as well. My friends were disgruntled by this band - there seemed to be something wrong with the sound. I guess the melodic parts could have been a bit clearer, but I was pleased and entertained. And Floor announced that she will be back with Nightwish, although when was unclear - it sounded like she said "this time of year."
Next up were Sweden's power metal warriors, Sabaton, which was the band I came to see. They sounded great, and from what I could see, the band was as amped as the crowd and having the time of their lives. Great to see, considering 2/3 of the lineup left two years ago, and a new drummer (Hannes Van Dahl of Evergrey) was just added last fall. Although they have a new album coming out next month, they only played one song from it, the single "To Hell and Back" (catchy song - it was stuck in my head earlier today). I was surprised but not displeased since of course, I wanted to jump around to the Sabaton songs I knew. They played a set of classic after classic, closing with the amazingly fun "Metal Crue." The only song I thought a little weak was "Poltava," which is a good song, but I thought a better choice from Carolus Rex would have been "Lifetime of War." (They had a little extra time, so I think they played some three extra songs, one of which was the Swedish version of "Poltava.") The crowd was ecstatic - the floor was full, easily twice as many people on the floor as for Sabaton's headline shows, a furious pit for most songs, and so much Sabaton name-chanting between songs that Joakim had to tell us to shut up so he could talk.
After that, seeing Iced Earth was just icing. In fact, they seemed a bit lacking in energy after Sabaton, and it took me a while to get into them. They did sound good - Stu can really scream and the guitars were clear - but perhaps the song selection was a little lackluster. I enjoyed "V," "Burning Times" and a couple other songs, but the rest of the songs didn't really grab me and I didn't really get into it until the encore of "Dystopia," "Watching Over Me," and "Iced Earth." Those two fast songs brought the energy finally, and "Watching Over Me" was touching. I did enjoy that they played "A Question of Heaven" since that was in the soundtrack of a novel I wrote last year :) It was not a bad way to end the night, but Sabaton was definitely the highlight of the show for me.
Next show: Paganfest! Planning to attend both Friday and Saturday :D