Copenhell, Day 3: A Celebration of Rock Legends and Rising Stars

Copenhell, the annual festival in Copenhagen, delivered an electrifying third day packed with legendary performances and fresh talent. From the timeless rock of Uriah Heep to the thrash revival led by Kerry King, the festivities showcased a diverse lineup that kept fans on their feet. Here’s a look at the highlights from the third day of Copenhell.

Photos (c) Morten Holmsgaard Kristensen

Uriah Heep: Proving that rock’n’roll has no expiration date!

When you talk about the giants of rock and metal, the ones who pioneered the scene back in the day and have been playing for 50 years or more, you can’t avoid their age coming up. And while some have aged like fine wine and others like milk, Uriah Heep sure as hell belongs in the first category.

While there have been quite a few changes in members over the years, the band itself has persisted since the early ’70s, and it’s amazing how hard they still go at it. This is a band that helped define the early heavy scene, and while on stage, they delight the crowd with tales of back then. They were among the bands considered too heavy, while compared to metal today, they might seem lighter. It’s a reminder that definitions change, but in the rock and metal scene, we never forget our heroes and the people who sacrificed for us and paved the way for what we have today.

And this is a band with the fire still going strong. They just did three months of touring with Judas Priest, and while their musical styles are different, these guys are still pretty damn heavy and can reach all those high notes their songs often incorporate. Coupled with some expert guitar riffing and an overall vibe of having ‘seen it all and done it all’, they deliver a truly sharp and excellent show. They finish the whole thing off with what is perhaps their most well-known song these days, “Lady in Black”, and the crowd loves it.

If you ever have the chance to see them, I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed. May these legends keep rocking forever.

Kerry King: Keeping the flame lit!

Ever since Slayer disbanded, it left a hole in the thrash metal scene. They were iconic for a reason, and a pretty big part of that was Kerry King, who has since formed his project sharing his name. Having recruited not only former Slayer drummer Paul Bostaph, but also Phil Demmel from Machine Head on guitar, Kyle Sanders from Hellyeah on bass, and even Mark Osegueda from Death Angel as the band’s new vocalist, he’s made a terrific lineup to continue the legacy that Slayer left behind.

These are all seasoned professionals, and while it’s still too early to tell, we’ll see if they can indeed fill the shoes that were left them. Kerry King has described the band as the next evolution of the Slayer sound, and it very much shows on stage. Lots of pyrotechnics and glowing red upside-down crosses fill the stage while they play old classics and a bit of their new stuff as well, which you can barely tell the difference between. I heard more than one person in the crowd talking about how this is no different from Slayer, and so the question becomes if this new project will find its distinct sound or be known as just a very talented Slayer cover band. We all hope for the former.

Dropkick Murphys: It’s always a party and everyone is invited!

Dropkick Murphys have an uncanny talent for being universally beloved. Both the punk and metal scenes, as well as more mainstream audiences, adore these guys, and it’s easy to see why. Their mix of Irish folk and British punk creates a sound that just screams ‘Let’s have a party lads’. And let’s be honest, how many bands at a metal festival include bagpipes, banjo, and flute playing? The audience for this is huge, and the area in front of the stage is more dense and tightly packed than ever. Everyone wants to be upfront, and why not, when the lead singer isn’t too high and mighty to get down to the fence and high-five as many fans as possible?

Other than the peculiar instruments, the stage show consists mostly of smoke and fire effects, which somehow also suits the show, and the band just seems like they’re all having tons of fun being there. And after playing some of their biggest hits, they finally get to their flagship song “I’m Shipping Up to Boston”, and people just go wild.

So here’s a free piece of life advice for all of you: see Dropkick Murphys as much and as often as you have the chance. It will never not be a fun time!

Slaughter to Prevail: Heavy hitters from Russia

The band enters the stage wearing their signature devil masks, and every fan in the crowd wearing the same start screaming their lungs out. This is a band with a very dedicated fanbase. Musically, they’re probably the only true deathcore band on my list this year, and they have all the staples of it. The extreme guttural vocals, spiced with the high-pitched screams and occasional almost clean vocals to balance things out.

But the real star of the show is the show itself and the atmosphere they manage to build throughout. Lead singer Alex Terrible, with his signature facial scar and fake eye, is brave enough to step out in the crowd and start herding a very excited crowd to the sides, for a wall of death with him standing in the middle when he delivers the drop. The amount of crowd interaction is actually pretty incredible, and people love it. I haven’t seen the band live before, so when they played their version of “Du Hast” from Rammstein, I was surprised, but also have to say, they managed to make it their own.

It’s not hard to see why the band has toured all over the Americas, Europe, and Asia, and if you’re into Deathcore, this is a must-see for the show alone.

Machine Head: A pinch of this, a touch of that, and voila!

It can be a bit of a challenge to describe what kind of music Machine Head plays, as they not only incorporate a lot of different styles and take inspiration from everything from Exodus to Nirvana but have also changed their sound significantly, from a groovy nu-metal sound to a more thrashy style in later albums. Either way, they put on a hell of a show, with some incredible visuals on screen. Think angel statues and giant golden faces screaming clouds of bats. Coupled with smoke and pyrotechnics, they know exactly what kind of theme they’re going for.

The looming weather doesn’t seem to stop the crowd from gathering for Machine Head either, although they did lose part of the audience when the rain started pouring. People wanted to catch as much of the show as possible. And with good reason. The music is polished and complex, and they deliver on all fronts. The lead vocalist Robb Flynn delivers on both clean and raspy vocals, alongside excellent screams and guttural growls. They truly are an amalgamation of many different sounds and styles, which makes it a band with something for everybody.

Photo’s (c) Morten Holmsgaard Kristensen

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