Swedens premier outdoor extreme metal festival opens it gates for the third edition of Gefle Metal Festival in Gavle with soaring temperatures of 30 degrees, SODOM hit the stage with their new line up for only their sixth show together in the blazing sun and the band have only become stronger despite recent line up changes. You can clearly see that Blackfire is throughly enjoying life back in the band and Stefan Huskens providing to be a powerful force behind the kit. Sodom certainly engage the crowd throughout their set especially when they play "Agent Orange", a song that is now 29 years old but is sounding better than ever live. Over recent years it seems as if Max Cavalera has become a little lethargic on stage but there's no signs of that today, perhaps that's due to the fact that Max now has his son Zyon in the band with him. SOULFLY dig deep into their back catalogue playing songs such as "No Hope=No Fear", "Bleed", "Back to the Primitive", "Eye for an Eye" and they also throw in a Napalm Death cover with "You Suffer". The crowd obviously goes crazy when Max growls out "Roots Bloody Roots". No matter what your opinion is on the Cavalera/Sepultura situation, it’s still great to hear Max Cavalera sing Sepultura classics. CARCASS deliver a set full of classics and songs from 2014's "Surgical Steel" album, that you simply can't do anything else but bang your head to. New guitarist Tom Draper fits into the band seamlessly and has no trouble hitting every note perfectly and Bill Steer may seem like a hipster jigging around the stage but not many people can write heavier riffs than this man. Carcass are on top form today. BELPHEGOR bring their full stage show to Sweden for a truly demonic 70 minutes of pure in your face blackened death metal. Helmuth and his disciples pummel their way through a set covering the bands history like Lucifer massacring the last supper. Belphegor are certainly one of the most intense bands in extreme metal today. Headliners of the first day are none other than Polands finest BEHEMOTH. Behemoth unleash their new stage show and production upon the world for the first time and it's clear to see why Behemoth are now considered by many as the best extreme metal band in the world right now. More fire and more pyro than ever before accompany Behemoth as they rip their way through a 90 minute set that includes the new song "Wolves of Siberia" which is the first time it's performed on European shores. Nergal and co keep getting bigger and stronger every year ensuring that Behemoth are becoming an unstoppable force right now. I was lucky enough to attend a listening event earlier in the day for the new album and there aren't any signs of them slowing down anytime soon with an epic sounding new album due out on October 5th.


One of the biggest crowds of the weekend is drawn to the Goat Stage for Swedish masters AT THE GATES. It's the Gothenburg heavyweights first show in Sweden since the release of "To Drink from the Night Itself", so anticipation is high and the band do not disappoint. It was always going to be interesting to see how the band would be without one of its main songwriters Anders Bjorler, but new guitarist Jonas Stalhammar brings a total new dimension to the band live. If anything he actually enhances the At The Gates sound. Their set is mainly made up of songs from the classic "Slaughter of the Soul", "At War with Reality" and their latest offering but the new songs fit in perfectly with the older ones and the At The Gates faithful certainly aren’t left disappointed. "Kingdom Gone" and "The Night Eternal" close one of the best sets of the weekend. CANNIBAL CORPSE deliver exactly what you would expect of them, a show like you have been smashed in the face with a hammer. The first three songs of the set are the first three songs from the latest album "Red Before Black" and those songs certainly set the tone for the rest of the set by ripping your face off with their shear brutality. Corpsegrinder challenges the crowd to head bang as fast as he does and for as long as he does but he is just untouchable on that front. They might not be the most exciting band on stage but they are certainly a band that let the music do the talking and with the pits that come with that, you know that you’re always going to enjoy these death metal legends. CHILDREN OF BODOM may have seemed to have taken a slight step away from the limelight recently but they return with a headline set at Gefle Metal Festival and it seems as if the band has regrouped and with a potential new album to be released later this year, they are returning more of a force once more in 2018. Bodom get the crowd moving with the opening "Are You Dead Yet?" and follow it up with such songs as "Blooddrunk", "Follow the Reaper", "Hate Me" and they close their set with the ever popular "Hate Crew Deathroll". The closing band of the festival is Uppsala's own WATAIN. Midnight draws upon us and Watain provide the perfect ceremony to close the festival. Watain bring more fire than ever before to the stage and begin their ritual with "Stellavore" and "The Devils Blood". The fire continues to grow and the bands frontman Erik Danielsson is at one with the fire as the band show why they are one of black metals finest. Watain end proceedings with the epic "Waters of Ain" and it provides the perfect ending to yet another fantastic edition of Gefle Metal Festival. Until next year.

Harvey Radford