» Swedish Metal Expo 2007  
« back

Review by Niklas
Photos by Michael

City: Stockholm, Sweden
Venue: Fryshuset
Date: 01-02 September 2007

We might as well get used to connecting the first weekend of September each year with Sweden's only real metal expo. Not only is SMX, held in Fryshuset in Stockholm, an excellent showcase for bands and record labels to meet and exchange business cards, but also for regular metal-fans to listen to lectures, check out great bands and buy rare and common hard rock-albums. Swedish Metal Expo 2007 had a considerably stronger and more vital line-up this time around compared to last year, mixing heavyweights like Hellfueled and Evergrey with new talents like Sonic Syndicate and Avatar, as well as unsigned but promising bands like Vision and Degradead. Read further down to see what Metal Covenant thought of the most interesting bands. A new addition this year was a second stage, called the Lounge Scene, where more or less known artists performed laidback and unplugged versions of their songs. Moa Holmstén from Meldrum and Blowsight were there, as was the power metal-band Heed, whose singer Daniel Heimann has an inspiring voice to wind down to.

Another new addition was signing sessions that were held over both days. The biggest drawing card were clearly Anette Olzon and Jukka Nevelainen from Nightwish, who gladly signed the new Amaranth-single for everyone who'd bought it. The album cover-painter Kristian Wåhlin returned from last year, taking old favourites as well as new ones (Dark Tranquillity's The Gallery being the standout-painting) to his exhibition. Then there were the seminaries and the clinics. Magnus Rosén (ex-Hammerfall) performed a bass-clinic, while Mattias IA Eklundh from Freak Kitchen held a guitar-clinic. The latter proved to be more stand-up comedy than guitar playing, as Eklundh loved to tell jokes about the audience, his life, his private parts, etc. I had to leave after twenty minutes for an interview, and by that time there had been about 10 % guitar show off-ing and 90 % lousy and crude jokes. Not quite what I had expected. Overall, SMX 2007 was a nice event that can be even better. There might have to be even better bands performing in the future to attract even more paying visitors, but as it looks SMX moves slow and steady forward.



Blekinge's Unfaithful didn't manage to draw an audience in large numbers, something they and their fresh and entertaining metal definitely deserved. The band's sound is located in between Metallica's classic thrash metal and Soilwork's melodic death - making the band easy to listen to and to like. A strong contributor is the vocalist Marcus Kärregård, with a voice that is both melodic and harsh at the same time. But while the show is energetic and entertaining, few of the songs have the kind of lasting appeal that you remember them afterwards. The exception is the song Long Life Question, with an addictive guitar-hook that makes it a potential hit.

6 chalices of 10

(sorry, no setlist)


Avatar is just one of many young bands with the future ahead of them that performed on Swedish Metal Expo. Still they show so much experience and stage presence that they seem to have been doing this since they were born. An extensive tour through Sweden alongside In Flames last year must surely have been a boost for their self-confidence, and the audience has also found its way down below Fryshuset. The opener Bound To The Wall gets a great reception, and the crowd continues showing their love throughout the whole show. But Avatar's type of metal is, for me at least, something that is best experienced when you know the songs from before, unlike from for example Unfaithful and Sonic Syndicate whose sound is much easier digested. Which means that the two new tracks Schlacht and Wildflower disturbs the flow a little. But the imposing front man Johannes Eckerström manages to make these tracks rather enjoyable as well, and when I've listened to the upcoming album Schlacht I am sure that Avatar will impress me even more with their future shows.

6 chalices of 10

(sorry, no setlist)


Sonic Syndicate

It's been one year since I, as one of rather few spectators at Swedish Metal Expo, saw Sonic Syndicate play at the very same stage. It wasn't hard to spot their talent back then, and it becomes rather obvious that they have taken a few steps further since then. No other band on SMX (not even the headliner Evergrey) managed to draw an audience of the same kind as Sonic Syndicate did, and their young fans seemed to love every minute of the show. While most of the songs in their repertoire are of the similar kind and doesn't offer any daring surprises, the band's live performance is so energetic that it's hard to care. And when songs like Aftermath, Double Agent 616 and Blue Eyed Fiend is rolled out I even begin to fear that I underrated the Only Inhuman-album in my review a few months ago. Best moment? When the beautiful ballad Enclave is followed by the crushing riffs of the old favourite Jailbreak. That there is only one old song played is actually the only real complaint I have here.

7 chalices of 10


Only Inhuman
Double Agent 616
Psychic Suicide
Blue Eyed Fiend



The second day of SMX started with two bands from music association No Remorse sharing the stage for half an hour. While the openers Bitchslap had their moments, the slightly older and more experienced Vision stole the show. Especially the lively vocalist Queen B, who from the moment she jumped on stage had the crowd in her grasp. Worth mentioning is also the skilled drummer Jennaah (also in Bitchslap) and the very talented lead guitarist Jessica, who sadly decided to leave the band recently, making this her last appearance with Vision. The girls are good live-performers, but something that is still lacking are more songs with higher lasting-appeal. At the moment it is only the opener Rockin' Tonight - a song that sounds terrific live - that has potential, and it's a reason for fans of Judas Priest, Kiss and The Runaways to have a closer look. But this can be polished in the future, and the three songs on SMX clearly left the audience wanting more.

6 chalices of 10

(sorry, no setlist)


There have been much talk about M.A.N, but the big break has been left waiting. The vocalist Tony Jelencovich was formerly in the disbanded Transport League and spent a short session in Mnemic, but has now found his place. There is nothing wrong with the band's energy, but this kind of Mudvayne/Korn-hardcore is probably better suited for the American market, which meant that the band didn't seem to make a big impression on the rather few spectators that had gathered. But then again, their sound quickly becomes rather tiresome, and actually made the thirty minutes feel quite long. The exception is The Last Injection, a song that proves that M.A.N isn't all about funny haircuts.

5 chalices of 10

(sorry, no setlist)



Their colleagues in Sonic Syndicate played on SMX a year ago and got their big break shortly thereafter - will the same thing happen to Degradead? Many interested metal-fans have gathered in Klubben, perhaps to be one of the first to see the band that managed to impress none other than In Flames with their material. The start of the concert - featuring the furious Relations To The Humanity, the incredibly catchy Pass Away and the melodic wonders of The Fallen - is hands down the strongest moment on the whole damn expo. Pass Away, especially, is that kind of song that you can fall in love with at first sight, but at the same time spend hours and hours with without having enough. If the band plays their cards right they might have a world-hit in their hands. Degradead doesn't quite manage to outdo any of these songs throughout the rest of the show, but the overall impression is certainly of the high kind. There is good connection with the audience, the standout-member being the vocalist Mikael Sehlin, who easily shifts between deep and powerful growls to soaring and melodic vocals. Worth mentioning is also The Bloodchain, a song that grows enormously in the live-format, and the closer Genetic Waste. I had actually hoped for both Day Of The Dead and Resemblance Of The Past in the set-list before the show, but as it turned out, there were none of the songs this evening that I would have wanted to be left without either.

8 chalices of 10


Relations To The Humanity
Pass Away
The Fallen
The Bloodchain
Take Control
Genetic Waste

Miscellaneous pictures

See also: interview with Nightwish »»
See also: interview with Vision »»
See also: interview with Sonic Syndicate »»
See also: interview with Degradead »»

Related links: