This is the story of a small Heavy Rock / Heavy Metal festival for us who want to live in the past.
There is a festival in the southern part of Sweden which is like a portal to a time long forgotten. A simpler time, where there were no CDs, mp3s, or cellphones. Where people wore spandex and studs; Denim and Leather! I am talking about Muskelrock (Muscle rock) at Tyrolen, outside of Alvesta.
I have had the great pleasure to attend this lovely quaint festival since the start in 2009, which means that this year was the 5th anniversary and due to this they decided to have the lineup secret up until you arrived to the festival area. This would be a risky thing to do, had it not been for the fact that we who attend the festival tend to be fanatic, as one should be, when it comes to the “right kind” of music, and have absolute trust in the line up, based upon the previous four years.
History of Muskelrock
The festival started in 2009 when members of the band Bullet organized the festival, which was headlined by the Canadian ex-bodybuilder Thor who attempted a career in music/metal. (He is famous for having done both the worst music video , and I often see his albums in lists of the kind “worst album cover” (like this or this ). Although his album Only the strong is a must have for any fan of heavy metal, he is mostly forgotten today. Be that as it may, the festival lineup was filled to the brim with small bands either from the days of yore in the past (Thor, Axewitch, Torch) or newly formed old school bands who play music in the vein of 70s hard rock (The Devils Blood, Witchcraft, Graveyard, Abramis Brama, Count Raven) or 80s heavy/thrash metal (Cauldron, Bullet, Ram, Wolf, In Solitude, Enforcer, Helvetets Port, Portrait). Basically they had managed to squeeze every band from my wish list and they continue to do so every year. When I first saw the lineup I was amazed, not only that there was other people out there with the same taste in music, but enough so to make it into a festival. Finally these small and forgotten, but brilliant, bands got the recognition they deserve, and give us who love them so much a chance to see them.
The festival is sponsored by metal vinyl labels like High Roller Records, Record Heaven, I Hate, and TPL. That the Musclerock-crowd is devoted to music beyond what is normal for a festival crowd shows: I Hate Records informed me that he sells more vinyl albums at Muskelrock (1300 attendants) than he does CDs and Vinyl at Sweden Rock Festival (33 000 attendants). There are (almost) no CDs for sale at this festival. Strictly vinyl. And Mustache wax.
Muskelrock anno 2013
This brings us to the present year, and the secret line up. Imagine the joy as one (again) gets amazed at the awesome lineup. How could they get the biggest Russian metal band of the 80s (and present day?) Ария (Aria) to come to the middle of nowhere to play?
One of the visually most interesting/fun bands, and quite a surprise for me, was Barbariön, who dressed up like ancient Romans, Barbarians etc. It is difficult to tell how serious they are about their music, because there is a lot of exterior image in a band like this, but they put on a good show, and the two singers eventually went off stage, into the audience and started lifting random people in the rain.
(I have some medium format pictures from previous years in this article).
Live videos from this years festival (with half decent sound)
Ария: Герой асфальта (Hero Of Asphalt):
Jex Thoth: “To Bury” and “The places you walk”