FESTIVAL REVIEW: Tons of Rock 2019

After six years at the Fredriksten Fortress in at Halden Norway, it was clear Tons of Rock needed more space. So here we are in the biggest city in Norway, Oslo, at the new home for the festival. From my American point of view, this was wonderful to see so many bands I have enjoyed but haven’t made it across the sea. With three stages and forty bands, two of the said stages named in honor of famous Norwegian expressionist artist Edvard Munch. The Scream and Vampire had an electric mix of hard and most styles of metal. In addition to the campgrounds, there was plenty of rides, painted art and music for sale to browse on these bright and sunny Oslo days.

With a kick-off pre-show, the night before from German legends Accept at the Oslo Opera House supported by the Kork orchestra and violinist, Rebekah Rahman. Ending their tour Symphonic Terror with a set of half classical arrangements and their own songs interwoven. The entire night culminated with a fireworks show off the top of the opera house.

Kicking off day one’s show on the main stage was hometown faves Black Debbath which its kind campy satirical political rock band. Sung all in Norwegian, the crowd rocked and laughed. Some of the other early bands on the other stages included Perpturbator, While She Sleeps, Heave Blood and Die, Amaranthe and Ulver doing their latest album in its entirety. It was really strange to see Behemoth in daylight, but hey, festivals! First time seeing them with pyrotechnics too. That was a hellish, welcomed surprise. Catching Dropkick Murphys were great! One of the best bands to drink to with the crowd. Satyricon playing all of Rebel Extravaganza was a sight to behold. Especially when for the encore the played ‘Phoenix’ with ‘Sivert Høyem’! Finally to experience Djerv was the highlight of this day and of the festival for me. Annette’s voice is one of the most unique ones out there. Seeing Kiss for the first time in my life play to what was just one big sing-along, was amazing! Apparently, I know more of their songs than I thought. Plus, more pyro and fireworks with them to end the evening. Hell, they even had their own wifi networks!

For the second day, all the way from Mongolia, The Hu rocked the Viking crowd into a standing ovation. New group Vltimas featuring legends David Vincent and Flo Mounier made their bones on this first show in the country. Hallas, Raga Rocker, and Wolfmother brought their retro sounds while Bury Tomorrow and Tesseract brought the modern. Vreid with pyro was one of the coolest things, considering I saw them in the states and didn’t know they do that. Fellow Death and Black Metal veterans Mayhem and Possessed came out blazing with the classic hits and newer songs from the later. Slayer had even more fire for the fans, with bands’ last hoorah in Norway. The soon to be retired, Tom Araya took a few moments to thank the crowd and received all the love and cheers the metal community could offer. My biggest confusion was was how was Volbeat billed over Slayer!? I learned quickly just how huge they are. Like Kiss the night before, every number performed was a festival wide all sing-along, except for the new song they played from their forthcoming new album. Closing the night with ‘Still Counting’, the masses headed back to their campgrounds and bus transportation.

The Dogs kicked off the final day of awesomeness. I heard many new bands for the first time. Circus Maximus, Black Viper, Oslo Ess, Inglorious, Powerwolf, and Obliteration all filled my virgin ears with their melodies. Prog titans, Dream Theater came with a catchy, seven-song set. While Kalmah and Testament seemed to do the most headbanging and smiling on stage, seeing Gluecifer was another bucket list moment. Carcass could also do no wrong since I got to hear my first song from them; ‘Keep On Rotting in the Free World’. I was a teenager all over again. It was trippy hearing In Flames change languages in between songs. I guess I forgot where I was for a second. They had all the hooks pulling from their hard rock and more metal songs.

Never in all my years have I thought I’d see Def Leppard, but there I was, just in awe of how damn good they are. I was completely floored when they broke out ‘Two Steps Behind’. I know it from the Last Action Hero soundtrack. (one of the best OST’s of the nineties). They poured their sugar over me and I was there to rock for the ages.

For my first time outside of America, this festival was the way to go! From the diversity of this lineup to the number of things to do there, the ease of getting around the site and the fact that everyone pretty much spoke English too made it extremely comfortable for this ugly American. I cant wait to see year two of this new location in 2020.

WORDS AND PHOTOS BY OMAR CORDY