Waking up on the floor of cosy cabin on top of a mountain overlooking Fjords and Islands would’ve been a better experience had we not played tequila mini golf until 5am the night before. Lets just say I need to work on my golf putt, because I definitely lost. The first day of Norway’s Tons of Rock Festival 2018, held in the mammoth Fredriksten fortress, was off to a rainy start, which made it hard to get up off the floor, but alas, the metal was calling.
Arriving to the tent stage, Whoredom Rife who gave the photo pit a tasty spray of blood for breakfast, livened up the rain soaked crowd with their second wave style of Norwegian black metal. Vocalist K.R. howls into the rams skull adorning his microphone stand and his icy stance is as cold as the weather. As they play into Cursing the Storm to come the mob chants are on point. We took this as our time to prepare full beers to hold in the air for Pirate nutters Alestorm.
Walking onto a typical Alestorm comedic intro, we’re surprised to see ‘ducky’ their giant inflatable duck mascot who met an untimely demise on 70k Tons of Metal in at the beginning of the year, he had been resurrected! Opening with Keelhauled they had a full festival with beers in hand and making a hook with their fingers in salute. Performing an absolute party starter set list, including The Sunken Norwegian which of course went down well in Norway and Shipwrecked which transformed the crowd into a 90’s jumping mosh pit. Cheeky front man Christopher Bowes announces, “This song is for everyone that has ever woken up feeling like they were inside a dogs asshole”, and they covered Hangover by Taio Cruz. A sea shanty sing-along ensued for of course Drink and then the middle fingers were raised for Fucked with an anchor in which everyone screamed the c-bomb at each other. How romantic.
At this point we were wide awake, Alestorm shook us and woke us up in a way that only they can. Then onward for Finnish power giants Battlebeast. Led into battle by goddess Noora Louihimo high-kicking her way to glory. I have no idea how she manages to not only be so energetic on stage for the entire set, but how she nails those high notes every single time. Her vocals are absolutely flawless. All band members gel so well together for their very well rehearsed live performance and they are genuinely having a ball on stage. Opening with Straight to the Heart, they had us from he get go, Noora is fierce as she leads the band through an impressive set with great crowd responses from both Familiar Hell and Black Ninja.
Taking a walk around the food stalls this year, of course the infamous Elk burgers were popular, but the queue for the Vegan stand was even longer, pulled jackfruit burgers, yum!
Thrashers Exodus, finally opened the first appropriate pit of the day, lead by two dudes in banana costumes for Blood in Blood out. “Get this pit moving! You two motherfuckers in the bananas down there, let’s get this pit open!” Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza screams down to his followers to teach them A lesson in Violence. Blacklist is a song that will always get people moving fast, “Cocked and loaded and I never miss”, the circle pit roars as the banana boys lead everyone to victory for the finale Bonded by Blood.
Next to the main stage was Super group Arch Enemy touring on their 2017 album Will to Power, so it was only seen fit that they walk on with an intro of Set Flame to the Night and open with The World is Yours, also from the new Album. Alissa White-Gluz is her usual cut-throat self, enticing the crowd to move with her as she bounds all over the stage. Head banging her signature blue locks, she directs the band through a thrilling set of both new songs and Arch Enemy classics, as they close with We Will Rise and Nemesis, it is proven that they still have a massive fan base.
After a quick stop to the cabin to skull a duty-free beer and make a sandwich that wouldn’t cost us £15, we threw our ponchos back on and stumbled back to the main stage. The next artist needs no introduction and by the look of the attendance numbers, he was a draw card for most punters on the first day. It was none other than the Golden God himself, on his farewell tour, our Godfather of Heavy Metal, Ozzy Osbourne. With a crowd karaoke of Highway to Hell as we awaited eagerly for them to arrive it was easy to see the majority were very well lubricated and ready to farewell our master. A jaw dropping intro started, with a video screen showing photos, videos and a backlog of Ozzy’s historical ventures from as a youngster, his solo career, to Black Sabbath and finishing with the epic O Fortuna as they entered our viewpoint. Ozzy ran onto the stage with his black trench coat flowing in the wind, “Are you ready to get crazy? I can’t hear you!”, he screamed as they started into Bark at the Moon. Where do you even start when creating a set list for a man who’s musical career has spanned over more decades than most of the people watching him have been alive? Well I can tell you first hand, they smashed it out of the ball park. From Ozzy’s earlier career they covered everything from Mr. Crowley to I don’t know, Ozzy announces, “This is about a problem I used to have with drugs and mainly alcohol”, as they play into the controversial Suicide Solution. Thrown in were the additional Black Sabbath covers of course War Pigs and Fairies wear Boots, in which the lyrics were sung so loud by the crowd, I could barely hear Ozzy’s voice.
Tommy Clufetos held a legendary drum solo, just when you thought it would finish, he would start again, we were surprised he didn’t pass out. While Zakk Wylde, the solo king, was down in the audience giving the front row a private show, playing his guitar backwards behind his head. They came back for an encore of Mama I’m coming Home, which was a bit of a tear jerker knowing it was the last time we would see him play it. The backdrop visual effects were incredible, not to mention the light show that was so laser heavy, colouring the trees and fortress walls to the back of the festival. Ozzy sings with so much conviction through the grit of his teeth, the lasers made the rain look like rainbow glitter and fixed us into some sort of psychedelic dream. Sabbath’s Paranoid was the final song of the night and from the opening guitars, we were arm in arm with strangers dancing and wailing into their faces. Ozzy humbly thanked us, blowing kisses and saying how much he loved us all. As they did their last walk off, a slowed down version of Changes sung by Ozzy and his daughter Kelly Osbourne played over the speakers. What a final tour. “Sniff, Sniff”, No More Tears.