PREVIEW: Copenhell 2017

author PP date 21/06/17

The gates of hell will reopen tonight for the eighth time overall, and more impressively, for the second sold-out festival in a row. More than 23.000 people are expected in attendance, translating to almost 5.000 extra from the previous year, an altogether awe-inspiring achievement for a heavy music festival in Copenhagen, not to even mention the clash with Tinderbox and Roskilde Festival opening weekend. Then again, it's almost expected: you don't win AOK's "Best Music Experience In Copenhagen" two years in a row for no reason.

Whether you're a seasoned Copenhell veteran or this is your first year at the festival, your fingers are likely itching to for the irresistible combination of beer and rock/metal that the festival offers, not to even mention the wide array of metal sub-culture that's thoroughly celebrated on the festival, manifesting in ways that would appear inconceivable in other events also revolving around the rock and metal scenes.

Where else can you swing a sledgehammer at office equipment and abandoned cars at Smadreland (Destruction land) with an extreme metal DJ on the background, or try an ancient Viking bath among others things at Asgaard? Indeed, the added elements result in an atmosphere that's as celebratory as it is community-based regarding the metal scene, a true be there or be square moment for metal fans within Denmark and beyond.

This article takes a quick look at the MUST TRY/SEE's at the festival, highlighting everything you need to know prior to the gates opening on Thursday morning. So let us all look forward to three days and nights drenched in beer, Copenhell schnapps, fire, thunder, explosions, and the best that this summer's metal and rock tours have to offer next week.


While the 2017 edition has it's fair share of great bands to check out, there are a handful of shows that we here at recommend as must see ones. Typically, these are either artists that look set to play epic shows in terms of setlist, have amazing production to look forward to, are critic's darlings on record, or are just plain batshit crazy in a live environment. Without further ado:

  • System Of A Down: The de facto headliner of Copenhell 2017. Twelve years since their last Copenhagen performance, the setlist looks incredible, and rave reviews from the ongoing tour. Think about how many metalheads today grew up with System Of A Down even if they're not metal enough for your tastes today? Prediction: epic sing-alongs and the crowd will carry the show.

  • Slayer: Treo from the Danish tabloid EkstraBladet said it best: Slayer don't go on stage. Slayer go to war. The visceral, gut-wrenching scream of Tom Araya is a force to be reckoned with.

  • Prophets of Rage: essentially Rage Against The Machine minus the vocalist, so we expect a setlist covering all of the RATM classics in a slightly different format. Since we can't have RATM, this is the next best thing. Plus the band's latest original single "Unfuck the World" is phenomenal. As a bonus, there is a real chance of the Prophets' paying tribute to Chris Cornell by covering Audioslave - with Serj Tankian chipping in for vocals. Would be chilling!

  • Opeth: At last, these Swedish progressive metal icons have been allotted a late-night festival show! And with a phenomenal performance at DR Koncerthuset last year, the signs are there for Opeth staging their most magical outdoor concert in Denmark yet: a 23:00 show on the last day of Copenhell promises a midnight mass unlike any other. If Mikael Åkerfeldt wants it to happen, this show will be magical.

  • The Dillinger Escape Plan: Last Danish show. No excuses, no further explanation needed.

  • Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes: Arguably the greatest live band in the world right now. You won't have seen the level of insanity like this one since The Chariot disbanded. Vocalist Frank Carter is legendary for his impromptu gimmicks - such as walking upside down on the ceiling at BETA, crowd surfing his guitarists in competition across the crowd, et cetera. Our prediction: this will be the wildest live show at Copenhell this year.

  • Every Time I Die: New album "Low Teens" is a fucking beast that marks the band's 4th excellent album in a row, maybe even the crown jewel among them. Performing without Keith Buckley might put a damper on the show - or introduce a wealth of guest vocalists ranging from Frank Carter to some of the local names.

  • Architects: Arguably one of the best metalcore bands from the modern wave, their set will be drenched in smoke, bringing forth an audiovisual midnight experience unlike no other this year.

  • Psychotic Waltz: Cult progressive metal band, who reunited with their original line-up in 2010. They haven't released anything since 1996's "Bleeding", but rumour has it there is a new studio album in the works - so who knows?, maybe we'll get to hear some brand new tunes from these veterans!

  • Invocator: An ultra-exclusive concert by one of the most influential Danish metal bands ever (they left a mark on the Teutonic thrash movement in particular). The band features the legendary Danish producer Jacob Hansen on guitar/vocals and incorporates progressive, death and groove metal into their intense and technical style.

  • Candlemass: One of the earliest purveyors of epic doom metal (the genre was named after their 1986-album, "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus") and with a reputation for staging phenomenal live performances. Slow, heavy but with a grandiose melodic edge - no wonder the band remains one of the best-selling Swedish artists to date, with more than 15 million records sold worldwide.

  • Batushka: The black metal genre loves its mysteries, which probably explains why the Polish collective Batushka (who have just one LP to their name: 2015's "Litourgiya") is already held in such reverence. The band's live line-up consists of eight musicians, all of whom are allegedly active in other, renowned black metal bands - perhaps even Behemoth?

  • Overkill: dubbed "the Motörhead of thrash", they are one of the longest-standing and most consistent bands in the genre. Don't expect any frills, theatrics or other nonsense - just a feast of old-school with bulls**t factor zero.

MUST TRY: Experiences

While the musical entertainment is of course in the spotlight at Copenhell, we shouldn't forget that in the vein of other predominantly Danish festivals, Copenhell is designed to be a more than music type of an experience, to quote the classic Roskilde Festival marketing slogan. That's why the ultimate Copenhell experience doesn't stop just at stage hopping between the two main stages and the smaller Pandæmonium stage behind them. Sticking to a tr00 metal atmosphere with plenty of tongue-in-cheek humour mixed in, plenty of cool things await the curious mind in between beer breaks.

Map of Festival (click for bigger)


The Viking-themed area Asgaard is a staple at the festival. Previously, the area has offered traditional Viking food prepared in true middle ages style, a classic Viking bath facility, and possibility to try ancient weaponry ranging from an ax to different type of swords, usually on iceberg cabbages swinging around a pole. Very authentic experience, as long as you don't take it too seriously.

Biergarten & Tutten

The Biergarten tent is a huge, Oktoberfest-style tent with long tables, a stage, continuous DJ entertainment, et cetera. It's basically an enormous Oktoberfest style tent with a huge bar and space for pretty much the entire festival to sit down and have a relaxing beer. This is of course while all of the best metal DJs in Denmark take turns in playing the best in classic hits and freshest new music within rock and metal. Tutten, on the other hand, is the place for specialty beers and a cozier, small bar atmosphere suited for hanging out without deafening music in the background. This year they have a number of IPA's on sale - be sure to check it out.


Ever gotten angry at your old printer just before your exam was due? Experienced road rage? Listened to Hatebreed's "Destroy Everything" and wished you had a sledgehammer available? Well, the Smadreland area is designed for just that. You are given gloves and eye protection, and after that the choice of weapon is yours. Everything inside the area can be smashed into a thousand pieces. That includes cars, office equipment, and much more. As usual, they are hosting a Danish championship in destruction where teams compete against each other for maximum damage, but the area is also available for more casual smashing. If you can call it that.

Sort Kro

Food quality at any festival is always a question mark. If you grow tired of the standard festival food, you ought to pre-order a table at Sort Kro. It's basically a fine dining restaurant with a metal twist: black tablecloths complete a menu featuring luxurious tenderloin with schnapps, steak with 'bleeding onions', and much more. Delicious - we've tried it in the past.

Plenty of stuff to explore.

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