Festival Report 2022

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Well, hello Copenhell! It’s been so long, and my, how you’ve grown!

Yes, dear ladies and gentlefolk, the summer once again belongs to us, and that means four sweaty, beer drinking, neck thrashing days in the Copenhagen harbour, more precisely on Refshaleøen and at the most metal of all large Danish festivals - Copenhell!
This was a happy reunion to be sure, for festival management, bands, and definitely not in the least for the unnumbered masses of fans, many of whom bought their tickets probably as far back as 2019 after the last festival, and have since seen their beloved metal Mekka postponed year after year, waiting for life to open up again.
Well, now it has, and we were back in action!

Truly, like any child you haven’t seen in a while, and then meet again only to be astounded they’ve outgrown you in the intervening years, so to had Copenhell grown vast since our last visit.
Not only did the line-up outdo anything they’ve done in the past (and believe you me, they’ve had some pretty spectacular line-up’s in the past), with no smaller headliners than Metallica, Kiss, Iron Maiden, and D-A-D - all of them mastodons of their given field - with equally large acts as Korn, Judas Priest, and Mercyful Fate just below them, and among many, many more; no, the festival had also grown in time, going from the initial two day festival that opened back in 2010, to a now full-blown four day festival. The place itself had grown a lot, and had been completely rearranged, to accomodate a whole new stage,Gehenna, among other things.
And of course, the number of visitors had increased. Copenhell started out at about 5000 people back in the day, or so I hear (we weren’t there the first year, sadly), and now they can proudly brag about 35000 visiting Danes and people from all over the globe.

So, we’ve established that the setup of Copenhell anno 2022 didn’t lack a thing, not as far as we could see, and it’s a given that expectations were high, but could the festival live up to bringing a party which would accommodate so many hungry fans after such a long time? Let’s explore, shall we?

The festival kicked off on Wednesday the 15th of June, a bright, sunny day. It was, as mentioned, the first time this day was a full festival day, as it previously has only been regarded as a warm-up day, with fewer bands, and only parts of the festival area open for business.
Not so this time around, as the day opened at a quarter to two p.m. with the English band Wargasm, was headlined by Metallica at half past nine p.m., and finally rounded off by either LOK, Lydsyn, or Soen at a quarter to midnight, depending on which stage you visited. Before this, there was the traditional opening of the Gates of Hell, where the earliest visitors rush the grounds, only to discover that the time honoured Highway to Hell was gone, and that instead you came directly upon an open ground, flanked by merchandise booths and the like on each side, and the satanic church being the eye-catching centrepiece of it all. I say “the”, but it should really be “a”, as Copenhell had the great misfortune back in 2020 (in addition to being postponed, that is) to have their storage space burn to the ground, taking the festival’s decorations with it. So all we saw this year was fresh and new - and I for one will applaud the festival for doing a phenomenal job on giving the festival grounds a highly distinct and compelling look. Everywhere you looked, there was some type of well-crafted artwork, be it the form cut and fantastically painted fences, the aforementioned church, or the many statues standing tall around the grounds.
But we’re getting sidetracked by all the glitter and glam, so let’s return once more to the day at hand.
For our part, the day truly started when we went to see the opening act of the main stage, Suicidal Tendencies. This band showed just how a band should open a stage like this, and the band members weren’t above using the circular catwalk provided by Metallica, to get close to their fans. The day continued pretty much with going straight from stage to stage, a steady ping pong between Helvíti and Hades, with very little time for anything else. Pretty much every band we saw performed well and gave entertaining shows, with few exceptions (here’s looking at you, Dizzy Mizz Lizzy), and after the last notes of LOK rang out from the Hades stage, we were well beat and ready for home - after a quick check-in at our old stamping ground Pigs from Hell, of course.

In a manner of speaking, pretty much every day followed a similar schedule, being filled with music from start to finish, and only the food being changed for the Vegan Kebab place between Hades and the Biergarten.
We’ve often praised Copenhell for providing so many alternative past-times for people wanting to take a break from music, and this year was no different. Smadreland was still around, with the Danish Championship of Wrecking intact, the Viking village there when you wanted to take it down a notch and just hang out,and all the other good stuff we’re used to seeing. This year, Copenhell had outdone themselves however, with bringing in a treasure hunt, opening up a huge hall for Copenhell-Con, an event of comic books, artist signings, interviews, and all sorts of nerdy goodness (it even had its own t-shirt and commemorative wristband), and having a cinema showing various horror films every day. You know what, I might very well have missed some things here, because there were so many of them!
The only problem as I see it, is that it was combined with such a strong line-up, that we nearly had no time to enjoy it all, as we were tied up at the stages!

We shouldn’t complain though. Honestly, Copenhell is still the greatest festival around, in our humble opinion. Nowhere else have we seen the magnitude and the diversity of content provided, and still having it all running so smoothly you could damned near set your clock by it.
If fingers were to be pointed at something, it would be that the line for some things was simply too long, not in the least for the official festival merchandise tent. We never made it in there for that very reason, but I have been informed from reliable sources that even if you did manage to get in, many products and most regular sizes were out of stock long before the festival ended.
Bar lines were never long though, especially at the stage bars where even at the biggest of shows, I could usually go straight up to a bartender without waiting, and come away with beer in hand in a matter of seconds. Kudos to that!

Copenhell 2022 might have been a bit overwhelming, but it was a damned fine experience. It’s no surprise that it keeps growing from year to year, and of course it had to have grown in order to pull something like this off. Likewise, it’s no surprise to see several die-hard fans with Copenhell tattoos inked on their skin. As we can attest, if you get in here, you’re unlikely to ever leave again. Abandon all hope and all that, and for next year - see you in hell!

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