Carry On Cruising…
…And boozing! Come inside for an exclusive report from Sweden’s recent Rock At Sea event, which took place in the middle of the Baltic and featured Classic Rock FeMetal faves Hysterica.
Words: Russell Whitfield
WHERE: M / S Viking Cinderella, Baltic Sea
WHEN: Friday, November 19
If Classic Rock magazine were promoting Sweden’s regular Rock At Sea event, we’d have given ourselves a problem. We’ve got – literally – a boatload of 2,400 hardcore metal fans, most of whom have been drinking some hours before the ship leaves port…and there’s nowhere to run if things go awry.
The question we’d ask ourselves is: “Do we open up with the best act or save the best for last?” Thankfully, the Rock At Sea team decided on the former and fast-rising FeMetal band Hysterica kicked off proceedings with a blistering set that left long-time fans and newcomers alike reeling with its intensity.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: an all female five-piece from Sweden, Hysterica are always going to suffer the stigma attached to girl groups, namely: “Yeah, they’re pretty but can they play?” Anyone who’s heard their groundbreaking album MetalWar or has seen them live (they played last year’s Hard Rock Hell, remember?) will tell you that they most assuredly can.
Hysterica are far more about substance than looks. Each track is well-crafted and played to perfection: the band’s roots are in classic metal, but there’s a modern slant to their music that enables it to span ages and genres. These women are musicians in the truest sense of the word and they bring it all to a live performance. We were astounded to hear studio-quality vocals being belted out not 10 feet away from us, backed by note perfect, hall-filling instrumentation.
Make no mistake – Hysterica are the real deal.
Opening with the anthemic Girls Made Of Heavy Metal, the band got the place rocking with this crowd-pleasing favourite. It’s almost as though the song was a statement of intent – the lyrics ‘We’re gonna force you to rock’ never seemed more apt. Followed up immediately by The Devil In Me, Hysterica grabbed the audience by the throat and didn’t let go.
In a set full of favourites (MetalWar, Helloween, Bless The Beast et al), Hysterica also played tracks from their yet-to-be-released second album. It’s a testament to the professionalism of the band that they know exactly how and when to slacken and then raise the tempo of the gig. Message From The Dark is slower than normal Hysterica fare and it’s new – but we were struck at how vocalist Anni De Vil utterly held the attention of the audience for the duration of the song.
It’s something the band themselves had noticed when we spoke to them after the gig. “Playing a new song is always a risk,” admitted lead guitarist Bitchie. “Especially something like this, which is slower, more like doom metal. But we could see from the stage that the audience were into it. It’s a lot of pressure on Anni especially because there’s not so much movement on stage during a lower tempo number… she has to really lead from the front! But she knows what she’s doing and it went great.”
The band showcased two more belters from the forthcoming album, the sing-along fist-puncher Heels Of Steel and the aptly titled Force Of Metal. On the evidence the tracks we heard at the gig, Classic Rock has high hopes for Hysterica’s next offering.
Finishing the set with We Are The Undertakers (the subject matter of which is unusual to say the least), Hysterica were soon called back out for an encore: the aforementioned Heels Of Steel and Heavy Metal Man. It’s always great fun to see a largely male audience shouting they want ‘a man with long, long hair and tattoos everywhere’… and it does illustrate that Hysterica aren’t too self-aware or po-faced about their act. Of course they’re dedicated to what they’re doing, but they’re confident enough to have a laugh with it too.
Kicking off an event like Rock At Sea is no small ask, but Hysterica managed it with aplomb.