Sabaton Bassist Tells the Crazy Story of Filling in for Manowar Last-Minute at Hellfest


This year’s Hellfest, one of the largest metal festivals in the world, saw the last-minute cancellation of Manowar. While no one knows for certain what actually went down between the show promoters and Manowar, rumors suggest the band refused to play because the stage size and local volume ordinances did not meet their standards (although Tool, Kiss, Slipknot and everyone else had no issues). While many fans were disappointed, Sabaton came in to the save the day in less than perfect conditions like the lovely metal knights they are despite having played the very same stage the night before and having a show the next day in Belgium.

In this week’s episode of The MetalSucks Podcast, we asked Sabaton bassist Pär Sundström how the band came to be asked to fill in for Manowar, and he shared all the shenanigans they overcame to bring an epic show to Hellfest:

“We were playing something called Knotfest which was an additional day of Hellfest, it was like the warm-up day of Hellfest or something like that, and we were all ending that one. After that show, there were some rumors that there might not be a Manowar show [the next night] and I was asked if I could be available during the whole night, so I kept my production. The production was supposed to leave directly after the show and go to the next show in Belgium, but I told my production to stay, I told my crew members to be on standby. And at eight o’clock in the morning I go out, I have a meeting with the promoter, and we talk about the possibility of Sabaton filling in if Manowar are not playing, which at that time they had already decided that they’re not going to.

“So I said ‘yes’ to that, and then we started to prepare for a show. So we got to play our own Hellfest set… but just a few hours before the show our singer [Joakim Brodén] is really looking bad in his voice. We’ve been there before but 20 minutes before the show it always just starts up, and when he goes out onto the stage it works fine. For 20 years it’s been doing that and we haven’t had to cancel shows, so we felt that his voice was just going to wake up. It sounds horrible, but it will wake up.

“We didn’t really have a back-up plan, and we couldn’t cancel since we’d accepted the offer, so let’s go out and do it. And after three songs we realized that Joakim’s voice would not wake up. So, OK, other guys can sing the songs. We had to print the lyric sheets for them during the show because Chris [Rörland, guitars] and Tommy [Johansson, guitars], who would be filling in most of the songs, they didn’t know [the words].”

The show that Sabaton played the night before went on until two in the morning and they still came back to deliver, even without their vocalist, so if you see these dudes out in the wild please buy them a sandwich, a drink, or anything!

Listen to the podcast episode with Sundström’s interview below. Sabaton’s new album The Great War is out today! Stream it below as well.

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