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Iceland Volcano Strands Metal Bands Across Europe

Lava-spewing volcanoes look pretty damn cool on album covers, but the past week has taught us that volcanoes and metal don’t always mix so well. As anyone who doesn’t live in a torch-lit cave knows by now, an Icelandic volcano erupted April 15, spreading clouds of ash across much of Europe and grounding hundreds of planes. Thousands of passengers around the world were stranded, including metal musicians trying to get to or from gigs.

The Roadburn psychedelic metal festival in Tilburg, Holland was hit particularly hard. The event took place from April 15 to 18 as planned, but several expected highlights were unable to make the trip. On April 17, the homepage of the Roadburn website read, “Roadburn versus the volcano, or how I tried to beat Eyjafjallajökull and almost lost my mind.”

Shrinebuilder, the supergroup featuring members of Melvins, St. Vitus, Neurosis and Om were stuck in New York and scheduled an impromptu show in Brooklyn instead of heading to the festival. And doom veterans Candlemass were forced to cancel their April 17 appearance, at which they had planned to play a two-hour set in celebration of their 25th anniversary. The show was to include their debut album ‘Epicus Doomicus Metallicus’ performed in its entirety with original singer Johnan Längquist.

“I want you to know that we really tried to see if it was possible to get down by car,” bassist Leif Edling said. “If it was 12 hours in a car to Tilburg, we would have done it. But all calculations pointed to 18 to 20 hours instead. And that is just too much. Our driver refused after thinking about it, and another guy we talked just laughed at us. We would have arrived in terrible condition to Tilburg Saturday morning and nobody gains on that. The show would have been so-so.”

Also unable to make this year’s Roadburn festival were Black Math Horsemen, who were stranded in London, ex-Kyuss and Fu Manchu drummer Brant Bjork and Chicago prog-jazz band Yakuza.

Other bands were stuck in different regions and had to cancel shows. Hatebreed have canceled four German shows scheduled between Aprill 22 and April 25. “We have been in limbo trying to secure alternate inbound travel plans for the band and our crew into Northern Europe to no success,” said frontman Jamey Jasta. “The volcanic ash has wreaked havoc on our efforts. It is beyond our control.”

The Red Chord were hoping to fly to Europe between ash clouds for their scheduled shows with Rotten Sound and Aborted, but for now their travel plans are also in limbo. “We did everything we could,” said Guy Kozowyk. “Unfortunately, our best efforts couldn’t get the Red Chord or Those Who Lie Beneath onto the continent until it was far too late.”

Grindcore supergroup Lock Up — which features present or past members of At the Gates, Pentagram, Napalm Death and Dimmu Borgir – nixed shows in Italy on April 23 and 24. Indianapolis doom band the Gates of Slumber canceled a string of European dates and British gothic metal masters Paradise Lost were unable to appear at an April 17 gig at the Mediterranean Metal Gathering 2010 at Montekristo Wine Vaults on the island of Malta.

Rather than face a lineup of no-shows, the Stockholm Rock Out Festival postponed their scheduled event. Instead of taking place from April 30 to May 1 in Alvik, Sweden, the festival will now be scheduled for Sept. 10 and 11. The show will feature Great White, Keel, Pretty Boy Floyd and others. Even with the postponement, the Stockholm Rock Out Festival will stage a mini-Rock-Out on May 1 that will feature Tigertailz, XYZ, Crashdiet, Vains of Jenna, Nasty Idols, Chris Laney and Fatal Smile.

A number of other bands were either stranded in Europe and unable to come home or unable to leave Europe for scheduled North American tours. As previously reported, Yob were stuck in Netherlands and unable to return family and friends in Oregon. And Nachtmystium had to stay in England for an extra five days after the end of their European tour before they could fly back to Chicago. In addition, Norwegian black metal supergroup 1349, had to miss several dates of their U.S. tour with Cannibal Corpse (they might miss more because of problems obtaining visas to enter the country).

Even with the air freeze, Metallica and Fear Factory retained their never-say-die spirit to make it to a concert in Riga, Latvia to perform for 12,000 fans. The bands were in Oslo, Norway when the volcano erupted and had to take a 28-hour trip on a charter bus and ferry from Copenhagen, Denmark to get to Latvia. The groups are scheduled to play two concerts in Moscow this weekend.

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