Photo Credit: Stefanie Nysand

Priest’s pre-release party for “Dark Pulse” at Linköping’s Centralbryggeriet, 17.5.2024

Author Stefanie Nysand - 30.5.2024

In December 2023, we discovered Priest when they performed as main support for the masters of death glam, Deathstars, at “Slaktkyrkan” in Sweden’s capital Stockholm. Already back then, we predicted that the trio could soon play larger venues on their own. Only 11 weeks later, in March 2024, we were back at the same venue to experience exactly that: Priest as the headliner, as part of the concert series “Klubb Overload”, and with a show that was a Sweden-exclusive concert before Priest embarked on a month-long tour through the US. Now, another 11 weeks later, we find ourselves at “Centralbryggeriet” in the Swedish city of Linköping where Priest are hosting a pre-release party for their upcoming 4th studio album “Dark Pulse” which will be released in two weeks, on 31 May 2024 (The corresponding album review can be read here).

One might wonder why the “exclusive releaseparty” is held in Linköping and not in Stockholm. Well, the Swedes may wear black leather masks which are intended to hide the musicians’ true identities, but as they reveal during the promotion for the pre-release party, Linköping is the hometown of Priest, which makes the event even more special. The choice to host the pre-release party about 200 kilometres away from Stockholm can also be seen as a favour for many attendees tonight, as US megastar Taylor Swift is playing three completely sold-out stadium shows in Stockholm today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, resulting in high travel and accommodation costs in and around the capital of Sweden. Furthermore, Priest promise that it is “worth to make a trip there to experience the locales alone”, and they are right: The red brick building with a brewery (“Centralbryggeriet”), a restaurant (“Torn1”) and an event space (“Tegelsalen”) is indeed quite something and particularly inviting on a sunny day like today. Not far from the central station, the easiest way to find “Centralbryggeriet” is by remembering its address (Tornbyvägen 1), as the building itself does not have a large sign with its name on it.

Already before the “doors open” at 6 PM, Priest‘s music is played in the bar area and at “Tegelsalen” [“Brick hall”]. What a welcome! Priest posters are put up and Priest coasters are placed on the tables. The special thing about the posters and the coasters is the design. It resembles the design of “Folkes”, the brewery’s own beer, only that instead of the eponymous pagan progenitor Folke Filbyter, it is Priest vocalist Mercury who sits on the horse. In addition, the Linköping Cathedral, Sweden’s second largest church building, can be seen in the background. At the merchandise booth, exclusive editions of “Dark Pulse” can be purchased. Furthermore, many items that were sold out both at the previous Sweden show and online have been restocked, such as tote bags, patches and the EP “Obey” in CD format. Overall, the atmosphere is very relaxed, which could be due to the venue as well as the city itself. In any case, we are happy to have followed the call of Priest: “Discover the beautiful city of Linköping and join the music event of the year – at the same time.”

After an hour and a half, at 7.30 PM, the bar area is well attended and the crowd is asked to go over to the red-lit “Tegelsalen”, in order to listen to Priest‘s brand new album “Dark Pulse” in its entirety, as “the first people in the world” to do so. The first two tracks of the album, “Burning Love” and “Black Venom“, are already familiar as they have been released as singles, but from the third song, “Demon’s Call“, one notices that the new album is indeed well received by the fans. During the first spin of “Dark Pulse”, people applaud after every song, and some even dance.

While the album is played for the fourth time, the exclusive concert starts with a delay of about 20 minutes. At the same time, there are suddenly three times as many people at “Tegelsalen”. The set starts with “The Pit“, followed by “Neuromancer“, “A Signal In The Noise“, “Blacklisted” and “The Cross“. With “Just A Game“, “Golden Gate” and “Demon’s Call“, Priest perform three songs from the new album, with the latter having its live premiere tonight. On the day of the album’s release, 31 May 2024, “Demon’s Call” will also be released as the fourth single from “Dark Pulse”. In terms of style, “Demon’s Call” is very reminiscent of “Keep On Burning“, and before the set continues with this very song, Mercury expresses gratitude that so many people have come to the pre-release party in Linköping: “We will play more in Linköping. We feel it tonight. We’ve been too much far away. We need to get back home for more shows.” At least tonight, the audience seems to be very international. One hears mostly English and a bit of Finnish, with fans coming from Denmark, France, Finland and the US, amongst others.

During “Obey“, Mercury disappears into the audience so that keyboardist Salt can be in the limelight with his keytar solo, accompanied by loud cheers from the crowd. While Mercury and Salt were both active in Ghost, the energy of programmer and keyboardist Sulfur as the animator of the audience isn’t any less impressive. Priest once again deliver the finest dark 80s style synth-pop and a highly entertaining performance in which each band member has their role. After “History In Black” and “Burning Love“, the set is concluded with “Vaudeville“. Before that, however, there are many moments that make one smile, for example when Mercury promises once again “We will be back!”, only to add: “Well, we live here.” All in all, a triumphant home game.

15 minutes after the show, it is time for the last part of today’s programme, a signing session with Priest at the merchandise booth, before “Centralbryggeriet” closes at 1 AM. However, nothing happens for quite a while. When asked about the situation, the crew at the merchandise booth says that they don’t know when the band would appear. After waiting a while and asking again, the fans are informed that Priest won’t be coming out tonight. Very sweaty from the performance, the band had already showered and accordingly taken off their masks. The suggestion that the band should just put the masks back on is met with the offer to bring any items that fans would like to have signed backstage. One crew member even writes down the names of the fans for personal dedications. This part seems to work, and it also seems as if the individual band members left the backstage area every now and then during the course of the evening, so it remains unclear if Priest did not mingle with the fans after all. Another thing that passed us by was the limited Priest beer. At least for holders of the extremely limited VIP tickets, there was apparently a beer tasting in the late afternoon. We do not know whether or not the Priest beer was also available at the bar later on.

According to “Centralbryggeriet”, there were 150 attendees tonight, which means that the promise of an “intimate” and “truly unique” event was kept, as well as the promise of a “magic night”. Experiencing a band in their hometown is always something special. And even though the trip is a little longer, especially for visitors from abroad who usually have to travel to Stockholm first: It was definitely worth it. Apart from that, one gets to see something else than Stockholm where all kinds of events usually take place. And it’s not like one would miss much after a concert anyway. The days when there was a wide range of rock and metal clubs in Stockholm are long gone. After having been on tour almost non-stop in 2023, especially in the US, Priest plan to take it easy for a while. However, three club gigs in Finland have been confirmed for summer 2024, namely in Tampere (18 July 2024), Helsinki (19 July 2024) and Turku (20 July 2024). Especially those who have travelled a long way to attend the pre-release party in Linköping tonight know that a Priest show alone would make a trip to Finland worthwhile. Everyone else can look forward to the release of the new Priest album “Dark Pulse”.