This summer, Release Athens turns out to be the main music festival in Athens, Greece. The experience of seeing Manowar live at Plateia Nerou is still fresh – Joey DeMaio and company offered the heavy metal fans a marvelous night, in a place that’s perfect for concerts. Apart from being located close to the centre of the Greek capital, Release Athens is a musical happening that fulfills the requirements of a modern, well-organized event: you can easily and comfortably enjoy the live performances, with the ability to buy your favourite T-Shirt, to drink your beer, eat something with your friends and hang out with your mates. As you may understand, these fine conditions are something new for the Greek music fans, who previously attended music festivals like Rockwave.

After Manowar, it was the turn of Anthrax and Disturbed to rock the night.

Anthrax need no recommendations. The legendary US band was and still is one of the main thrash metal attractions, a living myth of heavy metal music, a group that released so many classic metal albums and influenced tons of artists. We are honored that they decided to visit Athens.

Disturbed is a big name of modern metal, since they started their career in 2001 and gained great success with fantastic albums like “The Sickness”, “Believe” and “Ten Thousand Fists”. Their amalgam of nu-metal and classic rock/metal makes them unique.

The billing included also three Greek metal bands, Breath After Coma, Need and SiXforNinE. Personally, I had seen live on stage only Need, in the recent past, so I was very curious to see Breath After Coma and SiXforNinE for the first time. Unfortunately, due to the fact that the support bands began their performance early in the afternoon (17:30), I wasn’t able to catch them on stage – the hot sun and the high temperature prevented me from getting to Plateia Nerou on time. I understand that the support bands and every musician has spent so many hours and so much money for rehearsals and await for the fans’ support, but I also understand health problems. So, under these circumstances I missed the first two opening bands, but was lucky enough to see SiXforNinE on stage.

SiXforNinE presented some of their (old and new) songs to the fans that had already come to the fest. Fotis Benardo led the extreme metal attack of the band, which managed to win the crowd’s applause. Their nice blend of extreme metal ingredients was uplifting, a pretty good appetizer! I knew that SiXforNinE is a listen-worthy band, now I have witnessed their storming live energy and I am really curious for their upcoming album.

As it was announced, Anthrax hit the stage at 21:00. From the first moment they appeared to the last second of their show, Anthrax played like there is no tomorrow! They performed their beloved thrash metal anthems with mania and drove us crazy. A heavy metal thunder crashed the stage, an anvil fell on our head and a band of metal thrashing mads brought hell on earth! The wisely-chosen setlist satisfied all the fans, who didn’t stop banging their heads, yelling and screaming. With a perfect sound, Anthrax knocked everything down and showed how metal music should be played – loud and solid. It was a fantastic experience to see Joey Belladona (a true metal maniac!), Scott Ian (respect!) and Charlie Benante (what a drummer!) on stage – three famous and distinguished personalities, a guarantee for an ideal metal concert. Anthrax played for almost 90 minutes of adrenaline, artistry and awe, and pleased everyone at Plateia Nerou. A concert to remember!

Anthrax said goodbye and all Disturbed fans were looking forward to seeing the American quartet. Around 23:00 an official video of Disturbed was projected on the video walls – David Draiman and his mates would soon appear on the stage of the festival. And yes, the first notes of “Are You Ready” were heard and the fans were paralysed. The modern metal icons were now in front of us and as they were playing their stuff, for the first time in Greece, we were so happy that this moment had come! I listen to Disturbed since the “Believe” album and this concert was a dream comes true for me – this wasn’t a dreamy concert though.

First of all, Disturbed seemed tired and not so fresh, everyone could understand that. But the band is on the road for a very long time, their numerous shows of course have their effect on them, both physically and mentally. They gave their best to amuse us, they gave all their energy and soul, especially on the acoustic ballads and the “Sound of Silence” cover, they were more than professionals.

Apart from that, their sound wasn’t satisfactory. The overall volume wasn’t so high - the sound of the bass guitar was prominent and the guitar and the drums should have been louder, especially in the first songs of the setlist. I wasn’t the only one who was a bit disappointed. To be frank, I wish that we had seen Disturbed on their own concert – I mean, not in a festival. Then we should judge them for their sound.

What is more, I didn’t like the vocals of Draiman. His vocal performance wasn’t so impressive as in the studio albums, sometimes I couldn’t hear what he was singing and generally, we didn’t take what we were expecting from him vocally. Another thing I would like to mention is that maybe the vocal result would be better if the band used more backing vocals.

These positive things surpassed the negative issues. And that happened, because Disturbed performed with soul, feeling, passion! The setlist was almost perfect, the band’s energy hit us between the eyes, the music and the lyrics mesmerized us. Disturbed rocked big time, besides that, they sent messages of love and peace and paid tribute to the musicians who didn’t manage to fight addiction and depression – “A Reason To Fight” and “Hold On to Memories” were sentimental moments, which touched everybody and encouraged us to fight and never give up/give in. And the cover of the “Sound of Silence” was wonderful.

To sum up, Disturbed and Anthrax performed excellently – all hell broke loose! There is no way that the sound problems could blacken the aforementioned unforgettable moments. We left the festival with a smile and a … reason to fight!

Dimitris Zacharopoulos