Last Friday was a day of high temperatures during the early hours and extremities during the night. Three significant bands of our scene (two of them are active more than a decade and the third one is a new promising entry) performed at An Club, where the main attraction was Karma Violens’ release show for “Serpent God”, their new, highly appraised opus. However, a few hours before the event, the band informed us that their second guitarist, Costas, would not participate due to an unexpected health issue; hence, my expectations for the proper performance of the new songs were rather low.

by Alex Nikolaidis

After a delay of half an hour, Aetherian, a new band from Athens, started their show. Until the day of the event, I was totally unaware of their music. However, I will surely make up for my mistake, as I was surprised pleasantly by their compositions. The band plays melodic death metal, apparently influenced by the Scandinavian scene, combining melodies and acoustic sections that bring forward thoughts of long distance travels, or melancholy, with appealing rhythmic parts. They played really tight, performing accurately and giving us their energy and positive mood, making the few people of the audience shake their heads rhythmically. Aetherian excelled in their lengthy songs, which feature multiple, different sections; in this respect, “Black Sails”, coming out of their first album “The Untamed Wilderness”, was the most sentimental and ass-kicking part of their show, causing a burst of applause by everyone in the venue.

Regarding Mortal Torment, any reference for them is unnecessary. This band combines two seemingly opposite concepts, “brutality” and “fun”, bonding them in a unique, loving box of amusement. This time, the guys showed us their summer mood, bringing on stage towels, a lifebelt and inflatable, plastic sea balls that they threw to the audience (the gigantic watermelon was absolutely cute). It was really funny hearing their extremely brutal death metal and seeing their fans throwing the balls to each other, during moshing or stage diving. Their performance left no neck intact; crushing drumming, hellish riffing and –above all- the deep growling Nakos’ voice got the place into a mess. I always have fun watching the band’s frontman spitting his guts out and never stop moving, going constantly from one point to another and making sarcastic comments between songs. Unfortunately, serious technical damage occurred that interrupted the show for about twenty minutes. However, when the equipment was restored, the band started again in the same manner, without seeming annoyed or out of rhythm. We look forward to more surprises –and brutality as well- in the imminent future.

Karma Violens, the last act of the event, stayed on stage for 70 minutes, focusing on “Serpent God”. The band, due to its numerous concerts throughout all these years, either as headliners or as supporting act, has developed an undoubted confidence, which was evident from the very first moment. Despite the absence of one guitarist, even at a special event for them, like the release of a new album, they performed without the slightest glimpse of constraint or uncertainty, being absolutely professionals, tight and extreme as usual. Each one of the four remaining members did his best, contributing to our amusement; as for Marios, his vocal abilities are obvious and well-known for everyone who has seen the band on stage (I have already commented on his abilities on my recent review). Of course, the new songs (especially “Dark Morel”) lost some of their diversity and atmosphere without the solos; however, I am sure that they would sound absolutely stunning with a full line-up. “Serpent God” was the ideal opening for the show, casting its darkness and heaviness on the venue, while “Blood Aurora” was the ideal ending, with Marios screaming desperately. In total, the band performed 6 songs of the last album, proving that they are willing to rely on their new material, without omitting their first two releases.

We all had a great time seeing these bands; however, low attendance was the negative aspect of the event. I had the impression that Karma Violens would attract many fans to the venue, since “Serpent God” received positive appraisals until now. On the contrary, only 100-130 people were present. Where were the others? If we want to have great Greek bands in our city, let’s support them.

Karma Violens setlist 

  1. Serpent God
  2. Sons of Destruction
  3. Si Vis Vitam Para Mortem
  4. Floating in Sadness
  5. Bloodbath
  6. Animal
  7. Dark Morel
  8. Christian Lovers Made Me Do It
  9. Full Dose of Hate
  10. The Constractors
  11. Headstrong vs Progress
  12. Raining Blood (Slayer cover)
  13. The Sun I Never Had
  14. Blood Aurora

 

On Tuesday, April 24, 2018, at 18:00, the Philippos Nakas Conservatory, located in the center of Athens, held the Guitar Clinic Seminar of our beloved Gus G, founder and mastermind of the amazing Greek power metallers Firewind.

People began to gather early in the really beautiful amphitheater of the Conservatory. If I had calculated correctly, we should have been at least 200 people, most of them being students and teachers of the conservatory, fans of Gus G and Firewind, as well as families with very young children. It is worth noting that the entrance to the event was free, offered by the Conservatory Philippos Nakas in collaboration with Jackson Guitars Official.

People welcomed Gus with a loud prolonged applause, several yells and cheers, and he responded with a very warm smile saying jokingly that he felt like he was in a concert. I was once again impressed by this great artist who, above all, showed he was a gentle and simple man. He was accessible, friendly and available to answer all of our questions, many of which concerned technical issues related to the equipment he used, ways of learning and studying the guitar, secrets that could help a new guitarist, but also more personal questions about his life, Ozzy and Firewind.

At this point I would like to mention that Gus was accompanied by his friend and collaborator at Firewind, Bob Katsionis, who was involved several times in the chat. I want to emphasize that both showed great respect to the audience, without a trace of obstinacy, friendly enough. I really wish that they continue with their musical journey and give us several creative moments in the future.

Apart from the chat, however, there was also the music that everyone enjoyed -Gus played songs by Firewind and his personal career, in his unique way, raising people off their seats. Reference was made to Jackson's new guitars, which were really gorgeous and especially to the Custom Model specifically designed for him.

But all the good things, unfortunately, end and Gus G said goodbye to us all, one to one, signing autographs and taking pictures, tireless, smiling, just incredible. We thank him and all those who have contributed to this, I hope in the future to see again such other events.

Nikos Arvanitis

 

We arrived at The Temple with high expectations, since Enemy of Reality is a band known for its quality music and live shows. Yet, the night proved to be more than interesting. But let’s explain things.

The special guests of the event were Fortis Ventus, a female fronted metal band that released its first EP last year. Fortis Ventus entered the stage at 21.45 and played a show of forty-five minutes. I was introduced to the band with this gig and I admit that they gave me the best impressions. They played some of their own songs plus some covers, which was enough for them to conquer the audience and win its applause. Their songs sounded beautiful, with some catchy melodies and riffs, which were topped by the awesome female operatic vocals. In my opinion, they should tighten more their rhythm section, but overall, they give promises for a bright future. Can’t wait to hear their debut album!

As said before, I expected a nice show from Enemy of Reality and that’s what exactly they offered us. A fantastic live show, which lasted one hour and fifteen minutes. Their sound was loud and strong, the guitar sound was wonderfully mixed with the drums and bass, and Iliana Tsakiraki performed excellently. Her operatic vocals can be compared only with the vocals of the distinguished foreign frontwomen, her theatrical way leaves you speechless, her persona is something extraordinary that is lacking from many other bands. And how powerful and pompous their songs are! Apart from the breath-taking vocals, the guitar riffs and solos added a lot to the final sonic attack of Enemy of Reality. Frankly, I believe that this band will get bigger and bigger during the next years. They have the all the advantages to continue and make the world of melodic and symphonic power/speed metal their own.

We left the venue with a huge smile, having seen two top female fronted metal bands, which know how to rock. A stunning live show that won’t be easily forgotten!

Dimitris Zacharopoulos

Kaleo's debut album ‘A/B' was a nice surprise for every listener who admires well-crafted and inspired pop and rock music. Their songs were popular also in Greece, so we weren't surprised when their live show in Athens was announced. Unfortunately, due to a health problem of the band's singer, the gig was delayed for some months. In the middle of December 2017, Kaleo played live for us and they took us by storm. Before the Icelandic band, Angelika Dusk was on stage and won our applause, her songs were indifferent though. Kaleo had the nerve and dynamics to amaze everybody in the venue. The sound engineers were very careful in their job and the sonic result was very loud and clear. I don't know what people expected from Kaleo, however, the band's passionate performance sounded solid and heavy. Their mix of folk, blues, rock, and pop is so genuine and thrilled the Greek fans, whose warm response satisfied the musicians. Well, it's very important for a newcomer band to get this positive feedback from the audience, from the young people who know every lyric and sing along. Kaleo played all the songs of their debut album plus the unbelievable cover of ‘Bang, Bang' (a Cher hit, whose Nancy Sinatra version is also famous). I expected the band to play some new unreleased songs, but that didn't happen. Therefore, the gig lasted a bit longer than an hour – it was a wonderful hour of fine music. Having witnessed this live show, I am waiting with much anticipation the next full-length album of the band from Iceland.

Dimitris Zacharopoulos

Nowadays there are still some principles for the somewhat more romantic of the wider metal scene. There are some bands that - rightly or wrongly – have laid the foundations to what we call European power metal. The phantasmagoric "Pumpkins United" tour of the "reunited" Helloween kicked off in South America and continued in Europe, in order to conquer the world.

As soon as it was confirmed that Helloween wouldn’t, unfortunately, visit our country (Greece) during their "Pumpkins United" tour, I immediately decided to travel to watch them live in Bulgaria. This special tour includes all current members of the band with the addition of Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen. Even Ingo Schwichtenberg, the original drummer of the band, who passed away in 1995 and left a big gap, is a part of this tour: Helloween honor Ingo with a drum solo, without using a hologram and stuff, with Dani Löble adding some parts.  When we arrived in Sofia, the temperature was ten degrees Celsius colder than in Athens, at least it wasn’t snowing like the previous days. A morning walk in the center of the city and Vitosa Street was absolutely necessary – the Christmas decorations were very beautiful and the city was much cleaner than Athens. I arrived at the venue around seven o’ clock (the doors would open at 19.30) and finally, around eight o’clock, after the intro (which was Robbie Williams’ “Let Me Entertain You”), the show began, with the band members entering the stage under the epic sounds of “Halloween” – it is an outstanding selection of the band to begin with that song, and every fan that grew up with albums like the “Keepers” feels a thrill of emotion. “Dr. Stein” is the second track, Kiske’s performance is triumphant and already with the first songs the clouds of “pre-recorded vocals” were dissolved. The band chose then to continue with “I Am Alive”: Kai Hansen has now the leading role and the three guitars sound perfect. One of the highlights of the show were the small intervals with the animation videos of Seth and Doc on the video wall, which stood at the background and it worked as a special scenery, which reflected the characteristic graphic arts and the humor of Helloween. Andi Deris was smiling as he always is, playing with the audience as he always does, and performed with much comfort all the songs of his era, but also the songs from the ‘80s – the lyrical “If I Could Fly” and “Are You Metal?” (yes, we are!) came next and I found the time to catch a beer. Thus, Deris and Kiske sang alternately all the big Helloween classics and songs like “Kids of the Century”, “Perfect Gentleman”, “Why”, “I Can”, “Power” and “Waiting for the Thunder”. The setlist covered all the Helloween eras, from the first EP (“Helloween”) to the “My God-Given Right” album. Being a grown-up who listened first to the “Keepers” albums, I felt I was traveling back in time. It was a great pleasure for every metalhead to listen to “Starlight/Ride the Sky/Judas” (“Walls Of Jericho” era) and “How Many Tears”. Of course, time didn’t stop and all became older, however, the magic is still present and it is still awesome to listen to such metal classics, after so many years! Another amazing thing with this “reunited” line-up is that the three guitars work so fantastically well (the sound is full of powerful riffs),  and what is more, the rhythm section is solid and impressive (the drums sound like a bomb and the bass-lines of Markus Grosskopf are incredible). On this solid basis, Deris and Kiske performed brilliantly, especially when they were both on stage, singing in a duet. I never felt that they were competing each other, to show for example that the one is better than the other, they proved a perfect complement to the music of Helloween. I was also impressed by the excellent vocals of Kiske – they guy sings wonderfully after so many years! In my humble opinion, he is one of the most significant singers in heavy metal music – as he said towards the end of the show, “I lost my hair, not my voice too”. Time of some beer again, and I am back for the first encore: on “Eagle Fly Free” we felt that we were eagles flying in the sky, we came into a state of a heavy metal nirvana. I personally felt my legs lighter, I felt wings growing on my back! Following this, Helloween played their almost 14-minute opus, “Keeper of the Seven Keys”: the shiver I felt could shake the waters of the Seven Seas! Then, we had the second encore, during which I had a bittersweet feeling, realizing that this amazing experience would come to an end … The Grand Finale included two other classics - "Future World" and “I Want Out”. These two Helloween hits were the best way for the band to say us goodbye, with big pumpkin balloons and confetti. After almost three hours we left the venue thrilled, exited and with a nostalgic feeling. Generally speaking, we understand now that the decision of the Helloween to embark to this “Pumpkins United” tour was brilliant. We were lucky enough to witness a triumphant evening, with which Helloween showed how to organize a worthy “reunion”. All the musicians enjoyed every minute of this live show and all the fans got what they were expecting for so many years with anticipation – the full “Helloween package”!

It was a wonderful night, the best live gig of 2017 in my opinion. I am sure that if the “reunited” Helloween played in Athens, Greece, all hell would break loose! What remains now, is that a miracle happens and some promoters change their minds, in order the Greek fans to enjoy what they are dreaming about: a “Pumpkins United” live show in Greece!

Sakis "Dio" Sofianos