The 22nd of June, 2022, was a celebration day for all heavy metal maniacs. We would see and hear the marching of the Kings of Metal, Manowar, crushing the enemies of metal. Of course, the program included also the female fronted metal of Meden Agan, the power metal fury of Rhapsody of Fire and the black metal storm of Rotting Christ. Yes, it was a metal feast, but let me tell you the whole story.

Meden Agan was the first group to perform. The Greek metal band tried to warm us up its fine modern gothic/symphonic metal. I had seen the band recently at the Ladies of Metal vol. 4 Festival, where they were fantastic. Τhis time they faced many sound problems, which didn’t let the fans enjoy the wonderful compositions of Meden Agan. You could easily tell that the band members were trying so hard to overcome the difficult circumstances and they really gave their best. As always, Dimitra Panariti’s nice vocal performance and Diman Koutsogiannopoulos’ guitar phrases were impressive. Meden Agan managed to win our warm applause.

Rhapsody of Fire was next. To be frank, I wasn’t expecting something big, something super-exciting from the Italians, since, years now, Fabio Lione and Luca Turilli are not in the band. Rhapsody of Fire gave a marvelous show though, and pleased all the fans, who had already come to Plateia Nerou. The band’s power metal was shockingly glorious, melodramatic and anthemic. All the ingredients that we once liked in the first Rhapsody of Fire albums were triumphantly present – the guitars were precise and sharp, Alex Staropoli’s keyboards were masterful and magical, the rhythm section was thick and compact and Giacomo Voli’s vocals sounded phenomenal. We all had fun and enjoyed the noble power metal songs of the Italian band. Songs like “Emerald Sword”, “Land of Immortals”, “Rain of Fury” and “Dawn of Victory” were enough to bring a power metal euphoria to the fans. We expected that the band would play more songs from the first two albums, however, Rhapsody of Fire were exceptional and didn’t let the sound problems bring them down!

And then it was the turn of Rotting Christ and its blasphemous black metal. As soon as the Greek black metal masters got up to the stage, it was obvious that the audience was excited. Sakis Tolis and company unleashed an unstoppable attack, playing perfectly their hymns. The general sound of the band was crystal clear, yet, the guitar sound was a bit blurry, but I believe that this is a decision of the band, not a sound problem. Rotting Christ, mature, frenetic and reckless, gave an exciting show at Plateia Nerou. Some people might notice that several Rotting Christ classics weren’t included in the setlist, but I think that overall, Rotting Christ’s concert was more than satisfactory. I personally didn’t like the graphic aspect of the show, but that’s my personal opinion. Rotting Christ made the best possible introduction to Manowar.

Joey DeMaio and his three bandmates appeared emphatically in front of a crazy audience of thousands some minutes after eleven o’ clock. The first song was “Manowar” and the grand “battle” began! The setlist was incredible, with many of Manowar's classics, such as “Dark Avenger”, “Defender”, “Sign of the Hammer”, “Gates of Valhalla”, “Battle Hymn”, “Hail and Kill”, “Warriors of the World United”, “Black Wind, Fire and Steel”, “Achilles, Agony and Ecstacy in Eight Parts: The Glory of Achilles”, “Holy War” etc. Yes, everybody has his favorite Manowar songs, however, the band can’t play all of them. With that on mind, I believe the setlist was ideal. Manowar played a dreamy concert, dedicated to all Manowarriors, with passion, conviction, tons of power and steel, and also impressing stage sets, effects, pyros etc. Epic, extraordinary, grandiose, over the top, Manowar’s appearance at Release Athens 2022 shall be remembered forever. The sound was very intense, crystal clear and loud, proving for another time that Manowar kill. All the members delivered the goods flawlessly - DeMaio didn’t spend many minutes for a speech and his bass solo was in his typical, very personal style, the new drummer (Dave Chedrick) and guitarist E. V. Martel played their instruments fine – some said and wrote that they didn’t smile during the show, but I don’t think their job is smiling! Even the doubters, who believe that Chedrick and Martel didn’t meet our expectations, should rethink why they were at this Manowar gig – of course, if you guys can play better, you should talk to DeMaio or send him a demo!

I didn’t speak about Eric Adams, until now – well, he was a god, performed so good that everybody was speechless, breathless! His voice is in such a good shape, he stood there singing like a vocal icon, and we all bowed to his majesty!!! Amazing …

Manowar played also the “Sword of the Highlands” and some highlights from the new song, based on Greek mythology, “The Revenge of Odysseus”, with the guest appearance of Chiara Tricarico (vocals, Moonlight Haze, Temperance). These were fantastic moments, which touched all the fans of the band.

In general, Manowar kicked ass, gave their best and sat again on the throne. They are the kings of metal, you know! This first metal day of Release Athens 2022 had everything, but mostly, it was a gift for all the warriors of the world, a litany of steel and metal that is true. I believe that, more or less, everybody left the place satisfied and happy. The loudest metal band in the world came, won and conquered us all!

Dimitris Zacharopoulos

Nick Cave. A great artist of the dark art, a gothic music icon, a legend of the alternative/indie music scene. Nick Cave, this famous musician, visited again Athens, Greece, for a unique live concert, in the frame of Release Athens Festival. I will put it straight – I am not a fan of Nick Cave, his music is not my cup of tea. This would be my first Nick Cave concert, so I didn’t know what to expect. Poor boy, you should say!

Loyal to the schedule, the band which started this day of the festival was Royal Arch. We are talking about a Greek band, which played its indie rock to a small crowd. Their performance was fine, their songs sounded interesting and they warmed us up. A nice beginning!

Sugar for the Pill was next. Again a Greek band, their indie rock/shoegaze set was satisfactory and they pleased the audience in Plateia Nerou, which audience was getting bigger and bigger.

The sun was setting, it was getting dark and it was the perfect time for Mogwai. The well-distinguished band from Glasgow hit the stage and I can say that they impressed me with their ambitious post rock. Their dreamy music forms beautiful soundscapes and its ventures, its ups and downs, its twists and tricks hold your attention. I am not a post-rock fan, but what I witnessed was truly amazing. This mysterious, mesmerizing post rock is the ideal soundtrack of modern life, the ideal music that encompasses our thoughts, our fantasies, our fears and desires. Mogwai shared their enchanting music with us and blew our minds. We were ready for Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds.

Nick Cave entered the stage and everyone got crazy in Plateia Nerou, which was now overcrowded. What I witnessed in his two-hour set was breathtaking. I saw and listened to a musician so passionate, so energetic, so sorrowful. Nick Cave laid down his soul on the stage of Plateia Nerou, he uncovered his inner self, he expressed his heart and mind, he mourned in front of us. This live show was a sacred moment, a musical, artistic moment which was engraved in our mind. It doesn’t matter which was the line-up of The Bad Seeds or which songs were performed that night. What matters is that Nick Cave and his band gave their best, gave their everything to us – and that was enthralling for all music aficionados, who were stacked packed like sardines to enjoy Nick Cave. I don’t remember the song titles, I remember that it was a fascinating concert, which explained to me why Nick Cave is considered such a great artist. His warm, heartfelt vocals touched me, shocked me, his wonderfully sung melodies were dramatic, theatrical, brought tears even to the strongest of his fans. This dark art, this dark gospel, this lunatic rock n’ roll came from another dimension, another world. And his band, apart from tight and precise, stood there, playing the music of our dreams, our nightmares. Nick Cave got “naked” for us and we appreciated that, opening our soul too. Yes, the communication between the artist and his audience was wonderful, life-changing. I have been in many live shows, but Nick Cave’s live confession was monumental, phenomenal.

I left the place full – full of melodies, full of messages, full of wonderful thoughts. You can name me a Nick Cave fan, even if I don’t know a goddamn song title. I admire now Nick Cave so much, I feel lucky I was there that night and I am looking forward for the next time. Into My Arms, o lord …

Dimitris Zacharopoulos

It was the first live concert of summer 2022 and for sure, it will belong to the best live concerts of that summer. I am talking about Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets concert in Athens, Greece, on the 4th of June. It was a call to all the fans of classic rock music in Athens, a reason for all of us to gather and celebrate.

Pink Floyd’s legendary drummer, Nick Mason, had announced his coming to Greece, in order to give a special show with his new band, which is playing the music from the early days of Pink Floyd, that means until the “Obscured by Clouds” album (1972). Every Pink Floyd fan knew what he had to do that night – of course, the fans of Pink Floyd would prefer a reunion of their favorite band, however, they would have the opportunity to enjoy the one and only Nick Mason in a pretty rare performance!

With these thoughts on my mind I arrived at the Technopolis of Athens at 19:00 p.m. and sat patiently at the long queue. The doors soon opened and I noted that there were seats for the fans in front of the stage – well, I believe that many people from the audience would need that seats some time after the concert’s beginning!

According to the schedule, the live show would start at 20.30 p.m. and indeed, some minutes later Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets entered the stage. The band begun with “One of These Days” and with that song we understood how amazing that show would be. I felt a shiver down my spine and within seconds I got lost in a psychedelic/progressive rock trip that ended two hours later!

Nick Mason sat behind his drum kit, in front of the legendary gong, and despite this age, he performed like he was a teenager! What is more, Nick Mason’ band played perfectly, being loyal to the original material, with so much passion and self-esteem – apart from being professionals, all the members showed how much they love the classic songs of Pink Floyd. It is not an exaggeration to say that the songs were performed like we listen to them on the records! The sound production was crystal clear and loud enough, the audiovisual show gave another dimension to the Pink Floyd classics, which sounded so enthralling under the Athenian sky!

 Nick Mason and his friends selected the set list wisely and conveyed us the mysteries of Pink Floyd’s music, all its genius, all its strange beauties! It was mind-blowing to listen to these consummate performances of Pink Floyd classics, it was so touching to listen to these psychedelic/progressive rock hymns, so shockingly nice to discover the live charm of these late sixties/early seventies songs. We listened to songs like “Echoes” (a magical moment!), “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”, “When You’re In”, “Atom Hear Mother”, “Interstellar Overdrive”, “Astronomy Domine”, “See Emily Play” etc., and the doors to new dimensions opened for us!

During two hours we admired the majesty of Pink Floyd’s music, we understood how the phenomenon of Pink Floyd began, we learned how British psychedelic/progressive rock started back in the late sixties. Nick Mason and his new band played for us only, the audience was more than satisfied and applause at the end of this fantastic show, with a standing ovation! Thank you so much Mr. Mason, it was an enchanting live show, which will never be forgotten! What a night!

Dimitris Zacharopoulos

 

Yiannis Manopoulos, mastermind of Thelemite, is one of the best, the most talented Greek guitarists. From his early, solo demos to the second album of Thelemite, Manopoulos has proved his excellent qualifications, which make him an absolute hero of the Greek heavy metal scene. I was really anxious to attend Thelemite’s live show in Athens, at the Level69 Live Studio on the 7th of May, 2022 – it is a pleasure to see Manopoulos performing live his great compositions. We arrived at 10.00 pm at the small venue and waited thirty minutes for the band to enter the stage. Despite my personal expectations that the venue would be crowdy, few metal fans had come to Level69, but that didn’t disappoint the band! Thelemite played like there were thousands of people – yes, Manopoulos and co. performed with passion and heart, they gave their everything for a perfect concert, they laid down their soul to the altars of metal! Every song, every moment of the set was pure bliss – the band enjoyed it and the fans had a great time listening to Thelemite’s furious and catchy classic heavy metal tunes! Manopoulos’ guitar playing was for another time amazing and flawless – but, apart from a guitar maestro, Manopoulos is a skilled singer, whose voice sounds so theatrical and melodramatic, a real frontman, who stands with confidence on stage. I was also impressed by the other members of the band – Zack Kotsikis is a great guitarist, bassist Nikos Michalakos knows what to play and when, and drummer Renos Lialioutis is an absolute driving force! Thelemite played for an hour and a half, picking songs from their two full-length albums (“Slave to Desire” and “Thelemism”) and covered marvelously five songs – Judas Priest and “Hell Bent for Leather” (with the historic participation of Manopoulos’ father on the guitar), Ozzy Osbourne and “Shot in the Dark”, Alice Cooper and “Bed of Nails”, Savatage and "Sirens", Manowar and “Thor (The Powerhead)”. The whole show was fantastic, a total classic metal blast and satisfied all the fans, who were there. Having seen Thelemite on stage, I can surely say: this band has everything needed to become a major act! Shall they pay attention to the very details and all the future is theirs. Bravo!

Dimitris Zacharopoulos

Photos by Elena Vasilaki

Having experienced a fantastic event, organized excellently by Angels PR and with the unique performances of the bands, we went to Holywood Live Stage with the expectation of a fine second day of the Ladies of Metal Festival volume four. We arrived ten minutes past eight o’ clock and saw Marialena on stage. I was a little confused, since according to the concert programme, the first band of the evening would be TV Witch, however, I was informed that the band had cancelled its appearance.

Marialena is a distinguished singer, who has released a nice debut album (“Prophecies”), full of symphonic metal highlights and marvelous operatic vocals. With a skilled live band behind her, Marialena sung passionately some of her best songs and satisfied the few fans, who had already come to the venue. Despite not being much-experienced as a live act, the Greek singer and her group were well-rehearsed and concentrated, convincing us to note down Marialena’s name  - I am pretty sure that we will soon hear very interesting things from her!

After this ideal beginning, we were warm enough for rest of the bands. Disillusive Play was next and I will put it straight – this modern melodic metal band gained a lot of fans that night, including me! Every moment of their show was more than satisfactory, they had the quality, the energy, the melodies and the feeling to conquer us all. I have the impression that Disillusive Play was the most fascinating band of the two days of the Festival – in terms of songwriting, musicianship and technique. Yes, the guitars were incredible, the vocals of Antigoni Kalamara were modest and sophisticated, the overall sound so heavy, clear and bright. I also liked the words, with which every song was introduced and generally, the interaction of the band with the fans. A spellbinding live show by Disillusive Play!

But the time for Barbara Black had come. I was so curious to see how Barbara is on stage and if she can reach her high studio performance and if see can produce all that energy and power that her songs have. I have said before that Barbara Black is a true metal lady, a furious rock n’ roll diva, who has everything under her command. Well, that night we understood that Barbara Black is all these things and much more! Her stage acting is gorgeous, her looks kill, she can sing just like in the album. It is not an exaggeration to say that Barbara Black is a music phenomenon, since every moment of her live show is electrifying and the Spanish frontwoman attracts every single one of the fans like a magnet! The band that supported Barbara worked as the perfect basis, on which she did her magical tricks! We tasted many of her thunderous hard n’ heavy songs and remembered again what a nice album “Love, Death and Flies” is. The audience was excited with the cataclysmic live set of Barbara Black, who left the stage in triumph.

Meden Agan was the headlining group of this second day of the fourth Ladies of Metal Festival. The venue was almost full, with the fans waiting impatiently for one of the most acclaimed female fronted metal bands of the Greek scene. As soon as the band appeared on stage, everyone went crazy with the super heavy, crystal clear and pompous sound of Meden Agan. The band’s modern gothic/symphonic metal songs, majestically performed, captured our complete attention and for almost an hour we enjoyed a unique, breathtaking live set. Although the band was a tight unit, Diman Koutsogiannopoulos on the guitar and Dimitra Panariti on vocals were the ones who stole the show – you could easily tell that Diman is a great player, a real virtuoso, and Dimitra has a fantastic voice, well-trained and beautifully shaped, which was combined with an excellent stage acting. The songs were wisely chosen, however, my personal favorite moment of the show was “The Purge” – that’s a hit! We listened also to some very interesting songs from Meden Agan’s upcoming album, and the band finished its set gloriously, with a warm applause from the fans.

The second day of the fourth Ladies of Metal Festival was an absolute success and ended with an enthralling epilogue; the metal ladies of that day gathered on stage and sang together a classic Nightwish song, “Ever Dream” – the best way to conclude a marvelous event! I would like to thank again Angels PR and Marian Nicolaou for organizing this incredible festival. The Greek scene needs such events, since the bands may reach a broader audience and the fans can experience fantastic moments of metal beauty! I am already looking forward for the next, fifth volume of Ladies of Metal Festival!

Dimitris Zacharopoulos