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!