Doomsword, Slauter Xstroyes and more at An Club (2010)

An Club (Athens, Greece)

Doomsword, Slauter Xstroyes, Enforcer, Overdrive, Atlantean Kodex, Dexter Ward, In Solitude, Raging Storm
DAY 2 Was late enough entering An Club and defunct-but-soon-to-roll-again Greek Heavy metallers RAGING STORM […]
By Grigoris Chronis
March 6, 2010

DAY 2

Was late enough entering An Club and defunct-but-soon-to-roll-again Greek Heavy metallers RAGING STORM had just finished their set. Sorry guys…

IN SOLITUDE

Had seen IN SOLITUDE playing live at 2009's edition of 'Keep It True' fest and – along with the good impression of their debut self-title CD – the band's energy was all I ever wanted. Same thing here in Athens, Greece: creating an occult atmosphere IN SOLITUDE stormed in with "In The Darkness" and it was a good shock to see extremely young Sweds banging to their own excellent vintage music setting the hall on fire quite early in the evening. Their MERCYFUL FATE-meets-early-JUDAS PRIEST style is still loved in countries like Greece and songs like "Witches Sabbath" or "Hidden Dangers" lit up the candle of congregation for fans of 'evil' old Metal music. The sound was fuzzy enough at times but none seemed to wonder; the band was to "blame" for this, too, since they were so alive and dynamic on stage it was quite hard to stand still to their riffing and pounding. Overall, a very good set by IN SOLITUDE whose upcoming album we anxiously look forward to hear. Not to forget, their 'cult' exodus from the stage is a trademark for IN SOLITUDE; do not feel shocked or let-down or angry or whatever…

DEXTER WARD

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It's a weird name for a band, or am I missing something? Anyway, DEXTER WARD is a new project formed by erstwhile BATTLEROAR members also featuring musicians from other Athenian bands like AIRGED L'AMH or BLOODSTAINED. This 'first' official presentation of the band (they also performed a sample at the fest's warm-up show a couple of days earlier) was somehow…weird. Not bad at all (omitting the dreadful sound in one guitar amp) but not quite clear on the band's paths to follow. Enough of simple American 80s Metal with a hardrockin' edge was the base, anyway, with some accurate Halford-ish vocals and enough work to be done in the drums section or maybe that's just the logical losses of a fresh band. From the band's own numbers I loved "Double Dragon"; a promo EP was on sale from the band and I grabbed a copy to focus a little bit more into their stuff. Two 'cult' cover takes were featured in the menu, too – CIRITH UNGOL's "Go It Alone" (love this tune!) and IRON MAIDEN's "Twilight Zone". Let's see what the future brings for this act.

ATLANTEAN KODEX (this link will open in a new window)" target="_blank" href="http://www.myspace.com/atlanteankodex" rel="nofollow">ATLANTEAN KODEX

The Germans had made enough of impression with their first set of splits/EPs in the underground European Metal scene. Being around for 4 years, ATLANTEAN KODEX performs a sting of melodic Epic/Heavy Metal focusing on swords, sorcery, legends and other MANOWAR-meets-BATHORY stuff you can assume. Big thing, though, is that their performance at this year's 'Up The Hammers' festival was quite inspiring. They had a very good sound by their side, their onstage appearance was flawless and their set was a total ode to Valhalla that drove marching/epic Metal fans crazy. Not being familiar with the band's setlist (I heard they also played a REVEREND BIZZARE cover), let's just say that ATLANTEAN KODEX confirmed they are a semi-hot act for the 'true' European Metal standards and a normal full album should be out in the near future to keep the band's name memorable. Something else to be mentioned is that the musicianship of the band and the chemistry between the members was thick as a brick; a very good set, overall.

OVERDRIVE

The second NWOBHM band to participate in the 2010 installment of 'Up The Hammers' festival, OVERDRIVE was – I believe – the least desired act to spend time with that evening. Don't get me wrong, this does not have to do with the British quartet's performance but rather with the band's recognition in Greece (or anywhere else, I guess, out of Britain). I, myself, was looking forward to their set since both the "On The Run" (1981) 7" single plus their 'reunion' duo of "On Wizard's Edge" and "Three Corners To Nowhere" albums are believed to be very good samples of British hard/heavy music. Hence, flirting with the coldness of a generous portion of the crowd, OVERDRIVE played generally well and – omitting some not that crucial in the drums parts – showed they still have the guts to play their music. The keys parts were a good addition to the live set (featuring numbers like "Nuclear Bomb" or the 1981 B-side cut "Nightmare"), but could have been diminished (sorry!) while playing more straightforward tunes like e.g. "On The Run". Also, cheerz to Tim Hall (keyborads) for treating whiskey like a real man!

ENFORCER (this link will open in a new window)" target="_blank" href="http://www.myspace.com/enforcerswe" rel="nofollow">ENFORCER

This was the winner (firepower-wise) of the second day, if not of the whole fest. ENFORCER is a fresh act from Sweden that – like a wise friend said – can set a venue on Metal fire the way that fellow young Australians AIRBOURNE does it in the Hard Rock scene. And truth is for 45 minutes the whole An Club was banging along to the Speed/NWOBHM numbers of the Swedish band's one and only "Into The Night" album (they are currently working on their follow-up, having just inked deal with Earache Records). The energy this young quintet unleashed was non stop and it was a tough decision not to bang your head to the sounds of bombers like "Mistress From Hell", "Into The Night", "Speed Queen", "On The Loose" and "Scream Of The Savage". The sound was quite loud hence having some "what's going on now?" moments but if we accept the verdict that in this kind of Metal it's "the louder the better" then…turn up to ten! I believe singer/mainman Olof Wikstrand should amend his singing/breathing ways in order to preserve his impressive singing level, but that was a detail during their thunderous set. A new song was played ("Roll The Dice") and – to sum it up – ENFORCER were the young ones teaching a lesson on how a classic Metal live should be given. Let it loose!

SLAUTER XSTROYES

Is this US band still around, really? Woah…These 'cult' 80s Metal heroes was maybe the biggest surprise-meets-anticipation addition to the Greek fest. And, to cut along story short, SLAUTER XSTROYES raised the standards very high on regards to how epic/technical/prog Metal music should be played. Even without the participation of the mighty John Stewart behind the mic (the singer who replaced him delivered the goods very well!) we were surely Xstroyed by the band's skills, playing and sound that evening. The bass lines of Brent Sullivan were a total killer while Paul Kratky took no prisoners in the guitars section. The whole band was in ass-kicking mood and An Club rewarded this excellence with nonstop headbanging to the sound of galloping hymns from both the mythical "Winter Kill" 1985 EP (one song withdrawn?) and "Free The Beast" 1998 CD; "Black Rose And Thorns", "Winter Kill" and "Wicked Bitch", to name a few. A new track – "Voodoo"? – was on the list, too, but did not offer much of a memorable vibe I'm afraid. Nuff said: a really powerful "shut your mouth up!" piece of live set by these long defunct but high-esteem American masters.

DOOMSWORD (this link will open in a new window)" target="_blank" href="http://www.myspace.com/officialdoomsword" rel="nofollow">DOOMSWORD

If it wasn't for the mediocre sound and average vocals, we'd be talking bout an exploding performance. And this because both DOOMSWORD and the crowd were willing to march on nonstop. The Italians had been in Greece some years ago again, but they have such a core following in my country that they could be playing for hours and hours if asked to. Enlisting the services of Gianluca Silvi (BATTLE RAM) the Italian epic metallers delivered a 90-minute set full of warrior madness, marching rhythms and epic atmosphere few bands have created/preserved in the European Metal circuit the last decade. The songlist was ideal (featuring epics - from all albums - like "Sacred Metal", "Warbringers", "Swords Of Doom", "Onward Into Battle", "For Those Who Died With Sword In Hand", "Resound the Horn", "Heathen Assault", "In the Battlefield", "Steel Of My Axe", "Days Of High Adventure") and made the whole club go frenzy with their tempos lunacy and neat onstage attitude. Yeap, Deathmaster's vocals – if judged hard – were not that striking but he's such an honest performer and the musical parts were more than good that nobody bothered eventually. "The Siege" was the band's encore and there were times the atmosphere was so emotional you could really feel a warrior's lament…

This year's 'Up The Hammers' fest probably wasn't the more majestic one, but that's side details in regards to the big picture: a fest made by fans for fans was a success and people from other Greek areas plus visitors from enough European countries were once again present. And that's a hopeful thing to have in any way. Really hope the fest will move to higher standards – without losing its identity, though.

P.S.: As we speak, already announced names for the 2011 edition of 'UTH' fest include legendary US legions RUTHLESS, British NWOBHM monsters JAGUAR, America's WHILEHEAVENWEPT, Dutch 80s cult metallers MARTYR, Swiss warriors EMERALD and Greek doomsters WISHDOOM.

(misty photos by Grigoris)

IN SOLITUDE

DEXTER WARD

ATLANTEAN KODEX

OVERDRIVE

ENFORCER

SLAUTER XSTROYES

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