When the announcement of this year’s Chania Rock Festival was made, it was really a no brainer if we were gonna attend the two-day festival or not! The guys behind the organization of the festival are doing a phenomenal job all these years and so all we have to do is to support this endeavor that –trust me- takes a lot of hard work, tireless efforts, money and knowledge to pull it off! This year, the bands were significant and diverse so everybody had a reason to attend the festival. But let’s take things from the very beginning…
Saturday July the 16th
The setting of the festival, right beside the old harbor of the island of Chania provided the ideal scenery and impressed all the bands of the bill! If only the wind was not as wild as it was during these two days, things could be far better and easier (for bands, attendees and crew). With the schedule and the running order of the bands being kept intact throughout the event, the Greek outfit of Diviner opened the festival with the crowd gathering up slowly yet steadily. The traditional metallers presented songs from their debut album “Fallen Empires” and proved why they are regarded as one of the best “new” bands (of course, “new” is written in brackets as its members are veterans of the scene. “Evilizer”, “Come Into My Glory”, “Riders From The East” and “The Shadow And The Dark” stood out from an overall flawless show and we couldn’t have hoped for a better star as Diviner put on quite a performance!
Up next was the much beloved Praying Mantis who once again had absolutely no problem whatsoever in playing the majority of their classic debut “Time Tells No Lies”. Unfortunately, the 90s era was neglected but we keep Tino Troy’s word that Mantis will make it up for us in their next headlining show. The absolute highlight of the Mantis show was John Cuijpers’ stage presence and unbelievable vocal abilities! My God, what a voice! The closing numbers of “Children of the Earth” and “Captured City” were amazing and the fans kept asking for more after the end of the show.
Cutting Crew proved to be the paradox and the band that didn’t fit at all in the festival. Their Chicago-esque style didn’t win many fans over who nevertheless sang along the lines of the classic hit of “I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight”. The cover tunes of “The One I Love” (REM) and “Play With Fire” (The Rolling Stones) didn’t raise many eyebrows either…
And if Cutting Crew didn’t deliver the goods (at least not as much as we would have hoped for), Rotting Christ blew our minds and this comes from someone who is not one of their fans! This was one hell of a show with a unique dark atmosphere, a flawless stage show and production and with Sakis Tolis being the undisputed frontman of a well-oiled metal machine! Rotting Christ proved for the umpteenth time why they are (and will always be) the most important and significant Greek heavy metal band…ever! Their heroic black metal style won over even the most reserved (or even, negative fan) and everybody left speechless with the band’s immaculate professionalism. “Athanati Este”, “Societas Satanas”, “Nemecic”, “Grandis Spiritus Diavolos” and “Elthe Kyrie” stood out from a sensational Rotting Christ show.
The headliner of the day was none other than Therapy? that had the seemingly insurmountable task of following up Rotting Christ’s bombastic performance. Therapy? did an OK job but they couldn’t really keep up and I guess that was quite obvious. The Joy Division cove tune of “Isolation” and the 90s MTV hit “Nowhere” were the highlights of their show.
Sunday, July the 17th
Greek old school thrashers Exarsis was the opening act of the second day and proved that they are rightfully considered one of the finest representatives of the genre as the band’s systematic work has led to a considerable level of progress. Despite the fact that they had a limited scheduled time (30-minute set), the guys did an excellent job with singer Nick J. Tragakis being a great frontman and bassist Chris Poulos being a worthy successor of…Frank Bello with his imposing stage presence (he even climbed down the stage and took part in a circle pit with the fans!). “Toxic Terror”, “Skull & Bones” and “Under Destruction” were the highlights of their show.
Crazy Lixx played for the very first time on Greek soil and that was the main reason for many people who travelled from many places outside of Chania just to see them live on stage. The band’s 9-song set might have been short but on the other was sufficient enough to show why Crazy Lixx is now one of the hottest hard rock names in the world. “Hell Raising Women”, “Sound Of The Loud Minority”, “Blame It On Love”, “Heroes Are Forever” and “21 Til I Die” are monster tracks and I don’t believe that there was even one fan that left unsatisfied after Crazy Lixx’ performance.
Mystic Prophecy that followed put on a really good show with RD Liapakis being absolutely amazing behind the mic. We should be really proud of this band as they are holding high and proud the Greek heavy metal flag around the world. Mystic Prophecy has managed all these years to create their own musical identity and their show at the Chania Rock Festival was once again qualitative and well-crafted. “Killhammer”, “We Kill! You Die!”, “The Crucifix” and they anthemic “Metal Brigade” stood out from an overall brilliant performance by Mystic Prophecy.
Danny Vaughn’s Tyketto decided to present live the entire first album and what a fine decision that was! Naturally, they played it from the end all the way through the beginning of the album because –as Danny himself jokingly said – that if they played right from the start the classic hit “Forever Young” then everyone would leave the venue as the rest of the show would not have been as important. As a matter of fact, he dedicated the song to himself as he just turned 55 (!) but let me tell you that his voice is still as good (or even better) as it was back in 1991. He said that Tyketto will release a new album in October via Frontiers Records.
The absolute headliner of the festival was non other than Kreator that came, played, tore the place apart and in the end left us with our voice completely lost and our body dehydrated after 85 minutes of pure thrash mayhem! Mille Petrozza has given emphasis in the last few years to the overall stage presence of the band (quite rare, if you ask me, for a thrash act) and it was really quite evident why Kreator is the best German (if not European) thrash band. With a more or less expected set list, although we were pleasantly surprised with the addition of “Betrayer” and “Extreme Aggression”, Kreator satisfied both new and old fans with such songs as “Enemy of God”, “Phantom Antichrist”, “Civilization Collapse”, “Hordes of Chaos”. Needless to point down what went on during “Phobia” with everybody singing along and the majestic Greek-style mosh pits (especially during “Pleasure To Kill”, “Flag of Hate” and “Violent Revolution”).
And this is how the two-day festival came to its very end. The amazing organization, the number of significant metal bands of various genres, the…encore at the Avalon club afterwards and the all in all heavy metal atmosphere in the island of Chania were the absolute highlights of this event that every self-respected metal fan should support. I really hope next year more people will attend the event…trust me; they won’t regret it!
Photos: Giorgos Koukoulakis