There is no match for the sensation you get from a fan oriented metal festival. A place full of friends and acquaintances, packed with people who love music. Great ambience, opportunity for chat and of course the joy of a live performance. Demon’s Gate presented itself as a great opportunity for all of the above and it didn’t prove me wrong.

I was there early enough to catch the Meden Agan performance. I cannot be considered as the female fronted slash symphonic oriented metal expert but some things are too obvious to ignore. Dimitra Panariti is an excellent choice for the vocalist position. She delivers the ideal cross between the operatic style and the heavy metal approach and attitude while singing loud and with full control. The rest of the band was loud and clear too, perhaps too loud in places, but I was very content with the fact that all instruments were equally represented in the mix. It turned out that this was a Kyttaro thing since all bands presented a nice and balanced sound. So credit must go out to the experienced sound engineer of the venue.


Doomocracy from Crete just confirmed that the band is a valuable asset not only for the Greek scene but a phenomenon that can and should spread worldwide. They are lawful and acknowledged children of Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus and the fact was solidified by the cover version of the song that gave its name to the festival, Demon’s Gate. Michael Stavrakakis owns an impressive siren-like voice and could easily deliver crushing power metal performances as well. 


The band that followed catapulted me many years back and reminded me how significant Orama was for the 18 year-old Kostas back in 1997. I might have lost contact with On Thorns I Lay but by witnessing some of these songs I found out that their effect on me remained unscathed. I was also surprised to find out that the songs from the most recent album Aegean Sorrow that made it to the set were overflown with Orama vibes. I think that it’s time to look past the first three albums mark.


60 minutes of Sorcerer could never be enough. Unfortunately the old classics where absent (except the same titled anthem) since the band decided to focus on recent (but excellent nevertheless) material. Anders Engberg owns a powerful voice and his delivery was amazing but guitarist Kristian Niemann (ex Therion) shined a bit brighter. He has an excellent guitar tone and a killer left hand and he literally tortured his Solar fretboard. During Exorcise the Demon we were shoved solos down our throats relentlessly. I think that the band owns us a headline show and a chance to demolish the place properly.


The lights went dim, the tempo dropped dramatically and Danish Vikings Saturnus enshrouded Kyttaro with their melancholic Doom Death aura. I cannot be considered a fan and I had a feeling that their long songs would eventually tire me but on the contrary their set had nice flow and a charm that brought old Anathema greatness (Crestfallen and Serenades era) to mind.


The time had come for the undisputed star of the festival. The controversial but iconic Eric Clayton. An artist that left his undisputed mark on the metallic 90s, struggled with personal demons, used his art as means of exorcism but eventually retired (temporarily) defeated. The news of his return brought nothing but smiles to all of us branded by his art and our desire for a return to Greek soil was realized through Demon’s Gate festival. I will start from the trivial things. The band that accompanied him, although professional to the bone, at times seemed unable to replicate this enchanting Saviour Machine feeling. The sound had its ups and downs mostly during the start of the set and the set itself featured two covers and two new compositions but the majority was Saviour Machine I & II. The main concern though was Clayton’s delivery. And that was the point that tipped the balance towards an overall successful performance. The preacher from the City of (fallen) Angels managed to enchant the crowd. Either with his deep and heartbreaking voice or with his interpretive movements, performing on his knees addressing the crowd as well as unseen empyrean entities. On a personal note I didn’t quite experience that transcending feeling that I so much desired. I was moved, connected, reminisced but eventually didn’t receive that special factor X that would elevate my whole experience to soaring heights.
The first edition of this new institution was definitely a success. Demon’s Gate made a roaring entry in the festival scene and the guys behind it can definitely count on our support. We wish many more instalments in the future to come. A future that already looks promising since Demon’s Gate II will take place on 26/9/2020 and the first names have already brought loads of enthusiasm. I am talking about Memory Garden and the special bond they have forged with the Greek audience through the years and the mighty Tiamat that signed for a special Clouds/Wildhoney set. The starlight is fading to black, into the Demon’s Gate!

Kostas Kounadinis

Photos: Petros Petalas