12th of October 1997. Hammerfall has just released its debut album and as a rapidly ascending metal force, the band tours alongside Gamma Ray visiting Athens for one unique show. 13th of December 2015.

More than 18 years have passed and the Swedish band makes its second appearance on Hellenic ground, this time for its own headline show with Elvenking as the supporting act. Before describing what took place on stage, I would like to lay down a few words for this important act. I may not be the band’s biggest fan but I was always positive towards its music and overall course. A modest band that always stayed on the spotlight with its musical accomplishments and not with intrigue and gossip. Hammerfall kicked off in a difficult time, was faced with suspiciousness and skepticism from some people and media but its persistence led to a 20 year long career and 9 studio albums. And I can surely say that the Hammerfall success did good to the classic metal scene in general while with its cover versions the band shed light to many forgotten bands of the past, helping some of them to resurrect their careers.

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I found myself inside Fuzz club, ready to recall memories of 1997 and to make comparisons between a band that at the time was taking its first steps and is currently a household name. Elvenking from Italy opened the show with an awful sound as an immediate drawback. I had to work my way to different places inside the venue trying to find a better spot. Finally I got to the front were there was a slight improvement. The band’s style is not my my cup of tea. I can’t say that Folk metal excites me even though the band has incorporated sleaze elements and believe me I know how strange this sounds. The prerecorded backing vocals made a bad impression since it’s something that I particularly observe in most concerts. I don’t think that it’s such a big deal for a couple of band members to actually use their voices instead of lip syncing here and there. Especially such an experienced band like Elvenking with 8 studio albums in its 15 year long career should pay more attention to detail. Despite the drawbacks, the audience received the guys with enthusiasm and I can’t say I didn’t have a good time listening to some of the band’s popular songs alongside cuts from the recent The Pagan Manifesto album.

Setlist: The Scythe, I Am The Monster, Runereader, Elvenlegions, Pagan Revolution, Grandier Funeral Pyre, The Wanderer, Moonbeam Stone Circle, The Divided Heart, Neverending Nights, The Loser

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The time had come for the honored guests. From the very start Hammerfall showed its class. With a crystal clear sound, they effortlessly blew the roof of the almost full venue. Constantly in motion, cheerful and with the caliber of a truly great band, Hammerfall presented a setlist that honored the band’s entire career while Child of the Damned was added as a special gift for the Athenian audience since Athens was the very last stop of a yearlong tour. Cans is the perfect frontman, enthusiastic and great with his communication with the audience while the triple string attack of Larsson, Norgren and Dronjak perfectly coordinated and synchronized filled the entire stage with no particular effort at all. Time literally flew. Even if the show was an additional 90 minutes long, the audience would continue cheering, singing and banging without a pause. It didn’t take a Hammerfall fan to realize that what appeared on the Fuzz venue stage was a truly great metal act. 18 years after this first show and still the same enthusiasm and love for what they are doing. Can’s promises at the end of the show were a new album in one year’s time and a return to Greece. I am pretty sure that he will honor both.

Kostas Kounadinis

Setlist: Hector’s Hymn, Any Means, Renegade, Bloodbound, Heeding The Call, Let The Hammer Fall, Live Life Loud, 400 Meter Medley, Threshold, Last Man Standing (WATCH VIDEO), Glory To The Brave (WATCH VIDEO), Child Of The Damned, Hammefall, Templars Of Steel, Bushido, Hearts On Fire (WATCH VIDEO)

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