Life is simple, a few good friends, some things we love and good health to be able to enjoy all of the above. But the ongoing pandemic has completely messed things up for all of us the last 17 months and one of the first things we lost were the live concerts. So, a big gap established (in all forms of art) and we are still waiting to get fixed (not that we actually see the light at the edge of the tunnel but let’s keep hope alive). That’s why the efforts of the organizers to keep alive Horns Up Festival this year was more important than any other time, because they are dedicated fans themselves too and they knew that this festival would give the chance to some bands to get on stage after a long time but also for the fans to experience again how it feels to be part of a live concert, an experience that can’t be replaced by any live streaming.
But before this year’s festival came alive the organizers had to go through a lot but they made it out and the result was more than successful as they managed to follow the health protocol 100%. The open amphitheater in the byzantine castle of Trikala is a beautiful place to watch a music festival. We also enjoyed the beers in between each band’s perfomance (great prices by the way). Like last year the festival lasted only one day with a billing that had six greek bands. The organizers couldn’t add extra day or include bands from abroad due to Covid but they added some other events (an acoustic set the day after, daytrips near Trikala) for those who wanted to combine the summer version of the festival with vacation in the general area. It would be nice to see more fans though as the undergound needs to be supported by us if we want to keep it alive.
“Take what’s holding me here away / few moments of silence is all I need…”
The band that opened the festival was THE SULLEN that came on stage at 18.15. They are the personal project of Petros Petalas (ex-W.E.B., ex-Final Words Of Sorrow) that had the full support of the local fans as they are based in Trikala. It was the ideal kick off for the festival because the immediately grabbed the attention with their doom/death metal style that at some times leans into black metal while others in more melodic paths when the riffing brings back memories from early 90s. They played for about 30 minutes with a setlist of 5 songs (based mainly on their recent EP “Rituals of Death”). The last one (the single “For Strange Times Ahead”) was a bit different but also interesting. I’ll keep an eye on them…
Video THE SULLEN:
Compass / Crimson / Earthen Sky / Rituals of Death / For Strange Times Ahead
“night is darker / the nightmare never goes away”
As more fans entered into the theater we were starring at the sky that was covered with dark clouds but hopefully we were lucky and the rain never came. Next band on stage were HUMAN GENOM. For 35 minutes the band from Volos played melodic power metal with nice riffing by the two guitarists while on vocals we saw Alexandros Siderakos that last year played at the same festiva with Dreamrites. Human Genom had released an album and an Ep back in early 00s but they returned with two singles recently, obviously we hear them both but they were smart enough to include two cover songs in their setlist that always work well during a festival.
Video HUMAN GEMON:
For So Long / Spreading By Your Wings / Diamonds And Rust / Mistake / Tears Of Angels / Flight Of Icarus / Steeler
“So give it some good thought / before you summon me tonight…”
It was 20:05 when the sun started to set behind the castle. It was time to refill our beers and then get ready to enjoy KEMEROV. Those that never heard of them before must have been in a pleasant shock because the band from Serres gave a great performance for 40 minutes. They play pure death n’ roll, the kind that makes you want to dance around and get on stage (but yes, we respected the rules and iron our blood). Their setlist didn’t really matter as each one (old and new ones) were little adrenaline shots that hit us directly in the heart generating waves on enthusiasm. Proper vocals by Matt with great support by his bandmates, Kemerov gave a great show while the Unsane and Exodus covers gave the icing on their tasty cake! Great band!
Fabricated Gods / Anti-Hero Tights / Nail / Count Me Out / Free from Sin / Sane / Sick (Unsane cover) / Hate Speech / Plague of Nations / Idiocracy / Possess / Lesson in Violence (Exodus cover)
“Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf / look deep into the cauldron…”
SERPENT NOIR came on stage with ideal setting as the irritating moisture was now gone and the darkness of the night was spoiled only by the torches around the stage, yes the setting was ideal for some darker music. The band from Athens is experienced enough but they don’t play live very often so it was a good chance to see them, especially after their recent very good album “Death Clan OD”. For 45 minutes Serpent Noir played top class black metal showing respect on a difficult genre and that’s why they got the applause they deserved by everyone. As they say in their lyrics “we give our soul and we give our heart” and that’s what they actually did that night with passionate playing through their performance. In the first half they focused on their new album leaving some older stuff for the end.
Video SERPENT NOIR:
Black Knighthood of OD / Cutting the umbilical cord of Hel / Hexcraft / Astaroth / The Veritable Red Dragon / Desert of Azazel / Dragon Egregore / Sorath Invocation / Ritualis Draconis
“Kι ούδε δοξάρι ’μάθα κι ούδε πόλεμο / μόν’ ’μαθα την αγάπη την παντέρημη.”
Just before we reach 22:30 it was time to see AHERUSIA live on stage. It’s a special band that worth to hear and check their unique approach with what we call art in general (how they focus on the details of their artwork, the live performances along with actors etc). This time everything was more simple of course (the usual rock performance of a band) but I am sure they were the pleasant surprise for many people that night as their music varies from the black metal tunes to special and so different patters of greek traditional music. Their setlist honored each of their four albums although they obviously focused a bit more on “Promeheus” and “Nostos”. The only complain is the technicial issues that Chris has with his bagpipes that cut off the extra star from their performance.
Ανάσα άνασσα, Ανάβασις, Ανώνυμος, Δαμάζων Χάη, Αγρίμια, Αντ’ αμαν παλικάρι, Lux occulta, Methexis, Arbor Martyrum
“I’ll be on my way / and the ravens I shall fly”
Two minutes to midnight and everyone was ready to see the healiners. DEXTER WARD has built the last year their name in the underground scene with numerous gig in and out of Greece including a concert at Keep It True some years ago. It’s a proper band to close a festival like Horns Up because they classic US/epic style is easily acceptable by everyone as it’s always a genre that make everyone feels good. Marco Concoreggi couldn’t make it from Italy so they had Vaggelis Kruskas (Valor) that was more than great. Dexter Ward is a band that has good time on stage and this is something that got to the fans during their show. Ok, their setlist was a bit short but people asked for me so they played again “Return of the blades” and with faces full of smiles we all started to walk down towards the center of the town…
Video DEXTER WARD:
Return of the blades, Evil Nightmares, Stone Age Warrior, Conan The Barbarian, These metal Wings, Fighting for the Cross, In The Days of Epic Metal (Encore: Return of the Blades)
® live report/photographs: Konstantinos Mindcrimek Vlachos