Horns Up Festival – Eldritch, Embrace Of Thorns, Agnes Vein, Achelous, Ildaruni, Angelcrypt, White Tower – Day 2, 3/9/2022

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The second day of Horns Up Festival was equal, if not better, than the first day. There were once more seven bands on the bill that covered several different metal genres. The latter proves the uniqueness of this small, but great underground metal festival that bets heavily in the support of the underground scene fans. After all, the organizers are metal fans themselves first and their only objective is fans and bands having a good time during their stay in Trikala (that’s why they add warm up shows, after parties, day trips in the area etc.)

The second main day of the festival (because there were warm up gigs the day before and side live events the day after) had a great variety, so we watched classic metallers WHITE TOWER from Thessaloniki, deathesters ANGELCRYPT from Malta, Armenian blacksters ILDARUNI, epic metallers ACHELOUS, sludge/doomsters AGNES VEIN, black/death metallers EMBRACE OF THORNS and of course the headliners of day, the prog power metallers ELDRITCH.

By the end of the first day many fans went for a beer contest at Rising Pub till the early hours, then went on a filed trip to the river and then had a feast with quality food and alcohol at a local tavern until the afternoon. It would be normal if after all that they would miss the first bands of the second day, right? No!!

“holding the lines / down in the trenches…”

So, when WHITE TOWER got on stage they happily saw many fans waiting for them. Like in Up The Hammers Festival a few months ago the hot band from Thessaloniki carried a lot of high energy in their classic metal sound that brings back sweet memories from classic names, especially Accept (mainly due to the similar vocal melodies). Their setlist was based on their debut album, but this time they also added a new song which seemed to be of the same quality level.

White Tower video:

White Tower setlist:

Pounding HM / lions of steel / leather empress / I rule the midnight / spread the fire / curse of the night / runaway rebel / fuel along gunfire / soldiers of metal / knife in the back / schizophrenic attack

“here lies this flesh and blood…”

At 18:45 ANGELCRYPT from Malta got on stage and I think this is the first time I bump into a band from the Mediterranean island. They were all dressed in the same black shirts and of course they started sweating from the moment they started playing, because the temperature in the venue was really high, probably more than the usual levels for proper gig conditions. Their 40 minutes long setlist was based on their latest full length album “Dawn of the Emperor”. Their music is death metal with numerous melodic leads, a blend between Crematory and some typical death metal bands. I wasn’t really familiar with their stuff and I think most people in the venue didn’t know about them either, but they seemed to enjoy their music.

Angelcrypt video:

Angelcrypt setlist:

Clockwork blood red / Iron creed / Serpents of the somme / On killing fields / Forever hero / The black hand / Martyred soul

“treading the path of cryptic wisdom…”

At 19:45 ILDARUNI got on stage and yes, bands like them is the reason we all must support underground festivals like Horns Up Fest. Ildaruni is a new band that comes from Armenia that recently released the impressive debut album “Beyond Unseen Gateways”. They played for 45 minutes and they easily impressed the fans of the extreme sound. Their set, which included some compositions from the album, was a great blend of epic black metal with some minor pagan folk details, although these are more easily traceable on the record, as their sound on stage comes out more raw.

Ildaruni video:

Ildaruni setlist:

Treading the path of crypyic wisdom / The ascending of Kosmokrator / Forged with glave and blood / Perpetual vigil / Arakha / Whence Ravenstone beckons

“riding the winds with chariots of steel…”

As I said, the heat was unbearable, so stepping out for a few minutes to get some fresh air was a common survival practice between the members of the audience, in between bands. At 20:45 ACHELOUS got on stage and they seemed they have improved a lot lately having played several shows and feel more at ease on stage that makes their songs even more addictive live. So, they gave 40 minutes of pure epic heavy metal, a genre that traditionally has numerous bands in Greece, but I noticed that even people that are not much into it in general liked them.

Achelous setlist:

Macedon / Northern Winds / Blood / Crystal Shard / Savage King / Gaugamela /  Flames of War

Achelous video:

“I call the tortured / I seek the damned…”

Then, we had a change of style as AGNES VEIN came on to put some different music colors in the venue. Their heavy guitar riffs dragged us down in a swamp of epic sludge doom. Like every time I catch them live (thankfully they have played many times opening for international acts) it is always interesting how they combine the extreme vocals with some heavy, but slow tempo. Talking about tempo, Foivos is a monster behind the drum kit and left everyone astonished with his style. In general, I really like the huge sound this trio can create. A great performance by them and some great stuff on the merch desk, especially the vinyl edition of their “Deathcall” album.

Agnes Vein video:

Agnes Vein setlist:

Melkor / rara null / sovereign star / they who neared the portals / vultures hymn

“darkness impenetrable…”

Although we haven’t recovered by Agnes Vein yet we were ready to see EMBRACE OF THORNS. They made it clear from the start that “what you are about to feel is short but powerful” and yes, that was 100% true. For forty minutes darkness and rage hit us in the head with the experience Athenian band launching a pure black/death metal attack. They jumped in many different periods of their career but no matter what they played it had nice riffing and blasting drumming, they were quite enjoyable and impressive throughout their show.

Embrace Of Thorns video:

Embrace Of Thorns setlist:

Intro/venom in veins / mutter aller leiden / tombs of the desecrated zealots / a mass for fiends / entropy dynamics / origin of scourge / stoking the fire / perished in mortal / ancient waters / outro

But, it was time for the headliners of the day. The problem was that the stage in the was tinyand the six members of the band was struggling to fit along with the huge keyboards. So, their setup was a bit weird with the two guitarists and their monitors in front of the two sides of the stage when keys, bass and drums were at the back. The other problem was that they arrived in the city after a long trip from Italy late on the same afternoon, so they needed some extra time for their soundcheck. A beer, or two, later when the clock stroke midnight, it was time for the show.

“the mask is standing aside…”

ELDRITCH was the big name of this two-day festiva, as well as the main reason for many to travel to Trikala this year. You see the last time we saw them in Greece was back in 2009, when they opened for Firewind. I must admit that I remember them mostly due to their great works during the 1990s, with albums like “Headquake” and “El Niño”, “the Jurassic period of Eldritch” as they call it themselves. The band was perfect, they jumped in the past too with some of their most known songs like “No Direction Home” and “Bleed Mask Bleed” but I was kind of surprised that the fans seemed a bit tired, OK maybe they were tired after so many hours in the small venue.

The truth is that their music isn’t the catchiest; it is not based on many melodic hooks, they do tend to get more prog and they don’t follow the usual recipe of verse-chorus-verse. Their guitar oriented prog power metal has its aggressive moments too that gives a unique character, but stands aside from the typical more catchy melodies of other bands of that era. What I liked during their show was that they supported their recent releases and they don’t just rest on their laurels of the glory days.

Needless to say that they are all great players but we knew that already and managed to enjoy them no matter some minor issues with the sound here and there. The new singer Marco Biagioli had a difficult task as he had to replace Terence Holler and seemed kind of stressed, but in general he did a great job. I also caught myself checking each member individually, apart from the two great guitars I liked the sound of Dario Lastrucci on bass when he popped over the others but of course also the robot Raffahell Dridge behind the drums that was infallible.  

Yes, I know, it would be great if we would have seen them on the open air theatre but they didn’t complain so we must consider ourselves lucky to see festivals like this and all the risks the organizers take to offers good quality time. Horns Up!

Eldritch video:

Eldritch setlist:

Dead Blossom/The Dark Inside / Erase / Failure Of Faith / Circles / No Direction home / Heretic Beholder / Lord Of An Empty Place / Everything’s Burning / The Blackened Day / Bleed mask bleed / The Cry Of A Nation / Ghoulish Gift

® text/photos/videos: Konstantinos Mindcrimek Vlachos