Metal From Hellas IV @ Gagarin 205

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During the ongoing pandemic era the only concerts we managed to attend in Greece were some open air small festivals -usually held in open air theatres- for seated only fans so it’s obvious that we missed a lot some regular gigs and small festivals in clubs. These festivals during the winter months tend to attract the fans -especially the metalheads- because you can see familiar faces but you can also enjoy your drinks listening to favorite tunes from a wide range of metal genres. Since the first announcement of Metal From Hellas IV billing (full of greek metal bands of course) most of us got excited and although due to covid one band cancelled we managed to see live on stage Convixion, Mystery, Wrathblade, Reflection, Yoth Iria and Rock N Roll Children. The comeback of Metal From Hellas festival was a small reboot for all these little but important things we love in life and in a way, this event was a small substitute of Up The Hammers Festival that usually takes place in March (this year most probably it will take place in June).

Doors opened at 16:30 but we had to wait until 17.30 to see the first band on stage. There were only a few fans at that time inside, people that wanted to support the festival from the first moment but also because they knew CONVIXION is 100% guarantee for having good time. They got on stage unleashing pure energy and they seemed not to have lost their momentum after two years away from stage. The frontman Nikos Papakostas showed the way while Chris Liakos on guitars was like a crazed goat and in tune with his red Annihilator t-shirt. They offered us the delightful speed/thrash they love to play and ended their 45 minutes long set with the usual hymn “Drink Metal”.

Video CONVIXON:

setlist:

tomorrow’s yesterday / fist of agony / spiral into oblivion / a matter of faith / black magic night / made of steel / wings of vengeance / days of rage nights of wrath / avenger / I come alive / drink metal

We were holding the second beer on hand when Angelo Perlepe’s MYSTERY got on stage. It’s one of the historical greek metal bands (formed in 1986) and during their 45’ long set they played many familiar songs. “Return” took us back to their debut album from 1991 and I noticed many smiles on faces around me. Perlepes was great on guitar as expected and he got sentimental with his reference to the loss of his mother recently (and many of us got connected because due to covid unfortunately death has hit many families). They decided to finish their show with a timeless hymn, Riot’s “Warrior” that got the crowd moving for good.

Video MYSTERY:

setlist:

intro/wizards of the western coast / the return / (feels like) I’ve done it before / fatal passion / destiny / my dark lord / warrior

At 19:30 I realized that we’ve come a long way from the times that live venues were fully packed. It seems that people are still afraid of the ongoing pandemic and makes second thoughts when it comes to places with many people. Even those that were there that night had some kind of shyness and some extra beers were needed to change the mood. It was the time to see WRATHBLADE though, an epic band that is really into this genre. They kicked off with some tracks from their debut album but for me it was “Sheer Vengeance Will Out Upon Thee” (a great track that opens “God Of The Deep” album) that brought extra energy on their performance. They played for 45 minutes and they even offered us an extra track from their upcoming new album which was great and easily whets our appetites for the new album.

Video WRATHBLADE:

setlist:

god defying typhoeus / flee to freedom submersion / reins of doom / sheer vengeance will out upon thee / no dole for the blest / for you

Then we were supposed to see the amazing SACRAL RAGE but covid had other plans and they had to cancel making me sad because I really love this band.

So, we saw the next band of the billing on stage, a band that kept on the epic tunes. REFLECTION has tones of experience since they play 30 years now and it was no surprise they had a lot of fans in front of the stage cheering for the band non stop and the band didn’t fail them.

The band had a lot of energy, they played songs from many different albums, they dedicated one to some fans that came from abroad, on other songs they even turned the microphone to the front row. Their closure was epic with a fan favorite, “When Immortals Die”.

Video REFLECTION:

setlist:

glorious victory / iron tower / time traveller / fire / march of the argonauts / wings of fate / the sorceress / the forbidden seed / giants / who will dare / ruler of my own land / when immortals die

At 22:10 YOTH IRIA got on stage. At first this band seemed a little out place because the other bands are more into classic forms of heavy metal but for me and many others (that are into more extreme bands) this was the most important band of the festival. I also liked what Jim Mutilator said: «back in the day we were playing only for a few fans, now we can all enjoy music no matter what genre everyone prefers”.

Jim has a lot of experience, don’t forget that is emblematic figure of early 90s when Greek black metal scene was creating some new for the extreme. 30 years later a new band, YOTH IRIA, that formed by Mutilator and the legendary Magus released the amazing album “As The Flame Withers”.

“The sacred language of the Gods / Dialect of the Daemons…”

It is true that many fans were disappointed by the absences, Morean (Dark Fortress, he replaces Magus on live performances) couldn’t come from Germany, Jonkal (guitar) wasn’t there, Sakis never appeared (they were rumors he will be a special guest for some blast from the past) but it didn’t really matter. YOTH IRIA’s performance was impressive and I loved how Merkaal (Order Of The Ebon Hand) managed to sing the lyrics (although he had only two days to learn the lyrics). They started with “Under His Sway” from the 2020 EP and then we listened compositions from the album. The band creates a magic atmosphere while the guitar leads were adding one -let’s say- more heavier atmosphere. During their set they added the song from the split EP with Kawir while at the end they played “Sid Ed Djinn” and it was no surprise they received the applause from the fans.

Video YOTH IRIA:

setlist:

under his sway / yoth iria / hermetic code / the red crown turns black / unborn undead eternal / the great hunter / tyrants / sid ed djinn

Thirty minutes before clock strikes midnight it was time to see the headliners of the festival. Yes, ROCK N ROLL CHILDREN is a tribute band that loved to play songs of the legendary Ronnie James DIO but noone complains because every time it’s not just a concert but a huge metal party. This time due to the loss of Nikos “Mac” Zagogiannis they decided to add some songs from other classic bands so as expected from Riot’s “bloodstreets” until the songs of Judas Priest, Manowar, Deep Purle, Savatage, Ozzy people got crazy as these songs matched well with the classics from DIO like “last in line”, “kill the king”, “holy diver”, “die young” etc Everyone in the club was having great time, they were numerous sing alongs of course, Papanikolaou was great on vocals and the band was hot. Great night that deserved more fans but at least the concerts started to happen again so the best is yet to come…

Video ROCK N ROLL CHILDREN:

setlist:

man on the silver mountain / bloodstreets / last in line / kill the king / one night in the city / touch of evil / holy diver / falling off the edge of the world / rock n roll children / stormbringer / emerald / crusader / die young / thor / edge of thorns / don’t talk to strangers / bark at the moon / heaven and hell

® words/photos/videos: Konstantinos Mindcrimek Vlachos