14th Up The Hammers kicked off on Thursday with the traditional warm-up show at AN Club, while the first day took place on Friday March 15th bringing a very interesting bill on the venue’s stage. As usual the place was packed from early on with the majority of people coming from out outside Greece. Especially during the first couple of bands the Greek members of the audience were a handful and that makes sense since it was a working day.

Air Raid and Lizzies were unfortunately victims of time, since we didn’t make it and missed them. Despite the excuses and the desperate attempt to sneak off work early and beat Athens’ Friday afternoon traffic I barely made it when Lizzies had finished the show and were saying “thank you” to the crowd. What a bummer! I hope some promoter brings them for another show, because I heard from discussions all around that they were great!

Airged L’Amh

The only Greek band of the day and of the entire festival was this one which was recently rebooted pleasing is fans as well as Greek metallers. With the thirst and passion that comes from being absent for a long time the quintet got on stage with glaring eyes. The moment when two old members of the band, John “Luna” Tsimas and George Sofikitis, got up on stage with their old band mates to play “The Silver Arm” was touching. Great show, welcome back boys!

Endomain, Ragnarok, Two Ravens, Face Of The Kings, Death On Stamford Bridge, The Silver Arm, The Hunter’s Path


Majestic Ryté

On their first show in Europe ever the New Yorkers Majestic Ryté left us with very good impressions and as a matter of fact for the festival’s audience, where most of them are heavy metal connoisseurs, must have been a treat. Given the fact that the band has released only an EP back in 1988 which is extremely collectable, I am sure that many people were waiting to see them live. Singer Greg Tsaknakis, who as he confessed had lived in Greece in the ‘80s, was great with an amazing voice full of power, passion and sentiments. Guitarist Nick Trotti with a white Stratocaster was also cool to watch with his moves and flawless playing. A very awkward moment occurred when the singer called out  a girl on the front row, who instead of watching the show was all over her phone. What a shame!

Dark Stalker, Survivor, Strawman, Guardian, Arrival, Eternal Paradise, Promise Of Power, Hadrian’s Path, A Breed Apart


Iron Angel

The German outfit came out next with its teutonic metal giving the audience a shot of adrenaline. They might have not reinvented the wheel with their material, but they are made to be played live. Their stage presence should be taught in seminars, since they didn’t leave a second pass by without doing something with bassist Didy Mackel playing with any imaginable way and singer Dirk Schröder making faces, teasing everybody on stage, emptying a bottle of water on his head and finally jumping off stage to join the crowd singing…

Metal Storm, Sinner 666, Ministry Of Metal, Legions Of Evil, The Metallian, Fight For Your Life, Heavy Metal Soldiers, Blood & Leather, Hellhound, Black Mass, Writing’s On The Wall, Stronger Than Steel, Rush Of Power


Eternal Champion

Eternal Champion found the crowd already pumped up from Iron Angel and didn’t spare them with their symbolic frontman, Jason Tarpey, stealing the show. He was very impressive both thanks to his physical presence, as well his moves, while the other guys were standing each on his spot delivering the goods. The Texans were very good and they had their own fanbase at their feet. Of course, the highlight of their show was the huge sword Tarpey was waving in the air, as well as his dedication of “Sing A Last Song For Valdese” to the late Mark Shelton from Manilla Road. It’s also worth mentioning that they did a Mystic Force cover. Personally, although I’ve heard of them and listened to a few songs here and there, watching them live made me want to go and listen to their stuff.

Retaliator, The Armor Of Ire, Last King Of Pictdom, Invoker, Awakened By The Dawn (Mystic Force), The Cold Sword, Sing a Last Song of Valdese, I Am The Hammer, The Veils Of Negative Existence


Armored Saint

19 years in waiting were way too many since the last time of Armored Saint’s conquering show in Greece. Let me tell you, though, that the 30-minute intermission for the change of sets between Eternal Champion’s closing notes and Armored Saint’s intro tape seemed like an eternity as I’ve been expecting this show for almost a year (when it was first announced). I knew that Armored Saint would deliver once again the goods and actually every single fan in the audience that night shared the same feeling…it was that obvious wherever you look around in the venue. Armored Saint not only they put on a great show but this was one of the best shows that we have EVER seen in Greece. Period.


The band’s overall performance was absolutely unbelievable. The energy and the flawless technique of the quintet was unmatched and right from the opening notes of “Win Hands Down” and the follow-up with “March of the Saint” three things were instantly obvious: a) Armored Saint was also eagerly waiting for the return to Greece, b) the fans were going crazy with every single word that came out of John Bush’s mouth and c) Bush’s imposing presence on stage. He is one of the best and most likeable frontmen in heavy metal with such a characteristic voice that hasn’t changed a bit through the years. It has only become stronger! The guy climbed the huge PA system, jumped from the stage to the audience and sang a whole song among us, he joked with Joey Vera (another standout performance by this extraordinary bassist), and he never stopped moving around the stage and all these without losing a single vocal note…amazing and hard to believe indeed!


The set list covered the entire back catalogue of the band and naturally the reaction upon the sheer listening of such anthems as “Reign of Fire”, “Can U Deliver”, “Mad House”, “March of the Saint”, “Aftermath” was expected but I really liked the fact that people supported the newest Armored Saint stuff as the two albums that have released since 2010 are absolutely gems. A special reference should be made to the song “Left Hook From Right Field” (cued of the excellent “La Raza” album) as it is by far my personal favorite song of the latter Armored Saint era. This is where Bush jumped from the stage and this is were I completely lost my voice from the constant shouting and screaming!


Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and Armored Saint left us after an 90-minute show. We were more than content and happy from this…supersonic performance. We wanted more and hopefully we will see again Armored Saint in the very near future. For 90 minutes we forgot all our daily problems. Yet we have kept forever the memory of one of the best shows ever. Thank you, Armored Saint!

Wind Hands Down, March of the Saint, Long Before I Die, Raising Fear, That Was Then, Way Back When, Last Train Home, After Me, The Flood, Book of Blood, Symbol of Salvation, Mess, Aftermath, Left Hook From Right Field, Reign of Fire  Can U Deliver/Mad House

Sakis Nikas