UTH XII - Day 1 @ Gagarin205, Athens (GR)

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ROSS THE BOSS / TYRANT / ATTACKER / NIGHT DEMON / DIVINER / RESISTANCE / MONASTERIUM

Date: 26th May, 2017
Venue: Gagarin205
Ticket: €60 ($71) 2-days
Promoter: Up The Hammers
Photos: Erika Wallberg


It has always been so very nice to get down to Greece for 'Up The Hammers', to get some sun during the darkest and gloomiest weeks of Swedish winter. So, I wasn't all that happy about the festival moving dates to May instead of February/March when it used to happen. I understand that this spot opens up for many more bands as it is in connection with the festival season... But it's not like there's anything else going on during these weeks. And Greece is freaking hot this time of the year. Ok, the weather in Sweden has been crap all year, so even if I was about to melt, it was very nice to come down to the sun.

New for this year was the festival’s move from Kyttaro to Gagarin205 which was a good move. Kyttaro is fantastic when half-full, but packed out as it has been it's not as fun and very hard to see anything at all. The sections in the floor at Gagarin205 were really welcome. Not that it was any problem to see for MONASTERIUM who opened the 12th edition of 'Up The Hammers'. It's still good support for all bands on these festivals and it was a very good start. These Polish guys impressed with their self titled record in 2016 and they delivered the goods live as well. Epic Doom normally works really well live, it's easy to get lost in the beat. "Christening In Blood" sat the mood in a very good way and it sounded just as expected. And that was perhaps the downside, it was just what you can expect and nothing more. A good delivery but the show could have offered a bit more action and intensity. Everything picked up during "In Hoc Signo Vinces" with its upbeat type riff in the beginning. Vocalist Michał Strzelecki did a very good job behind the mic; I like the complaining/whining tone in his voice, it adds to the Doom-feel and he sounded great.

Also set-closer "Into The Mountain Of Power" sounded amazing. It's my favorite from the record and worked perfect live as well. The mix of groovy riff and fateful vocal lines sounded awesome and with this, MONASTERIUM set off the festival in a very good way.

MONASTERIUM setlist:

01. "Crucifer"
02. "Christening In Blood"
03. "La Dance Massacre"
04. "Embrace The Void"
05. "In Hoc Signo Vinces"
06. "Ferrier Of The Dead"
07. "Into The Mountain Of Power"

MONASTERIUM

Monasterium @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Monasterium @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Monasterium @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Monasterium @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Monasterium @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Monasterium @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Monasterium @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Monasterium @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Monasterium @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Monasterium @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg)

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Last time I saw RESISTANCE, they impressed me greatly. Their live performance made the music much more vibrant compared to the records, so my expectations were extremely high for this one.

Brand new "The Metal Machine" kicked off the RESISTANCE set which felt a little odd as the record wasn't out for 'Up The Hammers'. On the other hand, they've been playing this song live for some time and most everyone present at Gagarin205 seemed to know it, so I guess it's all good. It sounded amazing from the start. I love RESISTANCE's energy on stage as the whole band is right there on the edge and in your face. Then, two songs from the "Battle Scars" EP followed; the title track and "Vlad". I love the structure in the latter one, but frankly, I was a bit too busy trying to catch the guys with my camera to really listen. Still, it feels like with the EP and the rest of the new songs featured in the set that RESISTANCE really have found their flow as both songs and performance feel great. New "Heroes" is yet another example of this, and since three songs had passed, I could focus fully on the music. Vocalist Robert Hett does a great job fronting the band which makes it all great to watch. I still think it's a shame, no matter how much I love the songs, that RESISTANCE adds a cover to their set; here they did the SCORPIONS classic "Blackout" which of course sounded great but looking on the song-treasure the band has, it feels a bit like a waste of time. Sure, it worked; everyone in the venue knew the song which boosted the party.

Another new one that closed the RESISTANCE set was "Hail To The Horns" and it feels that this will be a live-classic; it’s easy enough to sing along to and the title should tease every metalhead for some fist-waving. I had very high expectations on RESISTANCE that they should deliver a fantastic set, and they sure did and exceeded my expectations by far.

RESISTANCE setlist:

01. "The Metal Machine"
02. "Battle Scars"
03. "Vlad"
04. "Heroes"
05. "Blackout" (SCORPIONS cover)
06. "Rise And Defend"
07. "Hold The Line"
08. "Hail To The Horns"

RESISTANCE

Resistance @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Resistance @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Resistance @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Resistance @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Resistance @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Resistance @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Resistance @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Resistance @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Resistance @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Resistance @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Resistance @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Resistance @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Resistance @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Resistance @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Resistance @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg)

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I can't say that I'm familiar with DIVINER at all. Checking them out prior to the festival boosted my interest though. As always when it comes to Greek bands (at least the ones put on the 'Up The Hammers' stage), we're talking about high quality Heavy Metal backed up by a great vocalist. I really love this style of dark and epic type of Heavy Metal, especially live as it becomes a bit rawer which was clear from first song "Fallen Empires", the title track from the band’s sole release. DIVINER also gave RESISTANCE a match for the money when it came to stage performance. They too had great energy and it was fun to watch.

I've said it before, there's no country in the world with so many great and powerful vocalists as Greece, so DIVINER is another band in that line with Yiannis Papanikolaou. His fantastic voice came clear in "Kingdom Come". The difference though is the edge and rasp he possesses which made the whole thing sound awesome.

The MANOWAR beat in "The Legend Goes On" worked fine too and the stately bridge before the chorus added another level to that. The one that really got stuck though was the more tense "Come Into My Glory" with the epic and easy to sing-along to chorus line.

It's not often that a band that's new to me tempts me like DIVINER did, especially not when the line-up of favorite band is as great as it was for this edition of 'Up The Hammers', but they did. The conclusion is that DIVINER rocked very hard and played music that really appealed to me. I must remember to check them out for real.

DIVINER setlist:

01. "Fallen Empires"
02. "Kingdom Come"
03. "Riders From The East"
04. "The Legend Goes On"
05. "Sacred War"
06. "Come Into My Glory"
07. "The Shadow And The Dark"
08. "Evilizer"
09. "Seven Gates"

DIVINER

Diviner @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Diviner @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Diviner @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Diviner @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Diviner @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Diviner @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Diviner @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Diviner @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Diviner @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Diviner @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Diviner @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Diviner @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Diviner @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Diviner @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Diviner @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg)

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I would easily make a statement that bands shouldn't be allowed to decide on the lights for the first three songs of the show. At least, not if the band wants some photos of themselves on stage. The lights had been rather good, until it was time for NIGHT DEMON - just occasional flashes of white lights to pitch the solid red from the back made it harder to get anything at all than win the lottery. For sure, it looked cool and dramatic from the floor, but still...

Anyway, the lights and getting shots isn't the most important thing about a show, it's the music and how the band delivers it. And there's not many that can compete with NIGHT DEMON here. Their hard work has paid off and they're one hell of a well-oiled live machine nowadays. "Welcome To The Night" opened the set followed by "Full Speed Ahead" and I can't think of a better description than the title of the latter of the two songs to describe NIGHT DEMON. They're only a trio but sounds and feels like they're a whole bunch of people on stage. It's filthy Rock 'n' Roll delivered to perfection.

Things did definitely not slow down with "Maiden Hell" which is a fast one. Even if the tempo went down with groovy "Curse Of The Damned", the intensity in the show didn't. "Heavy Metal Heat" is one favorite track; I love the off-beat rhythm in the riff and it has that classic ‘80s Heavy Metal drive to it. NIGHT DEMON really packed out Gagarin205 so the heat in the place went to the top and it got extremely hot inside.

My favorite track from NIGHT DEMON's most recent release "Darkness Remains" is "Hallowed Ground" so it was a pleasure to get to hear that one live (again, since the set was basically the same as at 'Keep It True').

What I like with NIGHT DEMON is that they're doing small things to enhance the show. As for "The Chalice" where they dress someone up to the grim reaper who gets to offer the crowd to drink from the chalice while the band keeps rocking. Perhaps this gives them a well deserved break as the focus isn't on them all the time. The pace of the NIGHT DEMON shows is crazy and how they can keep it up is beyond me.

I think it's pretty cool that NIGHT DEMON do a cover on IRON MAIDEN's "Wasted Years". First, because it's not the first song bands pick when doing a cover, and also it's a bold move from the band as Jarvis Leatherby isn't the same type of vocalist as Bruce Dickinson. But it works, both musically and as a part of the show. The singing from the crowd was really crazy during this one and it sure wrapped up a fantastic performance by NIGHT DEMON.

NIGHT DEMON setlist:

01. "Welcome To The Night"
02. "Full Speed Ahead"
03. "Maiden Hell"
04. "Curse Of The Damned"
05. "The Howling Man"
06. "Heavy Metal Heat"
07. "Hallowed Ground"
08. "Ritual"
09. "Black Widow"
10. "Screams In The Night"
11. "The Chalice"
12. "Night Demon"
13. "Darkness Remains"
14. "Wasted Years" (IRON MAIDEN cover)

NIGHT DEMON

Night Demon @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Night Demon @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Night Demon @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Night Demon @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Night Demon @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg)

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Then came what I've been looking forward to all day. It's fun these days because I get more and more excited about seeing shows as time passes. Sometimes I even get nervous and stressed out for bands. I love though that I still can get extremely thrilled about shows after all these years. It was like that for ATTACKER and I was almost falling to pieces waiting for the changeover to be done, so they finally could start playing.

And what an opening! I was convinced within seconds after "World Destroyer" started that this would be a killer set. I love ATTACKER's latest release "Sins Of The World" and that track is definitely a favorite from the album. Another newer one followed, "The Hammer", but it was for the third song "Slayer's Blade" from debut "Battle At Helms Deep" that it really went crazy. That's fun with Greece; the crowd knows how to treat a band to make them rock harder than ever. Also, there are true fans here who know the band's music - it really sounded amazing. Bobby "Leatherlungs" Lucas suites this music perfectly; he's a great screamer but still have a good tone in his voice. It doesn't matter if it is the songs he recorded or the ones sung on record by Bob Mitchell, all of it works.

This became really clear in epic "Revelations Of Evil". The live-sound really did these old school songs justice. True power and force came out of the speakers, tight as hell. ATTACKER really sounded amazing.

I could have taken a few more from the new album. Apart from the set-opener, "Carcosa" was the only one. Still, the songs picked showing off the ATTACKER history in a fantastic way as it featured material from all of their releases. And it almost became a pleasure overload towards the end of the set starting with speedy "Lords Of Thunder" and "Zero Hour" from the fantastic "The Second Coming", followed by "The Hermit" and "(Call On) The Attacker". It's a good thing that ATTACKER ended their set with the more epic "The Glen Of The Ghost" to give some time to breathe also. I can't say anything else than this was a fantastic gig - same energy-level and intensity as NIGHT DEMON and they definitely lived up to all my expectations.

ATTACKER setlist:

01. "World Destroyer"
02. "The Hammer"
03. "Slayer's Blade"
04. "Revelations Of Evil"
05. "The End"
06. "The Unknown"
07. "Carcosa"
08. "Lords Of Thunder"
09. "Zero Hour"
10. "The Hermit"
11. "(Call On) The Attacker"
12. "The Glen Of The Ghost"

ATTACKER

Attacker @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Attacker @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Attacker @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Attacker @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Attacker @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Attacker @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Attacker @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Attacker @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Attacker @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Attacker @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Attacker @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Attacker @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Attacker @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Attacker @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Attacker @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg)

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As much cult as TYRANT's "Legions Of The Dead" and "Too Late To Pray" albums are, as little chance did they stand towards the bands on the bill prior to them. I don't know what happened but I think they had a stand-in drummer for the 'Up The Hammers' show who didn't have full control over the songs. I was still surprised by this though - I expected a lot more from TYRANT than what they delivered. For sure, to match the energy and frenzy from the bands on earlier is much to ask but also musically they were behind here.

Still, it's very cool to get to hear these classic songs live; "Listen To The Preacher" and "The Battle Of Armageddon" are great both of them and for the latter, most things had been sorted out and it started to sound good. TYRANT's raw sound started to come through. After "Legions Of The Dead", I decided it was time for a longer break before the last act of the night. It had been an intense day and even if TYRANT's second half sounded much better than the first, they still couldn't measure up to the rest, plus it was time for a well-needed pause.

TYRANT setlist:

01. Intro - "Tyrant's Revelation III"
02. "Warriors Of Metal"
03. "Beyond The Grave"
04. "Listen To The Preacher"
05. "The Nazarene"
06. "The Battle Of Armageddon"
07. "Legions Of The Dead"
08. "Too Late To Pray"
09. "King Of Kings"
10. "War"

TYRANT

Tyrant @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Tyrant @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Tyrant @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Tyrant @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Tyrant @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Tyrant @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Tyrant @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Tyrant @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Tyrant @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Tyrant @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Tyrant @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Tyrant @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Tyrant @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Tyrant @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Tyrant @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg)

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I don't know why I got surprised by the response to ROSS THE BOSS' MANOWAR set. We're in Greece after all and in a packed venue which at this point felt like a can of sardines that has been out in the sun all day. The pressure was immense all the way to the back and as soon as the band kicked off their set, the fury began. "Blood Of The Kings" opened the set as well as the frenzy in the crowd. The new thing since last time I saw this was that Marc Lopes has taken over the microphone from Mike Cotoia. Mike was absolutely fantastic but there's no doubt Marc is a better fit in general. On the other hand, the rest of the band has been changed too, adding Mike LePond and Kenny "Rhino" Earl to the star line-up.

Again, it was very hard to focus on the music for the first few songs as these guys are hard to catch with the camera. And getting out in the crowd for "Blood Of My Enemies", holy s**t... I don't think I've ever heard an audience sing louder than this as it almost drowned the band on stage and the PA in the chorus line. The song itself sent pleasurable shivers down my spine but the crowd’s singing gave me goose-bumps all over. And this continued, almost as intense until the end of the set.

It's absolutely fantastic though to see a crowd in sync scream for their lives to "Kill With Power" or the mellow "Each Dawn I Die".

"Sign Of The Hammer" is a favorite of mine and it's always great to get to hear songs you love live. No exception here. Gagarin205 gets much more intimate than Tauberfranken-Halle or even the 'Headbangers Open Air' stage, even if that one is the same size. I really liked that Ross' guitar-playing really came through. The volume was massive and the sound crisp and clear. I've never realized how damn good he is before this. I really enjoyed his playing here and his clear tone really cut through everything.

An hour or so into the set, one could think that the crowd was getting tired. Not a chance, and "Metal Daze" almost came to the same level of crowd-singing as "Blood Of My Enemies". The wrap-up with "Battle Hymn" and "Hail And Kill" didn't really slow the overheated place down either. Again, it was great fun to see ROSS THE BOSS playing a set of MANOWAR tunes. This is definitely more Rock 'n' Roll compared to the (original / real) band - I love the in-your-face and reachable atmosphere here. The songs are immortal and delivered in a straight forward set is hard to beat.

So, it was definitely a very good first day of 'UTH XII'. ATTACKER stood out though and ended up as my favorites of the day.

ROSS THE BOSS setlist:

01. "Blood Of The Kings"
02. "Death Tone"
03. "The Oath"
04. "Blood Of My Enemies"
05. "Kill With Power"
06. "Thor (The Powerhead)"
07. "Each Dawn I Die"
08. "Gloves Of Metal"
09. "Sign Of The Hammer"
10. "Dark Avenger"
11. Drum Solo
12. "Fighting The World"
13. "Metal Daze"
14. "Battle Hymn"
15. "Hail And Kill"

ROSS THE BOSS

Ross The Boss @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Ross The Boss @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Ross The Boss @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Ross The Boss @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Ross The Boss @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Ross The Boss @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Ross The Boss @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Ross The Boss @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Ross The Boss @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Ross The Boss @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Ross The Boss @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Ross The Boss @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Ross The Boss @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Ross The Boss @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Ross The Boss @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg)

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