UTH XII - Day 2 @ Gagarin205, Athens (GR)

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CIRITH UNGOL / INNERWISH / MYTHRA / THRUST / HOLY MARTYR / BLIZZEN / LORD VIGO

Date: 27th May, 2017
Venue: Gagarin205
Ticket: €60 ($71) 2-days
Promoter: Up The Hammers
Photos: Erika Wallberg


Despite the first day being a blast and one hell of a party, it was with great anticipation I was taking on the second day of 'Up The Hammers XII'. Again, the festival served a superb line-up. Not even the super-hot venue felt like an obstacle for another day of party.

German LORD VIGO started the second day. Again, the first band out played Doom and the event kicked off in a slow and groovy mood. It felt suitable since the night before obviously had taken out its right on some people. Unfortunately, just as the day before, it took about 2-3 hours before the air condition was turned on, so when LORD VIGO played, it was ridiculously stuffy inside due to the lack of oxygen. LORD VIGO are rather odd in style in the same way it is traditional Doom. The harmonies used, very prominent in opening "Vigo Von Homburg Deutschendorf" stood out. The epic song worked well live. Also, Vinz Clortho’s appearance added to the setup; his spiked helmet and long leather coat enhanced the Goth-feel appearing here and there in the first song of the set. I really liked the addition of the old school microphone too. It seems though that the style on their most recent full length album "Blackborne Souls" is more standard that the debut EP "Under Carpathian Sun".

"When The Bloodlust Draws On Me" was more standard Doom and sounded really good. I like it that there are passages breaking up the flow and making LORD VIGO's music a little angular. This makes it unique and interesting.

The set was closed with WITCHFINDER GENERAL's self-titled epic track. I'm not all certain LORD VIGO pulled this one off; it sounded ok but there was something strange with the beat. Intentional perhaps but knowing the original too well it felt a bit off. I still think LORD VIGO did very good delivering their own songs, so I stick to my standards and say that I always prefer originals instead of covers.

LORD VIGO setlist:

01. "Vigo Von Homburg Deutschendorf"
02. "Blackborne Souls"
03. "Ishtar - Queen Of The Night"
04. "When The Bloodlust Draws On Me"
05. "Eternal Saviour"
06. "Witchfinder General" (WITCHFINDER GENERAL cover)

LORD VIGO

Lord Vigo @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Lord Vigo @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Lord Vigo @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Lord Vigo @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Lord Vigo @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Lord Vigo @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Lord Vigo @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Lord Vigo @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Lord Vigo @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Lord Vigo @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg)

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Something completely different but still German was up next; speedy Heavy Metal force BLIZZEN took on the stage after LORD VIGO. And as expected, it all sounded very good and just as it should, stepped with one foot in the NWOBHM style and the other in their home country style. That's all good if you’d ask me, even though there's nothing new about BLIZZEN's music. One thing is for sure; they're much rawer live than on record. They still carry the melodies in a good way which was clear already in opening "Trumpets Of The Gods" with its melodic chorus line. The sound of the guitars as well as Daniel Steckenmesser’s voice got more rasp to it and it sounded great. It all fitted in really well with the songs from BLIZZEN's first EP "Time Machine". I really enjoy "Strike The Hammer"; the riffs are good and the hockey-type choirs in the chorus works perfect live. Still, the sound of the guitars from the PA beats the recordings, it's was very powerful live, something that records lack. So, up-tempo "Peace Is For The Weak" really came to life here.

I was a bit surprised that BLIZZEN chose to play "Metal Gods", the JUDAS PRIEST classic as a cover. Not the most covered song and it feels like it is Rob Halford's trademark song. It worked though and sounded really good here. "Time Machine", the title track from the EP, closed BLIZZEN's set in a very good way. For me, the rawer and faster tracks worked the best here, but it all sounded good and was fun to watch.

BLIZZEN setlist:

01. "Trumpets Of The Gods"
02. "Strike The Hammer"
03. "Peace Is For The Weak"
04. "Gone Wild"
05. "The Beast Is On Your Back"
06. "Metal Gods" (JUDAS PRIEST cover)
07. "Time Machine"

BLIZZEN

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

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I was really looking forward to see HOLY MARTYR play, first because they really killed it the first and only other time I've seen them live, but also because their new "Darkness Shall Prevail" sounds really good. But again, the air inside the venue was against the band; the air-condition still wasn't on which made it very tiring to be inside.

The show started just like on the record, with the "Shores Of Elenna" intro followed by fantastic "Numenor". I love the chorus line of the song and it felt bad to be in the photo-pit for this one. Apart from Alessandro Mereu’s vocals passing over my head a bit, it all sounded fantastic - that's what you take while being that close to the stage. I don't mind it though. Apparently, it was rather long since I last saw HOLY MARTYR and I realized I haven't heard either "Hellenic Warrior Spirit" nor "Invincible". Shame on me, really! The good part was that the first encounter with the songs from these albums was a very positive experience and I really need to get my hands on them to make sure I'm prepared the next time I get to see HOLY MARTYR play.

Both "Shichinin No Samurai" and "The Call To Arms" sounded amazing. I loved the speed in the first one as well as the Heavy beat of the latter. But since I knew the new songs, the best were those who struck the hardest. The pompous "Heroic Deeds" sounded awesome live but perhaps I liked the epic "Witch-King Of Angmar" even more. It's just a shame it was hard to breathe inside; one got tired just by standing which took away some of the joy from the show. Towards the end of HOLY MARTYR's set, the a/c got turned on and things got a little better. Too late for this show though, but HOLY MARTYR still impressed - they sounded as good as I remember them to and it was great to get to hear the new stuff live too, realizing that it sounds just as awesome live as on record.

HOLY MARTYR setlist:

01. Intro - "Shores Of Elenna"
02. "Númenor"
03. "Born Of Hope"
04. "Ares Guide My Spear (Hellenic Warrior Spirit)"
05. Intermission - "The Soul Of My Katana"
06. "Shichinin No Samurai"
07. "The Call To Arms"
08. "Heroic Deeds"
09. "Dol Guldur"
10. "Witch-King Of Angmar"
11. "Vis Et Honor"
12. "Lakedaimon"
13. "Spartan Phalanx"

HOLY MARTYR

Holy Martyr @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Holy Martyr @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Holy Martyr @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Holy Martyr @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Holy Martyr @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Holy Martyr @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Holy Martyr @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Holy Martyr @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Holy Martyr @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Holy Martyr @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Holy Martyr @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Holy Martyr @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Holy Martyr @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Holy Martyr @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Holy Martyr @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg)

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There were two bands really standing out this day, and the first was THRUST. I was really looking forward to see them again as they rocked hard at 'Keep It True' in 2016. The new(er) version of the band now has vocalist Eric Claro instead of Andy Beaudry who sang with the band at 'KIT XIX'. The issue I had with THRUST then was that they sounded more like the more modern "Reincarnation" record rather than the old school straight forward sound of "Fist Held High". I mean, they still sounded fantastic but not really as I expected them too. Now though it was a complete smack in the face. Just as some band during the Friday, the frenzy was back. THRUST geared up into overdrive... Ok, "Fist Held High" first, then "Overdrive" and damn, it sounded good. I had a silly smile on my face from the first note to the last of the set. And now the songs from "Reincarnation", first "Scream Girl Scream" and "Wasted" later on, sounded like the old school THRUST we know and love.

As a treat, THRUST also served a few new ones; "The Sorceress" got stuck with its good flow and drive, a good up-tempo track and here Eric's powerful voice come to its right. It all sounded awesome and I can't wait to get to hear the new stuff on record.

It was of course the songs off "Fist Held High" getting the biggest cheering, and towards the end at "Metallic Attack" it was the same fury inside like the previous day. It became clear I wasn't the only one affected by the air inside, or people's hangover was gone (or them getting drunk again is more likely). Another new one in "The Blood King" before THRUST wrapped up their show with "Posers Will Die!" to a cheering crowd.

It's actually a bit crazy that band after band that has been around since the ‘80s can run over the youngsters completely when it comes to energy (NIGHT DEMON excluded) and pure force in their live-performances. THRUST for sure did it too and sounded fantastic while doing it.

THRUST setlist:

01. "Fist Held High"
02. "Overdrive"
03. "Scream Girl Scream"
04. "Feel The Pain"
05. "The Sorceress"
06. "Thrasher"
07. "Wasted"
08. "Metallic Attack"
09. "The Blood King"
10. "Posers Will Die!"

THRUST

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

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It was MYTHRA who tickled my nerves this Saturday though and I defied the heat in the venue and waited for the band to get ready. I didn't want to risk missing out on anything, so I stayed inside. And I’m glad did as I saw John Roach running on and off with his guitar on stage and then, 5 minutes before schedule, everyone just turned around and MYTHRA kicked off their set with "The Best Is Yet To Come". I wasn't ready and the rest of the crowd was certainly not on spot with this nick.

MYTHRA too is a band with a long history who are back stronger than ever these days. When I first came across the band, I thought it was good. Seeing them live though changed the whole thing for me, and after their complete run-over at the 'NWOBHM XMAS Rocka' event late last year, I was really looking forward to see them play again here. After that treatment, MYTHRA's music went down very well on record as well and new "Still Burning" is still a frequent load in the player.

It took a few songs before people had noticed the show actually was on a go but when that happened and as quickly as the capacity of the door allowed people inside the venue filled up completely. After "U.F.O.", fantastic "Vicious Bastard" followed. I almost forgot to shoot and ended up watching Vince High's mimic on stage - I love his way of expressing himself and he's such a charismatic frontman.

After "New Life", it was time for the songs of the new album, starting with the title track. This was what I was looking forward to the most with this show, to get to hear these songs live as well. It sounded fantastic. Most fascinating was though to study John Roach perform - or listen actually; his guitar-sound is very clean and unforgiving. And especially for "Ride The Storm" I realized I could hear every single note he was playing. No room for mistakes there, not that there were any. This struck me earlier also and I love the attack he has in his playing and with this sound there's nothing to hide behind. Again, it sounded fabulous.

I can rant on and on about how good I thought MYTHRA were, how much I had boosted for the show and the complete discharge when it was over. Frankly, I was done with 'Up The Hammers' when MYTHRA left the stage. That's how it felt for me. It sounded great from start to finish but I really enjoyed the new songs from "Still Burning" the most, "Silence In The Sirens" being one of the absolute favorites. So, hell yes, this was awesome! Even more so than I expected.

MYTHRA setlist:

01. "The Best Is Yet To Come"
02. "U.F.O."
03. "Vicious Bastard"
04. "New Life"
05. "Still Burning"
06. "Ride The Storm"
07. "Silence In The Sirens"
08. "Killer"
09. "Machine"
10. "Sands Of Time"
11. "You"
12. "A Call To All"
13. "Survival"
14. "Overlord"
15. "Death And Destiny"

MYTHRA

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

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It was hard to recharge for INNERWISH. I don't have any relation to the band at all. For sure I've heard some of the records and like it, but they've never struck me like some of the other bands on the bill have. But it definitely sounded good and seeing the treatment they got here, it was clear they were on the right spot of the bill. Something I was a bit hesitant about before seeing the band onstage.

It's always fascinating to see bands who are much bigger than I could ever expect. The crowd really knew INNERWISH's music and sang along like crazy on a few occasions which of course teases my interest towards the band. Apparently, I've been missing out and that must change for the next opportunity I get to see INNERWISH. But as for HOLY MARTYR it was getting hot and the lack of air inside made it hard to focus. I decided it was time for a breather before CIRITH UNGOL and left the venue just as INNERWISH kicked off a cover of Q5's fantastic "Lonely Lady", and I regretted my move immediately. But I was happy with what I saw and perhaps INNERWISH would have struck harder for me on another slot.

INNERWISH setlist:

01. "Machines Of Fear"
02. "Modern Babylon"
03. "Sirens"
04. "Rain Of A Thousand Years"
05. "Silent Faces"
06. "Broken"
07. "Lonely Lady" (Q5 cover)
08. "Inner Strength"
09. "Needles In My Mind"
10. "Ready For Attack"


Then it was time to be packed up again. It was crazy for ROSS THE BOSS who headlined the night before, but I'd say it was even worse here. Ok, not to start with as people stayed outside till the last minute but when trying to get out of the photo-pit after "Atom Smasher", it was really hard to move inside Gagarin205 and even harder to see anything at all, despite the different floor levels.

Again, as for ROSS THE BOSS, seeing CIRITH UNGOL here, with the intimacy this venue offered and the addition of a completely loony crowd made this show really special. It's so cool to see CIRITH UNGOL play and the way they sound is absolutely fantastic. It still is a bit weird and mysterious everything they do but it suites the whole thing in such a good way. Tim Baker does a fantastic job in the front creating this atmosphere with his expression and vocals. And to hear this together with the crowd's reaction to "Blood & Iron", "Frost And Fire" and "Finger Of Scorn" was just awesome. It can only be in Greece when a club-crowd knows every single word to every CIRITH UNGOL song played. The support they got at 'Keep It True' a few months earlier was really good too, but this was something else.

"Chaos Rising" from "Paradise Lost" is perhaps not the most classic song played but it stood out and was one of my favorites from the set. The dumb thing here was that I got elbowed on my nose (by accident of course) somewhere around that time which made my eyes tear up and it hurt like hell for the rest of the show. This made the encores a little hard to enjoy. A shame really, since CIRITH UNGOL lined up some mighty fine tunes here. But I'm really glad I got to see this one too. The intensity around this show became fantastic due to the crowd. The sound was also crisp and clear and damn loud which really made the songs justice. Even if I like it on record, the sound on those first few albums leave more to wish for.

So, 'Up The Hammers XII' ended with yet another fantastic show and a crazy crowd. It was hot as hell from start to end but for sure an enjoyable weekend with lots of great performances from amazing bands. It was ATTACKER and MYTHRA that made the weekend for me though.

CIRITH UNGOL setlist:

01. Intro - "War Eternal"
02. "I'm Alive"
03. "Join The Legion"
04. "Atom Smasher"
05. "Edge Of A Knife"
06. "Blood & Iron"
07. "Black Machine"
08. "Frost And Fire"
09. "Finger Of Scorn"
10. "Chaos Descends"
11. "Doomed Planet"
12. "Chaos Rising"
13. "Fallen Idols"
14. "Paradise Lost"
15. "Master Of The Pit"
16. "King Of The Dead"
17. "Cirith Ungol"
18. "Black Machine"

CIRITH UNGOL

Cirith Ungol @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Cirith Ungol @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Cirith Ungol @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Cirith Ungol @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Cirith Ungol @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Cirith Ungol @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Cirith Ungol @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Cirith Ungol @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Cirith Ungol @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg) Cirith Ungol @ Gagarin205 (photo by Erika Wallberg)

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