Christmas Metal Fest, Day 1 @ Lichtenfels (GER)

HAMMERFALL / SAXON / LORDI / SEPULTURA / EXODUS / ANVIL / DESTRUCTION / LIZZY BORDEN / HEATHEN / MORTAL SIN

Date: 25th November, 2011
Venue: Stadthalle Lichtenfels
Ticket: €47.50 per day / 88.50 combi-ticket ($63 / 118)
Promoter: Rock In Concert


The decision to attend ‘Christmas Metal Festival’ was immediately taken after the interview with Cronos had ended. Getting a full blown VENOM show was by default the only reason we wanted to spend the Thanksgiving holidays abroad and not caring about the exhausting flight and the no-sleep conditions. So, after landing in Nuremberg, we made the one hour drive to the hotel to gear up for the first day of the festival, knowing that we’d miss MORTAL SIN and HEATHEN, but really there was no time. The picturesque scenery was a nice and short break as on our way to the venue and conveniently parked in the designated areas (nice organization) as LIZZY BORDEN was almost onstage...

DimK: Every time I watch LIZZY BORDEN live I’m having the same thought: “This band should be more famous”. I mean, the music is great and Lizzy is more than capable to put a nice show with all the Alice Cooper inspired theatrical stunts. As always it was very entertaining watching him holding the baseball bat during the medley, swing the axes and bringing the blood filled skull looking bucket during “There Will Be Blood”. Although the fans in the front rows were not that willing to get some blood on their faces, it was kind of funny watching them taking a few steps back as Lizzy approached them... The set ended with “American Metal” with Lizzy bringing out the US flag (always), while singing with his crystal clear voice. Without doubt, he is a great performer and the latest lineup features equally skilled musicians, so I am really expecting the band’s next album. That was a great festival opener for us!

LIZZY BORDEN setlist:

01.  “Abnormal”
02.  “Tomorrow Never Comes”
03.  “Red Rum”
04.  “Rod Of Iron”
05.  “Live Forever”
06.  “Den Of Thieves” / “Roll Over And Play Dead” / “Hell Is For Heroes” / “Notorious” (medley)
07.  “Come Out At Night”
08.  “There Will Be Blood”
09.  “Me Against The World”
10.  “American Metal”

LIZZY BORDEN

Lizzy Borden @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Lizzy Borden @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Lizzy Borden @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Lizzy Borden @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Lizzy Borden @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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DimK: We were in Germany in a Metal festival so it would be absolutely inappropriate if there wasn’t at least one local band on the billing. So, DESTRUCTION seemed a very good choice since their shows have a guaranteed quality and Thrash level, plus they would play songs only from the first two full length albums so... we were served with traditional Thrash from the characteristic three piece lineup that defined the German scene back in the mid 80s. Whoever has been at least once in a DESTRUCTION show knows exactly what to expect; solid performance, great guitar work and the iconic frontmanship by Schmier. “Total Desaster” was a powerful setlist opener and there we had the classic DESTRUCTION onstage setting right in front of our eyes. I have watched this band more than 10 times in the past, so I just have to admit that onstage they can be considered as predictable. I mean, there is nothing to expect apart from the one-foot-on-monitor­ pose and the frequent singing position changes, while maintaining the onstage symmetry having Schmier and Mike on the two stage sides. But this is the German Thrash way so... no additional objections. “Moshing is not illegal so don’t be afraid to get into a mosh pit. And “Invincible Force” is the perfect song to do that” said Schmier and so it happened. There was good old European moshing that being at the US we have missed so much. There should be mosh pits seminars here in the US... “Curse The Gods” was the final song that gave me another chance to headbang during the killer intro that builds the hearty Thrash tension.

DESTRUCTION setlist:

01.  “Total Desaster”
02.  “Satan’s Vengeance”
03.  “Mad Butcher”
04.  “Black Mass” / “Antichrist” / “Death Trap”
05.  “Invincible Force”
06.  “The Ritual” / “Thrash Attack”
07.  “Eternal Ban”
08.  “Bestial Invasion”
09.  “Curse The Gods”

DESTRUCTION

Destruction @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Destruction @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Destruction @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Destruction @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Destruction @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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MariaV: After the German Thrash invasion from DESTRUCTION that sent many fans outside the venue for a couple of breaths (yep, it’s quite difficult to start headbanging from 12pm, especially if your age is above 30s), it was time for some old school Heavy Metal ala the Canadian way. The mighty ANVIL stepped on Stadthalle’s big stage at 4:30pm precisely, and I doubt if any of those Germans had the chance to watch these guys before, judging by the way they watched Lips and G5’s moves running up and down onstage. Under the intro of “March Of The Crabs”, Lips showed up with a big smile on his face, while G5 seemed to be ready to serve us another sweet bass performance. “666” and “School Love” made us dive into the ANVIL’s first days and the old school Metal audience seemed to enjoy these songs more than the young ones (well, what can I say here?). Some of the highlights of ANVIL’s hourly set were definitely “On Fire” and “Mothra” (although I didn’t experience the warm response from the crowd as I expected while Lips was doing the ‘dildo’ solo). Last but not least, the national anthem of Metal hit our ears (yep, I’m talking about “Metal On Metal”) and it was quite touching to watch even the youngest metalheads to sing the lyrics of a song written 30 years ago.

ANVIL setlist:

01. March Of The Crabs”
02. 666”
03. School Love”
04. Juggernaut Of Justice”
05. Winged Assassins”
06. On Fire”
07. This Is Thirteen”
08. Mothra”
09. “Swing Thing”
10. Metal On Metal”

ANVIL

Anvil @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Anvil @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Anvil @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Anvil @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Anvil @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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DimK: The Canadians did a great job as always and defined with their set a break in the Thrash attack that was about to continue with the Bay Area raised EXODUS. Another special show was planned for this festival as the US thrashers were to perform songs from their first and most characteristic three albums for this scene (the “Bonded By Blood” album is a Bay Area Thrash milestone). Of course, I was very curious to see how Dukes would handle the vocals, even though he has improved his singing by taking more steps away from the mainstream almost ‘-core’ style. The old school set kicked in with three tracks performed back to back without pauses in between causing mayhem in the front rows. During “Exodus”, I realized that Dukes’ voice did justice to Baloff (R.I.P. 2002) stellar performance in the band’s historic debut. “We are here to teach a lesson in violence” added Dukes and the large mosh pit welcomed this great track, while things got even more violent during “Piranha”. I had to admit that during the first half of the setlist, EXODUS looked too professional and the band members were kind of disconnected with each other. This had nothing to do with their solid performance but with the way they communicated with each other and the audience. Apart from the singer, Gary Holt was the other band member who put that extra energy amount in his performance, delivering the sharp edged riffs at ease having a huge smile on his face. “And Then There Were None” featured some sing-along during the excellent guitar riffs while the Thrash trinity of “Bonded By Blood”, “Toxic Waltz” and “Strike Of The Beast” reminded the old and taught the young what was the Bay Area scene all about. “Strike Of The Beast” was the fitting soundtrack for the wall of death that commenced after Dukes had given the ‘go’ sign. Good thrashin’ times!

EXODUS setlist:

01. “Deranged”
02. “Exodus”
03. “Corruption”
04. “A Lesson In Violence”
05. “Pleasures Of The Flesh”
06. “Brain Dead”
07. “Piranha”
08. “Metal Command”
09. “Last Act Of Defiance”
10. “And Then There Were None”
11. “Bonded By Blood”
12. “Toxic Waltz”
13. “Strike Of The Beast”

EXODUS

Exodus @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Exodus @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Exodus @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Exodus @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Exodus @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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MariaV: And then it was time for the first change in the time schedule; SEPULTURA took LORDI’s place in the timetable and started earlier their set, even though they had some technical problems that delayed their performance for 20 minutes. The new lineup having Eloy Casagrande on drums and Derrick Green on vocals (yep, he can not be considered as a new member anymore, but in my ears he still sounds ‘new’) has taken a different course from the band’s early days and this fact made me think many times during their set why they keep doing this to their selves. I mean, if they wanted to change music direction from the Cavalera-days, they had to change the band’s name too. It’s almost funny to maintain the SEPULTURA trademark, with all these core-laden shouts, while the only thing that reminds the glorious Thrash band is just the sound of the guitar.

Proof of my saying were the two opening tracks of their set, “Beneath The Remains” and “Refuse/Resist” that sounded like a parody comparing to, lets say, SOULFLY’s corresponding live version. Of course, trying to sound-alike to Max’s throat is a joke (and yet a bad one) but on the other hand, Derrick seems so incapable to support the old SEPULTURA stuff while onstage. Here I have to admit that when I saw in the festival’s program that SEPULTURA were going to play a classic show, including the “Beneath The Remains” / “Arise” / “Chaos A.D.” albums, I was thrilled and I decided to give them a chance. So there I was in the front row to ‘absorb’ every detail of their solid performance, but in the end I was way disappointed. I barely managed to recognize “Desperate Cry” because of Derrick’s way changed vocals, while the second guitar was totally missing, or the strange version of “We Who Are Not As Others” that has nothing to do with the original song.

I can’t tell if SEPULTURA’s existance is just an obduracy or a music tradition that has to be going on, but one way or another, Kisser & Co should show some respect to the historic band’s past and be more careful in their live future choices.

SEPULTURA setlist:

01. Intro
02. Beneath The Remains
03. “Refuse/Resist”
04. “D.E.C.”
05. “Desperate Cry”
06. “Amen”
07. “Mass Hypnosis”
08. “We Who Are Not As Others”
09. “Altered State”
10. “Subtraction”
11. “Innerself”
12. “Arise”

SEPULTURA

Sepultura @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sepultura @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sepultura @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sepultura @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sepultura @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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MariaV: A couple of minutes after 9pm, KISS“God Of Thunder” was coming from the venue’s speakers and everyone inside the venue knew that the Finnish Monster metallers LORDI were about to take the baton and offer us an extravaganza show in the norms of Eurovision. Yep, this institution made this band known past their homeland’s borders and it seems that LORDI took advantage of it in the best way they could. With the monstrous costumes, the fancy explosions and a stage set that reminds a lot of GWAR’s appearance, LORDI showed up in front of 2000 faces ready to rock our world and start a Heavy / Hard Rock party, before SAXON’s traditional Metal show.

LORDI’s characteristic Finnish-driven sound with extensive use of keyboards (similar to bands like THE 69 EYES or DEATHSTARS) was a total blast inside Stadthalle and it seemed that the ladies who were in the front rows enjoyed their performance, screaming and singing along the lyrics. I didn’t know that LORDI were so beloved in Germany (you see, the majority of the festival’s attendees was from Germany) so I was quite surprised watching even the younger girls singing and cheering up every time Mr. Lordi was pointing with his monstrous fingers at them. Babez For Breakfast and “Dynamite Tonight” set the first rows on fire, while all the pyros and the fireworks made their set even more eyeful for the fans. I enjoyed the dedication of “Who’s Your Daddy” to all the ladies inside the venue and all the jump-up-and-down that followed, while OX’s brought in my mind Gene Simmons’ figure. “This Is Heavy Metal” was dedicated to the original Heavy Metal bands from Mr. Lordi, making an intro by saying that IRON MAIDEN, MOTLEY CRÜE, ANVIL and VENOM are the real Metal thing, so as LORDI. Well, as far as I’m concerned, I have my objections to how much Heavy Metal LORDI are, but this is still his opinion.

The two surprises kept for the end were the way-known “Hard Rock Hallellujah” that everyone sang and the LORDI hit “Would You Love A Monsterman?” that closed nicely the successful set that had nothing to jealous from a Eurovision contest show. I think that the LORDI fans were more than satisfied from what they watched, since the LORDI show was one of the most impressive of the entire ‘Christmas Metal Festival’.

LORDI setlist:

01. “Babez For Breakfast”
02. “Dynamite Tonight”
03. “Notstop Nite”
04. “Devil Is A Loser”
05. “Rock Police”
06. “It Snows In Hell”
07. “Who’s Your Daddy”
08. “Blood Red Sandman”
09. “This Is Heavy Metal”
10. “Bringing Back The Balls To Rock”
11. “Biomechanic Man”
12. “Hard Rock Hallellujah”
13. “Would You Love A Monsterman?”

LORDI

Lordi @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Lordi @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Lordi @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Lordi @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Lordi @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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MariaV: Then it was time for UK’s Metal pride, SAXON. Well, I feel more than fortunate having seen them two times already during their “Call To Arms” tour (which I totally adore) in Greece and in the US and that was going to be the third one. Of course, things in festivals are a bit different: the time is limited, lots of classics must be played to satisfy the majority of the fans and do not forget the fatigue of the crowd that is for more than 12 hours on feet, trying to support its favorite bands and have great time. I think SAXON had all the above in mind and changed a bit the European and the North US setlist, fitting it to the festival’s conditions. So, lots of SAXON classics were chosen for that night, including “Solid Ball Of Rock”, “Denim & Leather”, “Power & The Glory” and of course our beloved “Princess Of The Night”, and some tracks of the latest release too, like “Hammer Of The Gods”, “Back In ‘79” and the self-titled track as well. It seems that Germany loves SAXON and the majority of the NWOBHM bands that visit this country, so the audience tried to give the best applause to Biff and his crew who has been on the road for almost a year.

As I said above I’ve already seen SAXON two times in 2011 so it was kinda easy for me to spot the differences: the band was looked pretty tired than the last time, but in a high mood as always, trying to give the best for the fans. And they did it; judging by the crowd’s reactions, everyone loved the old and the new SAXON songs, even though the too much booze and the all-day-long-standing were the absolute winners of the night (come on guys, you are going to a concert to watch a band and have fun, not to drink your arses off and passed out)!

Some of the big absents of the night were definitely the legendary “Crusader” and 747 (Strangers In The Night) and the fact that SAXON did only one encore without hitting the stage one more time with more classics, but as I mentioned this the price to pay when in a festival. Nevertheless, a SAXON show has always high standards and that exactly what we got once more.

SAXON setlist:

01. “Heavy Metal Thunder”
02. “Hammer Of The Gods”
03. “Never Surrender”
04. “Chasing The Bullet”
05. “Motorcycle Man”
06. “Back In '79”
07. “Solid Ball Of Rock”
08. “To Hell And Back”
09. “Call To Arms”
10. “Rock The Nations” / Drums solo
11. “Sweeny Todd”
12. “Denim & Leather”
13. “Power & The Glory”
14. “Princess Of The Night”

SAXON

Saxon @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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DimK: After the very good set by SAXON it was time for the questionable choice for the festival headliners that were HAMMERFALL. I am sure how or why this selection was made but personally it felt kind of awkward having the Swedes on a higher position than SAXON. On a personal level I have to admit that I lost my interest for the band after the pretty good “Legacy Of Kings” that failed to meet the expectations built from the excellent debut “Glory To The Brave”. After that, the band sounded predictable and it felt like it was doing circles around the same spot. Nevertheless, “Infected” was a nice surprise that also seem to be the most mature album from HAMMERFALL.

The stage was prepared pretty fast taking into consideration the drum raiser that also had two platforms on every side that also served as video screens. The German audience seemed to be quite excited for HAMMERFALL and despite the long parade of bands filled the front lines. So, the light went out and the intro of “Patient Zero” brought the band onstage in front of an enthusiastic crowd. Maybe that reaction was the answer to my doubts… The sound was great while the light show made the stage look bigger than it was. The band looked over-rehearsed with all the pre-defined moves something that made me feel like I was watching a theatrical performance and not a Metal concert. It is ok for a band to have rehearsed a couple of onstage moves and not bump each other but having everything organized meshes with the raw and straightforward atmosphere that a Metal gig should have. Of course, most of the attention was directed towards Joacim Cans and Oscar Dronjak who are the only members present in the band’s entire discography. Joacim gave an expressional performance and his singing felt flawless during the entire selist. On the other hand, Oscar’s blond looks were kind of distracting despite his huge arsenal of moves and gestures he used to provoke the fans. Personally, I think he over-used all these onstage moves and props but I am not a die-hard HAMMERFALL fan.

“Let's Get It On” was another song from the band’s latest album and it worked absolutely fine getting the audience into the singing-along ritual. Listening to this song I confirmed my most positive thoughts about “Infected” that was the first album after the band’s debut that remained in my listening list more time than  the rest of the releases all together.

HAMMERFALL managed to fill the big stage and used the platform in such way to maintain symmetry from the audience’s perspective and in some extent confirmed my suspicions about having most of the moves pre-rehearsed. “Always Will Be” was a strange selection for the middle of the set due to almost ballad-esque profile that slowed the audience down that by this point seemed to have forgotten the day’s fatigue. Nevertheless, the Swedes managed to restore the energy levels with songs like “Steel Meets Steel”, “Legacy Of Kings”, “Let The Hammer Fall” and of course my personal favorite “The Dragon Lies Bleeding”.

The band ended the set with “The Templar Flame” and said a brief goodnight since there was a chance of an encore granted the fans would ask for one. And so they did and despite it was getting very late it was a pretty energetic request that it took little time to bring them back onstage with the “One More Time” and “Hearts On Fire”. Joacim said that HAMMERFALL have been added to next year’s ‘Wacken’ billing and I am pretty sure many fans from that night will also be there.

It was a very good performance from - what I like to believe - a new version of HAMMERFALL (musically speaking of course) but not that good to convince me that they were the best choice for the headlining spot.

HAMMERFALL setlist:

01. “Patient Zero”
02. “Heeding The Call”
03. “Any Means Necessary”
04. “Bang Your Head”
05. “Blood Bound”
06. “Let's Get It On”
07. “Last Man Standing”
08. “Renegade”
09. “Always Will Be”
10. “Dia De Los Muertos”
11. “Riders Of The Storm”
12. “Steel Meets Steel”
13. “Legacy Of Kings”
14. “Let The Hammer Fall”
15. “The Dragon Lies Bleeding”
16. “The Templar Flame”
17. “One More Time”
18. “Hearts On Fire”

HAMMERFALL

Hammerfall @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Hammerfall @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Hammerfall @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Hammerfall @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Hammerfall @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Hammerfall @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Hammerfall @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Hammerfall @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Hammerfall @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Hammerfall @ Stadthalle Lichtenfels (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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