UTH X - Day 2 @ Kyttaro Club, Athens (GRE)

MANILLA ROAD / SLAUGHTER XSTROYES / TRIBUTE TO BATHORY / CRUSH / BATTLEROAR II / VALOR / WRATHBLADE / BATTLE RAM

Date: 07th March, 2015
Venue: Kyttaro Club
Ticket: €55 ($60)
Promoter: Up The Hammers
Photos: Erika Wallberg


For the second day of ‘Up The Hammers’ festival, it was back to normal; the doors opened rather late, almost when it was time for BATTLE RAM to start playing. This wouldn't have been an issue since we were waiting patiently in line, but apparently the festival band around my wrist wasn't enough to get in the second day. I needed my ticket as well. I didn't get any additional tags after showing my ticket, so I don't get the point really.

After the run back to the hotel about half of the BATTLE RAM set had remained so luckily I didn't miss all of it. But it was something I was looking forward to seeing, so I was a bit bummed out. But what I actually saw sounded very good; the energy was very good and vocalist Franco Sgattoni sounded fantastic. However, BATTLE RAM took on the task to play CRIMSON GLORY's absolutely fantastic “Red Sharks”. From a vocal perspective, he actually pulled it off but what the hell was he singing. He did the lyrics with conviction but I'm not sure it was real English words on a few occasions. And when you're doing such a monumental track, you better get the words right. But again, BATTLE RAM started off the second day of the festival in a very good way. Spirit on top again.

BATTLE RAM setlist:

01. “Burning Lives”
02. “The Stone”
03. “The Vow”
04. “Behind The Mask”
05. “Battering Ram”
06. “Red Sharks” (CRIMSON GLORY cover)

BATTLE RAM

Battle Ram @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Battle Ram @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Battle Ram @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Battle Ram @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Battle Ram @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Battle Ram @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Battle Ram @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Battle Ram @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Battle Ram @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Battle Ram @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)

(click to enlarge)


That the Greek are good at classic Heavy Metal and Power Metal is a fact but that they should be good at occult Metal as well I haven't stumbled over before. WRATHBLADE started off very strong in “God-Defying Typhoeus” with its suggestive and gloomy groove. Vocalist Nick Varsamis moves over the stage in a very charismatic way, like an evil wizard spellbinding his audience. It all works really well. “Flee To Freedom” was another real highlight as was the set closer “Dolorous Shock”. It's hard to get the occult feeling without it being too much of a theater and that WRATHBLADE did very good. The other part of the set consisted of much more rough songs and fell a bit outside of my taste. Anyway, it's impossible to like everything but performance-wise WRATHBLADE delivered a very good show and that’s a fact.

WRATHBLADE setlist:

01. “God-Defying Typhoeus”
02. “Flee To Freedom”
03. “Defend The Metal Faith”
04. “For You”
05. “Met In Hades”
06. “Vaunted Pride”
07. “Dolorous Shock”

WRATHBLADE

Wrathblade @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Wrathblade @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Wrathblade @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Wrathblade @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Wrathblade @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Wrathblade @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Wrathblade @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Wrathblade @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Wrathblade @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Wrathblade @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)

(click to enlarge)


To my surprise, people actually didn't show up early for this festival day. Ok, there were still some faithful fans hanging out inside the venue supporting the bands playing. And even more surprisingly, people left when VALOR hit the stage. Ok, you might not be a prophet in your home town but taking in consideration how damn good this was, there should be more people inside enjoying what was delivered from stage. The build up with “The Journey Begins” and over to “The Answer's Yonder” was fantastic, starting off very mellow and increased in power for every second. I love those kind of build-up's. What is a bit funny is that I think Southern European accents in music sung in English sounds very charming and it doesn't bother me at all while if the same thing happens with a Swedish band, it feels really cold turkey. Even if VALOR was perfection all the way through, after a few songs it felt a little bit same-same for every song. All was good but perhaps the Greeks have seen this before and skipped another set of the same thing?

VALOR setlist:

01. “The Journey Begins” / “The Answer's Yonder”
02. “Choices”
03. “Witch’s Tear”
04. “V.A.L.I.S.”
05. “Follow Me”
06. “Into The Night”
07. “Crown Of Evermore”
08. “The King” (ACCEPT cover)
09. “On The Final Day”

VALOR

Valor @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Valor @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Valor @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Valor @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Valor @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Valor @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Valor @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Valor @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Valor @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)

(click to enlarge)


It's actually fascinating that the same band can be so different. Ok, it's not really the same since most of the members were changed from BATTLEROAR III on the night before. Of all the three line-up's and shows, this was the most fun one and the one that sounded the best. It felt very inspired, energetic and as they had great fun on stage which kind of kicks BATTLEROAR III down one more peg-hole in the ranking. Gerrit is normally a very good showman but he had to see himself beaten by Marco Concoreggi. One more that was working extra hard this weekend was Manolis Karazeris who is of course the main promoter of the whole festival but also played with three bands, two times BATTLEROAR and DEXTER WARD. And the songs played in this set, especially “Metal From Hellas” and “Egyptian Doom” were absolutely fantastic. Of course, the joyful performance helped a lot to boost the show too.

BATTLEROAR II setlist:

01. “The Wrathforge”
02. “Dragonhelm”
03. “Sword Of Crom”
04. “Death Before Disgrace”
05. Metal From Hellas”
06. Egyptian Doom”
07. Hyrkanian Blades”
08. “Battleroar”

BATTLEROAR II

Battleroar II @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Battleroar II @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Battleroar II @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Battleroar II @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Battleroar II @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Battleroar II @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Battleroar II @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Battleroar II @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Battleroar II @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Battleroar II @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)

(click to enlarge)


There was a very special atmosphere inside the Kyttaro Club when CRUSH took over the stage. The cult could almost be felt and it was important and very special. It's not the same joyful mood it was earlier in the evening and it's almost panic as there was something not really working on stage when CRUSH were supposed to play. Irritation over technical problems can be understood but it doesn't feel necessary to express the discontent because it destroys the atmosphere. Luckily there was no trace of this when CRUSH actually started playing. It's actually rather amazing that CRUSH have this status, ok they've been around since the early '80s but it took them 10 years to release an album. Perhaps that's only in Sweden that you had to put something out in the '80s to get the cult stamp. The good thing is that CRUSH don't only live on old merits and in fact the set opener “20 Years Ago” is a new song and sounded fantastic. Looking to stage right, ok not on stage, but on the side, you could see Mr. Sirens (Sirens Records) cheering on fully waving a huge sword and having his own CRUSH banner. Support for the local scene from the local scene is always good to see. So, hell yes, the cult lives and CRUSH delivered one hell of a set. It felt very short though, so without a doubt they could have added a few more songs to the set and given DOOMSWORD a match for their money.

CRUSH setlist:

01. “20 Years Ago”
02. “Kingdom Of The Kings”
03. “Run To The Highway”
04. “Unborn”
05. “On The Cross”
06. “Morpheus World”

CRUSH

Crush @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Crush @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Crush @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Crush @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Crush @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Crush @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Crush @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Crush @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Crush @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Crush @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)

(click to enlarge)


I still remember clearly the first time I ever heard BATHORY. I'd started to get interested in heavier and faster music and at a party something that sounded cooler than everything I've ever heard blasted from the speakers. I didn't even dare to ask what it was since everyone else seemed to know the music but I watched carefully when the record was picked from the stereo and back in its cover; it was BATHORY’s “The Return”. And about at the same time “Blood Fire Death” was released and I was completely hooked. It's very few that has seen BATHORY live since they basically never ever played live after releasing the first record. So, even if this is a tribute, it's still damn cool to hear these songs live.

A bit in to the set Alan Averill proclaimed that he'd promised to do this gig about a year earlier in a rather drunk state. The band had its first and only rehearsal in the morning at the same day with the gig. It's really amazing how good that sounded. The fateful feeling is there and Alan really pulled of both the clean and harsh vocals with grace. And that's probably the only problem; it was a bit too good, clean and nice to really capture the BATHORY attitude. For “Enter The Eternal Fire” the parts of the stage is handed over Sakis Tolis and George Emmanuel from ROTTING CHRIST. Again, it sounded amazing! I normally don't like cover or tribute bands but when you can't get the real deal, it sure is something else.

TRIBUTE TO BATHORY setlist:

01. “Shores In Flames”
02. “Through Blood By Thunder”
03. “Home Of Once Brave”
04. “Song To Hall Up High”
05. “A Fine Day To Die”
06. “Enter The Eternal Fire”

TRIBUTE TO BATHORY

Tribute To Bathory @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Tribute To Bathory @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Tribute To Bathory @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Tribute To Bathory @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Tribute To Bathory @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Tribute To Bathory @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Tribute To Bathory @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Tribute To Bathory @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Tribute To Bathory @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Tribute To Bathory @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)

(click to enlarge)


It is as hard to spell SLAUTER XSTROYES as to get in to their music. I mean, you won't be able to sing along to anything from “Winterkill” as you can after any FREEDOM CALL or GAMMA RAY record. Nothing bad about those bands of course but SLAUTER XSTROYES sure is much more intriguing and remain interesting for eternity. The fun thing is, as complex “Winterkill” is on record, as smooth do the songs fly live. I don't know how they do it because nothing is eased up or simplified but still the flow and drive is phenomenal. And it looks so easy. Steven Reimer Sr. just struts around joyfully on stage and sings a little. Of course, he has Brent and Paul in the game with the show too but they more stand for the frenzy. I remember feeling exactly the same after seeing them at ‘Keep It True’ a few years back. And ok, that the crowd tagged along with OMEN and sang everything but I could never for my life see that the same thing would happen for SLAUTER XSTROYES. But in Greece everything is possible apparently. It's great to see bands at this size draw a packed venue that actually do more than drink beer and watch with crossed arms in the back. And why not, “The Stage” and perhaps most “City Of Sirtel” sent shivers down my spine. It says something about how good the show is when you forget how damn hot it is in the venue. Better than DOOMSWORD? Mmm...

SLAUTER XSTROYES setlist:

01. “Free The Beast”
02. “Dignified Disaster”
03. “Winter Kill”
04. “No Idea”
05. “The Stage”
06. “City Of Sirtel”
07. “Charlotte”
08. “Black Rose And Thorns”
09. “Mother, Mother Fucker”
10. “Metal's No Sin”
11. “Saint's Revenge”

SLAUTER XSTROYES

Slauter Xstroyes @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Slauter Xstroyes @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Slauter Xstroyes @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Slauter Xstroyes @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Slauter Xstroyes @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Slauter Xstroyes @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Slauter Xstroyes @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Slauter Xstroyes @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Slauter Xstroyes @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Slauter Xstroyes @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Slauter Xstroyes @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Slauter Xstroyes @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Slauter Xstroyes @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Slauter Xstroyes @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Slauter Xstroyes @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)

(click to enlarge)


Anything is possible in Greece: like three versions of BATTLEROAR, so why not have a double headline gig with the same band? I guess one reason, apart from the fantastic line-up, that the tickets had been sold out as quickly as they did was that MANILLA ROAD brought Randy "Thrasher" Foxe with them for a very special set. But first things first...

From virtually not touring at all to being on the road a couple of times a year, I guess has much to do with the addition of Neudi in the band. The fact that he can do most anything he's shown with ROXXCALIBUR and with other classic bands on ‘Keep It True’, ‘Headbangers Open Air’ and such. And he sure pulls this off as well.

And when having the opportunity not take it and promote recently released “The Blessed Curse”. The album got much space in the Neudi set and you might think that this dipped the support from the crowd. Not a chance, the audience actually knew these new songs as well and the spirit was on top from start to finish. It took a while for me to get around MANILLA ROAD live, I've always liked the records but for some reason I got over that and I fully enjoyed this show. But could the crowd as well as the band last for another Headline set?

MANILLA ROAD (w/ Neudi) setlist:

01. “Flaming Metal Systems”
02. “The Blessed Curse”
03. “Truth In The Ash”
04. “Only the Brave”
05. “The Dead Still Speak”
06. “Falling”
07. “Cage Of Mirrors”
08. “Kings Of Invention”
09. “Reign Of Dreams”
10. “Far Side Of The Sun”
11. “Luxiferia's Light”
12. “Sword Of Hate”
13. “The Ram”
14. “The Riddle Master”
15. “Necropolis”
16. “Crystal Logic”

MANILLA ROAD (w/ Neudi)

Manilla Road (w/ Neudi) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Manilla Road (w/ Neudi) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Manilla Road (w/ Neudi) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Manilla Road (w/ Neudi) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Manilla Road (w/ Neudi) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Manilla Road (w/ Neudi) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Manilla Road (w/ Neudi) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Manilla Road (w/ Neudi) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Manilla Road (w/ Neudi) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Manilla Road (w/ Neudi) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Manilla Road (w/ Neudi) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Manilla Road (w/ Neudi) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Manilla Road (w/ Neudi) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Manilla Road (w/ Neudi) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Manilla Road (w/ Neudi) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)

(click to enlarge)


After a very short change-over, MANILLA ROAD took their places on stage again. But they actually got a bit longer pause than it first seemed. As any gala or major event, there are awards handed out. These prices were given for serving the Metal Scene throughout the years, even when it wasn't as popular in the mid '90s as it is today. Kenny Powell from OMEN, Mark Shelton from MANILLA ROAD were the first ones to receive their awards. These guys have been driving there bands for decades in the underground so there's no doubt they deserved it. Greg Varsamis from Eat Metal Records who's been arranging concerts in Athens as well as Oliver Weinsheimer for his work with ‘Keep It True’, ‘Hammer Of Doom’ and ‘Metal Assault’ to mention a few. Last but not least Randy Foxe was also awarded and he basically stole the show from everyone. A rather fun event and it came as a surprise for me. But now it was time to rock again.

Awards

Audience @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Awards @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Awards @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Awards @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Awards @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Awards @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Awards @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Awards @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Awards @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)

(click to enlarge)


The fact that Randy Foxe is a phenomenal and rather innovative drummer no one can deny. He's playing keyboards at the same time as he's drumming and he, once upon in time, hung a guitar next to his kit and played some while drumming also. The whole thing actually started off a bit shaky, not at all as solid as I'd expected. After 2-3 songs, Randy was warmed up and back to his normal standards. Again, it was a little as with SLAUTER XSTROYES, he played damn much and complex things but it all flowed so nicely. Nothing bad about Neudi but Randy is a class for himself. And with the setlist in this part of the show, even if I really like the new stuff also, was a real party. And again, it was like being in an arena for a major band when it came to crowd response and sing-a-long. Absolutely fantastic!

In total, I think MANILLA ROAD played for 2 hours and 45 minutes, something as it was massive sets both of them. To pull that off and not be boring a second, sure is something. But I do think the support from the crowd has a lot to do with the whole experience as well. Without the dedication and the party that was still going on big time, it wouldn't have been the same.

It was an amazing ending of a fantastic festival. My favorite shows were easily DOOMSWORD, SLAUTER XSTROYES and MANILLA ROAD and it's very hard to pick one of them as THE best.

MANILLA ROAD (w/ Randy) setlist:

01. “Open The Gates”
02. “Masque Of The Red Death”
03. “Death By The Hammer”
04. “Hammer Of The Witches”
05. “Witches Brew”
06. “Taken By Storm”
07. “Road Of Kings”
08. “Divine Victim”
09. “The Ninth Wave”
10. “Dementia”
11. “Mystification”
12. “Haunted Palace”
13. “War In Heaven”
14. “Into The Courts Of Chaos”
15. “The Prophecy”

MANILLA ROAD (w/ Randy)

Manilla Road (w/ Randy) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Manilla Road (w/ Randy) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Manilla Road (w/ Randy) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Manilla Road (w/ Randy) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Manilla Road (w/ Randy) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Manilla Road (w/ Randy) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Manilla Road (w/ Randy) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Manilla Road (w/ Randy) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Manilla Road (w/ Randy) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Manilla Road (w/ Randy) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Manilla Road (w/ Randy) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Manilla Road (w/ Randy) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Manilla Road (w/ Randy) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Manilla Road (w/ Randy) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg) Manilla Road (w/ Randy) @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)

(click to enlarge)