Warlord @ Gagarin205, Athens (GRE)

WARLORD / DOOMSWORD / DEXTER WARD / WAR DANCE

Date: 27th April, 2013
Venue: Gagarin 205
Ticket: €30 ($40)
Promoter: Music Box Productions


There are these Hard/Heavy gigs that mean lots of sweat and headbanging, there also are the shows that turn out to be some mystified audio/visual ceremony and there are these unique events that bring out such a floating plethora of emotions that few words can really and adequately describe. I think that the legendary WARLORD’s Saturday evening show in Athens, Greece was such one...

It’s no secret WARLORD is one of the most beloved bands spewing from the American Power/Epic Metal school in the 80s; with only one EP and a some-kind-of-video-soundtrack LP in their discography (some 30 years ago...) few are the bands that can collect such devotion from the older clan of metalheads. The LORDIAN GUARD posthumous 90s incarnation of Bill Tsamis (he never stopped writing music, as far as I’m concerned) introduced the melody of WARLORD to a new generation, hence it was a matter of time for the “Rising Out Of The Ashes” album to stigmatize the brand of the WARLORD name in the 21st century. Sporadic shows did not mean nothing at the time since the anticipation for a full European (at least) tour was high. Still, it had to be the turnout of a decade to see Tsamis (aka Destroyer) and Mark Zonder (aka Thunder Child) battling again for a new album and a handful of shows in Germany’s ‘Keep It True’ festival and Greece – Athens and Thessaloniki.

A sold out show in Athens (a second day was added later due to high demand) meant enough people were already out of the Gagarin205 venue on a warm Saturday early evening. Around 7pm the lights went dim for the first time and Greek epic metallers WAR DANCE took the stage for 30 minutes. Their style of Metal is quite unique, with complex enough compositions that mix Doom-y, epic and classic Metal in an interesting pattern while the lead vocals are vivid and powerful to the most. Maybe they need to write some more in-your-face material in the future – if they want of course – so as to attract the attention of fans of the genre but their musicianship was as tight as a virgin’s asshole and they successfully deserved the applause they got after their recital was over. In two years of existence and one or two promo discs under their belt, I think a full album will clear out what we should expect from this interesting quintet.

DEXTER WARD, on the other hand, needed no high IQ from the side of the spectators since their own style is as straightforward as needed when you flirt with Heavy Metal the JUDAS PRIEST way. Add a portion of American Metal without epic elements and here you are; with a singer delivering the goods in a Rob Halford technique and the whole band enjoying the riff-after-riff armada of plain Heavy Metal, the venue started shaking a little bit to the quintet’s songs. The musicianship was again more than satisfactory (I think this was the best time I’ve seen these Athenian metallers so far), thus the warm applaud after 35 minutes of show meant DEXTER WARD did accomplish their metallic aim. A new 7” single is out by the band and if you like in-your-face Metal, you can really check it out.

Having not seen Italy’s DOOMSWORD for some years now live, I was expecting a band that has grown mature and/or a little bit over-saturated by now. Hell was I wrong...The quintet performed for 50 minutes and what they really did during their set was to remind us of how well epic and Doom Metal can be merged into one solid cell for the sake of true Metal to the bone. The band has been around for some 15 years now but you could see them performing like there was no tomorrow while honoring virtually all their (so far) five CDs; a brand new track was also heard that was... hmm... so and so... but generally the band confirmed they are running a second youth onstage with the latest guitars additions and the never-ending-fire attitude of their frontman Deathmaster (resound the horn and refill it with beer; great!), to say the least. Needless to say, DOOMSWORD had their own dedicated crowd in the front rows who had learnt the song lyrics one by one but I think everyone inside the venue saw a band that has the capability of setting fire live. Thanx, guys; waiting for a smashing new album, now.

Having to wait for something less than 45’ for the stage crew - 10 members - to set things right the way two crew members would do in half time (...), the anticipation was growing higher and higher. Would the vocalist be sufficient? Was the songlist mythical with all the ‘oldies’ in? How would Tsamis’ guitar sound? Would there be enough songs from the brand new and excellent “The Holy Empire” CD, too? What about the dual leads, also? This and that, here and there, up and down, what and what not... and the lights went dim for the last time and I think that from that time and onwards it probably is a matter of ‘subjective’ taste to write down what kind of ritual this 100’ gig was; I’ve grown up listening to WARLORD from the late 80s as a teenager back then and there were some times throughout the gig I solemnly burst into tears; the same did happen with enough old metalheads I could see around me...

WARLORD decided to play virtually all of their “Deliver Us” / “Cannons…” songs one after one in the beginning... What can we say ‘bout this molten piece of Heavy Metal performed at once? In a sound that was generally very good, but not pristine, Bill Tsamis and Mark Zonder and the rest of the band (all of them being really professionals in what they had to do) non-stop sent shivers down our spine; a gathering of melodies, a pile of epic emotions, a summoning of heavenly harmonies that were delivered in pure artistic excellence and dominant musicianship. And if we already knew what kind of drummer Mark Zonder is, some fans had questions about if Bill Tsamis would be up to the standards set by himself after so many years. One thing is to be said here only: Bill played every note perfectly, he cooperated excellently with the other guitarist he had onstage and – most of all – did not let a single moment of pure epic feeling pass by, be it the new or old WARLORD or LORDIAN GUARD stuff. He was just amazing, if you could ‘read’ his eyes and speak his body language. He did speak a little bit, also spoke in Greek for a brief speech, and the applaud was more than thunderous. Speaking about magic moments...

Apart from the old WARLORD stuff, the band performed four songs off their newest album which were well received by the audience and a couple of LORDIAN GUARD anthems that were simply majestic. But time has come for all of this atmosphere to end. The “...WARLORD, WARLORD...” chants filled the air multiple times and at the end the whole venue was shouting their guts out for what we had just witnessed. A piece of molten Metal history, again said, was unveiled before our eyes, ears and souls. Thank you, Bill Tsamis, thank you, Mark Zonder; this was definitely one of the most important and surely most exciting and emotional gigs we have ever experienced. Nothing more to add.

WARLORD setlist:

01. “Deliver Us From Evil
02. “Winter Tears
03. “Child Of The Damned
04. “Penny For A Poor Man
05. “Black Mass”
06. “Mrs. Victoria
07. “Lost And Lonely Days
08. “Aliens
09. “Soliloquy
10. “City Walls Of Troy
11. “Kill Zone
12. “Pan’s Labyrinth” (interlude)
13. “Father”
14. “Glory”
15. “War In Heaven”
16. “Winds Of Thor”
17. “Beginning / Lucifer’s Hammer”
18. “Achilles Revenge”