Live Photos and Gig Review Credit: Adrian Hextall (Photographer/Live Gig reporter Myglobalmind Webzine
So answer me this… gigs (not festivals just your average daily, run of the mill gigs).. gigs start with a support around 7:00pm maybe 7:30pm right? Not today it would appear. Blessed with performing on “club night” at the Underworld, the storming bill of Majesty, Battle Beast, Ashes of Ares and Powerwolf, means that kick off is at 5:25pm. Who on earth goes to a gig at 5:25pm? Well it would appear everyone, except me clearly! By the time Majesty had finished their short 6 song set at 6:00pm, The Underworld in Camden, London is heaving and the walls are already starting to sweat.
Majesty preaches the virtues of True Metal to those that have made the effort to arrive early and are clearly inspired by original destroyers of False Metal, Manowar. Shades of Accept and Priest also enter into their music and at any point you expect Conan the Barbarian to charge in on horseback such is the imagery the band portrays. A great start to the night I am told by the masses in black leather, I just wish I had managed to witness more of it.
Having barely had time to sink the first horn of ale of the night, I manage to get myself into a good spot to watch Finnish metallers Battle Beast take to the stage. Clearly excited at playing the UK for the very first time the band featuring new vocalist Noora Louhimo make the most of the small space and short time slot afforded to them. The floor in front of the stage is rammed during Battle Beast’s performance and the epic imagery of warriors, maidens and bloody war that began with Majesty’s set continues as the band run through a song list focusing primarily on latest album “Battle Beast”.
Opening with the first track ‘Let It Roar’ off the eponymous album, the band makes it clear that there are non more metal in the room tonight. That is until (do my eyes deceive me?) Janne Björkroth moves to the front of the stage playing keytar (or is it a guiboard) and almost destroys the mighty metal moment. Clearly a frustrated guitarist he is however a very versatile keyboard player and provides a depth and polish to the tracks normally afforded to bands with many more years’ experience under their belts.
When every track you play is anthemic, it’s easy to get the crowd worked up and soon fists, flagons of mead, shirts and people are raised into the air to join in with songs like ‘Neuromancer’ and ‘Kingdom’. On ‘Black Ninja’ swirling keyboards lead into each verse before the thundering rhythm section of Eero Sipilä, bass and Pyry Vikki, drums drive the song into the chorus allowing Noora to lift the roof with her vocals.
On final track ‘Out of Control’ Noora’s voice is the perfect accompaniment to the twin guitar attack of Anton Kabanen and Juuson Soinio and the song sounds as polished and well performed as it does on the album. If the performance tonight is anything to go by then it will not be long for Battle Beast move up from second on the bill to headliners.
Battle Beast (set list)
Let It Roar
Enter the Metal World
Out of Control
Tonight’s special guests are US metal outfit Ashes of Ares and when you look at lead singer Matt Barlow’s history in music it’s easy to see (with 2 stints in Iced Earth) why his band would be considered for tonight’s line up.
On the back of an album that is getting excellent reviews globally they are touring as a 5 piece as label mates to some of the bands on tonight’s bill. They do however make for unlikely bedfellows with the three other bands that; let’s face it, lean somewhat towards the power metal end of the spectrum. If Majesty and Battle Beast have taken people off on flights of fantasy into mystical lands, then Ashes of Ares are here to ground us all back into reality.
Ashes of Ares
Lyrically ‘The Messenger’, with its Queensryche-esque intro, sits pretty with what has gone before. Barlow talks of “A messenger sent from far and wide, Upon the raging beast he rides..” The execution of the song is excellent with seasoned musicians Van Williams and Freddie Vidales joining forces with Barlow to form a powerful unit.
With vocals at time as low as James Hetfield’s and in equal parts as high as Rob Halford’s, Matt Barlow’s range is extraordinary. The tone of the songs being aired tonight is however very dark and by the third song in the set, a section of the floor have moved to the bar to seek solace in more ale before the headliners arrive.
‘Dead Man’s Plight’ follows and then the band play ‘This is My Hell’ which brings Metallica’s ‘One’ to mind and makes me wish for something to lighten the mood. Tough lyrics to listen to but well played nonetheless. The tempo is then upped again during ‘Chalice of Man’ and ‘Punishment’, the latter seeing Freddie Vidales delivering excellent solos.
‘What I Am’ finishes the set with the line ‘Well you have got to believe’. I’m sure Ashes to Ares will become regulars on the festival circuit over the next few years so maybe I’ll take another listen in a different setting.
Ashes or Ares (set list)
Move The Chains
Dead Man’s Plight
This Is My Hell
Chalice Of Man
The One-Eyed King
What I Am
Headliners Powerwolf are playing a set that runs close to 2 hours tonight. Another reason Majesty were in the bar before I’d finished that first drink.
In preparation, the Underworld is transformed from sweaty, warts and all music venue to a gothic cathedral complete with stone (effect) eagle in front of Falk Maria Schlegel’s keyboards. The lights then dim and as drummer Roel van Helden and Schlegel take their places, the brothers Greywolf appear on stage. Bathed in blue and red lights there is a feral look about them as they roar in unison at the crowd. Lead singer Attila Dorn arrives on stage complete with priests’ robes and an incense burner which he waves around the venue and somehow manages to remove the smell of sticky sweaty bodies.
By now The Underworld is as full as I think I’ve seen it in many years. With this being the only UK date on the tour, the faithful have clearly come to worship at Powerwolf’s alter.
Sanctified with Dynamite from 2011’s Blood of the Saints album starts proceedings. Rapidly followed by 2007’s ‘Prayer in the Dark’ and ‘Amen and Attack’ from latest album ‘Preachers of the Night’ the sound mix is one of the best heard in this small venue. The Greywolf brothers swap sides and solo like men possessed pausing only to howl at the moon before returning to their positions either side of Attila Dorn.
Taking time to thank everyone for coming and apologising for poor English, Attila chats with the crowd and is genuinely moved when the masses launch into (and repeat at least three times through the set) a rendition of;
“we love you Powerwolf we do,
we love you Powerwolf we do,
we love you Powerwolf we do,
ooohhhh Powerwolf we love you.”
The lengthy set finishes with ‘We Drink Your Blood’ and the band retreat for a short period before returning to finish with ‘Raise Your Fist, Evangelist, In the Name of God and Wolves against the World’
Excellent sound, set design, musicianship and overall performance. This was definitely an event and not just a show. Let’s hope we get them back soon.
Powerwolf (set list)
Sanctified With Dynamite
Prayer in the Dark
Amen and Attack
All We Need Is Blood
Sacred and Wild
Resurrection by Erection