Rock You To Hell, although faced a lot of problems and last minute cancellations was there for the third time for the audience in Athens and beyond. Those cancellations came up on a time that didn't allow to find replacements (Crazy Lixx, Angels Or Kings and Oliver/Dawson Saxon canceled for different reasons) and forced the promoter to make it a one-day festival and not two-day and squeeze in 11 bands that went on stage from 14:30! That meant that Lachrymose from Thessaloniki and Wisdom from Athens opened the show with very little people in Kyttaro. This didn't forbid the latter to do a great show playing old and new songs, while the rookies Lachrymose showed that have some work to do.
The first international act was Gang from France. The audience seemed to enjoy their simple but joyful heavy metal while they showed a lot of enthusiasm. Performances like that mean a lot for bands like this one that are consisted by fans who play for their love for music. R.U.S.T.X. From Cyprus are also fans and very passionate ones. Having changed their name slightly (former R.U.S.T.) and with a new lineup put had the audience on its tows. The four Xanthou brothers live and breathe heavy metal and that comes out in their music and live performances. Their daring cover on Heir Apparent's “Another Candle” made them justice by the crowd's reactions, while the new songs they played for us showed a new face to what we've used to so far, filled with progressive rock elements. On their performance highlights is of course their entrance with a Harley bike and Panagiotis guitar smash on the stage, as well as his climbing on the lights pole. British old dogs Fist played just before R.U.S.T.X. and they were very excited and really appreciated by the audience.
Clairvoyant led by guitarist Vaggelis Keramidas played songs from their brand new album with their (not so) new singer stealing the show with his vocal performance, as well as dress code, since his velvet jacket wasn't left unnoticed. This was surely one of Clairvoyant's best shows.
Just like every big festival in the world chooses half metal bands and half hard rock, Rock You To Hell tried to do the same, but the aforementioned cancellations didn't let it. Hard rock had its representative with Bai Bang, a band that several fans of the glam scene remembered from the '80s. The singer, who is their only original member now, have updated their scene presence, as well as composing skills. Aided by their new members turned their show into Eurovision contest! Even the most hardcore metalheads that were on the front row seemed to enjoy their show. All this turned Bai Bang's performance into a party. Of course, women couldn't be absent from a performance like this, something that made this festival a bit more special than the other Greek ones. Should promoters think about putting more hard rock bands on their bill?
Tysondog made a very powerful performance coming straight from the glory NWOBHM days. The band's bassist was the band's trademark with his military style and shades stealing the show for them. Their singer was decent enough to sing on their old and new songs. They definetely pumped up the crowd that was growing bigger by the time Tysondog hit the stage.
Dutch Picture was really a question for me, but my doubts soon vapored and were replaced with sheer enthusiasm since the band was very tight and passionate playing a devastating show based mainly on the albums “Diamond Dreamer”, “Heavy Metal Ears” and “Eternal Dark”. Such veterans are necessary to teach the younger ones how to play and live heavy metal. Legendary Tokyo Blade, led by Andy Boulton are also veterans with four members from the old band's lineup plus a new American singer. They played a powerful setlist but they could have been even better, since Picture who played just before them had raised the bar.
But, surely all those were soon forgotten when it was time for the festival's headliners. With all due respect for the bands that played before them, the Japanese legends were the stars. I don't know when we will come to realize which band played at Kyttaro at 1 AM. I surely haven't realized yet the actual greatness of what we saw. Maybe this was the most professional band I've watched on this stage. The triplet of Yamasita, Niihara, Takasaki together with monstrous drummer Masayuki Suzuki gave free lessons on every level to the 300 strong audience. Niihara's voice was almost the same as the albums and Takasaki maybe the most impressive guitarist we've seen. Their setlist was coming from a... wet dream, as it honored the 30th anniversary of “Thunder In The East” with six songs from the album (their opening three songs were “Crazy Nights”, “Like Hell” and “Heavy Chains”) and stuff from their later albums that gave us great songs like “Hurricane Eyes”, Lighning Strikes”, while the older fans surely appreciated “Crazy Doctor”, “Street Woman” and “In The Mirror”. The band's present work was there with “The Sun Will Rise Again”. One hour and 40 minutes are surely not enough for a band of such a stature, so let's hope that their promise at the end of the show will come true: “Athens, we will return”!
Kostas Kounadinis, Mariza “Crash”