Powerwolf live in Athens 2019

It’s true that the Greek metal fandom is resilient to change, often accepting bands that are popular elsewhere with a few years latency, only after certain publications begin to push ‘em and make them “trendy” to like… such was the case, in ways of little fanfare, for the faux “Romanians” / in truth German “wolves” of Powerwolf. Kinda superstars in central and north Europe and pretty high up in the charts and festival slots, they had never played in Greece, despite having numerous albums out. When the concert was announced – in a “large” venue, such as Piraeus “Academy” people were also very skeptical if it would even fill up halfway on the ground floor. But they were going to be proven wrong.
Powerwolf Athens Show 2019 poster
The long queue of people waiting outside going around the corner could only mean too things, ie that actually lots of people had turned up and that the doors had not opened at the appointed time and it was probably a bit of both. Gloryhammer, who were the support band, had been late to arrive, as they had their own traveling arrangements and as such their soundcheck was delayed. People outside were getting pissed off at some completely incapable security guy, who had trouble directing people in properly and not the foresight to divert those with a “hard” ticket to one side and the others to the boxoffice, by means of maybe a simple sign. This caused unnecessary delays and frustration to the people waiting.
 
Inside Gloryhammer had begun their show and their over the top histrionics didn’t quite translate, unless you were a fan of theirs, I suppose. A small portion of younger fans seemed greatly into them, but while their shiny tights and cloaks made them hard to take seriously, their chaotic and downright bad sound for at least half of their set, was even harder to fathom. For a band with their own equipment and soundman, they managed to have the worst sound I’ve ever heard in Academy. And let’s say, I’ve seen bands going on without a soundcheck on rentals and using the house engineer, sounding much better. I was able to get in after one of those “hootnanny songs” – probably their second and I went straight to the pit. Their singer came out with a gigantic foam hammer, during the eponymous song and started swirling it around, more image than substance as half of their album sound was translating onstage, with his vocals being mediocre at best. He introduced himself as “Angus McFife” and sung of “The Land of Unicorns” and other such cosplay fantasies. A few too many “hooter” and goblin songs later I recognized “The Unicorn Invasion of Dundee”, which they closed their set and since I spent quite a bit of time there, I can surely say that if they ever walked the streets, especially in the northern or eastern territories, they’d be likely pelted with rocks, by juvenile delinquents…
 
If anything, since I still have a soft spot for some early power metal, a band trolling it, while channeling it, in a mediocre way is not something I enjoy. I mean Steel Panther do the same for hair metal, but they are orders of magnitude better and they actually also come up with superb examples of hair metal, while lampooning the excess of the eighties. It’s both a loving tribute and a parody. In the case of Gloryhole (sorry my mind was lost in the pantheon of Panthers hymns), Gloryhammer then, it’s almost solely a parody and as such I can’t take them, or their music seriously, or even get the joke.
 
A couple of beers and friendly conversations with other old-timers later, which is apparently how long it took the monks/roadies of Powerwolf to reveal the headliners stage set and line check it, the lights were dimmed and a curtain was put up to heighten the tension… it’s actually ages since I’ve seen a show with a curtain – I mean bar KISS, who still do that kind of thing… and I kinda think it adds a bit to the mystery, although in the day of the internet… there’s hardly anything left to fantasy anymore… still I was momentarily taken back to the mid-90s and in the frontlines of Rodon club, waiting for the curtains to part there…
 
A taped intro of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Mr Crowley” later, the curtain dropped to reveal the quintet’s impressive stage set, while “Fire and Forgive” was blasting fast and loud, with a certain progression more than slightly reminiscent of one of Chroming Rose’s most celebrated hits. The band wasted no time, and launched into the “Army of the Night”, sounding like a million bucks and looking extra cool while doing so. “Incense & Iron” saw singer Attila Dorn blessing the crowds with a censer and gave me “Ghost” flashbacks, when I nearly fainted at the photo pit, after inhaling way too much incense, then (Papa II era). Thankfully it wasn’t that strong and I was a bit to the side, but damn, I felt lightheaded for the next few songs. The really catchy “Amen & Attack” kept the crowd, jumping up and down, while “Killers with the Cross” got things a little more melodic, without losing the edge. Another hit came in the form of “Demons are a Girl’s Best Friend” with Attila jokingly addressing the “ladies” in the crowd to initially be greeted by a lot of male responses… I suppose that’s gender fluidity for ya, or more specifically, not getting the banter initially.
 
The massive “Armata Strigoi” followed, probably getting one of the craziest receptions. Actually it’s worth saying that the band must have been impressed by the super enthusiastic response they got – as they did break a little out of character, here and there, smiling and thanking the crowd on a multitude of occasions. I am not a big fan of “Stossgebet” yet another tune from the new album that’s more akin to a ballad and sung in German and Latin, so once again I ventured to the bar to re-fuel. With the Bible of the Beast in hand and the hand tucked in the underpants, much like Al Bandy, it was time for the humorous and infectious “Resurrection by Erection” that came out just great! An actual burning organ was brought out for the true ballad, that “Where the Wild Wolves Have Gone” was and a song that actually allowed “AD” to break away from the hu-has and hallelujahs for a bit and actually do some pretty evocative singing. Now if only there were some skewers on top of that organ – it would have been “heaven”.
 
The entire width of the stage was set aflame next, at least a shallow little trench, along with a cross for “Blessed & Possessed”, which was also sonic-ally impressive. The recently re-released as a single “Kiss of the Cobra King” from that band’s debut “Return in Bloodred” was quite the blast from the past, but it did tie well in rhythmically with “We Drink Your Blood”… And the band went again back to the early day with the title track from their sophomore album “Lupus Dei” that closed the “normal” show… a short time later and following the fever pitched chants of the crowd the band took the stage once more for an encore that consisted of “Sanctified with Dynamite” on of their biggest hits, thus far, the quirky “Coleus Sanctus” ensued taking us to the close of the show with the second and last stand from the Bible of the Beast album with “Werewolves of Armenia” an adaptation of the Russian folk song "Polyushke Polye" (Oh field, my field).  The band thanked the crowd – while a taped outro (“Wolves Against the World”) was playing and just got off the stage.
 
To use their words, it was a brilliant metal mass that would have been even better, if the entry to it was a little more orderly and timely and if a better support band was elected. But overall an enjoyable night, with the headliners offering a rewarding heavy metal spectacle.