I have to say that 2012 entered the best possible way. On Friday, we enjoyed a really good performance by Entombed. And on Saturday, it was time for the highly anticipated live of Septicflesh. This band is one of the very few Greek metal bands that has managed to make itself known outside the borders of Greece. Not to mention that in 2011 they presented us with a magnificent album that received great reviews. These two things, plus the fact that they would be playing in their hometown, made me think that this concert would be, without a doubt, sold out. Unfortunately that wasn't the case, but the number of people gathered was pretty high nonetheless.
It was about 20:15 when the first band hit the stage. I must say that I hadn't heard Heavier Than God before, and they were a pleasant surprise. They play a mix of heavy metal with some stoner and thrash elements and with vocals a little bit more extreme than what you would expect for their music. Their set was based on their own songs but we had the chance to listen to an interesting cover of Black Sabbath's “Children Of The Grave”. One might say that this band wasn't the right one to open this concert, but in the end they warmed up the audience pretty well for what would follow.
Next in line were the Swedish Dark Funeral. One by one, the members appeared on stage, and the traditional corpsepaint covered their faces to match their pure black metal music. The set started powerfully with “Stigmata”, “666 Voices Inside” and “Enriched By Evil” and there were two things to be noticed. First, the sound wasn't the best, and second, the new singer, Nachtgarm, has really great pipes and proved to be a good replacement. The band appeared in good shape, though at times the drums weren't heard clearly due to the average sound, but that got fixed later on. The guitarists and bassist were headbanging to their music, while the singer kept a different stance and didn't address to the crowd much. “Goddess Of Sodomy”, “The Arrival Of Satan's Empire” and “The Birth Of The Vampiir” were some of the songs that followed, and even though the communication between band and audience was minimum, the response of the fans wasn't the same. Crazy headbanging and mosh pits accompanied a setlist that satisfied almost everyone, as no album was left outside, but it was during “Vobiscum Satanas” and “Shadows Over Transylvania” that Fuzz became hell on earth. “Heart Of Ice” was next and the band left the stage for the usual encore. A rather unfortunate moment followed, as some people in the audience started shouting “Septicflesh” instead of “Dark Funeral”, showing no respect for the band. When Dark Funeral returned, they didn't seem bothered (I found out later that they certainly were bothered, a lot to say the truth), and closed their set with “The Secrets Of The Black Arts”, “Hail Murder” and “My Funeral”. A great performance by a great band!
It was time for the usual break, for the technicians to change the décor and the instruments, and it was certainly a relief for our necks. After a while, the artwork of “The Great Mass” covered the back and sides of the stage. When the lights went out, Fotis Benardo took his place behind the drum kit and the fans started yelling his name rhythmically. Christos Antoniou and Dinos (session guitarist) appeared next and last came Seth behind the microphone. When the first notes of “The Vampire From Nazareth” were played the crowd went crazy, headbanging and forming mosh pits right from the start. At some point, Sotiris Vayenas came out to sing the clean vocals, as he would do for all the songs that have clean vocals. Simple and grand, he performed his part and added a great deal to the mystery of the music. The setlist continued with “Communion” and I can't describe the reaction of the fans. It was insane. From the second song the sound was really good and massive, and it allowed us to enjoy fully the orchestral parts. Great lighting, lots of smoke and videos on the side walls only added to the atmosphere created by the music. During “Chaostar” the fans relaxed a bit, as most of them seemed to be more familiar with the last three albums of Septicflesh. “A Great Mass Of Death”, “Virtues Of The Beast” and “Unbeliever” were next. The guitarists, even though they were quite stationary, they were constantly headbanging, just like the crowd below them. More songs from the last three albums followed, “Pyramid God”, “Lovecraft's Death”, “Oceans Of Grey”, “We, The Gods”, which Seth dedicated to the fans, and “Sumerian Daemons”. Of course “Persepolis” couldn't be left out, along with a wall of death. After that Septicflesh had a surprise in store for us, as we traveled back in time with “DNA” and “Esoptron” and this time we enjoyed Sotiris Vayenas not only on clean vocals, but on the guitar too! I have to say that it was a truly beautiful moment to see the whole band on stage, as it's supposed to be. It was time for the encore, and when the band came back up on stage, Seth got the audience to sing along the melody of “Anubis”, and then it was chaos! The live was coming to an end, and Septicflesh said goodbye with “Five-Pointed Star”.
This concert was undoubtedly a success, and the fans left satisfied. I think very few will say the opposite. Great setlist, great performance, great atmosphere. The only somewhat negative thing was that Seth was over-trying to communicate with the fans, and all the “let's go Athens” and “are you ready?” got a bit tiring. But that was a small thing after all. All I have to say is that I would love to see them with a live orchestra and soon enough!