Yiannis Manopoulos, mastermind of Thelemite, is one of the best, the most talented Greek guitarists. From his early, solo demos to the second album of Thelemite, Manopoulos has proved his excellent qualifications, which make him an absolute hero of the Greek heavy metal scene. I was really anxious to attend Thelemite’s live show in Athens, at the Level69 Live Studio on the 7th of May, 2022 – it is a pleasure to see Manopoulos performing live his great compositions. We arrived at 10.00 pm at the small venue and waited thirty minutes for the band to enter the stage. Despite my personal expectations that the venue would be crowdy, few metal fans had come to Level69, but that didn’t disappoint the band! Thelemite played like there were thousands of people – yes, Manopoulos and co. performed with passion and heart, they gave their everything for a perfect concert, they laid down their soul to the altars of metal! Every song, every moment of the set was pure bliss – the band enjoyed it and the fans had a great time listening to Thelemite’s furious and catchy classic heavy metal tunes! Manopoulos’ guitar playing was for another time amazing and flawless – but, apart from a guitar maestro, Manopoulos is a skilled singer, whose voice sounds so theatrical and melodramatic, a real frontman, who stands with confidence on stage. I was also impressed by the other members of the band – Zack Kotsikis is a great guitarist, bassist Nikos Michalakos knows what to play and when, and drummer Renos Lialioutis is an absolute driving force! Thelemite played for an hour and a half, picking songs from their two full-length albums (“Slave to Desire” and “Thelemism”) and covered marvelously five songs – Judas Priest and “Hell Bent for Leather” (with the historic participation of Manopoulos’ father on the guitar), Ozzy Osbourne and “Shot in the Dark”, Alice Cooper and “Bed of Nails”, Savatage and "Sirens", Manowar and “Thor (The Powerhead)”. The whole show was fantastic, a total classic metal blast and satisfied all the fans, who were there. Having seen Thelemite on stage, I can surely say: this band has everything needed to become a major act! Shall they pay attention to the very details and all the future is theirs. Bravo!

Dimitris Zacharopoulos

Photos by Elena Vasilaki

Having experienced a fantastic event, organized excellently by Angels PR and with the unique performances of the bands, we went to Holywood Live Stage with the expectation of a fine second day of the Ladies of Metal Festival volume four. We arrived ten minutes past eight o’ clock and saw Marialena on stage. I was a little confused, since according to the concert programme, the first band of the evening would be TV Witch, however, I was informed that the band had cancelled its appearance.

Marialena is a distinguished singer, who has released a nice debut album (“Prophecies”), full of symphonic metal highlights and marvelous operatic vocals. With a skilled live band behind her, Marialena sung passionately some of her best songs and satisfied the few fans, who had already come to the venue. Despite not being much-experienced as a live act, the Greek singer and her group were well-rehearsed and concentrated, convincing us to note down Marialena’s name  - I am pretty sure that we will soon hear very interesting things from her!

After this ideal beginning, we were warm enough for rest of the bands. Disillusive Play was next and I will put it straight – this modern melodic metal band gained a lot of fans that night, including me! Every moment of their show was more than satisfactory, they had the quality, the energy, the melodies and the feeling to conquer us all. I have the impression that Disillusive Play was the most fascinating band of the two days of the Festival – in terms of songwriting, musicianship and technique. Yes, the guitars were incredible, the vocals of Antigoni Kalamara were modest and sophisticated, the overall sound so heavy, clear and bright. I also liked the words, with which every song was introduced and generally, the interaction of the band with the fans. A spellbinding live show by Disillusive Play!

But the time for Barbara Black had come. I was so curious to see how Barbara is on stage and if she can reach her high studio performance and if see can produce all that energy and power that her songs have. I have said before that Barbara Black is a true metal lady, a furious rock n’ roll diva, who has everything under her command. Well, that night we understood that Barbara Black is all these things and much more! Her stage acting is gorgeous, her looks kill, she can sing just like in the album. It is not an exaggeration to say that Barbara Black is a music phenomenon, since every moment of her live show is electrifying and the Spanish frontwoman attracts every single one of the fans like a magnet! The band that supported Barbara worked as the perfect basis, on which she did her magical tricks! We tasted many of her thunderous hard n’ heavy songs and remembered again what a nice album “Love, Death and Flies” is. The audience was excited with the cataclysmic live set of Barbara Black, who left the stage in triumph.

Meden Agan was the headlining group of this second day of the fourth Ladies of Metal Festival. The venue was almost full, with the fans waiting impatiently for one of the most acclaimed female fronted metal bands of the Greek scene. As soon as the band appeared on stage, everyone went crazy with the super heavy, crystal clear and pompous sound of Meden Agan. The band’s modern gothic/symphonic metal songs, majestically performed, captured our complete attention and for almost an hour we enjoyed a unique, breathtaking live set. Although the band was a tight unit, Diman Koutsogiannopoulos on the guitar and Dimitra Panariti on vocals were the ones who stole the show – you could easily tell that Diman is a great player, a real virtuoso, and Dimitra has a fantastic voice, well-trained and beautifully shaped, which was combined with an excellent stage acting. The songs were wisely chosen, however, my personal favorite moment of the show was “The Purge” – that’s a hit! We listened also to some very interesting songs from Meden Agan’s upcoming album, and the band finished its set gloriously, with a warm applause from the fans.

The second day of the fourth Ladies of Metal Festival was an absolute success and ended with an enthralling epilogue; the metal ladies of that day gathered on stage and sang together a classic Nightwish song, “Ever Dream” – the best way to conclude a marvelous event! I would like to thank again Angels PR and Marian Nicolaou for organizing this incredible festival. The Greek scene needs such events, since the bands may reach a broader audience and the fans can experience fantastic moments of metal beauty! I am already looking forward for the next, fifth volume of Ladies of Metal Festival!

Dimitris Zacharopoulos

Covid-19 has not departed yet for good. Fortunately, we are able and have actually begun to go on live gigs for some time, which is something we have all been waiting for a long time, almost two years! Nestor and H.E.A.T were two bands that I have recently discovered, especially Nestor, which have proved to be a revelation for me. Therefore, when this gig was announced and saw it on the social media, I went ahead to buy the ticket straight away and counted the days impatiently. Saturday is the perfect day within the week to attend a live gig. I started the evening around 6 pm, where I met one of my colleagues at Berns, we had already booked a table for dinner, since this is a well-known restaurant (not my favorite type of food, I admit...) in Stockholm and how convenient: they host gigs too! So, around 7:45 pm, I and my colleague Tomas headed next door (not big distance as you can imagine) for the main event. A lot of people had already started queuing outside on a strange day regarding the weather (first snow, then rain, then sun and then clouds, it’s called ‘april vädret’ in Swedish and it basically means that you can have all types of weather within the same day or even hours). Anyway, we entered the venue, a really impressive one, high ceiling, with classic-vintage decorations, giving it a classical feeling, not the average rock venue to attend! The gig was sold out, there were people outside, while we were waiting, who were asking if someone had an extra ticket, so we were the lucky ones I guess! You could also see people from all different ages, from 18-20 years old to 55-60 years old, old and new rockers who love listening to melodic hard rock/AOR.

Nestor started on an emphatic way around 8:15 pm. Their sound is so gloriously ‘80s! These guys sound amazing on stage! I really like their album ‘Kids in a Ghost Town’, it’s a trip back to 1987, 1988, or maybe 1989, their song with the same title (‘1989’) is their highlight, if you ask me, and that was probably their best performed that night. Guitars, keyboards, vocals, drums, band performance, clothes, sunglasses(!), all send you back to the glory years of the ‘80s, where AOR/melodic hard rock was top of the tops! Overall their sound was awesome, except some issues with the intensity of the singer’s microphone, which I believe could have been a little bit better. They played with so much energy, communicating with the audience and performing (almost) all their album, which has so many hits. A fantastic performance!

Following a break of 15 mins approximately, H.E.A.T came on stage, and actually, when the lights came down, before the band enters the stage, the intro song was ‘The Heat Is On’ by Glenn Frey, back from 1984 (on the ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ soundtrack). How cool! Then, and for the rest of the night, the band played, we experienced an explosion of energy, party mood and hard rock to the maximum! Now that Kenny is back with the band, it seems like a missing piece was left to get the band back on track. The playlist included all their classics and more. No one from their fan base would have been disappointed at all - ‘Rock your Body’, ‘Emergency’, ‘1000 Miles’, ‘Living on the Run’, ‘Back to the Rhythm’, ‘A Shot at Redemption’, ‘There for You’, ‘Late Night Lady’. All their true classics were there. Of course, there is always room for one, two or three more songs, but overall I would not be unfair to them, the playlist was ‘full throttle’ for the perfect party! This band is pure delight to see them performing live, all of us almost jumping in many of the songs and having a great time. Special credits, apart from Kenny of course, go to the drummer Don Crash and the guitarist Dave Dalone for their extra energy, their extra passion on stage and for both the guitar and the drum solos, both highlights!

A fantastic night in Stockholm with two amazing and promising bands for even better things to come in the future. Can’t wait!

Antonis Mantzavinos

It has been a long time without live concerts, indeed. We lived an exhausting experience of restrictions and quarantine, due to the global pandemic, which forced artists to stay away from the live stages all over the world. Fortunately, it seems that this Covid-19 situation is closing to an end now and we are ready to enter the venues for some really interesting live shows! So, day one of the Ladies of Metal vol. 4 Festival was the first show I attended, after almost two years, and it is true that I enjoyed it so much. Ladies of Metal Festival is an annual festival organized by Angels PR, the well-known Greek PR office, which is doing the best for its artists with great success and fine results. And it is a festival of female-fronted metal bands, dedicated to the metal queens, who sing elegantly and beautify the world of metal.

The first day of the event (on April 9th) would begin with Mute Tale. The Greek band plays in a symphonic metal style with some gothic elements and managed to warm us up. The venue wasn’t full during Mute Tale’s show, which started at 19:00, but that didn’t disappoint the band, which has a set of 40 minutes approximately. I really enjoyed the band’s compositions, which were performed with passion, and was excited to see that during the whole show, the two female background vocalists were standing in front of the band, next to the frontwoman. The festival’s kick off was satisfactory, with Mute Tale showing us that they have the talent and the musicianship to become a great act in the near future!

Then, Andy Rocks entered the stage. I was very curious to see this German band on stage, to see how the band’s positive energy and rock n’ roll groove would be delivered to the fans. Well, positive energy and groove are also the main trademarks of Andy Rocks on stage! Yes, Andy and the guys know how to rock and how to lift us up! The band needs to work more on its songs, however, these songs are transformed into nice hard rock tracks on stage, where Andy Rocks gets wild, without losing its sense of melody. The German quartet chose to cover AC/DC and “Whola Lotta Rosie” – oh, my God, how powerful this band is! I believe that if they focus on their hard rock side, Andy Rocks will be a successful musical unit!

It is Project Renegade’s turn! The Greek modern metal band continued and of course, shocked us with its energy and its freshness. If you listen to the band playing live, you can easily tell that Project Renegade is a mature, well-experienced band, which knows how to stand on the stage, how to perform, how to interact with the fans. Having opened for big groups, it wasn’t difficult for Project Renegade to win the applause of the fans that night. Their fantastic, Lacuna Coil-meets-Slipknot musical blend was reason enough for everybody to start screaming and headbanging. Especially the way Marianna was singing and at the same time running on stage was amazing! Project Renegade’s set showed everybody that this band is capable for even bigger things in the future!

Jaded Star took the baton and impressed everybody with their wonderful melodic modern metal! Maxi Nil and her band performed with passion, with soul and gave their everything on stage, in front of the excited crowd. It was a fascinating live show from a band, which took us by storm. Without a doubt, the protagonist was Maxi Nil, who proved again why she is considered one of the best Greek singers. Her voice was strong, her interaction with the fans ideal, her attitude so original. I liked every moment of Jaded Star’s live set and I understood how nice the new album of the band is. Jaded Star is a professional metal band, serious, confident and led by a true rock n’ roll persona.

The venue was almost full, when Enemy of Reality hit the stage. It was obvious that many fans had come to Holywood Live Stage to witness the Enemy of Reality live show. And they really got what they wanted – an incredible show from Enemy of Reality, who played some of their best songs. The live sound was heavy and clear, the band was tight and furious, the crazy guitars and the pounding drums shake everything up and down and Iliana Tsakiraki was the undeniable master of a magical live concert. It was the second time I experienced an Enemy of Reality live show and I think that the band has progressed a lot, sounding heavier, darker and more progressive than ever. Iliana’s voice was fantastic, so powerful and unpretentious, and Enemy of Reality’s live appearance was a blast!

The first day of the fourth Ladies of Metal Festival ended with an emotional cover of “Zombie” (The Cranberries) by the frontwomen of the night! What a nice epilogue! In general, the first episode of the festival was very interesting and gifted us with great moments of musical beauty. I would like to thank all the metal ladies of that Saturday night and first of all, Marian Nicolaou and Angels PR for organizing the whole event! To be continued!

Dimitris Zacharopoulos

Two special bands for me played two fantastic shows at Nalen in Stockholm. Abramis Brama, always a great band to watch, kicked off the night with huge energy and groove and proved once again why they are so fun to enjoy! Playing some of their very old and classic tunes (yeah, it’s been so many years that this band really ROCKS!), but also a few of their latest ones, all delivered in their trademark awesome way. Ulf, P-O, Trisse (I love his drumming so much!) and Mats all play their brilliant way as always! Endless groove, great energy, party mood, Sabbath riffs, beautiful melodies, solid and compact sound on drumming and bass, this band really plays better and better as they grow older. Another great show from the lads! It’s never enough, you always want more from them! Then, Siena Root took over ... Oh my... What an enjoyable show that was as well...! Incredible and unbeatable groove as always, topped with the beautiful voice of Zubaida Solid, who really conquered us all with her keyboard skills as well, playing with the vintage keyboards. This band is always a pleasure to watch live ...: Samir on bass, always a dominant figure for the band on his Rickenbacker for so many years, a calm and gracious force of Siena Root. Love Forsberg was absolutely majestic on drums, delivering some great vocals as well, all in his unique style. Johan Borgström on guitars showing some fantastic guitar soloing skills and adding a classic rock flavor to the songs, especially to the older ones, but also to the newest material, from the band’s latest record in 2020, released shortly before this terrible pandemic broke out. Anyway, there were two highlights for me that night for Siena Root: firstly, there was a guest who played the flute on a couple of their songs, adding more magic to their show and making the crowd so excited to watch them (million of apologies, I did not catch her name...)! She played so well, so nice and fitted perfectly with the overall feeling of the songs, the band and the evening in general! And what was incredible to watch as well at the end of the show, that both Abramis Brama and Siena Root played together November’s “Starka Tillsammans”! How cool is to see two modern Stockholm bands covering another Stockholm legendary band from the ‘70s in one of their great songs! That moment was the epitome of the lyrics: “Vi är starka. Starka tillsammans’, meaning, ‘We are strong, We are strong together’. And yes, both bands played so well the whole night, making us all happy and lucky to have witnessed a beautiful evening. Cheers to both bands then, we want to see you soon again playing live!

Antonis Mantzavinos