Up The Hammers Festival! The Ultimate Heavy Metal Festival that takes place in Greece, and has its roots back in 2006! In my humble opinion, one of the most amazing metal festivals in the whole world, and you'll be able to understand this statement, only once you attend it!

I was able to attend the festival in 2009 and 2010, so I knew what to expect! True Heavy Metal Fans from around the world (even from Chile!), people who live and die for steel, a FAMILY of Metalheads! Tons of beer, Greek souvlaki and gyros, denim and leather, spikes, patches and chains, emotional thunderstorms and oceans of tears, old Legends of the world underground scene, and newcomers who lust for Metal!

Now that I gave you a taste of that emotional adjustment, lets move on to deliver you an image of how our heavy metal ritual was deployed...

Friday 8th December 2013, Day 1

With my experience during the years before, I knew that arriving at the festival on-time and watching all of the opening bands is really a must, since a couple of years later some of them will be headliners on shows (Enforcer for example).

R.U.S.T. (Cyprus)

Once we entered the venue, our fellow countrymen R.U.S.T. were on stage, doing what they do best, playing pure Heavy Metal! For those not familiar with the band, they released a s/t Demo in 2007 and their debut album in 2011, entitled Forged In The Fire Of Metal! As always (can't really count the times I watched them live) they had a highly energetic mood, and, my personal highlight of their appearance, Panayiotis' violin part on the opus "Queen Of The Amazons". Unfortunately due to time miscalculations  they weren't able to complete the full setlist, but the crowd was already amazed! R.U.S.T's setlist was as follow:
  1. Thunder Rolls
  2. Sanity of Madness
  3. Prepare for Glory
  4. Queen of the Amazons
  5. Metal Child
  6. Forged In The Fire Of Metal

Hürlement (France)

Coming out of Paris, France, the second band for the festival was Hürlement! Heavy metal at it's purest. Hürlement played songs from their 2 albums but had to skip Inquisition to to time arrangements. the complete setlist was as shown below:

Alpha Tiger (Germany)

These Germans (formally known as Satin Black), released their debut album in 2011, entitled "Man Or Machine" and received some of the best reviews of that year! I was really looking forward to watch them live, and my expectations were justified! Amazing performance as I expected and to my surprise a cover on Queensryche's Queen Of The Reich song! Alpha Tiger's setlist:

Damien Thorne (USA)

Those who know me in person, are familiar with my psychosis of 80s US Power Metal! So it was expected to see me on the front line during Damien Thorne's show. Well, there I was! Damien Thorne kicked asses and blew our minds out! Playing the 3/4 of their debut masterpiece "Sign Of The Jackal" they gave an excellent show with the crowd headbaning and dying! Hellish riffs and outrageous speeds caused some whirlwinds of headbaning inside An Club! Their setlist was:

Vice Human (Greece)

One of the first Metal Bands in Greece (1981!) and the legends of Hellenic Metal Scene took their place on the festival's stage! Original members and founders Nick Papakostas and Kostas Manopoulos were backlined by Giannis Britsas (Vocals) and Bill Xirokostas (Drums) and performed some of their well known hits. Unfortunately no setlist available at moment, but once i'll receive it I'll upload it!

Adramelch (Italy)

Attention Please! Beware, Beware! Italian Progressive Epic Metal Massacre ahead... Hello, I'm Michael and I'm on bended knee when it comes to Irae Melanox!
I saw Adramelch on Keep It True last year, but I really liked the Up The Hammers show more! Not sure if it's the Underground feeling or the uniqueness of the festival, I found myself on the first row, again, enjoying every tune coming out of the cabinets of these Legends! Highlight of the show was definately the Was Called Empire moment followed up by the Broken History!
Their setlist was:

Sarissa (Greece)

Well, what shall I write here to describe in an honest way what we experienced?... For those not familiar with the band, their Demo in 1987 is considered one of the best demos in human history! Probaly in every alien race and extraterrestrial beings also!
And I shall confess, the show I witnessed was beyond any expectation! Jim Selalmazidis and his company delivered and cause an ultimate metal holocaust with a massive setlist!! Riff-Parades and Bass-Mass-Destructions were brainstorming every metalhead inside the venue!
 A spectacular appearance that will definitely be printed on my mind for years!! Setlist of this massacre was:

  1. War for Peace
  2. Never Say No
  3. Marathon
  4. Survival
  5. Masters of Sins
  6. Death Dance
  7. Electric Axes
  8. In to the Night
  9. Thunder
  10. Immortal Souls
  11. Fallen
  12. Turn the Power Up
  13. Macedonian Army

Domine (Italy)

Time for the Headliners to enter the stage... Lights are out, and a playback of the opening track Hymn, from their Debut album Champion Enternal, on the speakers... The Intro, the sound of the horn, the beginning of the end... and boom... THE MASS OF CHAOS!
The Italian Epic Metal masters and Michael Moorcock worshippers manage to give on stage the exact same feeling as on their album releases!
An outstanding setlist, consisted mainly of tracks from their first two albums, and probably Elric bended time and space and was on stage also! Domine turned An Club into Melnibone, Enrico's axe turned to Strombringer and I bet Cymoril's soul was somewhere in the crowd!
Morby's voice reached heavenly high pitches and every metalhead in the crowd was chorusing with him! Personal favorite moment was the trio "Army Of The Dead" "The Eternal Champion" and "The Chronicles Of The Black Sword"!! I'm still wondering how I'm still Alive after the "My Name Is Elric and I Bear the BLACK SWORD!" For years now I was dreaming watching live the bass-solo part inside the Chronicles of the Black Sword, and last Friday that dream came true! Tears!!
I was fighting not to bend on knees during The Eternal Champion! More Tears! Heroes In Tears...
And to complete the atmosphere, Domine followed our request, and on top of their Setlist, they also added a second encore, and had us consummated with "The Ride Of The Valkyries"!
The setlist of that battle was:

That's how the Festival's first day flew... in three simple words, PURE HEAVY METAL!
Check out back for the second day!

Michalis "Starchild" Benakis