Amon Amarth, As I Lay Dying, Septicflesh
Yubileyna Hall, Sofia, Bulgaria

To be honest, I never thought such a package would come across Greece, but to see it in Bulgaria instead, well that’s quite harassing. Anyway, there was no room for doubt and since I learned about it, I decided to take the trip for the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia. I knew I would have friends with me on it, so it was a quick and certain decision, mainly because I wanted to see what I felt would come true, an amazing live show by three great bands, in a hall that could keep about a thousand metalheads, enjoying with their hearts and showing great response to all the bands. The show was sold out and the price was great (about 21 euros). Also, full benches of merchandise that made all the fans very happy. If the Bulgarians knew how to mosh and not just push each other pointlessly, it would be even better but we can’t have it all, right?

Septicflesh were welcomed like heroes, a thing that made me feel very special, as a Greek in a foreign country. They started their set with ”The Vampire From Nazareth” from their latest critically acclaimed album ”The Great Mass” and from the first moment, someone can hear that they can really reproduce live this very demanding material. Fotis on drums sounded like a shotgun and all the band was in perfect shape in overall. They presented tracks from their new album and the previous one, ”Communion”, six in total with ”We, The Gods” following, ”Pyramid God” proving to be a great live classic already, ”A Great Mass Of Death” being maybe the highlight of their performance, ”Anubis” shaking all the people inside the hall and ”Five Pointed Star” was the suprise which I personally didn’t wait. A glorious performance that unfortunately lasted a little more than half an hour. Such tours bring experience and Septicflesh show that they have caught the opportunity to take advantage of their momentum. Way to go brothers! You deserve it!

As I Lay Dying was the main reason to attend the show, as I have no expectations to see them in my country. In ten songs and totally forty minutes, they made me consider my trip was not in vain, and once ”Within Destruction” started, my spine suffered throughout the whole set. It’s a miracle I remember what they played, as I barely could control my emotions. ”The Sound Of Truth” makes me realize this is happening indeed and ”Upside Down Kingdom” is the perfect preparation for ”Through Struggle”, where the whole hall (sic) goes up and down and on the title track of ”An Ocean Between Us”, an enormous bunch of energy is unleashed to make people smash on the walls. ”Condemned” follows and the beat never stops, ”Nothing Left” explodes the whole place, ”Confined” is another great suprise of the night and ”94 Hours” makes me rush in front of the stage by kicking, punching, jumping, screaming… whatever you can imagine anyway. An amazing performance by the Americans, which I personally consider the most improved metal band of the last five years and with Tim Lambesis on vocals showing that a frontman can seem extra terrestial even without running that much. Do you know many people that sing and headbang together? Orgasm!

Amon Amarth have come to be headliners in such events because they have worked very hard in their career. Their new album ”Surtur Rising” is a very good album and its songs sound even better live. ”War Of The Gods” shows from the first second that the band is maybe in its best shape the last ten years, ”Runes To My Memory” early proves it’s going to be a loooooong night full of headbanging and two new ones follow, ”Destroyer Of The Universe” and ”Live Without Regrets”. It is then ”The Pursuit Of Vikings” which makes the place turn upside down. A wise choice to play it early, the fans are out of control and Johan Hegg enjoys it with a big smile, which lasted until the end. ”For Victory Or Death”, ”Varyags Of Miklagaard” and ”Slaves Of Fear” prove that the newer songs take over the setlist, but ”Ride For Vengeance” from the first godly album ”Once Sent From The Golden Hall” puts things in order. Such a fury unleashed!

Another new one, ”A Beast Am I” (Johan, you are, indeed) is played and two more tracks from ”Twilight Of The Thunder God” follow, ”Embrace Of The Endless Ocean” and ”Free Will Sacrifice”, before ”Asator” causes us once more to bang heads and spines until the end. ”Death In Fire” is the establishment of Amon Amarth’s furious and professional performance, the red lights on the background look like we’re diving into the fires of hell and as soon as the encore includes ”Twilight Of The Thunder God” and ”Guardians Of Asgaard”, there can be no doubt that the Swedish band enjoys the absolute recognition of every single being inside this hall. It was the first time for them to play in Bulgaria and it surely won’t be the last with such a crowd. I really wonder how much capacity and in which price would this package come to Greece but since this is a report to point out the best of things, let me just not be mean to some people. Bulgaria enjoys more and more gigs, despite the fact that the country is a very poor one. This doesn’t prevent the fans from attending the shows (also U.D.O. were playing and Iced Earth were following some days later). I think I’ll have to do this trip again very soon. In any case, you’ll be informed. Odin, guide our necks, our backs, our spines and sweat!

Aggelos “Redneck” Katsouras.