Psychotic Waltz, Royal Hunt, Pagan’s Mind
Fuzz Club, Athens, Greece
A night to remember was in front of us since we learned that the always beloved and respectful Psychotic Waltz would play in our country. Sixteen years after their split up, they remained one of the very few bands that not only weren’t forgotten by the fans, but their cult status was growing rapidly as years were passing by. It is a gift for every band to remain in the hearts of its followers as something that was always unique and never let them down. If you add the fact that they were accompanied with two more great progressive metal bands, Norwegians Pagan’s Mind and Danish (and somehow more multinational) Royal Hunt, you will get the full picture of a gig that started five minutes after seven o’clock and finished twenty minutes before 2 a.m!
Pagan’s Mind played in Greece for the very first time, and as singer Nils K. Rue stated, they wanted the fans to make it a memorable one. It is clear that we are talking about a very tied band, with the large drummer Stian Kristoffersen playing like being home, as he was playing in Firewind, one of the most famous bands of our country. The sound is not by their side, as it seems like it’s taken away though they try hard (something that happened to all the bands) but the range of Rue’s voice makes things better. One of the best singers I’ve seen in my whole life for sure. The strange thing is I’ve waited to see him with Eidolon some day but things turned upside down and I was lucky to see Pagan’s Mind. Their latest album ”Heavenly Ecstasy” is a great one and they mainly based their set there, with tracks like ”Eyes Of Fire”, ”Intermission”, ”Into The Aftermath”, ”Walk Away In Silence” and ”Live Your Life Like A Dream” being flawlessly performed. They didn’t forget their past and tracks like ”God’s Equation” or ”Through Osiris’ Eyes” gave some extra points to their presence which lasted 70 minutes. The first gig of the Norwegians in Greece was a successful one and I hope I’ll see them again someday in the future.
Royal Hunt was the only of the three bands I had seen before and it was with Mark Boals on vocals. It was time to see them with the legendary D.C. Cooper on vocals, who proved how a frontman must be on stage (for the biggest part of their set at least, because when he started talking TOO much from a point and on, he made the fans tire a lot). With tracks from their latest release ”Show Me How To Live” such as ”One More Day”, ”Hard Rain’s Coming”, ”Half Past Loneliness” and ”Angel’s Gone” conquering the set, it is obvious that they in a very shaped condition, although they did only one rehearsal before the world tour (!!!) and older tracks like ”The Mission”, ”Lies”, ”Wasted Time”, ”Step By Step” and the closing ”Last Goodbye” leave no doubt about this. The only problem mentioned above is that D.C. was a little more talkative than expected after the middle of the set, spoiling his great presence a bit in the end, despite noone can deny his undoubted frontman abilities and his great voice. After an hour and a half, they waved goodbye knowing they had played great, but to be honest, I cannot understand the absence of tracks from their best album ”Paradox”. Was it a kind of proof they can play great without these on the set? Oh, well…
Psychotic Waltz are from now on a case for which we must refer to as something separate from all other bands, be it metal or not. What happened for two and a half hours cannot be put down simply with words, actions or anything else. Feeling took over all of us inside Fuzz Club, the band starts to put us into an everflowing atmosphere with the intro of ”Sleeping Dogs” and three songs in a row create chaos, with ”Ashes”, ”Out Of Mind” and ”Tiny Streams” make us see bubbles from space, ”Successor” puts us back into reality for a while and ”Mosquito” stings us for good before ”Faded” creates a mass hysteria where EVERYONE is singing, banging, crying, pulling hair, whatever you can imagine. ”Locust” and ”Northern Lights” continue the ”Bleeding” references and ”Haze One” is the appropriate continuation before we all dive ”Into The Everflow”, emotions that can’t help but ”Hangin’ On A String” and I can’t hold my tears to be honest, especially when ”My Grave” and ”I Remember” follow, making everyone inside the club chill and live something they can barely believe, all I see is astonished people trying to get their bearings. This is NOT happening at all. It’s a dream from which noone wants to wake up. But it goes on and the climax hasn’t come yet…
”Morbid”, ”Cold”, ”Shattered Sky”, ”Drift”, ”Freedom?” (yeah, right), ”Freakshow”, ”All The Voices”, and ”Mindsong” continue the frenzy with rapid growth, but things seem to get even worse (or better) when it comes to the final songs of the set, all from the godly debut album ”A Social Grace”. ”Another Prophet Song” starts this suite and ”Halo Of Thorns”, ”Nothing”, ”I Of The Storm” (my personal favourite PW song) and last but not least, ”…And The Devil Cried” ends the set in the proper way. All fans are crazy and the band returns for an encore with ”Spiral Tower” to finish us off officially. After about 27 or 28 songs in the row mentioned above (I hope so because I’m still under the influence of the gig and I may have confused things a bit), a state of paralysed expression follows everyone getting outside. I see people unable to say anything, people embracing each other with tears in their eyes, people looking high above as this gig was some kind of divine intervention and to put it briefly, noone looks in a normal state of mind.
The theatrical Devon Graves, with a voice better than on the albums and his psychedelic trip during the show, the emblematic Dan Rock with the great riffs and solos, his companion Brian McAlpine who plays on a wheelchair but is larger than anyone inside our hearts and the great rhythm section of bassist Ward Evans who tries to be calm and professional but smiles a lot from the crowd’s response and Norm Leggio who smashes the drums in every given chance, are the five individuals which we have to always thank for showing us that dreams can become reality, that melody and heaviness go together, that expression and loss for words can coexist, that white goes black through grey and in the end shines eternally. We will never forget this day until the end of our lives, it’s the least we can do for what they offered us, most important is that somehow we all feel more experience and at least 1% better people after this gig. This is priceless and cannot be replaced with anything in the world. They are forever!
Report: Aggelos “Redneck” Katsouras.
Photos: Manos Spanos.