For tonight’s gig I’d travelled all the way to Hamburg. Why? Well sadly some bands never seem to tour the uk and Crystal Viper are one of them, a band I’d never had the chance to see live, so a tour with them and Bloodbound seemed with the trip. The tour has been called the Dragons and witches tour.
There are actually four bands on tonight’s bill, with the other two being Thobbe Englund and Rexoria.
The night kicked off with Swedish band Rexoria. A four piece melodic metal band, they sounded very good, but the sound levels were way too low so the music didn’t really have the impact it should have. Sadly tonight seems to be one of those horrible shows where the bands lower down the bill are forced to play at half volume just to make the headliner seem better. Unusually they don’t have a bass player on stage, just two guitarists, a drummer, and a singer. When she wasn’t singing, she was headbanging which was probably a bit worrying for the crowd who were just inches away from her.
Since tonight is the final night of the tour, then there was a good chance the bands would play pranks on each other, and as Rexoria played their final song they were stunned to find members of the other bands joining them on stage wearing nothing but their underwear. They did well to carry on without missing a note. A great start to the night.
Next up was former Sabaton guitarist, Thobbe Englund. He and his band have a much more classic, traditional heavy metal style, and the keyboards gave a nice Hammond Organ sound for some of the songs, while another song was very clearly influenced by Black sabbath.
At one point there was a short keyboard solo while Thobbe left the stage briefly, returning to find one of the crew had draped some boxer shorts over his microphone. He commented a couple of times during the set about being nervous in case there were any more pranks planned, but seemed to escape any more.
I was quite impressed – the songs were great and the musicianship was excellent, but I just wasn’t quite convinced by his voice – it worked well for the higher pitched parts, but just didn’t sound great for the deeper parts. Despite that it was a great set. They ended with a song in Swedish, and he spent a while trying to get the crowd to sing two words in Swedish. While he was doing this, Crystal Viper’s Polish drummer walked on stage and sang an entire verse perfectly in Swedish, leaving Thobbe looking stunned.
Finally it was time for the band I was here to see – Crystal Viper. Singer Marta Gabriel may be petite, and looks tiny with that guitar, but she’s got one hell of a big voice, and can scream like a banshee when the song calls for it, or just do clean vocals as required. The twin guitar sound and a strong rhythm section coupled with her voice means this was the loudest and heaviest band so far tonight.
They didn’t manage to escape the pranking as various band members invaded the stage (this time fully clothed), carrying drinks and a plate of sandwiches and a sign saying “Dragon sandwich”, a reference to the tour title.
It’s a great set with songs from their latest album as well as some from earlier albums. To end the set, they played a cover of Grim Reaper’s “See you in hell”.
Finally it was time for Bloodbound. While the other bands had gone down well, the cheers that greeted Bloodbound showed why they were headlining tonight. The sound engineer boosted the volume for them too, so they were by far the loudest band of the night. The packed venue was so hot by now that the Swedes must have felt like they were in a sauna.
It’s good singalong metal and the crowd certainly think so as there’s plenty of singing from them.
Despite them starting quite late, the late curfew means they still get to do a full length set. In fact even the shortest set tonight was a decent length which is great to see – there’s nothing worse than bills with too many bands that result in some of the bands playing stupidly short sets.
Bloodbound were excellent tonight, and in fact I enjoyed all the bands, but Crystal Viper were the highlight in my view. Whichever band you preferred though, this really was a great night for the fans.