19.11.2019 Gloryhammer & Powerwolf @ The Circus, Helsinki

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POWERWOLF is touring Europe at the moment following the release of their newest album, “The Sacrament Of Sin”, and they stopped by at The Circus on November 19th with their special guest, GLORYHAMMER. This being their only show in Finland, we took this chance to see these interesting bands in action. Check out our gallery.

We got to the venue a little bit late and GLORYHAMMER had already started their set. I was surprised that the venue was already pretty full, considering it was a Tuesday evening. As I had hoped, the band members were wearing these… at the same time awesome and ridiculous fantasy outfits and armor, fitting for their tales of galactic battles. I noticed right away the sound quality was pretty messy and especially the drums had a ragged tone. This didn’t bother the audience, who were pumped up to see GLORYHAMMER’s first appearance in Helsinki. Considering the number of GLORYHAMMER shirts I saw, many seemed to have come to see this band in particular.

To my great amusement, their stage decor consisted of POWERWOLF’s pretty bulky stage set covered with black sheets and two stacked stage elements; because of this, you could only see the letter H from their background flag. I think this somehow added well to their fun image. Their music is solid and well-presented power metal, but at least in this setlist, they had many mediocre songs that didn’t get us excited. Singer Angus McFife XIII’s (Thomas Winkler) standard voice was maybe a little colorless but he handled well the higher-register screeches that sounded satisfyingly tight and clear. The band’s stage presence was energetic and excited with McFife being especially pompous with his funny and over-the-top hand gestures.

McFife’s speeches concerned mostly the Angus McFife saga, but for the fan who doesn’t follow the lore, it sounded just like funny space-warrior nonsense. He said that they really hated goblins and I understood that, but then there was a lot of unicorn power and at least two different unicorn songs; I don’t have a clue what part they play in the story. Between and sometimes during the songs, there were all kinds of shenanigans happening on the stage. For example: the singer swinging an oversized hammer and asking the audience to help him with some hammer swings, in space, and for goblin killing noises; the keyboardist and guitarist goofily skipping at the keyboard while playing; beer drinking with an epic soundtrack; the singer beating the keyboard player with his hammer to the crowning of the bass player. 

GLORYHAMMER was an all-around fun and silly melodic metal band but they lacked interesting songs and sounded a little bit plastic. They were also close to being maybe too silly with their antics. However, some of the highlights were really epic, like “Masters of the Galaxy,” “Angus McFife,” and super catchy “Universe on Fire.”  

Our group got to a cozier spot around a table to wait for the main act, POWERWOLF. They had lifted the black sheets and revealed the stage set, which was really epic (especially for a club show) with its rocky terrain, tree trunks holding keyboards, evil tombstones, and all-around Halloween-y design. Nearing the start of the show, the venue lights went dim and Ozzy Osbourne’s “Mr. Crowley” started to play from the speakers; a fitting song as the intro. 

The show was active and catchy from the start and the overall sound quality was much better than GLORYHAMMMER’s set. The band had an interesting appearance and visual style that was really enjoyable to watch, but in addition, they were also really willing to put on a good show for us. Their tongue-in-cheek mystic gimmick is fun to watch and they are calm, with a huge amount of self-confidence in their performance. During the songs, the band members slipped casually into visually pleasing arrangements on the stage. The singer, Attila Dorn, had, at the same time, a calm and clear, yet strong voice. The playing felt natural and effortless, and the keyboards’ organ sound sat well with their melodic metal. 

The band also had a good connection with the audience and each other. Actually, Attila’s contact to the audience became a bit frustrating at points when Attila put the audience through the tedious vocal training that had three parts before “Armata Strigoi,” and he didn’t let us off the hook easily. The keyboardist is one of the most energetic I’ve seen and used almost every moment he could find to go jump and prance around the stage and stir up the audience. He was like Attila’s acolyte, preparing the crowd for him. The closest comparison in terms of energy I can come up with was DRAGONFORCE’s keyboard player, years ago when he was jumping on a trampoline while playing. 

The wolf flag in the background was changed once throughout the show and was put to good use as they blasted some strobe lights at it, and at some points and lit a huge cross on it. They even hauled up an old-looking piano on the stage during a slow song. 

After all the good in the show, the intensity, the energy, visuals, and the good melodies, for me, the show felt a little bit too long because their songs sound actually pretty similar and I got even somewhat bored during the encore. Some of the best of the night included “Incense & Iron,” “Fire & Forgive,” and “Armata Strigoi.”

Article by Simo Kuusterä
Photos by Laureline Tilkin

Setlist

  1. Fire and Forgive
  2. Army of the Night
  3. Incense & Iron
  4. Amen & Attack
  5. Killers With the CrossP
  6. Demons Are a Girl’s Best FriendP
  7. Armata Strigoi
  8. Stossgebet
  9. Resurrection by Erection
  10. Where the Wild Wolves Have Gone
  11. Blessed & Possessed
  12. Kiss of the Cobra King
  13. We Drink Your Blood
  14. Lupus Dei
  15. Opening: Agnus Dei (Encore)
  16. Sanctified With Dynamite (Encore)
  17. Coleus Sanctus (Encore)
  18. Werewolves of Armenia (Encore)

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