Built To Tour 2017 – European leg 1 –
Gloryhammer – special guest
Lancer – support act
Amager Bio, Copenhagen, Denmark
8/2 – 2017
Live review and pictures by: Anders Sandvall
Swedish power metal act Hammerfall is out on a European tour. A lot has happened in the band since the release of the previous album (r)EVOLUTION in 2014. BUILT TO LAST, the group’s 10th album came out at the beginning of November (2016) and was the first release on their new label, Napalm Records. December 2016 brought us the news that drummer David Wallin had left the band and was replaced by the well known Johan Koleberg (ex- Therion, ex- Lion’s Share, ex- Zan Clan etc.). The European tour began in Germany this past January; the show I saw was the last one and it was also the only show the band did in Scandinavia. It was strange that the guys didn’t do any performances in Sweden. Gloryhammer and Lancer joined Hammerfall on the tour which by Amager Bio in Copenhagen this night.
Due to train trouble I was delayed about 25 minutes. Luckily I arrived before the doors opened at 7pm; the show wasn’t sold out so I was inside the club well before Lancer opened the night. It was a snowy evening and people stood outside freezing as they waited in line. The security first checked tickets and then body searched the fans before they got into the venue. While waiting for Lancer to begin, I took a look at the merchandise and also noticed that the balcony was open which meant the organizers planned on having a lot of people inside the club.
Lancer is from Arvika, Sweden and began their power/heavy metal career back in 2009. They released their self titled debut in 2013 with their second album, SECOND STORM, arriving in 2015. Their latest album, MASTERY arrived earlier this year. The band is represented by Nuclear Blast. I’ve seen the band before but can’t remember much about the show so I guess I wasn’t that impressed. The band’s equipment stood ready on the stage and at 8pm was it time for Lancer to kick off the evening.
“Dead Raising Towers” was the first song out, followed by “Future Milennia”. Singer Isak Stenvall worked really hard to get the crowd going from the start and he managed to get a few to sing with him on command. He thanked the crowd for being there and asked if he should speak in English or Swedish; Swedish won and he presented the next song which was taken from the debut album, “Purple Sky”. Stenvall said the band had been performing with Hammerfall for 4 weeks now and that they have had a blast. This was the first time Lancer performed in Denmark and then he tried a few words in Danish he had learned but it didn’t work so well. He announced “Behind The Walls” instead and that went better. Lancer is:
Isak Stenvall – lead vocals
Peter Ellström – guitar
Fredrik Kelemen – guitar
Sebastian Pedenera – drums
Emil Öberg – bass
Stenvall was clearly influenced by Bruce Dickinson because he moved his hands up and down just like Dickinson does when he wants the fans to scream louder and softer. When I got out from the photo pit I saw that there weren’t as many people in the club as I’d thought when I was standing close to the stage however there were a lot of people there and most of them seemed to enjoy what they saw. If Bruce Dickinson is the biggest influence for Stenvall, there’s no doubt that guitarist Peter Ellström’s biggest hero is Yngwie Malmsteen. However he’s narrowed down the biggest Malmsteen-moves this night compared to the last time I saw him. Stenvall once again thanked the crowd for being there and said the band’s new album is called MASTERY and that it was time for the title track.
He disappeared behind a black curtain and came back with a stuffed bird…why, I don’t know, because at the end of the song he threw it back behind the curtain. The band’s power/heavy metal music worked great as a warm up for Hammerfall and the people in the club liked what they saw. It felt like Lancer had grown both performance-wise as well as musically since the last time I saw them and that definitely benefit the band. Stenvall thanked for the fans’ support and said they had one song left. If the crowd wanted to hear more from Lancer he suggested they should buy the new album. “Masters and Crowns” ended the show and Stenvall once again had the fans shouting “hey hey”. The last thing Lancer did was to take a group selfie with the fans and then they all walked off the stage.
During the 30 minute show the band proved they had grown both musically as well as a live act and I wasn’t as negative towards them as I was the last time I saw them. They didn’t convince me but they didn’t let me down either. Lancer has the possibility to go far, they only need to tone down the Dickinson/Malmsteen influences first :).
Dead Raising Towers
Behind The Walls
Masters And Crowns
The next band used the same drums as Lancer which made the process of changing gear go much faster. The Lancer backdrop was put away and a keyboard came on and it was time for a band I know little about.
Gloryhammer is a Scott/Swiss epic power metal band founded by the vocalist of Alestorm, Christopher Bowes. The band’s debut came in 2013 and is called TALES FROM THE KINGDOM OF FIFE. The album SPACE 1992: RISE OF THE CHAOS WIZARDS came in 2015. Each member represents a character in the story of the album. The club started to fill up and it felt like many fans had come to see Gloryhammer. Contrary to the Kreator show which took place a few days earlier, this night’s crowd consisted mostly of a little older headbangers as well as a lot more females. It only took the crew about 15 minutes to get the stage ready for Gloryhammer and suddenly the club went dark and the stage lit up.
The intro “Infernus Ad Astra” was heard as the members came on to the stage. The show started with “Rise of the Chaos Wizards”. The crowd went crazy from the very start and continued to stay that way throughout the show. To my surprise, the members had stage clothes on and looked a bit strange. “Legend of the Astral Hammer” continued the show and singer Thomas Winkler had on a strange kind of green armor and sunglasses. A guy wearing a mask came on stage during the song and he and the singer pretended to fight. He had a huge hammer but the singer won the battle and kicked the antagonist off the stage. Winkler kept the hammer though and had it in his hand while he finished the song. He said, “We are Gloryhammer and we’re going to play some hammer-music for you all”. It was time for “Hail to Crail” after which he shouted, “We need some beer up here, can someone fix that?” As I left the photo pit I saw him talking to a fan at the front of the stage. The line-up in the band is:
Thomas Winkler – lead voice, modulated star nucleus
Paul Templing – guitar, dark matter string manipulation interface
James Cartwright – bass, transdimensional subsonic cluster
Ben Turk – drums, percussive phi-quason battery
Christopher Bowes – keyboard, positronic oscillator command
“Questlords of Inverness, Ride to the Galactic Fortress” was the long name of the song that followed; while all of the members moved around the only one who stood still was Bowes, who stood to the side at the black curtain with a hood on his head. Gloryhammer had some better lights and sound going on compared to Lancer which made it a little easier to take pictures.
The band’s melodic/power metal went down well amongst the crowd and the band created a fun atmosphere with their catchy metal. Cartwright took the mic saying it was the band’s first time in Denmark and that he loved the vibe from the audience. He also said that this was the last show on the tour and that Gloryhammer had a great time together with the other two acts. “Are you ready for some Gloryhammer music?”, he ended his speech, “it’s time to tell a story about when he – and he pointed at Winkler – was the king of Hollywood with the song “The Hollywood Hootsman”. Winkler let the fans take over the chorus and Winkler thanked the crowd for being to nice to the band. “I haven’t introduced myself to you”, he said, “my name is…”, and he leaned the mic to the fans that answered, “Angus McFife!”, which also was the name of the next song, one which the fans were definitely waiting for. Once again Winkler let the fans take charge of the chorus and then thanked the fans again. “You guys really love to sing!”, he said, and wanted the fans to sing even louder in “Universe of Fire”. A guy in a space suit came on stage and jumped along with the music. Winkler and the space man got into a fight where his helmet fell off, he reached down on to the floor and took up a pipe that blew confetti over the crowd and then he left the stage.
Winkler asked if the fans wanted to sing with him in “The Unicorn Invasion of Dundee” which of course everyone wanted. Bowes and Winkler started to chase each other around the stage as Winkler once again had the crowd singing on his command. A long outro ended the song after which the members walked off the stage.
Gloryhammer treated the fans with an intense set of 45 minutes and even though I thought the band’s metal music and approach was a little too childish for me, some of the songs was really catchy. It was hard to take the guys seriously but I guess music doesn’t have to be dead serious all the time.
Intro – Infernus Ad Astra
Rise Of the Chaos Wizards
Legends Of the Astral Hammer
Hail To Crail
Questlords of Inverness, Ride To The Galactic Fortress
The Hollywood Hootsman
The Unicorn Invasion Of Dundee
Outro – The National Anthem of Unst
Contrary to the Swedish fans who arrives early in order to drink beer, the Danish headbangers usually turn up in time to see the headline act and so was also the case this night. Hammerfall’s big backdrop could now be seen and beside the drums two huge gargoyles stood looking out on the crowd. Hammerfall normally brings along an impressive backline but due to the size of the stage they probably couldn’t fit the bigger production. When David Wallin (Pain) left the drum chair, so too did bass player Fredrik Larsson go on parental leave and he was replaced by the old Hammerfall member Stefan Elmgren.
It took about 30 minutes for the crew to set the stage and so finally was it time for the Templars of Steel to conquer Copenhagen.
The very suitable “Hector’s Hymn” marked the beginning of the show and the band had the fans in the palm of their hands from the very start. “Rider’s of the Storm” continued and proved that the band was brave enough to throw in a pretty old song from 2002’s CRIMSON THUNDER pretty early in the show. Before the fans even had time to catch their breath, “Bring It” continued the night and smoke came up from the edge of the stage. It was Cans and Dronjak that moved around the most. The line-up in the band is:
Joakim Cans – lead vocals
Oscar Dronjak – guitar
Fredrik Larsson – bass
Pontus Norgren – guitar
Johan Koleberg – drums
Cans thanked the fans for the amazing support and said the band was going to treat the fans with a mix of new and older songs. He said the band had been in Copenhagen a lot of times and that they always have fun when they are there. The last time they were there it was with their friends in Pretty Maids he said, “We are forever “Blood Bound” Copenhagen!”, as the song set the fans on fire. Cans stood beside the drums while singing with fire bursting up in front of him. “Any Means Necessary” followed in which Dronjak threw a lead guitar solo. When the crowd heard the roar of a motorcycle in the PA everyone knew that it was time for “Renegade” and started to shout and scream. Cans let the fans take care of the chorus and even though the venue wasn’t sold out the fans sang really loud. Cans introduced Norgren on lead guitar and when the song was over the fans all shouted “Hammerfall, Hammerfall”. Cans said the band had been going strong for 20 year now and that they still are having fun together. “Our new album BUILT TO LAST was released in November last year, next up is a song from that album in “Dethrone And Defy””. Even though the song is pretty new, the fans had learned the lyrics and sang along. “Crimson Thunder” followed straight away and Cans had everyone singing the chorus. It was fun to see how dedicated a fan base the band has. In “Last Man Standing” it was once again time for Dronjak to show his skills as he took on most of the lead guitar parts in favor of Norgren. In this song Cans always used to joke with some of the members in the band and this time it was Larsson’s turned to get mocked when Cans sang that Fredrik’s got a little penis instead of the original lyric.
Cans said it was nice to see some of the band’s old hardcore fans in the club tonight and that he had two questions: “How many in here have seen the band before? And how many haven’t seen us before? OK, well those of you who have seen us before have to say to the rest what to do during this song, OK? If I say Let the Hammer..then what do you say?”, and the audience screamed “Fall”. Of course was it time for one of the band’s biggest anthems in “Let the Hammer Fall”.
All of the members seemed to be having great fun on stage and the band felt like a solid unit. Norgren, Cans and Dronjak were the ones that moved around the most & connecting with the fans while Larsson and Koleberg took care of the rhythm section. Cans encouraged the fans to sing on their own before ending the song and then said “Thank you Copenhagen, you’re amazing and you’re “Built to Last”. The new songs worked as well as the old ones but now was it time to head back in time to 1997 and the album GLORY TO THE BRAVE where Cans picked out “Stone Cold” which Norgren kicked off. Cans went off the stage while Norgren and Dronjak did guitar snippets from several of the songs from the old album, after which a keyboard solo was heard as Cans walked back on stage. It was time for the ballad “Glory to the Brave”. To the fans’ joy, Cans and Norgren jumped into the photopit where Cans leaned the mic to the fans to sing. “Origins” followed straight away and Cans said it was the band’s 22nd show and that the guys still give their all to satisfy the fans. He then introduced the band and asked if anyone in the crowd was going to work tomorrow? “Well don’t leave the club yet because we have still a lot of songs to play for you”. When it was time for Dronjak to introduce Cans he said he had done the introduction in English out in Europe so many times now that he did it in English also this night.
“You are here to be “Punished and Enslaved”, Cans said and that was also the song that ended the 90 minute show. The fans shouted for more and the band shortly returned and fired off “Hammer High” as the first encore. The song, taken from BUILT TO LAST, was followed by “Bushido” and one can think that the band should have showed some signs of being at least a little bit tired after having been out on the road for so long but no, they still played with fire and energy. The guys gave their everything in to the end of the show. Cans said it was time to leave them but first they had to put the fans hearts on fire and the crowd exploded when they heard the intro to the mega hit “Hearts on Fire”. The majority of the fans seemed to have waited for this song because the sing-a-long in the song was deafening. Needless to say, the fans took care of the first verse with hardly any involvements from Cans. The smoke machines went off in the chorus and for each one Cans urged the fans to sing a little louder. All of the smoke machines went off at the same time at the end and the band thanked Copenhagen for a great night and another 15 minutes of Hammerfall music had come to an end after 1h 45 min.
Hammerfall might not be my favorite choice of act but boy can they deliver a rock solid show! However some of the things Cans said seemed routine and I’ve heard his talk on previous tours. They are all experienced and skilled musicians that take entertainment seriously. The new songs worked as well live as the old classics. Hammerfall fans are truly dedicated to the band. Koleberg did an excellent job behind the drums and he really adds strength to the music, he’s not any Johansson but he did a much better job than Wallin. Cans is in my opinion a little thin and weak in his voice, but the guys sure know how to deliver a great show.
This was another great night well spent at Amager Bio. Hammerfall showed why they are one of the best heavy/power metal acts in the world today. Gloryhammer wasn’t my cup of tea but Lancer has the potential to go far in the future. When I walked to the metro-train I overheard a middle aged couple talking, “now you have been to your first metal concert”, she replied “yes, and it was better than I thought”. Well I can agree with you there!
Hammerfall’s got a few festival shows booked for the summer in Europe and the band takes on the US and Canada on tour in April/May as co-headline with Delain.
Riders Of The Storm
Any Means Necessary
Dethrone And Defy
Last Man Standing
Let The Hammer Fall
Built To Last
Medley from GLORY TO THE BRAVE ALBUM – guitar shreds
Stone Cold/Unchained/The Metal Age/Hammerfall/Steel Meets Steel/The Dragon Lies Bleeding
Glory To The Brave
Punish And Enslave
Hearts On Fire
Thanks to Mona Miluski head of promotion for Napalm Records for help with press/photo-pass to the show.