Freedom Call + Dragonhammer + Avenford @ The Borderline, London

Spread the metal:

Freedom Call + Dragonhammer + Avenford

@ The Borderline, London

11th October 2015

Review, photos & videos by Oliver M.

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Five months after their fantastic live performance at the O2 Academy Islington, German power metal masters Freedom Call came back to London on Sunday 11th October as part of the “666 Weeks Beyond Eternity” European tour. They were previously supporting Sonata Arctica in May 2015 but this time, they had the privilege to headline the second part of this tour. It was well deserved since they’re one of the current leaders of melodic power metal in their home country.

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I was very happy that Dragonhammer had been chosen as main support act. They’ve been wrongly underrated for many years and that was a great opportunity for the Italian to spread their name again after a long hiatus. In the past, the international press compared both bands to the biggest names from their respective local scene: Helloween/Gamma Ray for Freedom Call and Rhapsody/Labÿrinth for Dragonhammer.

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Fortunately, it’s not the case anymore nowadays. It was the first time I went to the Borderline. Located in Soho, this tiny venue provides a very good sound for rock and heavy metal bands. I was a bit surprised to see Freedom Call playing in such a small place and so, this gig was kind of intimate.

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Avenford (3/5)

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Formed in 2010, those young London-based musicians were very lucky to open the show. Personally, I was expecting a more well-known name as first supporting act but that’s understandable since the UK power metal scene remains quite poor unfortunately.

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However, Avenford shouldn’t be classified in this genre as they play a kind of melodic heavy metal with a few 70s/80s hard rock influences. The audience didn’t get any speed metal compositions here and it seemed they haven’t really been convinced. Anyway, I don’t think it was a mistake to invite them as they delivered a nice set of catchy songs. The guitar solos were well performed, showing some good technical skills.

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Those solos represent definitely their strongest point. I would have expected far more keyboards to give more melodies and atmosphere to the music. A few interesting pre-recorded synths have been added on some rare occasions. It was a pity they didn’t use them extensively.

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Avenford have released one self-produced album “Mortal Price” so far and recently joined the roster of Nail Records, a small label specialised in Hungarian metal. It was a nice discovery and I hope this obscure company will help this promising band to spread their name (in Hungary at least).

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Dragonhammer (4/5)

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Hailing from Rome, this group of brave knights offered an excellent live performance that met all my expectations. I discovered them during their early years and was immediately conquered by their first brilliant opus “The Blood of the Dragon” released in 2001.

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Majestic choirs, inspiring melodies, neoclassical solos, powerful vocals, medieval-fantasy ambiance… This jewel gathered all the great elements that contributed to forge the famous Italian power metal style in the 90s.

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Thanks to the international success of Labÿrinth, Eldritch and Rhapsody, this scene became extremely prolific at the end of the 90s with the arrival of many amazing acts such as Cydonia, Vision Divine, DGM, Skylark, Thy Majestie, Secret Sphere, Elvenking, Domine, Arachnes, Heimdall, Airborn, etc.

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Dragonhammer are part of them of course. The crowd was conquered by Max Aguzzi’s charismatic vocals. They performed their old classics “Legend”, “Dragon Hammer”, “Time for Expiation” and “Fear of a Child” to my great satisfaction. Unfortunately, we couldn’t hear the keyboards very well on various occasions as they haven’t been enough emphasised compared to the other instruments during their set.

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That was the only negative point but it wasn’t their fault really. After “The Blood of the Dragon”, they released “Time for Expiation” through the big label Scarlet Records in 2004 and “The X Experiment” two years ago. That’s great to see they’re still brilliant even after a long hiatus of about 9 years! I’m really looking forward to watch them slaying the Dragon again in the UK!

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Freedom Call (5/5)

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As soon as Chris Bay and his mates came on stage, the audience couldn’t stop chanting “Freedom Call”. The Borderline was suddenly crowded by enthusiastic fans wearing their recent tour t-shirts. As always, the happiest band in the world delivered a fantastic set of melodic power metal that took their “Callers” to some infinite fairylands.

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They mainly played songs from their most well-known masterpiece “Eternity” (“The Eyes of the World”, “Bleeding Heart”, “Warriors”, “Land of Light”) and the critically acclaimed “Beyond” (“Union of the Strong”, “Heart of a Warrior”, “Beyond”).

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There were no technical problems for them as we could hear all instruments properly (even the pre-recorded keyboards). Five months ago at the O2 Academy Islington, the Bavarians performed almost the entirety of the amazing “Eternity” to promote the recent re-release of this classic opus.

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This time, the setlist was different, spanning a bit the band’s whole career. Their first three albums (“Stairway to Fairyland”, “Crystal Empire” and “Eternity” of course) are undoubtedly their best but I strongly recommend you check their latest jewels such as “666 Weeks Beyond Eternity”: a great power metal hymn!

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As usual, Chris Bay is a very charismatic vocalist who tells funny stories to the crowd and enjoys making jokes. He’s probably the funniest singer I’ve ever seen on stage!

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Freedom Call is primarily known for being a happy band but people shouldn’t forget that they’re very talented as well. They’ve impressed London once again and received a deserved, warm acclaim from their fans.

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Special thanks to Chris for the good jokes!

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Setlist:

1) Union of the Strong
2) The Eyes of the World
3) Heart of a Warrior
4) Farewell
5) Island of Dreams
6) Beyond
7) The Quest
8) 666 Weeks Beyond Eternity
9) Tears of Babylon
10) Power & Glory
11) Freedom Call

Encore:
12) Bleeding Heart
13) Warriors
14) Land of Light