Sabaton, Kreator and Cyhra recently kicked off their North American tour and finally it reached the Washington DC/Baltimore area last Wednesday night. This show in Silver Spring was one of the last ones of the North American tour, the wait was grueling. This is a tour I have been waiting to cover for a while, firstly because I am a huge fan of both bands, and secondly Sabaton is a great band to photograph. I haven’t attended any show since Trans Siberian Orchestra in November, so I was extremely excited to be surrounded by metal heads. Let me dive into the review now, you can check out the photo gallery at the bottom of the page.
The opening band of the night was Cyhra, a band consisting of ex members of In Flames, Amaranthe and Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody. Guitarist Jesper Strömblad was a founding member of In Flames and was previously a member of Hammerfall as well. He is one of the iconic guitar players that put Swedish metal on the map. Bassist Peter Iwers who was also a member of In Flames adds a ton of chemistry with Jesper as the two have worked together for many years. Vocalist Jake E Lundberg formerly of Amaranthe. While the band still those incredible Swedish riffs and rhythms, Jake E’s vocals take the band into a whole new direction in comparison to their previous bands. Fans of the members previous bands were in the crowd showing their support for this newly formed supergroup. They released their debut album titled ‘Letters To Myself’ last year. While the band is relatively new they are still finding their sound and at the same time treading on new ground in comparison to their previous bands. If you go in expecting them to sound like In Flames or Hammerfall you may be disappointed, but if you go into the show with an open mind they have a unique and fresh sound. They played a short set and exited the stage to ample applause from the crowd.
The highlight of the night, personally to me, was Kreator’s performance. One of the pioneers of Teutonic thrash metal, and arguably “the band” that kept it hard and heavy even during the abysmal days (of heavy metal) in the late nineties without taking the foot off the pedal. ‘Gods of Violence’ was one of their stellar albums in the thrash metal genre last year, and the tour in support of that album did not include a stop in the DC area. The lights went out as soon as Iron Maiden’s “Run to The Hills” was finished playing in the background and “Phantom Antichrist” started ringing out of the speakers. Playing guitar and singing can often be a task for some musicians. I’ve seen either the quality of the guitar playing or vocals suffer with them trying to multitask. Well, not this time. A few steps away from the microphone, a little head bang here and there, and the occasional interactions with the crowd by Mille Petrozza was a nice break from the norm. The guitar and drumming was impeccable, something that you would expect from a veteran band of Kreator’s stature. The setlist was a mix of old classics and a few tracks from ‘Gods of Violence’. Closing the set with the fan favorite “Pleasure to Kill”, Kreator left the stage to make way for the last band of the night.
Sabaton has been on a roll in U.S. for the past few years. Last year, they were headlined The Last Tour, named in support of their 2016 album ‘The Last Stand’, supported by Leaves’ Eyes and Battle Beast, which I had covered in this same venue. Since the last tour, often I have been browsing their discography section, which is loaded with historical facts on battles and other military history that have been the subject of many of their songs. Sabaton has a very unique fan base, aided by one of the greatest assets of Sabaton, their tremendous songwriting. The fans were chanting “Sabaton, Sabaton” every single time someone came on to the stage to fix the assault rifle & helmet styled microphone stands. As always the drummer Hannes Van Dahl was the first one to take the stage, followed by the rest. The band launched in to their performance with “Ghost Division” and “Uprising”. The song “Blood of Bannockburn”, an ode to the battle of Bannockburn, was the first song played from the recent album. The setlist was quite similar to the show last year, however a few tracks were changed here and there. Sabaton delivered what they always do, an uber energetic performance on the stage, with the signature stage moves of Joakim Broden. We can’t wait for Sabaton’s next album. They have been releasing an album every two years, so it is about time they deliver something new.
The crowd on this night was clearly divided, and diverse, with many Sabaton fans wearing military inspired stuff, and the Kreator fans with the official band merch. But they all had a great time. I am a proponent of tours comprising of bands with a diverse range of musical styles, it does wonders to increase the fan base of all bands. I am sure all bands went home with a few more “converted” new fans. The tour is done and dusted now, but you should check out the new albums by the bands when you can, on top of leaving yourself a mental note to check out these bands then next time they cross the Atlantic to our shores. Metal Nexus will bringing a review of something huge next Monday. So stay tuned!