2018 is off to one hell of a start. Just over a month in, and I have already been to several excellent shows. However, tonight was the night I had been looking forward to for months. As soon as SABATON announced a co-headlining tour with KREATOR and special guests CYHRA, I knew this would be a great show. I arrived at the venue to find a line of eager fans, old and young, wrapped around the building. We were all ready for what was coming up.
CYHRA was first to take the stage, and I was beyond excited to see them. Hailing from Sweden the ex-members of AMARANTHE and IN FLAMES formed the band in 2016, and released the new album Letters to Myself in October 2017 that I have had in my rotation since its release. The band opened album closer “Dead to Me”, a song that eases its way into your ears, then catches you with its energy. The crowd was enchanted and instantly moving. “Heartrage” and “Here to Save You” were also in the set, some of my favorite tracks, before closing out with “Karma”, a song that instantly defined the new album as a must listen. I talked to several people in the crowd afterwards, everyone was wishing they had a longer set. Seeing the new formation of CYHRA was a highlight of my year so far, don’t miss this opener!
Next up was the German Thrash Metal heroes known as KREATOR! They have been busy touring the world since the release of last year’s Gods of Violence, headlining The Decibel Magazine Tour here in the states. Frontman Mille Petrozza was the orchestrator of the madness that ensued throughout their set, and makes sure the chaos is brought each night! Every time I see them live, I am always in awe of the size of the mosh pit, something the band asks for during their set. May as well mosh though, since you won’t be able to see the band through the copious amounts of stage fog and strobe lights. The sea of people on the floor enjoyed hearing “Hail to the Hordes”, “Flag of Hate”, and “Violent Revolution”, as everyone was packed in, and horns up to the captivating and powerful set brought by KREATOR.
Finally it was time for the mighty SABATON! The crowd kept chanting “SA-BA-TON! SA-BA-TON! SA-BA-TON!” louder and louder during stage set up, the energy in the room was palpable. Who doesn’t love Swedish metal?!? It had been a few years since I had seen them, and was sad they weren’t able to bring their tanks that they use as stage props overseas to the states. They stormed the stage, opening with “Ghost Division”, a favorite! I keep hearing that they are a love ‘em or leave ‘em band. After seeing their set again, I would love to hear anyone say this is a leave ‘em band. After a few songs of the crowd being drawn in by Joakim Brodén’s amazing voice and stage presence, they started chanting the melody to “Swedish Pagans”, my absolute favorite, and you bet I was chanting along with the crowd!
Joakim tried to talk us out of wanting to hear the song, but we could not be swayed. The energy filled set continued with other crowd favorites such as “Final Solution”, “Resist and Bite”, and closer “To Hell and Back”. Some bands just come out and play a set, but what makes SABATON memorable and keeps me going to their gigs every chance I get is the theatrics and historical lyrics. They engage the crowd throughout the show, and truly love their fans.
The line-up may seem like an odd one at first glance, but it worked well. CYHRA got the crowd ready for the night without being the in your face blaring metal band. KREATOR is pure Thrash Metal energy, and always worth experiencing live. SABATON keeps me coming back each year with their explosive sets, and are sure to captivate anyone and everyone who sees them live.
LIVE IMAGES AND WORDS: ERICA VINCENT PHOTOS