Article and Photos by: Steven Principato
New York, NY — On this epic night of massive power metal mania, featuring a pair of bands with a presence and power level far too large for the less-than-massive compact stage of NYC’s Irving Plaza, Huntress and Sabaton, two of the most over-the-top acts in contemporary metal showed no mercy upon the tightly packed sea of sweaty metal desperation below on this sold out night.
Opening the show to an already fully packed house was Huntress. Blasting straight out of California with their unique but familiar boisterous metal sound, and assaulting the audience with their very own weapons grade retro-inspired power metal. Complete with a surplus amount of shameless guitar solos and the banshee-like screams of the huntress herself, the titillating bombshell of a front-woman, Jill Janus. With her golden locks furiously flowing in an eerie slow motion effect while working in perfect concert with her enraged wails, together manifesting an image of wraith-like ferocity that Jill embodies so elegantly. Vocally channeling iconic metal babes (and dudes) by the likes of Lita Ford and frequently banned sweethearts of Tipper Gore’s P.M.R.C. such as W.A.S.P. vocalist Blackie Lawless or the late Wendy O’ Williams (minus the naked boobs, chainsaws, explosions, and flaming cod-pieces) some might can say Janus really is looking both to the past and the future when it comes to her explosive stage persona and massive vocal talent. Sparing no weakling man in the sold out venue from Huntress’s unique brand of female-dominant sexually charged tracks such as “I Want to Fuck you to Death” (written by the late Lemmy) or “Flesh”, Janus and her pack of metal raging wolfs delivered a headlining performance in the spot of the mere opener.
Triumphantly blasting their way onto the compact stage, albeit far smaller than the massive European festival stages they are accustomed to was Sabaton. Frequently playing before crowds of thousands of passionate euro-metal heads, Sabaton certainly didn’t fail to please in such a hostile and far away land. In fact, by the frenzied level of energy contained within the cramped confines of Irving Plaza, one can close their eyes and mistake it for Wacken or other European metal festivals. Draped in his trademark camo fatigues, body armor, sporting Rob Halford-esque aviators, singer and positively charged powerhouse Joakim Broden issued his explicit orders to his obedient soldiers: Prepare for metal! Sabaton is an unapologetic power metal band from Sweden, classic and true since 1999. Heavily influenced by pioneering legends in the genre with major names like Rainbow, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Manowar, Sabaton defiantly erects a fortress of classic metal utopia around their die-hard army of metal maniacs every time they assault the stage. Launching a barrage of galloping upbeat musical missiles about the glory of battle spanning all wars in history, such as “Sparta” and “Stalingrad” Sabaton had the amped-up mob bouncing and crowd surfing under the gleeful grins of the body-armored and mohawked front-man’s combat boots. Never slowing down for a breather or a ballad for the entire set, Sabaton kept the trigger down – all guns blazing until their epic encore performance of the fan favorite, “Primo Victoria”.
When the smoke cleared and the battle over, victory was declared by both Sabaton and Huntress. As the satisfied mob of true metal fans, showing no reluctance to raise absolute hell for two bands that some contemporaries may label campy or retro. By simply giving the fans music from their hearts rather than the bounds of trendy social suppression, these modern day keepers of the faith are poised to carry on the flag of metal as our legendary Idols of whom which so strongly inspire tonight’s performers slowly but steadily ascend to the great metal Valhalla.