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Toronto's History Auditorium got a double dose of European Power metal with Sweden’s Hammerfall and German legends Helloween coming into town for their first appearances in almost 4 years. Hammerfall’s 12 song set featured newer tracks like "Brotherhood" with classics such as "The Metal Age," they satisfied fans old and new. Led by vocalist Joacim Cans, the band's commanding stage presence resonated, while their skillful chemistry and tight performance impressed. With closing tracks "Hammer High" and "Hearts on Fire," they showcased their enduring legacy, solidifying them as go-to for an electrifying live experience.

Next up was Helloween, and they would end up taking fans on a journey through their iconic discography which showcased their vocal range, stage presence, and unwavering dedication to delivering an unforgettable live experience. The multi-tiered stage, featuring a giant Halloween Pumpkin Drum Riser, set the tone for a night of grandeur and spectacle. Lead singers Michael Kiske and Andreas Deris took full advantage of the various levels, utilizing them to engage the audience and create a dynamic visual experience.

Deris, in particular, proved to be a master showman, working the crowd into a frenzy during the performance of "Eagle Fly Free." With his commanding presence and infectious energy, he effortlessly led the audience in singing along with the iconic chorus, uniting the entire venue in a moment of pure heavy metal euphoria. Despite the passage of time, the band has not lost any of their magic, the trio of Vocalists really were impressive. One of the standout moments of the night was undoubtedly the performance of "Mass Pollution." As the guitarists gathered at center stage, their synchronized attack on the intricate guitar work sent shockwaves through the audience. It was a true testament to the band's skill and their commitment to delivering an authentic live experience.

"Future World" provided another captivating moment, with guitarists Kai Hansen, Sascha Gerstner, and Michael Weikath prowling the stage, showcasing their versatility, and ensuring that every corner of the venue felt their presence. The crowd was treated to a masterclass in heavy metal guitar playing, as the trio unleashed blistering solos and harmonies. As the set progressed, Helloween's intensity only grew stronger. "Power," off their 1996 album The Time of the Oath, exemplified the sheer concussive force of the band's rhythm section. Drummer Daniel "Dani" Löble and bassist Markus Grosskopf laid down a thunderous foundation, driving the song forward with relentless power.

The main set culminated with the thunderous "How Many Tears," leaving a lasting impact before the eagerly anticipated encore. Helloween proved once again why they are masters of their craft, leaving the audience hungry for more.  For the encore, Helloween delivered the crowd-pleasing favorites "Perfect Gentleman" and "Keeper of the Seven Keys," sending the audience into a frenzy of headbanging and sing-alongs. The band's tight performance and unwavering energy level no doubt that they are still at the top of their game.

Dave Blass

Photojournalist - Toronto

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