I.R.A.T.E. And Project Steiger At The Whisky 11/12
A modern day guitar hero stepped through the legendary doors of The Whisky A Go Go on Hollywood's Sunset Strip on this night and sent a message to everyone in the metal world that he and his band aren't going to put up any longer with the watered down and gimmicky pop rock nonesense that's being marketed to the masses as metal music. The man's name is Ken Steiger, renowned guitar instructor at The Musicians Institute for the past ten years. His band is called PROJECT STEIGER, and they certainly delivered that message loud and clear with one of the most dynamic performances I have seen this year. Consisting of Davd Angel on bass guitar, Todd Graveman on rhythm/lead guitar and Duayne Howard on drums, this progressive metal band started their set off in an absolutely ripping manner with the clearcut rockers "Prince Of Souls", KT Boundary Event" and "Cerebral Vision". Steiger had complete command of the crowd from the moment he took the stage and the fact that this band has no lead singer made it even more impressive that he was able to hold down center court all by himself, much like Stevie Ray Vaughan did back in his days. And yes, unlike most of you, I was fortunate in my life to actually see SRV perform live here in Los Angeles two months before his tragic death in 1990. Steiger invokes that blazing abandon on his fretboard that so many guitar greats like Vai and Satriani have shown , displaying a near effortless approach to his guitar wizardry of one face melting arpeggio run after the next. He even at one point came off the stage and walked among the cheering, beer-pounding crowd in mid-solo as if he was expecting someone to pour a drink into his mouth. The band behind him was in perfect timing with him. I did not hear one bad note or missed beat. They next cranked it up louder with the high speed, ultra-shreddings of "Mega-Jam", "Run 4 Cover" and "Lethal Madness". Duayne Howard next stepped up for his drum solo and let everyone know he's got some talent to spare as well, flashing his sticks in near light speed across the toms toms of his kit and crashing his cymbals and splash very impressively. The crowd was going crazy for this band, roaring in approval and saluting their drinks. There were even chants of "Steiger, Steiger, Steiger" from other impressed onlookers. They ended it with their most explosive songs "Rock-It" and "Child Of The Storm", all along with Steiger delivering more harmonic brilliance and mind-shattering licks than any metaler should be able to handle. These guys are a must see to believe. Just make sure to bring an extra jaw with you, cause yours is going to hit the floor when you do get to see Project Steiger's all-out musical assault of the senses.
Next I.R.A.T.E. came out full force as the headliner. Fronted by the very energetic Erik Ulrich, the band kicked it all off with their own high-charged cover of Oingo Boingo's "DeadMan's Party", followed by "American Pitbulls", which is a really cool track from their next album. The crowd began moshing throughout center floor as I.R.A.T.E. picked up their sonic momentum with "Choices", "Pride" and "Kill Da Bunny". It was a night for underground metal music that had to be witnessed to fully understand the utter beauty of it all. Next up, Ulrich's bandmates Rudy Hewlett on guitar, Eric Buell on bass and Jason Berglund on drums stormed thru the next songs "Traitors", "Socialite", "Suck it up","Cleansing" and "Ganja" with total gusto. I.R.A.T.E really seems to have benefitted from all the touring they have done this year, because they only seem to get stronger with their intensity each time I see them and that suited everyone in attendance just fine. Ulrich literally owned the stage with every spit he took from behind the mic and the crowd was more than eating up his bravado at every turn. They may not be an extreme metal band but I have to be honest in what I saw and that was an extreme reaction from the audience to the likes of which I haven't seen for a very long time. The band is part of Project Independent's new upcoming underground metal compilation CD distributed through Century Media Records and seem positioned right now as the king's of hardcore metal on the west coast. The one thing this critic takes away from all of my observed I.R.A.T.E. performances this year is that they have been simply unrelenting in doing what they orginally set out to do as a metal act and that is to be controversial, more than opinionated and ready to take on anyone who gets in their path to heavy music greatness.
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