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Live Concert Report: 2021 Josefstadt (Day Three)

Josefstadt ended less than a week ago, and the festival already seems like a lifetime has passed since. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve flown halfway across the world during that week and reentered an entirely different life. Anyway, as promised, you can find some photos from the third and final day below.

For my day one report, click here.

If you wish to view/download a much higher resolution of any photo, just click on it before viewing/saving.

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Catastrofy



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Innersphere

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Altars Ablaze


Mgla's Maciej Kowalski

Gruzja @ Josefstadt

Gruzja

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Doomas

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St Lemmy altar @ Josefstadt

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Azarath's Inferno

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S.D.I.

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Igorrr's Aphrodite Patoulidou

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Animal zombies crowd surfing during Reactory


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Mgla closed out the Sea Shepherd stage on Saturday night

Many more different photos will also be posted here.


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Live Concert Report: 2021 Josefstadt (Day Two)

Day two of Josefstadt has ended. Before we get into some photos from the day, I wanted to touch on a couple of issues from my day one report.

By late afternoon on day two, there were no signs that fire had ravaged part of the food area on day one. New tents were in place, new signage, new cooking equipment, and everything was back to normal. I’m not sure how such a quick renewal can take place, but someone made it happen.

The sound/lighting booth that I mentioned as being a viewing obstruction on day one was moved back quite a bit for day two. There were still hundreds of people with little or no view behind it during the Marduk and Hypocrisy sets though.

Now for some day two photos.

Mean Messiah

Laura Guldemond of Burning Witches

Truchło Strzygi

I felt like Truchło Strzygi had the best performance of the day—very lively and entertaining. Smiles from ear to ear all across the audience.

Kids get in free!

Dordeduh panorama on the Octagon stage

The above photo was taken from the previously mentioned bar area that serves as a balcony of sorts for the Octagon stage. Best view in the house, but, unfortunately, only 15 or so people can fit.

Marduk


Ad Nauseam

Hypocrisy

The day three update won’t happen for a few days, as I will be too busy traveling, but it will happen. I promise. I’m really looking forward to Azarath and Mgla today.

More photos (and I mean dozens more) will eventually be posted here.

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Live Concert Report: 2021 Josefstadt (Day One)

Day one of the Josefstadt (aka Mini Brutal Assault) Festival is history. Were it not for Covid, this would be a five-day festival, with more than two stages, and several times as many bands. However, I can’t complain as this is still one of the largest metal festivals (if not the largest) that has taken place in the past 18+ months.

The layout is different than it was last year and, of course, very different from Brutal Assault. The large Sea Shepherd stage for Josefstadt is where the Obscure stage was for 2019 Brutal Assault. Fortunately, it isn’t enclosed like Obscure was. I felt somewhat claustrophobic in the Obscure tent in 2019. The Octagon stage is the same as it was for Brutal Assault with the twist that it is opened up to a bar within the fortress. Although a major improvement, the area can still be too crowded and difficult to get in and out of.

There is no large video screen like there is for Brutal Assault. This wouldn’t be a big deal if it wasn’t for the fact that the sound and lighting tents are very wide and not that far from the stage. If you aren’t in front of them, you can’t see the stage, which is why the video screen would be nice. Sound quality is excellent (unless you are in the photo pit between speakers) like it is for Brutal Assault.

And now some photos.

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Harakiri for the Sky

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Honza "Hellsound" Kapák of Bohemyst


Bohemyst is a new band made up of members of Master’s Hammer and Avenger. Their first album was released on the same day as their appearance at Josefstadt so the audience wasn’t familiar with it. I’ve listened to it once and thought it sounded great. Cern a Smrt could be a surprise offering that hits some of the “best of” lists for 2021.

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Debustrol


Debustrol has been around forever, but they aren’t well known outside of Czech and have played very few shows outside of their home country. I’ve become familiar with them since they were announced as being on the Josefstadt bill and found their performance to be one of the best, if not the best, of the day.

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Decapitated

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Stiny Plamenu

Crowd surfing during Vader's set at Josefstadt

A half hour or so before Vader took the stage, one of the food stalls caught on fire. The flames grew and the fire department arrived quickly. Amazingly, as I’ve been at shows that were called off for far less, the firefighters did their job without disturbing the rest of the event in the least.

Vader did not have their pyro that they did in Poland, but the fire just before their set didn’t seem to be the reason. Maybe there won’t be any pyrotechnics at Josefstadt. I’m not sure what the regulations are at the moment, but Brutal Assault typically had pyro for some of the bigger bands after dark.

Belzebong making sure their message gets across


I understand the members of Belzebong had their first edible experience after their show.

Destruction's Marcel "Schmier" Schirmer

This was one of Destruction’s first shows without Mike Sifringer, who played with them at 2019 Brutal Assault.

More photos will be posted here, and a couple more posts on the festival, with photos, are forthcoming.

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Live Concert Report: Vader tours Poland

When MetalDays 2021 was cancelled a few months back I found myself with a free week in Europe. I scanned the concert calendars each week to see if anything would materialize, and finally Vader announced a series of shows in Poland. Poland had always been on my radar as a place I wanted to visit so I began to plan.

Originally, I planned to see Vader in Poznan and then Sunnata the following night in Warsaw before continuing my journey to the Czech Republic. However, Sunnata’s show in Warsaw on July 31 was postponed so I was left with an open Saturday night in Poland.


Nothing else was announced so I ended up going with Vader on back-to-back nights. Vader wasn’t playing alone. They were playing with four other bands so I became familiar with them as well. Gruzja (and KAT, but to a lesser extent) also became interesting to me. Clairvoyance and JAD were the two other bands on the bill.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band on back-to-back nights, doing essentially the same set, in different cities. Turns out, the second night isn’t nearly as great as the first. I could have, and probably should have, predicted that. Maybe I did. Again, I had an open night so this seemed like something I shouldn’t miss.

Friday night in Poznan began Friday afternoon at the soccer stadium for the local team. I love stadiums, have been to dozens, and have toured, on a more formal basis, at least a half dozen as well. So that’s what I did before the gates opened since the concert venue was just outside the stadium. Vader came to the stadium to eat before the gig so I got to meet them as well.



Poznan crowd

I think we were supposed to stay a meter and a half away from each other and wear masks. Neither of those things happened. Covid-19 is really low in Poland right now so those rules seemed a bit odd—especially since this was an outdoor event. The show was fairly normal in that there was a mosh pit, crowd surfing, people standing, etc.



Gruzja in Poznan (July 30, 2021)


The sound quality was not great, especially near the stage. Near the mixing booth the quality was good. Gruzja and Vader were both excellent in my opinion. Gruzja seemed to attract the younger crowd, KAT the older crowd, and Vader was for everyone.



Gruzja in Poznan


I left during the KAT set as the last trams were about to finish for the evening, and I didn’t want to be stranded. I knew I could see the entire KAT & Roman Kostrzewski set the following evening as the start times were much earlier in Warsaw.


Vader in Poznan

If you haven’t heard of KAT, and are wondering why Vader was opening for them, you are probably not alone. They’ve been around since the late 1970s and were/are huge in Poland. They were/are so big in Poland, that there are actually two versions of the band these days (similar to Venom or Queensryche). However, they have never toured outside of Poland and probably have very little following elsewhere in the world. The version of KAT at these events was with the original lead singer, Roman Kostrzewski. His vocals are very unique so I’m not sure how the other version of KAT is getting along without him. Tim “Ripper” Owens is their vocalist I hear.


Roman Kostrzewski of KAT

Flash forward to night two. I took a three-hour train from Poznan to Warsaw. Note for anyone taking a long-distance train in Poland: Bring your own toilet paper! Anyway, back to the show.

Everything in Warsaw was bigger, much bigger. The stage was probably four times the size as the one in Poznan. The sold out crowd was also several times larger. Despite this, there were only two (extremely slow moving) beer lines. You could easily wait over an hour to purchase a beer! The toilet situation was also bad. Eight porta potties and that was it. No urinals. No one peeing in the bushes. Several of the doors on the porta potties were broken so intruders were common as well. I’ve never seen a worse situation at a planned event like this. I felt especially bad for the ladies.



Massive beer line building before most of the attendees have even arrived


The grounds in Warsaw were also a mess. I don’t think concerts are normally held at this location outdoors. There is an arena nearby that normally holds indoor shows, but that is closed due to Covid. Walking could be hazardous. One step would be on a hard rock and the next would be in quicksand. The benches were mostly wobbly or broken. Sound was, again, not good at all near the stage. I spent most of my time near the mixing booth for OK sound quality.

Food isn’t a necessary option at all concerts—especially if only a band or two are playing and there are nearby eating possibilities with in-and-out privileges. However, this was a five-band concert (over six+ hours) with no nearby food stalls or restaurants or in-and-out privileges. There were zero food offerings--not even a polish dog or some French fries.

I’m not sure what the organizers were thinking. They lost out on a ton of beer and food revenue (not to mention customer satisfaction) by not having food options, more beer lines, and faster moving lines. Maybe this is normal in Poland? I don’t know, but I didn’t see anyone complaining. If this was in Denmark or the USA, people would have been outraged.



Gruzja on the bigger Warsaw stage

As expected, I was a little less enthusiastic about the bands in Warsaw as I was with the Poznan show. This probably had as much to do with the beer situation as it did with the fact that the element of surprise was gone for me, having just seen these performances less than 24 hours prior. Vader seemed to have a lot more pyro going on in Poznan than in Warsaw too. That may have been because they played before dark in Warsaw and after sunset in Poznan.


Vader's set in Warsaw begins (photo taken from my spot in the beer line--55 minutes after I began standing in said line)

When darkness came on the scene in Warsaw so did the bugs. I’m not kidding. Mosquitos by the thousands descended on the crowd shortly after KAT hit the stage and began ravaging everyone’s flesh. I needed some food, some beer, a place to pee, and relief from the swarm of locusts so I split—once again missing the second half of KAT’s set.

Vader and Gruzja will be at Josefstadt in less than two weeks. I’m looking forward to a more comfortable environment there.


Vader in Warsaw - July 31, 2021

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2021 Metal Magic Festival (Part Three)

One last take on the 2021 Metal Magic Festival… After this, I won’t clog the MetalUnderground airwaves with anything more from the festival, but I will occasionally post a photo or two, and sometimes with a story, here going forward. Parts one and two are here and here.

Now that I have had a week to reflect on the festival, my biggest regret is that I didn’t watch more bands in their entirety. My other biggest regret is that I didn’t spend enough time talking to new and old friends. So, if I had to do it all over again, I would need this festival to happen twice more—once to see all of the bands from beginning to end and once to miss all of the bands and just sit and talk with the wonderful metalheads who visit this festival every year.


Next year’s festival dates have been announced as July 7-9, 2022. The 2022 Metal Magic Festival will be back at the place where it was held in 2017-2019. The ground has been improved so no more drunken trips over the holes in the ground made by cows. Also, it’s the week before the 2022 Gefle Metal Festival, another small metal festival that shouldn’t be missed. Some years they are on the same days.


And now for the promised "dozen photos or so"…



Illdisposed bassist Onkel Kusse


Crocell frontman Asbjörn Steffensen


Afsky’s sound check was enough to give me chills


Altar of Oblivion


Turbocharged giving a shout out to my home country


Wokeh’s Tiago Dias


Traditional humor and horror in the Metal Magic prop department


Ultra Silvam


Slaegt


Hadron


Helvetets Port providing the background music for someone’s dinner


Evil warning the crowd to “take care of your balls”


Drukner


Furious Trama


Denial of God


Dead Void


Gabestok


Dusk @ 2021 Metal Magic Festival

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2021 Metal Magic Festival (Part Two)

The promised “much more thorough review” may never happen, given my time demands and my already fuzzy memory of all of the events that happened at this year’s Metal Magic Festival.

However, I will promise one more post with a dozen photos or so when I have the time to find those photos.

For now, the words of Ronnie Ripper of Turbocharged will sum up my thoughts on the subject.

”Another MMF completed! And there is nothing just "another one" about it, it's been two years and it's in the middle of a worldwide madness that has halted life as we know it, still the grand masters of everything worth living for has succeeded to not only put our little shitty band back on a stage, they have also pulled off the event of the year with no gunpowder spared! Salutes go out to everyone who made Metal Magic Festival the most precious happening on earth yet another year! Life would be shit without you folks, stand tall and keep the spirit alive! Massive thanks from the bottom of my heart!”

The set from Turbocharged was far from shitty. They furiously cranked out a shit ton of covers that had the audience moving, shaking, and smiling—just like Ronnie was as he roamed the grounds of the festival site during all three days.



Metal Magic Festival crowd



Crocell on the indoor stage



Pot of gold at the end of the rainbow


Manoj Ramdas (AKA Viron Vortex) waking up the Friday crowd




Slægt on the indoor stage







Ronnie Ripper and Turbocharged on the outdoor stage at 2021 Metal Magic Festival

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2021 Metal Magic Festival

Yesterday, and for the next two days, perhaps the largest metal festival in the world for the past 16 months is taking place in Fredericia, Denmark. The 2021 Metal Magic Festival features two stages, 28 bands, and hundreds in attendance. All attendees must show proof of being fully vaccinated or a negative Covid test.

The venue is a new one this year, with a much larger indoor stage than either of the two prior locations. The lighting and sound indoors is really spectacular, but the audience members must be seated.

This quick overview will be expanded into a much more thorough review, with dozens of photos, when I have some downtime. For now, I must sleep and then get on to day two of the festival.


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Metal Magic Festival organizer and guitarist of DemonGrinder, Martin Jørgensen


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Wokeh on the indoor stage


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Rob Coffinshaker conjurs up a sunset

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Live Concert Report: 2021 Metal Aid (Night Two)

For day one, click here.

Night two of 2021 Metal Aid at Amager Bio in Copenhagen, Denmark saw a few more people in the seats despite a UEFA Euro 2020 match, featuring Denmark, happening simultaneously. Between bands I noticed a number of Metal Aid attendees checking their phones for score updates. Alas, even with an early Danish goal, Belgium came back to defeat the Danes 2-1. Everyone was better off focusing on the music.

Night two consisted of Demolizer, Withering Surface, Slægt, and Artillery. Withering Surface and Artillery have been around for decades, while Demolizer and Slægt are on the younger side. Slægt has actually existed for a decade now, even though the members of the band are still in their 20s. The current lineup has been active for six years.

Demolizer got the crowd going with their brand of thrash metal. Young and old seemed to enjoy their energy and spirit. While there were moments of crossover and punk, I was pleased that they were more in the thrash category than what I was expecting.

Withering Surface were next. After a farewell concert in 2005, Withering Surface disbanded. In 2019 they reformed, wrote a new album which was released in 2020, and were booked to play a number of shows, including 2020 Copenhell and Metal Magic. Covid-19 wiped out most of those opportunities, or at least postponed them, so Metal Aid was their first performance in front of a crowd this large in over 15 years. They did get in a few small gigs in 2020 before Denmark went back into lockdown.

They will be at the 2021 Metal Magic Festival in a few weeks. When Michael H. Andersen, the vocalist for Withering Surface and co-owner of Mighty Music along with many other metal titles, asked the crowd how many had seen them at the 1999 Roskilde Festival, not many hands went up. Some of the youngsters in the crowd probably weren’t even born yet. Perhaps one or two were conceived at the 1999 Roskilde Festival. Nergal, of Behemoth, would not be surprised if such a conception were to have occurred.

If you are a fan of Melodic Groove Metal and haven’t heard Withering Surface before, check out their old stuff or their 2020 album, “Meet Your Maker”.

For me, and several others that I spoke with, the highlight of Metal Aid was Slægt. Since 2017 they have been one of my top ten favorite bands, and I don’t see them falling off that list anytime soon. Their last two albums and a 2019 EP are fantastic. Their live performances are always outstanding, energetic, and smile producing. Don't be surprised if they release a new album of material in 2022.

I’ve been lucky enough to see them five times now, even though they have yet to tour the USA. When they visit a town near you, don’t miss it! I would love to see a Slægt world tour with bands like Cloak and Tribulation. Slægt will also be at the 2021 Metal Magic Festival where I will happily see them for the sixth time.

Last, but not least, was the mighty Artillery. It’s been over 30 years since “By Inheritance” frequently made its rounds in my college CD player, but the surviving members continue to impress and deliver the goods.

I saw Artillery at 2016 Copenhell, but I was so jet-lagged and tired that I didn’t make it through more than a song or two before heading home to get some sleep. Artillery went on at Copenhell a 1:15 a.m., and my first act of that day was Solstifir, a full 12 hours earlier. On this evening, at Metal Aid, I was able to relax and enjoy their entire set.

Overall, Metal Aid delivered on the promise of emergency assistance to metal bands and fans alike. Going forward, the metal community can anticipate a return to concerts and festivals that we have so desperately missed during the past 15 months.

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Live Concert Report: 2021 Metal Aid (Night One)

“Many, many years ago on a distant shore
Men did gather secretly beyond a hidden door
They travelled long and travelled far
Dark into the night
Yes, this is the place they've chosen
To build the metal site”

No, Metal Church was not one of the bands at Metal Aid 2021. But their lyrics, above, summed up this event for this photographer and reviewer.

Maybe it hasn’t been “many, many years”, but my last live metal show was 2019 Brutal Assault which is more than 22 months ago—certainly the longest drought for me in the past 40 years (when I went to my first concert). I know my situation is not unique.

Travelling long and travelling far was certainly the case as I flew about 6,000 miles combined between three flights and 20+ hours. When I showed my Covid-19 vaccine certificate to security at the door, the guy next to me said something like, “Wow, you came all the way from the USA for this?” I told him I am dedicated.

Capacity at Amager Bio was reduced from over 1,000 standing individuals to a few hundred sitting metalheads. Most would have preferred the former, but with three compression fractures in my spine, I was more than happy to sit for most of the four and a half hours of music.

Night one consisted of Svartsot, Heidra, Ethereal Kingdoms, and Lotan. Svartsot is the only band I had heard of before this mini festival was announced as Svartsot was scheduled to play at Copenhell 2020 and 2021, both of which were cancelled.

Lotan kicked things off. Again, I wasn’t very familiar with the first three bands and didn’t have high expectations based on minimal listenings beforehand, but all three exceeded expectations. I heard some grumblings about Lotan’s performance from some audience members, and maybe the long interval between shows for me reduced my critical ear, but I enjoyed their short set more than I thought I would.

Ethereal Kingdoms were next. They aren’t in my favorite genre of metal (think Nightwish or Within Temptation, although sometimes heavier with very occasional death metalish vocals/growls). Some sort of story seemed to be unfolding during their set. A bloody heart emerged near the end, but the front row was spared any sort of GWAR or Watain blood bath.

A neighbor at the show told me I would really like Heidra as they would feature more of the Scandinavian spirit. He was correct. Heidra was excellent in their presentation and delivery. Combine Amon Amarth, Finntroll, and Alestorm in your head and out pops something similar to Heidra.

Finishing off night one was Svartsot. Like the rest, Svartsot was way better live than I was anticipating. My seat was particularly amusing as I was right in front of Hans-Jørgen Martinus Hansen who alternated between Irish whistles, the mandolin, bagpipes, and his beer throughout the set.

The sound at Amager Bio was perfect. I wandered around the edges and sat in the front row, and the mix sounded great in all locations which isn’t normally the case—especially at indoor venues.

I do have high expectations for night two as seeing Artillery and Slægt were my main reasons for buying a ticket for Metal Aid. A few tickets remain for tonight, but they may be gone before showtime. The other bands tonight are Withering Surface and Demolizer.

Night Two report

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Moonspell: Bringing Halloween Home

In the age where livestream shows are becoming the closest thing we have to going to gigs again, the audience has an idea of what to expect. Normally, viewers think that they'll be tuning into a glorified rehearsal, where the band sound tight, but with no one around to cheer. While this does give a more intimate atmosphere (who wouldn't want to hang out with their favourite bands while they run through tracks?) there are plenty of fans who miss the spectacle of a live performance. If ever there was a band that wasn't going to half ass their livestream though, it was Moonspell.

Originally meaning to take place on Halloween night, the Portuguese metal ambassadors were forced to move their show back by a few days, though naturally, it proved to be worth the wait. Those who logged in were treated to a vast selection of songs from the extensive Moonspell catalogue, from their debut "Wolfheart" to their sophomore classic "Irreligious," to the epic concept album, "1755." Appropriately enough for the beginning of the show, it was "Vampira" and "Wolfshade (A Werewolf Masquerade)" which kicked things off. It's been twenty six years since "Wolfheart" hit the shelves but these songs definitely haven't lost their bite or their spirit and sound as fresh as ever, something which can be said of any of the classics and gems brought out on the night. More...

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Armored Saint Livestreams A Metal Masterclass

It certainly feel strange to be writing a gig report in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has of course, all but vanquished hope of attending concerts this year and maybe even next year, but nevertheless, some bands have been able to overcome this obstacle and deliver the live experience to fans in their own home through livestreaming. One such band who refused to be denied the opportunity to deliver live renditions of an album they're rightly so proud of, was California's own heavy metal heroes, Armored Saint.

With their new album, "Punching The Sky," released last month through Metal Blade Records, it would have been a crime if fans weren't able to hear the new material in a live setting and so, despite not having an audience, the Los Angeles quintet took to the stage of the famous Whisky A Go Go on October 10th and performed with a passion which would have fooled anyone into thinking the legendary venue was packed to the rafters.

Naturally, the set relied heavily on "Punching The Sky," opening with "Never You Fret," the first of four songs to make their live debut, followed shortly after by "Pay Dirt" from the "Revelation" album. John Bush was in fine voice as always and even got a laugh when turning to the camera, cupping his ear and shouting the live cliche, "I can't hear you!" Those familiar with the new singles, "End Of The Attention Span" and "Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants," were no doubt happy to hear these future live staples performed for the first time as well, in addition to other new songs "Missile To Gun" and "On The Way."

Of course, the classics can't be ignored either and those who tuned in were treated to everything from "Can U Deliver," from their debut full length, "March Of The Saint," to the infectious "Left Hook From Right Field" from 2010's, "La Raza." It was certainly a varied set, with only "Punching The Sky" being represented by more than one song, but it was a fun one, containing other classics like "Reign Of Fire," "Isolation" and "For The Sake Of Heaviness."

All in all, this was an excellent performance from Armored Saint, one which gives hope to fans worried that a live show can't replicate the quality of a live DVD or album. The only thing missing was a room full of rabid fans, as there's no doubt they would have gone absolutely crazy for this performance.

Armored Saint frontman John Bush and bassist Joey Vera each spoke to Metal Underground recently about "Punching The Sky." You can listen to both interviews below. More...

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Vader's North American 2020 Tour Destroys Arizona

Vader’s 2020 North American tour is so laden with death metal, it (insert your favorite witty metaphor here…)!!! But in all seriousness, Vader’s supporting act entourage consisting of Abysmal Dawn, Hideous Divinity and Vitriol, is everything a true fan of underground death metal lover could wish for in a tour package. The second date of this death metal mini festival made a stop in Mesa, Arizona recently and even though it’s early in the year, I’m pretty sure I’ll remember to include this specific show when the time arrives to write up my personal “Best of 2020” end of the year lists.

After the only local supporting band finished its short set, Vitriol, the self-described extreme metal band from Portland, Oregon, was able to get the crowd at Club Red to take notice of them immediately. The dual vocal stylings, along with the chaos that ensued onstage, showcased Vitriol as a gritty no-bullshit death metal quartet. Vitriol made the most of their half-hour allotment and by the end of their set, it was very noticeable change how much of the crowd had relocated closer to the stage.

Hideous Divinity from Italy followed Vitriols flawless set. Their style of technical death metal was a mind jolt that the crowd craved on this night chock full of complimenting death metal sub genres. Hideous Divinity was tight, full of kinetic energy and their vocalist, Enrico “H.” Di Lorenzo, looked like he wanted to tear the head off anything that would cross him while he was in the moment. I had never heard of Hideous Divinity before tonight, but their version of death metal prowess will result in me listening to their recorded discography for sure.


Next up from Los Angeles, California, was Abysmal Dawn. This veteran band with more of a traditional death metal style, has been around since 2003. By the time they took the stage, the venue was really starting to fill up. Abysmal Dawn took advantage of this and played an intense set comprised of material from their four full-length albums released to date. To the crowd’s delight, the band announced that their Season of Mist label debut would be released in April of this year.

The time had finally arrived for Vader’s return to Arizona. It has only been three years since their last visit, but it felt like an eternity. Vader is in a class by itself when it comes to death metal, and tonight, they laid waste to Club Red. Setting the tone with “Silent Empire,” Vader ripped through a setlist that blanketed their 30 plus year existence. The precision that Vader nails each and every note is rarely matched within the metal cosmos. They are masters at their respected instruments and vocalist/guitarist Piotr Wiwczarek is one of the most underrated front men in all of heavy metal. At one point he mentioned about the storms they had to go through to get to Arizona and that they brought that storm onstage with them. The rabid crowd roared at this. When Vader finished their encore, there were diehards screaming for another round.

Will Vader continue to make more albums and tour into their 40 year of existence? I wouldn’t bet against it. Vader shows no signs of slowing down and judging by the quality of supporting bands they take on tour with them, they will continue to tour well into their golden years… More...

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Jinjer And The Agonist Storm The Thekla

There's been no shortage of awesome tours this year. We've seen thrash legends combine forces, bands from different sub-genres unite and pairings as black and heavy as dark matter. With all these having come and gone, it's exciting to have had one more rumble through the UK, as Jinjer and The Agonist took their European tour to this divided island to unify head bangers. Fortunately, when they came to Bristol, they took the show to the perhaps the best venue in the city, The Thekla, a boat with the grit of old school venues yet the romance of the water.

Opening the show this evening was Space Of Variations, who hail from historically fascinating Ukrainian city of Vinnytsya. Much like their countrymen and headliners Jinjer, the band is pretty hard to define, combining metal, rock, hardcore, rap and some electronic influences. The best way one could describe their sound is Madball meets The Crystal Method. Sometimes having so many different sounds can be too much for a band to pull of live, but this quartet were absolutely superb from start to finish. Frontman Dima Kozhuhar is a particular highlight, radiating with intensity throughout the set, without coming across as trying too hard. Not everyone got to the show early tonight, but those that did will know that the latecomers missed out big time. Hopefully there's big things in store for Space Of Variations. More...

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Morbid Angel/Watain/Incantation Heat Up Arizona

After standing in a healthy-looking line outside of Club Red in Mesa, Arizona, I stepped foot inside just as Incantation was finishing their sound check. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like Incantation has been playing third fiddle on some prominent extreme metal tour packages as of late. I’ve written about their solid, yet mundane, sets several times but for the purpose of this Road Report, I’m going to skip over them and start with Watain’s set.

If you’ve been living under a rock during the past few weeks and haven’t checked a metal blog or your Facebook feed, Watain experienced a significant setback before their United States winter trek started. Pelle Forsberg, one of band’s two guitarists, was denied entry by immigrations officials when entering the United States for the tour. Long story short, vocalist Erik Danielsson is taking on bass duties and bassist Alvaro Lillo is playing guitar during this tour.



Did the last-minute changes in the instrumental duties impact Watain’s performance? Not. One. Bit. Watain burned through what I considered a “best of” set that included such favorites as “Sworn to the Dark”, “Reaping Death” and going way back into their vault with “On Horns Impaled.” The pleasant surprise of the setlist however was a cover of GG Allin and The Murder Junkies’ “Fuck Off, We Murder.” This was the perfect choice of a cover tune in regards to the recent chaos they’ve had to endure.

With the headliner up next, I have to admit, this was the first time that I’ve seen and listened to the Steve Tucker version of Morbid Angel. I have heard friends rave about this version of Morbid Angel, so I opened both my mind and ears in order to temper my expectations as “cautiously optimistic.” Trey Azagthoth is still in the line-up, so it still should sound like Morbid Angel, right? Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for my Altars of Madness loving ears…


This next part is difficult to write because Morbid Angel is one of my favorites, if not my FAVORITE death metal band during the era of their first three albums. This current version of Morbid Angel just sounds empty to me, it’s not the same band at all. I’m sure there are reasons why they didn’t play anything off their masterpiece Altars of Madness, but playing a couple of songs off the lackluster Blessed Are the Sick album just didn’t do it for me. The fierce bite that Morbid Angel used to be known for is missing. There’s no movement on stage and that equals no excitement. At least Trey stills shreds…



To end this Road Report mercifully, I’ll just say that this tour package is definitely what heavy music fans in the deserts of Arizona needed to get through this Tuesday night, and Watain was the venom this tour needed to inject some excitement into it.

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Lacuna Coil Unleashes The Black Anima In Bristol

It's truly wonderful how many bridges can be built in the realm of metal music. People from all walks of life and countries join together to celebrate the music we love and have a good time and tonight was no different. Three bands from across mainland Europe have come together and put together a tour that no one lucky enough to attend will soon forget, as Lacuna Coil, Eluveitie and Infected Rain joined forces to give headbangers one hell of a show, which was demonstrated perfectly on a cold night in Bristol.

Opening the night, almost as soon as the door opened, was Moldova's own, Infected Rain. After being independent for a while, the band released their first album through a label this year, the superb, "Endorphin," the doors are swinging open for this powerful quintet. Many opening bands struggle on a tour such as this to win over the crowd, but Infected Rain did so with incredible ease tonight. Frontwoman Elena "Lena Scissorhands" Cataraga possesses amazing talent, delivering one of the most flawless vocal performances I've ever seen, while working the crowd to perfection. It was a relatively short set, but a memorable one, which is sure to have won over plenty of new fans. Next time Infected Rain are in the UK, it's sure to be one which will see them perform in front of many of their own fans. More...

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Moonspell And Rotting Christ Enchant London

Despite it being Halloween tomorrow, everyone seems to be focused on Christmas already. For metal fans in London however, Christmas came early, despite an eight month wait, as Moonspell and Rotting Christ stormed into the capital to lay waste to all in their path. Both bands initially made their name with black metal releases but have evolved into some of the more unique bands in extreme metal, utilising Gothic and world music influences over the course of their careers to forge two amazing legacies. When it was announced that the two would be embarking on an extensive European tour together, it was something which simply could not be missed.

Opening the night was Silver Dust, a Belgian group very much focused on visuals. The band makes full use of a mirror like video screen they've brought on stage, which includes a guitarist Tiny Pistol dueling with an on screen phantom, trading off parts of the famous Bach composition, "Toccata and Fugue in D minor." The whole performance is very much like a circus show, complete with with vocalist Lord Campbell in full ringmaster mode, sporting a top hat and everything. As for the music itself, it's good. Very good in fact. They might not win over many of the black metal fans in the audience, but for those who appreciate showmanship, catchy tunes with a Gothic twist and something completely different, Silver Dust are a must see. A wonderful way to kick things off. More...

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Life Of Agony Airs The Sound Of Scars In London

Alternative metal is a tag that's been given to some of the best bands to arise from the nineties. From Living Colour to Faith No More and everything in between, this loose tag has been placed on groups which may not sound like the archetypal metal band, but bring it just as hard. One such band to be classed as such is Brooklyn's own Life Of Agony, who released three stellar albums in their initial run, before returning with a new album, "Broken Valley" in 2005. Now in their third stage, the new album, "The Sound Of Scars" proves that the band are as good as, if not better than they ever were. Of course, any album release means shows and I was fortunate enough to be in London for the opening night of the trek.

Opening the night was Doyle, the eponymous band of Misfits guitarist Doyle von Frankenstein. If truth be told, I've never been a Misfits fan, but I'm always willing to check out a band in a live setting. I'm glad I did, because Doyle and his crew have put together some really cool songs, bridging the horror punk background with metal to create something interesting. The first thing that catches one's eye when they take to the stage is Doyle himself, who is still in immaculate shape and has his stage get up perfect. The man himself is joined by some top quality musicians too, particularly drummer Wade Murff who was an absolute beast behind the kit, while bassist Brandon Strate kept the ship steady throughout. More...

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Entombed A.D. Puts On A Death Metal Extravaganza

Death metal has come a long way. From the first stirrings of Possessed to the rise of a new genre, spreading to Europe and South America and splitting into many different sub genres. Europe boasts a wide array of death metal bands and last Friday in London, three groups from three countries launched the "Hell Over Europe" tour.

Kicking off the evening's festivities were Danish up and comers Baest. Already promoting their sophomore album, "Venenum" a year after the release of their debut, "Danse Macabre," the quintet from Aarhus have been rapidly gaining pace and earning new fans everywhere. Judging from the night's performance, it's easy to see why. Baest is musically rooted in the old school Florida bands such as Morbid Angel but they bring a fresh, modern take on the style, gaining from the evolution death metal has undergone since the eighties.

They have a really strong presence on stage too, immediately making them firm favourites with the crowd, who appreciated the boisterous energy, without coming across as arrogant, in the same vein of bands like Power Trip. Songs from both albums went over huge, and their growing popularity was clear to see from the rush to the merch table. A great way to start off a Friday evening and a band which will only get bigger as time goes by. More...

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Abbath Brought Some Norway to Arizona

Right this very minute, mammoth tour package consisting of Obituary, Abbath, Midnight and Devil Master is making the rounds through North America. I was fortunate enough to catch the mighty Abbath during their appearance in Tucson, Arizona. I reviewed “Outstrider” earlier during the year (you can read it here), so I was hellbent on catching them live if they played anywhere close to Phoenix. Tucson is only a two-hours drive from Phoenix, so after a quick change of clothes at home after work, I stepped on the gas and headed south on Interstate 10 for this must-see tour package of 2019.

I arrived during Midnight’s final song of their set, so that also meant that I missed Devil Master altogether. I was a little bummed about missing Midnight, but no worries about Devil Master. (I caught them at Psycho Las Vegas, meh…). After what seemed like an eternity of sound checking before Abbath, the fog machine was turned on and put on full blast for Abbath Doom Occulta’s grand entrance into an icy blue wall of mist.

While the classical entrance music was blaring, you couldn’t help but notice the monolith hugging the whole front length of the drum riser. Standing approximately ten feet high on the ends and made of die-cut aluminum (I presume, or else it would take more than two persons to carry the beast!), was the Abbath logo. Abbath Doom Occulta sauntered in front of it, unleashed one of his trademark grimaces and started riffing the intro chords of “Count of the Dead.”

Lurching into “Bridge of Spasms” next, I couldn’t help but notice that absent on bass was the very popular and busy, Mia Wallace. This was quite a letdown for me because the visual dynamic between her and Abbath Doom Occulta was part of the allure for making the trip to Tucson. Some on the spot Google research enlightened me that Abbath’s previous touring bassist, Rusty Cornell, was apparently called upon to fill in the low end for the North and South America tours. Another thing I found out is that he’s actually from Phoenix, Arizona originally. Who knew?

With only having a pair of releases so far, and to the delight of many in the crowd, Abbath Doom Occulta dipped into some Immortal favorites to fill out the set-list. “In My Kingdom Cold” and “Tyrants” were played back-to-back followed by the overly energetic “Ashes of the Damned” from the debut album “Abbath.” Between cheers and sipping beers, there was plenty of playful banter from Abbath Doom Occulta and the Arizonan laden crowd. This is why we love him. He’s a black metal comic book hero that makes some black metal purists cringe. You know what? Fuck those guys…Abbath is good for the black metal genre and for the state of heavy music in general.

Abbath’s final song, “To War!”, was immersed in an onslaught of blood red strobe lighting and was what the now ravenous crowd was hoping for as a finale. After Abbath Doom Occulta toasted the desert dwelling crowd one last time, the icy inhabitant from Bergen, Norway, left the now vacant stage. There’s no doubt that he adores his fans and every night he gets to don his iconic badger corpse paint, is cherished by him. Unfortunately, I had to make the trek back to Phoenix, thus in turn missing Obituary. However, it was well worth the out of town trip just to see one of black metal’s most likeable acts. More...

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Samael Envelops London In Darkness

What can be said about Samael at this point? The Swiss quartet are one of the most influential bands in black metal, with Darkthrone drummer Fenriz citing their debut, "Worship Him" as "essential" and have continued to evolve their sound over a career spanning three decades. From their third album, "Ceremony Of Opposites," the group began adding electronic and industrial elements to their repertoire and now boast a unique style which no one has been able to match. At their recent show in London, I had the pleasure of not just interviewing frontman Vorph (which can be seen here) but also witnessing their one of a kind live show.

Unfortunately, I was unable to catch opening band, Hangman's Chair, but arrived in the nick of time to see the Swiss stalwarts kick off. Having previously seen Samael at 70000 Tons Of Metal last year, it was interesting to see them in their own environment (and in a more sturdy setting.) With Vorph at the helm, the band charged into battle with the title track from their latest album, "Hegemony," a record which was well represented on the night, as songs like "Black Supremacy" and "Angel Of Wrath" were also brought out to crush the audience.

There was a good mix of material on display however, going back to the aforementioned "Ceremony Of Opposites" album with songs such as "Baphomet's Throne" and "Son Of Earth," as well as the title track representing their third outing. "Solar Soul" and "Passage" were also well advertised, with three songs each boldly showing how strong these records are, including the classic, "Rain" and "Slavocracy." All of this material, fierce as it is, was empowered all the more by the band's natural charisma and image, which when combined makes for one of the most interesting live bands in the world today. Samael's reign is not over, nor it seems, will it ever be.

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