"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Archive: Reports

Displaying records 1 - 20 of 456 1 2 3 ... 22 23 Last

The 70,000 Ton Hangover

Can 21st-century metalheads ever be truly happy if they’re not bitching about something on the web?

The pointless arguments over bands’ music, which mostly boil down to matters of taste, are exhausting enough. And there’s a simple solution to dissatisfaction with a particular tour package: stay home and masturbate.

But complaining about festival lineups? Really?

I have some news for you, sport: the only Perfect Metal Festival Lineup, which exists only in an individual’s imagination, attracts an audience of one. Your Perfect Lineup is different from mine.

There needs to be a common denominator, a compromise. I don’t know about you, but when I’m not basking in my serene, elite metal knowledge via trve and righteous, smarmy and self-congratulatory screeds on Facebook, I actually enjoy watching a live show in the company of others. And in reaching the compromise to make that social event possible, everyone’s Perfect Lineup inevitably becomes less than perfect. Such is the transition from fantasy to reality.

In the process, like small children finally realizing that vegetables aren’t going to kill them, we learn that the reality is almost always better than the fantasy (discounting the fact that the latter doesn’t exist). MTV’s Butt-Head once mused on this very issue: “If nothing sucked, and everything was, like, cool all the time… how would you KNOW it was cool?”

At a several-day festival with dozens of bands on multiple stages, we NEED at least a handful of acts we know we can ignore. Otherwise, think of the immense pressure to be constantly on our feet, rushing back and forth, watching every equally important band with rapt attention. Even if possible, it would be simply overwhelming. We’d pass out from exhaustion and forget to enjoy ourselves. Plus, the truly special acts wouldn’t seem as special.

Last summer at Tuska Open Air in Helsinki, rather than bitch about the injustice of Bring Me The Horizon directly preceding Anthrax, I was grateful for the chance to relax and have a beer before catching a show by one of the Big Four. More...

Read more...  |  2 Comments - Discuss

Alice Cooper Plays Pay-Per-View Show in Austin

The king of shock rock Alice Cooper put on a special show at ACL Live at the Moody Theater. Not only was the evening devoted entirely to the Alice Cooper band, no openers, the group recorded the show for pay-per-view. It was a special night for me because this was my first Alice Cooper show. It would not be one of those shows that made me say I wish I saw him when he was younger. Vincent Damon Furnier may have just turned 67 but he performed with the gusto of a young man. His voice was in peak condition and held up the entire hour and a half. More...

Read more...  |  1 Comment - Discuss

An Evening With Machine Head In Baltimore

Machine Head is the heaviest metal band in the world.

You’re probably already spitting your beer all over your computer screen.

Let me explain. We’ve all heard the complaints of modern production woes, the trendy obsession with blinding speed and out-tech-ing each other, and the resultant dearth of memorable songwriting. Chances are you’ve done quite a bit of this complaining yourself. I know I have.

I know what brutal death metal is; and black metal, and grindcore, and so on. I know how “extreme” metal can get, and I’m a fan of tons of that stuff. I’m a metal journalist. It’s my job to know these things.

There are several reasons, each having to do with the merits of each individual instrument and the man playing it, for Machine Head’s status as Heaviest Metal Band in the World. To go with the most obvious reason, I will tell you right now that no one, and I mean NO ONE, comes close to touching Mr. Robert Flynn in terms of absolute, raw, uncut vocal intensity. Two decades and eight albums deep into Machine Head’s career, he has become a monster.

Guttural death growls, atonal black metal shrieks, I’ve heard it all. I love a great deal of it. But you know what? Little of it shocks or scares me anymore. Precious few bands of the elite-approved, underground, “extreme” variety actually provoke a sense of DANGER in me. Robb Flynn does.

The secret is passion. Unbridled, burning passion, rage, and all-around emotion. Flynn’s voice, at its harshest, is the sound of a man threatening to rip your head off and meaning it. At its softest, it’s the sound of a grieving mourner at a funeral, choking his way through a moving hymn. These two poles, and everything between, are part and parcel of the same experience: pure emotion, and pure intensity.

The guitars and rhythm section follow suit. For all the band’s stylistic evolution and musical expansion over the years, the core ingredient of bone-crushing groove remains unchanged. Whether the band is veering into thrashy or sludgy territory, it doesn’t matter: you can truly BANG YOUR HEAD to this stuff. Machine Head's riffing whips up a kind of aural stigmata, wherein you almost feel the brutal pain of a sledgehammer impacting your body.

All of this translates directly to the live setting. Machine Head are a live band at heart (and many bands of the technical sort are decidedly not). They’ve always sounded that way on record, because their music is MEANT to be experienced in concert. Think of that word’s other meaning: union, harmony. In this case, a bonding between artist and fan. A collective sharing of passion, rage, euphoria, lamentation. EMOTION. More...

Read more...  |  3 Comments - Discuss

Death To All Conquers Austin

Death To All has been a functional unit for a couple of years. The band or cover band, if you will, toured in 2012 and 2013 with the “Human” era lineup. The band’s stop in Austin, thanks to Come And Take It Productions, included members from the progressive era of the band. This lineup included Steve DiGiorgio (“Human,” “Individual Thought Patterns”) bass and Bobby Koelbe (“Symbolic”) guitar. Gene Hoglan (“Individual Thought Patterns,” “Symbolic”) replaced Sein Reifert on drums and Max Phelps of Cynic once again played the role of Chuck Schuldiner on guitar and vocals. More...

Read more...  |  0 Comments - Discuss

Cannabis Corpse Blazes Down Austin, Texas

Austin punk hangout Red 7 hosted D.R.I. the night before, a band that coincidentally hugely influenced Municipal Waste. Although “Land Phil” Hall plays in Municipal Waste, it was his love for death metal, not crossover that brought him into Austin this night. This time he joined with his brother Josh “Hallhammer” Hall and new guitarist Brandon Ellis in support of the band’s latest full-length recording “From Wisdom To Baked" on an Austin stop that is part of a Metal Underground.com sponsored tour.

Before hearing songs of bud monsters and weed-induced murderous rampages, three opening bands sparked up the festivities. San Antonio brutal death squad Flesh Hoarder initiated the melee. The group was short two members due to it having taken on the show on short notice. Ryan Sylvie of Whore of Bethlehem filled in for Nick Moreno and the band played without guitarist Angel Tarin. It’s been a couple of years since Sylvie fronted Scattered Remains, but he was up to the task, as was the band. The group played a mix of slamming rhythms, guttural voices, quick cymbal strikes and down-tempo riffs in the vein of Immolation and Morbid Angel. Songs like “Ejaculating on the Faces of the Aborted” kept their set utterly offensive. More...

Read more...  |  0 Comments - Discuss

At the Gates and Rotten Sound Destroy Helsinki

I arrived at the venue early, picking my way over snow that had turned to treacherously slippery ice in the weak Saturday sun. Moving through the now familiar steps of collecting my photo-pass, putting my winter layers in at the cloakroom, and trailing upstairs to the main venue area, I suddenly felt a burst of homesickness.

Rotten Sound is a Finnish deathgrind band originally from Vaasa. If you haven’t heard of them, you might have heard of their former drummer, Kai Hahto. They are intense, they are in your face and they are addictive to see live. The area in front of the stage was half-filled with enthusiastic fans, giving an illusion to not many people being at the venue yet. However, the small stage-level bar was
already packed and the railings of the balcony bar were filled.

More...

Read more...  |  0 Comments - Discuss

D.R.I. Zones Austin, Texas for Thrash

Austin crust punks with their spiked and patched jean jackets came out to Red 7 to support one of the first bands to “crossover” hardcore punk and thrash metal, D.R.I. Most of these punks (including me) weren’t part of the scene when D.R.I., Dirty Rotten Imbeciles, formed more than 30 years ago in Houston. Even some of the older members of the crowd weren’t around during the band’s days in Texas. Their memories were long after the band left for California’s Bay Area. The crowd didn’t need to be 50 years old tonight, though, as D.R.I. played nearly two hours of material spanning throughout their long career. More...

Read more...  |  1 Comment - Discuss

Anathema At The Circus Helsinki

In support of the new album Distant Satellites (reviewed here), Anathema has embarked on a European tour along with Mother's Cake that we were lucky enough to have had touch base in Helsinki!

I was unsure of what to expect from a band with roots in death/doom metal, who have so effectively managed to transition and grow over the years into an entity that truly emphasized the word “progressive.” However, it’s always best to expect the unexpected so we showed up early and in plenty of time to spend way too many euros at the merch stand and went on our merry way inside! More...

Read more...  |  0 Comments - Discuss

America's Secret Metal Paradise

Most of us in metal love to complain about trolling, irrational vitriol, subgenre tribalism, and elitism online. Not to mention the fact that most of said complaining also takes place online.

It’s like plugging the cord of a power strip into the strip itself and expecting it to produce juice. No wonder nothing positive ever seems to get accomplished.

So how do we fix this?

Well, we can’t. At least we can’t fix others. We can, however, control ourselves and try new things from time to time. And when considering just how ridiculously much time we spend drooling in front of our screens, the simple act of attending live music concerts is indeed a “new thing,” or at least a relatively seldom thing. Sort of like shutting off Facebook and actually writing your best friend a letter.

But don’t the same issues manifest in our local clubs? A package tour comes to town, containing bands with separate (or, at best, overlapping) fanbases, which promptly begin to work against each other. Show me such a concert that isn’t brimming with guys judging each other’s perceived tastes, putting on airs by boasting “I’m only here for [insert obscure opener],” and I’ll show you my fourth nipple.

How about major European-style summer festivals? Don’t get me started. Don’t get me wrong, either; they’re ten tons of fun. But often the numbers are too immense for any type of bonding to occur on a mass scale. Crowds usually just devolve into cliques, all corresponding to their chosen favorite acts.

So there needs to be a middle ground. A unique event, rare and special enough to draw the enthusiastic, but familiar enough to include the curious. Small and precarious enough to forestall any jaded complacency, and large enough to foster a carnival atmosphere.

The musical equivalent of a big group of friends around a campfire, bonded not only by the fun they’re sharing, but also by the knowledge that one bad attitude will douse the good time in cold water.

For me, the DeLand Rock & Metal Festival was that event. And for the moment, it has alleviated some of my cynicism over the much-ballyhooed “brotherhood and sisterhood” concepts thrown around in metal.

Here, in central Florida, from November 7th through the 9th, these bonds were very much alive.

More...

Read more...  |  7 Comments - Discuss

Slayer Filmed For Public Television

On Tuesday November 18th, PBS stood for Public Bruising Service as The Moody Theater filmed Slayer for another broadcast of ACL Live. Not only did Slayer bring the darkest and fastest songs to ever appear on public broadcasting, they did it with an old school thrasher’s dream lineup of Exodus and Suicidal Tendencies supporting. Fans were treated to one of the best light shows, sound systems and seating in the town of Austin. More...

Read more...  |  1 Comment - Discuss

Fun Fun Fun Fest Day 3: Rock & Hardcore

Past Fun Fun Fun Festivals that I covered featured one or two metal headliners on the black stage and one day dominated by punk. This year the third day of the festival included punk but rock in general was the main flavor of the day. Metal was not the style closing out the Black Stage, but headliner Murder City Devils played hard and heavy. There is something about this band that just fits with the festival, as the Seattle-based band made it’s third appearance. The garage rock group played powerful hooks and electric organ that sounded like The Doors making a soundtrack for a Hammer Horror film. I believe this was their first headline performance at FFF. The band was definitely up to it.

More...

Read more...  |  0 Comments - Discuss

Fun Fun Fun Fest Day 2: King Diamond

Austin was buzzing with chatter about King Diamond ever since Fun Fun Fun Fest announced he would be on this year’s bill. This performance marked the end of his “Halloween 2014” tour so many of these fans had followed his shows on You-Tube, social media and in various ‘zines. Friends on social media recalled their experience with KD in Houston and Dallas. His stage set up was no secret as was his sound, but this didn’t make it any less exciting. Watching a You-Tube video is no where near as satisfying as hearing him live in person. One could make a cursory glance through the audience and find fans with black-and-white painted faces, inverted crosses and other symbols worn by the King. More...

Read more...  |  4 Comments - Discuss

Fun Fun Fun Fest Day 1: Judas Priest

Transmission Entertainment delivered its ninth installment of the Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, Texas. Four stages offered a variety of sounds from Hip-Hop and Electronic (Blue Stage), to Indie Rock (Orange Stage), Comedy (Yellow Stage) and Rock (Black Stage). Additional shows were held at clubs around the city as part of the FFF Nites. A ring was set up to watch wrestling. Next to the ring was a skate ramp for Pro BMX bikes and pro skaters. Games such as bean-bag tosses and Shiner bottle cap checkers were also in place. A movie screen besides the stage was a new addition that made viewing each band much easier, especially for shorter fans. Bean bags and rut sacks were located around trees so one could lay in the shade on a soft object. More...

Read more...  |  0 Comments - Discuss

Housecore Horror Film Festival Day 3

A good night’s sleep and mild weather helped me catch a second wind on the fifth consecutive day of metal concerts. I watched NWOBHM legends Satan at Beerland on Wednesday, the day before HHFF kick-off party. The sun’s rays dimmed just a little due to Superjoint Ritual backdrop and a breeze gave us some relief while catching the bands on the Midway stage. For me, today’s activities didn’t start there, though, it started at the Grindhouse tent located around the side of Emo’s. More...

Read more...  |  0 Comments - Discuss

Housecore Horror Film Festival Day 2

Michigan psyche doom-death group, Acid Witch opened day two on Midway’s outdoor stage. After a night of barely any sleep, I didn’t arrive in time to catch their set. It’s a shame because they were one of the bands I wanted to see. I heard a burst of guitar notes from tech-death metallers Archspire but only as I pulled into the venue. The first part of this day would be spent around the press tent conducting interviews with Napalm Death and Gwar. This included missing most of the set from Polish death metal veterans Decapitated, whose late coming was the apparent reason for Midway being behind on time. The day before their appearance at Housecore the group had totaled their van. I’m not sure how they made it to Austin, but they were there and played a full set. More...

Read more...  |  0 Comments - Discuss

Housecore Horror Film Festival Day 1

The festival was able to condense four hours down to one but the first day of HHFF started an hour late. I didn’t expect to see any of Evil United since they were suppose to have ended at 12:30, but my 1:15 arrival time allowed me to catch a couple of songs from the Austin-based band. Evil United may be local, but the group consists of veterans such as Jason McMaster—who was well known in the eighties as front man for Dangerous Toys and Watchtower. In addition to Evil United, he now sings in Ignitor and Broken Teeth. McMaster’s voice soared through the parking lot that comprised Midway’s stage, Evil U was the sole representative of classic heavy metal at the festival. More...

Read more...  |  0 Comments - Discuss

Housecore Horror Film Free Fest Kick Off Party

The second annual Housecore Horror Film Festival was a dream event for metal and horror fans alike. Iconic bands such as Voivod, Napalm Death, Danzig, Gwar and Superjoint Ritual all played phenomenal sets and then were on hand to sign autographs during organized sessions or just in the crowd watching with the rest of the fans. Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe was at the festival for a live interview following the showing of LOG’s “As the Palace Burn Documentary.” He popped up all around the fest and always made time to talk to his fans. Blythe was in the photo pit right next to me taking photos along with the rest of the photographers and journalists. Cast members from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Part 2, including Bill Moseley, sat at tables in the court yard ready to tell stories about making the films. More...

Read more...  |  0 Comments - Discuss

Unioni Festival at The Circus, Helsinki

Unioni Festival was a new occurrence this year, and this mini festival quickly became the most anticipated even of the autumn calendar in Helsinki. People came from all over Europe, and even as far as Los Angeles to catch the amazing lineup these two days boasted. Livenation has really outdone themselves this time around, and with both nights of the long anticipated Unioni festival sold out, they’d do well to be patting themselves on the back! More...

Read more...  |  0 Comments - Discuss

God Has Many Faces

“We keep it melodic, and [the bands we book] have to be positive,” according to Tree House Lounge co-owner Colin Hoss. “We do pretty much everything except hardcore and death metal.”

Representing a metal publication, that would normally count me right out. But then again, I’ve always held the firm belief that the best way to be a metal fan is to be a rock fan first. Without doing so, you’re building your factory on a foundation of silly putty.

And once in a while, an act springs up that simultaneously embraces and defies conventions of both genres. This is the sweet spot, the perfect ingredient for a rousing evening on the town.

After all, the three young Finns surrounding me at the small steakhouse restaurant table appear to have just bumped into one another by accident earlier this afternoon and started jamming.

The diversity of backgrounds and influences, the casual indifference to excessive image, the refusal to acknowledge stylistic boundaries - all these things combine to form a rock sound that’s alternative in the truest sense, an identity as elusive as it is distinct.

This is Helsinki’s Face Of God, and they’re telling me their story.

* * *
More...

Read more...  |  0 Comments - Discuss

Skeletonwitch, Ghoul, Black Anvil Slay Austin, TX

Red 7 held the concert in their outside stage, which due to the previous days storms, we were wondering if we would be rained out. As if the gods were fans of this tour, there was no raining on September 20. However, the rain did leave a muggy residue that was heated even further by packed crowd. Being on a Saturday certainly helped nudge area metal heads to get downtown, as did the lineup itself. Ghoul probably brought in the most fans, as evidenced by all the Municipal Waste and other crossover shirts and hats. Skeletonwitch shirts were also in abundance. Black Anvil was a nice complement to Ghoul and Skeletonwitch.

Locals, Sore put the night in motion. Their sludgy sounds added another distinct flavor to the three tour bands who possessed unique styles in their own rights. Fronted by ex-The Roller vocalist Mike Morowitz, Sore’s sound was akin to tearing away a sore from one’s flesh. It was abrasive and loud and divergent in tempo. Stomping doomy grooves saw bodies beginning to warm up. Faster grind seemed too caustic and it was too early in the evening to start a pit. But people took notice. More...

Read more...  |  2 Comments - Discuss

Displaying records 1 - 20 of 456 1 2 3 ... 22 23 Last