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Archive: Reports

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Flotsam and Jetsam Thrashes Austin

Sunday December 4, 2016—

Veteran speedsters Helstar and Flotsam stopped in Austin, Texas for an old school metal throw down. New wave thrashers, Hatchet warmed up the crowd. Hair flew, fists pumped and even a mosh pit or two broke out. From pure speed to concrete grooves, from high pitch vocals to growls, the show was a lesson in true metal. More...

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Orphaned Land Unite All As One In London

In the modern world, metal music truly has become international. It's reached all four corners of the globe, touching music lovers for all manner of different reasons. Recently, a tour rolled into London which summed up the far reaching power of metal, featuring bands from Europe, Asia and South America and offering a wide variety of sounds and sights. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the show and witness the unifying power of a genre that has been dismissed far too many times as a negative influence.

Having unfortunately missed out on the opening act, Chilean progressive metal veterans Crisálida, I was able to catch Russian symphonic metal act, Imperial Age. Though I'd never heard of the group before, they were very striking in a number of ways. Firstly, the vocals, provided mostly by Anna "Kiara" Moiseeva but aided expertly by keyboardists Alexander "Aor" Osipov and Jane "Corn" Odintsova, are absolutely breath taking, showing off their classically trained voices in an awe inspiring way. The music which accompanies the singing is just as epic and grand in sound, while even the band's attire was memorable, with Osipov dressed in what could best be described as a general's uniform. For those who like symphonic metal, Imperial Age are a band one simply must check out. They could well be the next stars of the genre. More...

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Lordi Put On A Monster Show In Bristol

Lordi are a band that will usually generate a different reaction to everyone who hears their name. For some, they're keeping the spirit of old school heavy metal alive with their U.D.O. and glam influenced sound, along with their showmanship, while for others they're an imitation of other such previous bands as Gwar and then there are those in Europe who remember them solely for their Eurovision winning entry, "Hard Rock Hallelujah" back in 2006. Whatever the case, the prospect of seeing a Lordi show was a very intriguing one and something I was able to do when they stopped off in Bristol during their extensive tour of the United Kingdom.

Starting the show, and in some fashion, was Silver Dust, from the Swiss municipality of Porrentruy. The band make strong use of theatrics in their performances, using props such as video screens and realistic, if slightly funny looking, guns, while the majority of the group were clad in suits and top hats. It's steampunk influenced gothic rock at its most ludicrous and by extension, its most fun, with the audience made to feel very much part of the show throughout, blurring the line between a hard rock show and vaudeville. Their music may not be to everyone's liking, but Silver Dust do put on a performance to remember. More...

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Onslaught Unleashes "The Force" In Bristol

British thrash metal is often described as an overlooked are of the genre, with much of the focus being shifted to the American and German scenes. However, the United Kingdom had several heavy hitters such as Sabbat, Xentrix and Acid Reign, though many fans will tell you that the premier British thrash band is, was and perhaps always shall be, Onslaught. After reuniting in 2005, the group has gone from strength to strength, released three stellar albums with another one on the way, however this year they have been celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of what many believe to be their defining album, "The Force," by playing the record in full, including in their home city of Bristol.

As is often the case at The Fleece, the opening band, in this case Ipswich thrash metal veterans Anihilated, took to the stage almost immediately after the doors opened. The group has a sound very reminiscent of Slayer and a true old school thrash vibe that went over very well with the relatively small audience who had turned up early. Though not the most memorable of bands, Anihilated delivered exactly what they promised and gave the crowd a solid and frenzied set of break neck speed metal from start to finish. More...

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Vader Builds An "Empire" In London

Death metal is perhaps the most expansive of metal's many sub-genres. It ranges from the extremely brutal to the hauntingly melodic and often displays amazing technical ability from the musicians involved. A night full of death metal may seem a bit much for some people, but for devoted death heads, it might seem like paradise. So it was that when Vader embarked on their first headlining tour in support of their new album, "The Empire," they brought no less than four bands with them, all of which performing death metal in one form or another.

Having not seen enough of the first two bands to really comment, it's fair to start the review by discussing Canadian quintet, Threat Signal. Unfortunately, not being familiar with the group or able to find a setlist, I can't name any of the songs they performed, but every single one of them was played with a sincere energy. The group carry themselves very well, unafraid and confident about supporting two death metal legends but respectful enough not to be cocky about their clear talents. The crowd were visibly impressed too, with newcomers and doubters being won over just as much as their fans enjoyed their set. While not everyone enjoys the studio output from Threat Signal, they're a sight to behold live and a band which must be watched at least once. More...

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Entombed A.D. Unleashes Hell In Bristol

Continuing the string of exciting touring partnerships recently, which have included the likes of Amon Amarth & Testament and Rotting Christ & Inquisition, Entombed A.D. are currently on the road in support of their latest album, "Dead Dawn," with another of metal's highly respected veterans, Voivod, joined along the way by Lord Dying and Morbid Evils. Last Sunday, the tour rolled into Bristol for a show at the Fleece which had a surprisingly small attendance but a huge atmosphere.

Kicking off the evening was Finnish doom metal trio, Morbid Evils, featuring Rotten Sound vocalist Keijo Niinimaa. The group really live up to their sub-genre's name, taking to the stage shortly after doors opened and letting loose a highly morose sound, which caught the attention of the early birds in the audience. Performing material from their debut album, "In Hate With the Burning World," the three Finns could be one to watch for all fans of doom metal, though listeners who aren't so keen on very slow, very dour music may not find what they're looking for. More...

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Lacuna Coil Spellbinds Bristol

It's been a good year for new releases, with the likes of Superjoint and Brujeria returning, as well as new albums from Vader, Testament and Amon Amarth, it's a great time to be able to see some of the bands you love. Another group which released a new full length in 2016 was Lacuna Coil, whose latest release, "Delirium" has received some of the best reviews of their career and continues to lead them down the path of acclaim and success. The band are currently performing a headlining tour of the United Kingdom, which began in Bristol last night and which I was lucky enough to attend.

Opening the show was Italian Genus Ordinis Dei, a symphonic death metal band from Cremona in the Lombardy region. The group have a very strong presence, with frontman Nick K possessing some particular impressive talents in both his growling and guitar playing techniques. As impressive as they were, one can't help but feel it was perhaps the wrong tour for them, as there were several in the audience who weren't so enthusiastic, with a few even taking refuge in the toilets because it was, by their own admission, too heavy for them. It would be great to see Genus Ordinis Dei back in the UK soon on a tour where they might be appreciated a bit more, though it must be said that there were a good number in the crowd who did enjoy their brand of death metal. More...

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SOiL Take Over Bristol

For those of who grew up at a certain time, there will always be songs that stay with us. As a twelve year old, it was impossible to escape "Here To Stay" by Korn, "Rollin'" by Limp Bizkit, "Last Resort" by Papa Roach and of my personal favourites "Halo" by SOiL. Even if the young rockers of the time didn't stay fans of these bands, the idea of seeing such anthems live was a very exciting prospect and one we couldn't wait to experience. However, I did remain a SOiL fan from then until the present day and knowing that their catalogue goes well beyond one "classic" song made tonight's show so much more exciting for me. More...

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Rotting Christ And Inquisition Burn Down London

There have been a number of tours this year that have delighted fans of a specific sub-genre of metal in Europe. Destruction took to the road with fellow old school thrashers Flotsam and Jetsam, bringing with them younger fast bands, Enforcer and Nervosa, while we've also seen some dream pairings such as Exodus and Obituary on their "Battle of the bays" tour and the recently covered Amon Amarth and Testament trek. On this night however, it was the turn of devoted black metal fans to be treated when the "Bloodshed Rituals" tour rolled into London, featuring co-headlining slots from Inquisition and Rotting Christ.

Though unfortunately missing out on opening act, Schammasch due to conducting an interview with Rotting Christ frontman, Sakis Tolis, I was able to see the second band, Mystifier, a black metal group from Brazil who themselves are longtime veterans of the genre. Founded by the charismatic guitarist Beelzeebubth in 1989, the band have not released any new material in fifteen years but have clearly created a legacy for themselves given the reception they received when taking to the stage and those in the audience wearing their shirts. The trio put on a solid performance, no doubt winning over those in the crowd who were not familiar with them during a slot which clearly meant much to them. More...

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Amon Amarth Unleash Ragnarok In London

It's becoming more common in the modern age for established bands to tour together, be it as part of a package tour, or as a co-headlining trek. These can create memories for a lifetime, or, as past tours between the likes of Metallica & Guns N Roses and Rob Zombie & Marilyn Manson have shown, an ego clash which could be a disaster. However, the combination of Amon Amarth, Testament and Grand Magus, promised from it's very announcement to be nothing short of a triumph. The concert featured here took place at the Roundhouse in Camden, North London, a respected venue and rightfully so. It's highly impressive inside, particular in the stage area and literally every member of staff I spoke to were very friendly and helpful, making it one of the most welcoming venues in Britain. This tiered rotunda made for an excellent setting for one of the most anticipated European tours of the year.

First to take the stage was Swedish heavy metal outfit, Grand Magus; a trio dedicated to keeping the sound and spirit of traditional heavy metal alive and very successfully too I might add. The three members all possess a great stage which some might say is essential when playing a rather large venue such as the Roundhouse. From the opening notes of, "I, The Jury" from their excellent 2010 album, "Hammer of the North," the band put on a blistering performance, delighting their fans and easily winning over new ones. Despite having a new album, "Sword Songs" to promote, the group only played one song from the record, namely, "Varangian," instead choosing to perform a mix of material from their sixteen year history. All in all, Grand Magus made the very best of their relatively short set and left a lasting impression on all of those who were in attendance. More...

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Texas Revolution Fest Hosts Modern Metal Bill

October 22, 2016-Texas Revolution Festival held in Austin is a festival run by promoters Come And Take It Productions.

I’ve covered a lot of Come And Take It shows for Metalunderground.com, including the spring version of the festival, Texas Independence Fest in 2015. That festival featured such bands as Between The Buried And Me, Vital Remains, White Chapel, COC, Death Angel and Cavalera Conspiracy. Tonight billed such artists as Hatebreed, Devildriver, Soilwork and Crowbar.

The Independence Festival was a three-day outing, while Texas Revolution was only one day. Both festivals were held at the same venue—Empire Control Room & Garage. The Control Room stage was an smaller, inside stage that held many of the lesser-known and local acts. Ringworm headlined that stage. The Garage is an outside stage that housed the headliners. More...

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Blind Guardian show review - Tampa Bay (9/9/2016)

Legendary German metallers, Blind Guardian, recently started their current North American tour, entitled "Imaginations for North America." The second date took place at one of Florida's most illustrious music locations, Ybor City's The Orpheum, on September 9th. They definitely delivered one of the most electrifying performances experienced by a Tampa Bay crowd over the course of 2016.

After more than three decades refining and redefining the Power Metal genre, the appeal of the German quartet (who were accompanied onstage by three additional musicians) seems impossible to emulate. Their commanding stage presence obliterated the extremely enthusiastic crowd gathered for the occasion. They sang along with vocalist, Hansi Kürsch and their comrades, most of the repertoire the band offered that night—which included anthems like rapid-fire heavy metallers like "Mirror, Mirror," and "Valhalla," acoustic fan-favorite "The Bard's Song" and of course, the complete performance of their acclaimed 1995 opus, "Imaginations From The Other Side."

Despite a couple of minor technical audio issues here and there (really, very minor), this show was a true religious experience for everyone present that night at The Orpheum. Everyone was ecstatic in the presence of one of Germany's most enduring and beloved Metal entities. There was a true air of brotherhood among those present—both the band and the fans. Blind Guardian undoubtedly demonstrated on that unforgettable night that, 30 years into their career, they're still on top form and ready to reach new heights.

Even if you're not fond of anthemic, fist-raising Power Metal, we highly recommend you to see Blind Guardian live during their current North American tour... you will become a believer, guaranteed.

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Belphegor and Origin at Reggies Rock Club

I always liked Belphegor since the first time I saw them live. So having them appear on a really solid tour package with Origin and Abigail Williams was a show which I absolutely had to see. It was my first time seeing them since I caught them with Keep of Kallessin back in 2011 as I spent 2013-2015 outside of the metal scene, first asphyxiating in absolute misery before returning to school to earn a degree.

The majority of the bands playing were black metal and while I could have worn a shirt for Immortal, Melechesh or Primordial, I chose to wear my Converge shirt. Nothing sticks it to the Wicker Park-dwelling beards and flannel crowd more than proudly wearing the shirt of the band responsible for the 2000s metalcore boom to a black metal show. I proudly felt like Homer Simpson wearing a Rastafarian hat at Lollapalooza.

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A Day At Leyendas Del Rock

Europe is renowned in the metal world for it's many metal and rock festivals, with particular focus being shed on Germany. However, many other countries are now getting in on the action, with Belgium and the Czech Republic becoming more well known for the Graspop Metal Meeting and Brutal Assault festivals respectively. Spain is also making strides in the field, with such events as Resurrection Fest and the growing reputation of another festival in the south eastern area of the country, Villena to be exact, named Leyendas del Rock.

Having only been able to attend for the Thursday, we arrived on the first full day just in time to catch the final few songs of veteran Danish rockers, D-A-D. Though being unfamiliar with the group, they displayed a frantic energy and a passion to win over as many newcomers as they could, putting in a shift that put plenty of younger bands to shame. Despite catching only a glimpse, I will certainly be checking out more of their catalogue in the near future.

Up next on the second main stage, a system which is becoming used by more festivals across the continent, was British based power metal act, Dragonforce. I'm sure most readers are familiar and plenty will remember trying not to break their fingers playing, "Through the Fire and the Flames" on guitar hero, so there's not much need for an introduction. Although they've been the subject of ridicule and criticism, the band actually carry themselves very well. Stand in frontman Alessio Garavello is great at interacting with the crowd and all members perform with focus and skill. They might not be everyone's cup of tea, but Dragonforce did themselves proud on this day. More...

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The Summer Slaughter Tour At Concord Music Hall

I'll admit that I've been out of the death metal scene for a few years and mostly listening to a lot of already established artists at the expense of new ones. In fact, I haven't been to a Summer Slaughter since 2011. So it was good to see a concert full of artists who I mostly haven't seen yet. Some really impressed me, other didn't. Either way, I wanted to be surprised by hearing artists who I mostly wasn't familiar with.

This year's Summer Slaughter Tour was primarily backed by Sumerian Records (who were also a major backer of Chicago Open Air) as a promotion of Sumerian's upcoming entry into films with American Satan. I'd normally have a problem with the biggest annual heavy metal tour in North America being rendered into a commercial for something completely unrelated but the former bearer of that torch was really just an advertisement for Monster Energy Drink. More...

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Helstar And Omen Bring Classic Metal To Austin

The masters of high-pitch heavy metal, Helstar made a rare appearance in Austin, Texas. I last saw the Houston band play about eight years ago. This time they came through with another veteran act, Omen. There is about seventy years of experience between the two bands. Neither of the acts have garnered the popularity of similar bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, but their fans have remained steadfast. Old fans and new fans alike were on hand to witness both bands showcase new material, while dishing out the classics. More...

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Chicago Open Air Day Three

Day 3: Sunday 7/17/2016

The best part of being Cuban/Irish is that I'm tan year round but still shrivel up like bacon when exposed to too much sunlight. I had the nastiest sunburn ever which even days later had my forehead covered in acne and the skin on my nose flaking off. And after looking at myself in the mirror, the first two words that came to mind were, “worth it.” As somebody too perpetually broke to wear sunscreen and already shelling out ungodly amounts of money just to stay fed and hydrated, a sunburn was a rather small price to pay to continue to have a really great time.

Since my arctic camo shorts were completely drenched in beer, I decided that now was the time to break out an even more egregious pair of camo shorts. Neon green and black are a pattern that can't blend into any environment which is why I bought them in the first place. Just the most outrageous thing I could possibly own... and now I had an excuse!

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I missed the first three acts since I got there late. I kept waking up later each morning due to the sheer quantity of alcohol I was drinking as my car needed engine repairs and that meant that I wasn't driving. That fact that the gates opened earlier with each passing day didn't help either since Gemini Syndrome started playing a full half hour earlier than Through Fire did on Friday. So I ultimately have no opinions on Gemini Syndrome, Upon a Burning Body or We Came As Romans and I'm not going to fabricate a story just for the sake of comprehensiveness. There are some videos on Youtube and I watched them but I still lack anything resembling an opinion since bootlegs can never compare to the real thing. More...

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Chicago Open Air Day Two

I knew going into Saturday that it'd be in the most incongruous day of the festival since Disturbed were supported on their own tour by a number of hard rock acts which made the overall festival feel a bit disjointed. The heaviest acts on the tour were playing on the second stage while the radio rock acts tackled the main stage. The best way to describe it would be ADHD comorbid with DID.

One of the best parts of Chicago Open Air is that it's actually a place where I could wear arctic camo shorts and not look get weird looks from people. Granted, there are probably some other places. For instance, if I was ever tempted to go hunting in the jungles of Alaska or the frozen tundra of Florida, I'd break them out again. But for the most part, I was never going to wear them anywhere else. More...

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Chicago Open Air Day One

I've never been to an open air music festival. Mostly since most music fests have only one or two artists who I like and try to jam as many different styles of music into one festival as possible to the point where they have no target audience anymore. Lollapalooza is perhaps the biggest offender in that regard to he point where it appeals to both everyone and nobody simultaneously. But thankfully Chicago finally got a metal festival of its own to compensate for a lot of the directionless festivals that the city is known for that have kept me at bay for so long.

Milwaukee Metalfest closed up around a decade ago so Chicago getting a heavy metal festival was (literally) music to my ears. The Rust Belt had nothing in the way of metal festivals and the only other big metal fests have been Rocklahoma, Maryland Deathfest, New England Metal and Hardcore Fest and 70,000 Tons of Metal. As somebody who doesn't live within driving distance from Oklahoma, Maryland, Massachusetts or Florida, I was incredibly excited for something to hit the Midwest as it was long overdue.

But the part that got me most excited was the potential for the future. Specifically a future where artists who only do festivals and mini-tours can finally hit a big outdoor stage and do so in my hometown. Think Anaal Nathrakh, Samael, Ihsahn, Pig Destroyer and Zardonic being able to not only play a real festival show in the Midwest but also be introduced to a whole new audience who would be coming for the far more mainstream headliner. At the very least, the fest could use some less obscure second stage openers and some more foreign bands who haven't come to America for years like Primordial, Vreid or Orphaned Land. But for a brand new festival, the lineup wasn't bad by any means, particularly when it came to headliners. It's a possible future outlet for all the cool stuff that I would never otherwise get to see in coming years which is what got me psyched more than anything else.

I waited in the mother of all lines upon arriving on Friday for a full 90 minutes. Everyone wanted to be in early to catch the opening band on the opening day of the inaugural festival. And the person in front of me was the evil doppelganger of a friend of mine from college. Same body. Same haircut. Same facial features. Same teeth. It was just completely uncanny, especially since one of them lives in west Iowa and the other in east Nebraska. More...

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Ratos de Porão Celebrates "Anarkophobia" In Murcia

There are some bands that you resign yourself to never experiencing live. Whether it's because the group in question is a cult favourite from another country, have been disbanded for years and aren't on speaking terms, or simply because they're all dead (which puts a Ramones reunion out of the window,) we all have bands that we say, "Oh, I would have loved to have seen them." Fortunately, through the magic of travel and immigration, I was able to defy my expectations and witness one of the greatest bands in the history of Brazilian heavy music, Ratos de Porão.

Taking place at the Garaje Beat Club in the southern city of Murcia, a venue which holds the gritty, down to Earth vibe of a punk hangout, while also having air condition (which trust me, is a Godsend in this part of the world,) and a small, leather sofa upstairs, the club is one of the most impressive I've visited anywhere. Opening the show was the only Spanish band on the bill, Fuckop Family, a strange collective from Alicante but one well worth checking out. Whilst probably best described as a hardcore band, there was plenty of variation in their sound, especially when showcasing their reggae and ska influences. Heavy music and toasting may not sound like the ideal marriage, but these boys made it work. A good start to the evening, though perhaps their set was a little long for an opening act. More...

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