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Archive: Reports

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Morbid Angel Inks Covenant In Austin's Blood

On December 3rd, 2013, Morbid Angel came to Austin, Texas to promote the 20-year anniversary of its breakout album "Covenant." The said album marked the group's dramatic rise out of the death metal underground. MTV showcased the album's brilliance through videos of "Rapture" and "God of Emptiness"--the latter track was made more famous by the nitwit ridicule of "Beavis and Butthead." This was a wickedly satanic album, possibly their fastest and purest death metal album, but also introduced more clean vocals. The group celebrated the recording by bringing it to their fans in full. More...

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Overkill, Kreator Kill Worcester With Aggression

As if the ante of seeing Testament, Overkill and Flotsam & Jetsam needed to be raised, the thought of seeing Kreator, Overkill and Warbringer was much too tempting an offer. I was fortunate enough to see Overkill on that fateful day – February 16, 2013 – the last show that Blitz would sing on the tour due to contracting pneumonia – which forced him into the hospital in Buffalo the next day and forced the band off the tour. Looking back on that day, I thought despite the illness, Blitz sounded great – however, he did leave the stage nearly every time he stopped singing. Chuck Billy of Testament, who was also sick, sounded pretty awful, but he was a trooper and put on a great show regardless. Flash forward to November 1st and The Palladium in Worcester would be witness to what I can only describe as the “Tour of North American Aggression.” More...

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Fun Fun Fun Fest 2013 Day Three Slayer Sunday

Slayer played Fun Fun Fun Fest on Sunday two years ago. The promoters of the fest, Transmission Events, must see the value in making Sunday its metal day. As was experienced on Sunday two years ago, we left the park Sunday night with the metallic taste of Slayer in our mouths. My hunt for steel started at 12:30 when 4arm (read xFiruath’s interview) took the stage. I had no problem making this early show since I skipped the Nites shows on Saturday. Unfortunately for the Aussie modern thrash group, most of the fest’s attendees found 12:30 too early in the day. The 20 or so people who did make the early show were treated to one of the best performances of the weekend. More...

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Fun Fun Fun Fest 2013 Day Two On With Body Count

"There goes the neighborhood," Ice-T loudly exclaimed. The rapper/actor wasn't here to shoot a commercial or drop a beat. At this moment, the second day of FFF 2013 in Auditorium Shores park, he was "in the house" with his metallic creation, Body Count. The song in question, which deals with the prejudices of black people playing rock music, took on a different context after Ice-T explained Austin, Texas marked the beginning of legal trouble he experienced with "Cop Killer." Because of the controversy surrounding this song from the group's self-titled debut, and I didn't even know Austin's PD chief instigated the controversy, I wondered if we would hear this infamous track. More...

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Fun Fun Fun Fest 2013 Day One Punk Blow Out

Misfits, Flag (an assemble of Black Flag's earliest cast) and Subhumans certainly need no introduction to the punk world. The legacy passed down by these artists not only changed the landscape of punk, but music in general. Even though Jerry Only sang Glenn Danzig's parts and Keith Morris was in charge of songs later made famous by Henry Rollins, fans still shouted the words and slammed in manic appreciation. With the exception of Misfits, who played a club show as part of the FFF Nites attraction, the Black stage--the stage I primarily report--focused on punk rock. Day two of my first FFF experience in 2011 operated with a similar punk roots bands The Damned and Negative Approach.

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Housecore Sucessfully Blends Horror and Metal

Housecore Horror Film and Heavy metal festival masterminds, Corey Mitchell and Philip H. Anselmo brought Austin, Texas a rare entertainment opportunity, packaged in human flesh, marred by celluloid cigarette burns--a four-day, multi-stage, multi-tent, multi-everything horror-movie festival. Industry people arrived from all around the world to help support this lofty endeavor.

The gorier the better as many of the major stars of the film portion of the festival had participated in legendary blood spillers such as the "Nekromantik" film series (Director Jörg Buttgereit ), "Coffin Joe" (Director José Mojica Marins ) and "Friday the 13th." Ari Lehman made film history when Jason Voorhees finally sprung to life after the murder of his mother. Lehman attended the festival not only as a film celebrity, but as a musician. Nefarious of Macabre joined Lehman on stage in his First Jason band to perform campy horror metal songs about that guy in the hockey mask. More...

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August Burns Red Burns Bright In Tennessee

Metalcore and deathcore have become polarizing genres within the sphere of heavy metal, although the fans of both are just as fervent as the other genres, if not moreso. The lyrical sides of these genres are quickly becoming known for their earnest natures, cutting out the bullshit that several other genres tend to lather themselves up in to define themselves.

Hitting Nashville on the night of November 4th at the wonderfully eccentric Rocketown was a group of bands that take the high road, headlined by August Burns Red and assisted by Blessthefall, Defeater, and Beartooth. It was an unusually early show, with myself and bunches of attendees still in the security line awaiting entry while Beartooth were playing, having started promptly at 6:30.

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Asking Alexandria's Motley Crew Invades TN

On October 29th at the storied War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville, TN, a rather unusual tour lineup shook things up a bit. Asking Alexandria rolled in, bringing All That Remains with them, along with the veterans of Sevendust, as well as the younger For Today and Emmure. If the lineup didn’t involve Sevendust or All That Remains, it would have made more sense. All That Remains wasn’t stretching it, really, but including Sevendust with this largely metalcore bunch? I scratched my head at that choice.

It was a bizarre experience. More...

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BTBAM Tour Ends Heavy In Tennessee

Between The Buried and Me have done some crazy things, such as playing "Colors" live in its entirety and following the hour-long album with a second complete set of fan-picked favorites. They've also been selling bundles of their latest album, "The Parallax II: Future Sequence," that include a full-size BTBAM NASA-themed space suit. It's safe to say that the bar on what constitutes 'crazy' for this band is set rather high. For the whole 35-date tour, which had started on September 13th in North Carolina, the band decided to go full crazy again and perform "Future Sequence," their longest album to date, in its entirety.

Moreover, they were bringing a slew of other near-virtuoso-level bands with them to add even more moments of jaw-dropping to the mix for the show. The Faceless, modern kings of start-stop melodic death metal, The Contortionist, a band pushing the boundaries of metal as much as they push the boundaries of jazz and djent, and The Safety Fire, groove-centric prog lads from overseas, rounded out the lineup. These Herculean feats of skill were all to close out the tour in Nashville, TN on October 25th at The Cannery Ballroom. More...

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ProgPower USA XIV: "Dark Fate Of Atlanta"

I. The Setup

For as long as I can remember, I've searched for what I would define as a "perfect concert" - a mighty bucket list item that eluded me. I fixed the label to many shows in the interim, scratching off those "before death" list items one by one as each successive concert outdid the previous. Back in mid-2012, when I submitted my sponsor list for 2013, I listed fifteen bands I wanted to see and was willing to put money on for ProgPower USA. Number one of that list was Luca Turilli's Rhapsody. The reason is simple....there is no composer in heavy metal not named Jon Oliva that can even compare to the wealth of fantastic material presented since the 90’s. Turilli had numerous solo albums and various side bands all in addition to writing a double power metal story arc that lasted eleven straight albums, many of which grace the top lists of any fan of the genre. Well in advance of the latest two Rhapsody of Fire albums, Luca decided that it had to end…and that he needed to split off and see his own vision of band - one that would turn it towards the cinematic. In what appeared to be a confusing agreement with lifetime friend and co-founder Alex Staropoli, the two would split - each keeping a variant of the name and both claiming the entire back catalog as his own. Then, in a feat that I have seen nowhere else in band splits, the two would remain close friends and allies, each supporting the other and respective releases. Since then, Turilli fired the first salvo with “Ascending to Infinity,” an album so perfect it’s actually hard to listen to (see review here). Even though Rhapsody was not scheduled for the main festival, in the fall of 2012 it was announced that the band would headline the Thursday night kick off show with two hour plus set. Though ProgPower’s main festival would prove so great, this concert was the highlight of not only the festival….but my entire life. What would follow can only be deemed the “perfect concert.” More...

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ProgPower USA XIV: Saturday Crazies

Carrying the energy over from ProgPower XIV’s Friday show to Saturday’s show was like a Herculean trial for me, running on a combined total of 6 hours sleep from the last two days. In the quiet of dawn, nobody from ProgPower: Hardcore, the unofficial fitness group, was awake enough to run or work out, but not for lack of effort -- They had put in a good run and hot yoga session earlier in the week. (Only at ProgPower, folks.) Fortunately, each of the seven bands on the second day’s roster brought its game face and gave me and the other concert-goers what we needed to raise our bodies, put our hands in the air, bang our heads, jump (if you really enjoyed Sabaton), and fall in love all over again.

After descending upon Einstein Bagel Co at the end of Peachtree St for breakfast with my group of fellow black-shirted friends, which brought a few funny reactions from the locals, we headed down to The Loft next to Center Stage to see Wolverine’s exclusive all-acoustic set for Gold Badge holders and sponsors only. Having rehearsed well in advance, Wolverine was a well-oiled machine, although the same could not be said for the guitar cables that seemed to be shorting out on them by the dozen. Nevertheless, the show was to be unforgettable. Drawing heavily from “Communication Lost,” perhaps the easiest Wolverine album to translate to an acoustic setting, the show took the form of a sort of “Storytellers” gig.

The typical routine they followed went something like this: Vocalist Stefan Zell or bassist Thomas Jansson would give a background and context to a song, they would play it through, Jansson or keyboardist Per Henriksson would take a passionate but subdued solo, Zell would light up the air with his voice, and the crowd would weep. It’s true -- one attendee brought a box of tissues with her, which the band autographed after the performance, for members of the audience that couldn’t help but resonate with the song. The whole performance gave the impression of a slow burn -- warm and electrifying. A special set, indeed. More...

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ProgPower USA XIV: A Friday To Remember

Internationally respected, domestically loved, and locally interesting (“Look at all these black-shirted people walking into this Einstein Bagel Co!”), the ProgPower USA festival returned to its frequent home at Center Stage in Atlanta, Georgia this past weekend for its fourteenth year of bringing quality metal to the stateside masses.

Through the hallowed gates (err… glass and metal doors) of the venue, almost anything was possible on the days of September 5-7. To some, it was an ocean of opportunity or a place to be reborn in metal. To others, a place to spend endless nights with the masters of the world themselves. To most of the 1,000+ attendees, it was where they went to reach within, feel alive, and leave with a sense of pride -- nobody was wondering “Why am I here?,” even if it was only the 1st chapter of their ProgPower story. (For this writer, the festival was also a chance to write 9 song/album titles from the bands that would be performing at the show into this second paragraph about the show. Because it sounded really cool.)

As previously detailed, the festival brought 5 bands to the states for the first time and 16 in total throughout the three days, with an extra 2 added to that in a separate Wednesday show. When I had arrived on Friday, the ProgPower elite who had come both days prior to it were feeling quite at ease and even had a sort of comfortable glow about them. I later learned that this was due in part to warm hangovers, but mostly due the awesomeness of the concerts on the days leading up to Friday, which were written about in part by Metal Underground admin CROMCarl. This, however, is the record of my time at this year's crazy heavy wonderland. More...

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Wintersun Shines In Sold Out Venue In Cambridge

The last place I ever thought I would see a show was in the middle of the campus of the “elite of society” – Harvard University. Though not confirmed, I had heard that this particular show was the first metal event at the newly opened Sinclair club, which was directly in the heart of the college. I had made the 114 mile trek to the area countless times, however, I don’t recall the traffic being this annoying. When I went to see Wintersun and Eluveitie at Royale in downtown Boston, the trip was nuisance free. But, it was Friday night, and stupidity on the road was nothing new. The area was wrought with college kids, yuppie preps and artsy types, so it was a pleasure to walk around in my Sodom – “Epitome of Torture” shirt, its double meaning was painfully clear. The venue proved to be a rather loose, without any pushy asshole bouncers and the club itself had decent sound. If you have been to the upstairs part of The Palladium in Worcester, imagine it double the size with a much better stage (raised to where you can see), much better lighting and double the upstairs space where you can view the band from just above the floor crowd from all sides/angles. More...

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A Viking Raid In Nashville

The night of August 8th was to mark the first appearance of Amon Amarth and Children of Bodom in Nashville, TN at Marathon Music Works. In what was to be a night packed with unfortunate surprises, the venue ended up being changed (and subsequently downsized) to a smaller venue known as the Exit/In, which sold out completely. Adding to that, it was announced shortly before the first set of the night that Children of Bodom would not play their set, due to the hospitalization of Bodom front man Alexi Laiho.

Some of the attendees decided to take a refund and leave after the announcement had been made, clearly Bodom loyalists. Most of the audience stayed for the duration of the show, as it was also announced that Battlecross, Huntress, and Amon Amarth would be playing longer sets to make up for the absence of the co-headliners. Those who stayed were at least treated to a blistering few sets, easily making up for the price of admission. Amon Amarth prepared an especially powerful set that turned the packed venue's air into a murky soup of hot sweat. More...

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Tuska Open Air Metal Festival 2013: Days 2 and 3

The weekend festivities of the second and third day of Tuska started a bit later for me, but still managed to start with a bang that resounded for the whole weekend! With a lineup a bit less intense then the first day, there was a lot of room to really observe performances and finally get that summer festival feeling. Both days featured very different genres, but as always with Tuska, there is truly something for everyone, even if that something is as simple as ice cold cider and a cool breeze on a hot day. More...

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Tuska Open Air Metal Festival 2013: Day 1

Tuska Open Air Metal Festival promised to be an event to remember this year, with huge acts such as King Diamond, Wintersun and Nightwish taking command of the main stage! With finally perfect summer weather and a lineup that challenged many other summer festivals, Friday came with much awaited anticipation!

Many of the bands this year were scheduled at the same time, perhaps the cause of this was that in the past there have always been four stages, but this year there were only three. Only two of these stages allowed media to shoot footage and photos, which led to a massive and unfortunate stress factor to an otherwise phenomenal festival experience. In addition, overcrowded photo pits with unqualified photographers led to an unfortunate decline in coverage from other medias this year. Die hard Tuska fans and Medias still showed up in hordes, and showed why Tuska is still the metal festival to be at in Helsinki! More...

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Manilla Road Closes Out Chaos in Tejas 2013

Manilla Road has roots as old as most of the NWOBHM bands that helped define heavy metal as we know it. Somewhat under the radar, the group didn’t popularize metal to the extent of Mercyful Fate, Venom, Iron Maiden and Manowar. However, as noted by the die-hard fans, knowledge fans who attended the group’ rare performance on the last night of Chaos in Tejas 2013, Manilla Road surely put its stamp on heavy metal. One fan pointed out how the group influenced Candlemass and even held the door open for Candlemass to enter this world.

Manilla Road’s reluctance to tour surely kept them out of the above bands’ spotlight. They are a cult act. It was for this very reason many showed up for tonight’s show. Red 7’s dual stages offered a tremendous package with Texas’ own USBM instigators Absu playing on the indoor stage. The night was spent walking back and forth between the two stages. The indoor stage’s overcrowding mixed with humid temperatures resulted in, what felt like, a twenty-degree temperature difference. More...

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Bolt Thrower Levels Chaos in Tejas

Death metal was one of the hot topics at this year’s Chaos in Tejas festival in Austin, Texas. Although punk rock permeates throughout the festival (The Damned headlined a show on the prior night), the ninth installment promised rare performances from two pioneering acts from England, Benediction and Bolt Thrower. Both bands are touring the States together. Unlike their gigs with Autopsy in California, Benediction and Bolt Thrower played on separate days.

I recall buying a computer desk from the sheet-metal warehouse that the promoters dubbed “E 11 5” and turned into a venue (at least for the festival). Even though the venue was not as cramped at Benediction’s show at Red 7, the sold out crowd’s body heat raised the temp to uncomfortable levels. When the temperature became unbearable, an outdoor vendor area on the grass presented a cool retreat. This area was a good place to talk to the fans including a group from Sweden and an ex-Z Rock disc jockey who informed us one of the members of Dokken was in attendance. More...

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Old Bridge Metal Militia Benefit Show Report

The Old Bridge Metal Militia, credited with jump starting the metal community of New Jersey by opening their hearts and doors to the bands we old timers loved in our youth, held one of the most brilliant concerts to directly benefit the victims of Hurricane Sandy, the superstorm which ripped through the Jersey shore last year. Many people still suffer from that devastating storm, but to have the metal community be credited with assisting those in need was an honor to be part. Shortly after the event, it was revealed that through ticket sales and raffle sales, the event raised over $40,000 for the cause - a staggering number for the sold out event that housed 1,500 people.

I sprung for the VIP experience, for the opportunity to meet and talk with some of my idols like Dee Snider, John & Mark Gallagher, Joe Hasselvander, Mark Tornillo, Robb Reiner, David Rock Feinstein, Carl Canedy, AJ Pero, Eddie Ojeda was just too hard to pass up. The 2.5 hour drive from my safe zone in Connecticut was filed with a playlist featuring such classics as “Under the Blade,” “Take Control,” “Let Them Eat Metal” and “Metal On Metal,” and as good fortune would have it, I heard them all live. More...

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East Of The Wall Stops in Huntington, WV

The night ended up being one of those really unexpected good times. I started in a mellow mood, listening to piano albums by Medeski and Mingus all day. The weather was unseasonably warm for a mid-April evening which made me want to be outside, not stuck in bar listening to four heavy metal bands I had never heard of until 1:00 in the morning.

I headed over to the V Club to check at 9pm. To my surprise, All Hail the Yeti, had dropped off the roster which pushed the start time back an hour, which gave me an hour to kill. I passed the time nursing a Corona and chatting up Mr. Duncan, the door man, about the show posters they had on the wall. Jimbo Valentine of Amalgam Unlimited had created a badass poster for the show that night. In retrospect I should have asked for a copy.

Among the Dead was the first band on stage. Among the Dead is a local band from Huntington, a 3-piece plus singer, in their early 20s maybe. The singer had a stubbled head, a beer belly, was wearing camo shorts and nerd glasses. The other three members looked like versions of a skinny jeans advert, all lanky and cropped hair. Their sound was heavy, death metal, with a loose playing style, though the songs stayed together well. The singer alternated belting out deep guttural bellows and sick screeches. The guitar player had some brief sweet spot solos, while the bassist bruised his instrument with interludes on a song or two. The drummer had serious technique with the double bass. The crowd liked these guys. They clapped and whistled and cheered. After their second song someone in the audience yelled, “Can we get more please?” Among the Dead delivered the request and much more. More...

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