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Archive: Reports

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Unearth At The Subterranean

I took the Metra to the CTA Blue Line since I didn't want to pay for both gas and city parking. Besides, mass transit probably caused more damage to my hearing over the years that heavy metal ever did. On the way down to the city, the train conductor asked if I was in high school as he was offering student discounts and I looked like I could be a teenager. I'm 28. That's the downside of shaving my beard off every spring and staying clean shaven all the way through the summer until late autumn. With it, I look 16. Without it I look 45. I simply cannot win.

The venue is located in Wicker Park, which is the Hipster capital of Chicago thanks in no small part to the Subterranean being located right next to the Double Door. If there was any further proof that the hipster generation is a bunch of aging fossils, the Subterranean had a flier for an upcoming nu metal DJ night with a picture of Fred Durst. When your generation is old enough to get nostalgic and start looking backwards instead of to the future, they're officially as pathetic as retired hippies still pining away for the 60s. More...

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70,000 Tons Of Metal, Day Four: "Band Vs. Nature"

I woke up at the usual 7:30am after arriving at my cabin less than three hours prior. I really thought there would be more of a hangover…but then again, it really wasn’t that long since my last drink. I usually reserve the last full day/night of the cruise (today) to be the time I lay down the camera and act more like a fan, but circumstances were such that Saturday night was the party night.

So the last full day of the cruise is met much like any other Sunday before you go back to work…the morning brings the feeling of “I still have a full day ahead of me.” By mid-morning you think “Ok…I have to find a way to slow this day down.” By noon its “I still have lunch and dinner and a bunch of shows to see.” By mid-afternoon its “well, the sun is still out.” By early evening its “Fuck…its almost over.”

I headed up to the Windjammer for some breakfast and I brought my camera so I can check out the 10am pool deck show with Twilight Force. After eating, I walked up to deck 12 and guards were blocking the pool deck from every angle. Apparently there was a banner that was blowing around that may cause harm if it detached…or so the story went. I checked back four times…even seeing many of the band members in costume and ready to go. It was not to be…Twlight Force would be cancelled and rescheduled…but this was just the beginning of the nightmare. More...

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70,000 Tons Of Metal, Day Three: "Its METAL Mon!"

Port day on the 2016 edition of the World’s Largest Metal Cruise! We made it into Falmouth, Jamaica at some time in the wee hours of the morning. This part of the cruise is a necessary element for a journalist, especially one trying to see as many shows as possible before collapsing from exhaustion. Since the day is usually enjoyed by fan and musician alike on shore and about the country, it means rest and relaxation for me until about 4pm – a time to recharge both the physical and mental batteries for the second half of the mayhem.

In similar fashion to last year, I skipped the part about getting off the boat. Unless there is a Mayan ruin like in Mexico a few years back, my interest in beach activities and touristy shops pales in comparison to resting and taking a few walks around the ship. This year I freed my shoulders from cameras and relaxed with breakfast before heading back to the room to do a little photo processing. The first show I would attend today would be Stratovarius’ second set on the pool deck. More...

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70,000 Tons Of Metal, Day Two: "The Marathon Day"

I woke around 7am – excited for what was not only the first full day of the cruise…but what I hoped would be the most concerts I’ve ever attended in any single day of my life. It was all mapped out…but the question is – would the pool deck be ready?

I headed up to Deck 12 to assess the situation…and once I made it to the yellow police tape, I realized – here we go again. In 2015, the high winds at sea forced the crew to abandon building the pool deck stage (the largest at sea) until the morning. It took them until 6pm to get it ready for Soulfly’s set, forcing all other shows to be reworked indoors. This year, the plan going in seemed to be to rework the shows where available – likely at the end of the evening within the venues inside. I recalled my joke to Siegfried Sammer of Visions of Atlantis – “I’ll see you at 10am…IF – and that’s a big IF…the pool deck is ready.” Well, it appears the jinx was on because Visions of Atlantis would be bumped to Saturday. The guard told me that 11:30am was the target time for completion, which is still way better than 2015. More...

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Kataklysm Lead A Death Metal War In London

Perhaps one of the most popular venues among metal fans and bands in Britain, is The Underworld in Camden, North London. It's practically a given that when a small or cult band tours the UK, this is where they will play, even if it's their only UK show. As a result, even the pub located above the venue, appropriately enough called The World's End, is a very metal place, complete with it's own merchandise and all kinds of rock and metal being played over the stereo, as well as fantastic staff. The place is worth visiting for this alone, but on this night, The Underworld was hosting a death metal extravaganza which simply could not be missed, as Kataklysm arrived with Septicflesh and Aborted to perform the penultimate show of a 44 date tour.

The evening got off to an extremely heavy start as Waregem's own, Aborted took to the stage. It says a lot about this tour that all three bands are headliners in their own rights, each with a rich history and a lengthy back catalogue and Aborted certainly have the presence to be deemed headliners. All three bands brought a different brand of death metal to the show and this evening's openers were representing the brutal side of music, and representing it well. Despite going on at 6:45, Aborted instantly got the crowd moving, with plenty of head banging and mosh pits (a dangerous thing in The Underworld given the pillars on the floor,) to go around. The band mixed old material with new, performing songs from their excellent new EP, "Termination Redux," which are also scheduled to appear on their forthcoming new album, "Retrogore." This is all held together by frontman Sven de Caluwé, who possesses the charisma and showmanship that it takes to be considered one of the best live vocalists in death metal. Aborted puts on the kind of death metal performance people want to see, intense, extreme and very fun. More...

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At The Gates Inspires Generations of Austinites

In Central Texas, the weekend that fell on Friday, February 12th through the 14th was filled with great shows featuring major European extreme metal bands, bands that rarely appear in North America. First, I caught Cradle of Filth (visit link) put on a spectacular show at the Aztec Theater in San Antonio. Two days later, the immortal At The Gates made it’s first ever appearance in Austin.

The forerunners of melodic death previously toured North America in 2008 with Darkest Hour and Municipal Waste. Then, they played San Antonio. Due to a publicist error, I couldn’t get into that show, so I partook in other debaucheries. I did, however, catch At The Gates tour twenty-years ago with Morbid Angel and Dissection as the opener. (Readers may have seen them on 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise or Maryland Death Fest).

I didn’t know anything about them. I was there to see Dissection (the only time I caught the band), but liked what I heard and shortly after became a fan of Gothenburg bands. Twenty years later and I can sing all the songs, pump my fest and bang my head with the rest of the packed club at the Mohawk’s punk/metal-friendly club. More...

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Cradle of Filth Spreads Vampire Plague

Two days in February will probably become two of the most sought after days for metal concerts in central Texas. This is because European bands invaded the Lone Star state. First, on Friday the 12th, Cradle of Filth ravaged the Aztec Theater in San Antonio. Then, At The Gates thrashed Austin. Both shows brought in a large crowd, which was partially due to their popularity but also due to the fact that Euro bands like these just don’t tour much.

My show report on At The Gates will post soon, but first let’s look at COF’s performance at the Aztec. Due to horrendous traffic, it took me 3.5 hours to drive from Georgetown, Texas to San Antonio Friday traffic is terrible and on this day I encountered 4 wrecks and traffic stalls. I guess next time I’ll need to take off around noon on Friday to see all the bands. The drive is terrible. Once I made it to the venue Butcher Babies were halfway through their set. Other than boobs on parade, I don’t give much credence to this band. They sound very cliché for the times and there is nothing that really grabs me.

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70,000 Tons Of Metal, Day One: "Casting Off"

When winter strikes the northern hemisphere, we know it’s time for our annual sojourn to the biggest and best floating festival on earth – 70,000 Tons of Metal. Back on its third different boat in three years, Ultimate Metal Cruises returns to destroy the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean with the most diverse and powerful lineup in its sixth voyage. This year, the boat returned to Jamaica, but a different port – Falmouth. Last year, a disastrous blizzard it the Northeast U.S. leaving many stranded on the beaches of Ft. Lauderdale upon return to Port Everglades, something I surely hope wouldn’t happen (he says with tongue firmly planted in cheek). More...

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Lamb of God Puts Metallic Stamp On Austin

Richmond, Virginia’s Lamb of God is one of the hardest working, best bands in metal. When I first caught the group open for Gwar on the “New American Gospel” sixteen years ago, I knew this band was destined for greatness. They were like a combination of Meshuggah and Pantera. I saw them as the next Pantera. Today, they really are continuing the tradition set down by Pantera and their rough grooves. Randy Blythe has a monstrous voice that, after tonight’s show, doesn’t seem to be losing any power.

In 2009, Lamb of God once again toured with Gwar. Even though this was a co-headliner tour, Gwar played before Lamb of God. Also this is not their first rodeo with Anthrax. Anthrax brought LOG on the road with them in 2001 . The wheel went full circle with the current tour with Anthrax. LOG toured with Anthrax early in their career as a support act. Now Anthrax supports them.

LOG has always brought a great package with them. I caught them in ‘2004 when they toured with Children of Bodom and headliner, Fear Factor. The best package, though, was opening for Cannibal Corpse, Dimmu Borgir and The Haunted. Of course, tonight’s package was nothing to complain about, other than Deafheaven. This was one of the most thrashing tours LOG has partaken in. Warming up the band were Big 4 thrashers, Anthrax (should have headlined) with a great, young thrash band, Dallas thrashers Power Trip. More...

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Housecore Horror Film Festival 2015 Day Three

Day Three of Phil Anselmo’s Housecore Horror Film Festival in San Antonio, Texas started like day two at the Holiday Inn where the film portion of the festival took place. Just like the last two years, I made sure to watch at least one film. It’s difficult to take in a film as there are so many great bands to catch, but having to be over at the hotel for interviews, I figured get there early and catch a film, so I checked the schedule and saw that a showing of Gwar’s home video “Skulhedface” was playing. Don Drakulich, aka Sleazy P. Martini, provided commentary.

Short (the heals he wears as Sleazy really boast his height, not to mention his ten-pound hair piece) and wearing glasses and short brown hair, Drakulich started the film off with a slide show presentation where he talked about how he created many of Gwar’s costumes with the help of other members. In fact, most of the celebrities were his creations. He detailed how most of the characters/props were made with silicon. He also told how the story of how Sleazy P. Martini, Gwar’s “fucking manager,” came to life. There were two Sleazys before him known as Sluggo P. Martini that didn’t work out. Tony Clifton and Jersey cops with disco hair were the inspiration for this character. He lent commentary on “Skulhedface,” a hilarious film based on the music of “This Toilet Earth,” that also starred Jello Biafra and Sabastian Bach. Drakulich left after the presentation and returned in full costume for fans to get autographs and pictures. More...

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Housecore Horror Film Festival 2015 Day Two

Day two started at the Holiday Inn. The 7th floor of the Holiday Inn hosted the film portion of the festival. There were also a number of vendors associated with the films there. Angelcorpse guitarist Gene Palubicki was one of the vendors on hand. He starred in the movie “American Guinea Pig: Bloodshock,” the second film in the “American Guinea Pig” series. This film had a major buzz about it. Many fans I talked to expressed a desire to see this film and according to Palubicki the Zombie Room wasn’t big enough to accommodate all interested parties. The event featured a Q & A with director Marcus Koch and producer/screenwriter Steven Biro and was moderated by Bill Moseley (“Texas Chainsaw Massacre II, House of 1,000 Corpses).

The band schedule for both the Aztec and Korova was different than the night before when Korova started early in the day, ended, the Aztec started and then the Korova hosted the last band at 12:30 AM. Today, the Korova started at 6 PM and ran concurrently with the Aztec. Austin d-beat punkers Krigblast opened Korova. More punkisms came via Chicago, Illinois’ Kill It Again and many fans gushed at seeing veterans, Fang. The Aztec hosted a day filled with punk rock, too, starting with Poison Idea, Dropdead and Negative Approach. And the grindcore of Agoraphobic Nosebleed and Cripple Bastards also fit into the punk’s gnarled family tree. More...

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Housecore Horror Film Festival 2015 Day One

Philip H. Anselmo brought his third installment of his Housecore Horror Film Festival to San Antonio this year. Many hearts were heavy as this was the first festival that founder Corey Mitchell didn’t have his thumb under. Mitchell died at the end of last year’s festival.

The first two years were held at Emo’s and Midway Field house in Austin. This time the Aztec Theater and Korova hosted the metallic mayhem. Less than a block down the street the film festival occupied the 7th floor of the Holiday Inn San Antonio River Walk. The Korova is a few blocks further. All venues took place in San Antonio’s historic river walk district. When not accosting their ear drums with brutal metal, fans, especially those from out of state, took a stroll down the River Walk. Joel Grind from Toxic Holocaust was one of those fans in attendance. More...

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Venom Welcomes Fun Fun Fest To Hell

“I thought Venom is on tour and playing San Antonio in January?” This was the type of confusion I read on the Internet concerning the Venom camps. I explained that the “Venom” that’s going on tour is Venom Inc., which includes ex-Venom guitarist Mantas and Demolition Man who took over for Cronos for a short period. The Venom I referred to on my posts is the namesake band featuring the true voice and bass of Venom, Cronos. The band’s appearance at Austin’s Fun Fun Fun Fest marked their only show in the U.S.

Venom was the first headline act that I caught all weekend. On Friday, I missed Coheed And Cambria to make sure I got down to ACL Live in time to catch all of the Skinny Puppy set. The day before Mayhem took precedence over watching either Jane’s Addiction, NOFX or Wu-Tang Clan. Before being treated to the band that coined the term “black metal,” though, I took in a string of veteran, influential hardcore artists. More...

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Fun Fun Fun Fest 2015 Day Two: Mayhem

All the best metal on day two took place in the clubs as part of the Nites extension at Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, Texas. Black metal Warfare II tour featuring Mayhem/Watain/Rotting Christ stopped at The Mohawk. Black metal is a seldom seen commodity at FFF, so it was exciting to see three legends in the black metal camp play. With Venom playing on Sunday, black metal has singed its mark on the annuals of the decade-long festival.

Gaia’s tears could not hinder music lovers from attending day two. I did not arrive at Auditorium Shores until around 4:30. By that time the rain had dwindled down to a drizzle but its effects were evident in the mud. The sets of major acts Jane’s Addiction, NOFX and Wu-Tang Clan monumentally clashed.

I did not stay for any of those bands. I left early to get down to the Mayhem show. Before leaving, I caught stoner comedian Doug Benson’s act. He reeled off funny slogans and got the crowd wired in to his Twitter page. He read off tweats from his followers in and out of the tent. He did not seem as stoned as he usually is, his delivery of jokes was too fast, but did beckon an E-cig filled with Mary Jane juice, which he graciously accepted and toked. More...

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Fun Fun Fun Fest 2015 Day One: Skinny Puppy

2015 marked the ten-year anniversary of Austin’s favorite variety festival, Fun Fun Fun Fest. As with past years the festival hosted multiple color-coded stages of genres including rap, indie rock, electronic and comedy. Also, skate ramps and a wrestling ring were on hand. Games were placed throughout Auditorium Shores park to maximize the element of fun. This being Metalunderground.com, though, these following reports will focus on the Black Stage where punk and metal took place.

The forecast called for rain on the first day so many of the attendees were dressed for the weather. Fortunately, it only drizzled. Nothing was the first band I took in on the Black Stage. The Philly-based act released “Guilty of Everything” in 2014 via Relapse Records. They had a nineties alternative sound that fit well with many of the artists at FFF this year. Their guitar sound was noisy, too, which they’ve been branded as a noise rock outfit (another 90s-ism). They sounded good but didn’t do much to keep my interest. More...

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Carcass Cause A ComMotion In Bristol

Every once in a while, a tour comes along with a lineup that's more or less impossible to ignore. This year, Europe is being treated to a veritable wet dream of extremity, as two of death metal's most revered bands, Carcass and Obituary, are teaming up with grindcore godfathers Napalm Death and Canadian progressive thrashers, Voivod, as well as Swiss act, Herod, to give headbangers the Deathcrusher tour. As if to get the grey island out of the way first, the trek began this past week in the United Kingdom and this reporter was lucky enough to witness the event in Bristol, at a venue called The Motion.

Opening the show was Herod, a progressive sludge metal band from Vevey in Switzerland, who released their debut album, "They Were None" last year. Although they didn't feel out of place as such on this bill, opening such an exciting lineup with sludge didn't seem like a particularly good idea and as a result, Herod came across as a boring start that created the sentiment opening bands dread; the old, "Let's just get this over with so we can watch what we came for," vibe. They received a relatively warm response from the crowd however, who it must be said of Bristol audiences, are usually supportive of unknown or new bands. Whatever the case, with a dull stage presence and uninteresting repertoire, Herod will need to wait until their next album before they seriously impress any passing punters. More...

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Spirit Caravan Brings Doom To Austin

Doom metal icons Wino and Dave Sherman rolled into Austin with Spirit Caravan, a group that has twenty years of history under their vests. Of course, Dave and Wino are the core of the group, so they remained part of the group, but the drummer was different than the last time I saw them in 2014. Saint Vitus basher Henry Vasquez was behind the kit at that show. Tonight, Ed Gulli played drums. He was the original The Obsessed drummer. This tour showed him reunite with Wino after thirty years. More...

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Danzig Brings Blackest of the Black To Austin

Glenn Danzig started his Blackest of the Black tour over a decade ago in 2003. I caught it first in 2005 when he toured with Mortiis, Behemoth (among others) and what I believe was the first appearance of Doyle performing Misfits songs with Danzig. While this year’s lineup isn’t the “blackest,” that distinction goes to the last Blackest of the Black tour in 2010 when he took out Marduk and Possessed, Superjoint and Prong were solid acts nonetheless at this showing at Stubb’s in Austin.

Although they don’t carry the name recognition of a Phil Anselmo or Tommy Victor, openers Witch Mountain put on an impressive performance. The Portland-based doom act were in the news a year ago when longtime singer Uta Plotkin left the group and they hired 19-year-old Kayla Dixon as replacement. Dixon’s performance certainly showed she was up for the task this night. Her range was excellent. Whether she sang in a soaring almost R & B type voice or a death metal growl, her vocals were spot on. The rest of the band’s tones sounded great in their down tempo dirges. Even though there was only about 50 people in the crowd during their set, those in attendance seemed to show their approval. Touring with a big name like Danzig has to be doing wonders for their career.

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ProgPower USA XVI, Part 4: Fabio Is God

3:45pm - September 12, 2015

It’s surreal….I stand on the ramp looking out Dragonland performing “Starfall,” minutes before I make my stage debut. Nerves, excitement, tension….all wrapped up as I stood with my friend Tommy to unleash “The Black Mare” with one of my favorite bands. I sang along to practice…

“The sign of truth – starfall lights in your eyes
The wish it hides – is in your mind
The hope of life – when astral angels cry
Truth and lies – starfall eyes”

Hey…I felt strong! Excitement flowed as I banged my head thinking…this is going to be awesome! Its back! My voice was back!

Far cry from this morning…… More...

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ProgPower USA XVI, Part 3: Falconer's Last Show

7:30am – September 11, 2015.

In any other place, at any other time of the year, 7:30am feels like noon. After last night’s Dragonland experience, it felt way too early. As a perpetual early riser, this one felt like grim death. I’m getting to old for this – restricted to two maybe three occasions a year that I would even consider staying out until 4:30-5:00am. I needed coffee….buckets of it. Where was Lance King and his trusty “Awakenings” blend when I needed it! Riiiiight, the main merch area doesn’t open until noon today.

Well, I couldn’t fall back asleep now…I might wake up at 3pm and I had an 11am sponsor meeting with Glenn Harveston. I cannot miss that one. Just a day earlier when arriving in Atlanta, I learned that since the issues with Hibria forced my sponsored band off the roster, I would now be proudly co-sponsoring Jeff Scott Soto. Nothing wrong with that! Here is a legend that now gets an extended set to celebrate his 30th anniversary – so I was expecting to hear solo material, Yngwie Malmsteen material and Talisman material at least! Truly exciting stuff….when one door closes, another opens wider! More...

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