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Archive: Reports

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Angra And Operation: Mindcrime In London

Whenever bands announce a tour of the United Kingdom, or even just one show, one of the most likely venues to show up will be the The Underworld in Camden. It's a very famous venue, located under The World's End pub, which is a great place to listen to metal over a beer. Inside the venue itself on this occasion, Brazilian metal veterans Angra would be headlining a show which also featured special guest Geoff Tate (former Queensryche vocalist) and his collective, Operation: Mindcrime, as well as American outfit, Halcyon Way.

Though the show was scheduled for six, problems meant that doors didn't open until seven and subsequently scheduled opening act Ravenscry were not able to perform. Halcyon Way were also dealt a blow as they were only able to play for around twenty minutes, in a set which appeared to contain no more than five songs. There was little time, as a result, for the band and audience to connect and their set seemed to be over before it really began. For this reason, it's unfair to really judge Halcyon Way on this performance. More...

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Inferno Metal Festival 2018 - Part 1

Inferno Metal Festival, in terms of human growth, matured into adulthood in 2018. Eighteen years strong, this festival by all accounts is the reputed king of festivals throughout the Scandinavian nations. This year’s reiteration includes some of the most recognizable names in black metal and heavy metal in general; Emperor, Satyricon and Electric Wizard. One of the most anticipated bands, Carpathian Forest, are back playing the festival after more than a decade.

There will be more written about the bands since after all, this is considered a show report, but I will also be sharing my personal adventures day that transpired in Oslo, the capital of Norwegian black metal. So light a black candle or two and read on…but first, check out some photos of the festival here!

Wednesday, March 28th – Pre-Festival

After flying almost halfway around the world from Phoenix, Arizona, I attempted to get my circadian rhythm adjusted to an unapologetic time zone shift and attempted manifest some intestinal fortitude on the fly due to the 70-degree drop in temperature. It’s not an easy feat to do both of those at the same time, but this isn’t my first rodeo and I thought I adjusted quickly for the most part. My first order of business for the day was a shopping spree at the famed Neseblod Records. If you don’t know the reason for the fame, just Google Helvete Records and you’ll be in the loop for the next paragraph.

Located on a quiet street just outside of the tourist district of Oslo, you could easily walk past it if it wasn’t for the “A” frame sign with their snake laced logo propped up on the sidewalk in front. Inside? Well, it’s a heavy metal hoarders paradise. There is so much stuff, and by stuff, I mean records, CDs, cassettes, shirts, memorabilia and most of all, so much black metal history on display, that you can literally spend a whole afternoon perusing and still not get through half of it. One of the coolest things on display, located right behind the register, is the original door key to Helvete Records. If you were wondering if it was in a shadow box or some nice display case, nope…it’s in a sandwich bag tacked to the wall. Black metal has always had a “fuck it” attitude that’s for sure.



Later that evening, I checked out an Indie Recordings showcase that took place at the Hard Rock Café Oslo. The bands that played, Vorbid and Tantara, are fresh upstart thrash bands, which stood out considering the marjority of the label’s artists are of the black metal variety. Both bands played to a very enthusiastic and plentiful crowd. The show had a very DIY feel to it other than the Hard Rock Café logos splattered everywhere. The best part is when my friends and I asked the bands where the merch tables were, they ran to grab trash bags and shoeboxes stuffed with shirts and CDs to peddle their wares from. Fucking awesome.

After the show, my friends and I ran into a contingent of Spaniards that were also there to attend Inferno and a plan was set in motion to head on over to one of Oslo’s many rock bars, Rock In. While we were conversing with our new friends on our way to the Rock In in a sloppy dialect of Spanglish, we were hedging on the more we drank, the more we would understand each other. We arrived to a packed, darkened and of course, loud tavern blaring Venom’s “In League with Satan.” Yesss…my kind of place! As we became more acquainted with our amigos over several rounds of Norwegian pilsners, we lost track of time and before we knew it, ‘twas 3 o’clock in the morning and we had closed the bar. Great success! More...

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Primordial Emerges As Legends Amongst Ruins

How many sub-genres can one band be labelled with? Over the course of twenty six years, Primordial has been called black metal, pagan metal, celtic metal, doom metal and pretty much everything else, but whatever the case, Primordial are metal to the very core and know how to put on a show to remember. Having just released their ninth studio album, "Exile Amongst The Ruins," the sons of Skerries are back on the road and bring with them some very unique guests.

Opening the bill was German black metal outfit Der Weg Einer Freiheit (loosely translated: The Way Of Freedom,) who possess a seriously abrasive sound. Extremity is very much of the menu this evening at the Islington Assembly Hall and not everyone was sure what to make of the Bavarian quartet. Those who enjoy their metal very fast and miserable will enjoy what Der Weg Einer Freiheit has to offer, providing a real sonic assault reminiscent of black metal flag carriers Mayhem. They were perhaps the most straight forward of the three bands tonight, which is no insult given who they're sharing the stage with, but for that reason, those who weren't blown away early in their set wouldn't have changed their mind later on. All in all, Der Weg Einer Freiheit aren't for everyone, but when was black metal ever meant to be? More...

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Andrew W.K. Shows London How To Party Hard

Metal and rock music has so much to offer when it comes to live shows. We have the elaborate theatrics of bands like Iron Maiden and Amon Amarth, the stunts and fireworks of Metallica, KISS and the like and then we have groups who rely on the music to do the talking, as well they should. What makes the latter option special though, is the delivery and is it turns out, nobody can deliver quite like Andrew W.K.

Opening the show was Yonaka, a Brighton based band which melds rock and pop music but without doing so in the stereotypical indie way. Comparisons can be drawn to the likes of Jefferson Airplane and The Answer, though the group still has a way to go. They're show some real promise, particularly in the guitar area, but at the moment lack much in the way of anything memorable. Yonaka were able to get some sections of the crowd moving and no doubt they'll be some in the audience that really enjoyed their set. Having only been around since 2015, they still have plenty of time to develop and refine their sound, which will help them take the next step in the future. More...

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Epica Enchants Kentish Town Forum

Over the past ten years or so, symphonic metal has really exploded in popularity, thanks to the success of groups such as Nightwish, Within Temptation and Theatre Of Tragedy. Last Friday, I had the pleasure of witnessing another of the sub-genre's most revered bands, Epica, at their show in London where they were joined by Myrkur and Oceans Of Slumber to craft a night to remember.

Opening the show was Houston, Texas progressive metal outfit, Oceans Of Slumber. Not being familiar with the quintet, I had no idea what to expect. Like many opening bands, they had to fight through some relatively poor sound at the beginning of their set but fight they did and those in attendance were treated to a magnificent display of atmospheric metal. Vocalist Cammie Gilbert was superb in showcasing her soulful voice which fit alongside the gloomy, My Dying Bride-esque music very well. Songs from their new album, "The Banished Heart" such as "The Decay Of Disregard" sound fresh and intriguing and it won't be long until Oceans Of Slumber are headlining tours of a similar size. More...

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Watain & Destroyer 666 Phoenix, AZ March 18th 2018

Between the shitstorm that Destroyer 666 were a part of last year and the recent war between “edgy” (a borrowed description…) black metal bands defending against self-righteous keyboard justice warriors, I didn’t know what to expect at Watain and Destroyer 666’s Phoenix, Arizona date. Just a week earlier, Destroyer 666 was booted off their Bay Area date. Watain, showing support for their touring brethren, basically told the venue to go fuck themselves and pulled out of the date as well. Another venue had stepped up to host the show but inexplicably cancelled a few days later. In light of all this drama, Phoenix did not disappoint. There was no bullshit, no drama, only metal and Watain’s Disciples.

I have to admit, I’m not an avid listener of Destroyer 666, but I did want to check out what all the chatter was about that was filling up comment sections of several metal blogs in 2017. I thought they were solid, but their sound reminds me of early European thrash metal ala early Kreator. They didn’t blow my mind musically but the raw and intensity of their sound had massive appeal a couple of decades ago. For some, this style is fresh and new and turns their crank. For this writer, I was counting down the number of songs left of their 45-minute set.

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Cannibal Corpse Turns Red Before Bristol

As one of, if not, the biggest name in death metal, a Cannibal Corpse show is never to be missed. For nearly thirty years, the Buffalo born gore peddlers have gone from strength to strength, featuring one of the best rhythm sections in all of metal, two excellent guitarists and a monster of a vocalist, Cannibal Corpse has continued to stay on top of the extreme metal mountain, and with their new album, "Red Before Black" under their belts, it's time once more for the quintet to take to the road, with a little help from some friends. More...

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Sepultura Unveils The "Machine Messiah"

It's not yet festival season, which means metal fans are currently being treated to a number of tours at the moment, many of which come in big packages. It was only last week that Venom Inc. kicked off their tour in Bristol with Suffocation, Nervosa and Aeternam and it was in the same city that Brazilian metal titans Sepultura began their headline run of Europe, bringing with them a lineup with something for everyone.

Opening the show was American deathcore outfit Fit For An Autopsy. Fans of the style more likely than not enjoyed their set and those with a love of all things extreme no doubt will find something to like in their music, while those who tend to shy away from deathcore probably wouldn't have been converted by their sound. They're a highly energetic band, which can only be admired, who have been going for ten years already, thus possessing the rare combination of youth and experience. Not for everyone, but not bad. More...

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The Exploited Keeps Punk Alive In The South West

"Punk's Not Dead!" bellows the title and artwork of The Exploited's debut album, released back in 1981. Thirty seven years later, the quartet are still proudly making the proclamation with all the venom they can muster. Led by iconic frontman Wattie Buchan and his brother Wullie on drums, the band became one of the most popular names in the second wave of British punk, which is often named "UK82" after a song of theirs. From "Death Before Dishonour" onwards, their sound took on a more metallic tone, leading some to lump The Exploited in with the crossover thrash acts like D.R.I. and Stormtroopers Of Death. Though it's been fifteen years since they're last album, "Fuck The System," the band are by no means near the end and certainly haven't mellowed with age, as the crowd in Bristol were about to find out. More...

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Venom Inc. Brings Black Metal To Bristol

As is the case with oh so many metal bands these days, there now exists two incarnations of Venom. There's Venom, led by frontman Chronos and now there's Venom Inc., featuring the other two famous members of the influential trio, Mantas and Abaddon (guitar and drums respectively,) as well as vocalist/bassist Tony "Demolition Man" Dolan, who replaced Chronos in Venom for a period of time in the eighties and nineties. The latter group released their superb debut album, "Ave," last year through Nuclear Blast Records and last week began a headlining run of Europe in support of the record, as part of a stellar lineup which also included death metal legends Suffocation and Brazilian thrash metal favourites, Nervosa.

Opening the bill was a band named Survive. Quite honestly, I don't even know if they played. A few young lads took to the stage and performed the same riff a few times at sporadic moments, then that seemed to be it. Rumour was that the group were using a stand in drummer and so I sincerely hope that things have improved for them. Unfortunately, an important call meant that I wasn't able to see Canadian support act Aeternam, however the rest of the night more than made up for what I'd missed out on. More...

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70000 Tons Of Metal: Day Four

All good things must come to an end, as they say. After three fantastic days at sea with sixty one metal bands, it almost time to head up. Fret ye not however, as there was still one more day filled with metal for those on board to enjoy.

Up first (at least for me,) was sunshine, fresh air and German thrash metal, as Destruction took to the stage for their second set of the cruise. The setlist wasn't changed enormously from their first, though this time "Nailed To The Cross" went down particularly well as there were two men dressed as Jesus in the mosh pit. Sacrilicious. Fortunately, the teutonic trio faced no visible technical problems this time around and put on a hell of a show, despite playing in the earliest slot of their career. It shouldn't be necessary to say this, but Destruction are one of the top thrash bands in history, still to this day, thanks not only to their superb catalogue, but to their towering stage presence and scorching live performances.

Following some lunch and finally being able to get into the merch room, it was a trip to the Alhambra Theater for something very special; The All Star Jam, hosted by Annihilator founder Jeff Waters. Members from many bands on board joined together to perform metal classics and favourites. Naturally, some groupings and songs went down better than others, with highlights including Riot's, "Swords and Tequila" performed by Snake from Voivod, Mike Silfringer of Destruction, Metal Church drummer Stet Howland, Korpiklaani bassist Jesper Anastasiadis and Primal Fear guitarist Tom Naumann, as well as the AC/DC classic, "Hells Bells," sung by Battle Beast's, Noora Louhimo, with Elias Viljanen if Sonata Arctica and Jeff Waters on guitar duties, Primal Fear's Mat Sinner on bass and Enslaved drummer Cato Bekkevold, all before the final number, which saw the dreams of thrash metal fans come true as Kreator frontman Mille Petrozza joined Destruction's Schmier and Vavver on stage to perform Metallica's, "Whiplash," in a lineup that was rounded up by Andreas Kisser of Sepultura and Matt Harvey of Exhumed performing guitars. A one of a kind experience which is a real treat for metal fans. More...

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70000 Tons Of Metal: Day Three

Two days of metal is a real treat, but with another two days of hard and heavy tunes to come, a little recharge of the batteries does no harm. So it was that on the morning of February 3rd, the Independence Of The Seas docked in Cockburn Town, in the Grand Turks and Caicos Islands, with fans, crew and musicians alike stretching their legs in this beautiful Caribbean setting. The heat is about what you'd expect and sun screen is a must (though being charted $25 for a bottle is a liberty,) the water is crystal clear and refreshing to the touch and the local staff are very welcoming, right down to having a DJ booth set up playing metal music, which was more than happy to take requests (I couldn't resist the urge to ask for Mezarkabul - "Bir.")

After a relaxing day at the beach, fans were asked to be back on the ship by half 4 that afternoon. Getting back on with enough time to get some dinner and a round of golf in on the pool deck, a bit of power metal was first on the agenda and so it was that I made my first trip to the Ice Rink to check out German act, Evertale. Like a number of groups I reported on yesterday, I'm unfamiliar with the majority of their work and this was more about checking out a new band for me. Evertale are solid, it's fair to say. Their brand of power metal isn't groundbreaking or new, but in a genre nostalgic for the fantasy themes more common in the 80s than today, that's not necessarily a requirement. They don't possess anything special when it comes to stage presence either, though againm there's nothing particularly wrong with it. Not much to say except that they're worth a go if you like this kind of thing, but those with little to no interest in power metal won't be especially impressed. More...

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70000 Tons Of Metal: Day Two

After a superb first day aboard the Independence Of The Seas, it was time for another long day of seeing and meeting some of the most revered bands in metal. There's worse ways of spending a long weekend I suppose...

A late night and jet lag meant sleeping in longer than expected and missing out on the first few bands, though I was up and fed in time to head to the pool deck for the first time and check out one of the greatest names in British death metal, Benediction. While some may onky recognise them as the group Barney Greenway fronted before joining Napalm Death, the Birmingham based bruisers have had a long career with some outstanding music under their belts and it's fair to say that a live setting is the best place to sample it. There's no frills and no pretentiousness about Benediction, they're working class English guys who play old school, thrash inspired death metal and they do it wonderfully. I imagine Benediction to thrive in a small venue, which makes an outdoor venue with thousands of potential crowd members something of a risk, as not all bands used to intimate stages can work on a bigger setting. I'm pleased to report however, that Benediction don't have this problem. Those in attendance were treated to a blistering performance, which no doubt won over those who are put off by the poor production of their earlier work and delighted fans and curious parties. A great way to kick off the day. More...

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70000 Tons Of Metal: Day One

Back when the first 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise set sail in 2011, metal fans around the globe looked on with enormous envy at the lucky few who were able to board the ship and witness a festival unlike any other. Seven years later, my own wish was granted as I arrived in Florida, ready to take to the seas with 61 bands, 3000 other metalheads (including Metal Underground founder, Deathbringer) and the crew on this magnificent vessel. This is the story of Metal Underground at 70000 Tons Of Metal 2018.

Boarding the ship was a relatively simple affair, impressive considering the magnitude of the journey, where travellers queued up to have their bags scanned, passports checked and sort out their currency for the trip, which is done on a special card. After this, punters are invited to have their photo taken in front of the 70000 Tons Of Metal backdrop, then take a seat and wait for their area to be called. As soon as one walks on to the ship, they're greeted enthusiastically by the pool girls, who welcome them with a copy of the official programme, which must be said, is wonderfully put together with information about everything from the bands to the ship's captain.

Making our way to our cabins, it immediately resonates what an inclusive trip this will be, as fans and band members walk together to their rooms, wherein I was able to speak briefly with Derrick Green, frontman of one of my all time favourite bands, Sepultura. After settling in, it's over to the decks for safety drills, which are conducted in English and German and where more metal royalty can be spotted (Corpsegrinder of Cannibal Corpse was in the line next to mine, laughing, joking and taking pictures with fans.) Finally, at 17:15, the first bands take to the stage and metal fans begin the holiday of a lifetime. More...

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August Burns Red Leads Fort Lauderdale Revolution

It's always good to step out of your comfort zone. Whether it be trying new food, visiting another country, or in this case, checking out a different style of music than normal, it doesn't hurt to do something unfamiliar. On this occasion, I decided to make use of my last night in the United States to check out the Revolution venue in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and witness a show headlined by August Burns Red.

Having unfortunately arrived too late to catch Australian openers Ocean Grove, it was Birmingham, Alabama natives Erra who were first up for this reporter. Being unfamiliar with their catalogue, or indeed any of the catalogues on the bill, I can see only comment on the performances themselves. Erra are certainly one of the more interesting bands on the metalcore spectrum, possessing a progressive and slightly left field sound, most notably their open use of keyboards. The crowd reacted well from the beginning to end and many were well versed in their repotoir, with some songs receiving substantially bigger responses than others. All in all, a very good performance from a group with more to offer than many other bands in their field. More...

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Rage And Firewind Set Spain Ablaze

Having visited the Garaje Beat Club twice before to see Napalm Death and Ratos de Porao, it's safe to assume that this is one of the best small venues in the South East of Spain, if not Spain itself. It's compact but with room to move, the staff are friendly (even the bouncers!) and there's a great rock and roll vibe about the club. Perfect setting then, to host one of the most exciting tours of early 2018, as Rage and Firewind rolled into town on a metal mission.

Before the big names took place, the crowd were treated to two opening acts, the first of which, Arenia, was the only Spanish group on the bill. As is often the case for the opener, it was a sparse crowd which Arenia played for, but those in attendance were privy to something special. Their brand of power metal with a little symphonic taste is very impressive, as is the vocal talents of frontman Fran Santos, who was in fine form throughout. It's unfair to focus purely on the singer however, as every single member of the group performed with a tremendous passion and skill. If you're a fan of power metal, check out Arenia and their latest release, "El atardecer de los sueños" now because this quintet from Gijón are well on their way to becoming the top metal band from Spain. More...

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Napalm Death Shows No Mercy In Murcia

Life for a metal fan in the south east of Spain can be a little frustrating. Most bands that tour Europe tend to only perform in Madrid and Barcelona when they come through, with occasional shows in Seville and Bilbao from time to time. However, deep in the heart of Spain's holiday area, in the city of Murcia, lies the Garaje Beat Club, a small venue which has been able to bring in some respected and popular names such as Lacuna Coil, Ratos de Porao and G.B.H. Tonight, the godfathers of grindcore Napalm Death were in town to perform at the club and treat the Iberian Peninsula to a blistering show the likes of which only they can provide.

There were no less than three support bands in tow tonight, perhaps the best of which was Fostioner from the Spanish capital of Madrid. The quintet has so far released two records, the most recent of which was the four track, "Chandal Defenders," which was represented on the night by such songs as "Margaret Thrasher." My Spanish is far from perfect, so I was unable to understand much of the between song banter, but the few who had arrived early were laughing quite a lot. Fostioner displayed a great musicianship, influenced by death and grindcore as much as thrash, which makes for a solid metal sound. Plus, any group whose signature song is called, "Spaceship Bukkake" automatically wins. Great way to start the show. More...

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Steel Panther (11/24/17) Phoenix, Arizona

Should what happens at a Steel Panther show, stay at a Steel Panther show? Maybe the band should consider copping this from Las Vegas’ advertising firm because when you attend one of their shows, it turns into its own Sin City. The band is currently in the middle of its 2017 Girls in a Row Tour and if you’ve never seen them, I’ll let you in on a little secret, NOTHING is off-limits at a Steel Panther show. More...

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Fall of Summer Festival 2017 - Torcy, France

September 8th - Day One

Vive le Fall of Summer Festival 2017! My girlfriend and I arrived in Paris the day before the festival jet lagged and without a plan on how to get to the town of Torcy, the home of Fall of Summer Festival. So we did what any metalhead might do in this situation, we went to THE metal bar in town and for Paris, that bar is Le Black Dog. Located a stumble away from the Seine River and in the middle of a popular food and entertainment district, you wouldn’t even know it’s a metalhead sanctuary from the outside.

After sheepishly stepping inside, the bar was packed with plenty of other metalheads. Black metal was blaring over the sound system and I observed there was a solid beer selection and plenty of Fall of Summer posters and drink coasters strewn about. After attempting to ask the bartenders and then realizing there was somewhat of a language barrier going on, I said “fuck it.” I shoved four of the Fall of Summer cardboard beer coasters into my girlfriend’s purse and decided that we’d figure it out the next day.

The first day of the fest, we decided to call our cab driver that drove us from the airport to take us to Fall of Summer and after a 40 minute drive, we arrived in Torcy. After winding through a few country roads, the all familiar seas of tents became visible. Our driver asked us where he should go to drop us and I told him anywhere near the mass of black t-shirts…duh! After a relatively short wait in line with several dozen of anxious festival attendees (approximately 1 hour), we were inside of Fall of Summer. Our first mission was to get adult beverages and food and to accomplish that we had to purchase “tokens.” After securing enough tokens for a day, we were able to complete our mission and finally set out to see our first band of the day.

Necrowretch, a death metal band from France no less, played a tight and aggressive set under a cloud filled sky. The crowd was small, but it was obvious that people were still making their way into the fest while they played. In fact, it was evident that at some point, there was going to be rain in the forecast. We weren’t worried, we had ponchos!

After Necrowretch, we started exploring the festival grounds. What a better place to start our exploration other than the merch area. There were about a dozen or so vendors, plus a bar and a café to peruse through. In addition, and most importantly, there were umbrella covered standing areas to chill…err…I mean escape from the rain that would dominate most of Friday’s festivities. The second band of the day was the blackened jazz version of Shining. Also hailing from Norway, this version was a last minute replacement band when Saint Vitus unfortunately had to drop off the fest. Without a doubt, The Shining were one of the more eclectic bands of the entire fest, they poured on the saxophone around the same time the rain ramped up its performance.

As the rain continued to soak everyone to the bone, that didn’t stop us and the rest of the festival attendees from checking out Gaahl’s Wyrd. Performing a swath of material from Gorgoroth, God Seed and Trelldom, Gaahl commanded a ten song set that made everyone forget about the rain for the time being. At one point, and I apologize for not remembering which song it was, but he sang in French to which the hometown fans responded in earnest. Ending his set with “Prosperity and Beauty,” the ever so eloquent Gaahl saluted with a sincere “Merci beaucoup” before exiting the stage.

After being soaked to the bone, the weather unfortunately got the best of us on this first day of Fall of Summer. As we made our way towards the exits, we were able to watch a couple songs from Blasphemy’s set. Covered from head to toe in chains, spikes and black leather, Blasphemy blasted the crowd with sheer brutality. As a teenager, I remember purchasing their debut album on Wild Rags Records and I, like most that followed them back then, are probably surprised by their rise to becoming a cult legend among extreme metal purists. Well, that was it for day one of Fall of Summer, hopefully the next day would be drier. More...

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Psycho Las Vegas 2017

Psycho Las Vegas recently wrapped up its second edition in Sin City after moving away from its Californian roots in 2016. Psycho Las Vegas 1st edition was outstanding. The second? Well, I’m trying to find an adjective that tops outstanding… The whole experience of hosting some of the heaviest/hottest/weirdest/loudest bands in the storied Hard Rock Casino is practically a religious experience. My short anecdotes cannot and will not do it justice. You, the reader, will need to make the conscience decision to go next year to experience it for yourself. Or, if you’ve been already partaken, well, I’m sure you can vouch for me in addition to having your own stories to tell. Here’s a brief rundown of my four days.

Thursday: The first day of any festival is always the most dangerous when trying remember details. It’s the day you usually celebrate breaking away from your job/your significant other/your home/your life. It’s probably a statistical fact, the day you tend to overindulge in adult beverages.

By the time I arrived at the Pool Stage, Goya had already started. After a couple of minutes of nothing coming through the PA system, the Phoenix, AZ doom lords were off and fuzzing up the already buzzing crowd. Next up were Conan. I have to admit, I kept running into friends throughout the pool area and I was only was able to listen to them through breaks in conversations with said friends. I did catch the crowded pool stage’s reaction to their set and it the applause was loud after every song. So, I’m going to say they had a great set at this point. More...

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