On Saturday, April 1st, with some serious heavy metal electricity in the air, I was in person to see a rather large bill of underground metal bands at The Whisky A Go Go here in Los Angeles. First up was Coalition Bear from Thousand Oaks, featuring Jake Goodrich on Vocals, Brett Leonard on Drums, Jack Howard on Guitars, Quinn Brentson on Bass and Aaron Collins on Keyboard. Citing influences ranging from Lamb of God, Misery Signals, Darkest Hour to Toad the Wet Sprocket, I found this act to be one that wasn't too original or too stimulating, yet somehow still captured some of my interest during their thirty minutes as the show opener. The vocalist, Goodrich, worked the crowd with some light-hearted jokes and flat out had the death growl down better than most that are trying to emulate the work of Randy Blythe. Remnants Of Solace is a song that has some cool moments, certainly the repetetive end lyric howl of "I will make you remember."
I had the opportunity to check out Kittie at the Huntington Music Hall (aka Monkey Bar) on April 4th. The place was packed too, especially for a Tuesday night, about three hundred people rocking out. Unfortunately I arrived late to the show, very late. Though I did manage to catch the last five and a half songs of Kittie’s set.
Friday night, March 31, 2006, I was sitting at home on my computer and on AIM. I hadn't planned on doing anything until out of nowhere, one of my friend's instant messages me, asks if I like Darkest Hour, "yes", I replied, so began my Friday night.
After running a few errands, my friend, his friend, and I headed towards Asbury Park to see Darkest Hour, A Life Once Lost, the Acacia Strain, and Himsa at Club Deep in Asbury Park, NJ. Now, this would be our first time to this venue and were told that it was right across from the legendary Stone Pony. When we got to the Stone Pony, we where relieved to find out we hadn't been misinformed. We walked in after paying at the door and I was surprised to see a pretty decent venue.
Club Deep consists of a decent size pit area, a bar in the back, and a divider separating the stage and pit area and the merchandise area. Also, in the merchandise area, there are a couple pool tables and the rest rooms. Club Deep is about the size of the Stone Pony which isn't very big, but isn't extremely small. Club Deep was just the right size for a good show.
Now, because of the errands we had to run, we showed up 20 minutes late and missed the Acacia Strain. We made it just as a Life Once Lost go on. A Life Once Lost was ok, not really my thing, sounded very hardcore influenced, and we enjoyed some of their songs. After them, Himsa went on; we aren't too big of Himsa fans because their drumming, in my opinion, overpowers the rest of the band. Also, I believe the drummer is too good for that band. After we sat down for Himsa, there's a little leather couch built into the divider to sit on, we stood back up for Darkest Hour.
Darkest Hour, the band we came to see, made the night worth the $12 spent to get in. Their vocalist was having trouble with his microphone in the beginning, but that was resolved after the first couple songs. Darkest Hour tore through songs from all three of their albums, including their single, "Convalescence", off their newest album, "Undoing Ruin", which I purchased along with a shirt after the show. Darkest Hour put on an amazing performance for their whole set. I found the guitar work to be exceptionally good. At the end of their set, their vocalist decided to stage dive, right into my arms. A much unexpected surprise! I bet he and I were both glad that I caught him!
That was the end of a Friday night that started as nothing besides me and my computer spending some quality time. Anyone who says AIM and computers are a waste of time and bad for you, I suggest you take a look at how this amazing night started.
On Tuesday, March 21 I decided to end my several month drought on seeing live shows and go out to see Through The Eyes of the Dead, Chimaira and Children of Bodom play at my new favorite venue, The Recher Theater, in Baltimore, MD. This single movie theater converted to a club/concert hall with a capacity of 700 was sold out and quite packed. The lineup looked good and I didn’t want to miss a chance to catch Through the Eyes of the Dead, who have breathed some much needed life into the largely stale genre of death metal. And ever since “The Impossibility of Reason” and their latest self-titled album, I will gladly see Chimaira any time they come to town. More...
Every now and then, I will see a band perform that I immediately detect has the musical X-Factor thing going on for it, in terms of potential to one day achieve serious commercial success. The un-signed Fall To Grace, while registering as a more straight ahead radio friendly heavy music outfit than say the high speed and brutal types in the metal underground that I typically appreciate, is certainly one of those bands, pulling a bit of its formula from million-selling predecessors: Godsmack and Alice In Chains.
Upon my first stumbling across their music profile on MySpace, I noticed FTG to be one of those rare acts that truly has the ability to flatout deliver memorable tunes. I was even sold more on their promise upon witnessing their live offering at The Joint here in Los Angeles on Friday, March 24th. John DiBattista, fronting on vocals and pulling double duty with some scorching lead guitar work, is a Rock N Roll superstar in the making. I would be a liar if I didn't just admit it. Of all the highly competent vocalists on the Hollywood scene right now, this guy owned the stage like he was born on it. The rest of the band isn't cheap liver either. With Silas Burke on guitar, Cary Kane on drums and a tatt'd down and mohawk sporting Christophe on bass, FTG worked its genius stroke while blasting from the dirty themed but refreshingly poignant Loss Of Love to the God Smack-influenced Depths Of Depravity and the Alice In Chains derived Hatred In Alibis. All this said, Fall To Grace's real triumph seems to be its ability to not fall victim to just being another big city cover band or one hit wonder, ultimately displaying a fierce and committed passion for creating its own distinct voice. The fact that they don't have a major label attached to them right now is one of the more confusing things to understand when trying to figure out the kooky deal makings of the record business. I know that extreme metal is always going to have to fight for this sort of thing.
A band like FTG that is as uncanny at breaking off possible radio chart toppers and being the next big thing for MTV, deserves not only to start getting some immediate recognition but also be preparing to perform in much larger venues in the immediate future. Let me say it didn't make this review anymore difficult for me when DiBattista made reference to his stunning other half, adult film actress, Angie Savage, who watched him from the bar. His brashness, swagger and obvious natural-born stage persona was all that more compelling for me at those moments. I am the kind of observer that when something is fully realized and achieving all that it set out to do when first forming as FTG has clearly done here, that no matter what the genre, Pop to Punk, you have to give credit when credit is due.
Review By TJ Miller of Still Remains:
On February 23rd, 2006 in Ft Wayne, Indiana's own Memorial Coliseum, no one knew quite what to expect from one Mr. Trent Reznor, the mastermind and genius behind Nine Inch Nails. From the moment their headlining set started with "Mr. Self-Sestruct," the first track off of the multi-platinum "The Downward Spiral," one would say that Reznor was definitely in good form. "Sin," and then "Terrible Lie," would follow from NIN's debut, "Pretty Hate Machine."
Trent's guitars and mic stand combined with Aaron North's out of control stage antics were forces to be reckoned with. Was the band angry tonight or just really alive? Probably the latter as Trent took the time to explain to the crowd: "I’ve got to be honest with you people. Sometimes when you are on tour, you play these shows and there is something missing... Sometimes you play shows that are fun and right on key. Tonight is definitely one of those nights," he said, while thanking the crowd for coming out.
Crowd favorites such as "Closer, Head like a Hole, Something I Could Never Have, Only, The Hand That Feeds, and Hurt," were moving to everybody. But the highlights of this particular show were more of Trent's personal favorites including "Burn, Eraser, and Reptile."
This was easily one of the best concerts I have ever seen, but the only disappointing thing about it was
the band didn't trash very much of their equipment.
I have photographed these guys four times. Just love them. Best part is, they treat me like Royalty. There sophomore album COME TO LIFE, is a must have for all Rock and Metal fans alike. With songs like, Suckerpunch and Mud to Dust. This is on band to be reckoned with, Hailing from Chicago, IL. American Motherload plays the Midwest area. They are currently in pre production to the new CD. Hitting the studio in about 1 month. There is some talk about me going to the studio to help document the recording process with my camera. REALLY looking forward to it. More...
Bloodsimple took the stage with a fairly descent crowd. The boys came out with a furry of hard hitting drums by Chris Hamilton. Leading the pack on Bass is Kyle Sanders. Kyle was GREAT to photograph, with long ass dreads flying all over the place. Especially being left handed (Like myself), he was impressive to watch. Mike Kennedy and Nick Rowe supplied the Drop “D” guitar riffs and licks, followed by Tim Williams on vocals. This band had the crowd in a frenzy. The Mosh Pit was pretty impressive for a smaller venue (Pieres). I read some previous review on the fact that Tim’s voice has been alittle haggard. I can assure you, He was at full tilt. Very impressive. Although, the band didn’t come out and meet the crowd (At least to my knowledge), they definitely did one hell of a job. Entertaining to watch and sound good as hell. More...
Now in it's 14th year, the Big Day Out is Australia's largest one-day music festival, travelling to five major cities in Australia as well as Auckland, New Zealand. While previous years have seen big-name metal acts included in the lineup such as Slipknot, Metallica, Hatebreed, and Soulfly, the 2006 bill was a little lighter in tone with Iggy and the Stooges, The White Stripes, Franz Ferdinand and Kings of Leon topping the list of 30-odd bands. More...
Feb 17th, 2006 – Ft Wayne, IN – Pieres Nightclub
Well the night didn’t start out good. Besides being late and missing Halestorm and some asshole bumping into me and knocking my camera to the ground and breaking it (The reason why I didn’t photograph Seether), the night wasn’t that bad considering all I endured.
So I did miss Halestorm, although I did have the pleasure of seeing/photographing them in Detroit on Dec 17th, 2005 in Detroit. Great band with lots of potential. Look for them in your Neighborhood. More...
February 02, 2006 – Ft. Wayne, IN
I started this evening with mixed emotions about the first group Wicked Wisdom, which Jada Pinkett Smith is the singer. Could actress/model actually produce worthwhile metal? The answer to that question is YES! Jada hit the stage with a fury that I did not think was possible from this pint-sized rocker. This band has seemed to have a hard time being accepted in the metal community but I highly disagree, I think they kicked ass! I really think it's great to see Jada following her dreams and producing the music that's near and dear to her heart. Despite all the negative feedback from the Metal World. More...
I dropped in on Krell performing at The Joint in Los Angeles on Saturday, February 4th with some high expectations. I have been listening to this band's music on MySpace now for several weeks prior to doing this review and let me just say it was a night I won't soon forget. More...
What better way to spend Friday the 13th (January) than at an ANTHRAX show? With all the old 80’s bands coming back around, it gives us/you the chance to see them live if you have never seen them back in the day. Believe me these bands still know how to rock and Anthrax (currently on tour) is no exception.
First came, Manntis. The crowd was thin. With guitarist Adair (from MTV Fame – Battle for Ozzfest) Jake, Dan and Josh, they held there own. You will be seeing a lot more of theses guys. More...
Headlining act, MY RUIN, in support of their brand new album: The Brutal Language on Rovena Recordings, made damn sure that everyone - packed tightly into Hollywood, California's famed Whisky A Go Go club last night - got an adrenalin and beer-fueled Heavy Metal show to remember.
The first band I witnessed upon arrival at around 8PM was AMERICAN AFTERMATH.
AMERICAN AFTERMATH (hear them on MySpace), is led by founding guitarist, bassist and songwriter Rich Gonzales. Rich is well known for his past work with the metal outfit DIESEL MACHINE, which also featured the likes of Pat Lachman (DAMAGEPLAN-THE MERCY CLINIC).
AA's other band members are: Chris Moore on drums, Ed Veliz on vocals, Rudy Gonzales jammin' bass.
I noticed Rich was seated the entire set... kind of had me confused -- but as I now understand his story, the cat has spent the last few years recovering from a near fatal motorcycle accident in 2002. He is now paralyzed and in a wheelchair.
I dunno... but I'd say that's about the most metal thing I've seen in some time. And he can still play the guitar, let me say that right off. He had some solid solos and beefy riff work during the roughly half hour set. AA have the Alice in Chains meets hardcore metal-thang going on.
Next up from Whittier, California was the harcdcore metal act: AL-CE-MI (hear them on MySpace).
They are Josh on Vocals-- Ned Barrett and Ray Mendez on Guitars -- Nyroh working the Bass -- Kirk Allen hitting the Drums -- Ryan Gregory Samples .
They had a bit of the OG West Coast hardcore flave ... and they seem to have a good time with it, which makes it more appealing to all.
Next on the stage was Salimus(hear them on MySpace), a death metal act from Norwalk, California. They had an obvious following in the crowd and were the first band of the night to get the pit going. It wasn't a lightweight circle jerk either... as I witnessed quite a few people getting thrown around like drunk rag dolls. Salimus had some seriously heavy-hitting songs breaking off and deep, evil lyrics that you could 'actually' understand, which I dig very much.
Pouncing thru their set with such 'full metal abandon', these young guys almost nearly ended up stealing the show from all involved.
Up next was Pat Lachman's new outfit THE MERCY CLINIC (hear them on MySpace), formed after Dimebag's onstage murder back in December/2004 (R.I.P. Dime, we all miss you still soooooo much!).
Right out the gate, I could tell Pat had shaken the cold he had when I saw TMC two weeks back at The Viper Room in Hollywood. Their set was another short one... maybe twenty-five minutes... nonetheless, they surged thru like metal champs. Even though they are more melodic metal at this early point, they can drop the hardcore 'thunder' as well... loving it!
Next up was to be DEMOLITION PIT... but for whatever reason, MY RUIN came out before them... doesn't matter - MY RUIN was the main reason I showed up in the first place.
For those of you tried and true metal heads that dont know this band, GET ON IT... Tairrie B is the female Phil Anselmo! I was extremely knocked out by her HIGH VOLTAGE vocal performance. She sounded ten times more satanic than Linda Blair during the craziest scenes in The Exorcist. Mick Murphy on lead guitar really has come into his own and had some nice 'frenetic' solo moments. The other two new players, Frenchy on drums and Chris Lisee on bass, are way solid and were playing like madmen going all-out for the metal glory!
MY RUIN (hear them on MySpace) covered a bunch of their classics... truly hardcore. The highlight came when they pulled out the new tune entitled: 'Vince Vaughan'... and such an instant classic this one is... basically taking a poke at the ridiculous image this 'partyin-hipster' movie actor has garnered as the ultimate 'lady killer'. Great song! It was nice to have some humor mixed into the volatile set.
I split after MY RUIN finished... so I owe the boys in Demolition Pit a future review.
Get out and support any one of these bands. They certainly deserve it.
It was a cold evening in Columbus, Ohio on December 7, 2005 for a sold out Masters of Horror Tour at the Promo West/LC Pavilion. The opening act – Bobaflex (from Point Pleasant, WV) came out to warm the crowd up. The intensity of the band was stellar. By the time the band came off stage the crowd was ready to rock! More...
A few weeks ago on a Friday night, I had the chance to get out and check out Frederick, MD's only decent metal venue and see MOAB, who I had wanted to see in a more intimate setting since witnessing them open for Anthrax. Also playing that night were DBauchery and Admiral Browning.
First, let me touch on the local Frederick, Maryland scene. Years ago when my brother was in a band, there were several places scattered around Frederick that would host heavy metal bands. These days, the Braddock Inn seems to be the only place that has regularly hosted metal bands. They have a show just about every Friday, in fact. The inn or tavern appears to be little more than a large old house on the outside, but in the lower level, it has a bar, restaurant and pool area. The band's "stage" sits actually a little lower than the seating area and the open space directly in front of them, while the pool area is behind them and anouther couple of steps down. The place could probably hold a hundred people or so if they were packed in tight and in the pool area behind the band. View of the band from the bar is mostly obstructed by a large stone fireplace, which creates a cozy atmosphere toward the back of the large room. Overall, it's a nice place to hear new music and maybe sit down while doing it. It's not a great place to mosh though. More...
Children of Bodom headlined a show at the Croatian Cultural Centre in Vancouver, BC on November 22. I have been waiting for Children of Bodom to do a headlining tour here in North America for a long time now. I was excited for weeks after I found out they were finally headlining here. There was no way in hell I was going to miss this show, and neither were the several hundred people who packed into the oversold venue. More...
I arrived early to the Huntington Music Hall for the Clutch show. November 10th had been an unusually warm and sunny day; I figured seeing these guys play would just finish my evening off perfectly. I was also looking forward to interviewing the band before the show, which had been hastily arranged with the tour manager the same day. I’ve been listening to this band for a long time; I grew up in Maryland, not too far from where Clutch started out. I’ve always enjoyed their music and was ready to see them play live.
While standing in line at the door, waiting to get in the club just like everyone else, rumors were flying… the band was running late and may not make it to the show on time or at all. I didn’t see them canceling a show bill with two full sets so I just ignored the small up setters. When I finally got to the ticket booth and asked the desk guys where to find the band’s tour manager for my scheduled interview, he explained they were running late and had not yet arrived. He told me to hunt down the club manager to help get things moving when they did arrive. Disappointed with the prospect of not being able to complete my interview I entered the club and ordered a gin and tonic. More...
This year’s X-fest was held at Harris Riverfront Park on Sept 17th. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon on the banks of the Ohio River. As with the year before, there were two stages, one for the headlining acts and one for the “Loud and Local” acts. This year’s big pull and headliner was Seether.
I arrived at the show late by about an hour or so, missing some of the opening acts on both stages. As with last years show I was given the run around regarding my photo-pass which should have been waiting for me at the front gate. Though this year it didn’t take an hour to figure out I was on this list, which was miss placed at the will call window and I only back tracked once. More...
After parking at the pay lot across the street we approach the Big Sandy Super Arena located on 3rd avenue of Huntington, West Virginia. The venue is lovingly referred to as the “civic center” by the locals. On the bricked walk way in front of the doors is a van, not any van but a van fully painted in the cover art of the new Bobaflex album, Apologize for Nothing. Impressive, flashy and showboating, but impressive none the less. This is home state for the band, so why not show off a little. We snap a couple of pictures of the van and we’re off to the window to grab our tickets. I give the lady my name and who I’m on the list for, Bobaflex. She finds the envelope; she slides the package through the slot in the glass. I open the package, as promised my photo pass. Off to a good start to a good night. More...