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Archive: Reports

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Project Steiger Slays Hollywood's Dragonfly Feb 28

This was definitely a night of explosive surprises that I didn't see walking into a barely filled, dankly lit lower-end club on my coveted Hollywood metal scene that I have been infamously covering now for the better part of three years. The opener was JOY BASU, the self-proclaimed man behind the "Mashups, Remixes and Originals with Live Guitars". He is extrememly well known around the globe already for the very fact that he is many top pop acts sit-in guitar player when they perform on TV and the such, household names like Jessica Simpson. He has performed on many well known national TV shows like The Late Show and so many countless others. He has a new album out called SinErgy which is essentially trance, house, techno, breakbeats, and a touch of industrial edge with good ole fashioned metal licks. He did not have a backup band on the stage with him this night, deciding to simply play his guitar over the top of a slew of well known radio hits pumped out the club's loudspeakers, with three hot as all hell chicks dancing nearby him that gyrated and thrusted their hips until my eyeballs literally popped out their own damn sockets. Two things right off the bat that I noticed about this kid: one, he can play the electric guitar extremely well. There were flashes of brilliance from him that had to be seen to be believed. Two, you just couldn't hear most of it with all the layers upon layers of effects he was using on top of the piped in drum and backing techno music tracks. I think he definitely needs to get serious about using a real live rock n roll band behind him and focus less on the techno and more on the metal. Period. Let me conclude that he's got enough stage presence for ten Hollywood axe strutters. And that says a lot cause most these types look like sexy women in makeup to begin with.

Next up was a performance by a man that really should need no introduction. But he does, because he's still pretty much making his way through the red tape of the business on the way to being crowned one of rock's brightest living guitar talents. The man is Ken Steiger. The band is PROJECT STEIGER. They flatout ripped everyone sitting in the audience a new asshole. I wish I could come up with a more delicate way to put things, I just can't. It literally took me two songs after the opening song 'KT Boundary Event' from his latest instrumental full-length album: Defiance, to realize that I was still on planet earth. His soaring and electrifying crush of one fist-pumping shred-off after the next, became almost too much to handle at one point for me. And the set actually started off with a sinister-like impromptu jam between Steiger and his band, spearheaded by the monster drumming assault of Duayne Howard. I knew as soon as Ken Steiger took the stage that something special was about to happen,the literal aura about him, and I thank the metal Gods for not letting me down. I can't even begin to put into words what was unleashed upon all of us in the crowd, for I'm still seriously trying to figure it out. I have seen the greats like SRV, Page, Wylde.. and so many more in live situations. And though it's been at the latter stages of all their careers, none of these guys struck the kind of lasting impression with me. It was almost like Ken Steiger stepped up last night into his own destiny finally. A destiny as a guitar great that he's been chasing like so many countless others, yet is hardly ever reached, since he first strapped on a guitar as a child. The man has literally taught guitar techniques and mentored dozens upon dozens of recognizable music industry names during his current ten year tenure at the prestigious Musicians (G.I.T.) Institute in Hollywood. Even Zakk Wylde himself knows the damage this man can bring to the six strings, a respect for another guitar virtuoso that cannot be denied. Credit needs to be given as well to Project Steiger as a unit on this night... for they truly came together and were one, something that doesn't happen even with the top name rock acts in the biz. I can't tell you how many times I've gone and paid for a show in the past where the drummer or bass player took a vacation on the stage. Steiger launched into 'Rockit' mid-way into the set and obviously it touched me in a profound manner, cause here I'm trying to pick my jaw up off the floor and I hear this guitar great say my nickname from the stage. That song shook me all night long.. and it still is. In closing on all of this, the band peformed some new tracks that even sound heavier than anything they've done before, so I cannot wait to hear what's to come from his next full-length offering that is expected to have several top name talents attached as guest performers. The fact remains that Eddie Van Halen doesn't want to go out and play right now for his fans at this point, a very sore spot being left of course with the very inhabitants of L.A.'s rock scene that put him and his soon to be inducted to the rock hall band at the top of the heap some nearly thirty years ago. Well, here's your answer right here. Get out and see Project Steiger. It will electrify you like no other rock performance going today.

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Slayer and Unearth Devastate Washington, DC

On Tuesday, February 20, I had the chance to attend the second of two sold-out shows by Slayer and Unearth at Washington, DC's 9:30 club. The 9:30 club is one of the best in the area, attracting the best bands and touring packages short of ones that fill sports arenas. Holding over 1300 people, this club is jam-packed for sold out shows, and Slayer always seems to fill it up, if not sell it out completely. I went into the show excited to see both bands, as I enjoy them both immensely. Yet, I was at the same time a little skeptical - first of the pairing: Unearth's melodic metalcore with Slayer. Slayer's fans are notoriously brutal on openers, so would Unearth hold up under that sort of pressure? Second, I was worried that Slayer might not live up to their God Hates Us All tour, which was penomenal, especially after seeing how rough they were live on Jimmy Kimmel recently. By the end of the night, all of my doubts would be laid to rest, however. More...

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Children Of Bodom, Amon Amarth Live Report

Nights like this one only confirm that Euro-metal is steadily on the rise in New England. Judging by the number of excited fans attending the Palladium on Dec 16th, you would think that we were graced with not one but two headliners. It was a year ago, almost to the day that the two cohorts of Scandinavian merry men strolled through town and now they brought along France's beloved Gojira. Keeping chronological order, Sanctity took the stage first. They were greeted surprisingly well for an opening act. I haven't seen these guys before but kudos for their fervor on stage. Some of the fans were familiar with their stuff and even managed to form the beginnings of a mosh pit.

Highly acclaimed but alas, largely unknown in US, Gojira were up next. The quality of their music and the level of passion they played with were enchanting. This is a band that effortlessly fuses serene imagery with formidable riffs in an exceedingly refined manner. Grimacing vocalist Joe Deplaned was remarkably dynamic in his performance, interacting on stage and proving that Death metal bands can actually be eye-pleasing to watch. Mario's drum solo was an unexpected but gratifying treat. The set list revolved around their latest album: Ocean Planet, Heaviest Matter, Flying Whales and Backbone. The crowd looked a bit perplexed but displayed support with spontaneous cheers. More...

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Leaves' Eyes, Blind Guardian Live Report & Photos

It was a surprisingly warm but torrential first December day. This evening I made an extra effort to get to Worcester on time because Leaves' Eyes were opening. I've been an ardent admirer of Liv Kristine since, naturally, her Theatre Of Tragedy days and I'll always regret not seeing her with them. Several years ago, she and her former mates were accumulating hordes of devoted fans around Europe, but after Liv was gone the fairytale came to an abrupt stop and the band pretty much fell into oblivion. Luckily, Liv didn't let her talent go unused and formed a new band with all of Atrocity's members.

The show started at 9 as there were only two bands tonight. By that time the Palladium was full of beaming and mostly teenage fans. As usual, I was sceptical about the local reception, dreading Leaves' Eyes wouldn't get half of the recognition they deserve as they are not necessarily well known around here, at least for now. I'm glad to report that my fears were banished as the audience quickly warmed up to their sound and even though there were no sing-alongs, the front rows really got into it. But then again, who can resist the utterly charming Liv Kristine? Clad in a fetching red dress topped with a corset (think album cover attire), her serene and mesmerizing voice paired with Atrocity's heavy guitars brought about an emotional, almost intimate atmosphere. You could see she was sincerely into the lyrics, trying to convey the feeling through her theatrically expressive face and gestures. More...

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Blind Guardian Captures New York

On Thursday November 30th I went to see Blind Guardian at B.B.Kings in New York City, NY. Four years ago, I had seen Blind Guardian at the Birch Hill, a venue that used to be in Old Bridge, NJ. I expected to be further amazed by them this time, especially with the quality sound set up B.B.Kings has to offer. By the time I arrived, I saw a line of metal heads across the block anxiously waiting to get in. This is something I don’t see too often at B.B.Kings for a metal show. The show had obviously sold out the 1000+ capacity venue, yet I saw people hoping to still get tickets. One person drove from Buffalo, NY to see them and he didn’t even have a ticket. More...

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Keep of Kalessin: Entering the Throne

It was a matter of time before new kings would enter the throne of Black Metal in Norway. No one really knows who the recent kings were either, so I think the scene needed some new troops to develop Black Metal in the right direction.

I was really excited about this gig with one of my favorite bands on the metal scene these days, Keep of Kalessin. I have seen them live a few times before, but then at bigger venues than this one. With their latest release "Armada" still playing in the back of my head, I was excited to see them in this small and intimate stage in the central park in Bergen, Norway. The venue is called Hulen and it is a cave combined with tunnels under the park, complete with traces from the Germans and the second world war. The place has been used as bomb shelter as well as a command center. More...

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Cannibal Corpse Kill the Stone Pony in Asbury Park

Cannibal Corpse filled the Stone Pony of Asbury Park, NJ full of death metal destruction on Monday, November 13, 2006. Opening for the legendary Cannibal Corpse were Unmerciful, Necrophagist, and Dying Fetus. The Stone Pony is a fairly small venue and when the show started it wasn't very full, but as the night went on it filled to a decent size, but thankfully not to the point of suffocation. More...

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Ascension, Damcyan & Orcus At The Key Club 11/24

I was getting hammered in the infamous Green Room backstage when Hollywood's black metal outfit ASCENSION took the stage but I did make it out to catch the majority of their set. I have no clue what the hell the names are of any of their band members and they are 'green' enough still in the business apparently to not have any of that info available on their MySpace site. I will say that the lead vocalist/lead guitarist is probably one of the strongest talents of his kind, the likes of which hasn't been seen since James Hetfield and Dave Mustaine began terrorizing the metal world in separate bands near the end of the 80's. He's a tall kid. Maybe twenty. Long blonde hair down to his ass... and oh yeah, he was built like a twig wearing a bullet belt. All this said, the band obviously has a bit of a reputation built up for itself and the kid can play his electrc guitar about as good as any young virtuouso on the planet. Citing Carcass, The Haunted, Slayer and In Flames as their main influences, I could totally see this band going somewhere mainly built upon the kid's simply mutant-like ferocious riff domination and lead soloing. I also have no idea what their song titles were except for one 'The Left Hand Path' and let me say that this is a brutal and all out grooving mosher for certain. The kid rates a five out of a possible ten on singing skills but that's okay because he makes up for it in uncanny stage presence and that's just a flatout gift. His backup band of serious skill itself made the whole experience with him doing his awesome and in full command prancing around the stage that much richer. This is a great young metal band in our midst. More...

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Machines At War Tour Report

The show for Friday, Nov 17th, was slated for 8 pm and based on previous experience at the Palladium in Worcester, MA I figured I'd show up around 8.30. Alas, when I got in Hypocrisy were just starting their set, which meant I had missed Decapitated. The place was already quite full and the floor was almost jam- packed. When I first heard of this tour's lineup, I wasn't sure about the crossing point between the fans and how well they'd mix together but luckily the bands had a good number of devoted fans and one could easily mistake who the headliner is based on the crowd's cheering. More...

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I.R.A.T.E. And Project Steiger At The Whisky 11/12

A modern day guitar hero stepped through the legendary doors of The Whisky A Go Go on Hollywood's Sunset Strip on this night and sent a message to everyone in the metal world that he and his band aren't going to put up any longer with the watered down and gimmicky pop rock nonesense that's being marketed to the masses as metal music. The man's name is Ken Steiger, renowned guitar instructor at The Musicians Institute for the past ten years. His band is called PROJECT STEIGER, and they certainly delivered that message loud and clear with one of the most dynamic performances I have seen this year. Consisting of Davd Angel on bass guitar, Todd Graveman on rhythm/lead guitar and Duayne Howard on drums, this progressive metal band started their set off in an absolutely ripping manner with the clearcut rockers "Prince Of Souls", KT Boundary Event" and "Cerebral Vision". Steiger had complete command of the crowd from the moment he took the stage and the fact that this band has no lead singer made it even more impressive that he was able to hold down center court all by himself, much like Stevie Ray Vaughan did back in his days. And yes, unlike most of you, I was fortunate in my life to actually see SRV perform live here in Los Angeles two months before his tragic death in 1990. Steiger invokes that blazing abandon on his fretboard that so many guitar greats like Vai and Satriani have shown , displaying a near effortless approach to his guitar wizardry of one face melting arpeggio run after the next. He even at one point came off the stage and walked among the cheering, beer-pounding crowd in mid-solo as if he was expecting someone to pour a drink into his mouth. The band behind him was in perfect timing with him. I did not hear one bad note or missed beat. They next cranked it up louder with the high speed, ultra-shreddings of "Mega-Jam", "Run 4 Cover" and "Lethal Madness". Duayne Howard next stepped up for his drum solo and let everyone know he's got some talent to spare as well, flashing his sticks in near light speed across the toms toms of his kit and crashing his cymbals and splash very impressively. The crowd was going crazy for this band, roaring in approval and saluting their drinks. There were even chants of "Steiger, Steiger, Steiger" from other impressed onlookers. They ended it with their most explosive songs "Rock-It" and "Child Of The Storm", all along with Steiger delivering more harmonic brilliance and mind-shattering licks than any metaler should be able to handle. These guys are a must see to believe. Just make sure to bring an extra jaw with you, cause yours is going to hit the floor when you do get to see Project Steiger's all-out musical assault of the senses.

Next I.R.A.T.E. came out full force as the headliner. Fronted by the very energetic Erik Ulrich, the band kicked it all off with their own high-charged cover of Oingo Boingo's "DeadMan's Party", followed by "American Pitbulls", which is a really cool track from their next album. The crowd began moshing throughout center floor as I.R.A.T.E. picked up their sonic momentum with "Choices", "Pride" and "Kill Da Bunny". It was a night for underground metal music that had to be witnessed to fully understand the utter beauty of it all. Next up, Ulrich's bandmates Rudy Hewlett on guitar, Eric Buell on bass and Jason Berglund on drums stormed thru the next songs "Traitors", "Socialite", "Suck it up","Cleansing" and "Ganja" with total gusto. I.R.A.T.E really seems to have benefitted from all the touring they have done this year, because they only seem to get stronger with their intensity each time I see them and that suited everyone in attendance just fine. Ulrich literally owned the stage with every spit he took from behind the mic and the crowd was more than eating up his bravado at every turn. They may not be an extreme metal band but I have to be honest in what I saw and that was an extreme reaction from the audience to the likes of which I haven't seen for a very long time. The band is part of Project Independent's new upcoming underground metal compilation CD distributed through Century Media Records and seem positioned right now as the king's of hardcore metal on the west coast. The one thing this critic takes away from all of my observed I.R.A.T.E. performances this year is that they have been simply unrelenting in doing what they orginally set out to do as a metal act and that is to be controversial, more than opinionated and ready to take on anyone who gets in their path to heavy music greatness.

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Blood Star Halo & Heavenly Trip To Hell At Whisky

I was lucky enough to catch the opening band for this bill at The Whisky A Go Go Nov 3rd, 2006. The act is called BLOOD STAR HALO, and I think this group of perfectly sinister-looking metalers are going to make a very big name for themselves if they can just continue to push forward in the murky and cutthroat sea of the music business. With one of the more intriguing lead vocalists I've seen in a long time here in Los Angeles in Dust Devil, Nine Bones on bass guitar, Thorne on lead guitar and Diesel on drums, I think these guys are easily ready for the fight. Working through some bare bones evil-sounding cuts like 'My Disorder', 'Chosen' and 'Get Out' from their 2005 EP 'Disorder' and 2004's 'Incendium Infernum' album, this was a band I found to be locked into a perfect rhythm as a musical unit, making no mistakes with their playing and from the gothic/industrial vibe minus the keyboards, it was clear to see that these guys are all about getting the 'evil' in their music just right. Most bands that I see trying to act Satanic, would get jumped outside the club and be perfect prey for punishment. Dust Devil, short but solidly built, tatt'd down and body cloaked in reddish war paint, is the perfect cross between Danzig and Satan behind the microphone himself. The band was even joined by a dancing woman who had seductive moves for each pounding note delivered by the drums. They are one of those acts you see where you know from the level of craftsmanship that they are delivering on the stage, they will be a band to be reckoned with no matter who gets in their way. Because in this industry the corporate suits and scam artists will never be able to stop the power and poignancy behind a well performing rock band. And Blood Star Halo is the real deal.

Next up was HEAVENLY TRIP TO HELL and as fun and entertaining as this industrial metal band was this evening, delivering a top notch performance all around of mostly tracks from their debut full length effort, "Who Is The Enemy", it was their drummer, JD Flores, the often last one mentioned in a show review, that straight up owned the stage this night. With Gerardo Christ on lead vocals, Scott C. on lead guitar, Sergio Natas on bass/backing vocals, Vicky Vicious on keyboards, Heavenly Trip To Hell rampaged through politically-charged rockers such as 'Designated Enemy', 'New World, 'Lies' and 'Welcome To The Fire' with absolute gusto and near flawless execution. What I found most interesting about this band, beyond the fact that the atmosphere around the energy they give off from the stage is purely one of literal electric shock currents, they employ the usage of a stage performer named Juan F.L., who has the sole task of throwing out glowsticks and glow-frisbees to the crowd as the band plays. The crowd was obviously made up of diehard HTTH fans who follow them wherever they stray from their Long Beach home, pumping devil horns proudly into the air and mosh dancing in celebration. And as gripping as this band certainly is as a whole, I return to my initial remark about the drummer for this band. I have seen many of the great rock percussionists of my time, including Tommy Lee and Nicko Mcbrain. And this JD Flores is easily one of the best I've ever witnessed. He's a little guy too, which is what throws you off so much when you hear the sonic boom that goes off with the first slam down onto his snare drum. I knew right away I was in for the treat of my life. The band played for about an hour and this dude never once let up in his dizzying and perfectly metered assault. This is a drummer who knows how to do a whole lot with a whole little. There couldn't have been more than twelve pieces to his entire setup, compared to these monster kits that the top in his field get to use. I'm telling you that I don't know if this was just one of those nights where a performer rises to another level all of the sudden, but I kept scratching my head throughout the performance, saying to myself: "This dude is one of the baddest drummers around, why doesn't anyone else know this?" Perhaps, that answer has been met head on with the writing of this review for all the many thousand upon thousands of worldwide readers to be educated on. The last two songs from this high-charged fury machine were 'Assassination Number One' and '69', and turned up the anti-White House stance by ten notches, making one feel that as big of a 'Davey and Goliath' situation it is for everyday Americans to dare and speakout versus it own government on a major subject like 'a war started over a lie', the environment this night at The Whisky quickly affirmed my belief that little Davey is not going to be taking any shit! The band was joined on the stage by at least thirty women for the closer '69' and it looked like New Years Eve gone wrong in the joint at this point. It doesn't get any more metal than this. And when I met up with HTTH drummer, JD Flores, after the show to hang and chat, I literally felt as if I were in the presence of Bonzo himself. So I suggest that the very first time you get a chance to checkout Heavenly Trip To Hell, bring a bunch of friends, get ready to drink and be silly and free -- these rockers are causing more noise for their heavy music scene than one hundred bands around them.

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Orcus Defiles The Whisky A Go Go Oct 28th

The opener was Hollywood's HEXEN and they erupted with an old school thrash metal intensity that the Los Angeles scene has been lacking amid all the other glam revival acts that are crowding The Sunset Strip again with their shitty music. The band consists of Andre Hartoonian on bass/vocals, Vahe Yaymayan on lead/rhythm guitars, Ronny Dorian on lead/rhythm guitars and Greg Maksudyan working over the drums with a monsterous double bass drum attack. The band simply rampaged through their offerings such as 'The Serpent' and 'Bedlam Walls' with a literal Megadeth workman-like speed. They had the pits absolutely going off larger than I've seen any band be able to do at this venue this year. It was a very cool sight to see and they are definitely a must see for any fan of this sub-genre and I'm real excited to see what's to come from them.

The moment came for Glendale's mighty ORCUS to take the stage for this Halloween Holocaust. It was roughly 9:35PM when they did make their appearance dressed in dark clothing and wearing black and white Kabuki makeup that was designed as an homage to the black metal legend's IMMORTAL and DIMMU BORGIR. And with the opening strains from keyboardist, Andrew De Lange, they began their set with the cut 'Embers Of Their Lost Domain' from their debut EP 'Birth' and it was a perfect choice. The crowd around me seemed to come to life as if a new black metal God stood before them in lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist John Paul Fernandes, who looked to be more in his element than I've seen him before as the pit in front of him at center stage started to swirl with an immediate raging fervor. The drumming from Chris Moore was absolutely on mark and crushing as always but seemed to have an extra charge of energy behind each smashing kill-stroke to his drumkit. The band next dropped a big surprise on all with two new killer tracks that will be on their next album. They were 'Deus est Mortus' and 'The Immolation' and let me just say that the crowd seemed to really enjoy all of the fresh dynamics to be heard in both along with the purely ominous-sounding lead guitar and bass work from Hayg Terzian and Karo Torosyan. The pits seemed to be as strong here and the vibe the band was giving off with its unbridled energy really seemed to be what kept everyone so involved. The band closed their set with 'Sorgens Kammer II', which is a cover from Dimmu Borgir's new album, the remake of Stormblast. And what a song to bring it all to a close. I couldn't help but notice that the young metalers standing around me were checking to see if their faces had actually been ripped off. I even heard one of the survivors of this wicked progressive black metal onslaught they'd just witnessed say, "Man, these dudes are ready to play Ozzfest!"

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Arch Enemy Venture Out To Perth, Australia

The Perth venue Club Capitol is strangely disturbing. Red velvet curtains, disco balls and red lighting combine to evoke a twilight zone somewhere between sleazy cabaret and low-budget submarine flick. However, there are not many suitable venues in this city for a band like Arch Enemy, so Tuesday night saw the club filled to overflowing with metal fans eager to experience the melodic metal legends. More...

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Scumdogs of the Universe, Gwar, Invade NJ

The mighty Scumdogs of the Universe, otherwise known as Gwar, invaded the Starland Ballroom of Sayreville, NJ this past Sunday, October the 15th. This Gwar conquest was the first of Gwar's that my friend and I had witnessed. Before Gwar began their set though, The Red Chord and Municipal Waste had the honors of the opening ceremony.

Municipal Waste started off. I had heard of them through a friend that directed me to their myspace page. From that, I knew that Municipal Waste was a decent band, but after watching them spread their toxic thrash, I must say that I was thoroughly impressed. Municipal Waste’s first two songs were only ok, but after that their intense energy and quality music got me into them. Municipal Waste impressed me at the end of their set by taking out a boogie board and the singer climbed on top of it as the crowd kept it up and he stood up on it and finished out the set on the boogie board, literally crowd surfing. I thought that would be a hard act to follow, but I knew Gwar was going to be able to; they’re intergalactic warriors after all. But before that, The Red Chord came on. More...

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All That Remains Play Oklahoma City

I got set to interview All That Remains at around 6:30 (video and transcript comming soon). Phil wasnt feeling well so I interviewed Oli. He was awesome and gave a good 10-minute interview.

I got on the front row literally 4-5 feet from the band and stage, which is an awesome way to see a concert. Horse the Band came on-stage first. They are a 5 piece (keyboardist being the odd part) and were all fairly young guys. I've heard of Horse before but had never found the time to listen to them. Unfortunatly they had mic problems and you could barely hear the singer, even with how close I was to the band. The music was good, but the keyboards were mediocre and made you wish they would just play music. In many songs they left space for a keyboard-solo, which was kind of boring. The crowd was pretty into them, especially during "Anti-pizza." They played a 6 song set, but during their last 2 songs the bass player's equipment broke, and caused a lot more problems. I felt bad for them, as they were quite decent despite the problems and keyboardist.

After a long pause to fix equipment and finally All That Remains got on stage. The crowd was totally into them, and it seemed like they should have been the headliners. They started off with "For Salvation" and Phil was really on fire. He was flying around the stage and playing to the crowd really well. He displayed a lot of charisma, which ignited the crowd. They promised a half-and-half 8 song set and really delivered. They played Death In My Arms, Air That I Breathe, It Dwells In Me, Weak Willed, Tattered on My Sleeve, This Darkened Heart and This Calling. The set was amazing and they left a 5 minute slot for Oli to show off his guitar prowess.

Unfortunatly I had work the next day and had to leave before Dragonforce got to play any songs. Thankfully I went for All That Remains and was not disapointed.

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Bullet For My Valentine and DropDead Gorgeous

I happened to be lucky, or unlucky enough considering the quality of the bands to win some free tickets via my local radio station to this show, and since it has been over a year since I've been to a concert I decided to go.

I can honestly say before the show despite being from Oklahoma City I had never heard of Rikits and there was actually another band on the bill that they had replaced, but they, in fact, were the ones who made the night worth it. They are a great 5 piece act, with a very heavy sound throughout all of their songs. The singing leaves alot to be desired but the band played a solid 5 song set. They sound a lot like Dry Kill Logic, so if you are into those types of bands I would highly recommend checking them out, as they are creating quite a buzz in the area, and have a very well put together guitar/bass trio.

The second band, Drop Dead Gorgeous, was screamo-core Underoath type and I am totally biased to hating this type of music, so I will just say they played a 6 song set, and the crowd was semi-into them considering the headliner I suppose this band was a good fit. They were from Denver, Colorado and apparently doing fairly well in the business, but I just could not get into them.

Lastly Bullet for My Valentine came on stage. I've never been a fan of the music I've heard by them, but I honestly haven't heard much. I heard that damn "4 Words To Choke Upon" all the time on Madden, so I was halfway looking forward to how they played it live. When they took stage the electricity in the small venue jumped. It was a max 1,000 crowd but honestly those types of shows are the most initimate and in my opinoin the best. Bullet For My Valentine came out strong with "4 Words" and to my surprise they were alot harder live then I could have anticipated. I was really pleased with the sound, and so was the crowd. There was a lot of crowd surfing, but unfortunately no moshing, which at 7 beers I was extremely hoping for. They played all of their singles, most of which have names I cant remember, but they did play "Tears Dont Fall" and their most recent single of which also cannot remember. I took my brother who is really into this band and he said they played really well compared to the album and did, in fact, play all of their singles as well as a few more popular songs from their discography. It was a decent show, and had I known about it, I would have been willing to pay the $10 just to see Rikits. All in all it was a great show.

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Downspell At San Diego's Soma On September 15th

San Diego, California's BROKEN FOUNDATION was the first act I caught upon my arrival. A clearcut hardcore metal band with some death metal element . The crowd immediately went ballistic for these guys and to be perfectly honest, I didn't see it. Not that they weren't full of energy, engaging the crowd and pretty much doing their thing well. It's just that they sounded like everyone else in this genre. Nothing new, nothing gained here. And to be perfectly honest with you all, I'm tired of it.

Next up was the very reason I made the trek from Los Angeles to San Diego in the first place. I have heard and seen pretty much all the hot underground metal acts this year and clearly there is a legend in our midst with hometown giants, DOWNSPELL. The vibe around these guys was like you were about to witness 'Fight Club' on stage. Tons of goatee and tattooed down locals were wearing the band's T-shirt and looking like they wanted to start a ten minute brawl. It only added to the great anticipation building in my stomach for when the mighty Downspell took the stage. And once they did appear with their instruments, like a crack rock explodes to flame, Downspell wasted no time triggering as a lynch to the neck into an absolutely 'let it fly and who cares who gets hurt' brutal death/thrash breakdown called 'Regurgitate'. I have seen the meanest and fiercest acts over the years, and when you get that rare opportunity to see something this pure going off in front of you, I'll be totally candid, you pinch yourself to make sure that you're really there. The crowd literally went insane with applause after the opener and the band wasted no time digging into the 'hate chest' even deeper for the next cut 'Pogrom' off their new self-released LP "Afterbirth". The band interestingly enough is made up of two main vocalists, Wayne Price and Tyson Montrucchio. Price more than effectively holds down the deep, bass-like roaring, while Montrucchio's intermittant high-pitched yells easily brought to mind a man locked in an insane asylum, screaming for someone to come put a bullet through his head. It is readily apparent that he is the star of the band. And I do not take away one thing from the others, Mike Mosier and Jake Phillips on guitar, Eric Raiche on drums and Kenny Moshier on bass. It's just that Montrucchio himself seems to actually be the one dude in the band who is actually living the crazy way of life he sings about. Himself tatt'd down on both arms and even sporting a jailhouse looking 'Downspell' tattoo across his neck! His performance on stage was so hardcore and pissed off that it almost lulls you into a chaotic-like trance where you can't take your eyes off him. The band next steam rolled through other life horrified songs like 'Insulin', 'Malevolence', '50 Calibar Facelift', 'Submission' and closed it out with the 'wreck yer gut' wrencher to end them all, 'Solidify'. This is a band that runs the gamut in the different metal genres it draws its influence from. They sound death at times, yet totally thrashy, with elements of sludge and grind. At the end of it all, I was more than pleased to finally have taken in a show from real metal soldiers charging their way out of the underground heavy music scene to what will hopefully soon lead them all to absolute glory in the music business.

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Fear Factory and DevilDriver Play Australia

Fear Factory are a favorite for many Perth metalheads, not only because they are a great live band but also because they always make the trip out to the far reaches of Western Australia, something that a lot of other international bands don't bother to do. After the release of the Archetype album they recorded the video for Cyberwaste in a disused power station near Fremantle, sneaking a bunch of locals in through a hole in the facility's fence to participate. So this was a show by a band that the audience consider their own. More...

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I.R.A.T.E. At The Whisky A Go Go September 14th

Opener PANDEMIC is a Northern California based progessive thrash metal act that combines elements of traditional 80's Maiden'ish type metal, thrash, and progressive metal. The band is made up of Andy Giardina on lead vocals, Julian Kidd on rhythm & lead guitar, Patrick Daly, rhythm & Lead Guitar, Adam Herman on bass and Eric Ford behind the drum kit. I would say one of the first things I heard in their wicked sound was Strapping Young Lad, due to the super heavy twin-guitar attack and the quirky, totally theatrical stage performance from Giardina. Slamming through crushers like 'Still Part Human', 'Left For Dead' and 'Viral Visceration', this is a band that is not trying to be like every other metal act that puts on the makeup and garter belt to get your attention.

Pandemic is just a buncha guys that, to me, represent all that is the very essence of heavy metal music: spirit and fight! They seemed to have the early crowd on the toes of their feet with a seemingly non-stop double-bass drumming assault and soloing guitars that at points sounded as deafening as an air raid. They were thick with killer changes and interesting choruses, seemingly rough around the edges at points like any young band, but with a driving intensity throughout the entire set that made you have to applaud. It even made the night that much more metal when the band closed their set with the song 'Ode To Odin'. I must admit that I laughed inside when I heard the name, figuring, "Here comes Spinal Tap!". But I was even more impressed with this tune over all the others because of the gritty lyrical content and deathly-haunted chorus, grinder fed by the heavy, face pounding guitar riff.

Next up was quite essentially one of my biggest discoveries out of heavy metal's underground scene for 2006. The band's name is HOSTILITY and trust me, this is not the last time you will hear about these guys. I cannot go into absolute detail about what it is like when you see the future of heavy metal right before your eyes and then get to hang out and drink some of the Crown with the band afterwards. When you're as diehard and devoted to metal music as I have been for over twenty-five years, the best word to attach to what I felt is: MAGIC.

Hostility's sound simply blows away literally any other metal act I have seen live in the past years, even at times roaming in 'God-like' territory of Super Joint Ritual, who unlike most, I saw three times live here in Los Angeles back before Dime got stolen from us all. WIth a blood curdling, screaming precision and almost mechanized body movement, Greg Haran on lead vocals was certainly evenly matched laid up against the all-out 'goddamn electric' performance from Tony Vorrises on lead guitar. I swear at moments I thought this dude was channeling our old friend Darrell. Bringing down a tremendous rhythm section to back it all up was Brandon Sigmund on bass and Andrew Holzbaur on drums. Taking us from one taste of their brutality to the next with songs such as 'None For All' and 'Death As Leverage', their near forty minute set seemed to come and go as quick as death itself walks into the room and takes the life of another loved one. These guys are so good that honestly, I don't know what more to say about them but that I cannot wait for their label to send me their newly released album 'Uncompromised' on indie label The Pen.

I.R.A.T.E. took complete ownership of the stage once it was their turn, however. I tell you that it literally seemed as if these guys encouraged the 'tough act to follow' scenario, because they were easily three times as solid and intense than the last time I saw them earlier this year as headliner for the first Project Independent Tour. The boldest choice of all was that they opened the set with a cover of Oingo Boingo's 'Dead Man's Party'. It seemed readily apparent to my trained ear that all its members have not only gotten tighter as a musical unit since doing all the endless touring this year but they are not letting up in the sheer bravado and swagger that they always infuse with their steady onslaught of hardcore metal done well. The guilty culprits: lead singer, Erik Ulrich, Rudy Hewlett on guitars, Eric Buell on bass and drummer, Jason Berglund, seemed to take complete glee in the fact that the audience literally became mesmerized by them from start to finish. Tearing like a Texas Twister through much of their latest album 'Brothers Of The Same Struggle' with a workman-like ethic, I.R.A.T.E. clearly has stepped up their game a major notch in my mind. The crowd was literally at their mercy by the time the last note rung out. I was honored to be able to chat with Erik before the show and I must admit that despite all his street-tough posturing and in-your-face rants as a performer, he is one of the most humble and down to earth rockers I've ever met in my life. The big thing out all of the great metal music I heard this night was walking away knowing that The Project Independent Tour is simply killing it on all levels, putting it mountains above the rest in its literal uncanny ability to showcase 'best of the best' metal acts out of America's immensely competitive underground scene.

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Danzig at the Big Top, Luna Park, Sydney Australia

Let me tell you a story. I have a friend - let's call him "Ben" - who had the opportunity to see Danzig live in Hamburg back in '92 or so. Due to an unfortunate fabric rip, Ben was witness to a view throughout the show of the contents of the great man's leather trousers. As an impressionable 16 year old, the damage to poor Ben's psyche was deep: to this day, he cannot listen to, read about or discuss the legendary Glenn Danzig without that particular image surfacing, unbidden, in his mind. He's a little bitter about it.

I am pleased to report to both readers of this site and to Ben that no wardrobe malfunctions tarnished Danzig's Sunday night performance at the Big Top in Luna Park, Sydney, although there were a couple of technical glitches with the microphones and other sound equipment. The three date tour was the legendary singer's first Australian shows in 13 years, and will probably be the last - it has been widely reported that Danzig does not intend to keep a regular touring schedule in the future, choosing instead to focus on his film and comic book projects. More...

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