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Archive: Reports

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Old Bridge Metal Militia Benefit Show Report

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

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

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East Of The Wall Stops in Huntington, WV

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

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

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

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Steel Panther's Dirty One Night Stand In Nashville

The south is known for working hard, playing hard, and eating hearty. Steel Panther is known for getting hard, playing hard, and eating lots and lots of hot, wet, and readily available... food. (Yeah, let's say "food", because the south is real polite-like.) It was only natural that the band would make Tennessee a stop on a tour eventually -- this one was the band's first ever in Nashville. Vocalist Michael Starr commented mid-set that it was also their best show ever in Nashville.

Admitting in public that you take an interest in the music of Steel Panther is similar to announcing to everyone that you think about sex and guitar solos more than the average college freshman, which is usually a risky move. However, if you have protection (others who like Steel Panther with you) and you're not a sexual predator, you'll be fine. Nashville knew this and came out in droves to Marathon Music Works on the night of May 1st to celebrate the indulgent feelings that go along with raising the horns in the air for the band most synonymous with the word "sex" (so much so that porn production company Brazzers sponsored the band's 2012 Australian tour). More...

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Queensryche Levels The Unsuspecting Casino Crowd

A funny thing happened on the way to the Wolf Den…. Ever since the brief stint as Rising West and then the subsequent departure of Geoff Tate, I’ve taken back to Queensryche like white on rice. It was hearing “Rage For Order” in some of my earliest days as a metal fan and being blown away at the song writing and (at the time) daring approach of the band that lured me in. I was hooked. Going back to “The Warning” and the first EP made that even better. The anticipation of “Operation: Mindcrime” reached a fever pitch as I waited for the record store to open on the day of its release. “Empire” continued the greatness and it seemed as though nothing could stop them. “Promised Land” was solid, but then Chris DeGarmo departed after the lackluster “Hear In The Now Frontier” and from that point on it seemed to free fall all the way to the “thing” that was “Dedicated to Chaos.”

Sure, I can spout off for hours as to my personal opinions on Geoff Tate for the 15 years that came after DeGarmo left…all the way to his eventual ousting and “media firefight” that came over the last year. However, that would only give more publicity to his version of the band, which I glowingly call “FakeRyche.” The good news is that with the hiring of Todd La Torre (who I was following on Facebook with his string of covers of Queensryche and old Crimson Glory material) and release of the new song, aptly entitled “Redemption,” the band is back on track and I am proud to be “that fan” once again. More...

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Deftones And Periphery Make Total Destroy On Tour

For being as visible a band as Deftones have been since 1995, one would think that everybody has had a chance to see them live already. Well-respected and marketed, it's nearly impossible for the average American to be ignorant about the band. Oddly enough, later on in the show, vocalist Chino Moreno called out and asked the crowd "How many of you are at a Deftones show for your first time?" and was surprised by a fairly large show of hands. That being said, the show sold out Marathon Music Works in Nashville, TN on March 15th a couple of weeks early, so it was also a fairly large crowd.

It's my guess that more folks hadn't seen or heard of opening band Periphery at this show, although the band quickly made fans out of them. Assisting on the Koi No Yokan tour had to have been a great step up for Periphery, also bringing out their own fans, which were a welcome juxtaposition to the way-too-serious-about-how-much-they-love-the-Deftones fans. You know the ones -- squinty-eyed, half-baked, but ready to fight at a moment's notice if you're not cool with their how-the-Deftones-saved-my-life story.

Thankfully, all was cool at this show. More...

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Not Your Average Benefit Show In Country Town, USA

Nashville has a lot of homeless people. That’s an understatement. Nashville has a massive amount of homeless, displaced, and destitute folks living out in the streets. Regardless of what your particular beliefs are about these people, they are real, they are there, and they are hungry. In a solid underdog move in the cold of February, the heavy metal genre found a way to do something about feeding these fellow human beings by pairing up for a show to benefit an organization that does just that – The Bridge Bunch.

Part of Christian Pastor Bob Beeman’s “Sanctuary International – The Rock N’ Roll Refuge,” The Bridge Bunch claims to serve about 4,500 meals per month to these folks under the Jefferson Street Bridge in downtown Nashville, TN. On the night of February 15th, the titans of progressive power metal in Theocracy headlined a bill backed by Illinois-based Innersiege and Nashville’s own Oblivion Myth in support of The Bridge Bunch’s efforts. With the country-fied Kid Rock playing a show in town that night, as well as Lindsey Stirling, the dancing-violinist-turned-YouTube-sensation from America’s Got Talent, the heavy metal fundraiser served as a nice counterpoint.

It was to be a night to remember for those in attendance, as Theocracy had announced prior to the show that they were going to play their entire latest album, “As the World Bleeds,” in its entirety at this show, along with another to-be-experienced-live surprise. Along with Innersiege following suit in deciding to play their entire “Kingdom of Shadows” album, Theocracy held the final surprise ace – they would play the entire 24-minute “Mirror of Souls” song and “Absolution Day” as well. Moreover, it would be broadcast on a UStream feed for the rest of the online world. More...

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Sevendust, Lacuna Coil, and Avatar Melt Nashville

"So, I heard that Nashville is supposed to be some sort of country music capital of the world," says Avatar vocalist Johannes Eckerström in the middle of the band's set. Looking around the scene at Marathon Music Works on February 10th, you wouldn't have guessed it. The night before, Hatebreed brought Shadows Fall, Dying Fetus, and The Contortionist with them to play the same venue, but the metal mob was out again in full force to greet the Swedes for their first stop in town on their first tour of the US.

Although Marathon Music Works is not some gigantic stadium, it is anything but a small venue. Stretching about three blocks around the side of the building, waiting in the line of fans to get into the venue was no small test of endurance. Thankfully, two bars and a sound system that blares Megadeth, Van Halen, and Killswitch Engage await indoors to kickstart the weary. Nashville was about to get a multi-national blast of warm loudness to counter the falling temperature. More...

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Killswitch Engage: Trapped Between Two Eras?

In the wake of Killswitch Engage’s second self-titled album – fifth overall – in 2009, I heard the trajectory of the band’s career summed thusly:

“If Killswitch Engage were a transsexual, ‘The End Of Heartache’ [2004] would be the cross-dressing phase, ‘As Daylight Dies’ [2006] would be the transition phase, and ‘KsE II’ would be the full transformation into a woman.” More...

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High On Fire Lights Up New Orleans

All was quiet in the Quarter, save the sidewalk in front of the renowned One Eyed Jacks. The entire heavy scene of New Orleans is in attendance tonight; the beer flows like water as we all file into the main room where opening band Lo-Pan is about to take the stage.

Lo-Pan’s last NOLA performance at Siberia in 2011 garnered a small crowd, playing with local doom groove outfit Endall and Ryan McKern,tThe band now has a packed house to play its unique post-rock hybrid sound. The opening notes are low and dominating, somewhere between Clutch and older Corrosion of Conformity. Jeff Martin’s vocals kick in and it immediately shifts to a softer Soundgarden vibe. The band is passionate about the music, and this is evident in the live show: well-rehearsed structures and tight playing abilities win over the crowd. More...

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Tomahawk at Voodoo Fest

Since their debut album in 2001, Tomahawk has been a champion in the underground with their twangy riffs, bone crushing drum hits, eerie synth sounds, and the ever impressive crooning styles of Mike Patton. This indeed is a supergroup: John Stanier from Helmet on drums, Duane Denison of Jesus Lizard and USSA on guitar, Mike Patton from Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, Peeping Tom, etc. not just singing, but using all kinds of distortions and keyboards. More...

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Fun Fun Fun Fest 2012 Day 3

Pallbearer may have started around 1 pm, but kept its audience in mourning. The group moved with the deliberation and anguish of its namesake. Guitarists Brett Campbell and Devin Holt dropped emotional bombs with weight comparable to receiving bereaving news. Campbell used an effect to make his voice appear distant like a ghost whispering in the ear of its lost lover. This was the third time in the last year I caught these Arkansas melancholic musicians, which is special since they only have one album of material to display: Profound Lore released their debut full-length recording, “Sorrow and Extinction,” in February.
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Fun Fun Fun Fest 2012 Day Two

Red Fang drew my attention first during day two. Contrary to their name, Red Fang’s bite energized rather than paralyzed the crowd. Although they came from the land of fog and towering trees of Oregon, their riffs were the size of Texas and filled with a gritty quality not unlike the festival’s dusty, trodden paths. Their catchy rhythms, guitar solos and drum fills grabbed the modestly sized audience and injected groove into their stoned bones. With prior SXSW appearances, Red Fang has become a well-recognized force in Austin’s festival circuit. Make sure to check these guys out on their touring supporting the “Murder the Mountains” album.

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Fun Fun Fun Fest 2012 Day One

Even though Fun Fun Fun Fest 2012 happened just a couple of miles from my apartment, it felt like an epic, festival journey. It was akin to driving from Texas to Maryland for the Maryland Death Fest. The road trip I took to a festival was in 2001 to the defunct Milwaukee Metal Fest. That trip was a mere 7-8 hours in the car from Michigan. Making it to Fun Fun Fun Fest meant 24 hours in the car, from Michigan to Texas. Unlike any other festival trip, though, I could sleep in my own bed after a long day of music and festivities.

4:30 AM November 2nd—I hit the highway outside Sikeston, Missouri, made it to Georgetown, Texas round 3:30 PM and immediately left for Austin. The highway reminded me of those nature programs depicting army ants traveling head to butt in a single file line through the forest. The festival surely added to Friday’s gridlock. I anxiously pushed on, trying to make it home in time to catch the best day of the fest for metal. Napalm Death, Municipal Waste, Burning Love, Converge and Tomahawk comprised this lineup. Despite my diligence, I would miss all of these acts.

Having arrived at the festival around 7 PM, I figured I missed the day’s metal acts, and would look towards Run DMC’s performance. My coverage was even further delayed by mistakes in issuing press credentials. While waiting for my photo pass, droning notes emanated from the Yellow Stage. Normally this stage features comedians, but after 5 PM, bands took the stage. I asked a staff member who was playing and he said Super Chunk. More...

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Metal Daze: The Metalcamp Diaries, Part V (Cont'd)

... Continued from Part V...

2:00am. Beach Bar. So this is where it all ends. The final showdown.

Trollfest came on after Sabaton and played some lively little ditties, including the official Metalcamp theme, but after three songs, we were ready to call it a show. We dropped off all our shit back at camp, and now here we are.

Business is booming at the food stands and raging at the bar, and once again, the strippers are out in full force. We’ve found an empty table on the covered deck ringing the steep hill that meets the narrow beach.

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Metal Daze: The Metalcamp Diaries, Part V

... Continued from Part IV...

FRIDAY 8/10

9:00am. For the first time since arriving, I wake up without a sore neck. In profound relief and gratitude, I kiss the small-but-soft pillow I managed to procure at Kik yesterday.

Before this, my strategy was simple: I’d rest my head on the stack of clean clothes in my open bag at the end of my tent. But as the days passed, the stack dwindled, until I felt like a neck injury victim tied to a crude, makeshift wooden stretcher.

There’s a preparation and packing lesson to be learned in there… somewhere. More...

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Morbid Angel Returns to San Antonio

If Satan needed a house band in Hell, he could certainly call on Morbid Angel. Thanks to his guitar acrobatics, journalists have long dubbed band-founder Trey Azagthoth as the Eddie Van Halen of death metal. When the group emerged in 1989 with their first proper release, few, if any, could match the Mercury-footed speed of Pete Sandoval’s double-bass-blasting feet. The groove, mind-blowing skill and heretical lyrics and imagery landed the group at the top of the extreme metal world. Massive touring cycles transformed the band into one of the most prolific, underground touring acts of the 1990s. Their devilish music found its largest audience opening for Slayer and Pantera in the beginning of the new millennium.

After the Pantera gigs, Morbid Angel largely stayed out of the limelight. An opening stint for Soulfly in 2005 was the only North American tour I recall since Pantera. Assumingly, much of the crowd in attendance at Backstage Live in San Antonio had not seen the group in seven or even twelve years. Many long-time fans bemoaned “Illud Divinium Insanus,” the group’s first album in eight years, as the lowest point of artistry in the group’s near-thirty-year career. In fact, many of these fans felt the album was so poor they wouldn’t even venture out to see the band play, which is such a shame because they missed one of the best extreme metal tours of the year! More...

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Metal Daze: The Metalcamp Diaries, Part IV

Continued from Part III...

THURSDAY 8/9

10:00am. “Waking up” is one thing. “Getting up” is something else. These festivals involve a continuous stream of physical self-abuse of one kind or another – usually both, and more.

I drag myself like a cranky newborn from my tent and stretch, feeling drawn and quartered. By now, I have no problem pulling out my unit and pissing in the open air, on the slight hill next to our Embassy. Bashfulness went right out the window a while ago. More...

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Lacuna Coil Plays Nosturi

Lacuna Coil made the band's first appearance in Helsinki since February 15th, 2010, on the Shallow Life World Tour. Unaccompanied, Lacuna Coil performed a 2-hour set, complete with a 5-song acoustic set, ranging all the way from "In A Reverie" to the 2012 release, "Dark Adrenaline" (reviewed here). This night kicked off the Dark Legacy European tour.

In a twist of fate, Lacuna Coil was yet again in Helsinki without the full band. In the 2010 show, Marco “Maus” Biazzi was unable to play due to an injury, and likewise this year, he was recovering from a shoulder injury and unable to participate. As well, Cristiano “Criz” Mozzati was taking this one out because of the recent birth of his daughter. As such, another drummer friend, Ryan Folden, was substituting for this tour.

Lacuna Coil wins some big points to viewers for being a very crowd-friendly band. Vocalist Cristina Scabbia in particular tells stories about the songs and the meaning behind them, letting the crowd get not only a live performance, but a bit of insight into the deeper meanings of the songs the fans love. More...

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Metal Daze: The Metalcamp Diaries, Part III

... Continued from Part II...

WEDNESDAY 8/8

11:00am. After two full days of brushing my teeth with bottled water, “morning” and “night” (relative terms), without a sink, I have toothpaste streaked in white stains all over my army-green shorts. I’ve already lost count of people who’ve asked me how much I’ve been jerking it.

12:00pm. A bracing gust of wind pummels the gazebo. So far, the guy lines and tent pegs anchoring the flimsy metal stanchions to the ground have held (with some occasional coaxing), but they’ve taken a beating from the continuous breeze. We’re situated on the crest of a slope that scoops up the air and sends it hurtling into our camp. More...

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Metal Daze: The Metalcamp Diaries, Part II

... Continued from Part I...

TUESDAY 8/7

9… something… am. Or maybe it’s 10, or maybe I’m in Hell. All I know is that the sun has risen, transforming my tent into a “Bridge On The River Kwai” sweatbox and my sleeping bag into a dehydration cocoon. I’m marinating.

Cooking aromas. Eggs frying, a Mediterranean whiff of olive oil, the universal scent of black coffee. Subdued, slow-motion, hung-over camp chatter. An unfamiliar voice: “Mind if I drop in for a meet-and-greet?” Male, low and steady-pitched, Eastern European. Might as well get my ass moving and be social. Also, I’m starving again.

I peel away my constraints, fumbling, slippery, dazed. I unzip the door and gasp for breath. The open air feels cucumber-cool by comparison and prickles my skin.

With nature doing all the work around here, who needs an alarm clock? More...

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