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Archive: Reports

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Asking Alexandria's Motley Crew Invades TN

On October 29th at the storied War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville, TN, a rather unusual tour lineup shook things up a bit. Asking Alexandria rolled in, bringing All That Remains with them, along with the veterans of Sevendust, as well as the younger For Today and Emmure. If the lineup didn’t involve Sevendust or All That Remains, it would have made more sense. All That Remains wasn’t stretching it, really, but including Sevendust with this largely metalcore bunch? I scratched my head at that choice.

It was a bizarre experience. More...

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BTBAM Tour Ends Heavy In Tennessee

Between The Buried and Me have done some crazy things, such as playing "Colors" live in its entirety and following the hour-long album with a second complete set of fan-picked favorites. They've also been selling bundles of their latest album, "The Parallax II: Future Sequence," that include a full-size BTBAM NASA-themed space suit. It's safe to say that the bar on what constitutes 'crazy' for this band is set rather high. For the whole 35-date tour, which had started on September 13th in North Carolina, the band decided to go full crazy again and perform "Future Sequence," their longest album to date, in its entirety.

Moreover, they were bringing a slew of other near-virtuoso-level bands with them to add even more moments of jaw-dropping to the mix for the show. The Faceless, modern kings of start-stop melodic death metal, The Contortionist, a band pushing the boundaries of metal as much as they push the boundaries of jazz and djent, and The Safety Fire, groove-centric prog lads from overseas, rounded out the lineup. These Herculean feats of skill were all to close out the tour in Nashville, TN on October 25th at The Cannery Ballroom. More...

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ProgPower USA XIV: "Dark Fate Of Atlanta"

I. The Setup

For as long as I can remember, I've searched for what I would define as a "perfect concert" - a mighty bucket list item that eluded me. I fixed the label to many shows in the interim, scratching off those "before death" list items one by one as each successive concert outdid the previous. Back in mid-2012, when I submitted my sponsor list for 2013, I listed fifteen bands I wanted to see and was willing to put money on for ProgPower USA. Number one of that list was Luca Turilli's Rhapsody. The reason is simple....there is no composer in heavy metal not named Jon Oliva that can even compare to the wealth of fantastic material presented since the 90’s. Turilli had numerous solo albums and various side bands all in addition to writing a double power metal story arc that lasted eleven straight albums, many of which grace the top lists of any fan of the genre. Well in advance of the latest two Rhapsody of Fire albums, Luca decided that it had to end…and that he needed to split off and see his own vision of band - one that would turn it towards the cinematic. In what appeared to be a confusing agreement with lifetime friend and co-founder Alex Staropoli, the two would split - each keeping a variant of the name and both claiming the entire back catalog as his own. Then, in a feat that I have seen nowhere else in band splits, the two would remain close friends and allies, each supporting the other and respective releases. Since then, Turilli fired the first salvo with “Ascending to Infinity,” an album so perfect it’s actually hard to listen to (see review here). Even though Rhapsody was not scheduled for the main festival, in the fall of 2012 it was announced that the band would headline the Thursday night kick off show with two hour plus set. Though ProgPower’s main festival would prove so great, this concert was the highlight of not only the festival….but my entire life. What would follow can only be deemed the “perfect concert.” More...

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ProgPower USA XIV: Saturday Crazies

Carrying the energy over from ProgPower XIV’s Friday show to Saturday’s show was like a Herculean trial for me, running on a combined total of 6 hours sleep from the last two days. In the quiet of dawn, nobody from ProgPower: Hardcore, the unofficial fitness group, was awake enough to run or work out, but not for lack of effort -- They had put in a good run and hot yoga session earlier in the week. (Only at ProgPower, folks.) Fortunately, each of the seven bands on the second day’s roster brought its game face and gave me and the other concert-goers what we needed to raise our bodies, put our hands in the air, bang our heads, jump (if you really enjoyed Sabaton), and fall in love all over again.

After descending upon Einstein Bagel Co at the end of Peachtree St for breakfast with my group of fellow black-shirted friends, which brought a few funny reactions from the locals, we headed down to The Loft next to Center Stage to see Wolverine’s exclusive all-acoustic set for Gold Badge holders and sponsors only. Having rehearsed well in advance, Wolverine was a well-oiled machine, although the same could not be said for the guitar cables that seemed to be shorting out on them by the dozen. Nevertheless, the show was to be unforgettable. Drawing heavily from “Communication Lost,” perhaps the easiest Wolverine album to translate to an acoustic setting, the show took the form of a sort of “Storytellers” gig.

The typical routine they followed went something like this: Vocalist Stefan Zell or bassist Thomas Jansson would give a background and context to a song, they would play it through, Jansson or keyboardist Per Henriksson would take a passionate but subdued solo, Zell would light up the air with his voice, and the crowd would weep. It’s true -- one attendee brought a box of tissues with her, which the band autographed after the performance, for members of the audience that couldn’t help but resonate with the song. The whole performance gave the impression of a slow burn -- warm and electrifying. A special set, indeed. More...

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ProgPower USA XIV: A Friday To Remember

Internationally respected, domestically loved, and locally interesting (“Look at all these black-shirted people walking into this Einstein Bagel Co!”), the ProgPower USA festival returned to its frequent home at Center Stage in Atlanta, Georgia this past weekend for its fourteenth year of bringing quality metal to the stateside masses.

Through the hallowed gates (err… glass and metal doors) of the venue, almost anything was possible on the days of September 5-7. To some, it was an ocean of opportunity or a place to be reborn in metal. To others, a place to spend endless nights with the masters of the world themselves. To most of the 1,000+ attendees, it was where they went to reach within, feel alive, and leave with a sense of pride -- nobody was wondering “Why am I here?,” even if it was only the 1st chapter of their ProgPower story. (For this writer, the festival was also a chance to write 9 song/album titles from the bands that would be performing at the show into this second paragraph about the show. Because it sounded really cool.)

As previously detailed, the festival brought 5 bands to the states for the first time and 16 in total throughout the three days, with an extra 2 added to that in a separate Wednesday show. When I had arrived on Friday, the ProgPower elite who had come both days prior to it were feeling quite at ease and even had a sort of comfortable glow about them. I later learned that this was due in part to warm hangovers, but mostly due the awesomeness of the concerts on the days leading up to Friday, which were written about in part by Metal Underground admin CROMCarl. This, however, is the record of my time at this year's crazy heavy wonderland. More...

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Wintersun Shines In Sold Out Venue In Cambridge

The last place I ever thought I would see a show was in the middle of the campus of the “elite of society” – Harvard University. Though not confirmed, I had heard that this particular show was the first metal event at the newly opened Sinclair club, which was directly in the heart of the college. I had made the 114 mile trek to the area countless times, however, I don’t recall the traffic being this annoying. When I went to see Wintersun and Eluveitie at Royale in downtown Boston, the trip was nuisance free. But, it was Friday night, and stupidity on the road was nothing new. The area was wrought with college kids, yuppie preps and artsy types, so it was a pleasure to walk around in my Sodom – “Epitome of Torture” shirt, its double meaning was painfully clear. The venue proved to be a rather loose, without any pushy asshole bouncers and the club itself had decent sound. If you have been to the upstairs part of The Palladium in Worcester, imagine it double the size with a much better stage (raised to where you can see), much better lighting and double the upstairs space where you can view the band from just above the floor crowd from all sides/angles. More...

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A Viking Raid In Nashville

The night of August 8th was to mark the first appearance of Amon Amarth and Children of Bodom in Nashville, TN at Marathon Music Works. In what was to be a night packed with unfortunate surprises, the venue ended up being changed (and subsequently downsized) to a smaller venue known as the Exit/In, which sold out completely. Adding to that, it was announced shortly before the first set of the night that Children of Bodom would not play their set, due to the hospitalization of Bodom front man Alexi Laiho.

Some of the attendees decided to take a refund and leave after the announcement had been made, clearly Bodom loyalists. Most of the audience stayed for the duration of the show, as it was also announced that Battlecross, Huntress, and Amon Amarth would be playing longer sets to make up for the absence of the co-headliners. Those who stayed were at least treated to a blistering few sets, easily making up for the price of admission. Amon Amarth prepared an especially powerful set that turned the packed venue's air into a murky soup of hot sweat. More...

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Tuska Open Air Metal Festival 2013: Days 2 and 3

The weekend festivities of the second and third day of Tuska started a bit later for me, but still managed to start with a bang that resounded for the whole weekend! With a lineup a bit less intense then the first day, there was a lot of room to really observe performances and finally get that summer festival feeling. Both days featured very different genres, but as always with Tuska, there is truly something for everyone, even if that something is as simple as ice cold cider and a cool breeze on a hot day. More...

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Tuska Open Air Metal Festival 2013: Day 1

Tuska Open Air Metal Festival promised to be an event to remember this year, with huge acts such as King Diamond, Wintersun and Nightwish taking command of the main stage! With finally perfect summer weather and a lineup that challenged many other summer festivals, Friday came with much awaited anticipation!

Many of the bands this year were scheduled at the same time, perhaps the cause of this was that in the past there have always been four stages, but this year there were only three. Only two of these stages allowed media to shoot footage and photos, which led to a massive and unfortunate stress factor to an otherwise phenomenal festival experience. In addition, overcrowded photo pits with unqualified photographers led to an unfortunate decline in coverage from other medias this year. Die hard Tuska fans and Medias still showed up in hordes, and showed why Tuska is still the metal festival to be at in Helsinki! More...

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Manilla Road Closes Out Chaos in Tejas 2013

Manilla Road has roots as old as most of the NWOBHM bands that helped define heavy metal as we know it. Somewhat under the radar, the group didn’t popularize metal to the extent of Mercyful Fate, Venom, Iron Maiden and Manowar. However, as noted by the die-hard fans, knowledge fans who attended the group’ rare performance on the last night of Chaos in Tejas 2013, Manilla Road surely put its stamp on heavy metal. One fan pointed out how the group influenced Candlemass and even held the door open for Candlemass to enter this world.

Manilla Road’s reluctance to tour surely kept them out of the above bands’ spotlight. They are a cult act. It was for this very reason many showed up for tonight’s show. Red 7’s dual stages offered a tremendous package with Texas’ own USBM instigators Absu playing on the indoor stage. The night was spent walking back and forth between the two stages. The indoor stage’s overcrowding mixed with humid temperatures resulted in, what felt like, a twenty-degree temperature difference. More...

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Bolt Thrower Levels Chaos in Tejas

Death metal was one of the hot topics at this year’s Chaos in Tejas festival in Austin, Texas. Although punk rock permeates throughout the festival (The Damned headlined a show on the prior night), the ninth installment promised rare performances from two pioneering acts from England, Benediction and Bolt Thrower. Both bands are touring the States together. Unlike their gigs with Autopsy in California, Benediction and Bolt Thrower played on separate days.

I recall buying a computer desk from the sheet-metal warehouse that the promoters dubbed “E 11 5” and turned into a venue (at least for the festival). Even though the venue was not as cramped at Benediction’s show at Red 7, the sold out crowd’s body heat raised the temp to uncomfortable levels. When the temperature became unbearable, an outdoor vendor area on the grass presented a cool retreat. This area was a good place to talk to the fans including a group from Sweden and an ex-Z Rock disc jockey who informed us one of the members of Dokken was in attendance. More...

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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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