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Tuska Open Air Metal Festival 2012, Day 3

Day three was upon us, and the only thing that banished the gloomy weather was knowing that the day held a few favorites in store. For me at least due to a stubborn illness I caught only the biggest acts. With a healthy mix of folk metal, deathcore, and even some classically inspired loveliness Day three promised to be another rousing adventure in Helsinki for everyone who came out to enjoy.

Suicide Silence was the first act of the day. The energetic Americans started the day off with some epic stage presence and brutal death core that prepared our ears for what was to come this day. Usually I’m not into this genre, but these guys have the kind of energy that is contagious. Singer Mitch is unusually acrobatic for a front man and has the audience frantically headbanging and moshing as he seemingly defies gravity while singing.

Next up was everyone’s favorits cellists, Apocalyptica. There’s something about this band that just pleases everyone, form pretentious purists to the most brutal metal fans; these guys have a very wide fan base. Always impressive is the fact that these well trained musicians can get a clean sound from their strings, even despite the humid weather and rain which usually wreak havoc on acoustic instruments. It’s hard not to enjoy the enthusiastic act on stage when the music can go from lovely, to rageful from one beat to the next. Though I wouldn’t have dreamt it doable these guys run around, headbang and essentially violate their cellos with bows that drop horse hair all over the stage; all while emitting music that permeates the festival grounds with its torment. More...

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Tuska Open Air Metal Festival 2012 , Day 2

And then it was Saturday! Day two of Tuska again started a bit earlier then the hungover and tired festival goers may have wished but the drowsy vibes quickly vanished (though not the rain clouds) as the day started on a much folkier note. Tuska Day Two promised another heavy day of good music, good people and the summer vibe that has Finns and Non Finn's coming from all over to partake in the festivities.

First up today was Estonian folk metallers Metsätöll! I have been excited to see these guys for years now and it was with bated breath that I entered the photo pit this morning! And here I will be a bit blasphemous and state that Lauri (Varulven) Õunapuu is quite simply a god of folk instruments. Throughout the set he seamlessly switched from bagpipes, to flutes, and numerous stringed Estonian folk instruments. Each one was expertly played and gave the performance a mysterious lovely quality. The Estonian language is quite obviously similar to Finnish, and in fact singer Markus "Rabapagan" Teeäär wows the predominantly Finnish crowd (and presumably wins their hearts) by speaking to them in Finnish. It needs to be said: his accent is much better than mine. Metsätöll is one of those folk metal bands that clearly love what they do, and though the music is fun and foly as ever, there is a lovely mysterious undertone that lends one’s mind to thinking thoughts of dark forests and legends of old. More...

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Tuska Open Air Metal Festival 2012, Day 1

We were greeted with the first hints of summer upon arriving at Suvilahti for day one of Tuska Open air metal festival. Ahead was three full days of metal, with a lineup that would please even the trickiest of metal fans. With program guide in hand, with the most interesting acts already chosen; Day one began.

Starting the festival was Finnish thrash metallers Profane Omen. They were a perfect choice to start the weekend, and although the start time was quite early for many, Profane Omen infused the crown that arrived with enough energy to shake off even the most persistent drowsiness. Jules didn’t allow for lethargic audience members with his typical stage antics of headbanging and giving each and every song his all. They played a healthy mix of old songs and new and thus began Tuska 2012.

One thing that was quite difficult was managing take in all the festival had to offer. Having a nasty case of strep all weekend, I was lucky to be able to keep up the pit hopping and running from stage to stage to see as many acts as possible. Starting a mere 15 minutes after Profane Omen was Alcest. More...

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Impending Doom: Calling Out Nashville

According to Michael Caine's character in the film, "The Dark Knight," some men just want to watch the world burn. In the world of heavy metal, that's kind of a cool line. Actually, that's a really cool line. It's not even that far from the truth for some bands. Some bands like to express their disenchantment with the world and how they'd like to snuff it out like a cigarette butt. Others like to reflect the world in their music, showing it for what it is without passing judgment. Some bands take it one step further and command that we change the world. Impending Doom is not one of them.

On the evening of July 6th, Impending Doom brought back to Nashville's Rocketown a different message: Change yourself. Disregard the world, because it will fail you. Some bands just want to tell you that the world will burn and you shouldn't be part of it. As it turns out, during my interview with vocalist Brook Reeves and some of the band before the show, Impending Doom is about as literal about that as can be. They were joined by fellow bands Within The Ruins, Erra, The Plot In You, and To Each His Own. More...

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Iron Maiden Unleashes Mighty England On Mansfield

It was six years ago when I last saw the mighty Iron Maiden. This time was different, as the band embarked on the “Maiden England” Tour, closely matching the set list that was played during the “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” tour, which I remembered so well. The site was at the Comcast Center, an outdoor venue in Mansfield, Massachusetts (called Boston by the band). It was a perfect night, cool - threatening weather (that never came) - and a crowd of 14,000 people to celebrate a moment in time that for some of us was the rare opportunity to recapture memories from 1989-1990 that were frozen in our minds. The bonus of Alice Cooper as an opener made this a very special night indeed.

Iron Maiden shows are a pilgrimage for seasoned metalheads. It is rare to find a Maiden virgin, but I found myself in between two, my wife to my right and a 50 plus year old gentleman who found it important to grace me with his “knowledge” of music and the fact that Iron Maiden “cut the set of Alice Cooper short because they knew they couldn’t follow him.” I nicely reminded the man that 14,000 people showed up to see Iron Maiden, despite the fact that I myself am a huge fan of the Coop. We then engaged in an almost one sided “discussion” (mostly dominated by his apparent low self esteem and/or lack of companion) about how great music was in the 60's and ‘70's and how the 80's sucked (until, as he put it, he “started to appreciate it lately”). Though I was born in 1971, I expressed that I related (somewhat), but my love was the 80's and felt (at the time) that the 90's was a weak decade for metal. The engaged discussion was filled with mind-boggling ignorance which detracted from the importance of the moment for my wife to whom I periodically turned to mouth the words “Save me.” More...

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Chaos in Tejas 2012 Day Two

Saturday, June 2, 2012 offered a much different pace than the previous night. Where Friday night’s lineup played deliberate rhythms and struck chords that hung in the air like an ominous fog, Saturday’s day show at Beerland focused on speed. D-beats, blast beats, double picked chords partly characterized the crossover minded bands such as Midnight and Toxic Holocaust who packed a house of enthusiastic punks and metal heads.

Packing Beerland’s sloped construction did not take long. I arrived at the venue around opening time at 3:30 to find their small smoking area nearly full. I was not at the venue for long before their staff started turning away people. When someone left, someone entered. Once again, due to the staggering amount of attendees, the stuffiness of the club and humidity, I took numerous breaks from watching each band. More...

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Chaos in Tejas 2012 Day One

For some reason, Austin, Texas loves the good-time-party vibe of stoner rock and its sour faced, miserable brother, doom metal. These two related styles have a family reunion at SXSW, but the punk themed Chaos in Tejas is a less likely host. June 1st, the second day of Chaos in Tejas 2012, featured a doom metal dream lineup. Legends Saint Vitus took top bill, while Japan’s stoner-doom, serial killer fanatics Church of Misery made a rare North American appearance. Hail! Hornet, Magic Circles and The Gates of Slumber provided support. More...

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Burn The Throne Fest Destroys Hammond, LA

As high school prom-goers meandered around taking photos in their overly-bright gowns near the picturesque buildings of downtown Hammond, Louisiana, groups of men in black clothing with horrific band logos and album covers smoked cigarettes outside Augustine’s Bar as blasting metal pouring out of the door, frightening the youngsters and keeping them from this side of the street. In the setting orange sun, the music began. More...

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Trivium Streams Nashville To The World

When Trivium rolled through Nashville, TN on May 25th, the Mexican restaurant on the end of the street near Exit/In (the venue) could have had no idea that their entire corner block would be surrounded by black-shirted masses from 7:00 until around 9 PM that night. It was encouraging to once again see metal fans overtake a block in the country music capital of the US – with even more people than when Cannibal Corpse invaded town at the end of April. Several hours later, Nashville showed the world via Livestream.com just how hungry they were for Trivium, as the band announced that the show would be streamed live online. It was a Friday night, nobody had to be anywhere else, and we hadn't had enough to drink yet, which are all good signs that a metal show was just what we needed. More...

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Melvins Sell Out The House In New Orleans

The staff of One Eyed Jacks taped a crude “Sold Out” sign on the door at 6 o’clock. Those hoping to pay at the door were disheartened at the news, but happy for the band that they so quickly sold out the venue. Those with the foresight to purchase ahead crowded the sidewalk beginning at dusk. They blocked the historic sidewalk to the beaded and soused tourist-traffic trying to find their way to the supposed Shangri La of Bourbon Street or away from the intense never-ending party nightmare that it really is. But these eager customers were determined to see something more worthy. More...

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Negura Bunget Satisfies Fans' Transylvanian Hunger

May 19, 2012, San Antonio, Texas—Watching Behemoth play material off “…From the Pagan Vastlands” is the closest most Americans get to Eastern European black metal. Many of these artists either don’t play live, don’t have the money to make it to America or fall into the familiar trap of not getting their Visa application in on time. Negura Bunget is one of the few bands of this fold you’ll find on a flyer. However, not until just a month ago could one find them on a flyer promoting a concert in America. Negura Bunget is not your average slash-and-burn-satanic black metal group. Hailing from Transylvania, the group blends traditional Romanian folk music with atmospheric black metal to illuminate the “dark foggy forests” of the primeval Carpathian Mountains.

Negura Bunget is not a band for banging heads, bodies or fists. They work more on the mind’s eye, recreating a world where superstition rules the land. This is perfectly fine for one band, but if the all the bands on the bill took a similar approach; I would have witnessed and partaken in a snooze fest. Thanks to promoters Beyond the Dark Horizon, we were treated to a diverse assortment of acts. More...

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Kill Devil Hill Rules the Mob in San Antonio

Adrenaline Mob and Kill Devil Hill personified the song “Deep in the Heart of Texas” during their San Antonio performance. The stars were big and bright; the members comprising the night’s co-headlined acts are better known for playing with iconic artists such as Pantera, Down, Heaven And Hell, Dio, Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold, Dream Theater, W.A.S.P, Pissing Razors and Symphony X.

This weekday show hosted by Backstage Live yielded a fraction of the ticket sales compared to the groups’ associated acts. Although both bands featured veterans in the field of heavy metal and progressive rock, they are both new artists. Kill Devil Hill doesn’t release its debut, self-titled CD until the 22nd of this month. New bands usually tour in support slots, but names such as Mike Portnoy, Rex Brown and Vinny Appice aren’t accustomed to that role. Those hip to the groups, mostly Dream Theater fans, expected a night of mind-blowing musicianship, which is what they got with a few added surprises. More...

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The Occupation Domination Tour Invades New Jersey

On Sunday, April 22, New Jersey was home for one night to some of the premier death metal bands in the world for the Occupation Domination tour. Featuring the likes of Aborted, Decrepit Birth, Cattle Decapitation, and Origin, this package had something for every fan of death metal. The tour came at the tail-end of a day-long metal festival that was going on at the venue. By the time the first band on the tour package, Battlecross, hit the stage around 6:30, some audience members had been there for almost six hours. That didn’t affect the early bands too much, but the later ones would see how having 12 hours of live metal can impact a crowd. More...

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Cannibal Corpse "Tortures" Nashville Audience

Cannibal Corpse is like a peanut butter & jelly sandwich if you think about it. I don’t mean literally, of course. The band has been around for 24 years with largely the same consistent sound. Every one of the records has been consistently outselling the one before it without the band ever selling out to be more commercially viable. The tours have been getting consistently longer due to worldwide demand. In all of these things, consistency is the staple. Cannibal Corpse has shown itself to be one of those universal constants like peanut butter & jelly, and both are widely accepted and can be mighty tasty if you’re in the mood for them.

As evidenced by the long line of black shirts seen up and down Elliston Place outside the Exit/In, Nashville, TN was having a Cannibal Corpse craving at the end of April. Fortunately for us, Cannibal Corpse just rolled into town with a few bands in tow: Exhumed, Abysmal Dawn, and Arkaik. More...

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Sabaton Rolls The War Machine Into Worcester

Only a few times in my life have I been as worried about how my “vision” of future events would come to pass as when Sabaton rolled it’s Swedish tank division into the Palladium at Worcester on Saturday night. For starters, the band just had a major split with four members, all of which provided the power and part of the rhythm of a band that was all about force. Secondly, the split happened on the eve of two major career milestones for the band: the release of “Carolus Rex” (review forthcoming), which will see a U.S. release even before the European, and a bold North American headline tour with no support, save for local acts at only particular venues. Tack on the fact that the band was late with obtaining visas for the new members forcing the cancellation of the first three nights of the tour and the fact that there has been little no tour hype generated though the band’s Facebook page, which remained eerily quiet since the tour began (not even announcing where the band was playing each day). It also didn’t help that Arch/Matheos was playing the same night back in Hartford in one of very few show appearances, which certainly would make attendance at this show even less. Since there were no supporting acts on the bill, I can report on the VIP meet and greet with the band, which proved to be a smashing success. More...

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Fear Factory Kicks Off Tour in San Antonio

On May Day 2012, Fear Factory ignited the “Noise of the Machine” tour in San Antonio, Texas. Formerly known as The Warehouse, Backstage Live’s industrialized setting seemed ideal for Fear Factory to get its gears churning. Even though “The Industrialist” isn’t due for another month (June 5), the group was “Recharging” its fans batteries for another dose of explosive cyber metal. Shadows Fall, The Browning, The Devastated and Legacy of Disorder served as support.

Having released “Soul of a New Machine” in 1992, Fear Factory has over twenty years of material to consider when creating a set list. Even though the group selected cuts from every full-length album except “Archetype” and “Transgression,” the set seemed a half-hour short. I’m not that guy who comes out to concerts to watch only the headlining band; however, the night’s billing of seven bands (two local and five touring) seemed to have stolen some of Fear Factory and Shadows Fall’s time in the limelight. Thanks to the gentleman who constantly photo bombed me with his camcorder, you can see video of four of the touring bands. More...

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Sepultura Is Still Sepultura

“That’s not the pass for tonight,” muttered the venue staffer checking IDs, wearing a dismissive expression suspiciously resembling a dildo. “I don’t know what to tell you.”

I’d just conducted interviews – coming soon – with guitarists Andreas Kisser (of Sepultura) and Moyses Kolesne (of Krisiun) backstage at Higher Ground in South Burlington, Vermont. With no additional press to handle, Sepultura’s tour manager had scrapped the planned guest list, handing me instead a photo/access pass from a prior show. As this straightforward story was received with borderline indifference and a blasé shrug, I was pulled aside to allow lucky ticketholders entry. There I stood waiting under the gatekeepers’ stone cold gazes, like a failed freeloader – the lowest form of tool at a concert. More...

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Diecast At Mill Street Brews

Time waits for no man. When I purchased a copy of Diecast’s bruising 2001 LP “Day Of Reckoning” – at the now-defunct Circuit City, of all places! – I couldn’t have imagined that in ten years’ time, I’d be relying on the Boston-based band for a sweet nostalgia fix. That savored rush arrived on Friday, April 27th, at Mill Street Brews in Southbridge, Massachusetts.

Nestled in a renovated 19th-century textile mill building and stripped of ostentatious frills, the venue boasts no fewer than three separate barrooms, each with its own stage, and a vast expanse of floor area. Tonight’s show took place in the second floor Showcase Club and, by all appearances, was a veritable “who’s who” of regional metal talent. Nearly ten bands were jammed onto the bill, cranking out condensed sets that wrapped nearly as quickly as they’d begun. Time being a bitch, I sacrificed watching most of these sets (including Western Mass favorite WrenchNeck) in favor of some needed relaxation and chitchat in the adjacent barroom. More...

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Opeth Prolongs “Heritage” in San Antonio

Opeth returned to central Texas for the second time since releasing “Heritage” in the fall of 2011. Prog/tech masters Mastodon and mysterious, occult metallers Ghost supported the Swedish troupe. This performance at San Antonio’s Backstage Live marked my first Opeth concert in nine years. The group has undergone many changes since then—changes of style, personnel and label—but coming into this show I had an overwhelming since of continuation, perhaps a sequel.

“Heritage” is the first Opeth album since “Damnation” comprised entirely of clean vocals. It’s still a heavy album, as was “Damnation,” but without Mikael Åkerfeldt’s bestial roar, Opeth doesn’t climb as high into the emotional stratosphere. Their showcasing of this material led to a performance focused more on melody than ferocity. Some of the buzz around the Internet gave the impression that the band were to play a snoozer. One person even likened their performance to a Lionel Richie show. A similar backlash occurred at the 2003 show with Porcupine Tree. Opeth played the entire “Damnation” album that night and didn’t include a single growled note.

In a Metal Underground interview before the show, drummer Martin Axenrot said the evening would contain some death metal, so it wasn’t quite the prog-only exhibition of 2003. It was a fairly chilled out evening, though. Although Mastodon only occasionally accosted the crowd with hard rock fury, guitar and vocal harmonies induced swaying sing a-longs rather than pits and head banging from the crowd. More...

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Solstafir and Hexvessel Mesmerize Nosturi

These days I’m beginning to think that I live at Nosturi. There’s always familiar faces working, and in the photo pit as well which makes for a rather comfortable aspect to an otherwise extremely exciting and unique event.

Icelandic heathen metallers Solstafir embarked on a journey through Finland last week which started in Helsinki on Thursday. I've been waiting a few years to finally see these guys live, and it was with bated breath that I arrived at the venue on a rainy Helsinki day. The tone for the evening was not the usual drunken folk metal vibe, though I appreciate that on occasion as well! All in all, the event in store was a thought provoking and contemplative one. More...

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