Death metal pioneers, Autopsy have made only a couple of festival appearances since their reformation in 2010. From 1995 to last year, ravenous gore fiends could receive Autopsy’s filthy sounds and images only through proxy groups containing Autopsy members such as The Ravenous and Abscess. With the release of “Macabre Eternal,” the group made another festival appearance for this year (the only appearance at this time) at one of the word’s biggest punk music festivals, Chaos in Tejas.
Yet another multi-venue festival in Austin, Texas, Chaos in Tejas celebrates punk in all its various forms. 130 bands including Cro-Mags, Doom, Killing Joke, Converge, Hooded Menace, Lärm, The Gates of Slumber and Orange Goblin performed in the festival’s seventh installment. Although not all acts were punk oriented, punk and its offspring of “core” acts were most numerous. Autopsy’s affection for grind fit well with the precluded power violence and core-grounded acts.
With a bill including bands unfamiliar to many fans of Autopsy, a $35-dollar entrance fee, and Autopsy’s prolonged absence; I assumed this show would have a small turnout. Just like SXSW in March, Chaos in Tejas venues swell to capacity. Every square inch of the venue’s outdoor stage and smoking patio was filled with raggedy-patched punks and longhairs. Maneuvering through the outskirts of the pit area proved difficult enough, but finding a place up front to take pictures proved near impossible.
Shooting the first band of the night means feeling out the crowd. I’m always a bit timid during the first shoot and my photos of Iron Lung reflect an unsuccessful trial run. The lack of personal space was bad enough, but crowd surfers and stage divers made photo positioning near impossible, at least at first. I became bolder with later sets by shoving my way through the crowd, using karate stances to maintain a base when the crowd became especially raucous and tending to my camera instead of providing a hand
or head for stage divers to land.
Iron Lung’s style defines the term power violence. The two-man group alternated blistering grind and crossover with sludgy, down tempo passages. Their singer’s tough hardcore vocal approach wasn’t to this writer’s liking, but their energy made a big impression, although without the same rousing effect as what the audience felt. I had never seen a band or show incite so much rowdiness. In addition to stage diving that I rarely witness at metal show (I believe the last one was Testament in 1995), I witnessed a guy hanging from the rafters like a god damn monkey.
Innumerable Forms was the only death metal band of the evening. The Massachusetts band played slow and heavy with reverence to iron boot sloshers Incantation, Grave and of course, Autopsy. IF only recorded one EP, so I’m not sure what material they used to fill their set. Their live sound was not as raw as their recording, which allowed a greater sense of audibility. Kudos goes to their singer for wearing a Paradise Lost long sleeve. He represented a depressive style mostly, if not fully, overlooked at this show.
After IF’s pace coagulated the blood of its onlookers, Extortion’s blitzkrieg attack was like a Bunsen burner to the crowds’ veins. Not much information exists about this aussie band’s origins on the Net, but apparently they’ve made a considerable sized dent into the world-wide punk scene because I heard many people say they were there to see the group…and the crowd went wild (phrase of the night). The group’s energy had much to do with the crowds’ reaction. Each song contained a million notes, but lasted only seconds. These kinds of songs offer little in terms of hooks and melody, but the band’s quick bass lines brought something to remember.
Taking the stage right before Autopsy, Citizens Arrest marked a good time to retreat from the heat before Autopsy’s onslaught. The NYC band played typical NYC hardcore with meaty, ringing chords and punk sensibilities. They occasionally played a catchy groove, but most of their sound owed to music typical to this style. Citizens Arrest was the closest band of the night to bearing to typical hardcore, and in that regard, were the least interesting artist of the night. More...
One of Germany’s Big Three thrash bands, Destruction, once again brought its unique brand of thrash/speed metal back to San Antonio, Texas. With nearly 30 years under their bulleted belts, the Teutonic veterans hoped their longevity and legendary cult status would result in a massive gathering of denim-n-leather-gauntlet-fisted bangers.
This would not be the case, though. Even an impressive array of suitable acts that included the return of second-wave Cali Bay thrashers Heathen, the Texas thrash collective Warbeast, German black thrashers Nocturnal and more thrash in Witchhaven failed to bring in the masses on this Tuesday night. However, the dismal turn out did not stop the small-but-loyal crowd from acting like complete maniacs.
What might turn out to be the best thrash tour of the year encountered problems at its Central Texas stop a couple weeks before the event. Originally slated to appear at the Dirty Dog in Austin, the show moved to Backstage Live in San Antonio. Austinites complained about the drive, the lack of quality beer and parking fees. Many from the area with plans of attending the Austin show didn’t make the trek to SA. Those close to the promoter, Motorbreath Entertainment, stated that Austin would have resulted in an even poorer turnout. San Antonio is a bigger city and supposedly, the metal capital of the world, but it didn’t live up to its name on this night. More...
"The Hypersleep Dialogues Trek" tour tore its way through North America and part of Canada over the course of a month, moving counter-clockwise from New York and ends up in Asheville, North Carolina tonight. As the name shows, Between The Buried and Me was supporting their new album, "The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues," and they brought a solid lineup to Nashville with them – Job For A Cowboy and The Ocean. On their stop through Rocketown on Friday, May 13th, the bands played to a familiar crowd. Three years earlier, Between The Buried and Me had recorded their show here at Rocketown and released it as a live CD/DVD package – "Colors Live."
As the line snaked around the large venue, funneling in for about an hour, you could overhear discussions about the rarity of bands like Between the Buried and Me, Opeth, and others who "could do whatever they wanted, and I’d always love ‘em." More...
The last “An Evening with...” tour that I saw was Metallica’s arena tour in the early ‘90s, which happened to be one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. It’s a great concept that I’m surprised more bands don’t try. I was happy to hear that Amon Amarth was putting on such a tour. Playing their latest album in its entirety for the first half of their set, followed by a complete set of other material was the perfect choice, seeing how great “Surtur Rising” is.
This is the story of why I left a metal show early for the first time in my life.
While I’m not a serial show-goer, I have easily been to dozens, if not over a hundred, metal shows since my metal-loving life got going back in the mid-1990s, and I have always had a rule that I followed more closely than the ins and outs of “Debbie Does Dallas” – don’t leave early. Even if I was tired, drunk, pissed or the band(s) sucked, I stayed until the house lights came on and the roadies started taking the drum kit apart. Well, tonight, I broke that rule. Why? Read on… More...
It is without a doubt that the hype and anticipation around the first ever headlining performance from Between the Buried and Me in Vancouver was huge. Having appeared in the city twice before as an opening act, playing only 2 songs in its first appearance and 3 songs the next, the BTBAM faithful were lined up two blocks deep outside the city's Rickshaw Theater hours before showtime, to catch a well deserved full length set. Although being the headline act the attention would soon be taken away from them by five guys from Germany, who would show Vancouver how live metal should be done. More...
Nothing spices up a shitty, rainy afternoon like a good, old-fashioned metal show. And it’s even better when said daytime metal show includes some bonafide rock stars kicking complete ass in an intimate venue.
That’s just what unfolded in the dank, dark confines of Church in the shadows of Boston’s Fenway Park this past Saturday when Brian Fair of Shadows Fall and Mike D’Antonio of Killswitch Engage shattered the day’s doldrums with an hour of thrashy punk with their new side project Death Ray Vision.
The pair of old friends, joined by KsE/Seemless guitarist Pete Cortese, Cannae drummer Colin Conway and newcomer Zack Wells also on guitar, unveiled the new band a couple weeks ago at the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival in Worcester, Mass.
But this was their first show in Boston and it was a throwback to the all-ages union hall shows where the band members started out. They chose heavily from their newly-released EP “Get Lost or Get Dead,” ripping through “Shatter Frames,” “Get Lost” and the punishing hardcore romp, “Not for Glory.” More...
Without a doubt, Discharge was one of the most important bands in the history of British punk rock music. The band, along with The Exploited and (Charged) G.B.H. ushered in a new era in the scene, spouting pacifist beliefs, calling for the disarmament of nuclear weapons and criticizing the evils of capitalism. Discharge also was able to mix metal with punk in an excellent fashion and has been an influence on many metal bands including Metallica, Celtic Frost, and Onslaught. So with this in mind, the discovery that Discharge would be performing in Swindon seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up.
Discharge was joined by two supporting acts on the evening, the first being Bastard! Rats!, who was able to entertain the small audience with a catchy brand of punk rock, utilized in a similar fashion to The Clash with a hint of the pop punk bands of the 90's such as Green Day, though with a much more aggressive tone than the latter. A set of around thirty minutes seemed just about right for the group, who, while not being able to garner a massive response from the few in the audience, certainly did well enough to win over a few converts.
Next up was Diablo 13. A slightly larger number of people were able to witness the locals, who perform a perfect mixture of hardcore punk with a country music influence, though the country stylings seemed to be showing less on the evening, the band instead opting to perform their more jagged material. Frontman Marky C is truly a sight to behold, as he absorbs himself so much in the group's music that he appears to be lost in a world of his own, allowing him to be one of the most expressive frontmen in the local scene. He clearly believes in the music, as do the rest of the band, who perform with a tight fashion but are clearly having fun while they play. It took a little while but eventually they were able to get a few old punks away from the bar and on to the dance floor, where the energy of the set was being met well.
Finally came the turn of the headlining legends Discharge. Despite the sparse crowd, the band was able to unleash an astonishingly ferocious set, providing an excellent mix of old punk material with the act's more recent crossover thrash metal catalogue. Newer songs such as "Hell Is War" and "The Beginning Of The End" are set upon the audience like the violent sonic onslaught they were designed to be and performed with the energy of young speed freaks, let alone a band which has been going for more than thirty years. Lead vocalist Ant Cimex has only been in the group for around a year but he fits in brilliantly, sporting a perfect mohawk and barking out Discharge classics old and new like a rabid dog. Likewise, the rest of the band are on top form too, with bass being handled in a precise manner, while the distorted guitar sounds are able to create a chaotic but fine crafted sound. All in all, it was a magnificent display from one of British punk and crossover's most seminal bands, and with the current British political climate being what it is, their music is becoming more and more relevant to the youth of today with every passing week. It's good to know that some bands never sell out or pigeon hole themselves and Discharge certainly show no signs of these changes, or compromise of any kind, in the near future.
Exhorder and Rigor Mortis reunited to drive a metal stake into the heart of Texas. Both bands haven’t released a proper album in two decades, split up in the ‘90s and reunited (Exhorder in 2008, Rigor Mortis in 2005) to play select live shows. Rigor Mortis occasionally makes the three-plus-hour drive south to play Austin, but this performance was the first in 19 years for Exhorder. If not for promoters Motorbreath Entertainment, most in attendance would still be virgins to Exhorder’s “Anal Lust.”
Before Exhorder made its glorious return, local acts The Blood Royale, Hod and Dead Earth Politics took the stage. The Blood Royale opened the show with a crusty mix of old hardcore, grind, thrash and punk. Featuring JT of stoner rockers Dixie Witch, the band bombed the crowd with a furious attack of D-beats. During the group’s sound check, Exhorder vocalist Kyle Thomas told me they sounded good. I nodded and said they remind me of Motorhead. Guitarist/vocalist Timmo had a definite, Lemmy-type scruff in his voice.
Since forming in 2006, Hod has overcome band changes and come together as a cohesive unit. Decked out in black jeans and black leather vests, the group held their instruments like swords and shields, eagerly awaited front man Beer Reeb’s battle charge: “We are Hod and we play fucking metal.” Once he gave the signal, much metal playing ensued. The members' hair swirled in unison to the death/black/thrash/speed witches brew that one can only categorize as metal. I formerly described their music as a mix of Marduk and Morbid Angel. While those influences are still apparent, newer songs “Beware the Death Horse,” “In the Den of Wolves” and “Beneath the Mountain of the Scorpions” offer a greater range of sounds. Check these guys out on their tour supporting Marduk.
Dead Earth Politics played loud and aggressive. Their take on the groove metal sound proved a good choice to open for Exhorder. I can’t provide many details about their set because I was socializing at the time. Rigor Mortis and Exhorder gave them a big thumb up, though, and Rigor Mortis said they were friends with the band.
The crowd greeted Texas thrash legends, Rigor Mortis with banging heads, pumping fists and the occasional flaying knee and elbow. Singer Bruce Corbitt stalked the stage like one of the many serial killers described in his gore-strewn lyrics. His yelled vocals possessed a crossover flare reminiscent of Kurt Brecht of D.R.I. The group’s use of only one guitarist outlined Corey Orr’s punky bass lines and Mike Scaccia’s wild guitar solos.
Corbitt held his custom chain-link microphone stand out to the crowd to help sing infectious chorus lines from cuts like “Re-Animator” and “Die in Pain.” The group showcased more material from the self-title debut such as “Demons” and “Slow Death.” During “Slow Death,” Corbitt looked at the crowd with hateful lust during the lyric “I have this knife/It's a good knife.” The group played “Cattle Mutilation” from their “Freaks” EP and launched into two new tracks “Bloodbath” and “The Infected.” These tracks will not disappoint the Rigor Mortis fans who have waited 20 years for a new album. The new material could have blended in with any of the horror thrash Rigor Mortis played in the late ‘80s that made a large impact on death metal.
Earlier in the evening, Kyle Thomas complained of an ache in his knee while we ascended the hard metal staircase to the green room for an interview. He said his knee hurt because he thought he could do things on stage that he did 20-years ago. Exhorder looks much older than they did on You Tube videos from their “The Law” tour, but the group was still full of energy and they played to perfection.
Kyle Thomas’ regular, tough voice was in perfect condition. The only time he seemed to falter was during a long scream, which he briefly lost but regained. Jorge Caicedo silently counted each beat and hit every note. Even though this was only his second show, he knew the material well. Earlier in the show, he had expressed his desire to be a permanent member of Exhorder. Caicedo replaced Frankie Sparcello who unexpectedly died before the tour. His performance, hard work and cool demeanor should play in his favor.
A large photo of Sparcello held in easel provided a way, as Kyle Thomas put it, for the band to take Sparcello on the road and as a memento for his fans and band members. Bands throughout the night gave their condolences, but the grief of his passing faded when Exhorder launched into their material. The group opened their set with “Death in Vain” and “Homicide,” two fast numbers from the “Slaughter in the Vatican” album. Vinnie LaBella and Jay Ceravolo picked their guitars with the wrist-tearing speed displayed by Dark Angel and Slayer. Then, Thomas and bunch launched into material from “The Law.”
The chugging groove found on this album has led to a million conversations and arguments about Pantera plagiarizing Exhorder’s style. Whether they did or not, I’m not going to rehash these ideas, one listen to the album will bring to light similarities. “I am the Cross” and the title track enthralled the crowd to a slow-but-bruising swagger. My personal favorite “(Cadence of) The Dirge” was the musical embodiment of all that is Exhorder. This track tempered groove with speed and even epic doom metal movements.
Having once played in Trouble and with Floodgate, tattooed with the Trouble logo on his arm and wearing a St. Vitus wristband, it is safe to say Thomas likes doom metal. Exhorder did the gods of gloom and doom, Black Sabbath, proud with their rendition of “Into the Void.” The crowd received this cover with added energy. Immediately after jamming the Sab, Exhorder played another cover. This time, they brought out Austin local (transplant) Billy Milano to sing his S.O.D. song “United Force.” By the now, the crowd had gone complete ape shit. Billy, Kyle, Vinnie and the bunch embraced as friends while shouting the song’s title.
Before the crowd did the “Milano Mosh,” Seth Davis displayed his drumming genius in a five-minute solo. Davis regularly teaches drum clinics, releases instructional videos and was once dubbed “The World’s Fastest Drummer.” Starting with a short kick-drum beat, Davis built momentum until all of his appendages were firing rapid, multiple beats. He switched his sticks from side to side while the crowd stood in agog. This solo was not only entertaining, but also it allowed the guitarists time to switch instruments. Both guitarists took over the bass for a couple of tracks Caicedo was still learning, but before the solo, these changes ate up some of Exhorder’s set time.
About midway through their set, Kyle Thomas brought out a football. He asked the crowd if they had ever played “skankball.” This sport was a bit like rugby. He threw the ball into the crowd and whoever could hang onto it and bring it to him would get a free prize from the merch table. Nobody was hurt in the mad scramble and one dude even retained the ball. I wonder what award they gave him.
Exhorder closed their set in the same fashion as they opened it—with swift, neck-wrecking numbers from “Slaughter in the Vatican.” Thomas introduced “Slaughter in the Vatican” by stating that track really got him into trouble back in high school. The level of blasphemy did not hit home until one of his friends from the crowd told me he went to a Catholic school. The title of set closer “Anal Lust” was somehow even more insulting than the Pope murdering scenario of the previous song.
Those who attended this show have used many expressions to describe this special concert. Billy Milano’s guest spot, a rare Exhorder performance, Exhorder coming to town not frayed by the passing of their good friend and band member, a set list of classic thrash tunes by two under recognized forces in the thrash community and killer local acts are all ammo to fire at your Central Texas metal friends who stayed home that evening.
Go here to view photos of the show.
Many of the headbangers who play Ozzfest every year often describe the traveling circus as a “summer camp.” The annual New England Metal and Hardcore Festival in Worcester, Mass. - now in its 13th year - has a similar familial vibe and is more like a family reunion than a concert.
Last night at The Palladium in Worcester, it was a hardcore party as a who's who of the fertile Massachusetts metal scene turned out to check out the long-awaited U.S. reunion of seminal Boston band Blood for Blood. Among the crew hanging out to watch B4B tear it up were Shadows Fall's Brian Fair, Unearth's Ken Susi, Cannae/Death Ray Vision drummer Colin Conway, Acaro frontman Chris Harrell (formerly of Burn in Silence) and Colin Campbell of Colin of Arabia, among others.
The aging theater was packed to the rafters as B4B took the stage. There was a lot of pre-show hype for this one as the band has been destroying it across Europe – and they didn't disappoint.
From the bitter anger of “Pissing All Over Your Hopes and Dreams” to the violent cacophony of “Some Kind of Hate,” the band incited a near-riot on the floor as an old-school Boston circle pit opened up and swallowed anyone within arms' length. Suffice to say there were some busted faces in the crowd by the end of the set - and plenty of ringing ears this morning.
Bury Your Dead, another Massachusetts-bred metalcore band, followed with an equally eardrum-shattering set that continued the chaos and set the stage for Brooklyn thugcore kings Biohazard. Long a favorite in Boston – the guys have a tight bond with many in the Boston/Brockton, Mass. hardcore scene – Biohazard's distorted groove exploded from the speakers and the pit erupted in intensity once again.
Playing a mix of classics and a couple tracks from their new, as-yet-untitled album, the crew was in top form. The show was a good warm-up for what's sure to be a busy year of touring, including a top slot on the June 10-12 Download Festival in the U.K.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to head back for today's reunion, which includes Skeletonwitch, 3 Inches of Blood, Lazarus A.D., Dying Fetus, Hatebreed, Job for a Cowboy, Carnifex, Born of Osiris and Between the Buried and Me. Many of the local rock stars were expected back today to check out Times of Grace, the latest side project from Massachusetts' Adam Dutkiewicz of Killswitch Engage.
It won’t surprise you to know that I loved this show (natch – when do I see shows I’m not going to like?). But I had been looking forward to this show more than many others, because: 1) I had never seen Amon Amarth play live before. 2) I haven’t been to “An Evening With” show for quite some time, probably not for eight or nine years when I saw Dream Theater do it (they covered the entirety of “Master of Puppets” during that show, which was neat). And 3) Chicago, due to its geographic placement within the larger U.S., tends not to get opening or closing shows of tours, and in the handful of first/last tour stops I have seen, the bands always have a bit more pep.
Clearly much of the Midwest had also been looking forward to Amon Amarth’s first show of this North American “An Evening With Amon Amarth” Tour, as it was sold out well before the date, and a local brewery (Three Floyd’s Brewing Co.) made a beer especially for Amon Amarth (Ragnarok Brew). So, with sword, teeth, eyes and ass firmly clenched, I steadied myself as the lights dimmed, the opening hymms from “Surtur Rising” slowly slipped into the hall, and the noise from the crowd became deafening… More...
The "Reckless and Relentless" tour, featuring headliner Asking Alexandria, is rolling forward despite being banned from Nashville venue Rocketown, and rolled right through The Cannery after a quick re-scheduling. The night of April 12th saw a flock of younger audiences out for the 6pm show, with an average age of about 16 years old. Unlike most other Nashville metal shows, they didn’t allow drinking and had thorough pat-downs at the doors. Nevertheless, the crowd sure looked like they had a good time. The bands backing Asking Alexandria were Chiodos, Emmure, Evergreen Terrace, Miss May I, and Lower Than Atlantis.
The fantastic “South by South Death” earlier in the day would be a tough act to follow, but perhaps the best night show was set for the night of March 18th: The Metalliance Tour.
Following up the best day show yet, was the biggest official SXSW metal show: The Metalliance SXSW stop. The Metalliance tour featured an excellent lineup including The Atlas Moth, Howl, Red Fang, Weedeater, Kylesa, Crowbar, Helmet and Saint Vitus. The show was the first I’d attended at the Dirty Dog. It was a decent sized place, but not exactly laid out well for the crowd that would fill it that night.
I arrived while The Atlas Moth was playing. They had just a couple songs left in their set. The first thing I noticed is that the bass sounded very loud. It gave a groovier feel to their music and most of the bands who played that night for that matter. Their last two songs sounded pretty decent, even if bass-heavy.
Howl was up next and played a short set of their groovy style of doom. Still getting drinks and settled in, their set flew by with little sticking out to me, however. More...
A memorial was held this past Sunday for Frankie Sparcello, bassist of the legendary band Exhorder, at the Hangar in New Orleans, Louisiana. The reception included his remains displayed on a pedestal, many pictures of Frankie with his friends and family and friends, and a few friends, including Kyle Thomas, who spoke about their favorite moments with Frankie.
Kyle Thomas stated after the memorial, "Thanks to everyone that came to share our last gathering with Frankie. It's been tough for all of us, but it seems like his family really appreciated everything yesterday. That's good enough for me!"
Frankie Sparcello's obituary ran in the Saturday edition of the Times Picayune. It reads: "Frank 'Frankie' Sparcello, Jr. departed this Earth on Tuesday, March 22 2011 at 9:32 a.m. He was 40 years old. Frankie was very loved and is dearly missed by family, friends and fans of his music. An extremely talented musician, he was best known in his field as the bassist for international recording act Exhorder.
Frankie toured the United States and Europe with the band in the 90's and was the current bassist since the band returned to performing in 2009. He was the father of Nikolas Andrew Clogher and Isabella Maria Clogher; and step-father of Lauren and Kali Payne. He is also survived by his wife, Bobbi Sparcello; father Frank Sparcello Sr.; mother Jan Nox, sisters: Pam Ridgel and Jan Sparcello. He had two nephews: Christopher Fontaine and Philip Ridgel, and two nieces: Candice Fontaine LaBiche and Stephanie Ridgel. The family will be holding a memorial on Saturday, April 2, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. at the Harvest Family Church, 43052 Yokum Rd., Hammond, LA 70403. (I-12 Service Rd/ Frontage Rd).
Anyone wanting to do a eulogy is welcome and in lieu of flowers, donations are appreciated. The members of Exhorder and friends are holding a celebration of Frankie's life on Sunday from 3:00-7:00 p.m. at The Hangar, 1511 South Rendon St., New Orleans, LA 70125. Family friends, and fans of his music are all welcome."
Friday, March 18th marked day three of SXSW Music. I attended the afternoon session entitled “Writing About Music in the Twenty Tens,” as it sounded like a great fit for what we do here. It was actually more geared toward the individual writer, but was applicable nonetheless. The panel of speakers had some prepared questions and discussed the need to learn multimedia and how writing professionally is a skill set in itself. Some of the examples about the latter were particularly interesting - writers get asked to do a wide range of things and the thinking is that rising to the challenge makes you a better writer. They also talked about saving your articles so that over time you’ll have enough material for a book or some sort, and discussed self publishing vs a book deal and how to find a good agent who works with your topic/kind of book (and recommended agentquery.com for searches).
There were two big day shows to choose from on this day: The New England Metal and Hardcore Festival at SXSW and MetalSucks’ “South by South Death.” I had planned to stop by the NEMHF before heading to the MetalSucks event. The New England Metal and Hardcore Festival was being held across the street from Emo’s in a tent. Being highly visible on the main strip, and featuring more well known bands, it was already packed and there was a line to get in - no special treatment for having a badge even. That made it a no-brainer to walk a block down the street to Headhunters to check out the MetalSucks event.
When I arrived, it had yet to start, but Meek Is Murder was setting up just minutes later. The main floor of Headhunters is not very big, especially if you don’t count the stage, sound board, and bar. I’d guess there’s about 15’ x 25’ of usable floor space. Meek Is Murder began playing to the dozen or so people there at the time. Their sound lies somewhere under the progressive hardcore umbrella. I liked the more progressive parts, as well as the occasional cool riff or groove, but was not a big fan of the screamy hardcore parts. But it was still an enjoyable half hour set anyway. More...
On the second day of SXSW Music, there were more options for metal shows at night. I enjoyed bouncing around between shows on the first day and hoped to catch a few bands at different shows this evening, such as Christian Mistress, Agalloch, and the Alex Skolnick Trio. It didn’t pan out exactly as planned, but was a good night nonetheless.
As I wandered a few alleyways, looking for a few of the more obscure venues where these bands were playing, I stumbled upon the Barbarella Patio first, which is where Agalloch would be playing later that night. Upon entry, Amber Asylum was playing and I literally went back to the gate to double check the lineup posted there. They were so mellow that I thought I was in the wrong place. The band did have a couple of slightly heavier moments toward the end of their set, but overall they were far too mellow for my tastes. More...
After my struggles to stay awake the previous night, I slept in late so I wouldn’t be exhausted for the rest of SXSW.
I made it out to an afternoon session “Website? Get Real. You Need A Web Empire.” It was a decent talk about not only the band’s website as a central hub, but all of the social media and mobile presence that bands should work on to build their audience. There were some tips given on marketing and SEO and various related topics as well, but overall, I felt the title was a little misleading. They discussed some services such as cashmusic, bandcamp, and Topspin as well. It was an ok discussion overall, but I only learned a few tidbits here and there that I didn’t know already.
From there, I was headed over to Emo’s once again. On the way, I ran into San Francisco violin, cello and drums trio Judgement Day playing acoustically at a street corner. I stopped to shoot a few photos and hear a song, bought a CD and then was on my way. I hoped to catch them amped the following night at a proper show. More...
SXSW Music officially began on Wednesday, March 16th. My schedule was jam-packed and I quicky fell behind on reporting on the days’ events at the conference, which started with an interactive conference on March 11th.
Despite being out late for a show the night before, I decided to head over to the conference center to catch my first music talk: “Welcome to the Music Business - You’re Fucked.” I didn’t have great expectations from the description alone. Once seated, I was hearing great things about the speaker, who turned out to be Martin Atkins, author of “Tour:Smart” and former drummer for Ministry and Killing Joke among others. More...
The rustic décor of Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater seemed ideal for Motorhead front man Lemmy. Wearing his trademark black western wear, Lemmy could have been an outlaw gambler in a past life, searching out a lucrative poker game in the saloons of Texas’s capital city. March 8, 2011 wasn’t the scene of a 1980s Kenny Roger’s film, but Motorhead came prepared with an “Ace of Spades” up their sleeves.
Even after 37 years in the rock‘n’roll biz, Motorhead has a reach and longevity like few others. Their crossover appeal brought in a sold-out crowd of over 2,000 old school metal heads, bikers, punks, thrashers, black metal fans and stoners. Although nowhere near the legend of Motorhead, Maryland’s bluesy, heavy rock troupe Clutch has carved its own niche in the hard rock world. Their inclusion on the tour not only brought in a unique section of fans; the group’s style was a good fit with Motorhead.
Valient Thorr’s sleazy rock disposition gave the tour a feeling of completeness. The North Carolina opener fed the crowd large doses of volume to go with the huge quantities of beer and BBQ (look for Stubb’s products in your local grocery store) it had already ingested. Front man, Valient Himself stalked the stage like a Sasquatch, hair obscuring his face with every bang of his head.
Wearing jean jackets, bassist Dr. Professor Nitewolf Strangees and guitarists Sadat Thorr and Eidan Thorr combined to form old school metal tandems. Tracks such as set closer 'Sleeper Awakes' and 'Mask of Sanity' proved the band supplemented their stoner rock diet with a few dishes of Judas Priest, Metallica, and Iron Maiden.
Clutch slowed down the pace set by Valient Thorr. The group has become mellower since I first saw them open for Sepultura in 1994. The bruising "Come on Motherfucker" or the hopping dynamics of "Space Grass" were not on display. In fact, the group played nothing from the first two records, which commonly happens when a band has twenty-plus-years of recordings.
“Blast Tyrant” marked the earliest material, which the group obviously highlighted to promote its upcoming reissue. Clutch played album favorites 'I Am Immortal,' 'The Mob Goes Wild,' and 'Cypress Grove' to a welcomed applause. Another notable track was '50,000 Unstoppable Watts' from the “Strange Cousins from the West” album.
Clutch has made a name for itself as a jam band. While I’ve seen Clutch go off on longer tangents, the group made sure to insert a couple of jam sessions. Even though the years have faded their aggression, Clutch’s musical skill has vastly improved. Neil Fallon and Tim Sult created a dialog with the stars through trippy guitar solos. Drummer Jean-Paul Gaster displayed impressive chops, something I didn’t notice until his performance with Wino on “Punctuated Equilibrium.”
Amidst a winged backdrop and drum platform scribed with the title of their new album, Motorhead pushed the venue’s speakers to the max. While not cranking their volume to the extent as their indoor performance (the last time I saw Motorhead) with Black Sabbath and Morbid Angel in 1994 (good year for concerts), I would not advise standing in front of a speaker. A blown speaker needed the help of Mickey Dee’s snare hits to straighten out the static produced by Lemmy’s rumbling bass. More...
Ahhhh, death metal. Until tonight I hadn’t been to a proper death metal show in a couple of years at least, if not longer, so when I opened the doors to Reggie’s Rock Club in Chicago’s Near South Side, the stench of decaying flesh wafted into my wanting nostrils and refreshed my soul. Spiked gauntlets and shinguards, bullet belts, corpsepaint, unending blast beats, lots and lots of huge buckles, long black coats – all the pleasantries of a death metal show were coming back to me in trigged kick drum style as I boldly strode past the merch table. The Apostles of Darkness Over The Americas Tour was in town, and headliner Rotting Christ had brought along a bag of very special guests: Melechesh, Hate, Abigail Williams and Lecherous Nocturne. Unfortunately I had a sustenance occasion that precluded my arrival in time for Lecherous Nocturne, but the folks I chatted with said their tech-death was precise and heavy. More...