The Metal Files

My Life. My Music. Your Voyeurism.

Sepultura, Destruction, Arsis, Starkill & Headcrusher Concert Review, Austin, TX, June 10, 2015

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posteruseEarly shows on weeknights.  I love ’em.  Last night’s show was done by 10:30 and that was sweet.

To be honest, I was most excited about last night’s show to see Arsis again.  They’re one of my favorites.

Prior to the show I got to meet Sepultura who were really cool.  Got Paolo and Andreas in The Book.  I’ve got no problem saying that if Beneath the Remains was the only album that they ever recorded, they could have been my favorite thrash band ever.   But…

Headcrusher was the local support (originally from Bogota, Colombia) for the show and they played a tight energetic set on a hot stage going on right around 5:25.  They crushed it to an unfortunately small crowd.  Always a pleasure seeing them, even if I’m not the biggest death metal fan.

Chicago’s melodic death metal band, Starkill, was up next and to be honest, I couldn’t care.  I had listened to a few tracks earlier in the day and they just didn’t catch my ear.  They were pretty sloppy, too.  Maybe the heat was too much.  Don’t know.  Can’t care.

Arsis came on next and did what they do best…SHRED.  They played an intense 7 song set opening with Handbook for the Recently Deceased from their latest album, Unwelcome.  Not only do I like their riffs, I really dig the lyrics.  Malone writes some pretty cool stuff that goes outside of the “hey look, we love satan” type lyrics in a lot of death metal.  Great show, but always too short for my tastes.

Destruction came on next and hit the growing crowd right in the face with Curse the Gods.  They were tight but I could tell they were dying from the heat up there.  I missed the middle part of their set as I went to the bar next door to sit down for a few minutes.  My foot has been bothering me lately as well as my back (getting old!) and I needed a place to sit down for a little bit as Empire Garage doesn’t have seats anywhere.  When I came back I caught The Butcher Strikes Back and Bestial Invasion.  Shortly after their set, their tour manager invited me and 2 other guys onto their bus to hang out.  Schmier and  Mike were very welcoming guys.  Schmier had made a comment from the stage about the Germany/USA soccer match from earlier in the day and I commiserated with him about it.  We then got into a great discussion about Thin Lizzy.  Mike is a huge fan.  Good dudes.  They also signed The Book!  Seriously two of the nicest guys, along with their drummer, that I have ever met.

When I left the bus, Sepultura was already on stage.  The crowd had filled in quite a bit.  They sounded super tight, but I just couldn’t invest much time into them last night.  They weren’t playing anything that I really cared to hear, so I went home.

Arsis!  :)

Rolling Stones Concert Review, Arlington, TX, June 6, 2015

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IMG_9688useMake no bones about, I f’n love The Rolling Stones.  I’m not shy about my Stones fanboyness ever.  They are as big of a part of my early rock and roll makeup as KISS.  I saw them 10 years ago for the first time in Charlottesville, VA where a bomb threat interrupted the show.

The Stones are on their 15 date North American Zip Code Tour and booked a show in Arlington, TX and there was really no way I’d miss it.  I was able to score a floor ticket near the back of Cowboys Stadium.  Not the best viewing but not bad and a bit cheaper than most floor tickets.

Pablo and I drove up from Austin, grabbed some dinner in Arlington then made our way to our reserved lot.  We grabbed some merch and made out way to the floor.  He had a seat closer to the front.  Grace Potter was the opener and we spent most of her set in the downstairs lounge.  My foot has been bothering me lately so getting some sitting time was essential.  After her set we just stood in the back of the floor area and people watched for a bit until about ten minutes before the Stones’, then we went to our respective seats.

The stadium roof was open, the lights went down and the Stones hit the stage with Jumpin’ Jack Flash and followed it up with It’s Only Rock and Roll.  The crowd was electric and I was loving it.  Mick sounded great.  No surprise, he was all over the stage the whole night.  I had seen previous setlists from the tour and they had been mixing it up a bit.  The list remained pretty consistent until just after Moonlight Mile where they played a snippet of All My Exes Live In Texas then rolled into Rocks Off from Exile on Main Street marking the first time they’ve played it on this tour.  Honky Tonk Women was next which included band intros.  Mick left the stage after and Keith took over for Before They Make Run and Happy.  He’s got this childish grin that just cracks me up.  His voice sounded pretty good, as good as expected.  For as old as he looks, he still retains some teenage boyishness about him.  Ronnie and Charlie were both great.  Charlie’s unorthodox drumming style is difficult to watch, but he gets it done.

The whole band sounded great, just like I expected them to. Look, The Stones aren’t the tightest band in the world, but they never were.  But they’re great.  They did a heavy rocking version of Miss You that was just great.  The whole show was a blast.  Surprisingly, I don’t think it was sold out though.  It was close.  I hope it’s not the last time I get to see them.  I would love to have seen Monkey Man and a handful of others, but I’m not complaining.  The Stones truly appear to enjoy playing live even after 50+ years of doing it.  I can’t speak highly enough about Mick’s voice.  There were some high notes that he hit that just blew me away.  I honestly didn’t want the show to end.  It was a blast.  The 4 hour ride home was rough, but we made it.

Long live The Stones.

GBH, Krum Bums, Total Chaos Concert Review, Austin, TX, May 30, 2015

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IMG_9643To call me a punk fan would be the overstatement of the decade but there are a few bands in the genre that I’ve always liked including Circle Jerks, Black Flag, JFA, Dead Kennedys, Reagan Youth, some Sex Pistols and GBH…especially GBH.  Not sure how I became a fan but it was probably through a roommate I had in the 90s.  I’ve always wanted to see them and that last few times they came to town I just happened to be out of town.  That changed last night.

Opening the show was L.A.’s Total Chaos.  I had heard a lot of people slagging them prior to the show as being generic.  They didn’t do anything for me but the crowd seemed to enjoy them.  I caught half of their set and went to another bar for a bit.  Local punks Krum Bums came on next and I’ve seen them a few times before.  They were solid and are definitely a local favorite.  I only caught the tail end of their set.

We got back to Red 7 right before GBH went on and I secured my spot with a decent view of the stage and away from the pit.  They came on at full power with original singer Colin Abrahall saying, “We are GBH from Birmingham, England” and went right into their set with a newer song (2010) called Unique then went back to the Leather, Bristles, Studs, And Acne album with Race Against Time.  GBH still has original guitarist Colin “Jock” Blyth and the whole band was killer.  The show was sold out by the time GBH came on and they rolled through their set with only minor banter between songs.  I got to hear all of my favorites and they played most of City Baby Attacked By Rats and the Leather album and a few from the follow up, City Baby’s Revenge.  They were solid and I had a great time.  Glad I finally got to see them live.

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Saxon, Armored Saint & Evil United Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, May, 23, 2015

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posterThree things in San Antonio have stood the test of time:  Saxon, Armored Saint and Jason McMaster.  Let’s just face facts, Saxon’s biggest USA fanbase is in Texas with the majority in the San Antonio area.  Last night proved that.

The weather was bad all day but I drove down and arrived at the venue pretty early to meet up Armored Saint/DC4/Odin guitarist, Jeff Duncan, who I hadn’t seen since the Odin reunion show in LA a few years back.  We met when his band DC4 was in town for SxSW about 5 years ago.  His brother, Shawn, and I have been friends for a few years prior and I helped them out when they were in town.  Jeff and Jason met me at the back door of 210 Kapone’s and walked me in.  While sound checking Armored Saint, I got to meet John Bush and the Sandoval brothers.  I had previously met Joey Vera at the Arch/Matheos show a few years back.

The Saint guys went back to their hotel after signing The Book (thanks, Jeff!) to rest and clean up and Jason and I hung out while some of the local openers were playing on the second stage.  The crowd was starting to build around 730 and lots of friends were showing up.  Jason’s thrash band, Evil United was scheduled to go on at 8PM.  Thanks to Jeff, Jason and Saint’s manager I got an all access pass that was good though the end of the Saint set.

Evil United hit the stage and opened with Dead Can See from their new album, Honored By Fire, followed up by three more from that album.  They went back to their self-titled debut for Dawn of Armageddon.  The 30ish minute set was capped by a brutal cover of Judas Priest’s Tyrant.  The crowd was into the set from the first note to the last.  Jason is highly regarded in San Antonio because of his work with Watchtower and Dangerous Toys.  He’s consistently flown the metal flag in Texas for 30+ years.  Evil United sounded great.  Don Van Stavern’s bass was crushing through the mains.  I especially like EU’s drummer.  That dude is pretty much a badass.  The band was tight and the set was too short, but such is life.  Jason has a long history with Armored Saint dating back to the early 80s and had remained friends with them since then.  It was great seeing them hang out together.

Armored Saint was using EU’s backline so there wasn’t much of a changeover between bands beyond changing cymbals out and switching guitar pedal boards.  They hit the stage around 855 with the title track from their new album, Win Hands Down.  I like this song a lot and have listened to it several times since the single was released.  They totally got the crowd going with March of the Saint and Nervous Man.  Bush’s vocals were spot on and Jeff’s backing vocals sounded great.    The guitar tandem of Jeff and Phil Sandoval is pretty crushing.  The whole band was extremely tight and their setlist spanned every album.  Symbol of Salvation is my favorite album and their played Reign of Fire and Last Train Home.  The increasingly growing crowd was totally into their 11 song set that closed with Mad House from March of the Saint.  Of course Can U Deliver elicited the greatest response.  I had never seen Saint before and last night’s show was great.  Just what I needed!  After their set I went back to Saint’s dressing room for a bit to hang with Jeff and Jason.  I didn’t want to be all up in their business as it was pretty humid in there last night and those guys put on an intense set so I knew they were a bit worn out.  Bobby Jarzombek was up there and was having a discussion with John Bush about whose Mexican food was better, LA or San Antonio.  It was pretty humorous.

Saxon was up next and it’s well known around here that I am not a fan beyond 3 songs or so.  I just could never get into Biff’s voice, their lyrics and their riffs.  Believe me, I have owned several of their album to no avail.  They hit the stage to a seemingly capacity crowd opening with Motorcycle Man.  They ran through what most would consider their most popular songs.  I watched one song and went back to the room where the second stage was to sit for a while as it was vacant and I sit down.  Ran into other friends out there and listened to the remainder of the show from a distance.  I heard Dallas 1PM, Princess of the Night and the closers Strong Arm of the Law and Denim and Leather, and that was plenty for me.  I was just bored and couldn’t wait for the show to end so that my friends and I could grab a late meal and hang out for a while at one of their houses.  Saxon, however, did sound tight and the crowd was completely into it from beginning to end.  That will likely be my first and last Saxon show.

RUSH Concert Review, Austin, TX, May 16, 2015

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rushTonight marked the third time in as many decades that I’ve seen RUSH.  First time was in Chapel Hill, NC on the Counterparts Tour.  My main takeaway from that show was that RUSH was having an off night.  They didn’t sound tight and I can remember seeing Peart dropping a stick a few times.  Not helping was that Candlebox opened.  I also caught the R30 Tour in Virginia Beach, VA.  The main thing I remember from that show is how utterly bored I was overall.  It was cool that they played By-Tor and the Snow Dog and some other classics, but I just couldn’t get into it.  I was supposed to catch them on The Power Windows Tour but my grades were bad and I had to sell my ticket.  Bummer.

I hadn’t planned on seeing tonight’s show but after a decent poker game last night, the show ended up being free.  I scored a ticket mid-day and rode with some friends to the show.  I had spied the current setlists before buying my ticket and the selection looked pretty good.

They opened the show with 3 songs from Clockwork Angels, all of which I was not familiar.  They then went into Far Cry, which I like, and The Main Monkey Business from Snakes and Arrows, another that I wasn’t familiar with.  They continued with one each from Vapor Trails, Counterparts and the title track from Roll the Bones.  As a new song from each album was played, the “crew” from Moving Pictures would change stage props matching what the stage looked like on each respective tour.  The setlists from the last 4 shows showed them playing either Distant Early Warning or Between the Wheels from Grace Under Pressure.  Sadly for me, we got Between the Wheels.  That was pretty much the only letdown for me.  They finished their first set with Subdivisions and that finally got the crowd going.

The second started with Tom Sawyer and then into The Camera Eye.  Some stops on the tour were getting Red Barchetta.  I was a-ok without it as The Camera Eye is probably my favorite song from Moving Pictures.  This set was great containing Jacob’s Ladder, Cygnus X-1, much of 2112, Spirit of Radio, Closer to the Heart and Xanadu.

The encore was really good and consisted of Lakeside Park from my favorite RUSH album, Caress of Steel.  They then went into Anthem and 2 from the debut to close the show, What You’re Doing and Working Man.

It was an enjoyable show and easily the best of the 3 times I had seen them.  Geddy’s playing was superb.    He also botched a few lyrics here and there and it was good to see him be a human even though he had a teleprompter on his keyboard.  His voice sounded pretty good and he didn’t reach too hard to hit notes he knew he couldn’t hit.  Peart was on his game as was Lifeson.  It was noticeable, however, that many of the songs were played slower than their original album speed.  That was no surprise as those guys aren’t getting any younger.

Judas Priest Concert Review, Cedar Park, TX, May 14, 2015

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Poster art by Billy Perkins

Priest returned to Central Texas last night to conquer the mighty town of…wait.  what?  Cedar Park?  Alright then.  Cedar Park!  To talk to people in Austin, you’d think Cedar Park was 1000 miles away, and sometimes when dealing with traffic around here, getting to the north side of town to cross over into Cedar Park can be daunting, especially during rush hour.  But Priest wasn’t hitting the stage until 930PM, so traffic should not have been and was not an issue.  We zoomed right in and got parked.  Making it even easier to get in was the fact that the show wasn’t sold out.  Not even close.  The newer Cedar Park Center (CPC) is a great venue and can hold up to 8,700 for concerts, according to their website.  I dare say there were 5,000 in attendance last night.  I think several factors led to this.  (1) Concert in Cedar Park and no one likes driving up there, (2) Priest just played here in November supporting the same album, (3) GA floor price was $70 and seats were around $50.  But I still went even though I had seen the November show.

This was only my second time seeing them with Halford.  The show was pretty much the same as the November show with the addition of Hellion/Electric Eye and Painkiller.  Painkiller was a way better closer than the snoozefest of Defenders of the Faith.  Faulkner seemed a little more controlled as well.  He was all over the place in November.  Beyond the Realms of Death did give me the same chills it did at the last show.

To be honest I almost didn’t go last night and was going to give my ticket away, but once I got there and ran into everyone, my spirits were kicked up and I was ready to rock out.

Click on the photos to enlarge.  Most of mine sucked, so I used a lot of DaveTV by permission.

Ragnarokkr Metal Apocalypse 2015 Concert Review, Chicago, IL, May 1 & 2, 2015

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posteruseWow.  What another great weekend in Chicago.  This was my second year attending this festival and it was a lot of fun, albeit tiring.

Like last year, Kelz flew in from NC and met me at the airport on Thursday.  Local friends Rodney and Brent also flew along and we all rode together to the hotel.  We chilled out for a bit at the hotel then headed over to a pizza place to meet with some fest regulars prior to the pre-party.  I wasn’t so into my pizza but the Peroni on tap was right on.  After eating we headed over to a great dive called The Mutiny and rocked out some great old metal.  There were a few merch vendors as well.  I was pretty worn out and so were Chris and Rodney so we headed back to the hotel.  We had a long day ahead.

Early Friday consisted of going to Portillo’s for lunch and inhaling their incredible Italian beef sandwich.  So incredibly awesome.  Afterwards I napped.  I wanted to get to Reggie’s for the fest as the doors were opening, mainly to catch Satan’s Hallow in which a good friend plays guitar.  They’re a newer band and have only released 2 songs, but those songs are great.  They were great!  I really love Mandy’s vocal delivery and the riffs are good.  New pal, Poncho, was filling in on bass and was absolutely badass.  I see good things ahead for this band.

Twisted Tower Dire was up next and I had last seen them in 1999 with the old singer.  Their power metal set was solid and they now share singer and a guitarist with Walpyrgus.

Cleveland’s Vatican came on next and I caught most of their set.  Vince and company laid it down playing most of their Metalmorphosis re-release.  They were fun to watch and their singer has some serious pipes.  Added bonus getting those guys added to The Book!

With the fest having two stages, bands overlap and during Vatican’s set, Hessian started on the smaller stage and I wanted to catch a little of their set.  While they were solid, they weren’t my thing.

Back to the main stage for my friends, Dantesco.  I met them in Puerto Rico last year and was excited to see them.  They were great.  Powerful, heavy and Erico’s vocals were right on point.  The crowd dug them a lot.

Back to the smaller stage for Kantation which featured Martin Debourge who fronted a more recent version of Damien Thorne.  His vocals sounded great and the band was solid.  Martin’s a good dude.

Salem’s Wych was up next and their set was a little loose.  This was their first show since the 80s.  Pretty legendary though.

I saw just a little of Beyond Fallen but wanted to catch Q5 on the main stage.  They sounded really good.  They were one of the biggest surprises to me.  I had listened to them back in the old days but it didn’t catch on with me.  I got to meet them in the green room before the show and they were super cool.  Three original members got added to The Book.

I caught most of Ostrogoth’s set and they were pretty good.  Their drummer is the only original member left and he’s an awesome guy.  I caught a little bit of Iron Finger and they were ok, solid, but not my thing.

Then…LIEGE LORD.  I’ve been a fan since randomly buying Burn to My Touch based on having an album cover by Ioannis (Fates Warning, Warlord, Obsession).  Let’s make no mistake about it, I prefer the Andy Michaud era.  Master Control never did anything for me but I was still stoked to see them live.  They were another band I got to meet prior to them hitting the stage and they were all cool dudes.  When showing Joe Comeau The Book, he said, “Ah cool.  I have one of these” and continued to tell me a story about the promo shoot that the photo (see below) was taken from.  Only original member, Tony Truglio, was also very nice.  They opened with 2 from Master Control then Dark Take from Freedom’s Rise.  Cast Out from Burn to My Touch was next and it sounded awesome.  The band was tight and the crowd was loving it.  They rolled through Rainbow’s Kill The King, a couple more from Master then went into Speed of Sound.  I nearly lost my shit on that one.  One of my favorites from Burn.  Their whole set was good and I was so glad I finally got to see them.  Then back to the hotel for the typical late night jibber jabber and sleep.

Saturday, Kelz and I went to a taqueria and had some awesome food.  Afterwards we drove over to Cabrini-Green, the site that the TV show Good Times was based on.  That used to be a very rough area.  “The projects”.  Now it’s all condos and heavily gentrified.  Was hoping for some sort of historical monument to JJ and the family but it was nowhere to be found.

Saturday’s show started a little earlier at 4:30 and got started with Kentucky’s Savage Master.  They were solid but not completely my thing.  There’s a buzz about them and I think it’s mainly because of the scantily clad singer.  I’m not much of a fan of her vocal delivery and I think she could work on her stage presence a little.  The rest of the band is dressed in black hoods and the whole thing reminded me of the band Bitch being backed up by The Mentors.  I think a little tweaking could get their live show more exciting.  Nice folks, though.

Crumble came on the small stage and I caught a little of it.  By “a little” I mean less than one song.

Züül was up next on the main stage and the singer announced that it was their last show ever.  I had seen them a time or two before in Austin and enjoyed them.  They sounded good in Chicago as well but the singer seemed to be having a few vocal issues.  He was lacking some of the power he normally has.  Still sounded good.

Skelator was up next and delivered their sword-wielding metal the masses that were really just starting to roll in.  They sounded great but I only caught about half of their set as I needed to catch Moros Nyx on the small stage.

Moros Nyx has the drummer for Satan’s Hallow on bass.  This was their first show and they did a great job.  Looking forward to more from these guys.  Their drummer is a bad ass.

Back to the big room for the return of Skullview.  I’ve always liked their debut quite a bit and it was good seeing them finally.  Especially good to finally meet their guitarist, Dean.  We’ve known each other from online forums for a long time.  Their singer has an enormous range, but antics I saw before and after the show pretty much let me know that I can’t care to see him again.  I stayed for half of the set and went back to the small stage.

Hrom was up next and they were powerful with yet another singer with a great high range.  Nice kids, too.

I went back to the main room to catch a little of Chicago’s reunited Aftermath.  They were good straight up thrash and super nice guys.

I went back to the small room and waited for Walpyrgus to come on.  This band features members of Twisted Tower Dire as mentioned above.  They put on a great set.  Would like to see them again.

As soon as they were done I rushed back over to catch High Spirits.  I really enjoy this band.  Good, straight up hard rock and I really like Chris’ vocal delivery.  “Without Zuul, there would be be no High Spirits,” Chris said.  He’s good at working the crowd too.  When I saw them in San Antonio, he was on bass but had a full backing band for this show.

I caught a little of Coven 13 but it wasn’t my thing.

Coming up next…ATTACKER!  Another band I’ve loved since their debut, Battle At Helms Deep.  That album rules.  I’ve no problem admitting that I didn’t care much for the follow up, Second Coming.  But no matter.  I was finally getting to see them live.  They opened with The Hermit from their debut and the crowd went nuts.  The band was tight and most recent singer, Bobby Lucas, sounded great.  Original drummer, Mike Sabatini, and guitarist, Pat Marinelli were great as well as the rest of the band.  Their set was great and very tight.

Wretch played the small stage and they were another band who was solid, but I didn’t get to see enough to really form an opinion.  We were so hungry we went next door to grab a burger.

Upon returning, The Rods were already playing the main stage.  I’ve seen them before and I am 0.0% a fan of them.  Their brand of hard rock just never caught on with me.

Nuclear Assault was on next, but again, I’m not really a fan.  I had met and seen them live in 2003 in Norfolk, VA and got Dan and John to sign The Book.  Glenn signed in the green room earlier that evening.  The room was packed and there was a big pit going.  I saw about 1.5 songs and retreated to the small room where all bands had finished for the night.  Kelz and I got to sit and hang out with Sabatini and just talk about stuff.  We talked with him for a long time and he was very cordial.  “Playing festivals like this is great, but we all have jobs.”  It was great hanging out with him and the rest of the band.

What a great night and fun festival.  After Nuclear Assault, we were all dog tired and went out to the street to say goodbyes to all of our friends.  I hope they continue to get quality bands for next future fests.  My band, Eternal Champion, was originally slated to play but had to back out a few months ago.  Warlord was also originally booked but backed out.  That was a crushing blow for me.

Click here to see the setlists from the festival.

Mouse over or click photos to see captions.

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