The Metal Files

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Archive for April 2014

Alice In Chains Concert Review, Austin, TX 04/28/2014

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In 1990 the record store I used to frequent and ultimately worked in for a while gave me an advanced copy of  a cassette called Facelift by Alice In Chains.  The owner said something to the effect of, “Check out this new metal band and let me know what you think.”  I had never heard of them and my buddy and I got in the car and immediately popped it in on our way back home.  We heard that voice and just started laughing hysterically.  I think we may have gotten all the way through the album once,  It was wretched.  A week or so later I gave the cassette back to Dave (the owner of the store) and said, “This is awful.  These guys will never amount to anything!”

DERP.

Alrighty then.  I guess they did OK for themselves.  A year later in 1991 I had tickets to see Van Halen on the F.U.C.K. Tour and AIC was the opener.  The day of the show I went to the record store to pick up my paycheck and as I am about to leave, I see a tour bus pull up outside.  It was AIC.  They looked pretty rough…in that I mean like they hadn’t bathed for a while.  Layne Staley was on crutches.  I stopped them and asked if they were AIC and they were nice enough to speak to me for a few minutes.  They asked if I was coming to the show and I said I was.  “Do you have tickets already?”  “Yes, but a backstage pass would be cool.”  “Uh, no.  Good luck with that.”  Cantrell said that laughingly.

That night they came out and blew Van Halen away.  Even if I wasn’t a fan of that album in the least, the band was great live.  Shortly after Dirt came out, the band I was in covered Would? and I bought the cassette and enjoyed it.  It’s a good album but it’s the only one of theirs that I can stomach to this day.

Flash forward 20+ years and both Layne Stayley and Mike Starr are no longer part of this world.  RIP.   When the listing for AIC at The Moody Theater comes out, I buy 2 general admission floor tickets more out of curiosity than anything.  I almost sold my tickets a few days before the show to go see George Clinton.  Glad I kept them.

Last night’s show was sold out but it didn’t feel like it.  My friend and I we just off of the corner on stage right with some other friends that I ran into.  AIC hits the stage with Them Bones and that new singer pretty much owned the show.  He’s a likeable frontman and worked the crowd pretty good.  I guess it’s easier when you have a captive audience full of fans, eh?  But whatever.  The guy could sing (like Layne) and had a good range.  He played guitar quite a bit and even had one solo.  The harmonies provided by Cantrell are still spot on.  I’m sure he feels like the lucky one and/or a survivor since two of his bandmates had died of drugs.

Last night’s set was quite different than what I saw in 1991.  AIC is a well-oiled machine nowadays although there was one false start on Last of My Kind.  I am not sure who was at fault, the drummer or Cantrell.  Seemed that one of the two was confused about which song they were supposed to play.  It made for a funny moment as the band joked about it and moved on.  They were tight and while I still can’t call myself a fan, I enjoyed their set for the most part.  I only knew the “hits” that they played and whatever tracks were on Dirt.  A lot of their stuff sounds the same to me and drones on a little too much, but that’s their sound.

I wondered how many people were there that didn’t realize that Layne Stayley was gone.  I bet there was at least one!  It was also a good show for people watching.

 

Alice in Chains Setlist The Moody Theater, Austin, TX, USA, Spring Tour 2014

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I guess the sign worked.  There were no incidents to report!

I guess the sign worked. There were no incidents to report!

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What? That’s not Layne Stayley!

Wishbone Ash Concert Review, Austin, TX 4/27/2014

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Some reviews don’t need to get into a lot of details and this is one of them. Wishbone Ash, which is essentially Andy Powell and friends, played an incredible set at The Roost on far north Austin. The sound was incredible. There may have been 120 people there.

The plus for this tour is that they’re playing all of the album Argus. That album was my introduction to the band sometime in the late 70s through my brother. Just seeing the album cover takes me back to being a little kid sitting by the console unit stereo listening to this album with him. Argus was one of his all time favorite albums and it’s very special to me because of that. Hearing them play the album in order gave me a rush of emotions ranging from pure glee of the moment to sheer sadness in missing my brother. He would have loved it.

I did have Andy sign the book and the cd covers for Argus, Pilgrimage and their latest album, Blue Horizon. The whole band was great.

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Satan Concert Review, Richmond, VA 04/15/2014

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What a whirlwind of shows I have been though in the last couple of weeks.  I’m tired.  So tired.  But it’s a good tired and my music fetish is being well served lately.

So ‘back in the day’ cerca 1984, my friend Daniel (Danile) bought Satan’s Court in the Act and shared it with Kelz, Petey and me and the rest is metal history.  I’ve loved this album since it first hit my ears.  Brian Ross’ vocals mixed with those awesome NWOBHM styled riffs made for a perfect album.  The 4 of us have always been close friends, played in bands together and never lost touch over the years.  We’re bound by metal, friendship, life events (good and bad) and have always been there for one another as needed.

Flash forward 30 years and the 4 of us still adore this album.  When Satan announced a small US tour, there was no way I was going to miss it.  I knew that I’d have to travel somewhere and luckily Richmond, VA was on the list…surprisingly so.  So we started planning the trip.  Kelz and Danile have kids and going out of town on a weeknight was going to be a little more difficult because of family and work obligations but they made it happen.  I’m sure there was some sort of bribery or Jedi mind tricks with their wives.  And that was that.  Another MitchFest was in the works, this time with all 4 of us.  I flew into Raleigh and stayed Monday night with Kelz and the fambly.   Always great hospitality at their house.  Tuesday morning we headed to Suffolk, VA to grab Danile and quickly headed up ti Petey’s house in Richmond.  Unfortunately the wife and kids were out on errands so I didn’t get to see them this time.  The car ride was as expected.  Mama jokes, old stories of our younger years, gushing about metal etc.  Before getting to Richmond, we decided to stop and grab a bite to eat at a BBQ place in Chester, VA.  I love the NC/VA style of pork  BBQ.  I can’t get it in Texas.  My sandwich was perfect, exactly what I needed.

We get to Petey’s and are greeted by his awesome wife, Amy.  He gets home shortly after and after some adult conversation and life and things that matter, the roundtable of silliness begins again.  We’re perpetually 13 years old when we’re all together and it’s a great time.  Now it’s time to get ready for the show.

Satan are playing Strange Matter in Richmond which used to be Twisters and then later Nancy Raygun.  I’ve seen a handful of shows there since the mid-90s and always like the place.  It used to be a bit of a dump, but it had its charm.  It’s been cleaned up quite a bit and I’m glad that location is still doing shows.  Before going in, we park then grub at a pub on the next block.  Just a good time having a meal and a couple of beers with my best friends.

We walk back over to the venue, get our swag out of the car and go in.  I see my pal Tony “Dio” from NC who I’ve known since about 1997 when we met at a Judas Priest show in Norfolk.  I had just seen him the week before at Rangarokkr.  As we’re standing around jibber jabbering, I see John Gallagher from Raven walk in.  How cool is that?  I’ve never been a fan of the band but I did have lunch with him and his brother and their families in 2000 before their show at Jaxx in Springfield, VA.  Nicest guy.  I check out the merch table to hopefully get a Satan shirt, but no luck in my size.  The cool thing was seeing my band’s 7″ on the merch table.  Our label was managing the Satan tour so it was great to meet those guys.

The first band to go on is Salvacion, a band from NC which has the drummer for Volture.  They were OK.  I couldn’t quite gauge exactly what they were going for.  The did a very uncomfortable version of Dokken’s Unchain The Night.  I think I would have enjoyed them more if it wasn’t for the drummer.  I get into that a little bit more when I talk about Volture.

Next up was BAT which features Felix Griffin (DRI) on drums and Ryan Waste (Municipal Waste/Volture) on vocals/bass and Volture’s Nick Poulos on guitar.  They come on and run through a blistering set of thrash/speed metal songs that were all about 3 minutes long.  Old school style.  They were solid and Felix really ripped it up in single bass style on a 4 pc drumset.  I enjoyed it and would love to see them again.

Right after BAT played, I feel a hand on my shoulder and hear a voice say my name.  I turn around and it was a girl that I had dated briefly in 1991 and that I hadn’t seen since right around that time.  She had seen on Facebook that I was in town and just stopped in to say hello.  She couldn’t stay as her husband and kid were outside in the car.  I swear she was only there for about 3 minutes and even paid to get in.  I was floored by the gesture.  The more I thought about it, the more it made sense.  That’s the type of person she always was.  Very thoughtful.  It was a special moment for sure.  I’m still a bit “wow’d” by the whole thing.

Volture comes on next and I hadn’t really paid much attention to them in the past.  There’s just so much out there that I can’t keep up any more.  The members are a mishmash of members from Municipal Waste, Immortal Avenger, Twisted Tower Dire, BAT etc.  I really liked the vocals.  The guy has some great pipes and the guitarists are perfect.  But the drummer…I just can’t take it.  He was doing way too many Rikki Rokkett type moves instead of worrying about keeping good time.  I’m a drummer as well.  I’m hyper critical of other drummers that I see.  When he was just playing the beat and not doing dumb stick tricks, his timing was fine.  But when he’d go into circus mode, the timing would fluctuate, he wasn’t hitting the snare cleanly and it would drop out of the mix and he tended to keep time on his bass drum to where he’s hitting the bass and snare at the same time.  Sorry, it just annoyed me to no end.  Obviously his band has no issue with it, but I would for sure. :)  But again, overall they sounded killer.

And then…Satan…SATAN.  I never ever thought in my lifetime that I’d get to see them live.  Right as Volture ended we made our way to the front of the stage.  Danile and I were right on the barricade and Kelz and Petey were right behind us.  Satan opens up with Trial By Fire and Ross’ vocals are on point.  He skipped the first scream in the song and I though ‘uh oh, he can’t do it any more.’  And then there it was.  His patented high notes came on cue everywhere else in the song and the rest of the set.  I was completely in awe as to how well he still sings.  He sounded perfect.  They ran though a mix of songs from Court in the Act, Life Sentence, a couple of early demos and one from Into the Future of which Brian wasn’t the singer.  They added No Turning Back mid-set which was a nice surprise.  Of course we were hoping to hear the whole Court album but I have no complaints whatsoever about the set.  They were incredible.  Ramsey/Tippins are still a formidable guitar duo and the songs on their latest album prove that.  It was just such a powerful set.  Still blown away as to how good Ross’ vocals are.

After the show, most people leave and we stick around to meet the Satan guys.  Success!   They all come out after a little break and sign swag, take pictures with us nerds etc.  It was especially nice to be sitting between Sean Taylor and John Gallagher listening to them talk about gifts they’ve sent to each others kids and some “back in the day” kinds of things.

It’s been a week since the show and I am still buzzing about it.  Really a once in a lifetime show.  Even more, I got to spend some quality time with my three best friends.  That was as important as the show.  It’s really nice knowing that even if we don’t see each other that often these days, we can always pick up right where we left off.  Love those guys.

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Karion Concert Review, San Antonio, TX 04/12/2014

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Two years ago I reviewed Karion’s Iron Shadows release.  Last week I finally got a chance to see them at Papa Woody’s in San Antonio as they are preparing to play the KEEP IT TRUE 2014 metal festival.  I’ll just say this, they are going to go over very well there.

I was extremely tired from seeing a concert in Fort Worth the night before but I had to get off of my ass to go to San Antonio to see this legendary Texas metal band.

Their set was slated to start at 1130 and I was fading fast after I got down there.  Luckily Scott from Texas Metal Underground was there to keep me company as well as my drummer.

The band comes on and is just pounds out the metal…unfortunately to only about 20 or so people.  The 2 previous shows were better attended and also had several of the Texas metal royalty there to support.  I had only seen Art play guitar in his Motorhead tribute band, Martyrhead, but watching him play this stuff was just a pleasure.  He’s a damn killer guitarist.  Chris Cronk’s vocals are still stellar.  I recommend looking up Talisphere on YouTube.  Also, one of the audition demos he did for Fates Warning is up there as well.  Pete Perez put on a bass clinic.  What a truly gifted musician.  If you’ve heard his work with Spastic Ink and Riot, you’d already know.  The drummer isn’t original and is apparently MIA but the new guy, Chip Alexander (Evil Mothers, Hogbitch),  holds it down perfectly.  The whole show was truly great and we got the extra bonus of them playing the SA Slayer Prepare to Die EP.

I did get Cronk to sign the book and also ran into Jerry from San Antono’s Death Tripper who are also listed in there.

Can’t wait to see them again!

Michael McDonald Concert Review, Austin, Texas 4/9/2014

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Right after the Ragnarokkr Metal Apocalypse experience came another show that I had gotten tickets for.  Michael McDonald (MM).  I’m a huge fan of his work with the Doobie Brothers (who I had seen a few months earlier), 70s/80s solo efforts, Steely Dan and Christopher Cross.  He’s a talented guy and although the tickets were very expensive, I had to go.

I ended up getting front row center mezzanine at The Paramount Theatre.  It’s an old venue that really needs to upgrade its seats to fit modern day humans.  Even sitting front row, my knees were against the barricade.  No fun.

MM hits the stage and openes with 2 Doobie Brothers songs, Here to Love You and It Keeps You Runnin’.  His voice sounded great and his backing band, of course, was incredible.  He played most of the songs you’d expect and I was of course happy to hear I Keep Forgettin’, You Belong to Me and What a Fool Believes.  Three great songs.

Most of his backing band is based out of Nashville and the bassplayer, Tommy Simms, was the guy who wrote the Clapton hit Change the World.  He sang most of it that night.

One of the best parts of the night was during the encore when Christopher Cross came out on stage and did Ride Like the Wind with MM in the backing vocal spot.  It was awesome and gave me chills seeing it performed live.  One of my all time favorite songs.  Cross sounded great and played a killer guitar solo.  Cross also handled a verse of Takin’ It To the Streets.

Great show but doubtful I’d spent that kind of money to see Michael again.

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Ragnarokkr Metal Apocalypse 2014 in Review

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Holy crap!  What an incredible weekend I just had in Chicago April 3-6 at the Ragnarokkr Metal Apocalypse 2014 fest.  I was planning to attend the show this year but then my band, Eternal Champion, got added to the bill, so that made it a double bonus.  Having Riot V, Grim Reaper and Picture on the bill was enough to get me out of town.  My best friend of 30+ years, Kelz, got the OK from his wife and we started making plans to meet up there.

I got there Thursday afternoon and was greeted at the hotel by Bob B, one of the festival organizers, and David B who had just traveled from Australia for the fest.  They were waiting on some other folks who were on their way in before we headed off to go get some food.  I checked in, freshened up a little, met the rest of the group and off we went in a few different vehicles to grub.  I took Jeremy and Jamie from Heaven and Hell Records with me and also my buddy Dustin who’s drumming for Night Demon now.  I’ve known him for about 3 or 4 years from when his former band, New Liberty, would come through Austin.  I was pretty excited to see him and to share the bill with his band.  Good kid, good drummer.

We went to a place called Marcello’s Father and Son Pizza.  I ordered calamari and a small pizza with Italian beef and green peppers on it…and no, not Chicago style.  I’m a thin crust guy.  I did try a piece of Dustin’s Chicago style and it was good, just not my thing.  Mine was great as was the squid.  Plus they had Peroni on tap.  mmmmmmmmm…Peroni.  We left dinner and went to a cool little bar called The Mutiny.  There were a few venders set up there selling shirts, patches, records, books and CDs.  I kind of went overboard on patches.  I need a new vest to put them on.  My night there was great.  I got introduced to one of Bob’s friends, Mike and his girl Dahlia.  Such awesome folks.  Mike’s got ties to the San Antonio area and it was great getting to know the two of them a bit.  Classic metal was being played the whole night and it was quite incredible having 30+ people singing Running Wild and Warlock songs in unison.  The bar itself was great.  Just an old dive bar that loves metal and punk.  The guys from Riot V showed up later and we all partied down.  Don Van Stavern and I talked for quite a while as we have a lot of Texans in common.  Mike Flynt was hanging with us for a bit, such a super nice guy.  It was getting late and the long day was wearing on me, so I gathered my group and we headed back to the hotel.  Everyone was a bit wiped out plus we needed our strength for the opening of the fest.

One of my favorite things about The Mutiny was meeting the group of guys from Mexico.  Many of them didn’t speak English and it felt good to be able to speak Spanish with those guys.  I think they appreciated as well.

Friday morning came too early and I needed to pick up Kelz at the airport.  Mitchfest!  We went to the hotel, got him situated then went into downtown to get some food.  We ended up at Portillo’s and got the Italian beef sandwich.  I’m pretty sure they put crack in that thing.  It was tasty.  We went back to the hotel after that and chilled out for a little bit.  Now remember, we’ve known each other for over 30 years, so there’s always a ton of smack talk between us.  Tons of abuse.  Mama jokes galore.  At the hotel, we got our gear together for the night.  Him with CD covers galore and me with The Book.  I had purchased a canvas shoulder bag to carry that in and to house whatever swag I bought.

This fest has 2 stages and I’ll run through the main stage bands first.

MetalUSAfer was the “secret opener” at on the main stage at 5:30.  They weren’t my thing.  I think one or some of the guys from this band are in High Spirits who I haven’t checked out yet.

Chicago’s legendary Amulance came on next and just rocked the place.  While I felt that they should have been on later, the fest apparently has a “policy” of putting locals on early, no matter how big they were.  They were awesome and just super nice guys.  Singer Rick Baez made it a point to sign stuff for everyone after the show and wanted pics with the fans for himself.  Super cool.  Guitarist Bob and bassist Chuck were all super cool.

Night Demon is a SoCal 3 piece that now features my buddy Dustin on drums.  Awesome guys and they played a great set.  I recommend them!

Diamond Rexx was up next and I’ve always loved their album Land of the Damned, even if it was a bit cheesy.  They came on with their original lineup and played a mix of old and newer stuff.  They did alright.  I got to meet the guitarist and bassist who both signed The Book.  The singer didn’t stick around after their set unfortunately.  Oh well.

Canada’s Axxion came on next and their mulleted singer delivered soaring vocals over top of great riffs and drumming.  While they were trying a little too hard to be an 80s retro metal band, they did a good job at it and I’d like to see them again.

The Skull features original Trouble members Eric Wagner, Ron Holzner, Jeff Olson along with Lothar Kellar and Matt Goldsborough who was recently in Pentagram.  They were there to play their new new demos which sounded fine.  I had walked out for a minute to get some air when all of a Sudden I hear Trouble’s The Tempter being played live.  I think I may have knocked over a few people trying to get back in there.  The also played Assassin and End of my Daze.  They sounded great and seeing Matt on guitar was a nice bonus.  I had met him when Pentagram last came to town and he’s a cool guy.  Catching up after their set was great.

Picture came up next and played a damn solid set.  I’m not a huge fan but it was great to see some Euro legends on the stage and for their 2 original members to sign The Book.

Finally came Riot V, the version of the band touring after Mark Reale’s death (RIP).  I’ll just say this.  They ruled.  While having Bobby Jarzombek on drums would have been cooler, the touring drummer did a fine job and Mike Flynt did a wonderful job on guitar.  The new singer is no slouch either.  They were the perfect ending to an awesome night on the main stage.

As far as the second stage bands on the first night, none of them really stood out but I did stop in briefly to see NC’s Dogbane and Dark Design.  I can’t say I’m much of a fan but they were both solid.  To be honest I didn’t see any of the other bands on the second stage as the main stage that night was so ass kickingly good.

After Riot V, we went back to the hotel to pass out and to get some energy stored up for the next days sightseeing and festivities.  We bounced around Chicago a little bit but I didn’t want to get too crazy that day as my band, Eternal Champion, was slated to play at 8PM on the second stage.

I started on the main stage again with Salt Lake City’s Visigoth who just got up there and slayed the crowd.  The singer had trouble talking but was able to power through vocally.  The whole band was killer.  Can’t wait to see them again.

Austin-based Witches Mark came on next and played a solid set.  They’re goods pals of my band and it was cool to have another Texas band representing at the festival.

Because we had to play, I didn’t see Axemaster or Crowhaven but did pop in to see Black Death Resurrected, which was just OK.  I was never a fan.  I did meet Sickie Spacek after the show but didn’t have the book with me that night.

I also missed Argus as I was getting my gear situated after we played.  However, I did catch Mexico’s Voltax and those kids are kick ass!  High energy power metal and a singer with pipes of gold.  Amazing seeing him hit those insane high notes.

Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper closed out the night on the main stage and feature Nick Bowcott on guitar for the first time in about 25 years.  They played an incredible set and I’m so glad that I got to see them live finally and to meet Steve and Nick.  Steve’s voice sound great.

Now on to the second stage.  To be honest, I didn’t much pay attention to anything going on as I was getting mentally and physically psyched up for our slot.  One of the show promoters kept telling me about the hype surrounding us and that a lot of folks were excited to see us.  That being said, Midnight Hellion came on right before us and played an enjoyable set.

Next up was Eternal Champion.  Us.  This was only our third show since our inception in December 2012.  My local pal loaned us a sword.  During Midnight Hellion’s set, I could see a lot of people filing in presumably to get a spot in there to see us.  We get on stage, set up, tune up, get introduced and blasted through our 30 minute set like a hot knife through butter.  I think because of the adrenaline rush and the reactions from the crowd, I don’t really remember much about the set we played other than it was too fast.  Not surprising really, as we don’t rehearse as much as I’d like since some of us don’t live nearby.  But we make it work.  The crowd went nuts between every song and at the end.  It was sheer madness and some of the most fun I’ve had playing live.

I didn’t really catch anyone else on the second stage.

I just want to say that this little festival is the perfect size as far as the venue and crowd size go.  The promoters treated us like gold and I hope we’re able to come back next year and play the main stage.  I met some awesome people in Chicago and look forward to going back to just hang out.  Also, Leather Leone of Chastain fame was an MC for the show and I got to speak with her several times over those 2 days.  She was awesome.  Very sweet and funny.

Great times!

I’m still alive!

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For those waiting with bated breath for my awesome updates, there will be several coming this weekend. I’ve been quite busy.

Ragnarokkr 2014
Michael McDonald
Satan(!!!)

Stay tuned!

Written by The Metal Files

April 16, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized