The Metal Files

My Life. My Music. Your Voyeurism.

Frost and Fire III Review October 5-8, 2017

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I’ve been lazy with reviews lately, surely you’ve noticed.  haha

What a long, wonderful and exhausting weekend and was about as perfect as it could get.

Kelz and I met up for yet another Mitchfest (our term) and it was, as usual, filled with mom jokes, ritual verbal abuse in general, jokes, tacos and all around camaraderie.  You might remember him from such reviews as Frost and Fire II, Ragnarokkr 2014-17, Arch/Matheos and ProgPower 2016.

Thursday, Oct 5
We both had super early travel times and got to LA early Thursday morning.  I arrived a couple of hours before him and got the car sorted out and such.  Once picking him up, we headed up to Ventura making a few record store stops along the way.  We got checked into the ClockTower Inn and walked to Main St for some grub.  A quick nap and a shirt change and we were off to the Ventura Theater for the pre-party concert.  The Ventura allows no in/outs so once you’re in, you’re in.  Also, beers are $10.  I hadn’t been drinking for a couple of weeks and held off for that night as well.  Also it would have put me to sleep pretty quickly.  So let’s get to the bands.

Glare – Kind of a thrashy thing.  Solid.  All of these dudes were in other bands and it was kind of a throw together but they pulled it off well.

Pounder – This band features my pal, Tom Draper, on guitar.  I met Tom at the first Frost and Fire (FF).  He’s an English lad with great guitar skills and did some time in the recent touring version of Angel Witch.  Pounder were solid and Tom’s solos were fucking great.  He’s a great player and look forward to seeing/hearing more from them.

Ruthless – They’ve been around since the 80s but I care as much now as I did back then, which isn’t much.  While they laid down a heavy set, I’m just not much into them.  I met the singer and the bassist after their set to sign The Book.  Great guys.  The bassist also played in Bloodlust, so that was cool.  Nice guys.

Cage – zzzzz.  I’m not into Sean Peck’s vocals at all and the band does nothing for me.  Seems like a nice enough guy, though.  He made sure to interact with his fans before and after their set, which is good.

Night Demon – Well-oiled machine.  Jarvis and co. have it down.  They played a killer set, the crowd was into it and I can’t see them enough.  I will say that I prefer seeing them on smaller, more intimate stages, but Jarvis and Armand make good use of the space.  Getting pictures of them standing in one spot is difficult.  They rule.  If for some reason you’ve not checked them out, do it.  The new album is fantastic and after getting to know these guys over the last several years either from Night Demon or Armand and Dustin’s previous band, it’s really nice seeing them do well as friends.  Lots more good things on the horizon for them for sure.

Tyrant – I saw Tyrant at Spring Bash in Wisconsin this past April and I couldn’t tell if they were bad because of technical difficulties or if it was just because they’re an awful band.  Thursday’s show pretty much nailed them to the “awful band” wall forever for me.  Just a week or so prior to the fest they announced that Robert Lowe (Solitude Aerturnus/Candlemass) had joined the band…and that they would be playing only new songs for FFIII.  What?  It would be one thing if they were supporting a new album that was out but that was not the case.  While it was a ballsy move to do their first show with their legendary new singer this way, it also should have been a dose of reality for them.  Especially since after their 2nd song or so, 90% of the people at the venue left.  Yes, they were that bad.  I wanted to think that maybe it was because they were getting used to the new songs and singer, but again, I think they may just be an awful band.  I left after 4-5 songs but wanted see how Lowe sounded with them.  I got what I thought I’d get, and that’s the Candlemass Lowe.  I didn’t like his releases with them either.  It wasn’t even worth sticking around after their set to meet Robert again for the first time since seeing Solitude in the early 90s.  The band is a bit delusional and I heard some horror stories about their “importance” while chatting with some folks over the weekend.  As most bands would, they touted their performance on Facebook as being great but showed a full stage shot of the band with a whole 8 people watching.  What a disappointment.  I’m done with them.

Friday, Oct 6
After getting up and grubbing at the mini breakfast buffet with Raven, we headed off to Thousand Oaks to do more record shopping.  Let me tell you, Breakfast with Mark and John Gallagher is awesome and intense.  I’d met both of them in 2000 and got to spend the day with them and a mutual friend in the DC area prior to their show that night with UDO.  When I had mentioned that to Mark, he stated without even batting an eyelash, “We ate that a nice Asian place, right?”  Fuck, I had even forgotten that detail.  It was great listening to them talking about the bands they had seen in the UK in the 70s.

So off to buy records.  Found a few things, mostly stuff to flip but a few cool pieces for myself.  Once back at the hotel, we opted for a nap (I’m old), then got cleaned up and headed over to The Bombay for the fest.  It was great seeing friends from festivals past and meeting a ton of new folks.  So, to the bands!

We missed the two openers, Gate Krashor and Bewitcher.  Bewitcher got rave reviews though.

Riot City – I had seen these guys in Chicago previously and they delivered an awesome set.  Can’t wait for some new recordings.

Substratum – It was great to see Amy on stage finally.  She commands your attention and she and her band delivered a well-received set.  Hope to catch them again.

Walpyrgus – This is a band that I should love.  It has members of Twisted Tower Dire and probably some others, but they just don’t catch my ear.  Everyone in the band is skilled and the vocalist can wail, but I’m just not into it.  I watched their first 2 songs then went outside and hung with friends.

It was about this time that I went to dinner with Oliver from Keep It True, Jim from Cirith Ungol and a couple of others to a fancy-ish Mexican place.  It was quite tasty.  Because of dinner, I missed Spell, Volture and Cauldron.  No biggie.  Not a fan of any of them.

Jaguar (Jarvuar?) – Garry Pepperd is the only original member left in the band and recent shows have featured Jarvis from Night Demon on vocals.  HE NAILS IT.  While it’s odd seeing him front a band without a bass strapped to him, he did a great job and the crowd loved the set.  Gary’s guitar playing is spot on.

Savage Master – It’s always great to see my friends in Savage Master live.  Friday night was no different.  Luckily for me I get to see them again this week.

Raven – Most folks that know me know I’m not a Raven fan, but I do like seeing them live.  They are putting out 100% at all times on the stage and it’s great seeing them and the crowd interact.

Back to the hotel for some rest.

Saturday, Oct 7

Another quick breakfast and we headed up to Santa Barbara for more records.  That was a bust in the one store we stopped in.  I didn’t realize until after we left that there was another store right around the corner from the one we went to that apparently had a better selection and prices.  Oh well.  Back down to Ventura for some grub and another nap.  Kelz went to the club early.  I needed to rest my back and knees some.  I missed Hellfire and Ovvl completely.  I don’t think I missed much that I would have cared about.

Skelator – Jason and company delivered a killer set and I’m always impressed with his insane vocal range.  One funny thing happened when he was calling out the next song.  “This next one is about a samurai!”  Someone screamed out, “Cultural appropriation!”  I was rolling.  Great set, dudes.

Venomous Maximus – My friends in VM were up next and delivered a great set.  I adore their new album.  Minus a few technical issues, they were great and were well-received.  A little history, their guitarists and drummer were the original guys that recorded the first Eternal Champion 7″ with Jason and me.

Iron Thor – I skipped them.  Thor sucks and I don’t expect a tribute to Thor to be any better.

Twisted Tower Dire – I’m not a huge fan but they’re killer live and the crowd was going nuts during their set.

Mythra – I’m relatively new to them and have only just recently started listening to their classic NWOBHM stuff.  It’s pretty damned good.  They delivered a killer set to the packed backroom.  It was a pleasure talking classic rock with their singer, Vince High.  He’s one of the nicest guys you’ll meet in the business.

Amulet – Skipped.  zzzzz

Cirith Ungol – The back room was so packed and hot that I didn’t actually get in there but watched a couple of songs through the side door and heard the rest through the window.  I’m still blown away that Tim can still sing like that.  They sounded great.

Manilla Road – They packed out the front room and played their asses off as they always do.  The crowd was singing along the whole set.  I’ll see them again this week.

Sunday, Oct 8

This was going to be a slow day.  I ended up meeting with some Texas friends, Rodney and Rob, and Jamie from Midnight to watch the Steelers game at 10AM.  That game sucked and I just went back to the hotel to chill while Kelz was out doing some sightseeing.  Ashbury and Bitch had early sets and I wanted to have the energy to make it through.

Ashbury – PERFECT.  Always.  I can’t recommend them enough.  Great guys, great band and eternal thanks to Dennis at Rockadrome Records for his initial re-release of their  Endless Skies LP.  They played for nearly two hours and it was great.  Mixed up originals with some covers by bands that they were inspired by (Who, Tull, BOC).  Always a pleasure.

Bitch – Betsy and I first started corresponding a little in the early 2000s and I still need to type up the handwritten history that she sent me back then.  I’ve been a fan forever and had never seen them live.  I wanted to see them in NYC a few months ago at Defenders of the Old but just couldn’t swing it.  No biggie, FFIII for the win.  The band went on and just rocked it.  I stayed right up near the front for the whole set and was just blown away by Betsy’s voice and performance.  She was awesome.  The 30+ year wait to see her live was well worth it and I hope to see them again.  Live for the Whip!

After the Bitch set, it was time to start saying goodbyes to those who remained for the Sunday show.  Always bittersweet.  We went to Dargan’s Irish Pub for a bite to eat and a beer then ended up at Sans Souci for another drink (or several).  That was fun and just what we needed to end the weekend’s festivities.

If I had any negatives, it would be about stumbling drunk asses.  I wanted to beat one guy down at the pre-party.  The next few nights he seemed to have it under control.  There was also a dude during the Bitch set that was about to get pounded, but Larry from Savage Master and I got him out of the crowd.  That stuff is to be expected, but it still sucks.  And it’s at no fault of the festival.

Monday, Oct 9

I’m not dead yet, but was a little slow and my back was not doing me any favors.  Nevertheless, Kelz and I packed up and headed down to LA to bum around for a bit since we both had late flights.  We stopped at a couple of record stores around Hollywood but the best part was stopping at Forest Lawn Cemetery to see the graves of Lemmy and Dio.  While standing at Lemmy’s, I could still hear him say about my back tattoo, “You should have picked a better album cover.”  His marker was small and quite unassuming.  He wouldn’t have cared.  Dio’s was grandiose and larger than life.  I doubt he would have cared either.  Also while riding around, we stopped at Pinches Tacos, my favorites in LA.  As always, they were delicious.

After all the running around in LA, it was time to drop off the rental car and head to the airport.  Kelz and I travel a lot together so I’m always happy to send him off because it’ll be too soon to see his bitch ass again.  haha.  Always a great time with him, though.

I’ve already received hints of FFIV and it will be another great time, I’m sure.  Great job to Jarvis, Dustin and Armand of Night Demon and all of their helpers to keep this festival running smoothly.  Things at Bombay were perfect especially with the Metal Market overflow area.  I love that bar.  And always great to see friends from festivals past…too many folks to name.

Click here for festival setlists.


Written by The Metal Files

October 11, 2017 at 8:55 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Love Cirith Ungol and Manilla Road. I got a CD of Ashbury-Endless skies (bootleg) years ago and just couldn’t get into it, but in recent years I’ve heard nothing but good about them live. Never heard Night Demon or Savage Master, but heard positive things about both.


    October 18, 2017 at 10:28 am

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