The Metal Files

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Helstar and Omen Concert Review, Austin, TX, July 30, 2016

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I love Metal Blade Records for being one of the first metal labels that were accessible in the mainstream record store market as a kid.  About 90% of their first 80 or so titles were winners.  One of those bands that stood above the fray was Omen.  My first listen came when Danile bought Battle Cry.  From there I was hooked.  Before owning any physical copies of their stuff, we traded dubs of their first 2.  Kelz had a dubbed cassette of those first two that was passed around between our circle of friends.  Would love to see the j-card of that again.  Such great memories.  Those first three albums are essential to any fan of traditional metal.  JD Kimball’s (RIP) vocals are the best.  After he left and their followup albums came out, I admit to losing interest.  I did buy their latest one, Hammer Damage, last week and I like it a lot.  It’s certainly got that old school Omen vibe to it.  They never came through Virginia back in those days and I had missed festival appearances in the last decade so last night I was able to scratch off another band from the list.  To be honest I had a little trouble sleeping the night before like a kid on Christmas Eve.

Come show day, I gathered up my CD covers, marked the spot in The Book, took a nap, showered up and headed to the show.  Doors were at 7PM and the first of the 6 bands was going on at 730.  I grabbed some tacos at the place next door then went in and caught the openers, Metalriser, from San Antonio.  I’ve seen them a few times in San Antonio and I like them a lot.  Very Sepultura-ish with slightly cleaner vocals.  It was a solid 30 minute set.

Locals Force of Rage came on next.  Pass.  Not a fan.  By their second or third song, my date had shown up and she hadn’t had dinner yet, so back to the taco place!  We had missed all of the next band, Death of a Dream.  After listening to their stuff earlier in the day, I was ok with missing their set.  We returned right as Black Thorn Halo came on.  She looked at me when their second song started and said, “Outside?”  Haha.  YES!  I’m not a fan of that band at all, 0%,  although I think their guitarist is excellent.  He also plays in a local Dio tribute.  Fantastic guitarist in general.

As we were outside waiting for them to finish, I let her know about my rabid fandom of Omen and she was understanding.  We went in as Omen was setting up and went right to the front of the stage.  I was utterly surprised how under-attended the show was, especially since Omen rarely plays Texas even though Kenny lives in Dallas and because it was Helstar’s album release party and they generally do well in Austin because of how infrequently they play here.  My guess is that there were maybe 100 total from beginning to end, but the crowd had thinned out by the time Omen came on.  But we were there, at the front of stage when they opened with Death Rider and Dragon’s Breath.  This is right at the beginning of their tour with Helstar and even though things were a little rough, they were still fantastic.  I was just so excited to see them, singing along with everything.  They played the title track from their new album, Hammer Damage, and singer Kevin Goocher forewarned us that it was only their second time playing it live and that it would be a little rough…and it was, but that was ok.  To be honest, it’s my least favorite song on the new album, but it’s not a bad one by any means.  They played 8 songs total and were scheduled to close with Teeth of the Hydra (!!!) but the other bands ran long, so Omen had to pay the price and get cut by one song.  Add to the fact that Helstar had a hard start time.  It’s my favorite song of theirs.  Bummer.  I met up with their singer right after the cleared the stage to sign my CD and he mentioned that Steve Wittig had left already as he had to catch a flight.  So none of my stuff got signed by him, but no biggie, I’ll see them again in California is October for Frost and Fire II and again April 2017 for Spring Bash.  Funny, waited 32 years to see them and now I’ll have seen then 3 times within 8 months or so.

Helstar came on and pretty much just destroyed the place.  They were promoting their new album, Vampiro.  It may have been the best I had ever seen them play.  Currently lineup features on Larry Barrigan as the other remaining original member and he’s a fantastic player.  The remnants of crowd (pun intended) that were left there piled into the floor and were very vocal and animated during the set.  James’ voice was as precise as I have ever heard it.  It was a fun set and the new songs sounded great.  My date enjoyed both bands as well, having never heard them before.

She was patient with me as I spent a few minutes with Kenny Powell to get some CDs and The Book signed.  “I love signing stuff, I appreciate anyone who appreciates us.”  I mentioned how much I liked the new album and he mentioned how much trouble they had in writing and recording it.  I said that it sounded like Omen.  “Perfect,” he said.  “That’s what I needed to hear.  I wanted it to sound like classic Omen.”  Mission accomplished.  He signed the CDs and paused to see the Best of Metal Massacre.  “What’s this?  Never seen this before.  Another comp that I never knew about!”  He signed the book and his wife was enthralled by it, taking a picture of the cover to get one of her own.

It was a great night overall seeing old friends, making new friends and seeing one of my favorite all time bands.

 

 

Pat Travers – Putting It Straight

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When I was still collecting vinyl, Iron Maiden was my #1 interest.  As you probably know they released a ton of stuff and I had a good selection of itPUTTING thanks to Unicorn Records, Skinnies Records, Electric Smiles, Fantasy, eBay and trading through some pen pal type things from the backs of magazines.  Oddly enough there were never any problems with the traders.  I never got ripped off once.  Honest lot those metalheads!  As a subset to collecting Maiden stuff, I also was trying to collect everything that Nicko McBrain had played on.  Not an easy task as there were some pretty obscure British things out there.

So my former supervisor and I were good friends and he told me about his record collection that had been sitting in his closet for 15 years.  Knowing Mark like I did, I knew these were in near perfect condition.  The guy was meticulous about everything.  So I randomly stopped by Mark’s house one day (1993ish?)  when I was in the neighborhood and we were just hanging out and catching up a bit as we hadn’t seen each other in a while.  After a while I asked if he still had his records.  He said he still had them and wanted to sell them.  I wasn’t in the market to buy the collection but I surely wanted to peruse his crates.  So he pulls out these 3 huge crates of records and I start flipping through one by one.  Tons of 70s rock. You know, BOC, Zeppelin, Stones, Bob Seeger, Poco, America, etc etc.  Nothing too obscure and surely nothing that a record collector would have paid more than 3-4 dollars each for.

There near the end of perusal, there it was.  It was one of those heavenly “ahhhhhh” moments where it seemed like the clouds parted and the sun shone down on this box of records.  Pat Travers’ Putting It Straight with Nicko on drums!  Mark still claims to this day that I was shaking when I was holding it.  I don’t doubt that I was.  I was pretty excited.  I said, “How much?”  He responded, “Not for sale.”  What a douche!  But he did tell me to take it with me until I found my own copy.  It was in pristine shape.  PERFECT even.  Shortly thereafter I found another vinyl copy at Skinnies and a year or 2 later he had the original and rare Jap pressing of the CD which I also bought.

I adore this album.  It’s got Nicko’s signature drum licks written all over it.  My favorites are Life In London, Offbeat Ride, Gettin’ Betta and It Ain’t What It Seems.  The album as a whole is good and I highly recommend it if you’re into 70s hard rock.

Around 1994-1995 Pat came to town to play Wicker’s in Portsmouth, VA.  I did my usual “show-up-to-the-gig-super-early” routine to hopefully meet the band.  I lucked out as they were all inside getting ready to eat.  I walked up to Pat and asked him to sign a few things for me and he was really cool.  He signed my vinyl copy of this album and my CD cover.  I asked him to talk about how it was to play with Nicko and he didn’t have many nice things to say.  “Good drummer but a complete asshole after that whole Iron Maiden thing.”  Apparently after Nicko joined Maiden, he landed his helicopter in Pat’s yard and bragged about his success.  Who knows?  I wouldn’t be that surprised if it was true.  Not important to me either way.  The guy that was sitting with us while we were talking about Nicko was Aynsley Dunbar.  Of course I didn’t know that at the time.  Had I known he was drumming for Pat, I would have brought my Jefferson Airplane and Journey stuff!

Nicko also played on Makin’ Magic which is also worth tracking down.

Thank You Metal Blade Records!

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For giving me a lifetime of enjoyment from your early selection of albums.

  1. metal massacre 1
  2. bitch – damnation alley
  3. demon flight – s/t
  4. metal massacre 2
  5. warlord – deliver us
  6. savage grace – the dominatress
  7. bitch – be my slave
  8. metal massacre 3
  9. armored saint – s/t ep
  10. obsession – marshall law ep
  11. witchkiller – day of the saxons
  12. metal massacre 4
  13. slayer – show no mercy
  14. pandemonium – heavy metal soldiers
  15. 3rd stage alert – s/t
  16. satan – court in the act
  17. silver mountain – shakin’ brains
  18. trouble – assassin 12″
  19. trouble – s/t
  20. lizzy borden – give ’em the axe ep
  21. metal massacre 5
  22. total destruction (compilation)
  23. warlord – aliens 12″
  24. slayer- haunting the chapel
  25. fates warning – night on brocken
  26. voivod – war and pain
  27. omen – battle cry
  28. hellhammer – apocalyptic raids
  29. warlord – and the cannons of destruction have begun
  30. mad max – rollin’ thunder
  31. dark heart – shadows of the night
  32. thrust – fist held high
  33. celtic frost – morbid tales
  34. attacker – battle at helms deep
  35. sye – turn on the fire
  36. metal massacre 6
  37. slayer – live undead
  38. tyrant – legions of the dead
  39. destruction – sentence of death
  40. slayer – hell awaits
  41. trouble – the skull
  42. hallow’s eve – tales of terror
  43. lizzy borden – love you to pieces
  44. sodom – in the sign of evil
  45. hirax – raging violence
  46. nasty savage – s/t
  47. destruction – infernal overkill
  48. celtic frost – emperor’s return
  49. mark edwards – code of honor
  50. omen – warning of danger
  51. fates warning – the spectre within
  52. pandemonium – hole in the sky
  53. cryptic slaughter – convicted
  54. metal massacre 7
  55. bloodlust – guilty as sin
  56. predator – easy prey
  57. sound barrier – speed of light
  58. juggernaut – baptism under fire
  59. sentinel beast – depths of death
  60. lizzy borden – murderess metal road show
  61. best of metal blade vol 1
  62. cirith ungol – one foot in hell
  63. flotsam and jetsam – doomsday for the deceiver
  64. unknown
  65. unknown
  66. deaf dealer – keeper of the flame
  67. sacrifice – torment in fire
  68. detente – recognize no authority
  69. krank – hideous
  70. hallow’s eve – death and insanity
  71. exxplorer – symphonies of steel
  72. warlord – thy kingdom come
  73. sodom – obsessed by cruelty
  74. destruction – eternal devastation
  75. savage grace – after the fall from grace
  76. hirax – hate, fear and power
  77. speed (compilation)
  78. tyrant – too late to pray
  79. cities – annihilation absolute
  80. heretic – torture knows no boundaries

Man, there are surely some heavy hitters. The ones listed in italics are ones that I never heard and/or owned. Best info I have as to why 64 and 65 were never released was that there were some contract disputes. When I worked as a distrubutor for Metal Blade years ago, I tried finding out what 2 LPs those were, but no one seemed to know, including Brian Slagel. The contract dispute explanation was the only thing they could provide.  At the height of my vinyl collecting I probably had 60/80.   Now I probably have 5 or 6 of them.  Sometimes I wish I had kept them.

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Written by The Metal Files

June 20, 2009 at 8:41 pm

Disciples of the watch…Obey!

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Or I’ll burn you to that cross!

Such a weird day. Sunday morning coming down (how cliche, I know). It’s really a Sunday morning coming up. This weekend was whacked out. I think. I honestly don’t remember much of it and that’s terrible. I rarely ever get that way so I’m taking a break from life this week.

I have some reorganizing to do. Home, life, myself.

This afternoon will be special. Some of the greatest metal bands ever are playing in San Antonio and I’ll be there in the 14th row with some of my best friends here in North Mexico…I mean Texas. It’s going to be great. I’ll hopefully have some vids and pics to share tonight.

So here’s something to brighten everyone’s metal day:

Written by The Metal Files

August 24, 2008 at 3:02 pm