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Uli Roth and Black Knights Rising Concert Review, Houston, TX, February, 13, 2015

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When I saw that the Extreme Guitar Tour was coming through Houston, on a weekend night no less, I had to make arrangements to go.  It was a tough drive since the Alice Cooper after party from the night before gave me a bad case of rock and roll pneumonia.  haha

Opening the show was a Canadian band called Old James.I couldn’t quite get a bead on them.  While I could tell that they were all proficient musicians, nothing sounded congruent.  No hooks.  They covered Thin Lizzy’s Cold Sweat but I couldn’t tell what it was until the chorus.  I heard a few other folks say the same thing.

Black Knights Rising (BKR) is a bit of a supergroup featuring Tim “Ripper” Owens (Winter’s Bane, Judas Priest, Iced Earth, Yngwie Malmsteen, Dio Disciples and many more), Craig Goldy (DIO, Giuffria, Rough Cutt), Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, DIO, Rick Derringer), Elliott Rubison (Uli Roth, MSG, CEO of Dean Guitars) and sometimes John West (Uli Roth, Royal Hunt, Artension). Based on the BKR Facebook page, Bobby Rondinelli was slated to take over drums after February 9th. That didn’t happen. Either way, both Bobby and Vinny are both in The Book, so I was set either way.  The band comes out and opens with Death Alley Driver by Rainbow and they sound great.  This show was the final night of he tour.  Everything played was either by Deep Purple, Rainbow, Black Sabbath or DIO.  John West came out and went back and forth vocally with Owens on Burn.  They both sounded great!  Highlight for me, though, was Stand Up and Shout.  Vinny’s insane snare work always blew me away in that song and watching him that close live gave me a new appreciation for his playing.  He’s still a beast.  Goldy’s playing was spot on as well.  Effortless player and I’m glad I finally got to see him live.  Last time I saw Ripper live was on the Jugulator tour in Norfolk, VA.

Half of the crowd left after BKR.  Seriously.  Uli was up next and half of those folks left.  I’m still shaking my head over that.  His band is made up of John West, Elliott Rubison, Kofi Baker (son of Ginger Baker), David Klosinski (guitarist from one of the Sky Academy classes) and Allesandro Bertoni on keys.  Uli opens with All Night Long then in to Sails of Charon.  Holy crap.  To finally see him playing these Scorpions classics live was a dream come true.  His playing style is so fluid and relaxed.  He almost looks bored up there.  But even watching the old vids of Scorpions, he always has that look.   Klosinski played rhythm guitar and did some harmony soloing with Uli and was spot on with it.  How cool it must be to have Uli as a mentor.  John West sounded great.  There’s only one Klaus, and West wasn’t trying to imitate him.  He was a great fit.  Kofi’s drumming was great and you could tell that he and the band followed Uli’s every move.  He directed some jams with the wave of a hand, a nod or just some quick eye contact.  Seeing them play We’ll Burn the Sky and In Trance gave me goosebumps.  Maybe even a little verklempt during Burn the Sky.  I absolutely love that song.  The final 3 songs were all Hendrix covers, which is not surprising.  I’m not a Hendrix fan but respect his influence.  He’s obviously very important to Uli.  It was a great show.

After the show I got to meet Vinny and Goldy.  They were both very inquisitive about the book.  They signed on the DIO group photo that features both of them, so it was great that Vinny was there.  I also broke my own “no selfie 2015” rule.  Uli was available, too, but I had met him in 2000 and he signed the book back then.  It was also getting late and I was dog tired.  Great seeing some friends there as well.

Black Sabbath Concert Review, Austin, TX 7/27/2013

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I’ve been a fan of Black Sabbath since the mid-70s when one of my my older brothers, Robert (RIP), brought home Paranoid.  Somewhere around 78 or 79 he gave me their debut album for Christmas and it was one of the first pieces of vinyl that I ever owned.  I’ve spoken many times before about his influence on me musically and and his love for Sabbath was certainly passed on to me.  I f’n LOVE Sabbath…Ozzy, Dio, Gillan and Martin eras.  But my love for them doesn’t give them a pass.  In fact, it may make me more critical.

I’d never seen Sabbath (by name) but I did see Heaven & Hell twice.  I saw Ozzy live in 1988 and to be honest he was horrible.  At that point he was a shell of his former self.  Last night I would have called him a shell of a shell of his former self.

Lots of cards were in play with the recent Sabbath reunion.  No Bill Ward on the album because of a contract dispute (read: $$ and Sharon).  Iommi’s lymphoma which was caught early but is still being treated for every 6 weeks.  No Ward on the tour.  A new album that I think is boring, autotuned vocally and severely over-processed.  Bill couldn’t have saved the album.

Sabbath opened the recent leg of the tour in Houston the night before and the reviews of Ozzy were pretty awful.

The show was opened with Andrew WK doing a DJ of the same songs that most venues would have played prior to a concert…DIO, Slayer, AC/DC etc.  Sharon must have gotten him on the cheap!  I would have preferred an opening band.

Sabbath opened up with War Pigs then went into Into the Void(!).  By the second song Ozzy had pulled out his inner ear monitors.  He was motioning during War Pigs that his inner ear sound was jacked up.  The band sounded great the whole show.  Tony and Geezer were just incredible to watch and listen to.  Touring drummer Tommy Clufetos (Alice Cooper, John 5, Ted Nugent) did a fine job on everything except for the song Black Sabbath.  He played most of the songs pretty spot on but was doing something weird on that one that just didn’t seem to work.  He also did a drum solo and even as me being a drummer (retired), I really don’t like most drum solos, especially from metal bands.  But Ozzy said it best last night, “Rat Salad…I need to take a fucking break!”  So I can easily see why there was a solo.  Ozzy looked worn out.  Metal band drum solos are typically just a bunch of double bass, quads and triplets.  zzzz.  I’d prefer to not have a solo or to watch one where a drummer is showing me their chops.  But that’s just my opinion.  The crowd loved it and that’s what mattered.  And let’s be honest here, does anyone think Ward would have been good live at this point?  From what I have seen on Youtube and read in reviews of the reunion tour, dude had a tough enough time keeping up as it was.

I will say that I thought Ozzy was better than I expected him to be, but he wasn’t great by any means.  Strapped to his teleprompter, still not getting words right (same in 88 actually) and being flat for a majority of the show.  Sure his drug use is that of legend and in general the guy probably doesn’t know where he is half of the time.  His wife, who did save his life, seems to be money hungry and continues to prop him up like a puppet.

He sounded best on God Is Dead? and the other new songs which makes sense as they were written more about how he is able to sing now.  I was happy to see Dirty Women in the set, unfortunately he couldn’t keep up in it.  Snowblind was another highlight.

I know my opinion on this is a minority opinion, but I’d respect Ozzy more if he’d just say, “That’s all, folks.  I just can’t do it any more.”  I have a list of performers that fall into that category for me.

But all the above taken into account, I had a really good time and have zero regrets about going or about the high ticket price ($115+fees).  I felt it was the last time I’d have a chance to see Iommi and watching Geezer is always a treat.  He’s still a beast on the bass.  And Ozzy sounded better than what I had expected, so there’s that.

I did hear someone say before the show that they loved “Tommy Iommi.”  That one always cracks me up.

As we were walking out after Children of the Grave (Yes, I left before the Paranoid encore), I heard Ozzy say, “Thank you, Houston!”  He must have walked away from his teleprompter again.

Written by The Metal Files

July 28, 2013 at 9:08 am

The Bill Ward Saga Goes On

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This is an interesting comment from Sabbath’s camp:

“At the request of Bill Ward, through his attorney, so as to not give the public the wrong impression about his involvement in the current Black Sabbath lineup, we have temporarily removed Bill Ward’s images from the main pages of the blacksabbath.com official website. In accordance with Bill Ward’s attorney’s request, we are doing so for the duration of the forthcoming shows.” BLACK SABBATH

So Bill requested his removal from the photos?  Just gonna take your toys and go home, Bill?  Sheesh.

Written by The Metal Files

May 20, 2012 at 9:05 am

Posted in bill ward, black sabbath

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Dear Black Sabbath, Fuck Off!

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Back Stabbath. Where’s Bill?

 

Revisionist history.  Sabbath and Bill Ward don’t come to an agreement for the contract of the new tour and album and they clip him out of their photos at www.blacksabbath.com?  That’s pretty shitty.  The above photo was clipped from their gallery.

Written by The Metal Files

May 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Posted in bill ward, black sabbath

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Serpent Throne

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White Summer*Black Winter

I like a lot of instrumental bands but I’ve always found it difficult to find quality instrumental rock bands that didn’t write their stuff to sound like they were writing around having a singer.  Philadelphia’s Serpent Throne satisfies my instrumental craving perfectly.

I met the two guitarists, Demian Fenton and Don Argott, at the premier for the movie Last Days Here during the SxSW 2011 Film and Music Festival.  You can read my review of their movie here.  They are the guys behind the production/direction of the movie and in talking with Demian after the flick, he mentioned that he was in a band and I had forgotten about it until a few days after seeing the movie as I was wrapped up in a lot of SxSW activities.

Since then I have been spinning their stuff practically non-stop.  Metal has a lot of sub-genres and these guys would typically be classified in the stoner rock and doom categories.  To call them Black Sabbath worship is too easy.  Pretty much all metal bands worship Sabbath whether they know it or not.  Serpent Throne take it to a bit of a different level in my opinion.  They use lots great dual guitar harmonies that are reminiscent of Thin Lizzy in places.  I hear hints of Trouble (S/T LP era) in there as well, intended or not.  There are some cool hints of 70s Scorpions as well as Uriah Heep and Wishbone Ash.  Maybe some Cactus too.  It’s a nice blend of great rock and metal without sounding like they are just ripping off all of the classic bands.

I think it’s pretty tough for an instrumental band of this genre to continue to write stuff and keep it interesting and Serpent Throne has done that

The Battle of Old Crow

with all 3 of their albums: Ride Satan Ride (2007), The Battle of Old Crow (2009) and White Summer*Black Winter (2010).  I highly recommend picking up all of their stuff.  Battle of Old Crow and White Summer*Black Winter are available for download from Amazon and iTunes.  I had to buy the CD for Ride Satan Ride and convert it to MP3 myself as it’s not available for legal download.

Hopefully I’ll catch these guys live sometime, even if it means heading to Philly for it.  Would be cool to have them hit Austin for a show sometime.  I think they’d do well here, especially if they were in on a SxSW gig.  So, nice work, guys!  Hope all good things come out of Last Days Here as well.

Ghost – Opus Eponymous

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Have you heard Ghost yet?  This new band hails from Sweden.  Doesn’t seem that too much is known about them.  Singer wears a costume and I sort of think this may be a joke band of sorts, like Brujeria.  The flip side to my claim is that it’s definitely a listenable album.  I bought it off of iTunes for $8.91 and have listened to it about 10 times in the last week.  They are very retro 70’s stoner rock sounding and really seeming to take a cue from Blue Oyster Cult.  Lots of simple yet effective vocal harmonies.  It’s not a heavy record but I do like it.  It’s sort of sloppy here and there and sounds very analog.  No heavy distortion or anything like that…think of the Witchcraft albums, it’s got production more like those.  Very stripped down and basic.  Some of the vocal phrasing reminds me a bit of early Mercyful fate as well, which is not a bad thing.

I do find it funny how overtly Satanic their lyrics are.  Just think Eric Bloom singing about his love for the Devil.  haha.

Overall it’s a fun album and I do recommend it.  The USA release comes out soon on CD but as stated before, it’s available pretty cheaply on iTunes.  Get it!  7/10

The vids on YouTube don’t really do them much justice as I think this is an album that needs to be listened to from front to back.

 

Written by The Metal Files

January 11, 2011 at 11:31 am

My Life With Ozzy

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Having been very familiar with Ozzy from Sabbath, I looked forward to hearing his solo stuff. My brother brought home Blizzard of Ozz in ‘81 and I was a bit surprised how different from Sabbath it was.

Blizzard of Ozz – 1980 (81 in the US)
This is a really good album overall but I never liked Crazy Train and No Bone Movies. Goofy songs. Yes, I know Randy sounded good on both of those but he couldn’t save them. My faves would be Suicide Solution, Mr. Crowley and Steal Away (the Night). Ozzy annoys me with his little noises he does in many of their songs. Like Crazy Train…aye aye aye…or whatever. He’s a doofus. I just never really got into this one.
7/10

Diary of a Madman – 1981I think this album is heads and tales better than Blizzard. Better riffs, solos and a tad less goofiness from Ozzy. SATO is my favorite Ozzy song ever. For this album, Flying High Again is probably my least favorite followed up by You Can’t Kill Rock and Roll.
9/10

Bark at the Moon – 1983
This was the first Ozzy album I bought with my own money and it will always hold a special place. I adore Jake’s playing on this and have always liked his style better than Randy’s. Ozzy got a little goofy on this one with the title track and Rock and Roll Rebel (retarded lyrics) but the riffs and solos in both songs overshadow the dumb lyrics. I could probably do without So Tired, but whatever. Jake rules.
10/10

Ultimate Sin – 1986
Ozzy really should have started getting someone to write lyrics for him by this time. Cripes. Thank God for the Bomb, Secret Loser and Never Know Why are silly, but again, Jake saves the day. Lots of long winded songs on here as well. The production was so thin and tinny. Awful. I am hoping that one day this will get properly remastered. The title track and Shot in the Dark and my faves. Jake is great.
8.5/10

No Rest for the Wicked – 1988
Zakk who? My current guitarist was a finalist to replace Jake in Ozzy’s band and subsequently they chose Zakk. There’s a plethora of tales out there as to how and why Zakk got the gig. My guy was told by Sharon that they chose Zakk over him because he (Doug) wasn’t quite “Randy” enough and that Ozzy needed that again. Doug rehearsed with the whole band a few times before getting the phone call and subsequent letter in the mail. Anyway, as for the album, it took me years to actually get into this one and it’s still not one I listen to often. Lyrically, this album sucks for the most part. My faves would be Breaking All the Rules and Bloodbath in Paradise. I saw this tour and Zakk was an idiot on stage. Ozzy let him speak way too much. He’s an idiot. It was nice to see Geezer though and Castillo was great.
5.5/10

No More Tears – 1993
Side one of the cassette is great. I rarely listen to anything from side 2 besides Hell Raiser. Lemmy saved Ozzy on this one. In general, it’s not a bad album but I rarely listen to it at all.
6/10

Ozzmosis and everything after…0/10

Blech.I really wish he’d just go away at this point.

Written by The Metal Files

December 31, 2008 at 1:45 pm