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Yngwie J. Malmsteen Concert Review, June 10, 2017, Houston, TX

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Last night I witnessed the over the top guitar playing of Yngwie Malmsteen for the 9th time since 1986.  While he is my favorite guitarist, I haven’t liked any of his releases post-Alchemy and his latest one with him on vocals is pretty boring.  That being said, I always love seeing him live.

Local (to Houston) band Apocalyptic opened up.  They were super tight technical shred thrash that at times reminded me of Agent Steel with a singer that could hit insanely high notes at will.  The only real issue I had with them is that the singer wouldn’t shut the fuck up between songs.  They could have played one more song with all the time he spent between songs talking about how cool it was to be there or “show me your horns” or “scream for me, Houston” over and over.  Less talk, more rock, please.  Their main lead player and bassist were also really good.

Of course Yngwie comes on and the wall of Marshalls is lining the back of the stage.  For the record, only 2 heads were actually used.  They opened with Rising Force and the bassist sang.  He sounded good but what irked me to no end was that they only did the first verse then the solo section.  What?  Most of the show consisted of instrumentals, which was fine.  That meant that Yngwie didn’t sing.  In Seventh Sign, the keyboardist sang and they did the whole song.  Sounded great.   Demon Driver and Heaven Tonight were also first verse and solo sections only.  To be honest, if you’re gonna cut out sections of songs like that, just do a full night of instrumentals.  In the encore, they ended with I’ll See the Light Tonight and, yes, first verse and solo sections only.

Beyond that silliness, Yngwie was awesome and I’m glad I went.  His back up band, basically tucked into one corner of the stage, was really good. Of course Yngwie threw a bunch of picks out and only high kicked a few this time.  I’m really glad he didn’t sing

The venue, White Oak Music Hall, holds 1200 and I imagine about 600-700 people were there.  Hopefully the 10th time I see him won’t be too far in the distant future.

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Written by The Metal Files

June 11, 2017 at 10:55 am

Satan, Cauldron & BAT Concert Review, Richmond, VA, October 23, 2016

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Upon waking up Sunday morning, totally parched and tired, Kelz and I got our stuff together and headed South towards Richmond.  He was a little slower than me that morning so I drove us to Vienna, VA to stop at Vienna Music Exchange.  I had met the owner, Mike, the night before and had been wanting to stop in there for quite some time.  After some traffic snags headed down that way, we finally got to the store and I scored some cool stuff.

From there it was down to Richmond to Petey’s and Amy’s house.  By that time, I was starting to fade a bit.  I didn’t sleep that well and was quite tired by the time we got to Richmond.  Petey was ready to party by the time we got there and I succumbed to doing a shot, which helped immensely even though it was tough to get down.   After a couple of hours of catching up, we decided to head towards the venue and grab some quick grub at the restaurant next to The Broadberry.  Our other friend, Danile, was supposed to come up for this one but unfortunately had to back out.

Upon arrival in the venue, I see Ryan and Felix from BAT.  Good dudes.  Richmond locals, Humungus, opened the show and musically and vocally I thought they were great.  Petey said they had a bit of a Heathen vibe and I don’t disagree.  Both the singer and guitarist did great harmony falsetto work and the bassist and drummer held the rhythm down just fine.  The only thing I didn’t like about them was their lyrical content.  Pretty silly for the some of what I could make out.  Shark CastleDrinkin’ Beer.  Solid band overall and I wouldn’t mind seeing them again.

BAT was up next and delivered their Venom-esque set flawlessly as they always do.  I love watching Felix Griffin play drums as he’s just a mean machine back there.  I was getting pretty tired so I sat for part of their set.  As I was at the table in the back of the venue, got to hang out with Mr. Ross a bit more.  Sorry again, Brian, but no more Jager mixers for me!

I didn’t go up front for Cauldron.  I just can’t get into them.  As I mentioned in a previous review, their sound is just too thin.

And then…Satan.  They had a bigger stage this time and could move around a bit.  Since Danile couldn’t make it, Petey drew his face on a plastic cup and we set it at the end of the stage so he could be there in spirit.  Satan got a couple of songs in and then Steve blew his head.  During the change out, Russ and Sean just did a little Voodoo Child rendition and then it was right back into the set.  We got a full set that night as they were shortened by a curfew or anything.  Again, they were awesome.  The crowd had thinned out a bit as it was a Sunday night but we remained up front for the whole set.  Much like the Philly show, I had to get barraged by a person who smelled like hell.  This guy smelled like a chicken house.  It was fucking gross, especially when he started swinging his dreadlocks around.  Luckily he only stayed up for a couple of songs, but goddamn, bathe please.

And just like that, it was over.  I could already feel that little bit of sadness coming on.  But it was a wonderful weekend overall with 2 of my lifelong closest friends.  I couldn’t ask for much more than that.

I called for a Lyft ride to get us back to Petey’s and NWOBHM legend, John Gallagher of Raven, was our fucking driver!  I saw him at the show as he’s old chums with the Satan guys.  We were totally surprised and happy to have a familiar face take us home.  I’ve met John several times and he’s always a gentleman.  I think it was a fitting ending to the night.

Back at Petey’s house, we sat up and hatted for a bit longer and finished off his wife’s homemade beef jerky.  Delicious!   Then off to bed.  Kelz had to get up and be on the road to Raleigh by 830, Petey had to work and Amy, Petey’s wife, had an appt, so not much sleeping in time.  Amy took me the airport and that was that.  Mitchfest over.  I had a lengthy layover in Atlanta and my flight got delayed.  Part of me was hoping for a cancellation as Satan was in town that night, too.  It would have been great to catch a third show, but alas, no luck.

Long live Satan.  Hope they come back in 2017.  I’m hoping to catch Graeme and Steve in the Slyclad reunion in Germany and will definitely see Brian’s Alice Cooper tribute next fall in Newcastle.

Frost and Fire II Concert Review, Ventura, CA, October 7, 8 & 9, 2016

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Last year I attended the one day Frost and Fire Fest and had a wonderful time.  It was a foregone conclusion after that weekend that the mighty Cirith Ungol would be playing this year’s fest.  It was announced several months ago that this year would be a 3 day fest with days 1 and 3 at the Bombay Bar and Grill again and day 2 at the Majestic Ventura Theater.  I bought 4 sets of tickets automatically as I knew Kelz, Rodney would be interested and obviously I’d be able to hold the other set for someone.  So flights and accommodations got booked and it was just a long countdown until the actual time to go.  Ultimately I had to sell the 4th set as one friend who wanted to go had some other issues to take care of.  Our friend JT/Petey was slated to come as well, but unfortunately life happens.  He was severely missed but we’ll see him in Richmond in a few weeks for Satan.

Our 3 flights all arrived at LAX around the same time, we grouped up and took the rental car to Ventura.  Upon arrival and checking into the Clocktower Hotel, we ran into the guys from Midnight.  Their main man, Jamie, is a huge Steelers fan so we chatted about that briefly.  Rodney peeled off with them and Kelz and I hit the Saloon BBQ for some tri tip beef, a shot and some beers.  We had been up since super early to catch our flights so we went back to the hotel for a quick nap.

Doors were at 5PM and we got there right around that time to get in line, get our tix for Friday and Sunday and go in the venue.  Having attended FF previously and the last 3 Ragnarokkr Fests, I knew quite a few people there.  Fans traveled from all over the world to attend and that was great seeing many of them.  Ran into Jerry Hartman from Lethal and his lovely wife, Sue.  He gave me a CD of his latest project (pictured below).  Can’t wait to listen to it.  Tim, Robert and Jim from Ungol were hanging out as well and I got Jim to sign The Book.

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Here’s the Day 1 band rundown:

Livin Alive – Watched a little bit of them but nothing caught my ear
Seax – Had seen them a time or 2 before and enjoyed them much more this time
Vanlade – Watched a couple of songs but couldn’t get too interested.  Solid though.
Salvacion – Listened to them from the patio while hanging with some friends.  All great guys but just can’t get into them
Resistance – Missed their whole set
Widow – Only heard them from the patio
Midnight Chaser – Delivered another solid set comparable to their Ragnarokkr show.  Highly recommended
Blade Killer – Always delivers!  I caught most of their set inside then the last couple from the patio
Thrust – Solid performance.  Met Ron and had him sign The Book.  Super nice guy
Slough Feg – Enjoyably odd band to watch
Omen – Got to catch up with Wittig before their set to get my stuff signed since we didn’t get time at their Austin show.  They delivered a great set to a packed back room and I finally got to hear Teeth of the Hydra.

By the end of Omen’s set, I was starting to feel the drag from the travel and 2 hour time difference.  Totally worth it.  Hung out with some friends for a bit before they emptied the venue and people watched for a bit before heading back to the hotel.  Also had some incredible Al Pastor tacos from the truck outside.  The mom in the truck was cooking up a huge pan of red chili peppers for blending and it was mesmerizing to watch.

Saturday morning.  A little tired and some back issues.  Getting older sucks.  Kelz and I grabbed some breakfast at the hotel and then headed out for a bit to do some record shopping.  We started at Salzer’s Records which I had been to the year prior.  I picked up MSG’s Assault Attack in VG+ condition for a good price.  We then went to American Pie Records.  That is an experience.  Their owner, Dennis, is quite the character.  He has a ton of stuff in there, too much to have gone through in a day but I did find 2 KISS records to add to my collection.  From there we went to Grady’s Records in downtown Ventura.  Small metal section but I found some good rock pieces that I had been looking for.  From there back to the hotel for a 30 minute or so nap.  It helped.  We then walked over to the Majestic Ventura Theater for Day 2.

The theater had a no ins or outs policy so we had to decide if we wanted to try and survive whatever food they served inside or grab a bite nearby and miss an early band or 2.  We chose to go in and ultimately the food was palatable.  Beer prices were steep.  $8 for PBR draft?  $10 for premium beer?  Not that I planned on drinking a lot, but that kept it to a bare minimum.  It is a nice big venue with several tiers for viewing.  It was great running in Attacker’s Mike Sabatini outside and Steel Prophet’s Steve Kachinsky.  Awesome dudes.  Upon entry I jumped right in the merch line for Ungol.  I got a shirt and blinked on getting the limited edition Paradise Lost reissue LP.  When I went back for it, they were all gone.  img_4907

Day 2 band rundown:

Spellcaster – They rocked it although it was a really short set.  Great seeing them again.
Axxion – I had seen Axxion in Chicago in 2014 at Ragnarokkr.  I think they were a little better this year, stage costume selection notwithstanding.  See pic below.
Visigoth – Do I really even need to say anything about them?  Aside from them being the nicest dudes, they are great live and Jake Rogers is the best frontman in metal right now.
High Spirits – This band seems to be a love em or hate em band.  I personally love them.  Great hooks, solid vocals, positive energy.  It’s happy rock for sure.  They were great as always and look forward to seeing them on tour in 2017.  I bought a shirt, LP and 7: from the new album, Motivator.
Night Demon – This is Jarvis’ fest and fitting that Night Demon is on the bill.  They laid down a solid set including a new song, Stranger in the Room.
White Wizzard – At first I thought they were a weird choice for the fest but after seeing them play all of their High Speed GTO EP with James Paul Luna (Holy Grail) on vocals, my mind was changed.  Solid set even though I was never really a fan.  They played Hollywood Tease by Girl and I couldn’t place who wrote it until after their set.  Thanks for clarifying, Rodney.
Mindless Sinner – Probably the biggest surprise of the fest for me.  I had listened to them in the past but still wasn’t huge on them.  Their set was great.  They were absolutely great.
Midnight – While never owning anything they’ve ever done, I always enjoy seeing them live.  Super energetic show with some good tongue in cheek lyrics.  Saturday’s set was on par with previous viewings.
Cirith Ungol – A band that I’ve always liked, but never loved.  They were fringe.  They are fringe.  When they were announced to do the meet and greet last year, I revisited the catalog and grew a new appreciation for them.  By the time they were coming on, we went to the upper balcony and sat.  My knees, back and feet were killing me and this was perfect viewing.  They opened with Join the Legion from Paradise Lost and went right into I’m Alive from Frost and Fire.  They pretty much played everything one would expect to hear at a Cirith Ungol show except for maybe Death of the Sun.  I was absolutely blown away by Tim Baker’s voice.  He still sounded like it was the early 80s.  Mind-fucking-blown.  The whole band was great.  Garven’s enormous drumset with Paiste cymbals and gong looked and sounded fantastic.  Jim Barraza handled most of the leads with ease and Greg Lindstrom handled the rhythm and some leads beautifully.  Jarvis handled the bass lines perfectly and added some great backing vocals.  It was really just a perfect set by them and I couldn’t be happier.

After the show, everyone was ushered out of the venue and just hung around the sidewalk.  Everyone was in high spirits (pun intended) and I got to see a few folks that had come in just for that day’s show.  I was pretty elated but also dog tired and went back to the hotel.  Kelz went across the street to this tiny venue for an after party show with Hessian and Alchemy (MX).  I went back to the room and fell right asleep…happily.

Sunday morning…worn the hell out.  Woke up with only about 5 hours of sleep.  Went down and had breakfast with Rodney and Midnight.  Most of that discussion was about the Steelers.  Perfect!  Back to the room to clean up.  Kelz went down and had breakfast while I did some packing and such.  Luckily I ran into the Mindless Sinner guys in the lobby and got them to sign The Book.  Doors were at 10AM at Bombay.  We stopped in there for a minute to check out the merch and I picked up a few things.  From there we went to Jockomo Records where I found a few more classic rock pieces.  Ashbury wasn’t scheduled until 4:15 so we decided to grab lunch and ate some extremely bland Indian food.  The garlic naan was great, though.  Afterwards it was back to the hotel for a recharge nap.  NAPS!

Back to Bombay where I finally got to talk to their owner, Diego.  We have a mutual friend in common who used to play there a lot but now lives in Austin.  It was way more relaxed on Sunday.  He bought me a shot.  Sweet!  The crowd started flowingimg_4908in common who used to play there a lot but now lives in Austin.  It was way more relaxed on Sunday.  He bought me a shot.  Sweet!  The crowd started flowing in for Ashbury’s set.

Day 3 band rundown:
Ashbury – This band just seems to set me right.  I think it’s a combination of the demeanor of Rob and Randy Davis.  These guys are so laid back and peaceful.  They played a 2 hour set consisting of 8 songs from Endless Skies, 3 songs from Something Funny’s Going On, 5 covers (3 from Jethro Tull, 1 from BOC and 1 from The Who), and two new songs, Out of the Blue and Mean Guitar (Rock and Roll Star).  They were great.  They’re always great.  I love seeing how many metalheads love them as well. They didn’t hang out much after their set, though.  That was too bad.
Black Death Resurrected – I watched a little bit from the back of the room but just wasn’t that interested.
Grim Reaper – Steve and company laid down a solid 17 song set which included several from their new album, Walking in the Shadows.  His current lineup is solid and his voice sounded great.  I’ll see them again this weekend in San Antonio.

After the goodbyes to friends in the club and on the street, we headed over to Dargon’s Irish Pub for a quick bite before heading back to the hotel.  We had to be up at 430AM to drive back to LAX to catch our flights.

I’ve done 3 Ragnarokkr fests, 2 Frost and Fire fests and 1 ProgPower and this past weekend tops them all for the overall experience.  The location is perfect because of everything there is to see and do within walking distance in Ventura, the lineup was superb and just the overall feel of the event from the patrons to the organizers.  No fest is perfect, but this is as close to perfect as I have been to so far.  I can’t wait for FFIII!

Extra special thanks to Jarvis Leatherby (Night Demon/Cirith Ungol), the Night Demon guys, Cheryl and the whole FF crew for making this a success by obviously working their asses off on this.  Also to Oliver Weisenheimer for his generosity and for being so fucking cool.  It’s always great seeing the Visigoth guys as well.  Great bunch of dudes.

To see the setlists played, click here.

Striker & Spellcaster Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, May 20, 2015

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Striker, Spellcaster and Weresquatch rolled through San Antonio Friday night.  I had just seen Spellcaster in Chicago at Ragnarokkr and couldn’t really get into the 2 songs I saw after getting blown away by Old Wolf.

We arrived with about 2 songs left from Weresquatch but I didn’t hear anything from them that made me care.

Spellcaster’s main man, Cory, found me before the show.  Great dude.  Spellcaster went on shortly after and were just great.  Super solid, good stage presence and good players.  Unfortunately the sound in the Korova basement leaves a lot to be desired as does the lighting.  Overall it didn’t matter.  Spellcaster rocked the crowd of 40 or so and I look forward to seeing them again at Frost and Fire II in October.  The 3 songs from their new album, Night Hides the World, sounded great, especially the title track.

Striker headlined and I had only listened to some of their stuff a few days prior to the show.  Good solid stuff that translated well live.  My favorite part of seeing them was their great 3-part vocal harmonies.  Much of the crowd had left during their set and admittedly I spent a lot of time talking with my drummer outside.  I’d definitely like to catch them again.

Catch the tour if you can.

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Written by The Metal Files

May 22, 2016 at 8:20 pm

Voivod Concert Review, Austin, TX, May 21, 2016

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The first time I ever saw Voivod live was during SxSW 2010, and there was blood.  I was a latecomer to them and really prefer their middle-era of Nothingface, Angel Rat and Outer Limits, Negatron and Phobos over all of their other material.  I love seeing them live and last caught them in Denver last year when I was up there for work.

I picked up my ticket yesterday afternoon and they were playing at the newly renovated Barracuda (f. Red 7).  What a great job they did inside and out.  The place is way more comfortable to see a show.

I missed opening act, Child Bite.  King Parrot (King Boring) was up next and while I’m 0.0% a fan of them, their drummer is damned good.

Voivod was on next to a crowd of 100 or so, which was a bit disappointing.  Apparently Dying Fetus was packed around the corner.  Gross.   Voivod was just hanging out with fans prior to their set.  No rock stars here, folks.  They’re really just laid back dudes and at least every time I have seen them, they’ve made themselves very accessible to their fans.

They opened with Ripping Headaches, Tribal Convictions and Order of the Blackguards.  The set included 3 of the 5 songs from their latest EP, Post Society.  The songs sounded great, especially We Are Connected.  My favorites of the night would have to be The Prow and The Unknown Knows.  This tour features new bassist, Dominique LaRoche, who did a great job.  The whole band was tight as always and it’s really a pleasure to watch Away’s drumming.  He’s a very unconventional.

The only played 13 songs ending the night with Voivod and Pink Floyd’s Astronomy Domine.

Upon exiting the stage, Dan Mongrain came up to me, put his hands on my shoulders and said with a smile, “How’s the head doing?”  I said, “Other than a weird occasional twitch, no problems.”  We both laughed, I told him it was a great show, he gave me a pick and we moved on.  I’m surprised he even remembers that at all.

Can’t wait to see them again!

 

 

Written by The Metal Files

May 22, 2016 at 10:46 am

Ragnarokkr Metal Apocalypse 2016 Review, Chicago, IL, May 6 & 7, 2016

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My 3rd Ragnarokkr attendance in a row came to a close Saturday night in Chicago.  It was a great time as always.  I got into Chicago Wednesday night after spending some days in Virginia with my Mom and my brother.  Upon arrival and getting my bag and rental car situated, I headed over to the newly reopened Metal Haven Grill for a pre-pre-party.  Cool little place that has some insane original artwork on its walls like the original painting for Savatage’s Hall of the Mountain King, Def Leppard’s On Through the Night, BOC’s Fire of Unknown Original original concept drawing, original KISS embossing plates for Dressed to Kill and a lot of other cool stuff.  Go check them out if you’re ever in Chicago.  From there I met up with Mendoza, Simon, Bob and a couple of other festival pals for a few drinks before heading to Mendoza’s Sugar Shack to sleep.

Upon waking up on Thursday I went to my hotel near the concert venue around 930AM to see if they had a room available and they got me right in. Sweet!  I didn’t sleep well the night before and needed to catch a nap to have some energy for the pre-party at The Mutiny later that evening.  I didn’t get much sleep but it was enough.  I did a late lunch with a friend in town then back to the hotel again.  I caught another quick nap then Rodney and I headed off to the pre-party dinner.  That was pretty tame this year.  From there we went to The Mutiny.  I love this bar.  True dive bar with one of the coolest owners ever.  Ed.  Ed is the man but sadly he told me he’s got cancer and apparently it’s pretty advanced.  He’d lost 85lbs since the last time I saw him but he’s in good spirits.  I spent a lot of time hanging out with him and he remembered me the moment I walked in the door from the previous 2 years.  He said they gave him up to 5 years which is a pretty good prognosis for someone with advanced prostate cancer.  He’s 65ish and that age is a better for having that type of cancer than being younger.  But whatever, he’s a great guy and I’m glad I got some time with him.  As I was leaving the party I gave him a hug and told him I’d see him next year.  Unfortunately none of the festival bands except for Ashbury made it to the party at The Mutiny this year, but it was still fun.  I love those Ashbury guys.  Great band and great people.  More on that later.  I was pretty tired by around 1230AM so Judd and Jennifer (new pals from Houston) and I drove back to the hotel.  I fell asleep pretty quickly.

Friday.  Fest day!  I picked Kelz up from the airport around 1130 and we went back to the hotel.  We went to the famed Ricobene’s for their breaded steak sandwich.  We ordered the small one which easily weighed a pound or more.  I ended up just leaving the bread behind.  Quite tasty though.  Back to the hotel.  Another nap ensued.  Damien Thorne was opening the fest on the main stage at 530 and we got to the venue around 5.  I’ll go through the bands one by one below…good, bad or indifferent.

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Damien Thorne – I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with having only one original member (technically 2, as I didn’t know until meeting them after that the bassist player was on the original demos).  I thought they sounded great.  New singer, Warren Halverson, did a fine job.  They mixed their set up with older and newer stuff and it worked just fine.  Warren gave away a bunch of new CDs and some other merch from the stage and Rock Browz (b) handed me a nice Damien Thorne steel pin.  Great set and really nice guys.  I caught them out back and had Ken and Rob sign The Book.  They bailed quickly though and never came out to meet with fans after their set.  Not sure what was up with that.

Gatekeeper – I missed the first part of their set as I was finishing the Damien Thorne set.  They were finishing North Wolves and then went into a cover of Omen’s Death Rider.  Brilliant.  Jean-Pierre Abboud (ex-Borrowd Time, Funeral Circle) is handling vox for Gatekeeper these days and did a wonderful job as a whole.  It was great to finally see them play.

Killen – I caught maybe 2 songs and got bored out of my skull.  It really seemed like were just going through the motions.

Riot City – Probably the biggest surprise band of the weekend.  These guys from Calgary kicked total ass.  Great vocals, leads, everything.  Good American power metal.  Check out some of their stuff here.  Can’t wait to hear a full length.  Super nice guys as well.

Ignitor – I left during Riot City’s last song to catch my Austin pals do their thing.  The band was in fine form and Jason McMaster was working the crowd like he always does.  They had a lot of fans there and had a special Ragnarokkr only EP available.  Always a pleasure seeing them and good to see them outside of Austin.

Salvacion – I’d seen them before a couple of years ago in Richmond opening for Satan.  While I like the singer’s voice, they don’t do anything for me.  I also can’t watch their drummer.  Dude can’t keep his tongue in his mouth.  The band also seems lyrically challenged.  Having songs like Epic Beer Run isn’t going to win me over…ever.  The did two covers, UFO’s Doctor Doctor and Riot’s Swords and Tequila.  The Riot cover wasn’t good.

War Cry – Chicago natives War Cry played their first show in 25 years on Friday.  I wasn’t that familiar with them but thought they sounded pretty good.  I give nothing but high respect to their singer, though.  Rich Rozek has Parkinson’s Disease and it’s obvious that it’s pretty advanced.  But he rocked the set and came out to meet everyone afterwards.  I got him to sign The Book as well.  He thought it was cool and asked for information on how to get a copy.  He also gave me a copy of their CD.  Sweet guy.

Chalice – This was another band that I wasn’t too familiar with going in…and I left their set not wanting to get more familiar with them.

Ambush – Everybody has been all abuzz about these Swedes and I had only checked out a song or two on YouTube prior to the festival.  Add them to the list of newer Swedish power metal bands that I can’t care about.  zzzzzzz

Ashbury – I love Ashbury, both as a band and as people.  Rob and Randy Davis are 2 of the nicest guys you’d ever meet and I’m glad to see them getting success 30+ years after the release of their debut album, Endless Skies.  Ashbury isn’t a metal band but fit perfectly on the metal festivals that they have been playing the last few years.  When I first saw them in Ventura last year, it was amazing to see the metal crowd singing every word to the Endless Skies album.  Same thing happened in Chicago.  They were tight and added a third guitarist which sounded great for their live show.  Their cover of BOC’s Don’t Fear the Reaper was killer.  The whole band is just awesome and I can’t tout the brilliance of Endless Skies enough.  They also debuted a new song, He Played a Good Guitar, which was really good but from what I understand from Rob Davis, they will be changing the name of the song. ;)

Jag Panzer – I don’t dislike Jag Panzer but I never got too into them.  They were the closer for the night.  I owned an original copy of Ample Destruction and Thane to the Throne on CD, but just never explored deeper into them.  Let me tell you this, they hit the stage and leveled Reggie’s that night.  I was completely floored by Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin’s vocal performance.  That guy was hitting notes that just blew my mind.  They crowd was very into it as well.  It was a pleasure to see and meet them afterwards.  When I met Harry after the show to have him sign The Book, I mentioned that I had Chris Cronk’s signature on the Jag Panzer page as well. He said, “Sad that he passed away.” I laughed and said, “Chris will be disappointed to know he’s dead!” Harry apologized and said, “damn, I guess I meant someone else. Tell him hello!”  It was pretty funny.

 

After the quick goodbyes outside, we walked back to the hotel.  After sitting there for a bit, Kelz and I decided that we needed some snacks and water so we hopped in the car and found a 7-11, loaded up on trash food and waters and went back to the hotel.  Around 5AM the fire alarm went off.  That sucked.  We got up, went outside and 5 minutes later the fire crew waved us back in.  The alarm went off several more times for the next hour in short spurts.

After waking up Saturday, we walked over to a Chinese place and got some great food and went back to the hotel.  Nap time again.  Fuck, I’m getting old.  haha.

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Earlier start time for bands on Saturday and we were sort of rushed to get there on time but made it.

Midnight Chaser – What a way to open the main stage!  This Pittsburgh 4-piece laid down a great set of metal.  I had already checked them out prior to the fest and really liked what I had heard.  They were great all the way around.  I picked up their CD and a shirt.  Can’t wait to hear more material and to see them live again.

White Magician – Boring.  Sloppy.  Trash talked Ashbury’s BOC cover while playing a shitty version of Transmaniacon MC.  Fuck em.

Impaler – I always liked If We Had Brains We’d Be Dangerous and It Won’t Die and looked forward to seeing them live.  They still have originals Bill Lindsay and Court Hawley and I got to meet both of them before they went on.  Solid dudes and signed The Book.  They are a true shock rock metal band and everyone was in full makeup.  It was awesome.  Bill worked the crowd and the crowd was very into their set.  There was some fake blood, a beautiful girl getting her intestines ripped out and then taking a hard knee from Bill.  She’s one tough girl because she didn’t really flinch much.  They were so much fun to see live and I was smiling ear to ear through their whole set.

Wulfhook – I listened to a couple of songs but nothing really caught my ear at all.  They were solid, though.

Lethal – After leaving Wulhook I went downstairs to meet Lethal before their set to get them to sign The Book.  Only Tom Mallicoat and bassist Glen Cook were down with newer guitarist Chris Brown (great guy!).  For whatever reason, Mallicoat was acting like a total choad to me.  Chris was cool and Glen was super nice, but Mallicoat was giving me the third degree about printing press history (?), Mark Twain and some other random nonsense.  He just seemed out of his head.  He started busting my balls about the book and I said, “Hey, if you don’t want to sign it, no worries.  I’m a Lethal fan but whatever.”  He proceeds to call me a liar and then asks how much I was going to sell the book for.  hahaha.  Whut?  I calmly explained the labor of love I have with that book and how it’ll never be for sale.  He then signed it, offered a handshake that lasted for a good minute before letting go.  It was a completely surreal experience and one that I’d just as soon not have with him again.  I met the other guys later in the evening and they were all total nice guys and apologized for his behavior.  No worries.  Everyone’s got their thing and I don’t think there was any malicious intent on his part.  When they hit the stage, they were GREAT.  Vocals and everything were on point but Tom’s behavior was just outlandish to say the least.  Flipping off the crowd, talking shit to them, etc.  Oh well.  Was good to see them live finally.

Old Wolf – Holy shit.  This power metal quintet from Kentucky totally kicked my ass.  Plain and simple.  They’ve got a demo out and I recommend it.  Their singer has a great voice and range, but when he speaks, you can totally tell he’s from Kentucky.  haha.  Great guys all around.

Spellcaster – I caught their last couple of songs.  I’ve got their 2014 S/T CD but it didn’t do much for me.  They were solid, though.  I should probably give their latest a listen.

Winterhawk – They’re a band that I feel that I should love, but I don’t.  I don’t hate them either but their stuff leaves me a little flat.  Their main guitarist is a beast though.  I only caught their last 2.5 songs.

Ordained Fate – I didn’t listen to them prior to the fest but I enjoyed the 4 songs I heard from this reunited band.  Only the two female guitarists are original.  Vocals, riffs, leads all sounded good.

Satan’s Host – I bought the reissue CD of Metal From Hell a few years back and thought it was good, but not great.  Seeing it live was quite different.  Harry Conklin put on another vocal performance that made me just shake my head in awe of his range.  Patrick Evil was the only other original member in the band on guitar.  Nice dude and solid player.  It was an enjoyable set.

Hexenhammer – Missed it completely waiting for Leather to come on.

Leather – I love Chastain’s albums with Leather on vocals and I love Leather as a person.  We first connected 2 years ago when my old band played Ragnarokkr and she was an emcee of the fest.  She’s a kind soul and I couldn’t wait to see her live finally after all these years.  I saw her when we were eating dinner prior to her set and got a huge hug.  As Satan’s Host finished, Kelz and I made our way to the front and secured our spots dead center.  Game on.  They played a short but killer set and Leather sounded great playing a mix of Chastain and Leather songs.  Her backing band consisted of Jim Dofka (Screamer), David Harbour (Chastain, King Diamond) and Brian Harris.  Brian’s brother Michael Harris was originally announced as the guitarist but I guess that didn’t pan out.  Leather’s voice sounded great and she’s very engaging on stage.  I just loved it but wanted more.  MORE!

Medieval Steel – Never really go into them and only listened to a couple of songs.  Very solid and the crowd was certainly on board.

Tygers of Pan Tang – Tygers was the fest headliner.  I’ve only owned Crazy Nights and Spellbound but can’t really consider myself a fan.  While they’re an integral part of the NWOBHM, I prefer the more aggressive and melodic stuff.  That being said, they were really damn good for the brief time I watched them.  My knees and back were shot and I spent much of their set in the other room giving them a rest.  Getting to hang out and have drinks with Robb Weir and the band the night before was pretty sweet.

Also great getting to see my good friends in Night Demon and Visigoth.

So some quick goodbyes on the sidewalk and back to the hotel we went.  Kelz had a 7AM flight which he almost missed because his alarm never went off.  Luckily I snored myself awake and saw light coming through the window and yelled at him.  He made it.

I had a late afternoon flight so Brett Bretterson (not his real name) and I hit Portillo’s before heading to the airport.  Always delicious.

It was a great fest and great seeing friends from fests past, meeting new folks and just the overall vibe of the event.  If all works out, I’ll be playing ti again next year.  I’ll definitely be in attendance again.  See you there!

To see all of the setlists, click here.

Click pics to enlarge.

Pentagram Concert Review, Houston, TX, March 18, 2016

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I like traveling out of Austin for shows and seeing Pentagram in another city was surely going to be fun.  I first met them in 2010 on the street in Austin and became pals with them over the years since.

I got to Houston around 4PM and a little before the band arrived to load in and sound check.  I noticed a line of people at the venue that seemed pretty young, too young to be Pentagram fans in general.  There was a show in the main room at Warehouse Live from some mall metal/mall core/emo core band called blessthefall.

When Pentagram arrived, I helped them load in during a heavy rain storm.  That was fun(?).  Also loading in were Detroit’s Against the Grain and Oakland’s Mondo Drag.  Once everything got set up, the band ran through sound check with a couple of Pentagram songs and KISS’ Cold Gin, all with Victor on vocals.  After the check, I ran Greg and Victor to Guitar Center to get a fog machine.  Let me tell you, the customer service there was total shit.  The guy working there just seemed annoyed that we had questions and that he needed to get the ladder to get what the band needed from the top shelf. Sorry that you had to provide customer service in your customer service job, dude.  We grabbed a quick dinner across the street and then headed back in the venue.

When we got back, they set the machine up in the dressing room to test it out.  Bobby had come in from the bus and was on the couch next to the machine and they blasted him with it twice.  His reaction was pretty funny.  I guess you had to be there.  The band also decided to prank blessthefall as their dressing room was connected by a sealed doorway that had enough of a crack in it to shoot fog into their dressing room.  During blessthefall’s last song, they got their room filled with fog.  Oddly enough, they got pissed off about it as did the promoter and security guy.  What a bunch of pussies.

I missed Against the Grain’s set while  we were buying the fog machine.  However, I did catch most of Mondo Drag’s set and completely loved it.  If I had to classify it, it’s Uriah Heep meets some Yes meets early 70s jazz/fusion.  In general I detest the 70s psychedelic revival as most of the bands sound the same to me, offering nothing different than any others.  But these guys had a little something different.  Maybe just the Heep styled heavy keyboards and cool jazz riffs here and there, but it set them apart from just about all of the other bands I’ve seen that fall in the sub genre.  The crowd seemed into it as well.

Pentagram hit the stage with about 150ish in the crowd.  It seemed pretty lightly attended overall.  I’ve not attended many Houston shows so can’t really gauge what it should have been.  They opened up with Death Row and All Your Sins and much of the crowd was singing along.  Bobby’s voice sounded great, probably better than any other time I’ve heard them.  The band was energetic and extremely tight.  New drummer, Peter Campbell, has the perfect combination of keeping perfect time and having feel in his playing.  They mixed the setlist up with a lot of classics and 5 from the latest album, Curious Volume.  The album is awesome and I highly recommend it.  It’s easily in my top 5 Pentagram albums.  The crowd went crazy during Forever My Queen. For me Broken Vows and When the Screams Come are two of the major highlights and come from my favorite album of theirs, Day of Reckoning.  They played 7 total from Pentagram (aka Relentless).  The encore also had Be Forewarned, which was the favorite song by my old pal, Sergio.  RIP.  It was a great show overall and the Pentagram band and crew are really all great guys.  Thanks for the hospitality as always!

After the show, I went back to the dressing room and hung out for a bit.  Bobby was worn out and about to fall asleep.  He asked me what I thought of the show and I mentioned that I’ve seen 3 classic singers recently who all blew me away.  Those being Liebling, Mogg and Meniketti.  He perked up when heard Mogg mentioned.  Apparently UFO is his favorite band.  Based on the conversation we had, his knowledge of the band has few rivals.  And I’ll say this, for a guy who’s done the drugs and lived like Bobby has, I’m always impressed that he can get on stage and not miss a lyric ever that I’ve seen.  No teleprompter, just incredible memory.  It’s quite impressive.  Greg mentioned that at rehearsals they’ll start playing a random old Pentagram song and Bobby will come right in and sing it perfectly.

After some quick goodbyes, I headed to my hotel.  I was wiped out.