The Metal Files

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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

Lamb of God, Anthrax, Deafheaven & Power Trip Concert Review, Austin, TX, February 8, 2016

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I went to last night’s show solely to see Anthrax and Power Trip.  I think Deafheaven and Lamb of God are awful.  Boring, really.

Originally I wasn’t going to go then I saw that Anthrax was doing a relatively inexpensive meet and greet and I’ve wanted to meet them and to get them in The Book so I got my ticket and ordered the meet and greet.  Shortly after the M&G was announced, a local record store posted that they would be doing an in-store as well and to get anything signed, you had to buy a deck of their playing cards and no photos.  Oh well.

Doors were at 4:30PM (wow) and we were told to be there at 3:15PM.  Ultimately there were only 4 of us and we got taken to the backstage area where the band came out to say hello, sign stuff and do a few pictures and talk for a few minutes.  It was pretty obvious that Scott Ian didn’t want to be there, so I just shook his hand, had him sign The Book, a photo and my Spreading the Disease CD cover.  Charlie was checking out The Book, looked up and saw my Loudness patch and said, “I bet Loudness isn’t in here.”  I let him know that they were and that I had sigs from 3/4 of the original band.  Then he started rambling off other bands, some of them nu-metal shit, and I said that there were no bands after 1991 in here.  “Oh, cool.  Where do I get one of these?”  So I directed him to Amazon blah blah blah.  Joey and Frank were extremely nice and super chatty as was their new guitarist, Jon Donais of Shadows Fall.  I wish I had recognized him at the moment because I love Of One Blood by Shadows Fall.  I mentioned to Joey and Frank that I had first seen them on the Among tour at The Boathouse.  Scott heard me and said, “Geez, I remember that dump.  We played there a few times.”  Three to be exact, but whatever.  It was good to meet them and we were all given a deck of the Anthrax cards, a record mat, a band photo to get signed and the M&G laminate.  We were also given the opportunity to buy merch on the way out so I got a tour shirt.

Since Power Trip wasn’t going on until 6PM, I went over to Lambert’s for some awesome food and a beer as it was only 430PM when we were led back out of the venue.  I’m back at the venue are 530PM and see a bunch of friends and hang out a bit before Power Trip’s set.

I head up to the mezzanine area and sit for a few minutes.  I’ve had some back issues lately and I was seated on the back corner of the back row (only four rows in this section) and could get up as needed.  I ended up standing for most of the show as it was more comfortable.  Power Trip started promptly at 6PM and the crowd was trickling in.  I’ve seen them several times and I really enjoy them in a live setting.  I think they gained some new fans by then end of their 30 minute set.  They were solid as usual.

Deafheaven was up next and I just went back out to the lobby area to hang out with some friends.  They bore me to tears.

Anthrax came on right at 745PM opening with Fight ’em Till You Can’t from their Worship Music album, which I really liked.  Having Belladonna back in the band has been great, for me at least.  They rolled effortlessly through an 8 song set that had 2 songs from their forthcoming album, For All Kings.  I liked the 2 new tracks a lot.  They played In the End, Caught In a Mosh and Indians as well…and two covers.  FUUUUUCK.  I mean, I know they’ve always played covers live, but throw us a bone every now and then.  On some of the shows where they’ve had a longer set, they’ve included as many as 3 songs from Spreading the Disease.  HOLY FUCK I’d lose my mind if I saw Lone Justice live.  *sigh*  Oh well.  Charlie Benante is still ungodly on drums and Frank Bello is basically the Angus Young of the bass.  I’ve always loved his playing and his backing vocals are superb.  Joey sounded great, too.  Jon is a killer guitarist and played Spitz’ parts perfectly as well as his own.

After a short break, Lamb of God comes on.  I stayed for the first song and that was enough for me.  Never liked their stuff.  Bro-metal.

 

Venom Inc, Necrophagia Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, January 27, 2016

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I’m not shy about how I feel about Venom.  In general, I can’t care about their classic era.  My three favorite albums are Calm Before the Storm, Prime Evil and Temples of Ice.  Even knowing that they were playing only one song from the Demolition Man era, I wanted to go.  It’s a legendary metal band that I’ve never seen before.  Plus I knew I’d get them in The Book.

Before the show, Rodney, his friends and I all had dinner with Venom’s tour manager, John Perez, who was in Rotting Corpse and more importantly for me, Solitude Aeturnus.  John’s a good guy all around and I always love seeing him.  He and Rodney were trading some pretty incredible stories about Texas metal history.

Opening the show was Hellknife which features fellow ex-Eternal Champion member, Van Darden.  As with a few other times, I missed them again.  DAMMIT!

San Antonio’s Hod was up next.  I’ve seen them a dozen times over the years.  Hod is Hod.  You know what you’re getting and what you’re not getting.  My buddy Jake is playing bass for their live shows these days, so it’s always great seeing that maniac on stage.

Necrophagia was up next.  I never liked them but one of my closest friends was always big into them, so I grabbed a shirt for him since he missed the Virginia show.  They were solid and Killjoy works the crowd pretty well.  Still not a fan, though.

Up next was Venom and the crowd of about 200 packed up closer to the stage.  My back has been jacked up for a while, so getting in a crowd that surely was going to be moving around a lot wasn’t appealing, so I hung back and sat at the bar.  Killjoy was standing back there next to me and I had him sign The Book.

Venom (Inc), opened with Prime Evil and for the rest of the set they stuck with songs primarily from Black Metal and Welcome to Hell.  I didn’t know any of them other than by knowing the titles.  Tony Dolan, The Demolition Man, did a fine job fronting and Mantas and Abaddon were as I expected.  It was an enjoyable show and when they got to the encore, I knew all of those songs…Black Metal, Welcome to Hell, Countess Bathory and Witching Hour.

After the show, Abaddon came out and signed stuff for everyone.  Outside at their tour bus, Tony and Mantas came out and signed stuff.  They’re all really nice guys.

Added bonus of getting Louie from Devastation’s signature in the book as well.  I love getting the rogue signatures at concerts.  Great to see a lot of Austin friends and the Corpus Christi crew hanging out!

 

Zebra Concert Review, McKinney, TX, December 12, 2015

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I am a huge Zebra fan and have been since first hearing Who’s Behind the Door on Imageusethe radio in 1983.  I first saw them in 1987 on the 3.V tour headlining over Alcatrazz and Rough Cutt in Norfolk, VA at the famed Boathouse (RIP).  I remember it rained like hell that night and it was only $5.  Great show.

In 1996, I got to see Randy do a Zeppelin tribute with the Virginia Symphony.  I’m no Zep fan but it was a good show.  I got to meet Randy after the show and I don’t think anyone knew that it was him, but I did.  Randy told me last night that was one of the first of the Zep shows he ever did with the Symphony.

The next time I saw them was in 2000 at Jaxx in Springfield, VA.  I met Randy and Felix before the show and they gave me permission to film it.  When I reviewed the video the next day, the picture was perfect…but there was no sound.  I was pissed.  Great show, though.

A Dallas area promoter named Don Wishon does some quality shows in the DFW area bringing acts like Rik Emmett, Damon Johnson and the 2 night stint with Zebra this weekend.  Originally last night’s show was the only one announced and it sold out quickly.  It was booked at The Sanctuary in McKinney, TX and ticketing was limited to 250 people to keep it intimate.  A little while after, they announced a second show on the night before.  So first was second and second became first.  I bought 2 tix to the Saturday show and my pal, Rodney, said he’d use my extra ticket.

So yesterday we were off to the DFW area.  We first stopped in Fort Worth at the new-ish Born Late Records and Tattoos to see what they had going.  Rodney and I  both know the owners and it was a pleasure to see what they’ve put together there.  It’s almost a rock and roll museum as much as it is a store.  Rodney found some records and an awesome huge new old stock Blue Oyster Cult poster.  I picked up a sealed copy of Thin Lizzy’s Johnny the Fox on 8-track(!) and a couple of Brittany’s custom made coasters.  Keep up with new items on their Facebook page.

Afterwards we drive to our hotel, check in and go next door for some tasty tacos at a sketchy little taqueria. Shortly after we head up to McKinney in the pouring rain.  The venue was set up with some tables at the front of the stage, reserved seating behind them and then reserved tables lining the balcony with no real comfortable spots to stand and see the stage clearly.  I had bought standing room only tix.  I had noticed a table with only 2 people sitting there and asked them if we could use the speace on the other side of their table to stand at the rail and watch.  They nice enough to let us join them and we took care of their drinks for the rest of the night.

Zebra comes on shortly after 8 opening with As I Said Before from their self-titled debut.  The entire set was mixed up pretty well with songs from the debut, 3.V and IV, but only the title track from No Tellin Lies.  They played some different songs from the night before which included both Bears and Wait Until the Summer’s Gone, my 2 faves from that album.  Ugh.  Would love to have heard those.  But in the grand scheme it didn’t matter.  The band sounded great and Randy’s voice is still quite strong with that falsetto.

Highlight songs for me include You’ll Never Know, Take Your Fingers From My Hair, Tell Me What You Want, Better Not Call and, of course, Who’s Behind The Door.  They did lots from IV but not Arabian Nights, which I also love.  They did play it the previous night, however.

It was a fun show and definitely a 30+…erm…primarily 40+ age group.

After the show, the band came out for a meet and greet.  As stated earlier, I had met Randy and Felix before at the Jaxx show, but never Guy.  I got my CDs signed quickly as I only needed Guy’s on them and Felix’s on two.  When I got to Randy, I mentioned the previous shows.  When I mentioned the ’87 show in Norfolk, he brightened up and said, “The Boathouse!  Bill Reed promoted that show.”  I knew Bill a little bit through the 90’s but was totally surprised that Randy remembered him and the venue.  I mentioned to Randy that 3.V was my favorite and he whispered to me, “Mine, too.”

Going in I was hoping to buy a shirt until I saw them.  NOPE.  I’m often perplexed by the shirts that classic bands put out.  I think the worst offenders may be the Scorpions.  Personally, just give me a logo shirt with some tour dates or an album cover.  But that’s just me.

Another great trip and thanks to Don for putting this on.  We had to get up early as I needed to drop Rodney off at the airport for his trip to Vegas.  I drove home in the pouring ass rain, at least until about Waco where it tapered off pretty well.

 

 

Written by The Metal Files

December 13, 2015 at 2:19 pm

Holy Grail & Night Demon Concert Review, Austin, TX, December 7, 2015

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My good friends in Night Demon rolled back into Austin this week as direct support for LA’s Holy Grail.  With it being a Monday night I was a little concerned as to how well attended this show would be, but it did better than I expected.

The ND guys got to my house around 4:30PM after a long drive from Albuquerque and promptly unloaded their bags and started taking showers and just relaxing a bit before we head to the show for load in.  This is the 3rd time they’ve stayed here and they now have their own key to my house.  Great guys.

The show had 4 openers going on before ND.  Fortunately I liked two of them already, Blood for Master and Widower.  Both bands put on solid sets as usual.  Blood for Master played some new stuff from their latest disc.  Widower pretty much destroyed everything in their path.  Love seeing both bands.  I went elsewhere during the other 2 bands.  A few seconds into each of their sets and I knew I didn’t need to be there.

Night Demon comes on shortly after 10PM with their Conan the Barbarian intro and bust right into Screams in the Night and Full Speed Ahead.  The crowd of about 75 or so was very into it.  They played 7 more songs closing with Night Demon.  Great set as always and it seems like they picked up some new fans.

After about a 20 minute break, Holy Grail comes on and while the crowd thinned out a little, the faithful remained and stayed right up front.  They were really solid and I like their guitarists a lot.  The only thing I don’t lik.e it the occasional death metal growls.  They don’t need it but I guess it’s what the kids want these days.  They also played a decent cover of King Diamond’s No Presents for Christmas.  Solid set.

After load out and coming back to my house, I made tacos…again.  Night Demon loves my tacos.  haha

 

DRI and Zero Percent Concert Review,Austin, TX, December 1, 2015

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IMG_1568DRI is one of those bands that I could likely name most of their albums but not know a single song title off of any of them.  A good amount of my friends love them and I never gave them much of a listen.  I decided the day of the show that I’d go just for the hell of it.  I binged listened to several of their albums at work to get a feel for what they were all about.  The later stuff, as most people know, was more metal.  They could really write some riffs.  Out of all the stuff that I listened to, Four of a Kind is probably my favorite.

My friends in Zero Percent were opening up the show.  This band features guys who have been in the rock, punk and metal scene in Austin for a long ass time.  They hit the stage and ripped through their Lonestar and whiskey infused punk set to a good response from the crowd that was starting to fill in for DRI.  It was an early show so they finished up around 9PM.  One cool random fact is that the guitarist, bassist and drummer all play left handed.

After a quick break, DRI hit the stage and automatically a pit happened at the front and stayed active throughout the whole show.  Lots of mohawks and studded denim jackets to be found.  Spike (g) and Kurt (v) are the only two originals left in the quartet that originally hailed from Houston and moved to San Francisco.

I have to say that I enjoyed their set quite a bit, even not knowing any songs.  I can also hear their influence in a lot of newer bands.  The venue, The Sidewinder, is run by the folks who previously ran Red 7.  It’s quite a bit smaller but that hasn’t stopped them from bringing in good sized national acts like DRI, Exodus and Agnostic Front.  I’d guestimate that there were maybe 125 or so folks at the DRI show, maybe a little more.  I was down near the front at the edge of the pit and it never got packed where we were.

 

Cheap Trick Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, November 27, 2015

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Last Friday night I saw Cheap Trick…AGAIN.  I think it was the 5th or 6th time in the last 5 years or so and I am 100% OK with that.  Nothing new or extra special about the show, really, but they put on a great performance.

I scored a 2nd row ticket on the aisle at stage right, Rick’s side.  If you’re within the first 5 rows of a Cheap Trick show, you’re likely to catch one of the 100s of guitar picks that he throws out every show.  Right before the show started, I was already standing up and someone walked by and said something like, “Make sure you don’t block my friend’s view behind you.  She’s in a wheelchair.”  I found a spot I could stand in without being in the aisle that kept her view to the stage open.  About 2 songs in, Rick looks at me and throws a guitar pick which landed at my feet.  I picked it up and handed it to the girl in the wheelchair.  She was pleasantly surprised.  I ended up catching another from him later in the show.

The few photos I took sucked, so my pal, David Castillo, let me use some of his as you see below.