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Saxon, Armored Saint & Evil United Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, May, 23, 2015

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posterThree things in San Antonio have stood the test of time:  Saxon, Armored Saint and Jason McMaster.  Let’s just face facts, Saxon’s biggest USA fanbase is in Texas with the majority in the San Antonio area.  Last night proved that.

The weather was bad all day but I drove down and arrived at the venue pretty early to meet up Armored Saint/DC4/Odin guitarist, Jeff Duncan, who I hadn’t seen since the Odin reunion show in LA a few years back.  We met when his band DC4 was in town for SxSW about 5 years ago.  His brother, Shawn, and I have been friends for a few years prior and I helped them out when they were in town.  Jeff and Jason met me at the back door of 210 Kapone’s and walked me in.  While sound checking Armored Saint, I got to meet John Bush and the Sandoval brothers.  I had previously met Joey Vera at the Arch/Matheos show a few years back.

The Saint guys went back to their hotel after signing The Book (thanks, Jeff!) to rest and clean up and Jason and I hung out while some of the local openers were playing on the second stage.  The crowd was starting to build around 730 and lots of friends were showing up.  Jason’s thrash band, Evil United was scheduled to go on at 8PM.  Thanks to Jeff, Jason and Saint’s manager I got an all access pass that was good though the end of the Saint set.

Evil United hit the stage and opened with Dead Can See from their new album, Honored By Fire, followed up by three more from that album.  They went back to their self-titled debut for Dawn of Armageddon.  The 30ish minute set was capped by a brutal cover of Judas Priest’s Tyrant.  The crowd was into the set from the first note to the last.  Jason is highly regarded in San Antonio because of his work with Watchtower and Dangerous Toys.  He’s consistently flown the metal flag in Texas for 30+ years.  Evil United sounded great.  Don Van Stavern’s bass was crushing through the mains.  I especially like EU’s drummer.  That dude is pretty much a badass.  The band was tight and the set was too short, but such is life.  Jason has a long history with Armored Saint dating back to the early 80s and had remained friends with them since then.  It was great seeing them hang out together.

Armored Saint was using EU’s backline so there wasn’t much of a changeover between bands beyond changing cymbals out and switching guitar pedal boards.  They hit the stage around 855 with the title track from their new album, Win Hands Down.  I like this song a lot and have listened to it several times since the single was released.  They totally got the crowd going with March of the Saint and Nervous Man.  Bush’s vocals were spot on and Jeff’s backing vocals sounded great.    The guitar tandem of Jeff and Phil Sandoval is pretty crushing.  The whole band was extremely tight and their setlist spanned every album.  Symbol of Salvation is my favorite album and their played Reign of Fire and Last Train Home.  The increasingly growing crowd was totally into their 11 song set that closed with Mad House from March of the Saint.  Of course Can U Deliver elicited the greatest response.  I had never seen Saint before and last night’s show was great.  Just what I needed!  After their set I went back to Saint’s dressing room for a bit to hang with Jeff and Jason.  I didn’t want to be all up in their business as it was pretty humid in there last night and those guys put on an intense set so I knew they were a bit worn out.  Bobby Jarzombek was up there and was having a discussion with John Bush about whose Mexican food was better, LA or San Antonio.  It was pretty humorous.

Saxon was up next and it’s well known around here that I am not a fan beyond 3 songs or so.  I just could never get into Biff’s voice, their lyrics and their riffs.  Believe me, I have owned several of their album to no avail.  They hit the stage to a seemingly capacity crowd opening with Motorcycle Man.  They ran through what most would consider their most popular songs.  I watched one song and went back to the room where the second stage was to sit for a while as it was vacant and I sit down.  Ran into other friends out there and listened to the remainder of the show from a distance.  I heard Dallas 1PM, Princess of the Night and the closers Strong Arm of the Law and Denim and Leather, and that was plenty for me.  I was just bored and couldn’t wait for the show to end so that my friends and I could grab a late meal and hang out for a while at one of their houses.  Saxon, however, did sound tight and the crowd was completely into it from beginning to end.  That will likely be my first and last Saxon show.

Blaze Bayley & Killamaul Concert Review, Austin, TX 06/20/2013

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It’s never been a secret that my all time favorite band is Iron Maiden.  But being my favorite band doesn’t give them a free pass on everything they’ve done.  Cases in point: X Factor, Virtual XI, Dance of Death.  Those 2 albums in the 90s with Wolfsbane’s Blaze Bayley weren’t good, but I lay that blame on Steve Harris.  He chose Bayley and he was the primary songwriter for those 2 abominations of Iron Maiden albums.  While each of those 2 albums has 1 or 2 decent songs, the albums as a whole are pretty bad.  I owned Wolfbane’s first album back in the day but never thought it was great.  Had some pretty silly lyrics if I remember correctly.

A few weeks ago it was announced that Blaze Bayley was playing a new and insanely huge venue on the outskirts of Austin, TX called The Crown Center.  It’s only a few miles from my house so that made it convenient.  There was 2 other scheduled shows locally as well, but none of them downtown, which is pretty odd.

Admission for Thursday’s show was $20 which was stated to be going to tornado victims.  The Saturday show was only $6, but it wasn’t convenient.  My real reason for going at all was solely to get The Book signed.  NERD.  I know.

Local faves Killamaul were the opener and they’re a tribute band that only plays Metallica’s Kill ’em All.  Killamaul features legendary vocalist Jason McMaster (Broken Teeth, Dangerous Toys, Watchtower) on vocals and rhythm guitar.  They always do an awesome job and certainly did so on Thursday.  To be honest hey were the best band of the night.  McMaster is one of the best frontmen in the business and even though there may have been only 30ish people there, he still handles it like the pro he is.  Period.

Next up was Snake Skin Prison.  I’ve known them for several years and have done some shows with them, but I’m just not into what they do.  Super nice dudes, though.

Then comes Blaze Bayley.  From what I understand this band and tour were thrown together pretty quickly and featured some relatively well-known musicians.  On drums was James Kottak who has been playing with the Scorpions since the mid-90s and also with Kingdom Come in the 80s.  On bass was John Moyer who was/is in Disturbed and spent some time touring with Queensryche (Tater version I think).  On guitar was Rick Plester who was in WWIII and Black Symphony and apparently does  a lot of producing.  They also had local singer Shawn Austin from a band called Minx (?) and she co-sang on 2 songs.

The set consisted of songs from BLAZE, Wolfsbane and of course Iron Maiden, 2 of which weren’t from his era of the band.  For a throw together band and set, they sounded pretty good overall and even did a good version of Rainbow’s Man On The Silver Mountain.  By the time the band was on there may have been 50-60 people there and Blaze worked the stage like there was a big crowd.  Now, this place easily holds 5000 people and my mind is still boggled as to why the show was booked there.  But whatever.  Guest singer Shawn Austin sang Fear of the Dark (I detest this song) and Wasted Years with Blaze.  It was Wasted Years that really let me down as far as their set went.  I’m a Maiden snob and I get that they’re not the easiest band to cover, but at least get the opening riff right.  I’m not guitarist but I can play it properly.  It was obvious that they had just learned it as they dicked up with first verse completely by going into a chorus where a chorus doesn’t exist.  Moyer and Kottak did fine holding their parts down, but this song was just a mess.  See video below.

I’ll restate that their set was pretty good other than Wasted Years.  That needs to be said for how quickly this was put on.  Immediately after they played, the band came out and hung out and signed anything people put in front of them and snapped pics.  I’m glad I went but doubtful I’d go see them again if they come through again…that is unless there’s someone in the band that I need to get in The Book.  haha.

You be the judge.

Ignitor Mix Tape ’85 Review

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Mixtape_85_BS_cover-300My history with Ignitor isn’t that deep as I only picked up on them when Jason McMaster joined the band in 2009ish.  That doesn’t detract from the Erika Tandy era at all, I just went backwards with their discography.  Ignitor is quality metal, no matter which era you’re listening to.

Ignitor’s latest offering is a download only album of classic covers.  It’s a great mix of classic metal covering some of my favorites bands.

McMaster was made to cover all of these bands giving them his unique vocal flair and Ignitor in general stayed pretty true to these songs without taking any real liberties in the music.  The Stuart “Batlord” solos are all pretty incredible and the opening solo to Into the Coven gave me chills when I first heard it.  He completely nailed the tone.  While I admit that I’m not the biggest fan of Exodus’ Bonded By Blood or Exciter’s Violence and Force, these covers are well done.  I’m especially impressed with their version of Anthrax’s Deathrider.  Fistful of Metal often gets overlooked in Anthrax conversations.  The cover of Highway Star has the proper intro like Deep Purple’s original and the heaviness of Metal Church’s version.   I’m also a huge fan of Witching Hour.  And you gotta love that album cover!

You can stream the album here and I recommend that you buy it from iTunes or Amazon ASAP!  Both are under $8!

Quality metal covers from a quality metal band.

“DEATHRIDER” – Anthrax
“FAST AS A SHARK” – Accept
“VIOLENCE AND FORCE”  – Exciter
“INTO THE COVEN” – Mercyful Fate
“WITCHING HOUR” – Venom
“HELL BENT FOR LEATHER” – Judas Priest
“A LESSON IN VIOLENCE” – Exodus
“HIGHWAY STAR” – Deep Purple

SxSW 2013 Recap

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Whew…It almost seemed like SxSW would not end for me this year.  This is the first year since 2009 that I didn’t live downtown but was still able to have free downtown parking access in my old apartment building thanks for my friend that still lives there.  I did have to be a bit sneaky about it and not be seen by the building mgmt.

3/12/13
Everything started for me Tuesday night after getting home from Houston with seeing my good friends Ancient VVisdom playing at The Jr (the old Emo’s inside stage).  From there I bounced over to Beerland to the “Sammi Curr  Trick x Treatwest” metalfest and caught The Blood Royale, Mutilation Rites, Gyspyhawk and Venomous Maximus.  Next up was seeing Broken Teeth.  Again, Jason McMaster is one of the best frontmen in rock.  No question. Final stop was on the Headhunters patio to see a few songs by Amplified Heat.

3/13/13
I got back to downtown on Wednesday around 2PM.  I was a little hungover from the night before, but was doing alright.  Lots of water, an early beer for the hair of the dog.  First band on tap was Vattnet Viskar, who were pretty unmemorable.  Royal Thunder was up next and to be honest, it was shit.  Enough said.  Pallbearer was up next and they were great as always.  I headed over to the Austin Convention Center to see the short film “Black Metal”.  It pissed me off.  It should up on YouTube gain soon, so please look for it and let me know your reaction.  Kat Candler can kiss my ass.  After the movie, I bounced around town through the 1000s of people.  Popping in and out of clubs and not really hearing much of anything I cared about.  I ended up at Texas Rockfest to see my friends from Ventura, CA called New Liberty.  They’re good kids and put on a good rock show.  The rest of that evening was spent just milling around until about midnight, then I went home.  I as still a little tired from the night before.

3/14/13
Are we there yet?  Got downtown around 10:30AM and was ready to rock out.  I grabbed a quick meal with my friends working at Chupacabra before the masses muddled in and headed back to Texas Rockfest to catch San Antonio’s Immortal Guardian at 12:50PM.  They were really good.  Total power metal and they do it pretty well.  Nice guys, too.   Later in the day, I returned to catch some of the band Hessler.  Let’s face facts, if the band didn’t have a scantily clad “hot” singer (not hot to me), no one would give a flying fuck about this band.  Other than the guitarist’s semi-rare Killer (brand) guitar, there were no redeeming qualities about this band.  NONE!  Didn’t really do much throughout that day but mill around.  That night I caught some songs by D-A-D.  I’ve never been a fan and I’m still not, but they played a solid set.  I finished the night out at Headhunters again and caught some songs by Suplecs.  They’re always a blast.  I was home by 1:30AM and worn out.  Lots of walking that day.

3/15/13
I’m feeling my age a little bit now.  Feet, legs and back starting to hurt, not to mention getting sunburned pretty well the day before.  I got back into town around 11AM and milled around until Brooklyn Vegan’s day party at The Jr.  First up was Vancouver, BC’s Baptists.  Holy shit.  They instantly became my favorite band of the whole week.  They were a crossover-ish hardcore band with a cool style about them.  Their drummer was fan-fucking-tastic.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to catch any of their other shows.  Look them up if you’re into that sort of thing.  Batillus (NY) came next and they were quite good.  Their bassist looked like a young Paul Di’Anno.  Next up was Richmond, VA’s Inter Arma.  They were also new to me but blew me away.  Damn fine stuff.  I skipped Royal Thunder and KEN Mode because I think they both suck, but also to go and charge my phone at my friend’s apartment.  I cam back a little later to catch Pallbearer again.  I missed Today is the Day.  The rest of the afternoon was spent pissing off, hanging with friends and just killing time until the night shows.  That eveing, my friend Pablo and I went to Bat Bar to see my friend Adriana for a quick drink.  Apparently it was a big hip hop party sponsored by WILL RAP 4 FOOD.  We went to the upstairs bar where my friend worked and apparently that was the VIP section.  We just walked right by the security guard who was stopping other people and making them wait in line.  We just acted like we were supposed to be there and no one said anything.  We had a lot of funny looks while up there as we were pretty much the only 2 white guys in the club.  After that I headed back to The Jr to catch sets by Cuba’s Agonizer and Ancestor.  It was decent thrash and black metal.  Attomica finished the night out there.  They’re a Brazilian band that formed the same year that Sepultura did.  They were ok (only 2 original members).  Ran into Immortal Guardian playing a set in the street too.  Good fun!

3/16/13
Worn out.  Tired.  Sore.  First plan of the day was to meet Hawkwind’s Nik Turner at End of an Ear Records at 3PM.  What a cool dude.  A legend!  Unfortunately I missed his show the night before.  After that I headed back downtown to fall into the madness again.  The order of the evening included great sets by Inter Arma, Howl and Power Trip.  Afterwards I ended up at Headhunters again to see The Evaporators featuring Andrew WK on keyboards.  Always a fun show.  Nardwuar is hilarious and The Evaporators are pretty much the happiest band on earth.  I’m pretty sure Nardwuar can be considered the original hipster, but in a good way.  In the street I saw Immortal Guardian…again!  On the way back to my car I went to Stubbs to catch up with my friend Leah.  Unfortunately Vampire Weekend was played.  COMPLETE SHIT.  It was about 1:30 and my body told me to go home…so I did.

Overall it was a great SxSW.  I didn’t get to see Prince like I had hoped (and everyone else hoped they could too!).  Not a lot of bigger metal bands this year.  Can’t wait until 2014!

Jack Russell’s Great White & Broken Teeth Concert Review, Austin TX, 12/30/2012

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The last time I saw Great White was in 1991 with Scorpions and Trixter (blech!).  They played a short set, but I remember them being enjoyable even thought they didn’t play anything from their first 2 albums.  A close high school friend had originally turned me on to Great White by loaning me their first EP in 1986 and I was hooked (pun intended).  By the time Twice Shy came out in in 1989, I was done with them.  Their cover of Ian Hunter’s Once Bitten, Twice Shy was the catalyst.  To this day, that song still makes me want to hurl.

About a month or so ago I caught word that Jack Russell’s Great White was going to be playing a smaller Austin venue so of course I bought a ticket.  Not to mention I wanted Jack’s signature in The Book.

Broken Teeth opened the show with their new bassist and played a revamped set which included a new song called “Devil On The Road”.  They also played a couple of songs live for the first time including “All Hail The Altar” and “Spitting Nails”.  The band was in fine form and this was the first show in about 6 months since the sudden passing of their now former bassist, Travis Weiss (RIP).  It was great to have them back!

Great White used Teeth’s backline and opened the show with Call It Rock and Roll.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear how good Jack’s voice was.  He’s been dealing with some health issues in recent years and he looked a little on the frail side…but he got on stage and did a great job.  Three songs in and they played On Your Knees from their first EP.  That was certainly the highlight song for me.  They also played Face the Day, Save Your Love and Rock Me, all songs that I do like a lot.  They also mixed in some later Great White songs like House of Broken Love, Mista Bone (ugh) and Desert Moon.  They of course closed with Once Bitten, Twice Shy.

The show was lightly attended, maybe 125 max but the band rocked it.  Most everyone cleared out immediately after the show.  I hung around for a bit to see if I could get Jack to sign the book.  He came out for a minutes, signed the book and my friend’s poster then high-tailed it to his bus/van.  The tour manager said he wasn’t feeling well.

It was a fun show and it brought out some folks that I hadn’t seen in a while.  It was a fine closing to a year of seeing a ton of concerts.

Happy New Year!

ticket

Jason McMaster

Jason McMaster
(photo by Dave TeeVee)

Jack Russell

Jack Russell

Ignitor – Year of the Metal Tiger (2012) Review

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Ignitor is a traditional US metal band fronted by the legendary Jason McMaster and has Stuart “Batlord” Laurence from Agony Column as its main songwriter and guitarist.  They’ve been around since 2003 and Jason’s been with them since about 2008 and recorded their Spider Queen album.

Just recently they’ve released Year of the Metal Tiger (YOTMT).  I like this album far better than Spider Queen which was a little too dramatic for my tastes, even though the music fit the storyline perfectly.  YOTMT is heavy, the way it should be.  Other than the track We Are Ignitor, I think the album is quite enjoyable, especially the tracks Shadow of the Needle, The Kaiser and Island of the Damned.

McMaster is using a lot of his mid-range vocal style and it sounds great, really makes the album for me.

I can easily give this album 7.5/10.  The production is crisp and the bass is very prominent.  You’ll likely have to adjust the EQ to accommodate it.

Recommended.

Written by The Metal Files

April 4, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Evil United – S/T Album Review

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I’ve been meaning to post my review of this one for months now.  I was given an advanced copy  and have even seen them live 3 or 4 times now, but yet, no review.  So here it is.  Who is Evil United you may ask?  Evil United features some legendary dudes like Jason McMaster (Broken Teeth, Dangerous Toys, ex-Watchtower, Ignitor etc), Don Van Stavern (Riot, SA Slayer, Pitbull Daycare), JohnValenzuela (Pitbull Daycare), TC Connally and Json West (Muderdolls, Sebastian Bach).  Not  a shabby group of folks to get together and make a band, eh?

This album is…well…this album is HEAVY.  Very heavy.   From beginning to end it’s in your face.  McMaster’s vocals go from his shrill to a good tenor backed with power.  I really like it when he’s in his lower registers.    It’s a nice change and he’s got a great clean voice which he has used with Ignitor.

The band is as solid as it gets.  The riffs are tight and the drums are as solid as you would want.  In a live setting this band is especially tight.  Again, the drummer is a badass.  The styles on this album flash from old school thrash and some power metal to some nu-metal sounds with some homage to Pantera.  The production is the one thing that bothers me on this.  It’s a bit too clean and the drums are overtriggered (at least they sound that way to my ears).  But that’s my opinion.  I want all albums to sound like an old Omen record.  haha

Highlight tracks include Walking to Sodom, Dawn of Armageddon, Rise and Fall of Earth and Man, Blasphemer and Hexorcism.

If you need a dose of heavy that’s not of the normal cookie cutter brand, I recommend this album for you.  And thankfully there’s no screamo/growling/cookie monster vocals.  It’s a nice change of pace.

You can stream the whole album on their Reverbnation page.

Thrash!

8/10

Written by The Metal Files

September 27, 2011 at 6:47 pm