The Metal Files

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Archive for the ‘texas’ Category

Billy Joel Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, December 9, 2016

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Seems like it’s been forever since I’ve posted a review.  I’ve been busy working out of town and haven’t been able to see as much in the last 2 months.

I had never seen Billy Joel before but have loved him since I was a kid, especially The Stranger album.  Great one from front to back.  I was surprised whe I read up on his current band lineup that he has both Chuck Burgi and David Rosenthal playing drums and keyboards, respectively.  They were both on my favorite Rainbow album, Bent Out of Shape. I sent a message to Chuck a week before the show to see if maybe we could meet and have him sign my Rainbow stuff, but never heard back.  Worth a shot, eh?

We had seats behind the stage and while we had a great view of Billy, I could only see Chuck’s cymbals, which was a bummer.  He sounded great though.  The entire band was great and especially Billy’s vocals.  I didn’t expect him to hit some of the notes he hit and to still sing so clearly.

He was pretty jovial with the crowd and in three spots, the crowd would get to decide on which song would be played next.  He’d offer up 2 songs and the one with the loudest applause got played.  He also played a bunch of snippets of Texas artists like ZZ Top, Buddy Holly and Janis Joplin.  They also did Highway to Hell with one of the roadies on vocals and Billy played rhythm guitar.  He played it in a couple of songs.

Overall the show was great and highlights were all 5 songs from The Stranger (unfortunately he didn’t play the title track), Sometimes a Fantasy which I hadn’t though about in 20 years, Vienna, Miami 2017, and The Ballad of Billy the Kid.

Written by The Metal Files

December 14, 2016 at 2:22 pm

Catching Up With Metal Church’s Craig Wells…Again

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Hard to believe that it’s been 6 years since I did a little email interview with the shredder Craig Wells of Metal Church.  I had seen that he moved to Houston within the last year and we couldn’t make a connection to meet until this week, as I’m working here weekly for a while.  He works nights in the TV engineering business and rarely gets a free evening.  Tonight I got lucky.

We went to a nice little Mexican place called El Tiempo Cantina.  Once inside I was given all kinds of great stories about the history of Metal Church.  One awesome tidbit he gave me was that Mark Baker of Strychnine played live for them on the first 2 tours when Vanderhoof wasn’t in the band.  Also that David Wayne (RIP) recorded the vocals for Highway Star in one take!  It was pretty mind numbing taking it all in and even realizing the fact that I’m sitting across the table from the guitar player that played on some of my all time favorite albums.

After dinner, he graciously signed The Book and some of my CD covers.  I couldn’t find my copy of Human Factor and had forgotten to bring my Operation Rock and Roll CD.  There’s also a foto of us from 1989 that I’d like to get signed.  He assured me that he’d take care of that next time.  Craig is an absolutely awesome guy and I look forward to seeing him again.

This was a perfect Halloween!

Written by The Metal Files

October 31, 2016 at 8:30 pm

Riot V Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, October 1, 2016

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Riot V (Riot) is doing a short string of Texas dates in warmup to their Japan show with Rick Ventura performing all of Fire Down Under.  Last night was San Antonio’s turn and what a great show it was…as always.  There was yet another slight band member change for these shows.  Nick Lee and Lance Barnewold (Nick’s usual replacement) both had prior commitments and couldn’t do this show.  Riot tapped SA local Joey Villalobos to back up Mike Flyntz and he did a fine job.

Riot opened with a taped segment of Flashbacks from FDU then went into Narita as they always do.  They played 5 more songs that have been a part of their set in the last couple of years then brought out guitarist Rick Ventura to play FDU with Flyntz and the band.  It was quite a treat to see him again and to hear that whole album live.  Such an influential album and Mark Reale influenced a lot of guitarists.  After FDU, they kept Rick on stage for Tokyo Rose, Rock City and Road Racin’ and for a cover of Saxon’s Denim and Leather which featured Saxon’s Nigel Glockler on drums.  Pretty cool.  Last night proved once again that Todd Michael Hall is one of the best singers in metal.

Rick left the stage and Joey came back on for 5 more songs and that was it.  It was a great 2 hour set as always and was good to be there with good friends.

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Written by The Metal Files

October 2, 2016 at 6:39 pm

Saint Vitus & The Skull Concert Review, Austin, TX, September 27, 2016

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Saint Vitus, The Skull and Witch Mountain kicked off their latest tour here in Austin, TX Tuesday night to a moderately sized crowd at one of Austin newest venues, Grizzly Hall.  This place has a great setup and sound system.

Newish Austin locals, LadyKiller opened the show with their brand of what I have seen called “Camaro Rock” to a slowly building crowd.  They seemed to start off a little flat but by the middle of their 30 minute set, they were doing their thing smoothly.

Witch Mountain was up next but I missed their entire set hanging outside on the patio with some friends.  I could hear them but wasn’t interested enough to go in.  I had checked them out before and well, pass.

The Skull was up next.  I’m a huge Trouble fan of everything they released up to and including their 1990 S/T classic.  I’ve seen them 4 times now, including Tuesday’s show and really like the stuff they’re doing now.  They’ve gone through some lineup changes since I first saw them in 2014 in Chicago but Eric Wagner, Ron Holzner and Lothar Keller have remained constant.  Lefty Rob Wrong (Witch Mountain) is handling additional guitar duties now and for this tour in Sean Saley’s absence, they have former Poison Idea drummer Steve “Thee Hippy Slayer” Hanford.  They opened the set with Trapped Inside My Mind from their 2014 release entitled For Those Which Are Asleep.  Three of the next 4 songs were also from that album.  They played “The Longing” from their latest EP as well before going into 4 classic Trouble songs including Pray for the Dead from Trouble’s 1985 album The Skull.  The band sounded fantastic and Wagner’s voice was still as shrill as ever.

Saint Vitus were up next and I’m not much of a fan although I’ve seen them several times.  Their drummer, Henry, is a good pal so I go to support.  He took me to the green room prior to The Skull to get Dave, Mark and Scott to sign The Book.  All were really cool guys and Scott was up front with us watching The Skull.  I watched their first 3 or 4 songs and have to admit that I enjoyed them more than ever.  Having Scott on vocals helps quite a bit as I’m no fan of Wino aside from his Hidden Hand stuff.

After the show I was beat.  It was getting pretty late for a work night so I headed home.  The tour bus that they were going to use was stuck in Dallas broke down so instead of them driving back to Dallas after the show, I had offered my place up to The Skull.  They had to drive back to Dallas the next day for a show, but were happy to be able to sleep before making that drive.  It was a bit surreal knowing that Eric and Ron, dudes from a band I’ve loved for 30 years, were just hanging out in my house with my cat, Taco, while I was crashed out.  haha.  Good dudes.  I did come home for lunch and Ron had just woken up.  “Your cat is awesome.”  True.

Through my pal, Felix Griffin (DRI, BAT), I was introduced to former DRI bassist, Josh Pappe.  I got him added to The Book as well.

Alice Cooper Concert Review, Austin, TX, August 21, 2016

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Alice rolled into Austin again for the 3rd time in 2 years…and there’s nothing wrong with that!  I’d go see him every week if I could.

As it was last year, we were served an evening with just Alice Cooper.  I was quite pleased to see that the setlist was different for this tour.  I ended up with 3rd row seats at stage right on Ryan Roxy’s and Chuck Garric’s side.  Ryan pitched a pick perfectly to me towards the end of the show.

Overall it was great and Alice’s voice was in good condition and his backing band was as solid as ever.  One of these days I’ll get Garric and Hendrikson added to The Book.

The only down side to the show was the amount of fucking camera phones being held up the whole show.  Don’t get me wrong, I will snap some shots but I don’t keep my phone out and held up the whole show.  It was really annoying.  But I digress.

Highlights would be Ballad of Dwight Fry, Elected, The World Needs Guts and a good rendition of Ace of Spades.  It was a strong set overall.

I used a couple of my own photos as well as some from Christie O. and John A.  Thanks!

 

 

Written by The Metal Files

August 22, 2016 at 11:02 am

Holy Grail, Exmortus & Spellcaster Concert Review, Austin, TX, August 3, 2016

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The Fellowship of the Strings Tour rolled in to Grizzly Hall yesterday featuring bands full of really good guitar players.  Having seen all 3 bands before, there were no real surprises here.

Spellcaster hit the stage promptly at 815PM.  Yes, you read that right.  An early show on a weeknight.  What a novel concept!  There was no local opener and set times didn’t get announced until about an hour before the show.  Had this show been downtown, it likely would have been a 10PM start time.  For us day job folks, these early shows are great.  Spellcaster’s slot was only 30 minutes and they blew through their set with ease.  The crowd was at about 60 people by my rough count during their set.  They sounded great.  I can’t recommend their latest album, Night Hides the World, enough.

Immediately after the set I hustled next door to grab a couple of al pastor tacos from Taco More.  Delicious I tell ya!  There was only 15 minutes between sets as all 3 bands were sharing the backline.  Exmortus was already on by the time I got back and I enjoyed their set a little more than I did last time.  The growing crowd was really into it and I think they may have had about 80 people.

Holy Grail rolls through Austin on the regular and the crowd had thinned out a little, but was still very much into the show.  To be honest, this may have been the best of the 4 shows I have seen by them.  James Luna’s voice was pretty much flawless.  They finished around 1115ish and all three bands just hung around and drank with the remainder of the crowd.

I bought a Spellcaster shirt, said a few goodbyes to them and some other friends and went home.  It was a fun early night.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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