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Satan Concert Review, Hollywood, CA, October 7, 2018

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With little to no sleep from staying up till almost dawn with Satan after their Frost and Fire IV concert the night before, Kelz and I scooped up one of my Austin friends and headed down to Hollywood to see them again at the famed Whisky A-Go-Go.  We dropped my friend off and headed to Pinches Tacos, which I love, and chowed down.  From there we headed straight to our hotel.  I was completely wiped out.  We checked in and slept for a couple of hours which still didn’t seem to be enough.

Alarm goes off and we get cleaned up and take a ride up to the Rainbow for some of my favorite pizza ever.  After checking in with Lemmy in the back and seeing some friends on the patio, we grabbed a booth and ordered a Jack and Coke (respect!) and a pizza.  Russ and Cindy from Tanith walked in and joined us for a pleasurable dinner.  Towards the end, new friend from Chile, Chris, joined as well.  The pizza was fantastic!

After dinner, I spent a few minutes with Steve Hopgood who drummed with NWOBHM band Persian Risk.  I had met him twice in the States when Di’Anno’s Battlezone toured with Obsession and Di’Anno’s Killers toured with Solitude Aeturnus.  It was great to chat for a bit.

From there I went straight to the Whisky for Satan.  The direct support band, Gravedanger, was playing.  I wasn’t much into it but saw some potential.  I went upstairs with a Coke and hung with some friends.  I figured a pit would happen during Satan and I wasn’t in the mood for it.

The show started and the pit broke out.  Kelz lasted down there for most of the show.  It was fun watching him take the abuse.  Satan’s 16 song set was a good mix of old and new material, including 5 from the new album, Cruel Magic.  The sound in the room was perfect and the band played effortlessly and seemingly flawlessly.  Brian’s interaction with the crowd was great.  Out of the 9 times I had seen them since 2014, the Whisky show might be my favorite.

Unfortunately, some drunk asses upstairs wouldn’t shut the fuck up for much of the set, but oh well.

After the show we said our goodbyes to the Satan and Tanith crews and some other friends and hit the sack.  Kelz had an earlier flight than mine so I just went to the airport early and hung out until my 1230PM flight.

Originally we were planning to follow them up to San Francisco and Seattle but it started getting a bit pricey and logistically dumb.

Hail Satan!


Written by The Metal Files

October 10, 2018 at 4:06 pm

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Frost and Fire IV Festival Review, Ventura, CA, October 4-6, 2018

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That’s how I feel today.  Worn out, yet refreshed.  Work has been a bit stressful lately and getting out of town for a few days was just what I needed; even better that it was for the fourth (and final?) installment of the Frost and Fire fest.  This was also my fourth time attending and it’s easily my favorite of the USA metal fests.

As has happened on many travels around the USA for shows, one of my lifelong best friends, Kelz, attended as well.  Here’s how it all played out.  TL;DR?  Understood.  haha

Thursday Oct. 4
I landed at LAX around 1030AM and scooped up Kelz in the terminal.  My friend Soledad had arrived at a similar time but needed to get through customs.  We went ahead and got the rental car and ended up having to wait almost 2 hours for her, which was fine.  Unfortunately she didn’t have a signal in the customs line and couldn’t tell us about the delay.  Once through we picked her up at the terminal and headed up to Ventura.  Doors were at 4PM and the first band was slated for 430PM.  We grabbed a quick meal, checked in then headed to the Ventura Theater to get things going.

This year was completely at the Ventura Theater which meant two things, expensive drinks and no ins/outs of the venue without an all access wristband.  Fortunately a friend in one of the bands granted us a pair of wristbands for the weekend, so that was sweet.  For the record, I didn’t have one alcoholic drink in the venue at all, only a couple of Cokes and Red Bulls over the weekend.

But whatever, here’s the band run down for Thursday:

Haunt – They were a known commodity to me already as I had the EP and LP for a while and had already seen them twice.  Definitely one of my current favorite bands and I hope their success continues.  They sounded great as the fest opener, as expected and I can’t recommend them enough.  I got some good chatting time with mainman Trevor over the weekend.  Solid dude.  Looking forward to hearing more from them.

Lady Beast – I had seen them previously in Chicago and Cleveland and enjoy them live.  Thursday was no different.  They delivered a solid set for sure.

Screamer – I only heard them from the lobby, to be honest, and I thought they sounded fine, but didn’t really get a good perspective of them.

Tanith – This band features Russ Tippins from Satan.  I had already seen them a couple of times and they are certainly one of my favorite newer bands as well.  The vocal work of Russ and Cindy is just perfect for their sound, which as stated before, reminds me of Wishbone Ash and Uriah Heep with a touch of NWOBHM thrown in.  Their set was good and we got a couple of new songs.  Unfortunately there were some sound issues.  Didn’t matter, Tanith ruled and the band is full of great people.

Gygax – I saw their Frost and Fire and enjoyed them a lot then, especially with Armand (now in Night Demon) on guitar.  They are certainly influenced, somewhat overly influenced by Thin Lizzy.  I didn’t really see/hear their set as Kelz and I headed out of the venue for a beer and some quick dinner.

Slough Feg – Missed their set, but in general I’m not a fan.

Cirith Ungol – Tim Baker and company delivered a fine set for the masses.  They also debuted their new song, Witch’s Game.  It sounded great live.  The whole band did.

Afterward, we hit Dargan’s Irish Pub for a drink or two then to a quickie mart/liquor store for some room snacks and waters and walked back to our hotel to crash out.  We were both pretty wiped out.  Our waitress there was super cool and had a beer with us after she finished her shift.

Friday Oct. 5

After hitting some breakfast at the hotel and chilling for a bit, we decided to ride up to Santa Barbara to check out a record store.  It was weird how dead that town was at the noon hour on a Friday.  Last year on the Saturday we were there is was quite busy, mostly tourists I guess.  Afterwards we headed back to Ventura, in the most perfect weather ever, and chilled at the hotel a bit.  I got a short nap, got cleaned up and we headed over to Barrelhouse 101 for burgers and drinks before heading back to the fest.  My friends from Mexico, Soledad, Sarah and Jaime joined us and it was a great time to eat, drink and catch up with friends.  Unfortunately we missed Vandallus, Thrust and Cloven Hoof.  I had seen the first two before and they put on solid sets.  I’ve never been a Cloven Hoof fan and really had no interest seeing them.  Here’s what I did see:

Destructor – Cleveland legends.  We caught the second half of their set and Dave Just and the band were solid and sounded great.

Night Demon – They’re Ventura locals and are the body and brains behind the fest.  They are also road dogs and consistently put on one of the best and most energetic live shows ever.  Easily one of my favorite bands to see live…EVER.  Jarvis, Armand and Dustin are a well-oiled machine and know how to work a crowd.  Jarvis is a great frontman.  They delivered their set with precision as expected.  That was my 17th time seeing them!  That’s crazy in an of itself.  Not to mention I consider them close friends.  Definitely connected beyond the music and I thankful for that.

Warbringer – I’ve seen them before and didn’t watch them during their set.  Not my thing.

Midnight – The Cleveland based dark metallers hit the stage with the energy and fury that Athenar and company always deliver.  This was the first time I had seen them since they added a second guitarist.  It certainly beefed up their sound a bit, not that they needed it.  Always an enjoyable set.

The after party was at San Souci across the street and I got in there right as it was getting filled up to see my friends in Blood Star.  Kelz and I chugged our Billys (local drink) and rocked out to their awesome set in that tiny room.  They sounded great!  From there I was wiped out and headed back to the hotel to crash out.  Another band, NovaReign, was about to play but I was disinterested.

Saturday Oct. 6

Same breakfast routine, but did sleep in a little longer.  After chilling for most of the morning and into the noon hour, we finally got cleaned up to go find lunch.  We met up on the street with my Detroit friend Megan and hit a Thai place.  After that?  Nap time, or at least that was the plan.  Our room faced the park area and there was an arts festival going with some shitty DJ music blasting the bass.  I maybe have fallen out for a little bit, but it wasn’t enough.  But we soldiered on!  Off to the Ventura!  While there, I saw the Eternal Champion guys roll in to set up merch and such.  I am a founding member of the band but have now been out of the band longer than I was in it!  I buried a hatchet (perceived or otherwise) prior to their set.

Sacred Few – I only knew their one song from the old Cleveland Metal compilation so they were pretty much an unknown.  Their singer, Sandy, is the only original member and Midnight was the backing band.  It was quite an enjoyable set which started at 330PM.  Sandy sounded great and you could tell that she was having a great time.  She was really sweet to talk to as well.

Vicious Rumors – On tour for their Digital Dictator re-boot, VR delivered a solid set and the current singer sounded great.  I’ll see them again in Austin soon.

Attacker – They sounded killer and it’s always a pleasure to talk with Mike, Michael and Brian.  Great dudes and funny as hell.

Eternal Champion – This was my first time seeing them since my departure from the band.  It was a bit weird.  I watched about half of it then went back out to the lobby to hang with some friends.

Visigoth – Jake, Jamison and company did what they always do…THEY OWNED THE STAGE AND CROWD.  Jake is one of the best standalone frontmen in the business and the band overall sounded great.  I wish I could see them more often.  It was made even more special with Manilla Road’s Bryan “Hellroadie” Patrick on vocals for Necropolis in honor of the passing of Mark Shelton.  RIP.

Ashbury – Prior to their set, Rob from Ashbury gave me a copy of their new CD and a steel pin for my vest.  “Love and Respect, Sean.”  Just hearing those words from him means the world.  He said he wanted my review of the album, good, bad or indifferent.  I’ll get working on that soon.  They delivered another fine set and they are the perfect band for this fest.  Most everyone loves them.  They were great.  They always are.

Satan – Hail Satan!  What more can really be said about them?  Plenty!  They were slated to play all of Court in the Act and it was great to hear the full album played live, especially Hunt You Down, which they rarely play live.  They were absolutely great and played a couple from their new album, Cruel Magic, along with some other early songs and some from their more recent catalog.  The whole band is so energetic and Brian Ross’ vocals are still top notch.  They were the perfect end to a perfect festival.

After the show, we were all saying our goodbyes before getting thrown out of the venue.  Neither Kelz nor I care to go back to Sans Souci for the after party bands as it was already packed in there.  So we headed back to the Irish pub with Christian (Venomous Maximus, ex-Eternal Champion [there are a lot of us!]) and had a shot and a couple of beers before they closed it down.  As we walked back up to the hotel, Satan was there unloading gear and beers and invited us to hang out with them.  Didn’t have to ask us twice!  Brian Ross’ drink of choice is called a Firemeister which is a combo of 1 full shot of Jager and 1 full show of Fireball.  Sounds awful, right?  It is.  But if Brian is serving them up, I’ll generally not say no.  Fortunately he didn’t have much left, so I feel like we dodged a bullet.  haha.  We also had a couple of beers.  It was Kelz, Heather from Graveshadow, Brian/Graeme/Steve from Satan and Charlie/Cindy/Shauna from Tanith and me.  Time flew by quickly and all of a sudden it was 5AM (7AM Texas time and 8AM NC time for Kelz).  I threw in the towel.  We had to be out of the hotel by noon to head to Hollywood to see Satan again Sunday night.

That’s the wrap for the fest, this wonderful perfect fest in one of the most beautiful cities in the USA with the best weather we could have ever wanted.  Jarvis has wavered on whether or not this will be the last one or not.  I personally hope not.  It’s really a great fest, well-run and I thoroughly enjoy seeing a lot of friends that I don’t see regularly and meeting new friends.  Getting to spend time with the bands, my friends from Germany (thanks for the scarf, Kiri!), Soledad, Jaime y Sara from Mexico, Stephan from Switzerland, Kit Ekman, Christian from Venomous, Ollie from KIT, Thilo, Henri, Rodney, and all of the USA friends.

See all setlists here.

Written by The Metal Files

October 10, 2018 at 11:56 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Omen Concert Review, Laredo, TX, September 8, 2018

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Omen in Laredo?  OK, why not?  My friend Lisa and I drove in to Laredo late night after the Scorpions show (see previous post) to meet up with her husband and his family for the weekend.  I was pretty wiped out by the time we got there and fell asleep pretty quickly.  We got up the next morning, did some running around town and some sightseeing since I had never been there and saw a lot of the places where the two of them were familiar with as they grew up there.  That was cool getting some of their history mixed in.  We met up with our friend, Mina, at El Popo for some torta type sammiches then went and had a couple of drinks before heading back to the house to chill before the evening’s festivities.

We met up with Mina again at a bar and had a couple of drinks then went to the venue.  It wasn’t a big place but was about what I expected.  There were three death metal bands opening.  None of them were my thing but the crowd dig them.  Two were from Monterrey, MX and the other, Severance, were from the valley, I believe.  They’ve apparently been around for a long time.  I was there for Omen exclusively.

I saw Kenny Powell from Omen for a quick minute before the show and met the new singer.  The bands were all sharing a backline, so there was no real set up time.  I moved straight to the front.  I LOVE OMEN.  The JD Kimball era (RIP) falls within my top 15ish bands of all time.  I also liked the Kevin Goocher stuff and thought Hammer Damage was a strong album.  Omen had released 2 songs online with Nikos who is their new singer from Crete.  All I can say is that he pretty much nails the JD sound, be it contrived or naturally.  He’s also a super nice guy.

They opened with Termination and rolled through the classics until playing Alive from the new EP.  They also played Evil Seductress from that as well.  The set was killer and other than the 2 new songs, I was singing along with everything.  I was fully energized by the show and the band was great overall minus a couple of technical issues with Kenny’s effect pedal board.  He’s got such a unique sound and it was great to hear most of my favorite Omen songs, especially Torture Me and Teeth of the Hydra.

I look forward to seeing them again…and again.

Omen setlist

Written by The Metal Files

September 12, 2018 at 12:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Scorpions and Queensryche Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, September 7, 2018

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Scorpions came back through on a make-up date for the show they canceled last year because of some health issues with Klause.  I ended up with a pair of great seats and no date.  I was heading to Laredo after the show with my friends Lisa and Logan and offered one of the tickets to them.  Have one of them go with me to the show and we’ll meet the other in Laredo.  Logan isn’t much of a Scorpions fan so he let his wife come with me.  We got in a little late and missed half of Queenryche’s set.  What we heard sounded great.  Todd nails it on vocals.  Unfortunately the number of original members in the band has dwindled down to 2 with Rockenfield no longer on drums.

Scorpions came up next and our seats were right on the rail at the catwalk.  I told Lisa that we should just move up to the rail during the break and maintain our spots.  Security had moved a few people off of the rail but the closest guard to us recognized me from the Priest show and told us to stay there.  We were also right next to our seats, so no biggie.  Scorpions opened with a newer song, Going Out With A Bang.  It’s an OK song.  The rolled through most of their 80s hits, played a medley of the Uli-era and then did something really cool, which they had been doing since Mikkey Dee joined the band…They played Motorhead’s Overkill.  It was a good enough version.  TO be honest, my main reason for seeing the show was to see Mikkey as he’s one of my all time faves.  Klaus’ voice sounded really good and the band was solid as expected.  There was one blunder by the bassist at the beginning of No One Like You where he obviously didn’t hear the count into the song and wasn’t playing in the right post.  He figured it out quickly and they rolled on.  The set could have been a bit better and it was weird that they didn’t play Still Loving You, but oh well.

It was a fun show and we had a long drive in the darkness and rain to Laredo, so we didn’t waste any time and got on the road.

Scorpions setlist

Queensryche setlist

Written by The Metal Files

September 12, 2018 at 12:32 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Armored Saint Concert Reviews, Chicago, IL & Milwaukee, WI, July 21-22, 2018

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What a whirlwind weekend.

I’ve no deep connection with Armored Saint beyond always liking them and never thought they did a truly bad album.  They are currently playing Symbol of Salvation in its entirety and that’s one of my faves.  The short tour wasn’t coming to Texas so Rodney and I decided to head north and catch 2 shows, Chicago and Milwaukee (Saturday and Sunday shows, respectively).

We were flying out of San Antonio on Saturday morning so I decided to stay with him Friday night.  After a quick dinner we went back to the house and I had a minor kidney stone pain come on.  This is the 20th one since 1989 so I wasn’t too freaked out.  I went to bed and pain got worse for the next couple hours so I grabbed my bag and drove to the nearest emergency room.  A quick cat scan and some morphine and it was confirmed that I had a biggish sized stone but the doc felt it would pass eventually.  I messaged Rodney that I was at the hospital in case I couldn’t get out in time to catch our flight.  I was discharged around 3AM.  Luckily he saw my message and was able to let me back in the house.  So that was that.

We dropped into Chicago, ate at Portillo’s and went record shopping.  Didn’t find much and headed to the hotel to chill for a bit.  We took a ride to Reggie’s to get Wrath, Acr of Defiance and Armored Saint.  I’ve been to Chicago several times in recent years for shows at Reggie’s and this was the first time that I didn’t really know anyone there besides Rodney and one other friend, Michael.  I know a lot of metalheads in Chicago and none of them were there.  Weird.  But no matter, the show was packed.  I had never seen Wrath and while I’m not much of a fan beyond a couple of songs on Fit of Anger, they were solid live.  Don’t think I’d ever need to see them again on purpose.  Next up was Act of Defiance which features ex-Megadeth guitarist Chris Broderick and drummer Shawn Drover along with Shadows Fall guitarist (on bass) Matt Bachand and some singer I didn’t recognize.  They were awful.  The most generic thrash-ish stuff I have ever heard.  It just wasn’t cohesive at all.  Then came Armored Saint.  The opened with March of the Saint, Long Before I Die and Chemical Euphoria.  I hung near the back of the venue for the set.  I was a bit tired from the hospital visit but Saint had me pumped up.  They were stellar, beginning to end.  Back to the hotel.

Woke up Sunday feeling great and we got in the car for the short drive up to Milwaukee which included another Portillo’s run.  We hit some shops along the way and found a few things, but nothing major.  We grabbed dinner at a local pub and were both a bit tired and crashed out in the car for a bit.  Saw our buddy Randy at the show.  Then around the block for the early show.  No local openers and I endured Act of Defiance again.  I did get to say hi to pal Jeff Duncan for a moment right as AoD was playing.  Always good to see him.  After a quick stage change, I got up front for the first 1/3 of the set.  Another stellar show, albeit it lightly attended.  It ended at 11.  We had an 8AM flight and still had to drive back to Chicago, painful.

With a few hours sleep and another kidney stone attack, we were back the the airport and on our way home.  Again…whirlwind! And worth every moment.

Written by The Metal Files

July 23, 2018 at 5:58 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Slayer, Lamb of God, Anthrax, Behemoth & Testament Concert Review, Austin, TX, June 20, 2018

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Slayer said they were calling it quits and that this would be their final tour, so why not go?  No need to get too misty-eyed with Slayer memories, but I first saw them on the Seasons tour with Testament on the Souls of Black tour.  My nose got slightly rearranged in a pit that night.  Good times.

Personally this was too many bands on the bill but whatever.  The show was at the Austin360 Amphitheater which isn’t my favorite place to see shows.  It’s not far from where I live but it’s historically a pain in the ass to get in and out of.  The parking lots opened at 3, gates at 4 and the first band started at 5.  We left my house at 330 and were in the parking lot by 345 and I had a VIP parking pass from the fan club presale, so we were right at the gate.  Easy peasy!  We walked in, met up with some other friends, grabbed a drink and a quick bite of crappy food and went to our seats.  On with the show.

This was my 8th time seeing Testament since 1987 and while I really only like the first two albums and The Gathering, I do enjoy them live, especially with Gene Hoglan on drums.  He makes it look easy.  Last night’s list was rather boring, though, and obviously too short since they were the opener.  At this point they’re just going through the motions…a theme for the whole night.

Before Behemoth came on, we grabbed another drink, found more friends and then went back for their set.  I thought I had seen them before but my page says otherwise.  They were solid and enjoyable even though the whole satan thing makes me laugh.  Hoglan played one track with them.

Same between-set action before Anthrax.  I saw a lot of folks I hadn’t seen in a while last night, which was great.  This was also my 8th Anthrax show since 87 (with Testament coincidentally).  I know Anthrax loves playing covers and they do a good job at it, but why make them a part of your set, especially when it’s a short set?  Why not some deep cuts?  Anthrax is another band just going through the motions, really.  Yes, they are tight and played perfectly, but everything is just completely controlled.  Like most older bands, they have no fire beneath their feet.  Energetic, but it seemed feigned.  Benante had missed some shows on the tour for health reasons and Hoglan filled in as needed, but he played last night and he was on his game.  Beast drummer.  It was cool that Anthrax used the drum intro from Slayer’s Criminally Insane to intro a song.  Not sure how many people caught that.

Lamb of God was up next.  I can’t care about this band.  I detest metal-core.  I hung out with friends through most of their set.

Slayer came out and opened with Repentless.  Assuredly the crowd was there to primarily see Slayer.  While the band has slowed down a little over the years, they are still viable in a live setting.  I could have done without all of the post-Seasons era songs, but whatever.  Hell Awaits, Chemical Warfare, Black Magic, South of Heaven and Mandatory Suicide were definitely my highlight tracks for the night.  Sure, Reign In Blood is a beast of an album but they usually play the same ones.  The pyros were pretty insane.  The heat from the flames where we were sitting was intense at times, I can’t imagine how it was on stage.  The band was solid, albeit a little slower as I mentioned.  Holt is a killer player and does Hanneman justice.  I really do miss Lombardo behind the kit, though.  He’s got an intensity about his playing that Bostaph can’t capture, and that’s no slag against him, but it’s just not there.

At the end of the show, Kerry and Gary stood at the edge of the stage and threw a ton of picks out after the band had already exited.  It was nice seeing Kerry “hang out” a bit with the fans.

Overall it was a great night filled with great friends.  It had been raining (not blood) most of the week and while there were some ominous clouds hanging over the venue for a while, it never rained.  The humidity was outrageous though.  I felt like I was back in Virginia for an outdoor summer show.  We were front row of section 102, just up from the pit area and it was great not having to stare into everyone’s cellphones for the whole concert.  After the show we went to the Al Pastor taco trailer and it was awesome as always.  Lots of other show attendees were there as well.

Long live Slayer.


Written by The Metal Files

June 21, 2018 at 9:13 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Hammerfall & Flotsam and Jetsam Concert Review, San Antonio, June 19, 2018

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At the last minute, my buddy and I decided to head down to San Antonio to catch Flotsam and Hammerfall.  It was a relatively early show so we grabbed Rodney and headed into town after a quick dinner.

I had just seen Flotsam on their tour opener as headline a few weeks back but was stoked to see them live again and especially to see Ken Mary on drums again.  Since they were the opener they didn’t have the full set but still laid it down hard and heavy and were super solid.  They’ve only got a handful of dates left on the tour, one more with Hammerfall then the rest with them as headliners again.

After a quick amp and minor drum change out, Hammerfall came on and played a solid set.  At least solid for what I stayed to see.  I really only like the first 2 albums and they weren’t playing anything from the debut and only a medley from the second.  So that was a killer for me.  During much of their set, I hung outside with Ken and heard some of the stories from this current tour.

Fun night overall and worth the trip and late drive home.  Slayer tonight!

Written by The Metal Files

June 20, 2018 at 10:27 am

Posted in Uncategorized