The Metal Files

My Life. My Music. Your Voyeurism.

Black Sabbath Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, November 12, 2016

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Black Sabbath played what they say is their final show in the USA last night.  The setlist wasn’t much different than the show we got 3 years ago in Austin except they only played classic material.

I had purchased floor seats right next to the soundboard and my friend Pablo came with.  They opened with Black Sabbath and the crowd was pretty animated and most everyone on the floor had their phones over their head through much of that song.  Luckily that subsided as the night wore on.  Fairies Wear Boots came next then three of my faves, After Forever, Into the Void and SnowblindHand of Doom had been played at all other shows except this one and I’m not sure why, but whatever.

Geezer and Tony were perfect as expected and Tommy Clufetos was as solid as anyone could be.  And then our old friend, Ozzy.  Other than some timing issues (couldn’t follow the bouncing ball on the teleprompter?), I thought Ozzy sounded really good.  Way better than 3 years ago.  As expected, he stayed strapped to his mic stand and teleprompter.  He spoke a little between songs and I think he may have been reading those cues as well.  It’s a little sad to see.  But again, I was surprised as to how he sounded.  The only song he seemed to struggle on to my ears was Dirty Women.  He just couldn’t keep up and get his pitch right, no issues in the rest of the set.

We rolled out right as the encore, Paranoid, had started to beat the rush and traffic.  We times it perfectly.

Written by The Metal Files

November 13, 2016 at 1:09 pm

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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

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.

Satan and Cauldron Concert Review, Philadelphia, PA, October 22, 2016

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Another road trip?  Sure, why not?  This fall has been very busy concert-wise.  Kelz and I started making plans for seeing Satan on this east coast jaunt several months ago when we first caught wind of the tour.  Once I got the dates, Philadelphia and Richmond made the most sense and I booked my trip.

I flew into Raleigh Friday night after work and we left for Philly Saturday morning.  It was a fun drive up as expected.  Talking trash and eating Utz Red Hot Chips.  I can’t find them in Texas and they’re my favorite.  We made a quick stop in VA for a pork BBQ sandwich and continued our way north to PA.  Delaware has great roads.  Best I’ve ever seen.

We finally got to our hotel around 5:30PM or so and for whatever reason our room wasn’t ready?  They gave us a different type of room than what we asked for and I didn’t have to spoon up with Kelz, so that was a plus.  ha.

I called Lyft to get us over to either Pat’s or Geno’s for a cheesesteak before the show.  Our driver couldn’t figure out how to get into the hotel entrance.  She was pretty much the worst driver ever.  Couldn’t follow the navigation properly, didn’t wear her seatbelt and was generally just an idiot.  Once we finally got to the cheesesteak places, lines were around the block so we took the decision to just walk over to the venue, Boot & Saddle, and grab something there.  As we turned the corner, Sean and Steve were getting a few things from the trailer and we spoke to them briefly as Graeme showed up.  He needed some wine so they went to a liquor store to take care of business.  We went inside and grabbed 2 seats at the bar and ordered some food.  Perogis and a corn dog it is!

Ran into some friends there and as we were finishing up dinner, Brian Ross from Satan walks by and I said, “Hey Brian, how’s it going?”  He was surprised to see us and hung out with us for quite a while.  The venue door was open during Horrendous’ set and I didn’t care.  We just stayed where we were and hung with Brian and Russ and whoever else came up.  Brian was telling us of his favorite drink, equal parts Jagermeister and Fireball, dubbed The Firemeister.  It sounded gross but we did a round of them anyhow.  It was gross.  I hate Jager.  I also got a full download on Brian’s Alive Cooper tribute band that he does.  He was showing us photos of his stage show.  It’s a full on reproduction of Alice’s live show.  I’m planning on attending the show in Newcastle in 2017.  With only a few songs left of Cauldron, who we also only heard through the venue door from the bar, Brian scooted off to get his make up for the show.  As people shuffled out of the gig for drinks or whatever, we shuffled in to secure spots near the stage.

Satan hit the stage and opened with Trial By Fire and Blades of Steel.  The small room was packed and the band was slightly cramped on the small stage.  Not a lot of room for moving around for a 5pc band.  They sounded great as always.  Brian’s voice was brilliant.  If you have ever seen them live, you know how good they are.  Still amazed that a band that has only been rejuvenated in recent years can still bring it about as hard as any newer band.  As expected, the set was a good mix of all three of the Ross-era studio albums.

After the show we go back into the bar area and hang out with friends and the Satan guys came right out after to take photos with fans (like us) and sign stuff.  A couple more of those gross Firemeisters were had and neither Kelz nor myself were feeling much pain.  haha.  It was starting to get late and we were both hungry and needed to soak up the buzz a bit, so we got some Chinese food to go from the place next to the venue and got a quick Lyft ride back to the hotel.  This guy was a much better driver.  Back at the hotel, were were just eating and laughing and having a grand time.  Then the fade hit.  We needed to get to sleep so we could head south to Richmond for Sunday’s show.

Quite a wonderful night.  Met some great people.  If there was anything negative to say about the evening it would be that the dude standing in front of me for the Satan set had body odor that smelled like a litter box.  That sucked.

 

Written by The Metal Files

October 25, 2016 at 2:14 pm

Heart Concert Review, Austin, TX, October 16, 2016

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Heart played to a sold out crowd last night in Austin at my favorite venue, The Moody Theater at ACL Live.

It was a good set but seemed to be over as fast as it had begun.  The Wilson sisters sounded great and the backing band was flawless.  It was a nice surprise to hear Mistral Wind from Dog and Butterfly.  Easily the highlight of the show for me.  Having seen the setlist from a few nights before, I knew that they were going to play 3 Led Zeppelin songs as their encore and I had no interest in that, so we left just as No Quarter had started.

Throughout the show I couldn’t help but think about my Aunt Dianne who died earlier this year.  She and her sister, my Aunt Debbie, were big Heart fans and the trips to Pennsylvania sitting in Grandma’s listening to their Heart records with my cousins are some really special memories.

Short set for that price and I’m not sure I’d go see them again to be honest unless they started doing full album shows.  I’d love to see them do all of Dog and Butterfly or Dreamboat Annie.

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Written by The Metal Files

October 17, 2016 at 10:12 am

Grim Reaper Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, October 15, 2016

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Steve Grimmett and company are on tour with their new album Walking in the Shadows.  I had just seen them the previous Sunday in Ventura, CA at Frost and Fire II.  Apparently they had some gear stolen from them at their hotel which totally sucks but as their song says, “The Show Must Go On,” right?

On my way down to SA, I stopped at Fitzgerald’s to meet Rigor Mortis and have their 3 remaining members sign The Book.  Great guys and I’ll be seeing them in Austin soon.  Their guitarist, Casey Orr who used to be in GWAR, had some prints of some of his paintings for sale and I picked up a few of those.  My pal who sings for the rebooted Syrus also bought me the large Lemmy print.  Thanks!

I arrived just as San Antonio locals Byfist were going on.  I had seen them before and while I’m not a fan, I’m happy to see them with by pal Stony on bass.  Great guy, great bassist and sounded great with them on bass and backing vocals.  Killstorm was up next and didn’t do anything for me.

By the time Grim Reaper hit the stage, there may have been 50 people there at best.  They had just played in SA in April so maybe that had something to do with the low attendance.  Didn’t matter, I was there and wanted to see them again.

They played the same set from Frost and Fire and it was solid.  The band is tight and Steve’s voice sounds great.  I picked up the new CD after the show and had the guys sign it.  When I got to Steve, he gave me a hug and thanked me for coming down to see them again.  Good dude.  Go see the tour if you can.

Written by The Metal Files

October 17, 2016 at 9:46 am

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.