The Metal Files

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Posts Tagged ‘doom

Venomous Maximus – Beg Upon The Light (2012) Review

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I had seen Venomous Maximus at least 6 or 7 times before finally putting ears to any of their studio work.  They are always a treat live.  Super solid, energetic and G. Lee Higgins is the right person to front this band that calls Houston, TX its home.

A few weeks back at a show I bought their latest release, Beg Upon the Light.  It took me almost 2 weeks to finally get around to listening to it and now I feel like I have wasted 2 weeks!  I had to drive to Houston and back this week (2.5 hours each way) and listened to this 3 times on the drive.  Oh my!

This album is very well-produced.  I guess they are considered “stoner/doom” metal.  I hear so much more classic metal sounds that came from Metal Blade and other classic labels.  I hear elements of Tyrant, Damien Thorne, Mercyful Fate, Black Sabbath and Cirith Ungol.

Higgins’ voice may take some time for folks to get used to.  I, for one, think they’re perfect for the band.  There’s no death growl that is so rampant in the stoner/doom genre these days.  His voice is clean and clear and typically lower than most metal singers today.  Think King Diamond’s low vocals with Mercyful Fate with a little more “umph” behind them or maybe even those from early Moonspell (Wolfheart).  He has a really good sorrowful wail to his style.

The rest of band is spot on with their delivery.  I especially like Christian’s solos (I always want more solos!).  His solo intro on Path of Doom is such a beautiful nod to Mercyful Fate.  Bongo and Trevi round out the rhythm section perfectly.
Favorite tracks would be Path of Doom, Battle for the Cross, Hell’s Heroes and Moonchild.

I highly recommend this album and so far I’d call it my favorite album of 2012.  10/10.  Go see them live!

You can stream the whole album here.  Find them on Facebook, too.

Written by The Metal Files

November 8, 2012 at 8:51 am

Serpent Throne

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White Summer*Black Winter

I like a lot of instrumental bands but I’ve always found it difficult to find quality instrumental rock bands that didn’t write their stuff to sound like they were writing around having a singer.  Philadelphia’s Serpent Throne satisfies my instrumental craving perfectly.

I met the two guitarists, Demian Fenton and Don Argott, at the premier for the movie Last Days Here during the SxSW 2011 Film and Music Festival.  You can read my review of their movie here.  They are the guys behind the production/direction of the movie and in talking with Demian after the flick, he mentioned that he was in a band and I had forgotten about it until a few days after seeing the movie as I was wrapped up in a lot of SxSW activities.

Since then I have been spinning their stuff practically non-stop.  Metal has a lot of sub-genres and these guys would typically be classified in the stoner rock and doom categories.  To call them Black Sabbath worship is too easy.  Pretty much all metal bands worship Sabbath whether they know it or not.  Serpent Throne take it to a bit of a different level in my opinion.  They use lots great dual guitar harmonies that are reminiscent of Thin Lizzy in places.  I hear hints of Trouble (S/T LP era) in there as well, intended or not.  There are some cool hints of 70s Scorpions as well as Uriah Heep and Wishbone Ash.  Maybe some Cactus too.  It’s a nice blend of great rock and metal without sounding like they are just ripping off all of the classic bands.

I think it’s pretty tough for an instrumental band of this genre to continue to write stuff and keep it interesting and Serpent Throne has done that

The Battle of Old Crow

with all 3 of their albums: Ride Satan Ride (2007), The Battle of Old Crow (2009) and White Summer*Black Winter (2010).  I highly recommend picking up all of their stuff.  Battle of Old Crow and White Summer*Black Winter are available for download from Amazon and iTunes.  I had to buy the CD for Ride Satan Ride and convert it to MP3 myself as it’s not available for legal download.

Hopefully I’ll catch these guys live sometime, even if it means heading to Philly for it.  Would be cool to have them hit Austin for a show sometime.  I think they’d do well here, especially if they were in on a SxSW gig.  So, nice work, guys!  Hope all good things come out of Last Days Here as well.

Pentagram – Concert Review 052610

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PENTAGRAM – BLACK TUSK – RWAKE – MALA SUERTE – STRIDER

So let’s back up to July of 2009.  Looking at my review I don’t remember liking the show as much as I wrote about.  No matter.  This is May 2010 and a different day.

As some of my faithful readers may know I recently moved in downtown Austin to be closer to all of my favorite music venues to make things a bit more accessible.  Mission accomplished.  Last month I was able to hang out with some of the guys from Hammerfall and do dinner with them.  More or less this happened because I live 3 blocks from this particular venue.

Last night my luck struck again.  I left my apartment to hit a local burger joint to meet up with Amelia and have a burger and some beers before we both went our separate ways to see different shows.  As I am crossing the street I see this group of longhairs and noticeably I see Bobby Liebling and Victor Griffin from Pentagram.  I also recognized the drummer Gary from the previous Pentagram show and from a show where he drummed for Valkyrie a few years back.

Basically the first words out of my mouth when we were face to face, and I am sure I stuttered, were, “holy crap…you’re Pentagram!”  I meet tons of bands, some big some small…but this is Pentagram.  The band that

Greg, Bobby, happy fat dude, Victor, Gary...PENTAGRAM!

did Day Of Reckoning!   To me one of the greatest doom albums of all time.  So, as I am totally trying not to be a fanboy, I ask for a picture with the band.  One of their old friends lives here in Austin and he snapped a few shots with my camera and then some with his.  As we’re doing pictures and standing in the street, I asked if they were going to hear Burning Savior from Day of Reckoning.  Victor said no.  Then I asked about Living in a Ram’s Head and Bobby quickly said, “We’ll never fucking play that song again.  I never really liked it!”  Damn!  Then he says to me, “Didn’t Burning Savior scare you?”  I replied with, “It probably scared my mom back in the 80s but never phased me.”  “Right on,” he replied.   So I ask them where they were heading and they pointed to the restaurant that was right behind us.  I told them that they would be making an intestinal mistake if they ate there and they asked for my recommendation.  I took them to Chupa Cabra, the same place I took Hammerfall.  They loved it.  Conversations were pretty funny at the table.  Everyone in the band kept giving the new bassist a hard time.  As we were walking to dinner, Victor and I talked about the upcoming Place of Skulls album.  September!  He asked if I liked it and I said, “If you’re on it, I’m a fan.”  Which is true.

Bobby was great to be around and he seemed clean of drugs.  Sure, he’s a bit burned out but he was pretty funny and had some really cool stories to share.  He seemed like a “sweet old man”, and I say that with the highest respect and regard for what this man has meant for metal.  It was a pleasure to spend that kind of time with the band, especially with him and Victor.  I mentioned to them that I had a book that I would like both he and Victor to sign.  I mentioned that I had a spare copy for sale and Bobby asked if I’d trade a t-shirt for it.   In the grand scheme I lost a little money in the deal but how often does anyone get to give a legend a cool gift and have said legend give you a cool shirt and a poster in return?  After the transaction, they went back to their hotel to rest.

Gary Rosas and Mala Suerte

There were 4 other bands on the bill and I wanted to catch a few of them.  Since I obviously dissed Amelia to hang out with Pentagram I met her up the street for a beer with our friend Natalia.  I caught the last 3 songs of Strider (Austin, TX) and liked what little bit that I heard.  After their set we all just hung outside on the Emo’s patio and jibber jabbered.  Lots of familiar faces, of course.  Mala Suerte was up next and this was the first time I had seem them with their new guitarist.  Seamless transition.  They were good, they always are.  Consistently.  Their singer is one of the first people I met when I moved here and one of my favorite people in this town.  Great dude.  He was wearing an awesome original DIO Last In Line shirt as well.  They finished their set and it was back to the patio.

Next up was Rwake (Arkansas).  They’ve played here several times in the last few years and I always miss them.  I caught a few of their songs last night and will likely never see them again.  Just not my thing.  More patio!

Black Tusk

Black Tusk hit the stage and are a very energetic 3pc stoner rock band.  Their drummer was fantastic.  Seriously.  Fantastic.  The band was fun to watch.  Don’t know that I’d buy their album but I’ll surely go see them live again when given the chance.

The crowd had increased and tonight’s show was on the inside stage as opposed to the outside stage from last year’s show.  I staked my claim at the front of the stage as Pentagram was setting up so I could at least get a few decent photos.  Pentagram his the stage and opened up with the song Day of Reckoning.  They sounded great.  The band was tight, the sound was good and most importantly Bobby’s voice sounded much better.  I had a huge smile on my face for the whole show.  They were great.  I was totally elated.

I am one of the luckiest people I know sometimes.

The setlist was as follows:

  1. Day of Reckoning
  2. Forever My Queen
  3. Ask No More
  4. Run My Course
  5. Frustration
  6. You’re Lost, I’m Free
  7. Review Your Choices
  8. Petrified
  9. Relentless
  10. All Your Sins
  11. 20 Buck Spin
  12. Pentagram (Sign of the Wolf)
  13. When the Screams Come

Setlist...love how they coded it.

Bobby Liebling

Victor Griffin

Pentagram

Greg, Bobby, happy fat dude, Victory, Gary...PENTAGRAM!

Voivod Concert Review – 3/19/10

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March 19, 2010

Voivod

Live at Scoot Inn, Austin, TX

I’m having a blast during SxSW this year.  Just saw legendary DC area doom band Iron Man.  Not too bad at all.  But at 5PM today I saw my second Voivod show.   Just wow.

Before the show, each one of the guys in the band asked me if I was hurt badly at the other show a few days ago.  Very nice of them.  And for my vast audience, yes, I’m fine.  No worries.

We saw a few bands before Voivod his the stage…locals Iron Age and NAAM from Brooklyn, NY.  Both bands sounded great.  Right at the end of NAAM’s set, Jeff and I worked our way into the light crowd and got front and center like we did for the 3/17 show.

After a quick soundcheck they went into the song Voivod.  Sounded great.  They are a very solid band and I wish I would have had the chance to see them years ago.  Dan Mongrain is a very competent guitar player…it’s surely a requirement to play in this band.  They have some good riffs and I really wish I could enjoy their early work a little more.  However, hearing/seeing them live is great.

They changed their setlist up a little and said that tomorrow’s set will be a little different again.  Sweet! 

I was happy to see that they had some merch today.  Do I need more black t-shirts?  Well, it’s not always a question of need is it?  They had a Nothingface shirt.  Unfortunately they were out of XXL.  I should lose some weight so I can own some cooler t-shirts.  Yeah?  I instead bought the Killing Technology shirt.

The band seems to enjoy playing live.  Lots of movement, lots of glances, laughs and smiles at each other.  I’m really excited to see them again tomorrow for the 3rd time this week.

Enjoy the picks from today.  I’ll try to get some video up soon as well.

Snake

Blacky

Dan

Buzzard – Exercises & Transmutations of the Applicable Techniques for the Chrome-Plated Mystical Squeegie of Destiny (1998)

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OK, this Buzzard album is even more rare and obscure than Churp!!! I have heard many of these songs live at shows and at their practices and hearing the studio versions for the first time today is absolutely making my brain hurt.  Patrick Walsh & Co. deliver another fine prog-metal-jazz-science fiction teenage crap album that really should get a proper release on CD and not just around the blogosphere.

The songs on here are all very short but transition into each other a lot like they did on Churp!!!  It’s an album that certainly needs to be heard from beginning to end.  I hear some things on hear that I didn’t really hear on the previous album…Goblin!  You know Goblin, right?  Italian prog rock band whose music was used for a ton of classic Italian horror flicks?  Maybe it’s just me, but I can hear some of that in there.

If you’re into odd timed, whacked out, progressive jazz, fusion, metal etc, then this album may even appeal to you more than Churp!!! does.

  1. The return of the Son of the 35-8Solution
  2. Blind daughters of Polyphemus
  3. Harvestors of Cust
  4. Cranial fist stench
  5. The dreaded deep doodoo motif
  6. Pythagoras
  7. The 35-8 solution
  8. Peeyurmp
  9. The coronation of King eggplanthead
  10. Exile for the house of flounderface
  11. The sun of flounderface as the rightful heir
  12. Full brown exile
  13. The Lament of simon Magus
  14. Quantum flux bedris field
  15. Probe M 87
  16. Pungent crust metaphor
  17. Circus Plantia – I. Watched them fall from the sky
  18. Circus Plantia – II. Time is like water to him
  19. Circus Plantia – III. The Corinthian picks his teeth
  20. Circus Plantia – IV. Light still bends to him
  21. Sweet grey Chitterlings
  22. Blind daughter of Polyphemus
  23. Mr.Spocks ancient vulcan secrets
  24. I.  ChicknFingrFuckr
  25. II. ChicknFingrFugato
  26. III. The stuccato Fugato Mulato
  27. The potato wedgie Mulato
  28. Mr Spocks Fragant Vulcan secret

Guitars – Patrick Walsh
Drums – Mark Henry
Bass – Kevin Anderson

Thanks to hofee (Germany) for getting these in my hands.

Download it here.

Buzzard – Churp!!! (1993)

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Here’s another rarity for you fine readers out there.  Buzzard’s debut album Churp!!! on Hellhound Records.

I remember back in the early 90s going to see these guys at Kings Head Inn (RIP) on Hampton Blvd in Norfolk, VA.  A buddy of mine said, “Dude you have to see this band.  They are insane.  Their drummer is phenomenal and he’s only got one leg!”  So I went.  I was completely floored by everything that this band was doing.  They were tight.  They were erratic.  They were brilliant.  They were ugly.  Dudes that looked like street urchin gutter punks with beards and dreads.  Never got close enough to see if they smelled badly.  Didn’t matter.  They were a machine.  A force to be reckoned with.  I went to see them whenever I knew that they had a show.  With that original era of the band I think I saw them 4 or 5 times within a year or 2.  Every time I was blown away.  Never really tried to speak to the guys as they all pretty much looked like they didn’t wan to be spoken to.

Buzzard was on Hellhound Records which was primarily a doom metal label…but Buzzard was anything but a doom band.  They mixed metal with jazz, punk, Miles Davis, Zappa, Yes, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever…

Their live show was pretty mind-numbing.  Odd times signatures, stops and starts, no real cues given to each other.  They all knew what they had to do and when.  At that time they consisted of Patrick Walsh (Guitars), AJ Long (Vocals), John Finney (Horns), Andy Brown (Bass) and Joey Rudacil (Drums).  Just insane I tell you.

Several years later I am hanging out with some friends and see Patrick Walsh from Buzzard come in the bar I was in.  I was there with his sister and didn’t realize that they were related.  Buzzard was reformed at this point as a 3-piece with Kevin Anderson on bass and Mark Henry on Drums.  Patrick and I quickly connected and started hanging out a lot.  Ultimately he became one of my best friends.  Brilliant guy.  Phenomenal guitarist.  Helluva a nice guy.  We jammed together briefly with Joey Rudacil and Todd Owens.  It only lasted about 3 or 4 practices but it was fun.  I ended up in another band with Joey a few months later and had a blast but we could never secure a singer.

Anyway, I was working the door at the Taphouse in Norfolk and Buzzard was scheduled to play their first show in 7 years.  I was fortunate enough to get to sit in on several of their practices and was blown away even more by how much their sound had progressed.  It went from the Mahavishnu-esque psychojazz to a math metal thing like Watchtower on meth. people came from up and down the east coast for this show and the place was over capacity with a line of people out the door and wrapped around the building trying to get in.  It was an incredible show.  They have done some subsequent shows but I think the last one may have been in 2007.  It’s time for more!

I keep praying that they put out a new record with the newer songs on it.  They recorded a 2nd album several years ago that never really saw the light of day.  You can listen to some of it on their website.

Churp!!! is one of the toughest releases of Hellhound’s to find nowadays.  I fortunately have 2 copies that I cherish.  The album is an incredible piece of music…of art…an experience.  AJ’s vocals are simply incredible.  If you download this, please listen to the album as a whole.  Don’t skip any of the 16 tracks.  You’d be doing yourself a great disservice.

Download it here.

Tracks:

1. Cyclops 02:28
2. Shadows Without Substance 03:03
3. The Fellowship (varieties) 04:45
4. The Given/Grinding Wheel (including, but not limited to the following) 08:38
5. Ear To The Ground 03:44
6. His Descent 01:35
7. Carpetbaggers 05:13
8. Fluorescent Orange Bag O’Goodness 02:09
9. Thirteen o’clock (frumpy smokes a fattie) 05:21
10. Escape From The Island Of Misfit Toys 06:01
11. The Secret Doctrine According To Simon 03:36
12. Grand Poo-Bah 00:48
13. The Return Of Frumpy And The Scrubby Jazz Hippies 01:55
14. Musica d’Apocryphonica (no. I adagio) 00:48
15. Savage Paisley Vortex (part I) 00:59
16. Savage Paisley Vortex (pert II) The Ritual Dance And Initiation Of Chicky Boy 07:01

Check out the vids from back in the day…

Written by The Metal Files

December 16, 2009 at 9:28 pm

Pentagram Concert Review – Emo’s, Austin, TX – 070609

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Pentagram, Outlaw Order, Nachtmystium, Wolves in the Throne Room, Minsk, The Roller – Emo’s, Austin, TX 070609

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I’m pretty sure it was Daniel who turned me on to Pentagram In 1987 when he bought Day of Reckoning on cassette.  It had a cool cover of a mausoleum.  I had seen it advertised in the ‘zines but never bothered with it.  As stated a zillion times before, my parents weren’t so keen on the whole metal thing and this one would have surely gotten mom’s attention just by the name of the band.  I had Daniel dub it for me and I just had it titled “Day of Reckoning” on the cassette with no song titles or anything else.  Hey, we had to play it safe.  I simply adore this album.  Very Sabbathy without some of the heaviness of Iommi’s tone.  Although Victor Griffin really lifted a lot from Iommi, he took that style to another level.  They only other comparable band from that era that was pulling this off was Trouble.

I wanted to see Pentagram live and tried a few times in the mid-to-late 90’s but it seemed that every time I wanted to go up to the Baltimore/DC area to see them, they cancelled.  Typically because of Liebling’s drug and alcohol abuse coupled with his frail mental and physical states.  Sad but I have no sympathy.

In 2000 I went to Jaxx in Springfield, VA to see Raven/UDO.  Joe Hasselvander was drumming for Raven and we talked Pentagram for a while.  He told me some trippy stories about playing with Bobby.

Flash forward to about 2 months ago.  I heard Pentagram was doing a handful of shows in the US and that the final one was in Austin.  Seriously?  Pentagram?  Here?  I got my ticket the day they went on sale as I expected it to sell out.  My friend Jasmine had seen them a few months prior in NYC and she said they were great so I was really excited to finally see them.  In recent years they have used the drummer from Spirit Caravan, Gary Isom and a good guitar player named Russ Strahan.  Not sure who he and the player may have played with before but they sounded fine.

So for the last 6 weeks or so I have been super excited.  I finally (hopefully) get to see a band I have wanted to see for 22 years!

I head downtown around 730 or so and go to the Jackalope for a burger (the best!) and a few beers.  Gary from Mala Suerte and Noah stop in and hang out for a bit.  After we finish, we head over to Emo’s for the show.  I go in and check out the Pentagram merch booth.  Talking to the girl who works it, Nancy, we had a few friends in common from the east coast.  I end up buying both styles of the Pentagram shirts as they don’t sell the XXL versions on the website.  Yea!  Just what I needed, more black t-shirts!

Local doom/sludge band The Roller opens the show on the outside stage.  I’ve seen them several times and they do their thing well.  Halfway through their set I go inside to get a beer and some A/C and check out Minsk from Chicago.  Not really my thing but I guess they are alright.  I liked that sound better when Tiamat was doing it 15 years ago.  Haha.  Just kidding guys…sorta.  Now let’s take into account that I have been up since 530AM and it’s around 10PM.  I’m a little tired.  So I go outside and sit for a while and see some friends, shoot the shit, check out some nice asses…you know, the usual.  Outlaw Order (EYEHATEGOD) were setting up and I found a place in the back of the venue and sat down for their set.  It wasn’t too bad, a little better than their EYEHATEGOD stuff.  I was comfortable on the bench and didn’t go back in to check out Wolves In The Throne Room.  Noah said they were good and he bought the 12” of their latest.  Shortly after Wolves finished inside, Nachtmystium took the stage outside.  Death metal, upbeat, double bass, fist pounding type stuff.  Not bad, nothing groundbreaking.

Then Pentagram sets up.  Pretty decent crowd.  I estimated about 400 or so but definitely not a sellout.  I expected more.  So Pentagram hits the stage.  Bobby looks old.  Well, Bobby is old.  His voice sounded like shit in the first song.  Absolutely awful.  I wonder how it was for the other shows?  It got a little better towards the middle of the set but he was obviously hurting.  I understand it.  Singers can’t always be 100% and with Bobby Liebling I imagine you never know what you’ll get.  He looked really frail but was very mobile.  He seemed to get all the words right.  When he spoke between songs, though, he sounded like Keith Richards.  Couldn’t understand much of what he was saying except when he said “I fucking love you guys!”  He said that about 10 times.  Right on, Bobby.  The band was tight and Russ’ guitar playing was good.  Nice tone, good licks…a fitting guitarist for Pentagram.

But I do have to say I was a little disappointed overall.  I guess maybe because of the setlist.  Having never seen them live, I don’t know what they would usually play, but I expected more stuff from Day of Reckoning.  As previously stated, I love that album.  At minimum I wanted to hear Burning Savior.  The only thing we got from that one was When The Screams Come.  Great song, sure, but it’s no Burning Savior.  They played 3 from Relentless:  All Your Sins, Sign of the Wolf (Pentagram) and 20 Buck Spin.  I never cared for 20 Buck Spin but love the other 2 tracks.  They also played Petrified from Be Forewarned.  There were a few new songs from an upcoming album called Last Rites but I can’t say they were very memorable.  There were a few others in the set that I didn’t recognize as well.  But where was “Living In a Ram’s Head”?  I think in total we only got about 10 or 11 songs.  It seemed as if they wanted to play more during their encore but he stated “They said this has to be our last song of the night.”   The crowd near the front seemed pretty into it.  A lot of people singing along and such.  When I didn’t like was seeing all of the beer cans being thrown around.  I’ve been hit while playing and it sucks.  Also, WTF was with the crowd surfing?  Stupid kids.

The merch girl told me that Bobby usually comes out to sign stuff after the show and as always, I came armed and ready with CD covers…but at the end of the show, I just wanted to go home.  I was tired, hot, sweaty, disappointed and deflated.  One guy I know said “You should be happy that you got to see a legend.  What did you expect?”  I guess I expected a better setlist, but that is my fault, not Pentagram’s.  The sound in there was pretty shitty too which didn’t help much.  Bobby complained several times at the beginning of the set to turn his monitors up.  Like I said, his vocals got a little better as the show progressed but he just sounded beat and tired.  Decades of self-abuse with drugs etc have taken their toll.  In a way I sort of wish I would have stuck around to see if Bobby was signing stuff as I’ll likely not get that chance again.  Oh well.

I was going to write this review last night when I got home but my emotions were still high.  I think I gave a better and more level-headed review by waiting.  I am glad I got to see them even if my expectations weren’t met.

I have attached a setlist from one of the Chicago shows.  I assume this is what we got last night with the encore songs being reversed.

pentagram setlist

Enjoy the vids too!

Written by The Metal Files

July 7, 2009 at 6:21 pm