The Metal Files

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Posts Tagged ‘jason mcmaster

SxSW and other upcoming shows…Austin is the greatest.

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When I moved here 3 years ago from Norfolk, VA, I didn’t really know much about this town.  I didn’t come here for the music, it was for a job.   From my first weekend here, I was thrown deep into what this city was about…or at least what this city touts itself as being…”The Live Music Capital of the World.”  The bad part about this town’s motto is that it does as much to keep music down as it does to support it.

Each year the local weekly music and entertainment paper, “The Chronicle”, puts on a festival called South By Southwest, SxSW for short.  This is the 24th year.  It was originally intended for bands to be showcased to record exec types.  Now it seems just more of a cash grab for record labels who showcase their own bands…and it’s really a huge cash grab for the festival promoters.  Bands come from all over the world, literally, to play here.  I went to my first one 3 years ago and got to see some cool stuff.  A lot of major label acts come and play for free.  There’s a whole badge, wristband, pre-pay sort of thing that gives you a little better access to shows but most of us locals can still see the ones we want to see by either waiting in long lines, showing up early or knowing someone at the venue who can get you in the back door.  Two years ago Motorhead played a free outdoor day show but you had to be on an RSVP list to get in.  Gates opened at 11AM and we were in line at 9am.  There were 20 people ahead of us.  Literally thousands lined up around 2 city blocks to try and get in.  You snooze you lose.  We won!

Walk anywhere downtown during the Weds-Sunday music fest and you will hear something that you like and most likely be able to get in, maybe with a small cover or just in for free…depending on whether or not it’s an “official” SxSW show.   The non-SxSW shows can be as good as the official ones, usually better.  Last night, walking by one of my favorite bars I hear some crazy jazz coming out…It was Prince’s bassist and drummer.  AWESOME!  Totally random.  Across the street the bassist for Little Richard was playing.

Last year the Texas Rockfest folks (non-SxSW) put on a great free show.  They always get use of 2 prime large open lots in the middle of the official stuff and show great bands for free.  Last year we got to see DC4 (Odin, DIO, Armored Saint guys) and Eddie Ojeda (who sucked actually, but still, you get my point).  The the the Rockfest guys are doing a $12 St. Patrick’s Day show featuring Agony Column (reunion!), George Lynch, Razr13 (Doug Pinnick), Faster Pussycat, Crank County Daredevils, LA Guns, Austin’s Broken Teeth (Watchtower, Dangerous Toys, Pariah members).  The next days begins the free Rockfest shows with more Broken Teeth,  Danko Jones(!), and more.

Other cool shows during this years festival are VoiVod, Cheap Trick (free!), GWAR (day show…sweet!) and tons more.

Getting past the SxSW thing, Austin is stepping up its game over the past year as for as the metal goes.  We just had Dianno here.  Anvil rolled through a few weeks back.  Megadeth/Testament/Exodus are next week.  Kreator is soon.  Overkill is soon.  Hammerfall is soon.  Not to mention with San Antonio just being 75 minutes south, there’s tons more to see.  Free Lizzy Borden show there in April.  Maiden is coming back this summer.  What’s a rocker to do?  I’m gonna go broke…happily.

All the above nonsense being said, life is grand here.  I just need to lose some weight…and I’m working on it…sort of.

Thanks Austin.  The move here changed and saved my life methinks.

http://www.showlistaustin.com for non-sxsw shows and http://www.sxsw.com if you want to see the “official” band list.

Bullet (Sweden)

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Jason McMaster turned me on to these kids from Sweden a week or so ago and I just ordered the CD.  If you’re into AC/DC, Krokus, Accept etc, this is the band for you.

http://www.myspace.com/bulletsweden

Written by The Metal Files

December 15, 2009 at 6:59 pm

Watchtower – Energetic Disassembly (1985)

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I remember clearly the first time I saw this on cassette.  It was at the Music Man at Military Circle Mall in Norfolk, VA.  WATCHThe cover was upside down as compared to how the majority of cassette j-cards were printed.  It always struck me as odd but I always felt it was intentional, especially after listening to this album at least 100 times since I first heard it.  It certainly turned my mind upside down several times.

My friends and I were pretty shocked by this one.  Most of us were into thrash ala Overkill’s Feel the Fire, Anthrax, Testament etc…but this was something different.  Something special even.

The album opens with a frenetic frantic pace with crazy guitar riffs, insane bass lines and hyperactive drumming.  They don’t stop until the end of the album.  Mix all of this with Jason McMaster’s incredible vocals that cut through all of this madness and you have a perfect technical thrash album…perhaps the first truly technical thrash album.  Some may debate that one but for me, this is the first.

While I love every song on this album, my absolute favorites are Tyrants In Distress, Violent Change, Meltdown and Argonne Forest.  The whole band really seems to just be together and well-rehearsed.  Billy White (f. Don Dokken), Doug Keyser and Rick Colaluca just flat out lay it down on this album.  Period.

I still don’t feel that this album gets enough respect although some of the major metal players loved them such as Chuck Schuldiner (RIP) and Dream Theater.  Watchtower set the standard early for technical metal.  Their popularity is Europe still seems to be pretty strong as I believe they’re playing one of the Euro-Metal fests in 2010.  It seems that they are still pretty huge in Greece.

While Control and Resistance was a good follow-up and was partially written by Billy White, a lot changed in their sound.  Ron Jarzombek (Spastic Ink) and Allan Tecchio (Hades, Non-Fiction) do a fine job, but the loss of Jason McMaster and Billy White took them down a slightly different progressive thrash metal path.  Both albums are certainly worth owning, but I have always preferred the debut.

Watchtower is in the studio recording a new album with McMaster on vocals (!!!) and I can’t wait to hear the whole thing.  Hopefully I’ll finally get to see them live.

Living here in Austin, TX now, it is great to see how much that band is loved and respected around here.  It gives me a warm tingly feeling.  It’s also pretty incredible for me to have McMaster in my Motorhead tribute band.  He’s a talented musician all the way around and bring a lot of energy to the band on rhythm guitar and backing vocals.  Certainly one of my musical idols.

If you don’t own Energetic Disassembly and you like thrash, prog-metal, RUSH on steroids, you need to own this one.

Just do it.

“Breakdown, warning – Nuclear nightmare, reality”

Motorhead – Concert Review 092009

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Motorhead!  I’m always excited when they come to town.  Last night was my 6th time seeing them since 1993.  They DSCN2416never let me down with the live show.

Until last night.

So let’s backtrack and put some story along with this.  If you don’t know this already, I have the Another Perfect Day album cover tattooed on my back…my whole back.  88 hours worth of tattoo work.  No regrets!  I’ve met Lemmy a few times but not since getting my backpiece done.  I was hoping last night would be the night.  Just wanted a picture of him with my tattoo.  Didn’t happen.  No big deal, I can live with that.  Like I said, met him a few times and always a good experience.

So my guitar player, Doug Morrison, (Turbin, Waysted) and the drummer of Reverend Horton Heat have been close friends since the late 70s and with the Rev on this tour, we got the hookup.  Doug and I get there early and have dinner with Paul Simmons (drummer for the Rev) and some of the roadcrew guys from Rev Heat and Motorhead.  The guy sitting next to me was pretty special though.  It was Hobbs!  Hobbs has been with the band for almost 30 years and is mentioned in the song Going to Brazil.  I think he may even be the one who screams on We Are The Roadcrew from No Sleep Till Hammersmith.  Not important.  Hobbs!  Talk about a weathered old British soul.  He was extremely polite in a typical British sort of way yet as foul mouthed as an old Greek sea captain.  He was awesome!  Hobbs!

After dinner we headed backstage.  Nashville Pussy was setting up their gear and there it was…Lemmy’s bass rack.  From a distance I snap a picture and Paul says, “Come on, man.  Step over here and get a real look at them.”  His beautiful Rickenbacker 4004LK and one of his old Rics with the original hand-carved oak leaves.   I got to hold history in my hands!  And I couldn’t believe how high the action was on those.  Seemingly about 3/8″ off of the fretboard.

So after hyperventilating over that a bit, we all just hung out backstage while Nashville Pussy played.  I’ve never been a fan so I had no interest in seeing them.  Paul was telling the Motorhead roadcrew guys about my backpiece and they flipped out over it.  “Lemmy needs to see this!”  Yes sir, I agree!

NP finishes their set and Paul had to get prepared for the Reverend Horton Heat set.  Doug and I stayed backstage a little longer.  Matt Sorum, (GnR, The Cult, Velvet Revolver) came in and said hi.  I mentioned that I had just seen his episode of the Dog Whisperer.  “Did Ace and I look like total idiots?”   No man, you guys were fine, no worries.  Apparently he hadn’t seen it yet.  The dude is a class act even if I never cared for his other bands.

So after that, Doug and I just went out in to the crowd to watch the Rev’s set.  As always, they were tight.  The Rev works the crowd very well.  I opened for them back in like 93 or 94 and he’s still the same old cool laid back guy.

The gig was at Stubb’s in Austin, TX.  It’s an amphitheater type set up.  I’ve never really cared for it all that much.  Too narrow and when it gets packed it’s difficult to get around.  So we hung out towards the back.  Run into several friends, of course.  Ran into my other guitarist, Jason McMaster (Broken Teeth, Watchtower, Dangerous Toys) and he says, “Hey man!  You need to meet an old friend of mine, Craig Behrhorst.”  I said, “From Ruffians?”  Craig said, “How did you know that?”  Sir, I am an 80s metal nerd.  Plain and simple.  Turned out that Doug knew him as well.  I guess Craig’s sister used to hang out with Doug and his friends back in the old Sunset Strip days.  I also ran into Art Villareal and Bob Catlin, both of SA SLayer/Juggernaut fame.  They are both in Martyhead, a Motorhead tribute from San Antonio.  Of course I have a Motorhead tribute here in town called Capricorn USA.   That’s the band with Doug and Jason.

Whatever, you don’t care.  You want to know about the Motorhead show!

Light’s go down and they open with Iron Fist.  Sweet!  I love that song.  But I swear it sounded a little slower than album speed.  Stay Clean was next.  Same thing.  The band was tight.  Sorum held his own pretty well for the whole night but they really seemed lifeless to me.  Everything seemed slow.  To be honest I was bored until mid-set when they played a few tracks from Another Perfect Day.  Matt’s drumming on everything was pretty good.  Who knew the guy could play double bass?  But then, they played Ace of Spades.  Of course everyone knows that songs and the drunks in the crowd and the kids who only know it from Guitar Hero were freaking out.  Matt’s drumming killed it.  His bass drum pattern was all wrong.  It put the song in a weird dynamic.  I recently saw a vid from one of the shows a few weeks ago with him and it was the same thing.  I hate to say it (again), but I was so bored for most of their show.  They were missing a key element to their modern sound…MIKKEY DEE.

Mikkey’s a phenomenal drummer.  I’ve known it since I first heard King Diamond’s Abigail and got to experience his playing live on the Them tour.  Mikkey was the main reason why I ever went to see Motorhead the very first time in 1993.  I wasn’t into them at all at that point and oddly enough I don’t like but a handful of songs from his era.  But the live show with him is intense.  If you’ve seen him play, you get it.  He’s a monster.  And with Motorhead, he certainly tightened them up.  They were always fast, vicious.  “We may not be the best band in the world, but we’re certainly the fastest” Lemmy said years and years ago on their famous No Sleep TIll Hammersmith album.

Last night they weren’t fast.  There was just no electricity.  Sometimes I think I am just getting old and crotchety.  I do tend to get hyper-critical when it comes to live shows, but I’ve always been that way.  I can never just sit back and enjoy it, I always have to dissect it.  Oh well.  My problem, not yours, eh?

The setlist was pretty good overall, it was just the feel and the pace of the songs that got to me.  Most people I know loved it and I am glad they had a good time.  I did too, actually.  I got to see some people I hadn’t seen in a while and got to meet a few new folks.

Setlist:

Iron Fist
Stay Clean
Be My Baby
Rock Out
Metropolis
Over the Top
One Night Stand
I Got Mine
The Thousand Names of God
Another Perfect Day
In the Name of Tragedy
Just ‘Cos You Got the Power
Going to Brazil
Killed by Death
Bomber
Whorehouse Blues
Ace of Spades
Overkill

Sure Lem’s in his 60s now and not everyone can do it like they used to. No matter the performance from last night, I’ll always go see them.  It’s Motorhead!

He said something last night that I heard him say the previous 2 times I saw them, “Don’t forget us.”

That line saddens me.

After all, who ever could?

Rapeman – Two Nuns and a Pack Mule

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In 1992 I went to visit Kelz at JMU during his junior year there.  I drove my sweet 82 Trans Am up there.  It was a total blast, at least what I remember of it.  266-1Actually, there are only a few memories of that weekend in tact in my brain.  We drank a lot of beer, mostly at some bar called JM’s.  We played the video bowling game there and seemed to get better the more we drank.  We went to some guy’s house and listened to Dwight Yoakam.   I met some girl named Ursula.  I was extremely hungover that Saturday morning.  Somewhere there’s a photo of me dead on his couch in so much pain.  But the main thing I do remember from that weekend was the music I was introduced to…Foetus, Rapeman, Iron Prostate and Motorpsycho (USA band) and even Motorhead to a lesser degree.  I was also introduced to the Spawn comic book that weekend.  That was a great series fro about 50 issues.  But more on the other bands some other time, today is about the Rapeman album.  I liked it the 2-3 times I listened to it while up at JMU that weekend and never bothered much with it again.

Flash forward to July 4, 2009.  Jason McMaster and I rode down to San Antonio to check out a legendary record store called Hog Wild Records.  The place has been there since the 70s and I always like seeing the independent shops that are still around, even if they are making it by the skin of their teeth.  It is a cool shop and I dropped $60 easily in there.  One of the things I picked up was Rapeman’s Two Nuns and a Pack Mule CD used for $5 in mint condition.  I hadn’t thought about that album in years and had to buy it.  I was hoping I’d still like it.  There have been a few purchases of “back in the day” albums that I loved then and don’t care for now.  Fortunately for me, this one still sits well in my listening palette.  I’ve spun it at least 10 times since last weekend and I like it more and more each time I hear it.

I’ve seen it classified as post-hardcore.  To me it sounds like a live Foetus album in some ways.  A little frantic yet controlled…and without the digital samples.  The guy’s voice even resembles Thirwell’s in places.  The version I am posting has the BUDD EP include as well.

Download it here.

Concert Review – RIOT – San Antonio – 6/2/09

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So let’s go back in time…

I remember somewhere around 1984ish and I was over at Daniel’s house for a bit and we would go into his brother’s room and check out his records and cool Kramer Baretta guitars.  I remember seeing Riot’s Fire Down Under (probably on cassette) and we listened to some of it.  I think we only listened to Swords and Tequila as his brother’s band used to cover that song.  I thought it was cool but never really explored them any further.

Flash forward to sometime in 1988.  I was over at Kelz’ house and we stepped outside into Thomas’ car, the 4dr Chevy Cavalier, beige/crème color.  He pulled out Riot’s Thundersteel tape and said “You have to hear this.”  I was reluctant and explained to him that I saw the record at Skinnie’s recently and that the album cover looked too silly to even give them a chance, not to mention their photo on the back.  WTF?  In perfect Thomas fashion he cut me off and said, “Just shut the fuck up and listen to it asshole.”

Thank you Thomas.

I was blown away by it, mainly by the drums.  The only other drummer that I heard play similar styles to this was Deen Castronovo.  It was shortly after getting into this era of riot that I met Deen and asked if Bobby Jarzombek was his pupil.  Deen just replied with, “I wish I could lay claim to that.  That kid is good.”  Yes, Deen, very good.  Back to Thundersteel, this album has great hooks and melodies, not to mention the insane drumming by Bobby, Tony Moore’s almost-out-of-control vocals and Mark Reale’s great solos.  I should mention Mark Edward’s competent drumming on the LP as well.  Nothing too flashy, but solid.  The only song I never cared about was Run For Your Life.  It just seemed too stiff.  Since 1988 this album has stayed in steady listening rotation.  I also picked up the follow-up album Privilege of Power.  There are some blazing songs on there and Bobby J just simply owns that record.

Flash forward again to early May 2009.  I saw online that Riot was performing a one-off show in their partial home of San Antonio and expected it to sell out as they don’t play very often and especially with this line-up, the reunited Thundersteel era band.  So I bought 2 tickets the morning they went on sale, one for THE Doug Morrison and one for me.

So I go to Doug’s after work yesterday and we have some dinner at his house.  The doors were at 7pm and we had about an hour of drive time each way.  Since it was only about 6pm at this point, I went down into our studio and took a 45 minute nap as I was super tired from being up in the middle of the night with a sick cat.  After my little nap, we hop in the car and head to SA.  I was happy of the fact that Jason McMaster’s Broken Teeth were added to the bill but we assumed that they would be the opener of the 4 bands and we figured we would miss them.  Jason is one of my best friends and it’s no biggie for him if we missed the show.  Both he and Doug are in the Motorhead tribute band with me, so we see each other plenty.

We arrived at the show around 8:15pm and I noticed that the crowd was very light in attendance.  I figured since it was still early that people were waiting to come out.  We saw the Broken Teeth guys when we walked in and gave our usual pleasantries and they said they were moved into the slot right before Riot.  Great news!  It meant that we would have on less shitty band to sit through until seeing a band that we liked.  A local band called Eden Burning opened the show and we missed them completely.  From what I was it was no loss.  Top Dead Center played next.  Apparently their singer has another band with Riot’s Don van Stavern called Pitbull Daycare.  Whatever.  TDC wasn’t very good in general.  The highlight of their performance was their drummer.  That guy was rock solid.  I was glad when they were done.  Broken Teeth took the stage and did what they do best, they rocked.  Jason has got to be one of the most underrated front men in rock and roll.  He knows how to grab a crowd’s attention and keep it.  Before they went on, it was cool seeing people who have known him since the Watchtower days.  I am not sure he has ever made an enemy.  The crowd got into Broken Teeth and I am sure most of the folks there had never seen them.  It was a bit ironic that the club uses Dangerous Toys’ old road cases for side stage monitor stands.

By the time that Broken Teeth finished, there may have been 250 people there, certainly no more than that.  I was shocked.  The legendary Riot.  At Home.  Thundersteel lineup.  Sure it was a Tuesday night but c’mon.  The ONLY American show!  WTF?!

So Riot is setting up, erm…their roadies are setting up.  They put this projector on a stand on the stage and Doug and I were trying to figure out if they were going to keep that on stage for the whole show.  Luckily is was just there for their intro and promptly removed.

So the lights go down and the band sans Tony Moore get on stage and play an instrumental assuredly from one of their older albums.  I’m not that familiar with the pre-Thundersteel stuff…yet.

After the instrumental, Moore comes out and they go into Fight or Fall.  His voice is still strong after all these years but he was struggling in some parts and understandably so.  His vocals on that old stuff are pretty high ranged in places.  But in general he sounded fine for the night.  Mark Reale played great and does good backing vocals.    Mike Flynt’s playing was good too.  He did a few solos and he’s a really solid player.  His vocals harmonies were really really good.  I didn’t care for Van Stavern’s tone in the least.  He was playing what looked like a higher end Ibanez bass through an Ampeg rig (ugh).  It sounded like ass.  Seriously.

But most impressively the highlight of the night for me was Bobby Jarzombek’s drumming.  Sure, I’ve known for 20+ years that he was a phenomenal player but you really can’t grasp it until you see him play live.  I saw him with Halford in 2000 in Brooklyn @ Lamour’s Rock Club and he was awesome there too…but not as awesome as he was last night.  His performance was seemingly flawless.  He can do anything.  He really reminds me a lot of how I think Stewart Copeland would play if he was in a metal band and could play double bass.  The handwork is incredible.  I really think Bobby is the best drummer in metal nowadays.  That is difficult for me to say as a HUGE Gene Hoglan fan.  Hoglan and Van Williams (Nevermore) are probably the only guys who can play this style and retain a feel in their playing.  Guys like Mike Portnoy can play it, but have no feel.  Boring.

We ran into Ron Jarzombek after the show and I just shook his hand and said hello.  Doug met him 25+ years ago when he took Dave McClain (SA Slayer/Sacred Reich/Machinehead) out of San Antonio to come play with him in LA in Neil Turbin’s post-Anthrax band.  It took Ron a second to remember then he said, “Oh yeah, I do remember now.  Wow.  Been a long time.”  Then we left.  We drove through one of the scariest lightning storms I have ever seen.  It’s not very often that I get nervous in a storm but I was nervous last night.  Doug was too but we made it back to his place safely and subsequently I was home safely shortly thereafter.

Overall the night was great.  I needed a night like that.  June 2 is a day that lives in infamy for me and in the week leading up to it every year I tend to get a little down.  But there was no time for such feelings last night.  It was a positive night and we had fun.  The only real drawback about the show was that Riot had no merch to sell and I really wanted a shirt.  Oh well.

I shot some video and snapped a few pics.  I’ll try and post them later.  Unfortunately my camera ran out of battery right as I was ready to film Johnny’s Back.  Keep an eye on Youtube as I am sure there will be a lot of footage from the show.

Here’s the setlist in order:

Narita (Instrumental intro)
Fight or Fall
On Your Knees
Metal Soldiers
Speedin’
Johnny’s Back
Crimson Storm
Swords and Tequila
Wings are for Angels (from their forthcoming album)
Tokyo Rose/Rock City
Flight of the Warrior
Bloodstreets
Storming the Gates of Hell/Race with the Devil/Storming the Gates of Hell
Road Racin’/Killer(no lyrics)/Road Racin’
Dance of Death
Thundersteel
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Warrior