The Metal Files

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Posts Tagged ‘kelz

Hammerfall/Havok/Ignitor/Versperian Sorrow Concert Review 040810

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Was it really 25 years ago when Yngwie Malmsteen’s Marching Out album came out?  It doesn’t seem that long ago nor do I feel old enough for it to have been 25 years since.  But whatever.  It did and I am.  I remember hearing it for the first time and I think we were at Kelz’ house.  Simply blown away by the whole album and everything about it…the guitars, the vocals and especially the drums.  See, I was a relatively new drummer at the time and after hearing this guy, this Anders Johansson fella,  I wanted to play like that…and like Nicko McBrain…and like Kirk Arrington…etc.

Anders Johansson

I followed Anders through most of his career, especially with Yngwie.  I saw the Trilogy and Odyssey tours and got to witness his badassedness live.  It was pretty special for me getting to see him play back then, especially with Yngwie of whom I am still a big fan of.

Through the years I picked up Anders’ non-Yngwie stuff as well like Silver Mountain, Johansson Brothers with Jens, Jonas Helborg, Shining Path, Shawn Lane etc.  He always amazed me with his style.  I am a fanboy, I admit it.

When I found out that Hammerfall was coming to town, I bought my ticket immediately as he has been playing with them over the last several years.  I saw Hammerfall’s very first USA show at Jaxx Nightclub in Springfield, VA when they were opening for Death (RIP Chuck).  I love Hammerfall’s debut album, Glory To the Brave but never really got into anything after that one.  Sure they were consistent and I was pretty excited when I found out that Anders had joined them…but it still didn’t get me too excited to buy the stuff.

So anyway, I bought the meet and greet ticket which was $55.  Much cheaper than the Testament one plus this one would be a little more special because I’d finally get to meet one of my musical idols.  Sure I’ve been fortunate enough to meet many of them, but some are a little more special than others.  Last night ranked up there with meeting Nicko McBrain in 1988.

So the M&G was to begin at 8pm and I got there around 7:30ish.  There are a few folks hanging out but none were part of the M&G.  I didn’t expect there to be many and ultimately there weren’t.

The tour bus was parked in front of us and Anders and Pontus Norgren come off the boss.  After a few minutes I walked over to them and asked Anders to sign my CD covers and the book.  I had a big stack and just in case there were a lot of people there for the M&G, I wouldn’t hold them up…of course I guess I was holding him up by asking him to sign my shit.  He graciously accepted and signed it all.  We stood in the street in front of the bus and talked for a while and Joacim Cans comes out…”We have 35 minutes to eat before the meeting.”  I told them of a few places up the street with

Seriously? Nerd!

some good food and they asked me to come along…Sweet!  I had Cans sign my Warlord CD.  I sort of felt bad for not having any Hammerfall to sign but oh well.  He didn’t seem to bothered by it.

So we went to Jackalope but the music was loud and Cans didn’t want to strain his voice trying to have a conversation so we went next door to Chupacabra.  We sat and ordered quickly.  Unfortunately it didn’t come too quickly but they didn’t seem to mind being late to the M&G.  Pontus, Can and I all had the steak tacos and Anders had a 1lb burger.  I’m sure he could have eaten 2.  He’s a big dude.

Dinner with Hammerfall.

Conversation was cool.  Anders spoke about how he spent some months here in Austin while Yngwie was recording the Odyssey album.  He told me some pretty funny and crazy stories that I am not comfortable sharing here.  He also gave me some cool insight on Yngwie and Joe Lynn Turner.  We talked drums for a while and the other 2 guys asked about Austin and the area.  I told Cans about seeing their first US show.  “Wow!  You were there?!”  Yep.  Rocked.  I need to find my photos from that night.

Service was pretty slow and we were all done eating and waited on the check.  I offered to buy their meals but they instead bought mine.  I told them to go ahead and I’d settle up the bill.  Boom.  Done.

Get back to Emo’s and the handful of people went to the back for the M&G.  I ran into Jason McMaster who is a close friend and plays guitar in my Motorhead tribute and he was getting his gear together for his performance with Ignitor.  During and before dinner, Anders reminisced about hanging out with Jason and Dangerous Toys back in 1987 and the

McMaster and Anders.

fun times they had.  So I grabbed Jason and told him that Anders was in back.  It was cool seeing them hanging out and talking about the old times.

All of Hammerfall were there for the M&G except for Oscar Dronjak, who apparently was having a bad case of Montezuma’s Revenge.  Poor dude.  They weren’t sure if he would even be alright for the show.

After the M&G I walked back to my apartment to dump off my swag.  As I got back to the club, local band Vesperian Sorrow was playing.  They’re a death black metal band.  I’m not so into them but they played a fine show.  Their drummer is a badass.

Ignitor came on next and rocked it.  I still say McMaster is the best front man around, no matter what band he is fronting.  Ignitor only had a 30 minute set so they were on and done in the blink of an eye.  Always good to see Batlord and Co. do their thing.

Next up was Havok from Denver, CO.  Nice kids.  They were a mix of Slayer, Metallica, Death Angel, Megadeth, Exodus etc.  Nothing new in their sound but they had fun and the crowd really dug them.  But please, guys…change your name.  There have been too many bands called Havoc/Havok over the years.  They closed with a medley of songs from Reign In Blood.  Not too bad but the drummer totally cheesed the drums in Raining Blood.  If you can’t play the song properly, just don’t play the song.   Usually an unknown band will throw covers in to get the crowd into it.  These guys already had the crowd into them so I thought closing with the covers was a bit daft, but hey, not my band, eh?  The bassplayer was really good.  Both guitarists had good riffs but weren’t very tight in the solo department.

Next up came Hammerfall.  As stated earlier I haven’t been into Hammerfall in a long time but was excited to see

Pontus Norgren

Anders play.  Not too much stuff from the first 2 albums unfortunately for me.  It was a very lightly attended show.  Maybe 120?  Weak.  I thought the San Antonio crowd would come up for this since there were no dates down there.  I thought wrong.

Oscar did play although he left the stage a few times mid-song.  Damned Montezuma!  The whole band was tight and

Joacim Cans

everyone there was into it.  It was good to see some of their real fans there to support.  Pontus Norgren played most of the leads and that dude is a really good guitarist.  I was quite impressed.  Anders was great on drums.  Duh.  He played with headphone to a click track.  As expected he did some really great stuff when it was necessary.  That’s one thing I always liked about his style.  He never seems to play cool licks just to do them.

Faster Than The Speed Of Light! get it? Major points if you do.

Everything seems very calculated, but proper and with feel.  Impressive.

I spoke to a few dudes before the show who had never heard of Anders or Yngwie (WHAT THE HELL?).  I told them that if you like the drum work you hear tonight, go buy those early Yngwie albums.  Do it!

It was a great time and the experience with Anders, Pontus and Joacim was priceless.  I’ll never forget it it.  I’m a lucky guy, really.  And a music nerd.  And a doofus.

Look! Anders thinks I'm cool. Not.

Setlist

Eyefear – Edge Of Existence (1996)

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Wow.  It’s not very often that I put a CD in to rip that iTunes doesn’t recognize, but this is one of them.  I really am quite shocked.

This is another band that Kelz turned me on to through one of his many compilation tapes.  Eyefear hail from Australia and surprisingly enough they are still together, not that I really care now.  This is the definitive album by them.

It was the opening track, Of Blind Faith,  that he had on there and it is just one of those almost perfect songs, albeit the intro is a bit lengthy.  The album has some elements of prog and traditional metal.  It’s not the tightest of albums but it all just seems to work.  Sort of like the Vis Vires album I reviewed a while back.  Not perfect, but done well enough to leave a lasting impression.

The vocals really do it for me.  Too bad he only lasted for one album.  Lots of good vocal harmonies throughout.  There are some tasty guitar solos on here as well.  I think one of the guitarists was a fan of Andy LaRocque as I hear a few ripped off hooks…not that there’s anything wrong with that.  None of the songs really pick up speed that much besides the title track.  No matter, it’s worth hearing.

I own 2 copies of this CD.  One of them I got from Sentinel Steel Records and I think the other I janked off of eBay.

Download it here and enjoy.

Written by The Metal Files

December 14, 2009 at 6:30 pm

Agressor – Say Your Prayers (1996)

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Here’s a good one from the vaults that most metalheads probably haven’t heard…but should.  Agressor was a NY band agressorthat apparently had been around since the 1980s but really only got decent recognition when their debut full length album, Say Your Prayers, was released in 1996.  Kelz turned me on to these guys on a compilation tape that he had made for me.  After hearing it I immediately called Sentinel Steel Records and ordered it from Denis.

The best description is to call these guys a poor man’s Overkill because the singer could fill in for Blitz and I doubt anyone would notice the difference.  Say Your Prayers certainly has a feel of Overkill’s Feel the Fire and Taking Over, but of course not quite as good…and a decade late.  That being said I have always loved this CD.

These guys apparently changed their name to Magus Beast in 2002 and I don’t think they ever released anything else.

If you dig Overkill’s early sound, then certainly download this and you won’t be disappointed.

Written by The Metal Files

November 15, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Skullview – Legends of Valor (1997)

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A song from this was on one of the many compilation tapes that Kelz sent me over the years.   It was the song Blood on skullview - legends of valor - Frontthe Blade from Skullview‘s debut CD.  I bought this CD and the followup and have enjoyed them both over the years but there was always something missing and I still can’t put my fingers on it.  They vocals were fine, the riffs were fine…these guys were a good traditional American metal band but something always seemed to be lacking.  I always thought the drummer was a bit boring and a tad sloppy.  I don’t know.  But nonetheless, this album is certainly worth putting ears to a few times.

They did play one of the Keep It True fests and I am sure some of the other US metal festivals.  I used to correspond with the guitarist quite a bit in the days of the old usenet metal forums.  Great dude, fine guitarist.  Wonder what he’s up to these days?

I guess I could compare them to Armored Saint and Early Jag Panzer…a little anyway.

You know as I sit here and listen to this album again, I blame it on the drummer.  He definitely had some meter problems which translated to the rest of the band.

DOWNLOAD.

Dokken – Up From The Ashes

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I remember it like it was yesterday.  I was living in Western Branch off of Taylor Rd with my cousin.  I don’t remember album-up-from-the-ashesexactly what day it was on but it was Jan/Feb 1991 only weeks before my 21st birthday.  I believe it was a Saturday and I was driving home from somewhere listening to Z-Rock and the local affiliate comes on the air to interview Don Dokken and Mikkey Dee about their concert that night at the Boathouse in Norfolk, VA.  A former friend from high school and I had tickets and were pretty excited about the show.  I had been listening to Up From The Ashes since it came out a few months prior.

So as I am listening to them interview Don and Mikkey, I pull over to a gas station a few miles from my house and try to call the station to see if I could talk to them.  I was so damned excited that I kept fat fingering push buttons on the pay phone.  After about 3 or 4 tries I got through off air and got to talk to Don and Mikkey.  I asked if there was a way to meet Mikkey prior to the show and he told me what time to be at the Boathouse (super early).  I told him that I was a huge fan of his from the King Diamond days.  He said make sure I don’t have more than one person with me and everything would be cool.

So at this point I am flipping out (of course not on the phone but internally).  I get home a few minutes later and told my buddy what the plan was and that he had better be ready when I came by to get him.  He was notoriously slow at everything.  I told him if he wasn’t ready when I got there that I was leaving his ass behind.  Fortunately he was ready when I got there and we headed to Norfolk to the Boathouse.

We’re the first people in the lot along with the staff cars and Dokken’s bus.  Some dude came to the door of the bus and said they were coming from the hotel in a few minutes and to wait.  So we waited only a short amount of time and a minivan with Don, Mikkey Dee, John Norum and Billy White in it.  Mikkey gets out of the van and asks, “Are you Sean?”  I acknowledged and we were instantly escorted onto the bus.  So Don hands me a band photo which was already signed by Baltes (who was inside the Boathouse already).  So Don and the rest of the band sign it along with some other stuff like cassette covers and such (I hadn’t gotten into CDs yet).  He stood with us for a few minutes then hightailed it to the back of the bus to take care of stuff.  At this point I am freaking out because one of my all time favorite drummers and musical influences and standing next to me.  I don’t get start struck easily as I’ve met a lot of musicians over the years but this one was different.  This was Mikkey Dee…the guy who played drums on King Diamond’s Abigail.

We hung out for what seemed like an hour but was likely a lot less.  Talking with John Norum and Billy White was pretty neat.  Unfortunately in my giddy starstruck state I had forgotten that Billy White played on Watchtower’s debut.  To this day in my head I still hear my inner voice say, “You’re an idiot.”  Kelz reminds me of this regularly and he pointed out after the show, “Dude, how was it to meet Billy from Watchtower?”  Ummm…D’oh!  I am a Watchtower fanatic as well.  What a doofus.

But all in all, I was there to hang out with Mikkey which was the first of 3 times that I got to spend time with him, the other 2 being with Motorhead in 1993 and 2000.  Will post about those meetings some other time.

In my conversation with Mikkey, I noticed he was wearing an Abigail backstage pass.  It had one of the heavenly aura’s around it.  haha.  So being the fanboy that I was that night, we talked about drums and about some certain aspects of his playing that I tried to emulate.  I asked him if he was going to do a drum solo and he said there would be one.  I asked him if he could incorporate the intro to Welcome Home from the Them album.  He said, “That’s a good idea, we’ll see.”

So the opening act was on the stage at this point and it was time for us to get off the bus so they could get ready.  I can’t overstate how accommodating these guys were.  I honestly didn’t even need to see the show after that!  But we went in and caught the 2nd half of the set by The Blonz.  Wow.  They were just awful.  One of the worst bands I have ever seen.

So we make our way towards the front of the stage and got on the barricade at stage left which ultimately was in plain view of Mikkey when he was on the kit.  Perfect!

So out comes the band and they rip into their set.  They were absolutely incredible and it was one of the tightest sets I have ever seen by any band.  Watching Mikkey slay the drums and both Norum and White manhandling their guitars with such precision was pretty incredible.  Definitely one of the best shows I have ever seen.  Don’s vocals were clean and clear and he was an excellent frontman.

So I guess this blog is really about an album review, eh?  I’ve seen this one get trashed in many a metal review and I could never understand why.  It’s easily Don’s second best album behind Tooth and Nail and pretty much the last album that he actually sounded really good on.  Initially the main reason I bought the album was because I had read that Mikkey Dee was drumming on it.

Even with some of the slightly cheesier songs like Mirror Mirror and Stay, it’s an album of which I don’t ever feel the need to skip any of the tracks.  Good production as well.

This one gets 10/10.

Many Have Tried and Many Have Died…

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Omen never really got their due.  Three brilliant albums and one EP between 84 and 86 and when you hear people talk Omen (US) - Warning Of Dangeabout classic metal, especially when mentioning the early Metal Blade stuff, it seems that so few people talk about them.  It’s a bit of a shame.  It was nice to see that metal Blade did do the Omen box set a few years ago.  The live footage is enjoyable.

Omen had a very unique style and sound, especially in the vocal department.  There was something in the way that JD Kimball could wail…like you could really hear the desperation in his voice.  I remember the first time I heard them.  Daniel had ordered Battle Cry through Metal Blade.  I was blown away by the whole band.  Kelz had made me a  dub tape of Battle Cry and Warning of Danger.  I can still see that tape sitting on the seat of my old Nova.  I believe there was some Metal Church at the end of one of the sides.

But there was something special about Omen but I don’t think it was just any one thing.  The sum of the parts just made them perfect.  The music was great, the vocals were great and overall they had good lyrics.  That was difficult to do back in those days.  Even Be My Wench and Bring Out the Beast are great.

For as much as I love Battle Cry and Warning of Danger, in recent years I find myself listening to the Curse more often than the other 2.  Teeth of the Hydra is one of my favorite songs of all time by any band.

Then 2 years after The Curse they released Escape To Nowhere with Coburn Pharr (Annihilator).  My god what an awful album that was.  I revisited it a few years ago and it still sucked.

All in all, you can’t go wrong with any of the first 3 albums.  I listened to Reopening the Gates when it came out as well…it just didn’t work for me.  Omen was more about JD’s vocals than anything else for me.  RIP.

Written by The Metal Files

August 2, 2009 at 12:04 am

Motorpsycho – Wrenched (1992)

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Sorry, this is not the Norwegian rockers, so carry on.

I found this in the same record store at James Madison University that drunken weekend that I visited Kelz.  1992.  I motorhpsychothink it was $1.  I figured I had nothing to lose by spending a buck.  Fortunately I got something enjoyable.  Motorpsycho hailed from somewhere in California and some of the Cali skate rock influence is to be heard in this, especially in the vocals.  I’ve listened to this album a lot over the years and it always takes me back to that fun weekend at JMU and also of good times of that following summer in my 82 Trans Am.

Now don’t get me wrong, this whole album isn’t great.  There’s some goofiness on here like Fuck It Up, which really is a tribute to the skate core influence.  Thunderhead…Drunktank is pretty weak as well.  The final track, not really a song, is Barstool Philosophy.  Not really interesting at all.

Overall this album gets a 3/5 if nothing else for carrying on the “Thrasher” spirit of SoCal.  Don’t Wait, Scarred for Life Some Kinda Friend are worth the price of the album alone, even if I had paid full price for it.  So if you’re into that old skate rock stuff like JFA, Los Olvidalos etc, you’ll like this, even if just a little bit.

Download it here.